Welcome to the famous MacBlend Tip Jar! Here you’ll find tons of useful tips & tricks for Mac, iPhone, & iPad. These tips range from basic OS to detailed Final Cut Pro tricks. Have a suggestion for one? Let us know and we might add yours to the list. Enjoy!
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If you’re using a wireless mouse or trackpad on your Mac, you may have experienced a situation where your battery died and left you without the use of your cursor. However, you may still need to access the Menu Bar to control your Mac. Perhaps even to setup a new Bluetooth mouse.
You can always access the Menu Bar using your keyboard.
Simply press Control (aka CTRL) & F2. Many people may need to press the Function (or FN) key first as in FN + CTRL + F2.
You’ll notice the Apple Menu icon highlights in blue, then all you need to do is navigate with your up, down, left, & right arrow keys followed by the return key to make your selection.
Here is a simple little trick to use when working in a word processor such as Microsoft Word or Apple’s Pages. It actually works anywhere on the Mac even if you’re say… using your web browser to type in WordPress. ;)
Simply hold the Option key when you press the left or right arrows to skip words with your cursor. It’s much easier than pressing the arrow key five times just because the word you’re moving through has five letters. Holding Shift at the same time actually highlights those words in case you want to Cut or Copy them.
Everyday, I’m asked how to fix something on someone’s iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. Most of these issues are little quick fixes such as an application that’s “stuck” or a frozen screen. While some problems may be more in-depth, most can be resolved by remembering the “Three Rs.”
This should always be our default fix or at the very least, the first thing we try.
In order to Restart your iPhone or iPad, simply hold the “Sleep/Wake” button on the top of your device until you see the red “Slide to Power Off” slider. Once you’ve swiped across, your device will turn off completely. This is more than simply putting it to sleep. To turn it back on, hold the “Sleep/Wake” button for a moment until you see the Apple logo.
If you’ve restarted your iPhone or iPad and still notice the issue, the next step would be to Reset the device. This won’t erase anything, it simply performs a “hard reboot” of the system.
You can Reset your device by holding the “Sleep/Wake” button on the top and the “Home” button on the front at the same time until you see the Apple logo. Keep holding even passed the red “Power off” slider. You’re device will automatically turn itself back on. This is a very common fix for a huge range of issues.
If we haven’t fixed your issue by now, there’s a good chance that something may be wrong with the software inside the iPhone or iPad. The next step would be to Restore your device with fresh software. Be advised: This process will erase the data on your iPhone or iPad. So please be sure to have a backup before moving forward. It is always your responsibility to keep your data safely backed up.
To Restore your iPhone or iPad, you’ll connect your device to your computer via USB and open iTunes. Navigate to the summary screen of your device and look for the button labeled “Restore.”
(I’d strongly recommend using the “Transfer Purchases” and “Backup” options first.)
Restoring your iPhone or iPad will download the latest version of the operating system directly from Apple and install it to your device. Once it has been installed, you’ll be presented with two options to move forward. You’ll have the choice to either “Restore from Backup” or “Restore as New.” The major benefit to “Restore from Backup” is that all of your applications and data will be put back onto the device as if nothing happened. The big problem with this option is that very often, the problem you were trying to solve is put back onto the device as well.
Choosing to “Restore as New” sets up your device as if it were the same day that you took it out of the box. Most people dislike this process because it means downloading your applications and data back to the device by hand which may take some time and there’s the potential for some data loss if not backed up correctly. However, this is much more likely to solve major problems.
I know I said the “Three Rs” but in some cases, there’s only so much that you can do without the help of a technician. If you have Restarted, Reset, and Restored your device and still have the problem. It’s time to make an appointment with the Apple Store Genius Bar as there may be problems with the hardware itself which would require a replacement device.
You now know how to fix the vast majority of problems experienced by iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches. Things that cannot be solved by this process are usually application-specific or related to hardware.
Bookmark this article for future reference as your device may not be experiencing problems now but it will be very handy to have if you do.
One of the first things I ask my students at the beginning of every training session is “When was the last time you backed up your Mac?” From this, I receive a wide variety of answers but unfortunately, the most common answer is “I haven’t.”
Years ago, backup solutions were few and far between. External hard drives used to cost an arm and a leg and there was no such thing as backing up to the “cloud.” These days, your Mac comes with a built-in backup solution that is completely free and almost effortless to use. All it takes is the purchase of an external hard drive and less than a minute of your time to set it up.
Buying an External Hard Drive
You don’t need to buy the fanciest or most expensive hard drive to safely backup your data. As this will only be a duplicate of existing data, it’s ok to buy a cheap hard drive. It’s only important that you have one. I currently recommend the Western Digital MyBook for Mac (Amazon Link) for desktops like iMacs and Mac Minis (or for laptops that never leave the desk.) For laptop users I usually recommend the My Passport hard drive from Western Digital (Amazon Link) or a Time Capsule from Apple (Apple Link) which is both a Wi-Fi router and backup drive in one device. (Click here for Time Capsule Manual which includes setup process)
Once you purchase an external hard drive and have taken it out of the box, the set up on your Mac is incredibly simple. If you’re using an external hard drive that plugs into your Mac via USB or FireWire, just plug it in and your Mac should ask if you’d like to use that drive for Time Machine.
And you’re all set! The first backup may take a while as it copies your whole computer to the drive.
If it doesn’t ask, or if you’re setting up Time Machine on a replacement drive, open System Preferences and click on the Time Machine icon.
From here, you can click the On/Off switch to enable Time Machine and if necessary, choose “Select Disk” to choose your external hard drive. A new drive may need to be formatted to work with Time Machine so if you’re using a drive that contains any important data, be advised that information WILL be deleted.
If you find you have files or folders you wish to exclude from your Time Machine backup, you may do so by clicking the “Options” button where you’ll be able to select certain folders from backing up to Time Machine. I’d advise against this unless you really feel comfortable with what you’re doing.
I’m asked frequently about the use of “Cloud-based” backups such as Carbonite. I believe these tools have tremendous potential but aren’t ready for everyday use just yet. Not to mention… Why pay for a service when your Mac comes with an easy and free tool already? Using a service such as Dropbox (Free service) to store files isn’t the same as backing up. However, it’s a great tool to store documents for access on the go or from a mobile device.
So there you have it… Backing up your Mac with Time Machine takes less time than it did to read this article. Now when I ask if your data is backed up at the beginning of a training session, I should hear “Of course!”
Sometimes, you might not be sure exactly which folder the email you’re searching for lives within. Unfortunately, when you search in the Mail App on the iPhone or iPad, your results only come from the folder you’re currently viewing.
When you need to search within every folder on your mobile device, don’t open Mail. Instead, from the Home Screen, swipe from left to right to reveal “Spotlight” which is the built-in search feature on your iPad and iPhone. Anything you enter into this search field will be searched across your device from Calendar Events to Contacts to even… Yes, you guessed it: Email! The results may be overwhelming but at least you have the option to search for something across multiple folders.
If you ever need to know a little more about a file, such as it’s size or date created, simply select that file and click File>Get Info from the Menu Bar.
You can also use the keyboard shortcut Command + i.
If you ever find yourself with duplicate contacts, simply click Card in the Menu Bar, then “Look for Duplicates.”
You’ll even be able to automatically merge duplicate cards.
In OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, if you’re working on a document and decide you’d like to move it to a new location, you don’t want to go through a long moving process.
Simply click its name in the Title bar and choose “Move to…”
You can even “Rename” the document or move it to iCloud.
Sometimes you just wish you could zoom in closer to see what’s on your screen.
After being enabled via System Preferences>Accessibility>Zoom, you’ll be able to hold the Control key and scroll up or down to zoom in or out like a magnifying glass.
If you have a folder full of files that you access frequently, drag it to the Dock just left of the Trash can.
Once it’s placed, you’ll have a “Stack” which is a shortcut to the contents of a folder.
If you have kids, you may consider adding Parental Controls to their user account to keep them safe.
First, create their own user account on the Mac if they don’t already have one.
Then open System Preferences>Parental Controls to enable them or view logs of what account has viewed.
To change your volume without having to hear the little “splats,” simply hold the Shift key when pressing your volume up or down buttons.
After you’ve used Apple Mail for a while, you can click Window>Previous Recipients in the Menu Bar to find all of the email addresses you’ve corresponded with.
Here you can select an email address and choose “Add to Contacts.”
The new Notes Application in Mac OS X 10.8 allows for cloud-based notes using iCloud. On the iPhone and iPad, the Notes app has been a staple for many users who are now very excited to have those sync directly to a standalone application on their Mac. (Keep in mind, it’s been there for a while in Apple’s Mail application)
One big downside to Notes has been the lack of ability to organize them. In Mountain Lion, you can now create folders by choosing File > New Folder. If you’re not already viewing the “Folders List,” it will appear on the left side of the app. You can then organize to your heart’s content. Folders can only be created (as far as I can find) using the Notes app on the Mac or in iCloud.com using the Mail section where you’ll find a “Notes” folder to which you can add a sub-folder.
So there you have it. Enjoy!
When using TextEdit, you can type a portion of a word, then press the Escape key to drop down what is known as the Suggested Words List. It will provide you with a list of potential words to use which can be selected by clicking or moving up and down the list with your arrow keys, then pressing the Space Bar or Return key.
In the Date & Time > Time Zone section of System Preferences, you can set your Mac to update your Time Zone automatically based on your location.
If you’re like most people, you have several thousand messages in your inbox. Even if you’re organized and keep your emails within separate folders, you probably have tons of them saved away. This means that when you scroll down within a mailbox (aka. “A Folder”) in Apple Mail, you probably don’t feel like scrolling all the way back up just to get to the top.
Then don’t. :)
Simply click the small bar at the top of the list where you’ll find the option change the sorting of that mailbox. By clicking in the empty space of that bar (meaning not on the words “Sort by”) you’ll be zoomed all the way back up to the top in one click.
If you’re on an iPhone or iPad, be sure to check out this tip on fast scrolling to the top as well.
Searching the web usually means scouring through results and clicking the back button like it’s your best friend. What if there were an easier way to see those pages without leaving the list of results? Some search engines present you with previews of those links but even then, they’re too small to read and that doesn’t apply to normal sites.
Anytime you see a link in Safari (or Firefox for that matter) and you want to open that link without leaving your current page. Hold the Command key when you click it. It won’t look like much is changing but if you look toward the top of that window, you’ll see a new tab has been opened with the desired link. My favorite way to use this is when I search for something in Google and I hold Command while I click the top 5-10 results. I then have several tabs open for those pages but I never lose track of my original results which means if I don’t find what I’m looking for, I can keep scrolling down the list without having to run that search again.
Have fun exploring all the different ways you can use this little trick!
Instead of an independent Software Update Application, updates are now built into the Mac App Store. You can pull them up at anytime by opening the Mac App Store Application and clicking the Updates tab in the toolbar.
The icon itself will even have a little red notification badge in the corner to let you know when you have updates. You can use System Preferences to change the settings of how those updates make it to your computer. Keep in mind that any 3rd Party Applications not purchased or downloaded through the Mac App Store will not receive their updates through the Mac App Store Application.
Right now (June 2012) many users are trying to find out if they’ve already updated to iCloud from MobileMe or if they’ve properly added their iCloud account to their mobile device.
This graphic shows you where to go on your iPhone to see if your iCloud is up and running.
Start with Settings from your home screen, then scroll to iCloud. If you see an account signed in, you’re good to go!
These directions also work for the iPad. It just looks a bit different.
If you’re not signed in, there may be more steps to complete depending on your situation.