Have you noticed a little orange dot next to the icon for Control Center on the menu bar in macOS 12 Monterey? (And if not, you can’t miss it now.) Apple added that dot to alert you that something is using the Mac’s microphone to listen to the room. Click the Control Center icon to see which apps are using the mic. In nearly all situations, it will be entirely innocuous: Siri needs to listen for the “Hey, Siri” trigger, as in the screenshot below, and the Zoom app needs microphone access to provide audio in a video call. But if you don’t recognize the app that’s listening, you’ll want to look into it to make sure there’s nothing creepy going on.
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First, don’t panic. Most likely, you’re borrowing something with an Apple AirTag location tracker attached to it, or someone left something with an attached AirTag in your car. Second, tap the alert to open the Find My app, which displays a map showing where the AirTag has been with you, which might shed some light on where it started traveling with you. Third, in the Find My app, tap Play Sound to try to locate the AirTag by its audible alert. Fourth, if you find the AirTag, hold it near your iPhone until a notification appears, and tap that for more information, including the last four digits of the owner’s phone number (search for it in the Contacts app to see if it’s anyone you know). We’re being intentionally brief here—for significantly more detail, including advice on contacting local law enforcement—read Apple’s support article.
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You probably know that selecting a file in the Finder and choosing File > Get Info (Command-I) brings up the Get Info window. This window provides information about the file, including its name, kind, size, creation and modification dates, and much more. You can also use Get Info to hide or show filename extensions, lock and unlock files, and change permissions. But what if you want to do those things to multiple files or figure out how large a set of files is? Turn to the Finder’s Inspector window instead. Select multiple files, hold down the Option key, and choose File > Show Inspector (Command-Option-I). The Inspector window looks and works almost exactly like the Get Info window. As a bonus, if you leave the Inspector window open, it updates to reflect whatever you select in the Finder—that’s faster than opening Get Info repeatedly for different items.
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Imagine you’re on vacation, staying at an Airbnb and collecting tourist points in the surrounding area throughout the day. Since you’ll be heading back to your Airbnb regularly but may not remember its address reliably, it’s best to make it a favorite in Maps before you even leave home. That way, you can navigate to it easily without searching repeatedly or looking for it in your Recents list. Similarly, take a few minutes to add other addresses that you know you’ll need, such as the rental car dropoff spot. In Maps on the iPhone, tap the ••• button ➊ next to an address and then Add to Favorites ➋. Then, when it’s time to navigate, swipe up on the search handle ➌ and tap the favorite ➍ to get directions.
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Every so often, we encounter someone struggling to find and launch an app on their Apple Watch because they have trouble seeing and interacting with the icon-centric grid view layout. If you’re in that camp, there’s a better way. In the iPhone’s Watch app, tap My Watch at the bottom, and then tap App View. Then select List View, which provides an alphabetically sorted, scrolling list of all your apps. From then on, it’s easy to press the Digital Crown to show the apps, turn it to scroll, and tap an app to launch it.
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A large screen—or several screens!—increases productivity by helping you see more content at once. It’s a big help to refer to a Web page in one window while writing in another, for instance, or to check your calendar while composing an email. But the more screen real estate you have, the easier it is to lose track of the tiny pointer arrow. Happily, Apple added a clever trick for finding the pointer to macOS—quickly slide your finger or shake your mouse back and forth horizontally a few times to enlarge the pointer briefly.
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Most of the time, it’s appropriate when an auto-correct feature turns single and double hash marks into single and double curly quotes. However, there are times when the curly quotes are awkward for some reason or actively wrong. For instance, hash marks indicate feet and inches, as in 5′ 6″. You could attempt to disable the auto-correct feature or copy and paste a hash mark from some other place, but the simple fix is to type the hash mark, watch auto-correct change it, and immediately press Command-Z to revert to the hash mark. We can’t guarantee this will work in all situations, but it’s generally effective.
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You’re on vacation with your family, staying in an Airbnb, with multiple Apple devices to connect to the apartment’s Wi-Fi. Typing the password repeatedly would be a pain, but happily, Apple has added a password-sharing feature to all its operating systems. Once you enter the password on your iPhone, whenever someone else—or another of your devices—tries to connect to the Wi-Fi network, your iPhone will prompt you to share the password. Tap Share Password and then Done. It’s also a great way to share your home Wi-Fi password with a visitor. (For password sharing to work, both devices must have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on and Personal Hotspot disabled, and you and the other person must have each other’s Apple ID email address saved in Contacts.)
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We increasingly need to take photos of documents—vaccination cards, driver licenses, passports, etc.—to submit for online verification. That’s often easier said than done, especially when taking a photo at night under lights that obscure the text with glare and shadows. Similarly, when photographing a screen to document a problem for tech support, it’s often difficult to capture it without a problematic reflection. For a possible solution, back up from the thing you’re photographing and use your iPhone’s zoom feature to enlarge the document or screen. The extra distance often lets you adjust the angle and positioning to prevent glare, shadows, and reflection.
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It’s often tough to figure out exactly what a singer is saying (which can lead to some amusing mistakes), but for many songs in Apple Music, you can bring up full lyrics in the Music app, regardless of which device you’re using. On the Mac, click the speech balloon button in the upper-right corner to display the lyrics pane on the right side of the window. On an iPhone, tap the playback controls at the bottom of the screen to bring up the Now Playing view, then tap the speech balloon button in the lower-left corner to show lyrics. Music on the iPad is similar to the iPhone, but the speech balloon button is on the right side. With many songs, the lyrics will scroll as the song plays, but with others, you’ll just get a static display. Either way, you’ll know that the ants, my friends, are not blowin’ in the wind.
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In a move that should surprise no one, Apple has discontinued macOS Server, which started out as a server-focused version of Mac OS X and eventually morphed into a set of add-on network servers for macOS. Exactly what was in macOS Server varied over time, but in 2018, Apple trimmed it to just Profile Manager, Open Directory, and Xsan. That was made possible in part because Apple integrated Caching Server, File Sharing Server, and Time Machine Server into every installation of macOS 10.13 High Sierra and later. If you’re still using macOS Server, you can continue to download (look through your purchases) and use the app with macOS 12 Monterey, but it’s time to start planning your migration since Apple says macOS Server won’t work at all in the next version of macOS. Contact us if you need advice on the best way to proceed.
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Prior to iOS 13, when you were editing text on an iPhone or iPad, Apple provided a magnifying glass that showed the position of the insertion point. It worked, but was clumsier than just moving the insertion point directly, which is what Apple enabled in iOS 13 and iOS 14. The only problem? Your finger usually obscures the text you want to edit. In iOS 15, Apple brought back the text magnification bubble to show you where the insertion point is in the text under your finger. If you’ve missed that feature, touch and hold on some text and drag the insertion point. Even easier is trackpad mode on the iPhone, which lets you touch and hold the Space bar to turn the entire keyboard area into a virtual trackpad that lets you move the insertion point above.
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You know that you can drag files or folders to the Trash icon in the Dock for later deletion. And you probably know that you can select multiple items on the Desktop or in a Finder window by Command-clicking each one in turn (Shift-click to select a sequential range of items in a list view), after which you can drag them all to the Trash. But there’s no reason to expend effort mousing if you prefer to keep your hands on the keyboard—just press Command-Delete to send one or more selected files and folders directly to the Trash. Finally, if you need your disk space back right away, press Command-Shift-Delete to empty the Trash. However, we recommend not emptying the Trash frequently—that way, you have a chance to recover something you discover that you needed after trashing it.
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The iPhone’s Calendar app defaults to graphical views for Day, Week (rotate to landscape), Month, and Year, but only the Day view shows information about your actual events, and even then, it’s easy to miss events that are outside the times that fit onscreen. If you find those views frustrating, you may have missed the all-important list view options. In Month view, tap the List button ➊ to split the screen, showing the calendar above and a list of events for the selected day below. In Day view, tap the List button ➋ to switch to a more easily scanned list for each day.
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Shortly after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Apple made it so your Apple Watch could unlock your Face ID-enabled iPhone when you were wearing a mask. Starting in iOS 15.4, the company has taken the next step and enabled Face ID on the iPhone 12 and later to work even when you’re wearing a mask. If you didn’t already set up Face ID with a mask after updating to iOS 15.4, go to Settings > Face ID & Passcode and enable Face ID with a Mask. You’ll have to run through the Face ID training sequence again, and more than once if you sometimes wear glasses, but it’s quick and easy. Face ID may not work quite as well when you’re wearing a mask, and it doesn’t support sunglasses, but it’s way better than having to enter your passcode whenever you’re masked.
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Do you need to be careful about how much data you use with your iPhone or iPad, either via cellular or Wi-Fi? That could be true for those with Internet data caps, people using an international plan while traveling, and anyone in an area with slow data speeds. To reduce your data usage, turn on Low Data Mode, which you can do separately for cellular and Wi-Fi. For cellular, look in Settings > Cellular > Cellular Data Options, where you can either enable Low Data Mode for LTE/4G or take one more step into Data Mode for 5G. If you’re using two plans with a dual SIM iPhone, you can set each one separately. For Wi-Fi, go to Settings > Wi-Fi and tap the i button next to the desired Wi-Fi network and then tap Low Data Mode. Apple lists what you can expect to change in Low Data Mode. If you need a similar capability for the Mac, check out TripMode.
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Although Apple has improved the built-in password management features in macOS and iOS (you can now add notes to password entries!), third-party password managers like 1Password and LastPass are still more capable. For those still getting started using a password manager, another new capability will ease the transition: Safari password export. To export a CSV file of your Safari passwords, choose Safari > Preferences > Passwords, and enter your password when prompted. From the bottom of the left-hand sidebar, click the ••• button, choose Export All Passwords, and save the Passwords.csv file to the Desktop. After you import the file into 1Password (instructions), LastPass (instructions), or another password manager, be sure to delete the exported file and empty the trash.
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Although the Mac’s Dock shows all your running apps, it’s often not the most efficient way to switch among them. Instead, turn to the App Switcher. You may know that pressing Command-Tab switches to the last-used app, making it easy to flip back and forth between two apps. However, if you press Command-Tab and continue to hold the Command key down, the App Switcher itself appears, with icons for all running apps. When you let up on the Command key, the App Switcher disappears, and you’ll switch to the selected app. To select an app, while the Command key is down, press Tab or Shift-Tab to cycle through the apps, or hover your pointer over the desired app. You can also click the desired app to switch to it instantly, without letting up on the Command key. And if you want to dismiss the App Switcher without switching apps, press Esc.
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Normally, when you rotate an iPad, the screen happily flips from portrait (vertical) to landscape (horizontal) orientation as appropriate. Rotating an iPhone has the same effect in some apps, though many are written to work only in one orientation. If you ever end up in a situation where your device’s screen doesn’t rotate when you think it should, the reason is likely that Rotation Lock has been turned on in Control Center. Swipe down from the top-right corner of your screen (or up from the bottom of the screen on a Touch ID iPhone) and disable the Rotation Lock button. You can turn it on again later if you ever want to prevent the screen from rotating temporarily.
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We’ve become accustomed to our iPhones and iPads switching into Low Power Mode to preserve battery life, and you can enable it manually if you want to reduce power usage for a day. New in macOS 12 Monterey for the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro is a similar feature, though you must enable it manually. Open System Preferences > Battery, click Battery in the sidebar, and select Low Power Mode. It reduces the screen brightness automatically and may decrease CPU performance. Make sure to turn it off once you don’t need it anymore.
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