Select Non-Contiguous Text in Pages, Keynote, and Numbers 14

Select Non-Contiguous Text in Pages, Keynote, and Numbers 14

The latest versions of the Mac and iPad apps in Apple’s iWork suite—Pages 14, Keynote 14, and Numbers 14—have gained a helpful feature: non-contiguous text selection. By holding down the Command key, you can select chunks of text that aren’t next to each other. For example, imagine you want to make the first part of each item in a bullet list bold. Instead of bolding each one separately, hold down Command as you work to select all of them and then apply bold to the entire selection with a single command. Non-contiguous selection is particularly helpful when applying formatting, but you can also copy non-contiguously selected text or work with it in nearly any way you would interact with a contiguous text selection. (Note that while holding down Command, you can double-click to select words or triple-click to select paragraphs, just as you can normally without holding down Command.)

(Featured image by Adam Engst)

Display an Album of Photos on Your iPhone or iPad Lock Screen

Display an Album of Photos on Your iPhone or iPad Lock Screen

A popular feature of iOS 16 was the Photo Shuffle option for customizing the iPhone Lock Screen. It used machine learning to select photos in four categories—People, Pets, Nature, and Cities—and rotated through them when you tapped, on lock, hourly, or daily. If you didn’t like the automatic selection, you could pick photos manually, but it was clumsy. In iOS 17 (and iPadOS 17, which also added customizable Lock Screens), you can now point the Lock Screen’s Photo Shuffle wallpaper at an album. Touch and hold the Lock Screen, tap Customize, tap the blue ⨁ button to create a new wallpaper, select Photo Shuffle, select Album, choose the desired album from the pop-up menu, set a frequency, tap Use Album, and tap the Add button at the top. Then tap Set as Wallpaper Pair or Customize Home Screen to choose a different image for the Home Screen wallpaper.

(Featured image by Adam Engst)

Where Can You Control Automatic Smart Quotes and Dashes in macOS?

Where Can You Control Automatic Smart Quotes and Dashes in macOS?

Most people like smart quotes and dashes, at least most of the time. Your Mac is probably set up to turn the single (‘) and double (“) hash marks and double hyphens (–) that you type into the apostrophes (’) and single smart quotes (‘’), double smart quotes (“”), and em dashes (—) used in professional publications. However, in some situations, like programming, smart quotes and dashes are problematic. To prevent macOS from automatically inserting them, open System Settings > Keyboard and click the Edit button next to Input Sources. In the dialog that appears, turn off “Use smart quotes and dashes.” As a bonus tip, if you occasionally want single or double hash marks, such as to indicate feet and inches, instead of turning the entire feature off, immediately press Command-Z after typing a single or double hash mark to undo the change from straight to curly.

(Featured image by iStock.com/Wirestock)

How to Display the Battery Percentage in Your Mac’s Menu Bar

How to Display the Battery Percentage in Your Mac’s Menu Bar

By default, the battery icon in your Mac laptop’s menu bar shows how full your battery is. Clicking it reveals the exact percentage, but you can also set macOS to display the battery percentage next to the icon. The setting isn’t where you might expect in System Settings > Battery. Instead, you’ll find it in System Settings > Control Center, where you need to turn on both “Show in Menu Bar” and “Show Percentage.”

(Featured image by Adam Engst)

Apple Podcasts Adds Transcripts

Apple Podcasts Adds Transcripts

In iOS 17.4, iPadOS 17.4, and macOS 14.4 Sonoma, Apple enhanced its Podcasts app to include transcripts of all podcasts in the Apple Podcasts catalog as long as they’re in English, French, German, or Spanish. (It doesn’t translate from one language to another.) Much like song lyrics in the Music app—open it by tapping the dialog button in the player—the transcript scrolls in sync with the podcast’s audio, and you can tap anywhere in the transcript to play the audio from that spot. Tap the Search button that appears when you view the transcript to look for any text contained within. Recent podcasts should all have transcripts now, and Apple is working to catch up on older podcasts. The AI that generates the transcripts sometimes makes mistakes and doesn’t distinguish between different speakers, but overall, the transcripts provide a good sense of what’s being said.

(Featured image by iStock.com/microgen)

Tips for Working with Mac Display Resolutions

Tips for Working with Mac Display Resolutions

You can change the resolution of your Mac’s screen—how many pixels appear—to make text and graphics larger and easier to see or smaller to fit more content onscreen. In System Settings > Displays, Apple shows thumbnails for five likely possibilities. Hover the pointer over a thumbnail to see its numeric resolution underneath. If you prefer the traditional list of numeric resolutions, Option-click a thumbnail—another Option-click in the list brings back the thumbnails. Although the Show All Resolutions switch reveals more options, most will be fuzzy. If you always want to see resolutions as a list, click Advanced at the bottom and turn on Show Resolutions as a List. Finally, look closely for a tiny Easter egg: the text in the thumbnails is the script from Apple’s classic Think Different ad spot.

(Featured image by Adam Engst)

Want an Event List in Apple’s Calendar App? Try This Trick

Want an Event List in Apple’s Calendar App? Try This Trick

Along with day, week, month, and year views, most calendar apps offer the option of a simple chronological list of events, which can be a handy way to see what’s coming up. Apple’s Calendar app on the Mac is unfortunately not among those apps. However, there is a trick you can use to get it to show all your upcoming events in a scrolling list. Click in the Search field in the upper-right corner and enter two double quote marks (“”). In essence, it’s a search for “everything,” and Calendar promptly shows all your events in a row down the right side of the window. If you’re looking for a more capable calendar app, BusyCal and Fantastical are popular in the Mac community, and some apps like Microsoft Outlook and Zoom also include calendaring features.

(Featured image by iStock.com/AndreyPopov)

Looking for Apple Manuals? Check the New Documentation Site

Looking for Apple Manuals? Check the New Documentation Site

Apple publishes a multitude of manuals and tons of technical documentation for its products on its support site, but until recently, it could be challenging to find something specific because the search engine on Apple’s site is poor. For a better path into Apple’s online support materials, check out the company’s new Documentation site, which brings together manuals, specs, and some downloads for nearly all its products. The operating system User Guides are particularly helpful, and they even provide a Version pop-up menu that lets you make sure you’re getting information for the version you’re using.

(Featured image by iStock.com/Ildo Frazao)

Did You Know Text Entry Boxes in Web Browsers Are Easy to Expand?

Did You Know Text Entry Boxes in Web Browsers Are Easy to Expand?

Have you ever noticed the shading in the corner of text area fields in Safari, Chrome, Firefox, and most other Mac Web browsers? These “handles” let you resize the field—always vertically and sometimes horizontally. That’s handy when the website designer has provided only a small text box and you want to enter more text than will fit. Just drag the handle to make the text box the size you need. Other objects on the page move to accommodate the larger text box. If a text box doesn’t have a resize handle, the site designer doesn’t expect it to need to hold more than a single line of text.

(Featured image based on originals by iStock.com/OlgaCanals and PhotoMelon)

Use 1Password to Enter Your Mac Login Password

Use 1Password to Enter Your Mac Login Password

We think of 1Password as being helpful for entering passwords on websites and in iPhone and iPad apps. But its Universal Autofill feature has a hidden capability that lets 1Password enter your Mac login password when you have to provide it to change certain system settings, install apps, format drives in Disk Utility, and more. (But it won’t work to log in at startup before 1Password is running.) To turn this feature on, click the New Item button in 1Password, search for and select “Mac login” , give it a name that will sort alphabetically to the top, like “2020 27-inch iMac” , enter your password, and click Save . From then on, whenever you’re prompted for your Mac login password , press Command-\ (Backslash, located above the Return key), and then click the desired login or press Return to select the topmost item .

(Featured image based on an original by iStock.com/ipuwadol)

Use the Command Key to Rearrange and Remove Menu Bar Icons

Use the Command Key to Rearrange and Remove Menu Bar Icons

Is your Mac’s menu bar overwhelmed with icons? They’re helpful little critters, but finding one can be difficult when you have too many and they’re in no particular order. The hidden trick to cleaning up your menu bar relies on the Command key.

  • Rearrange the menu bar icons in an order that makes sense to you by Command-dragging them around. You can’t move the Control Center icon or put anything to its right, but every other icon is movable.
  • Delete unnecessary Apple-provided status icons by holding down Command and dragging them off the menu bar. (To put one back, select the “Show icon-name status in menu bar” checkbox in its System Settings screen.) You can’t remove the clock, Control Center, or the Siri icon this way, though you can turn off Siri in System Settings > Siri & Spotlight. Command-dragging to delete doesn’t work for non-Apple apps; instead, look for a preference in the app itself.

(Featured image by iStock.com/Valentyna Yeltsova)

Send Photos in Messages Faster with This Hidden Shortcut

Send Photos in Messages Faster with This Hidden Shortcut

On the iPhone and iPad, to send a photo to a Messages chat, tap the ⊕ button and then tap Photos in the list that appears to reveal the photo picker. That’s not difficult, but it requires an extra step you can avoid with this tip. If you’re running iOS 17 or iPadOS 17, instead of tapping the ⊕ button, touch and hold it for a second to bring up the photo picker immediately.

(Featured image based on an original by iStock.com/oatawa)

How to Avoid Head-Tracked Spatial Audio for FaceTime Audio Calls

How to Avoid Head-Tracked Spatial Audio for FaceTime Audio Calls

If you listen to a FaceTime Audio call using AirPods and hear the other person’s voice moving annoyingly from side to side as you turn your head, the problem is likely head-tracked spatial audio. In general, spatial audio attempts to make sounds seem to come from all around you, and its dynamic head-tracking option adjusts the audio for each ear to simulate how the sound would change as your head moves. Dynamic head tracking may be desirable for music or movies, but with a FaceTime Audio call, having the other person flip back and forth between your ears can be highly disconcerting. To stop this behavior on an iPhone or iPad, open Control Center, touch and hold the volume control, and tap either Off or Fixed instead of Head Tracked. Spatial audio isn’t an option on Mac FaceTime calls.

(Featured image by iStock.com/1550539)

Too Many Windows Open? Close Them All Quickly with These Tricks

Too Many Windows Open? Close Them All Quickly with These Tricks

Have you ever selected a bunch of files and accidentally opened them all by double-clicking one? Or perhaps inadvertently pressed Command-I to get info, ending up with oodles of open Info windows? Here’s a quick way to recover. You can close all the windows in any well-written app with judicious use of the Option key. Press it while clicking the File menu and Close Window becomes Close All Windows. Command-W closes one window; Command-Option-W closes all of that app’s windows. If you’re a mouse person, Option-click the red close button in any window to close all the rest.

(Featured image based on an original by iStock.com/ANGHI)

After “Mother of All Breaches,” Update Passwords on Compromised Sites

After “Mother of All Breaches,” Update Passwords on Compromised Sites

January’s big security news was the Mother of All Breaches, the release of a massive database containing 26 billion records built from previous breaches across numerous websites, including Adobe, Dropbox, LinkedIn, and Twitter. It’s unclear how much of the leaked data is new, but it’s a good reminder to update your passwords for accounts on compromised sites, especially those you reused on another site. Cybernews has a leak checker that reports which breached sites include your data. More generally, password managers often have a feature that checks your passwords against the Have I Been Pwned database of breaches and helps you change compromised passwords—1Password’s is called Watchtower, shown below. You can also search Have I Been Pwned directly. Don’t panic if your email address appears in numerous breaches because some of the theoretically compromised accounts may be defunct sites, trivial sites you used once 10 years ago, or duplicate password manager entries for a site whose password you already updated.

(Featured image by iStock.com/Prae_Studio)

Annoyed by Inline Predictive Text Suggestions? Here’s How to Turn Them Off

Annoyed by Inline Predictive Text Suggestions? Here’s How to Turn Them Off

In a slight nod to the hype surrounding generative AI, Apple added inline text prediction capabilities to the iPhone, iPad, and Mac. They can be helpful, particularly on the iPhone and iPad, where it’s often much easier to tap the Space bar than to finish typing a word or sentence. But that’s less true on the Mac, where a fast typist can be slowed down or derailed by the suggestions, and some people dislike having an AI finish their thoughts. The feature is easily turned off. On the iPhone and iPad running at least iOS/iPadOS 17.2, go to Settings > General > Keyboard and switch off Show Predictions Inline. (Leave Predictive Text on to continue to get suggestions above the keyboard.) On the Mac running macOS 14.2 Sonoma or later, open System Settings > Keyboard, click Edit under the Text Input header, turn off “Show inline predictive text,” and click Done.

(Featured image based on an original by iStock.com/Armastas)

Time Machine Now Offers Daily and Weekly Frequencies

Time Machine Now Offers Daily and Weekly Frequencies

Since its inception, Time Machine has backed up on an hourly schedule. It then keeps hourly backups for the previous 24 hours, daily backups for the last month, and weekly backups back to the start of the backup. Once free space on the backup drive gets low, Time Machine deletes older backups to make room for new ones, always maintaining at least one copy of every backed-up file. The traditional hourly backups are usually fine, but starting in macOS 13 Ventura, Apple lets you choose a daily or weekly schedule instead. One of those might be useful for Macs that are turned on infrequently or where very little important data changes. It also might reduce resource usage and how much data Time Machine backs up. Most people shouldn’t need to change the backup frequency, but if you’ve always wanted to, now you can.

(Featured image based on an original by iStock.com/STILLFX)


Use StandBy to Make Your iPhone into a Clock, Photo Frame, and More

Use StandBy to Make Your iPhone into a Clock, Photo Frame, and More

iOS 17 brings a new mode for the iPhone: StandBy. All you have to do is connect your iPhone to a charger wirelessly or with a cable, position it on its side in landscape orientation, and press the side button to lock the screen. Standby works best with a MagSafe charging stand. Swipe left or right to switch between three screens: widgets, photos, and clocks. Swipe up and down to move between widgets, photo collections, and clock styles. On the widget screen, touch and hold to add and remove widgets, and on the photo screen, to choose which collections and albums to display. You can choose how long the display stays active in Settings > StandBy > Display. By default, it will stay on all the time on iPhone models with an Always-On display; a tap or nudge will wake it on other iPhone models. Finally, StandBy remembers your preferred view in different locations, so it can be a clock in the bedroom, a photo frame in the kitchen, and a clock at the office.

(Featured image by Apple)

How to Merge Two Similar Folders in the Mac’s Finder

How to Merge Two Similar Folders in the Mac’s Finder

You’ve ended up with two folders whose contents—hundreds of files or more—are similar but not identical. Perhaps you’re recovering from a sync failure, or maybe you pulled an old version of the folder from a backup and aren’t sure what’s different. Regardless, here’s how you can merge them in the Finder. Make sure the folders are named identically and are in two different locations on your Mac. Press and hold the Option key, then drag the folder that contains more files to the location that contains the folder with fewer files. In the dialog that appears, click Merge to copy only newer files from the source and those not already in the destination. (It’s not a two-way sync; for that, you need an app like ChronoSync.) The Merge button appears only if the source folder contains files not in the destination; if the folders contain just different versions of identically named files, you’ll get only Stop and Replace buttons. For safety, always work on copies of your folders and check your work afterward to ensure the right things happened.

(Featured image by iStock.com/RerF)

Keep Your Contacts Current by Adding Siri-Suggested Content

Keep Your Contacts Current by Adding Siri-Suggested Content

Remembering to update your contacts with new email addresses, phone numbers, and postal addresses can be hard. But if you’ve received that information in Mail or Messages, Siri’s data detection capabilities can help. Open Contacts on the Mac and press the Down arrow to cycle through your contacts. When you see one with information in light gray and a parenthetical like (Siri Found in Mail), click the ⓘ button to the right ➊ to see some context in the source message. If the information is correct, click Add to Contact ➋ to keep it.

(Featured image based on an original by iStock.com/Brett_Hondow)