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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.

Raise to Wake with Recent iPhones in iOS 10

Wouldn’t it be nice if your iPhone woke up automatically when you pulled it out of your pocket? With iOS 10 running on an iPhone 6s, 6s Plus, SE, 7, or 7 Plus, it can do just that. If you have one of those iPhones, notice how the screen wakes up on its own when you lift it up. By default, Raise to Wake is enabled on these devices, but if you dislike this feature for some reason, you can turn it off in Settings > Display & Brightness. Older iPhones can’t wake up automatically like this, presumably because they lack the necessary hardware. Consider it another way that Apple gently encourages you to upgrade to a newer iPhone.

 
 

The Age-Old Question: When Should You Do a Software Update?

It’s that time of year again, as the leaves start to turn, the air gets crisp, the grass is covered with frost in the morning, and Apple releases major operating system upgrades. We’ve known this was coming since the company’s announcement in June, but now it’s time to think hard about when you’ll upgrade.

(Note that we say “when” and not “if.” There’s no harm in delaying an upgrade until Apple has had a chance to squash the 1.0 bugs and it’s a convenient time in your schedule. But waiting for too long can put you at risk from security vulnerabilities and prevent you from taking advantage of new integrations between Apple’s devices. Plus, should you have to replace a Mac or iOS device unexpectedly, you may be forced to use the current operating system, which could be awkward if you weren’t ready for the upgrade.)

Let’s dispense with the easiest answer right off. If you have a fourth-generation Apple TV, either let it upgrade itself to tvOS 10 or manually invoke the upgrade from Settings > System > Software Updates. Since tvOS 10 is a relatively minor update and you don’t create work on an Apple TV, upgrading is unlikely to cause any problems. If you’re a major TV junkie and are paranoid about how the upgrade could prevent you from watching your favorite show, just wait a few weeks until other users have reported on their experiences on the Internet.

In some ways, the question of when to upgrade to watchOS 3 has a similar answer. Although watchOS 3 is a major upgrade that radically changes how you interact with the Apple Watch, the improvements are so significant and the downsides so minimal that it’s easy to recommend an immediate upgrade. However, to install watchOS 3, you must have upgraded your iPhone to iOS 10 first. So…

What about iOS 10? Now we need to hedge a little. Although iOS 10 has been getting good reviews from beta testers, if you rely on an app that isn’t compatible, you’ll want to put off your upgrade. Check the App Store listing for your key apps, and if they’ve been updated recently, you’re probably OK. The other thing to remember is that iOS 10 changes the Lock screen behavior, so it may be worth delaying the upgrade until you have some time to poke at the new interface. Messages and Photos also receive a bunch of new features that you may want to play with, but you shouldn’t have any trouble using them before you’ve figured out the new stuff.

As always, the rubber meets the road on the Mac. Like iOS 10, macOS 10.12 Sierra has gotten good reviews from beta testers, but if you rely on your Mac to get your work done, it’s important to ensure that your key apps are compatible. Plus, despite Apple’s public beta, it’s not uncommon for unanticipated problems to surface once the first release of a new operating system for the Mac becomes more broadly available. Unless you’re dying to use the new features in Sierra that integrate with iOS 10 and watchOS 3, we recommend waiting until version 10.12.1 or even 10.12.2 before upgrading. That gives you plenty of time to make sure your apps and workflows will work in Sierra.

Finally, we just want to say that as much as change can be hard, we’re excited about Apple’s new operating systems. Like you, we probably won’t end up using all the new features, but some of them will definitely enhance the experience of being an Apple user.

Share Photos via iCloud Photo Sharing

Thanks to the iPhone, everyone takes photos on vacation these days, and while you probably don’t want to share all of them, friends and relatives might like to see a Best Of collection. Or you might wish to share baby photos with your family, pictures of your new city with friends back home, or shots of the Olympics if you're lucky enough to be there.

With iCloud, it’s easy to create a shared album, invite other iCloud users to subscribe to it (handy for viewing on an iOS device or Apple TV, in particular), and to create a public Web page of the photos that anyone can see, even if they don’t use any Apple devices.

First, some setup:

  • On an iOS device, go to Settings > iCloud > Photos and turn on the iCloud Photo Sharing switch.
  • On a Mac, open System Preferences > iCloud, click the Options button next to Photos, select iCloud Photo Sharing, and click the Done button.

Next, follow these steps, which are similar regardless of the device you’re using:

  1. In the Photos app, select some photos or videos. In iOS, that involves tapping Select before tapping the items to select; on the Mac, just Command-click the items you want, or drag a selection rectangle around them.
  2. Hit the Share  button, and then pick iCloud Photo Sharing.
  3. Select an existing album or create a new shared album.
  4. For a new album, provide a name, enter the names or email addresses of any iCloud users with whom you want to share the album, and add an optional comment.
  5. When you’re done, tap Post in iOS or click Create on the Mac.

To add more photos, repeat those steps to select photos and then add them to a shared album. Alternatively, start with the shared album, though the steps vary slightly between iOS and the Mac:

  • In Photos for iOS, if necessary, back out of the view until you see the Shared button in the toolbar. Tap Shared and select the shared album. Then tap the + button, select the items to add, tap Done, enter an optional comment, and tap Post.
  • In Photos for the Mac, in the sidebar, select the shared album in the Shared category. Then click “Add photos and videos,” select the items to add, and click the Add button.

It’s easy to tweak the options for your shared album or to create a public Web page for it. The process is again similar in both operating systems:

  • In Photos for iOS, tap Shared in the toolbar and select the shared album. Tap People to bring up a screen where you can share the album with more people, control whether subscribers can post their own photos, create a public Web page, enable notifications, and delete the album entirely. To share the URL to the public Web page, tap Share Link and select a sharing method.
  • In Photos for the Mac, select the shared album in the sidebar, and then click the People  button in the toolbar. From the popover that appears, you can do the same things as in iOS, although sharing the link is best done by either clicking it to visit it in a Web browser and then copying from there or Control-clicking it and choosing Copy Link from the contextual menu.

After practicing these steps a few times, you’ll be able to create shared albums in a flash, and share them easily.

Make Siri More or Less Chatty

By default, Siri likes to chat, confirming what you say and giving you the results of your commands out loud when appropriate. If you don’t like that, go to Settings > General > Siri > Voice Feedback and select either Control with Ring Switch (the iPhone’s physical switch) or Control with Mute Setting (iPad) to make Siri be quiet when the device is muted. Alternatively, choose Hands-Free Only to silence Siri except when connected to Bluetooth, headphones, or CarPlay. Or just set Siri to whisper—hold the Home button to invoke Siri and then reduce the volume, which applies only to Siri’s voice.