Tips & Tricks

Find My iPhone - It's More Helpful Than You Thought

Find-My-iPhone-globe-photo-1080x675.jpg

On the face of it, Apple’s Find My iPhone feature does what it says. If you lose your iPhone, you can identify its last known location by looking in the Find iPhone app or on the iCloud Web site, and you can make it play a sound. It’s great for tracking down a missing iPhone, whether you misplaced it in the house or left it behind at a restaurant.

But Find My iPhone does much more! For starters, it works with nearly any Apple device. You can use it to locate a missing Mac, iPad, iPod touch, Apple Watch, and even AirPods. Find My iPhone also helps protect your data if a device is stolen. It even works with Family Sharing to locate devices owned by anyone in your family—a boon to any parent with a forgetful teenager.

You must turn on Find My iPhone before your device goes missing!

  • In iOS, tap Settings > Your Name > iCloud > Find My iPhone and enable Find My iPhone. (On the iPad, it’s called Find My iPad.) Also on that screen, turn on Send Last Location. Finally, go back to the main level of Settings, tap Privacy > Location Services, and make sure Location Services is turned on.
  • On the Mac, open System Preferences > iCloud and select the Find My Mac checkbox—if you see a Details button beside Find My Mac, click it and follow its instructions for setting necessary preferences.

Be sure to practice viewing where your devices are located and playing tones on them so you’ll know what to do if a device goes missing.

Find-My-iPhone-AirPods-1080x502.jpg

Find My iPhone has a few tricks up its sleeve for when you want a device to show a message or if you think it was stolen:

  • Lost Mode: When invoking this mode for an iOS device or Apple Watch, you’ll be asked to enter a phone number where you can be reached and a message. After that, Lost Mode will kick in as soon as the device is awake and has an Internet connection. Anyone who tries to use the device will see your message along with a place to enter the device’s passcode. If you get it back, you can enter the passcode to dismiss the message and use it normally.
Find-My-iPhone-Lost-Mode-1080x628.jpg
  • Lock: Available only for the Mac, the Lock feature enables you to protect an entire Mac with a 4-digit custom passcode. You can also enter a message that will appear on the Lock screen. This is a good choice if you think you’ll get your Mac back but would prefer that nobody mess with it in the meantime. Note that if you lock a Mac, you can’t erase it, as discussed next, so lock it only if you think it can be recovered.
Find-My-iPhone-Mac-1080x601.jpg
  • Erase: Even if your device has an excellent passcode or password, you might worry that a thief will access your data. Fortunately, you can erase your device. Erasing a device makes it impossible for you to see its location in Find My iPhone, so it’s a last-ditch effort.
  • Activation Lock: If the stolen device is an iOS device or an Apple Watch, when you turn on Find My iPhone, you also enable Activation Lock. This feature prevents someone who has your passcode but doesn’t know your Apple ID and password from turning off Find My iPhone, erasing the device, or setting it up for a new user. In other words, Activation Lock makes it so there’s little reason to steal an iOS device or Apple Watch, since the stolen device can’t ever be used by anyone else. If you get the device back, you can restore your backup—you do have a backup, right?

Find My iPhone works only while the device has power, so if you think you’ve mislaid a device, try locating it right away, before the battery runs out. But even if you are unable to retrieve a lost device, you can prevent others from accessing your data or taking over the device.

The Mystery of Hidden Messages

Missing-notifications-photo-1080x675.jpg

A client got in touch recently with a maddening problem. When he received texts on his iPhone, Messages displayed notifications for messages from everyone…except his wife! Needless to say, this was a problem. Since notifications appeared correctly for other people, it wasn’t related to overall settings. It turned out that he—or someone else, or iOS gremlins—had inadvertently enabled the Hide Alerts switch for the Messages conversation with his wife. To fix it, all he had to do was display the conversation in Messages, tap the i button at the upper right, and disable Hide Alerts. (In the Mac version of Messages, click the Details button and look for the Do Not Disturb checkbox.) It’s a good feature designed to let you mute a chatty group conversation, but it can cause stress if applied to the wrong conversation accidentally.

 
 

Install Minor Operating System Updates to Maintain Herd Immunity

Install-minor-updates-photo.jpg

It seems like Apple releases updates to iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS nearly every week these days. It has been only a few months since iOS 11 and macOS 10.13 High Sierra launched, and we’ve already seen ten updates to iOS and seven updates to macOS. Some of these have been to fix bugs, which is great, but quite a few have been prompted by the need for Apple to address security vulnerabilities.

Install-minor-updates.png

Have you installed all these updates, or have you been procrastinating, tapping that Later link on the iPhone and rejecting your Mac’s notifications? We’re not criticizing—all too often those prompts come at inconvenient times, although iOS has gotten better about installing during the night, as long as you plug in your iPhone or iPad.

We know, security is dull. Or rather, security is dull as long as it’s present. Things get exciting—and not in a good way—when major vulnerabilities come to light. That’s what happened in November 2017, when it was reported that anyone could gain admin access to any Mac running High Sierra by typing root for the username and leaving the password field blank. That one was so bad that Apple pushed Security Update 2017-001 to every affected Mac and rolled the fix into macOS 10.13.2.

Part of the problem with security vulnerabilities is that they can be astonishingly complex. You may have heard about the Meltdown and Spectre hardware vulnerabilities discovered in January 2018. They affect nearly all modern computers, regardless of operating system, because they take advantage of a design flaw in the microprocessors. Unfortunately, the bad guys—organized crime, government intelligence agencies, and the like—have the resources to understand and exploit these flaws.

But here’s the thing. Security is an arms race, with attackers trying to take advantage of vulnerabilities and operating system companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Google proactively working to block them with updates. If enough people install those updates quickly enough, the attackers will move on to the next vulnerability.

The moral of the story? Always install those minor updates. It’s not so much because you will definitely be targeted if you fail to stay up to date, but because if the Apple community as a whole ceases to be vigilant about upgrading, the dark forces on the Internet will start to see macOS and iOS as low-hanging fruit. As long as most people update relatively quickly, it’s not worthwhile for attackers to put a lot of resources into messing with Macs, iPhones, and iPads.

That said, before you install those updates, make sure to update your backups. It’s unusual for anything significant to go wrong during this sort of system upgrade, but having a fresh backup ensures that if anything does go amiss, you can easily get back to where you were before.

Keep it Clean-Safely

Cleaning-iPhone-photo-1080x675.jpg
Cleaning-iPhone-257x300.jpg

All iPhones pick up fingerprints, and it’s all too easy to get your iPhone dirty with ink, lotion, makeup, dirt, food, and oil. If you’re faced with an iPhone that needs cleaning, resist the urge to spray it with window cleaner, rubbing alcohol, or ammonia, or, even worse, to scrub it with baking soda or Borax. That’s because all iPhones have oleophobic—oil repellent—coatings on their glass surfaces that make it easy to wipe off fingerprints. You don’t want to remove that coating any faster than it will wear off normally, and cleaning products will strip it quickly. Instead, Apple recommends a soft, lint-free cloth such as you would use for glasses or camera lenses. By the way, even though the iPhone 7 and later have some level of dust and water resistance, it’s important to avoid getting moisture in the openings—most of the time, a lens cloth should be all you need. 

Our personal recommendation is AppleJuce; we love the product and carry it in both of our stores. It cleans screens and polishes the surface of all electronics. Just spray the cloth and wipe down the surface. It is safe, non-toxic, alcohol and ammonia free, and has a clean apple scent. Trust us. Cold and flu season is coming; you'll want to get those germs off!

 
 

Don't Let the News Get You Down

News-For-You-photo-1080x675.jpg

If the For You section of Apple’s iOS News app overwhelms you with stories that are boring, depressing, or offensive, you can clamp down on it with a new setting in iOS 11. Go to Settings > News and enable Restrict Stories in For You. From then on, most stories in For You will come only from channels you follow. That setting also removes Top Stories, Trending Stories, and Featured Stories, since they rely on publications you may not like. (To follow a publication’s channel, in the News app, tap the publication’s name at the top of a story and then tap its heart icon. Verify your selections in the Following section, accessed by tapping Following at the bottom of the main News screen. Be aware that News may still suggest unwanted topics; you can delete those in Following too.)

 
News-For-You-setting.png
 

It Might Be Time to Change Your iCloud Password

Find-My-Mac-2FA-loophole-photo-1080x675.jpg

We’ve been hearing reports from people whose Macs have been locked remotely via Find My Mac, with the criminals responsible holding access to the Mac hostage until they receive a ransom in Bitcoin. First, if this happens to you, do not pay the ransom! Any Apple Authorized Service Provider (like MacExperience) or Apple Store can unlock your Mac for you if you bring it in and provide proof of purchase. Second, if you ever used your iCloud password on another site, change it immediately, since if that site was hacked, your iCloud account is now vulnerable. Unfortunately, Apple’s two-factor authentication, which is otherwise great, does not currently protect against this problem! Learn more at TidBITS.

 
Find-My-Mac-2FA-loophole-768x883.png
 

Here’s Your 30-second Crash Course in Dealing with Broken Web Pages

reload-broken-Web-pages-photo-1080x675.jpg

We’ve all hit a Web page at some point that doesn’t load fully, looks wrong, or doesn’t work as it should. It’s not your fault, but here are a few things you can try on your Mac. First, press Command-R to reload the page. Second, quit and relaunch Safari. Third and finally, try a different browser, like Google ChromeFirefoxBrave, or Opera. If nothing works, try again later or report the problem to the site’s webmaster.

 
reload-broken-Web-pages.png
 

Look No Further: 4 Easy Ways to Help Read Your Phone Sans Glasses

If you have 20/20 vision or are still wondering why your parents have reading glasses, count yourself lucky. But if you’re like many people—over 60 percent of the population by some estimates, including most people over 45—reading the tiny text on your iPhone or iPad screen might be impossible if you don’t happen to have the right pair of glasses handy.

What we really want is a screen that corrects automatically for its user’s individual vision problems—research into such technology has taken place at UC Berkeley and the MIT Media Lab, but real-world products are probably years off. Until then, those of us who need a little help seeing our screens will have to rely on features Apple has built into iOS. Try these options:

Increase Text Size

Although not every app supports it, Apple has a technology called Dynamic Type that lets you set your preferred text size. In Settings > Display & Brightness > Text Size, you’ll find a text size slider, and you can see how it affects text in the iOS interface by moving around in the Settings app or looking at Mail.

 
 

If you want a size even larger than is available from the Text Sizes screen, you can get that in Settings > General > Accessibility > Larger Text. Turn on Larger Accessibility Sizes, and the size slider adds more options.

Bold Text

Sometimes, the problem isn’t so much the size of the text, but how light it can be. In Settings > Display & Brightness, there’s a switch for Bold Text. Turn this on, and all the text on the iPhone will become darker. Oddly, enabling Bold Text requires restarting your device, but there’s no harm in doing that.

 
 

Display Zoom

If you have difficulty with aspects of the screen other than text, you can use iOS’s Display Zoom feature to expand everything by a bit. The trade-off is that you’ll see less content on the screen at once, of course, but that’s a small price to pay if it makes your iPhone easier to use.

To enable Display Zoom, go to Settings > Display & Brightness > View. Once there, you can compare the difference between the standard and zoomed views in three sample screens by tapping the Standard and Zoomed buttons at the top—notably, you’ll lose a row of icons on the Home screen. If you think zoomed view might be better, tap Zoomed and then tap Set. Your iPhone has to restart, but it’s quick. Unfortunately, if you decide to switch back to standard view, you’ll need to rearrange your Home screen icons again.

 
 

Zoom

The iPhone’s full Zoom feature is particularly useful in two situations. First, it’s easy to invoke and dismiss if you need a quick glance while wearing the wrong pair of glasses. Second, if Display Zoom doesn’t magnify the screen as much as you need, the full zoom may do the job.

Turn it on in Settings > General > Accessibility > Zoom and zoom in by double-tapping the screen with three fingers. By default, the Zoom Region is set to Window Zoom, which gives you a magnifying lens that you can move around the screen by dragging its handle on the bottom.

Tap the handle to bring up a menu that lets you zoom out, switch to full-screen zoom (which can be harder to navigate), resize the lens, filter what you see in the lens (such as grayscale), display a controller for moving the lens, and change the zoom level. To get back to normal view, just double-tap with three fingers again.

 
iPhone-reading-Zoom.png
 

So, if you want to be able to use your iPhone more easily when your reading glasses aren’t handy, try the features described above and find the right mix for your eyes.

How to Unlock Your Mac with a Wave of Your Hand

Okay, with a wave of your Apple Watch. It’s magic. You walk up to your Mac, touch a key to wake it up, and upon noticing that you’re wearing your Apple Watch, it unlocks without making you enter a password. Brilliant! For some of us, it’s pretty much reason enough to get an Apple Watch.

Auto Unlock, as Apple calls this feature, lets you protect your Mac with a strong password—recommended for international spies and teenagers alike—without forcing you to type your password repeatedly. (You will have to type it the first time after you turn on, restart, or log out of your Mac.) 

To enable this protection and keep people out of your Mac when you’re away, go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > General and select “Require password after sleep or screen saver begins.” Since your Apple Watch will be doing all the heavy lifting, feel free to set a short time span. Then select “Allow your Apple Watch to unlock your Mac.” If the stars are smiling on you, that’s all you’ll need to do.

 
 

However, it’s likely that something won’t be quite right for Auto Unlock to function properly, since it has a bunch of requirements.

First, make sure your hardware is new enough and sufficiently up-to-date. Your Mac must be from mid-2013 or later, and it must be running macOS 10.12 Sierra or later. (If you aren’t sure about your Mac, see if that checkbox labeled “Allow your Apple Watch to unlock your Mac” is present. If not, your Mac is too old.) Any model of Apple Watch will work, but it needs to be using at least watchOS 3.

Next, you need to turn on two-factor authentication. If you were using Apple’s previous two-step verification, you must switch to two-factor authentication. It adds an extra layer of security to your Apple devices and accounts, including iCloud, and is well worth doing in this day and age of password thefts. Plus, it ensures you don’t have to remember those security questions about your favorite elementary school teacher! The links earlier in this paragraph have more details, but you enable two-factor authentication in System Preferences > iCloud > Account Details > Security.

Now for the checklist. For Auto Unlock to work:

  • Your Mac must have Bluetooth turned on. Click the Bluetooth icon in the menu bar or look in System Preferences > Bluetooth.
  • Your Mac must have Wi-Fi turned on, even if you’re using Ethernet. Click the Wi-Fi icon in the menu bar and choose Turn Wi-Fi On if necessary.
 
  • Your Mac and your Apple Watch must be signed in to iCloud using the same Apple ID. Verify that in System Preferences > iCloud on the Mac, and on your iPhone in the Apple Watch app, in General > Apple ID.
  • Your Apple Watch must have a passcode enabled. On your iPhone, in the Apple Watch app, tap Passcode and then Turn Passcode On. So you don’t have to enter your passcode, enable Unlock with iPhone.
 
 
  • Your Mac must not be using Internet Sharing. Verify that in System Preferences > Sharing.
 
 

It’s a lot to check, we know, but you only have to do it once. After that, go back to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > General and select “Allow your Apple Watch to unlock your Mac.” It may prompt for your password, and there you have it.

After that, every time you wake your Mac or stop the screensaver, it will unlock automatically with your Apple Watch. If you’re not wearing the Apple Watch, or if your watch is locked (hence our recommendation of Unlock with iPhone), you can still type your password at the Mac’s login screen.

There is one small gotcha. Every time you install a macOS update, Apple disables that checkbox, presumably for some security reason. Just go back into the Security & Privacy preference pane and turn it back on. Happily, that’s nothing for the win of not having to unlock your Mac with your password multiple times per day.

Don't Let Apple Pay Slow You Down

tip-Apple-Pay-double-click-photo-1080x675.jpg

When it’s an option at a cash register, Apple Pay is faster, easier, and safer than using a credit card. But accessing it from the Wallet app is way too slow! Here’s the trick to pull up Apple Pay quickly. In Settings > Wallet & Apple Pay, under “Allow Access When Locked,” enable Double-Click Home Button. Then, when you want to pay in a checkout line, double-click the Home button from the Lock screen of your iPhone to bring up Wallet instantly. If you have trouble with your thumb unlocking the iPhone instead, use another finger that isn’t registered with Touch ID, and then use your thumb to authenticate once Apple Pay comes up.

 
tip-Apple-Pay-double-click-768x363.png
 

Don't Get Burned by Bad Cables

It can be hard to ante up for a quality Lightning or USB-C cable when just a little searching reveals cables that cost only a couple of bucks each. “Surely,” you might think, “the cheap cables might not be as good, but so what if they wear out sooner?”

Points for frugality, but this is one place you don’t want to skimp too far. With some types of cables, the worst that could happen is that the cable would stop working. But with any cable that carries power, like Lightning cables for iOS devices, a short could cause sparks, smoke, and even a fire. This isn’t a crazy concern: there have been numerous reports over the years of fires started by charging smartphones, both iPhones and models from other manufacturers. Apple even has a page that helps you identify counterfeit or uncertified Lightning cables.

If you have a MacBook or MacBook Pro with USB-C ports, fire hasn’t been an issue, but bad cables have been. In 2015 and 2016, Benson Leung, an engineer at Google, made it his mission to identify out-of-spec USB-C cables after a bad USB-C cable fried his Chromebook Pixel laptop. To summarize his findings, stick with cables sold by name-brand manufacturers like Apple, Anker, and Belkin—others may be fine, but you’ll need to do research to be certain. We personally sell Moshi, a product we love as they fit in well with the sleek Apple products, and of course, Apple-branded cables.

With Lightning cables, the same advice applies—buy cables only from well-known manufacturers like the ones mentioned above. You’ll pay a little more, but the cables will not only likely last longer, they’ll be less likely to damage your iPhone or iPad, or burn down your house.

That being said, any cable, if sufficiently mistreated, can short out and cause problems. Follow this advice to protect your devices from cable-related issues:

  • When coiling your cables, avoid wrapping them tightly around something. A tight wrap can cause kinks that will degrade the wires inside.**
  • Don’t create sharp bends in the cable, especially near the connector. Sharp bends can eventually break the insulation and reveal the wires inside.
  • When unplugging your device, pull from the plug instead of the cord. That avoids stress near the connector.
 
 
  • Keep the Lightning connector’s pins clean and away from liquids; crud or a drop of water on the pins could cause a short circuit. USB-C cables are less susceptible to such problems because of their metal jackets, but still be careful.
  • If a cable’s insulation ever breaks such that you can see the wires inside, wrap it with electrical tape right away, and replace it as soon as you can.
 
 

Don’t freak out about cable safety—although there have been problems, hundreds of millions of people have never experienced any trouble at all. But it’s still worth buying quality cables and taking good care of them.

**To help prevent the wear and tear on your laptop chargers, we love the JuiceBoxx! We have these available in store to help extend the life of your chargers.

Do You Suffer From Messy App-age?

Be honest- your Mac's screen is cluttered with windows from all the apps you have open. Sometimes it's handy to view a couple simultaneously, but having too many apps visible can be incredibly distracting. There are a variety of ways to focus on a single app at a time, but here's one of the easiest:

When you click on a window or dock icon to bring it to the foreground, hold down the Option key to hide all the other windows from various apps you have open.

 
 

If you get in the habit of Option-clicking to switch apps/programs regularly, before long you'll find it easier to focus on what you're doing without all the distractions from the other apps. Buckle up: Productivity, here we come! 

Tips & Tricks: The Data Edition

Data. It's one thing you don't want to mess around with. It's as unpredictable as the weather. One minute, your hard drive indicates it's on its way to failing, but your information will still show it up... and then... BOOM, a second later, it's gone. It went from a couple hundred dollar fix to over a thousand. Just don't put yourself in that situation. We will tell you minimize your risk of this happening. 

Losing your data and needing to send it to a clean room is fairly preventable. Sometimes, your luck just completely runs out and that's the only option. (Picture this: the backup of your backup of your backup fails, and then the backup of your backup fails, and then your backup fails, and then your hard drive dies. That's pretty bad luck).

But, if you do a regular backup of your machine, and possibly even another backup of your most precious data, if your hard drive ever fails, you can just restore from your backup. How can you start backing up, you ask? Apple makes it easy with Time Machine. Here's how to set it up:

  1. Connect the external hard drive you're planning on using.
  2. Go to the Apple menu at the top left and click on System Preferences
  3. Click the Time Machine icon
  4. Click the Select Backup Disk button
  5. Choose the external hard drive from the menu to set it up. If you click Show Time Machine in menu bar, simply
  6. Go to the icon in the menu bar, and select Back Up Now
  7. Let it run its course, and voilà. You have your data backed up. (Don't forget to eject your hard drive before you unplug it)

We'll keep talking to you until we're blue in the face on the importance of backing up. We don't want to see your precious memories lost, but data is its own animal. And sometimes it's a wild animal backed up into a corner. Don't let yourself be in this situation. We always breathe a sigh of relief when we hear customers are backing up.

Do yourself a favor, come to MacExperience, and we can either sell you an external hard drive and help you set up Time Machine, or schedule a training session and we will share with you the ins and outs of how to be the safest with your data. Help us help you! 

Spring Cleaning for a Nearly Full iPhone or iPad

Running out of space on an iPhone or iPad is frustrating. You can’t take new photos, some things don’t work, and iOS nags you about “managing” your storage. Thanks, Apple—we know our devices are nearly full, but clearing space isn’t necessarily easy!

 
 

What can you do? You have two options: delete apps and cull data from within apps. Before we start down those paths, let’s figure out where to focus. 

Navigate to Settings > General > Storage & iCloud Usage. In the Storage section, tap Manage Storage. You see a screen that shows how much space you’ve used and how much is available, along with a list of apps and how much space they and their data occupy.

 
 

Tap any app to see more details about how much space it occupies, and, if it’s not a built-in Apple app, an option to delete it. If there are apps in this list that you never use, delete them. Start at the top of the list and work your way down. Remember, you can always re-download apps from the App Store app. 

 
 

For Apple apps that can’t be deleted, and other apps you don’t want to delete, this list is useful for identifying where you can trim data quickly. The most likely culprits are video, audio, and photo apps, including Apple’s TV, Music, Podcasts, and Photos. Messages may also appear here, thanks to photos and videos in your conversations.

How you remove data from within an app varies widely, but here are pointers for common Apple apps:

  • For Apple’s Music, TV, and Podcasts apps (but not iBooks), you can delete data from within the Storage screen. Navigate into that app’s listing, and swipe left on any item to reveal a Delete button. iOS shows the data hierarchically, so in Music you can, for instance, delete All Songs, everything by an artist, a particular album, or just a specific song. (You can also delete data within each app, but it’s easier in the Storage screen.)
 
 

With Photos, what you can do depends on your setup:

  • If you aren’t using iCloud Photo Library, photos go in your Camera Roll album and can build up there. Sync them to Photos on your Mac via iTunes, and then delete them from the iOS device. You can sync an album of favorites back if you have space.
  • If you have subscribed to iCloud Photo Library, make sure to turn on Optimize iPhone/iPad Storage in Settings > Photos & Camera. That stores small thumbnails instead of full-sized images. If you’re low on space, Photos automatically uploads full-resolution originals to iCloud and then replaces them with smaller thumbnails on your device. Even thumbnails take up space, though, and there’s no way to reduce that space further.
 
 

In Messages, you have two choices. You can either delete a conversation wholesale (it’ll remain on your Mac) by swiping left on it in the message list, or you can navigate into a conversation, tap the i button, and scroll down to the list of images and attachments. Tap and hold briefly on an image or attachment to bring up buttons for Copy, Delete, and More. Tap Delete to remove just that file, or tap More to select multiple items (tap each one to give it a blue checkmark) and then tap the trash icon in the lower-right to delete them all.

Some apps may download a lot of media as you watch or listen but not delete it later or give you an interface for doing so. In such a case, your only option is to delete and reinstall the app, which recovers space but may result in the loss of some settings.

As a final note, when you’re ready to replace this iPhone or iPad, come on in to MacExperience and consider getting one with more storage!

Got a Frozen Mac?

The frozen Mac—it shouldn’t happen, but it does. If you should be so unlucky as to find your Mac completely locked up and unresponsive to the mouse or keyboard, you may wonder how you can restart it. The trick is to hold the power button down for 5 seconds, which will force your Mac to turn off. Wait another 5 or 10 seconds, and then press the power button again to restart the Mac. On a desktop Mac, look for the power button on the back of the computer. On a Mac laptop, the power button is near the top-right corner of the keyboard. On a 2016 MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar, press down on the blank Touch ID button until you feel and hear a click. Remember that it is always better to restart your Mac gracefully by choosing Restart from the Apple menu—this technique is only for when the Mac is frozen.

 
 

How to Enter Emoji on the Mac

The only characters that are easier to type in iOS than on the Mac are emoji, those cartoon-like pictures that were created in Japan just before the turn of the century as a way of sharing pictures on mobile devices. They caught on in the United States in 2011, after Apple built an emoji keyboard into the iPhone with iOS 5 and added them to OS X 10.7 Lion. They’re most often used to pretty up chat messages, but since they’re actually font characters, you can also increase their size and use them like clip art in any Mac app.

Even though emoji have been readily accessible since 2011, many Mac users have never figured out how to enter them, since you can’t just type them on a keyboard. So, if you want to insert a 😀 in a post in Messages or a note in Mail, you need to use the Characters viewer. To bring it up in most Mac apps, choose Edit > Emoji & Symbols or use its keyboard shortcut: Command-Control-Space. When the Characters viewer first appears, it may be compressed (above left); click the square expansion icon to expand it to its full glory (above right).

The compressed view is fine, but the expanded view makes it easier to browse through the full set of emoji and search for particular emoji—you can also make the expanded version larger and see more emoji at once by dragging a corner. With Emoji chosen in the first column of the enlarged view, the second column lists emoji categories, such as Smileys & People, Animals & Nature, Food & Drink, and so on. In the compressed view, you can see the same categories by clicking the icons at the bottom. If you want a particular emoji, search for it by typing in the Search field—try “fruit” or “apple.”

You can insert an emoji from the Characters viewer in three main ways—if one method doesn’t work in a particular app, try another:

  • While the cursor is active in a text area, double-click a character in the viewer.
  • Drag a character out of the viewer and into a text area.
  • Drag a character out of the viewer to the Desktop to create a text clipping with it. Then drag that text clipping anywhere you can type.

Once you insert a character, it appears in the Frequently Used category; in the expanded version of the Characters viewer, you can also click the Add to Favorites button to add the current emoji to the Favorites category.

With many of the emoji of people, the first time you click the emoji, you’ll see a popover that lets you choose a skin tone other than the default, and macOS remembers your selection. If you wish to change an emoji’s skin tone later, click and hold until its popover appears (or use Force Touch, if you’re working with an appropriate trackpad).

One warning: If you send emoji from an Apple device to someone using a non-Apple device or operating system, they may see slightly different emoji than what you sent. The most notable example of this is Apple’s “pistol” emoji, which now looks like a green squirt gun 🔫; whereas, that emoji on other platforms generally looks like a more realistic handgun. The Unicode Consortium publishes a full list of what each emoji looks like on different platforms.

It’s easy to assume that emoji are a fad, or are used only by the young, but in reality, they’re having a profound effect on written communication. While an octogenarian may not understand that a line of dancers 💃💃💃💃💃 is meant to convey enthusiasm, a teen from China who speaks no English might get it. New York Magazine has covered the topic in depth, so give that article a read if you’re curious.

Dongles, Dongles, Dongles

Apple’s new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar models rely on a new kind of connection port: Thunderbolt 3. Unfortunately, while this switch is great from a technical standpoint, it has caused confusion in the Mac world. Let’s sort it all out.

The root of the confusion is the fact that Thunderbolt 3 uses a different physical connector than Thunderbolt 1 and 2. They relied on the physical Mini DisplayPort connector, which made sense since they are commonly used to connect monitors. Thunderbolt 3 instead relies on the reversible USB-C connector that has previously appeared in the Mac world only on the 12-inch MacBook, where it replaces USB-A.

Here’s the key fact to remember: All USB-C devices, cables, adapters, and chargers should work when plugged into a Thunderbolt 3 port, but Thunderbolt 3-specific peripherals will not work when plugged into the USB-C port of a 12-inch MacBook. In short, Thunderbolt 3 is a superset of USB-C.

The only visible difference between a Thunderbolt 3 cable and a USB-C cable is that a Thunderbolt 3 cable is labeled with the same lightning logo used on previous Thunderbolt cables. USB-C-only cables may be labeled with SS+ for SuperSpeed+.

If you buy a new MacBook Pro and want to connect it to older devices that lack Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C ports, you’ll need a special cable, adapter, or dock. Apple makes a number of these, and more are available from numerous independent manufacturers. The two most important adapters to get are Apple’s Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter and a USB-C to USB-A adapter.

With those handy, you can connect to any Thunderbolt device (including many older Macs and Apple’s Thunderbolt Display) and any USB device. You can also add Apple’s older Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter and Thunderbolt to FireWire Adapter to connect to Ethernet networks and FireWire hard drives.

Connecting to other displays requires additional adapters, which are specific to the different video standards. Apple makes adapters for USB-C to HDMI and VGA, but not for USB-C to DisplayPort, Mini DisplayPort, and DVI, so you’ll have to turn to another manufacturer for displays that rely on those last three standards.

The practical upshot of all this is that if you have a new MacBook Pro with Thunderbolt 3, you may need to get a couple of adapters to be able to migrate data from an older Mac, connect to your existing accessories, and drive external displays and projectors. (Macworld has a nice guide to all the possibilities.) That’s an unfortunate fact of life right now, but in a few years, once most peripherals support USB-C and new Macs come with Thunderbolt 3, there will be one cable to rule them all.

Stop Unwanted Notifications with Do Not Disturb

If you're not using the wonder that is Do Not Disturb, stop whatever you're doing and read on. Trust me, there’s nothing worse than being woken from a sound sleep by a notification from your iPhone, particularly when it’s something annoying like a robocall. On the Mac, notifications won’t generally wake you up, but they can be distracting when you’re trying to focus. Or, imagine the embarrassment if you get a text message from a snarky buddy while you’re giving a Keynote presentation. Do Not Disturb to the rescue!

In both iOS and macOS, you can engage Do Not Disturb manually at any time. That’s perfect if you want to make sure your iPhone doesn’t make noise in the theater or prevent your Mac from showing notifications while showing your latest work to your boss.

  • In iOS, either go to Settings > Do Not Disturb and toggle the Manual switch, or swipe up from the bottom of the screen to reveal Control Center and tap the Do Not Disturb button. You can also ask Siri to “Turn on Do Not Disturb.” A crescent moon icon appears in the status bar at the top of the screen when Do Not Disturb is on.

On the Mac, click the Notification Center icon in the top-right corner of the screen, scroll up to reveal the Do Not Disturb controls, and toggle the switch. For a quicker way, Option-click the Notification Center icon. In Sierra, Siri can control Do Not Disturb as well. The Notification Center icon is light gray instead of black when Do No Disturb is on.

You can turn Do Not Disturb off manually (which is a good idea if you’ve disabled it on your iPhone during a doctor’s appointment, for instance). On the Mac, it turns off automatically at midnight.

No one wants to enable Do Not Disturb manually every night. Happily, both iOS and macOS can turn it on automatically on a schedule.

  • In iOS, go to Settings > Do Not Disturb, turn on the Scheduled switch, and tap the From/To times to adjust when it should turn on and off automatically.
  • On the Mac, open System Preferences > Notifications > Do Not Disturb, select the checkbox next to the time fields, and enter from From and To times.

The Mac offers a few welcome options that automatically engage Do Not Disturb when the display is sleeping (usually a no-brainer) and when mirroring the display to a TV or projector (which should prevent notifications during presentations).

In iOS, you can choose which calls can break through Do Not Disturb’s cone of silence. On both platforms, you can allow repeated calls through — if someone wants to get in touch badly enough to try twice in quick succession, it’s probably important.

Nearly everyone should be using Do Not Disturb, so if you haven’t taken advantage of it yet, check it out now, before an errant phone call or iOS notification wakes you in the middle of the night.

What's the Deal with Two-Step Verification?

It seems that we can’t go a week without hearing about some new security breach involving tens of thousands or even millions of passwords. That’s why it’s essential that you use strong passwords of random characters (and manage them in a full-featured password manager like 1Password or LastPass or, for a more basic approach, iCloud Keychain). But many major Internet companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, and Dropbox offer an option for a higher level of security, called two-step verification.

With a normal account, a bad guy has to get only one thing—your password—to break in. With an account that’s protected by two-step verification, however, breaking in becomes far more difficult. That’s because logging in requires both your normal password and a time-limited one-time password that is generated by a special authentication app or sent to you in an SMS text message or via email. What’s important about these secondary passwords is that they’re valid only for a short time and they can be used only once. You have to enter these secondary passwords only the first time that you log in on a particular device or in a particular Web browser, so they are just an occasional extra step, not a daily inconvenience.

Sites that offer two-step verification will provide setup and usage instructions, but the basics are as follows. You’ll enable two-step verification in the account settings, and then tell the site how you’ll get the one-time password when you want to log in, generally providing your phone number or email address. For services that use an authentication app like Google Authenticator, Authy, or 1Password, you’ll have to scan a QR code on screen or enter a secret key—either way, that seeds the app with a value that enables it to generate a valid one-time password every 30 seconds. Make sure to record any backup codes the site provides; they’re essential if you lose access to your phone or your email.

When it comes time to log in to a service protected by two-step verification, you’ll enter your username and password as you normally would. Then, you’ll be prompted for a one-time password, and the service will either send you one via SMS or email, or require you to look it up in your authenticator app. Since a bad guy who might have obtained your normal password would also have to intercept your text or email messages, or have stolen your mobile phone (and be able to get past its passcode), you’re far, far safer.

Most sites that use two-step verification don’t require that you enter a one-time password on every login, since that would be overkill. It’s also unnecessary to enable two-step verification for every account you might have—there isn’t much liability to someone logging in to your New York Times account since they couldn’t do anything diabolical once in. For more-important accounts—email, social media, cloud services, banking—you absolutely should use two-step verification for added protection so a bad guy can’t impersonate you to your friends, receive email-based password resets for other sites, or access your most important data.

You may also hear the term two-factor authentication, which is even more secure than two-step verification when implemented correctly. That’s because two-factor authentication combines something you know (your password) with something you have (such as a secure token keyfob that generates time-limited one-time passwords) or something that’s true of you (biometric info like a fingerprint or iris scan). It might seem like using your iPhone to get a text message or run an authenticator app qualifies, but if you end up doing everything on a single device that could be compromised, it’s not true two-factor authentication.

Regardless of the terminology, going beyond a single password, no matter how strong, significantly increases your security, and you would be well served to employ such a security technology for your most important accounts. To learn more about why strong passwords are necessary, using password managers, and even more details behind two-step verification and two-factor authentication, check out Take Control of Your Passwords.