Change Your Pointer Color in macOS 12 Monterey

Change Your Pointer Color in macOS 12 Monterey

Some people find it hard to find the mouse pointer at times, particularly on a large screen or when working in Dark Mode or in apps with dark interfaces. You’ve long been able to increase the size of the pointer generally and also zoom it temporarily by shaking it, but in macOS 12 Monterey, Apple now lets you change the color of the pointer. That could be a boon to those who have trouble seeing it otherwise. Go to System Preferences > Accessibility > Display > Pointer, click the Pointer Fill Color box, and choose a different color in the color picker. You can also choose a different Pointer Outline Color if that’s helpful. After customizing it, if you decide you prefer the old black-and-white version, click the Reset button.

(Featured image by iStock.com/tahir_duran)

Set Custom Text Sizes on a Per-App Basis in iOS 15

Set Custom Text Sizes on a Per-App Basis in iOS 15

In previous versions of iOS, you could change the systemwide text size to make all apps—at least those that support Dynamic Type—display text at larger or smaller sizes. (Most people who use this feature want the text larger so it’s easier to read with aging eyes.) In iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, however, Apple lets you adjust the text size on a per-app basis, so you can increase it only for those apps where it really makes a difference for you. First, make sure Text Size is showing in Control Center by going to Settings > Control Center, and if it’s not in Included Controls, tap the green + button for it under More Controls. Then, while in an app where you want bigger text, invoke Control Center, tap the Text Size button, move the vertical slider to the desired setting, and then tap the App Only button so the setting affects only that app, not all apps.

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Did You Know That Siri on a HomePod Can Control Alarms on Other Devices?

Did You Know That Siri on a HomePod Can Control Alarms on Other Devices?

Siri has plenty of tricks up its sleeve, and we’ve just discovered a new one. Let’s say you set iPhone alarms to wake up and remind you to take medication throughout the day. However, if you don’t have your iPhone handy when those alarms go off, it can be annoying (for both you and others) to find your phone and stop or snooze the alarm. If you have a HomePod, it turns out that you (or someone else) can say, “Hey Siri, snooze the alarm” or “Hey Siri, stop the alarm.” Siri usually asks for confirmation—just reply with “Yes”—and sometimes tells you to continue on the iPhone, but it can be easier than finding the iPhone and stopping the alarm. (And yes, if you’re wearing an Apple Watch, you can stop the alarm from it as well. It’s also possible to set alarms on a HomePod directly, though they’re useful only if you’re guaranteed to be home when they go off.)

(Featured image by iStock.com/Antonio_Diaz)

Giving Away a Mac Running macOS 12 Monterey? Try Erase All Content and Settings

Giving Away a Mac Running macOS 12 Monterey? Try Erase All Content and Settings

Before macOS 12 Monterey, if you wanted to sell, trade in, or give away your Mac, you had to boot into Recovery, erase the internal drive with Disk Utility, and reinstall macOS to ensure that the new owner would get a fresh start and couldn’t see any of your data. In Monterey, Apple has made the process much easier for newer Macs that use Apple silicon or that are Intel-based with a T2 security chip. Open System Preferences, and from the System Preferences menu (yes, it has menus), choose Erase All Content and Settings. You’ll have to enter an administrator username and password to enter the Erase Assistant. It suggests you back up to Time Machine before erasing, and if you’ve already done that or don’t want to, click Continue. Verify everything that will be erased on the next screen and click Continue. Finally, log out of your Apple ID when prompted to complete the erasure.

(Featured image by iStock.com/wildpixel)

Pay Attention to the iPhone’s Emergency SOS Auto Call Feature

Pay Attention to the iPhone’s Emergency SOS Auto Call Feature

Did you know that pressing and holding the side button and one of the volume buttons on an iPhone 8 or later brings up a screen that lets you power your iPhone off, show your medical ID, and invoke Emergency SOS? (On earlier iPhones, press the side or top button five times.) Slide Emergency SOS, and your iPhone will immediately call emergency services, which could be lifesaving in a real emergency. Even without touching​​ that slider, if you continue to hold the side button and volume button, after a 5-second countdown, the iPhone automatically calls emergency services, which may not be what you want. At least in the US, even if you hang up, that will likely cause the 911 dispatcher to send police to your location. To ensure that you can’t accidentally trigger Emergency SOS to call automatically, go to Settings > Emergency SOS and turn off Auto Call. We won’t say how we know this can happen.

(Featured image by iStock.com/LightFieldStudios)

Keep the Menu Bar Showing in Full Screen in macOS 12 Monterey

Keep the Menu Bar Showing in Full Screen in macOS 12 Monterey

Do you like using full-screen mode on your new M1-based MacBook Pro but hate having the menu bar disappear unless you move the pointer to the top of the screen? Happily, in macOS 12 Monterey, Apple has at long last added a setting to keep the menu bar visible at all times. Open System Preferences > Dock & Menu Bar and uncheck “Automatically hide and show the menu bar in full screen.” The change won’t affect apps currently in full-screen mode until you toggle their window state again or quit and relaunch. Unfortunately, some apps, including Apple’s Photos, need to be updated to show toolbars or other controls at the top of the window without forcing you to mouse up there to reveal them.

(Featured image by Adam Engst)

Avoid Inclement Weather by Enabling Notifications in iOS 15’s Weather App

Avoid Inclement Weather by Enabling Notifications in iOS 15’s Weather App

Thanks to Apple’s 2020 acquisition of weather company Dark Sky, the iPhone’s Weather app has learned some new tricks in iOS 15. (It still isn’t available on the iPad, oddly.) Most obvious is its addition of weather maps that can show precipitation, temperature, and air quality. More subtle are the notifications that can alert you to incoming precipitation at your precise location. To turn them on in Weather, tap the location button in the lower-right corner of the screen, tap Turn On Notifications, and agree to the necessary location and notification permissions when prompted. (You can also do this later in Settings > Weather > Location and Settings > Weather > Notifications.) From then on, whenever Weather thinks precipitation is about to start or stop at any of your preset locations, you’ll get an alert. Some people find that Weather’s notifications aren’t as frequent or accurate as those from other weather apps like CARROT Weather, but Apple will likely be improving the system.

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Shrink Apps to Prevent the MacBook Pro Notch from Obscuring App Controls

Shrink Apps to Prevent the MacBook Pro Notch from Obscuring App Controls

The new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models feature a camera housing built into the screen, resulting in a notch like that on the iPhone. Most developers are updating their apps to ensure that no controls or menu bar items appear blocked or hidden by the notch, but if you use an older app that doesn’t play nicely with the notch, there’s a fix. Quit the app if it’s running, select it in the Finder’s Applications folder, and choose File > Get Info. In the Info window that opens, select “Scale to fit below built-in camera.” The active area of the display resizes so everything appears below the notch, slightly reducing the overall screen space. This checkbox won’t appear once the app has been updated to avoid the notch.

(Featured image by Apple)

Use Visual Look Up in Photos in iOS 15 to Identify Plants, Pets, and More

Use Visual Look Up in Photos in iOS 15 to Identify Plants, Pets, and More

Have you ever wanted to identify a plant, flower, or pet breed, or find out what that famous painting is called? Us too. In iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, Apple added a new AI-driven feature called Visual Look Up that provides more information about photos of plants, flowers, pets, books, artworks, and landmarks. When you’re viewing a photo, swipe up or tap the sparkle-badged info button ➊ to see metadata about the image (camera model, image details, location, and more) and then tap Look Up to learn more ➋. Depending on the item recognized, it will suggest Wikipedia articles, similar images from the Web, websites, bookstores, map locations, and more. Tap a suggestion to switch to Safari or another app for details. (If the info button doesn’t have the sparkle badge, Visual Look Up hasn’t identified anything in the photo.)

(Featured image by iStock.com/Hakase_)

With Apple Watch Faces, Too Much Choice Can Be Confusing

With Apple Watch Faces, Too Much Choice Can Be Confusing

The Apple Watch has a lot to offer older people, including heart rate monitoring, atrial fibrillation detection, fall detection, and electrocardiogram recording. But if you are—or are helping someone who is—of the generation where watches once did nothing beyond telling the time, too many options can be overwhelming. Adding to the confusion is how easy it is to create and accidentally swipe between multiple watch faces, making it so the Apple Watch suddenly looks and works completely differently. If that’s an issue, use the Watch app to delete all but the preferred watch face. In Watch > My Watch, tap Edit to the right of My Faces ➊, tap the red delete button next to a face ➋, and then tap Remove ➌.

(Featured image by Adam Engst)

Apple Provides Temporary iCloud Backup Space for New Device Transfers

Apple Provides Temporary iCloud Backup Space for New Device Transfers

When you move from an old iPhone or iPad to a new one, the easiest approach is often the Quick Start device-to-device transfer. But if that doesn’t work, or if you have to give up one device before receiving the other, iCloud Backup is a fine alternative. Fine, that is, if you have enough iCloud storage space, which many people with the free 5 GB plan do not. For devices running iOS 15 or iPadOS 15, Apple just introduced the option to create a temporary iCloud backup that’s larger than the available space. Tap Settings > General > Transfer or Reset Device > Get Started to create the backup. You have 21 days (plus another 21 if necessary) to restore that backup, and it sticks around for another 7 days after you restore.

(Featured image by iStock.com/honley)

Safari 15.1 Reverses Course, Reverts to Old Tab Interface

Safari 15.1 Reverses Course, Reverts to Old Tab Interface

With the betas of Safari 15 on the Mac and iPad, Apple experimented with a variety of interface tweaks related to tabs. By the time Safari 15 shipped, however, Apple had pulled back on the more radical changes from the betas, offering the new Compact Tab Bar layout and colorized tab bar as options. Even with the more traditional Separate Tab Bar layout, however, tabs appeared as buttons above your favorites, a switch from earlier versions of Safari. With Safari 15.1 in macOS and iPadOS 15.1, Apple has reverted the Separate Tab Bar layout even further, making the tabs look like, well, tabs, moving them below the favorites, and eliminating the colorized tab bar (it remains an option in iOS 15.1). The Compact Tab Bar option remains available for those who prefer it, but if you’ve been feeling the sand shifting under your feet, it’s not your imagination—tabs really did change in Safari 15.1.

(Featured image by iStock.com/ESOlex)

When It Comes to Wi-Fi Networks, Sometimes It’s Better to Forget

When It Comes to Wi-Fi Networks, Sometimes It’s Better to Forget

It’s easy, particularly when traveling, to end up connecting to a Wi-Fi network that doesn’t provide Internet access, requires credentials you don’t have, or lacks access to the network’s printer. Unfortunately, once your iPhone, iPad, or Mac has connected to such a network, it may reconnect to it later, causing consternation when things don’t work. The solution? Whenever you realize a Wi-Fi network is worthless, forget it. (The network, that is.) On the Mac, open System Preferences > Network > Wi-Fi > Advanced > Wi-Fi, select the network in the list (you don’t have to be connected to it), click the – button, and click Remove. On an iPhone or iPad, when you’re connected to the offending network, go to Settings > Wi-Fi, tap the i button to the right of the current network, and tap Forget This Network on the next screen.

(Featured image based on images by iStock.com/fizkes and Elena Pimukova)

Messages Not Being Delivered to Blue-Bubble Friends? Check Cellular Data

Messages Not Being Delivered to Blue-Bubble Friends? Check Cellular Data

Here’s a tricky situation that threw one of our clients for a loop recently. Texts they sent in Messages via iMessage (indicated by blue bubbles) to their son, letting him know they were stopping by weren’t being delivered, making their visits a surprise. But other texts worked fine. The problem, it turned out, was that Cellular Data had somehow gotten turned off in Settings > Cellular. So messages worked fine as long as the iPhone was on Wi-Fi at home, but as soon as they were on the road using a cellular connection, the iPhone could no longer communicate with the Internet. In theory, Messages should fall back to SMS (indicated by green bubbles), which doesn’t require cellular data, but that doesn’t always happen. The fix? Just enable Settings > Cellular > Cellular Data again.

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

After Upgrading to iOS 15, Check Do Not Disturb in Focus Settings

After Upgrading to iOS 15, Check Do Not Disturb in Focus Settings

In iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, Apple expanded the concept of Do Not Disturb to what it calls Focus. You can create a Focus for different types of activities, so only specific people and apps can break through your cone of silence at appropriate times. Focus subsumes the old Do Not Disturb functionality, and your settings may not transfer when you upgrade, leaving you open to being woken at night by a previously silenced notification. To check and reset things to your liking, visit Settings > Focus > Do Not Disturb. If necessary, tap Add Schedule or Automation to set a schedule or try the new Smart Activation option. Then decide who, potentially beyond those in your Favorites, should be able to get through, along with any apps that might be essential. Note that you shouldn’t enable the Do Not Disturb switch at the top—that turns on the Do Not Disturb Focus immediately.

(Featured image by iStock.com/klebercordeiro)

When Migrating to a New iPhone or iPad, Try Quick Start First

When Migrating to a New iPhone or iPad, Try Quick Start First

You have a new iPhone or iPad—congratulations! When transferring your data to the new device, you have three options: Quick Start, an iCloud backup, or a Mac backup. All will work, but they don’t quite provide the same end result (particularly if you didn’t encrypt your Mac backup). Our advice—backed by this post from Apple expert John Gruber—is to try Quick Start first because it transfers everything directly from your old device to your new one, maintaining app logins in most cases and allowing you to transfer your Apple Watch pairing. It may seem like it’s taking a long time before you can use the device, but it’s worth it to avoid logging in to numerous apps and unpairing and repairing your Apple Watch.

(Featured image by Adam Engst)

Sort Your Lists Differently in Reminders in iOS 14 and Big Sur

Sort Your Lists Differently in Reminders in iOS 14 and Big Sur

For many years, Apple’s Reminders app let you sort your lists, but in just one way that applied to all lists equally. That was a problem if you had a to-do list that you wanted to sort by Due Date and a list of foods in your freezer that you wanted to sort by Creation Date (to see which were older) or Title (for a simple alphabetical sort). Happily, in iOS 14 and macOS 11 Big Sur, Apple finally addressed this limitation, letting you sort each list independently. Your choices even sync across all your devices! So if you had given up on sorting, or given up on Reminders entirely because of this limitation, on the Mac, check out the View > Sort By menu, and in iOS and iPadOS, tap the ••• button and then Sort By.

(Featured image by iStock.com/fizkes)

Losing the Occasional Important Message? Set up a Ham Filter

Losing the Occasional Important Message? Set up a Ham Filter

Although spam remains as much of a scourge as ever, spam filters have improved enough that most people see relatively little spam and lose relatively few legitimate messages (known as “ham”) to spam filters. However, good email messages are still sometimes caught by spam filters. To reduce the chance of missing an important message, consider making a “ham filter.” A ham filter looks for certain words—usually proper nouns—that are likely to appear only in legitimate messages and then marks such messages as Not Spam or moves them out of a Spam folder. (This capability is available in Gmail and can be emulated with multiple rules that you create in Apple’s Mail preferences, and likely in other systems as well; ask us about yours if you’re not sure.) Useful ham words include the name of your city, local high school or college names, club names or abbreviations, industry-specific terms, and any other words that are specific to your community or profession. Always test a possible ham word by first searching for it in your Spam folder to make sure it appears only in legitimate messages.

(Featured image by iStock.com/Fotosmurf03)

About That Worrying Message Saying Your Password Has Been Breached…

About That Worrying Message Saying Your Password Has Been Breached…

In iOS 14, Apple added a feature that warns you when one of your website passwords stored in iCloud Keychain has appeared in a data breach. We’ve fielded some questions of late from people worrying if the message is legitimate, and if so, what they should do. What has happened is that online criminals have stolen username and password data from a company, and your credentials were included in that data breach. You should indeed change your password immediately, and it’s fine to let the iPhone suggest a strong password for you. Or, if it makes you feel more comfortable, you can usually change the password in Safari on your Mac instead. Either way, make sure it’s unique—never reuse passwords across multiple sites!

(Featured image by iStock.com/LumineImages)

The Plug Is Mightier Than the Puck: Wireless Charging Is Wildly Inefficient

The Plug Is Mightier Than the Puck: Wireless Charging Is Wildly Inefficient

In 2017, Apple added support for Qi wireless charging to the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, and with the iPhone 12 lineup, it introduced its own MagSafe wireless charging technology. There’s no denying the convenience of wireless charging, but keep in mind that it’s extremely inefficient compared to wired charging. Individually, that may not matter much when you’re charging overnight from a wall-connected charger. But across billions of phones, it’s more problematic. One estimate suggests that wireless charging requires nearly 50% more power than cable. And if you’re charging from a wireless battery pack, wasting that juice means less of a top-up before exhausting the battery pack. Charging speed suffers too. In short, to charge your iPhone quickly and efficiently, whether from a wall-connected charger or a battery pack, stick with the traditional Lightning cable.

(Featured image by iStock.com/grinvalds)