Did You Know Apple Hid Huge Reference Books in Your Mac?

You’re probably used to Mac apps using red underlines to mark misspelled words, but did you know that macOS has long included a fully featured Dictionary app as well? It provides quick access to definitions and synonyms in the New Oxford American Dictionary and the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus, along with definitions of Apple-specific words like AppleCare and MacTCP. But that’s far from all it can do.

First, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page. Launch the Dictionary app from your Applications folder and then type a word or phrase into the Search field. As you type, Dictionary starts looking up words that match what you’ve typed so far—you don’t even have to press Return. If more than one word matches what you’ve typed, click the desired word in the sidebar.

Notice the lozenges (options - Dictionary, Thesaurus, etc.) below the toolbar, representing the references that Dictionary can consult, and no, your eyes aren’t deceiving you—Dictionary can look things up in Wikipedia if your Mac has an Internet connection. In short, Dictionary gives you instant access to a dictionary, a thesaurus, and an encyclopedia containing over 5.4 million articles in English alone! You can click a reference’s lozenge to limit your search, or select All to scan all of them.

If you want to look up words in another language, or even just British English, Dictionary has you covered, with a long list of other reference works. Choose Dictionary > Preferences and select those you’d like to use. You can drag the selected entries into the order you want their lozenges to appear below the toolbar.

Once you’re in a definition, note that you can copy text for use in other apps—always helpful when wading into grammar and usage arguments on the Internet. More generally, you can click any word in Dictionary’s main pane to look it up instantly. If dictionaries had been this much fun in school, we’d have larger vocabularies! Use the Back and Forward arrow buttons to navigate among your recently looked-up words.

As helpful as the Dictionary app is, you probably don’t want to leave it running all the time. Happily, Apple has provided quite a few shortcut methods for looking up words:

Press Command-Space to invoke Spotlight, and enter your search term.

Select a word, and then choose AppName > Services > Look Up in Dictionary to launch Dictionary and search for that word. This trick should work in most apps, but won’t work in all. If the Look Up in Dictionary command doesn’t appear, make sure it’s enabled in System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts > Services, in the Searching category.

Last but best, hover over a word or phrase with the mouse pointer and either press Command-Control-D or Control-click the word and choose Look Up “word.” If the app supports it, macOS displays a popover with the definition or Wikipedia article. If you have a trackpad, you can also do a force-click or three-finger tap on the selected word—make sure the “Look up & data detectors” checkbox is selected in System Preferences > Trackpad > Point & Click.

Now that you know how to take full advantage of the reference works that Apple has built into macOS, it’s time to get in touch with your inner logophile (feel free to look that one up).

Finder Secrets: Navigating Your Folder Hierarchy with the Path Bar

Apple is known for creating clever little features that do a lot more than most people realize. Learn these, and you’ll be the master of your Mac. More importantly, you’ll get your work done more quickly!

Have you ever noticed the Path Bar at the bottom of Finder windows? It may or may not be showing—if not, choose View > Show Path Bar to reveal it. The Path Bar has two basic goals in life:

It wants to show where you are in your drive’s folder hierarchy. As you navigate into nested folders, it’s easy to get lost and not realize where you are. If you accidentally drag a file into a deeply nested folder, you might have trouble finding that folder later.

It wants to help you navigate to and work with all the folders higher up in the folder hierarchy, so you don’t have to open a new window and laboriously navigate to the folder you want.

To make sure we’re all on the same page, here’s a quick look at how the Finder is organized. The top level of your folder hierarchy is your drive—call it Macintosh HD for the moment. Inside Macintosh HD are macOS’s standard folders: Applications, Library, System, and Users. Your home folder is inside Users, and inside your home folder are more built-in folders: Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Movies, Music, Pictures, and Public. All the files and folders you create go inside those folders in your home folder. The screenshot below shows this in Column view.

But what if you aren’t working in Column view, or your window isn’t wide enough to show the full hierarchy? Look at the bottom of the window, where you see the Path Bar. It shows the same folder hierarchy: Macintosh HD/Users/Guest (paths are always written with slashes between the folders). Now check out this next window, which shows a folder of flower photos inside the Pictures folder.

Now that we’re in Icon view, it’s impossible to tell where in the folder hierarchy we are, or rather, it would be if the Path Bar wasn’t showing our exact location. It even identifies the selected file.

Here’s the thing even people who know about the Path Bar seldom realize: every item in it is live. Say you have another folder of photos sitting on your Desktop that you want to move into the Pictures folder. To make the move, simply drag that folder onto the Pictures folder in the Path Bar. Next, assume you want to open that other folder. Just double-click it in the Path Bar to open it. You can open any folder in the Path Bar this way.

There are three other things you can do with any folder in the Path Bar: open it in a new Finder window tab, show it in its enclosing folder, and get info about it. To carry out any of these actions, Control-click or right-click a folder in the Path Bar to get a contextual menu with those commands. (Similar commands appear if you Control-click a selected file at the end of the Path Bar, but it’s better to Control-click a file directly because the Mac offers more choices that way.)

Knowing how to use the Path Bar may not be necessary for managing files and folders on your Mac, but turn it on and keep it in mind—you’ll appreciate its convenient time-savers.

Get Ready for iOS 11 by Identifying Old Apps that Won’t Work

Now that Apple has released a public beta of iOS 11, we have confirmation that Apple is kicking some old apps off the back of the train. If you’ve been using an iPhone or iPad for more than a few years, it’s possible that some of your apps won’t even launch in iOS 11. Here’s what’s going to happen, and what you can do about it.

Through the iPhone 5, fourth-generation iPad, original iPad mini, and fifth-generation iPod touch, Apple used 32-bit processors. However, in 2013, Apple instead began putting 64-bit chips in all new iOS devices. The company encouraged developers to make their apps run in 64-bit mode but kept iOS 7 compatible with older 32-bit apps. Starting in 2015, Apple required apps to run in 64-bit mode to receive App Store approval. And iOS 10 initially warned that 32-bit apps might slow down your device and later said that 32-bit apps would need to be updated.

First off, don’t worry about what 32-bit and 64-bit mean—all you need to know is that 32-bit apps are old and won’t run in iOS 11, and that 64-bit apps will continue to work as they always have.

How do you know which of your apps are 32-bit? For apps that you use regularly, you’ve probably seen one of those warnings. But other apps you may open only occasionally—how can you figure out which of those are destined for the chopping block?

In iOS 10.3, Apple added a feature to call out these apps. Navigate to Settings > General > About > Applications to see a list of 32-bit apps that don’t have direct updates available (if Applications isn’t tappable, either you still need to upgrade your device to iOS 10.3 or your device doesn’t contain any 32-bit apps). Tap an app in the list to load it in the App Store, where you may be able to find more info or a support link for the developer. Unfortunately, many old apps aren’t in the App Store anymore.

Now that you know which of your apps won’t survive the transition to iOS 11, what should you do? You have a few options:

Delete the app. If you haven’t used an app in years, or don’t remember what it does, there’s no reason to keep it around. To get rid of it, back on the Home screen, press and hold on any app icon until all the icons start to wiggle, and then tap the X badge on the icon you want to delete. Press the Home button to stop the wiggling.

Look for an update that’s a new app. Because Apple doesn’t let developers charge for updates, many developers have been forced to make their updates into new apps so they can afford future development. To see if this has happened, search in the App Store for the app and see if a new version appears. Or look for information on the company’s Web site.

Look for an alternative app. Few iOS apps are truly unique, so you may be able to find an alternative that does basically the same thing.

Don’t upgrade to iOS 11. Or, at least, don’t upgrade right away. In general, you should stay up to date with new versions of iOS to ensure that you’re protected from security vulnerabilities that Apple has discovered and patched. But there’s no harm in delaying an upgrade for a little while as you wait for an app to be updated or look for an alternative.

Stick with an older device. If you have an extra iOS device that can’t run iOS 11 anyway, keep the app on that device. This approach may not work for an app you need on your primary iPhone, for instance, but it would for an old game that you could play on an elderly iPad 2.

Take a few minutes now so you won’t be surprised if one or more of your favorite apps can’t make the transition to iOS 11 when it ships in a few months!

Kaboom! How to Take Awesome Fireworks Photos with Your iPhone

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It’s the time of year when fireworks fill the sky above celebrations of all sorts. As the crowds ooh and aah at glittering chrysanthemum and willow effects, you may be wishing you could capture some of those moments with your iPhone. With these tips, you won’t need a fancy DSLR camera!

1: Pick a Good Location

Consider your position before it gets dark. If you’re too close, you might not be able to capture the full glory of a massive burst. Too far away, and the fireworks will be little spots of light. Make sure there aren’t any power lines or lamp posts between you and the fireworks. If there’s nearby water, you might be able to take some interesting reflection shots.

2: Turn Off the Flash

The iPhone’s flash works only at short distances, so turn it off to avoid annoying people around you. In the Camera app, tap the lightning bolt and then Off.

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3: Disable HDR or Enable Keep Normal Photo

You probably want to disable HDR by tapping HDR on the Camera screen and then tapping Off. HDR, or High Dynamic Range, combines three exposures into one photo, which works well when some parts of a scene are dark and others are light.

The problem with HDR is that fireworks will move slightly between the exposures, which may introduce blur. That could be an interesting effect in its own right, so if you want to try leaving HDR on, be sure to enable Keep Normal Photo in Settings > Photos & Camera. That way, you can see whether you prefer the normal image or the HDR version.

4: Hold Still or Use a Tripod or Monopod

To reduce the chance of your fireworks photos coming out blurry, keep the iPhone as still as possible—try holding it with both hands and pressing your elbows into your sides.

Alternatively, use a tripod, although a monopod or selfie stick can offer stability while letting you more easily move the iPhone around to frame different portions of the sky.

5. Try the iPhone’s Special Modes

With fireworks, it’s nearly impossible to predict the exact moment when a blast of color will be at its most impressive. So don’t! Instead, use one of the iPhone’s special modes:

Burst Mode: Press and hold the shutter button or one of the volume buttons to take ten shots per second. You’ll have to sort through the burst afterward to find the best pictures, but you’re almost certain to get good ones.

Live Photos: Fireworks are all about motion: the slow climb, the pregnant pause, and then the explosion of light and sound. If you enable Live Photos by tapping its bullseye icon in the Camera app (it turns yellow), tapping the shutter button will take a mini-movie of the action.

Slo-Mo Video: If you plan to share your photos on social media, why not share a video instead? A regular video works, but try Slo-Mo mode in the Camera app to slow down the frenetic pace of a grand finale. Hold still while recording!

Time-Lapse Video: Or, go in the other direction, and record the entire show as a time-lapse video, which compresses everything into a much shorter video. Just flip to Time-Lapse in the Camera app. You need a tripod for a time-lapse video.

6: Use an App for Longer Exposures

Apple’s built-in Camera app doesn’t let you increase the length of exposures, which can provide striking light trails of fireworks. Lots of independent apps do offer that capability, including LongExpo (free), Shutter (free), Slow Shutter Cam ($0.99), and Manual ($5.49). Regardless of which you try, play with different exposure times to get the effect you want.

One last thing. As much fun as it can be to photograph fireworks, don’t let the iPhone get in the way of enjoying the show with family and friends!

How to Stay on Top of Your To-Dos in Apple’s Reminders App

Apple designed the built-in Reminders app as a list-keeping assistant for both macOS and iOS. You can add reminders of any sort to the default Reminders list, or you can create custom lists, like Groceries or Movies to Watch. Plus, if you’ve set up Family Sharing, you also have a shared Family list that everyone in your family can access.

Making reminders is easy enough, but they can be easy to lose track of, and you may have to hunt through a number of lists to find any given one. How can you be certain that you won’t forget a particular to-do item? One technique that works well is to add a time trigger to the reminder. Time triggers cause your Apple devices to alert you to the reminder, and as an added benefit, they make it easier to find associated reminders.

Say you want to remind yourself to buy concert tickets. To include a trigger in your reminder, you can recruit Siri’s assistance by mentioning a time in your request: “Remind me to get tickets at 10 AM tomorrow.” Or, when you add the reminder manually, pick a day and time. After creating the reminder, hover over it or tap it, tap the i button that appears, and the option to be reminded on a day Then, on a Mac, click the preset day and time to adjust them. In iOS, tap Alarm and set a day and time. Unless the specific time matters, pick a general time that’s early in the day, like 10 AM.

Because your reminder includes a time, it appears not only in the list where you added it but also in the special Scheduled list. That’s key!

Now imagine that it’s first thing tomorrow morning and you’re trying to plan your day. You can either check the Scheduled list in Reminders or ask Siri: “Show me my reminders for today.” Once you see your day’s reminders, you can just do the easy ones, plan them into your day, or reschedule them for another day.

Of course, since you’ve assigned a time-based trigger to these reminders, Apple’s Notifications feature comes into play. At the appropriate time, your Apple devices can display an alert that you must dismiss, show a banner that disappears quickly, or play a sound.

Reminders can make it easy to remember important tasks, but try these tips if you need help:

  • For reminders created on one device to trigger notifications on another, set up your iCloud account on both devices must have Reminders on. Do this on the Mac in System Preferences > iCloud. In iOS, tap Settings > Your Apple ID Name > iCloud (if your copy of iOS isn’t up-to-date, tap Settings > iCloud). Plus, the reminders must be on a list that’s stored in iCloud.
  • If you use Siri to make reminders, specify the list where those reminders will be added if you don’t speak its name. On the Mac, choose Reminders > Default List. In iOS, go to Settings > Reminders > Default List.
  • Configure Mac notifications in System Preferences > Notifications. At the left, select Reminders and then make your choices at the right. The Alerts alert style is the easiest to notice. Set up iOS notifications in Settings > Notifications > Reminders. Turn on the Allow Notifications switch. For best results, turn on Show on Lock Screen and select Alerts under “Alert Style When Unlocked.”
  • On your iPhone, to see a different Reminders list, tap the “stack” of lists at the bottom of the screen.

So, go ahead and dive in. Set up a few tasks with time triggers, and enjoy letting your Apple devices keep track of it all.

Sleep (Your Mac) More to Save Time and Power

What’s your desktop Mac doing when you’re not using it? Depending on your settings and usage habits, you could be wasting both power and your own time. We’ve found that some people have out-of-date beliefs about their Macs’ different idle-time states. Let’s set the record straight.

First off, every Mac has three basic states: active, sleeping, and shut down. Desktop Macs use the most power when active, of course, and although details vary by model, a 27-inch iMac idles at about 60 watts and maxes out at 240 watts, averaging about 100 watts in regular usage. The Mac Pro is a bit less, since it doesn’t have a screen, and the Mac mini idles at a measly 6 watts and tops out at 85 watts. If you think back to the incandescent light bulb days, you can see that a modern Mac uses roughly the same power as an old-style light bulb. Not bad!

However, that 100 watts is huge compared to the trickle of juice that a Mac requires when sleeping—just about 1 watt for most models (the Mac Pro is the most restless sleeper at 2.8 watts). So you can reduce your Mac’s power usage a hundred-fold or more by allowing it to sleep automatically in System Preferences > Energy Saver.

The key here is to make sure the first checkbox—“Prevent computer from sleeping automatically when the display is off”—is notselected. It’s also good to set a relatively short time for the “Turn display off after” slider unless you spend a lot of time watching your screensaver or want to make sure the screen doesn’t go black when you’re giving a presentation.

Of course, you can always choose Sleep from the Apple menu, press the Power button for 1.5 seconds, or press Control-Shift-Eject (or Power, if your keyboard has that key) to put your Mac to sleep right away, but, it’s easier to let Energy Saver do it for you.

Some people have avoided letting their Macs sleep because of the amount of time it takes for the Mac to wake up and be usable again. That may have been a more significant issue in the distant past, but modern Macs are usually ready for action within a few seconds at most.

What about shutting your Mac down? Surely that doesn’t use any power at all. Actually, no. Every Mac uses about .25 watts of power when it’s turned off but still plugged into an outlet. And while it might seem worthwhile to save that .75 watts for when you’re not using your Mac overnight, you have to factor in the extra power that’s wasted while shutting down and starting back up, both of which are power-intensive activities. In fact, depending on how many apps have to quit and reload, shutting your Mac down every night may not result in any power savings over sleep. Plus, you’re wasting time while waiting for it to boot up again—especially if you’ve asked macOS to reopen windows on startup—so it’s a double whammy.

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That said, since an occasional restart can prevent or eliminate funky behavior, consider shutting your Mac down if you’re not planning to use it for a few days, perhaps on weekends. You’ll use a tiny bit less power over the weekend, and the Mac will be fresh and ready to go on Monday morning. That will get you the best combination of reliability, instant access, and power savings.

Capture Perfect Photos of Kids, Pets, Sports, and Wildlife with the iPhone’s Burst Mode

Snapping the perfect photo is tough. Children, especially babies and teenagers, can be difficult to pose. Cats relish looking cute and then turning away just as you grab your camera. Action shots in sporting events are impossible to predict. And you never know when that unusual bird will choose to fly away. Miss the moment, and you’ve got a picture with closed eyes, funny expressions, blurry action, or nothing in the frame.

Professional news, sports, and wildlife photographers have long solved these problems with burst mode, which takes multiple photos in quick succession. Film cameras required a motor drive to advance the film quickly enough, but now that nearly every camera is digital, burst mode simply needs enough processing power and storage space to record frame after frame. And, unsurprisingly, the iPhone (and iPad) has more than enough of both, plus a tremendously easy way to engage burst mode.

The secret hidden trick to using burst mode in the iPhone’s Camera app? Instead of pressing the shutter button once, press and hold it as long as you want to keep taking shots, releasing it when you’re done. That’s it!

You’ll hear the shutter sound continuously as long as you hold the button down, and a count indicator appears just above the shutter button to show how many images you’ve taken. The iPhone’s burst mode captures at 10 frames per second, so if you shoot for 2.5 seconds, you’ll end up with 25 photos. Burst mode appears to be limited only by storage space; an iPhone 7 didn’t hesitate when using burst mode for 20 seconds—200 photos!

The hardest part of using burst mode is picking which images to keep, which you do in Photos in either iOS or macOS. Images captured in burst mode appear as “stacks” in both the main Photos view and the automatically created Bursts album.

First, tap a burst stack, tap Select (on the Mac, double-click the stack and then click the Make a Selection button), and swipe left and right to compare all the photos. Tap anywhere on each photo you want to keep so it gets a blue checkmark at the bottom. When you’re finished, tap Done. 

Photos then asks if you want to keep everything or just the favorites—unless you hadn’t finished selecting the best shots, tap Keep Only X Favorites (on the Mac, click Keep Selection).

One warning. If you use iCloud Photo Library or My Photo Stream to sync photos between devices, it might take quite some time for all the burst shots to move from the iPhone to the Mac. Photos on both platforms reports on the number of pictures in the burst, so if you’re selecting photos shortly after shooting, make sure the number of shots matches before proceeding. Photos on the Mac puts a circular progress indicator in the lower-right corner to indicate that photos are still loading.

OK, two warnings. If you’re using My Photo Stream to transfer photos to your Mac, only those burst photos that you’ve marked as favorites will transfer. To set it so entire bursts transfer automatically, open Settings > Photos & Camera and enable Upload Burst Photos.

Along with the obvious uses with kids, pets, sports, and wildlife, you might also find burst mode useful when:

  • Framing a shot before a moving person or object enters it
  • Capturing splashing water
  • Shooting groups of people who can’t keep their eyes open at the same time
  • Photographing someone walking in full stride
  • Getting the perfect picture of an object blowing in the wind. 

So give burst mode a try today!

How to Unlock Your Mac with a Wave of Your Hand (well, 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 almost a reason alone 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 teenage girls 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 inscrutable 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 Bob’s your uncle. (Unless he’s not. We’ve never understood that expression.)

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.