How to: use the extra features packed into Apple’s tiny AirPods

Yes, AirPods are clearly for playing music but you can rapidly choose where that audio comes from —and just what happens when you tap on the AirPods. AppleInsider details all the options.

 

By William Gallagher of Appleinsider

You can be listening to music moments after you first put AirPods into your ear and we may never get used to how great that is. However, just because they are designed so that you can pop them in and go, it doesn’t mean this is all they can do.

AirPods don’t have screens and they don’t have tangible buttons. But, the AirPods themselves and the charging case are replete with functions. You can edit touch controls so that a tap on your right AirPod plays the next track while a tap on the left one calls up Siri.

To help you keep your iPhone in your pocket, Siri can whisper the name of your caller into your AirPods as your phone rings. You can so easily switch to listening to your phone or your iPad.

And you can only slightly-less-easily switch to listening to your Mac, your Apple TV and even your Apple Watch.

No screens

There may not be a screen on these tiny AirPods but if you open their case while you’re next to your iPhone, the phone will display information.

Just opening the AirPod case tells the iPhone to pay attention and shows battery information. You get the current charge of the case and an average of that for the two AirPods. Put one AirPod in your ear and now you get the individual battery charge for each one.

It’s worth checking this instead of relying on that average, too, because very often the two AirPods will have different levels of charge. Even though you always charge them in the case together, one may be significantly lower than the other.

That’s because one of them may have been acting as a microphone when you’ve received phone calls.

You get this information when the AirPods have been paired to your iPhone. If they haven’t been yet, find the small white button at the back of the AirPod case and hold it in.

After a few seconds, this makes the AirPods and their case discoverable over Bluetooth and your phone can find them.

Even when you’ve got them paired, though, that’s not the same thing as having them connected. To quickly connect your AirPods, swipe to bring up Control Center, then tap on the small symbol at top right of the Music section.

This is the quickest way to connect and start playing music to your paired AirPods but there is a slightly longer way around too.

With one exception to do with phone calls, you control all of your AirPods via the Bluetooth preferences in your iPhone’s Settings. Go to Settings, Bluetooth and look for your AirPods in the list of paired devices.

Next to its name there will be a Connected or a Not Connected label. It’s a toggle: tap on Not Connected and it will connect or vice versa.

There is also an Information button to the right. Tap on that and if your AirPods aren’t connected, all you see is an option to Forget this Device.

If they are connected, though, that’s when you get direct access to most of the AirPods’ best features.

Ears and throat

From here you can do the big moves like disconnecting the AirPods or, again, Forget This Device. You can also change the name of your AirPods. By default they’re called your ones, as in “William’s AirPods” or “Rachel’s AirPods”.

If William or Rachel are ever mad enough to give up their precious AirPods and they really, really like you, then you can change the name here.

Toward the foot of the settings page there is an option to have Automatic Ear Detection on. It’s the default but if it’s ever not on, switch it on. This is how the AirPods are allowed to do something with the information that you’ve just picked them up and popped them into your ear.

Similarly, it’s how they are allowed to respond when you take the AirPods out. And it rarely gets better than when you take out one AirPod and the music pauses long enough for you to hear them say “Oh, I didn’t realise you had headphones on”. That never gets old.

There’s also a Microphone option which lets you specify which of your two AirPods acts as a microphone when you’re on a phone call or recording audio.

The default is to have the AirPods themselves decide, to switch automatically to whichever one seems best. The only criteria we can think of is that if, say, the Right AirPod’s battery is low, they could switch to using the Left.

Except the reason that one AirPod’s battery will be lower than the other is that it’s been used as the microphone. So how the AirPods pick which goes first is a mystery.

It’s also hard to think of many situations where it would bother you which was the microphone. The earpiece, yes: if you happen to have poorer hearing in one ear than the other then you would of course choose the other one —except this isn’t about hearing, it’s about speaking.

So just leave this set to the default of Automatically Switch AirPods and move on to your ears.

Left ear, right ear

AirPods respond to your putting them in your ears and taking them out again. They also respond to your finger quickly tapping on them twice. Since you have two AirPods, you can tap on either —and you can choose what happens when you do.

It’s not the greatest selection of options. It would be fun to see what an AirPod equivalent of BetterTouchTool or Keyboard Maestro could do, but for now you get five options per ear.

Three are to do with music. You can set that a double tap means to Play or Pause the music, that it means to skip to the next track or that it means repeat the previous one.

There’s also a Siri option. Select this and whenever you double tap on an AirPod, it will pause whatever you’re listening to and wait for you to ask Siri to do something.

The fifth option is just Off. That may be the dullest menu item Apple’s ever done.

Not all

All of these settings are done in the Bluetooth section of your iPhone’s settings. However, there is one more option you can set for your AirPods which needs you to go somewhere else.

Go to Settings, Phone. The first option under the Calls section is Announce Calls and normally it’s set to Never.

Tap on that line, though, and you can change it to have Siri announce your phone calls in three different circumstances. One is always, absolutely every time your phone rings. The others are to do with when you’re wearing AirPods —or any headphones —or you’re driving with CarPlay.

Whenever it’s set to announce your calls, that’s exactly what it does. You hear the ringing start and then Siri says the name of the caller if they’re in your Contacts.

It’s a bit quiet, to be fair. Or our ring tone is a little loud. We’re not sure which.

However, what it means is that you can leave your phone in your pocket and not even have to peek to see who’s calling. You do have to take it out if you want to answer but then you can pop it right back in your bag while you take the call on your AirPods.

Apple Watch

Of course, if you’re fully Apple-compliant then as well as AirPods you’ve got your Apple Watch. Then a turn of your wrist will show you who’s phoning and that probably means the audio announcement isn’t very useful.

When you tap on the Watch to accept the call, though, you can take it on the Watch or you can use your AirPods. If they’re connected to the Watch.

Whatever Apple Watch you have, there is music on it if you’ve also got an Apple Music subscription. You can leave your phone at home and tell the Watch to play music direct to your AirPods.

Back to the Mac

One oddity is that it’s still hardest to link AirPods to your Mac. It’s not as if it’s actually difficult: you click on the Bluetooth icon in your menubar then select the AirPods and choose Connect.

Only, it doesn’t always work. Why this should be the case with AirPods and not other Bluetooth devices is unfathomable but it regularly takes two or three attempted connections before we can be listening to our Mac over our AirPods.

Plus when you’re used to how quickly you can go between iPhone and iPad, it’s oddly slow going to the Mac. There is a workaround, though: a $2.99 menubar app called ToothFairy sorts it out. With a click on the menubar icon or the press of a keystroke, ToothFairy connects your AirPods to the Mac immediately.

Completing the picture

When you start listing all these Apple devices out, you do wonder how you ended up paying one firm all this money. However, if you also have an Apple TV then AirPods are now able to connect to them much more easily.

Originally, you had to go through the Apple TV’s Bluetooth settings. You’d go to that, then press-and-hold the button on the AirPod case until they were discoverable. Then the AirPods would appear on the Apple TV’s list of devices and you could choose to pair them.

That doesn’t sound like a big deal, not when it’s identical to the way you pair to a new iPhone, but it always seemed to take us a few goes to get it working right.

Whereas now, you can simply press and hold the Play/Pause button on your Apple TV Siri remote. That opens up a list of all audio devices attached or reachable on your Apple TV. When you flip open the case of your AirPods, they appear on the screen and you just select them.

When you’re at that screen, you can also press and hold on the selected audio device which will then change to a volume control. Considering that just using the remote control’s volume up and down buttons will do the same thing, it’s not the most use.

Perhaps none of these AirPod options on their own is going to shake the world but it is astonishing how much flexibility and functionality these things have.

And that’s even before next year’s rumored updates.

What’s your favorite feature of the AirPods? Tell us about it in the comments below!!

How to: Use AirPlay

Minimum Requirements and Basic Information

 

by Sam Costello of Lifewire

For many years, the music, videos, and photos stored in our iTunes libraries and on our computers were stuck on those devices (barring complex file-sharing arrangements). For Apple products, that has all changed with the advent of AirPlay (formerly known as AirTunes).

AirPlay lets you stream all kinds of content from your computer or iOS device to other computers, speakers, and TVs.
It’s a pretty neat, and powerful technology that’s only going to get more useful as more products support it.

You don’t have to wait for that day to come, though. If you want to start using AirPlay today, read on for tips on how to use it with many existing devices and apps.

AirPlay Requirements

You’ll need compatible devices in order to use AirPlay.

  • A Mac or PC
  • An iOS device running iOS 4.2 or later
  • iTunes 10.2 or later (some earlier versions support AirTunes or more limited AirPlay implementations)
  • Any iPad model
  • iPhone 3GS or higher
  • 3rd generation iPod touch or newer
  • Any Apple TV model
  • AirPort Express
  • Compatible third-party apps
  • Compatible third-party hardware like speakers or stereo receivers

Remote App
If you have an iOS device, you’ll probably want to download Apple’s free Remote app from the App Store. Remote allows you to use your iOS device as a remote (are you surprised?) to control your computer’s iTunes library and what devices it streams content to, which saves running back and forth to your computer each time you want to change something. Pretty handy!
Basic AirPlay Use

When you have a version of iTunes that supports AirPlay and at least one other compatible device, you’ll see the AirPlay icon, a rectangle with a triangle pushing into it from the bottom.

Depending on what version of iTunes you have, the AirPlay icon will appear in different locations. In iTunes 11+, the AirPlay icon is in the top left, next to the play/forward/backward buttons. In iTunes 10+, you’ll find it in the bottom right-hand corner of the iTunes window.

This allows you to select a device to stream audio or video to via AirPlay. While earlier versions of AirTunes required you to set iTunes to seek out these devices, that’s no longer necessary – iTunes now automatically detects them.

As long as your computer and the device you want to connect to are on the same Wi-Fi network, you’ll see the names you’ve given the devices in the menu that appears when you click the AirPlay icon.

Use this menu to select the AirPlay device you want the music or video to play through (you can select more than one device at the same time), and then begin playing music or video and you’ll hear it playing through the device you selected.
See how to enable AirPlay for iPhone for a walkthrough.

AirPlay With AirPort Express

One of the easiest ways to take advantage of AirPlay is with the AirPort Express. This is around $100 USD and plugs directly into a wall socket.

AirPort Express connects to your Wi-Fi or Ethernet network and lets you connect speakers, stereos, and printers to it. With it serving as the AirPlay receiver, you can then stream content to any device attached to it.

Simply set up the AirPort Express and then choose it from the AirPlay menu in iTunes to stream content to it.
Supported Content

The AirPort Express supports streaming audio only, no video or photos. It also allows wireless printer sharing, so your printer no longer needs a cable attached to your computer to work.

Requirements

  • iTunes 10.2 or later
  • At least one AirPort Express running firmware 7.4.2 or newer (you can use multiple AirPort Expresses in the house)
  • Speakers (or printer) to plug into the AirPort Express

AirPlay and Apple TV

Another simple way to use AirPlay in the home is via the Apple TV, the tiny set-top box that connects your HDTV to your iTunes library and the iTunes Store.

The Apple TV and AirPlay is a powerful combination indeed: it supports music, video, photos, and content streamed from apps.

This means that with the tap of a button, you can take the video you’re watching on your iPad and send it to your HDTV via the Apple TV.

If you’re sending content from your computer to the Apple TV, use the method already described. If you’re using an app that displays the AirPlay icon (most common in web browsers and audio and video apps), use the AirPlay icon to select the Apple TV as the device to stream that content to.

Tip: If the Apple TV doesn’t show up in the AirPlay menu, make sure AirPlay is enabled on it by going to the Apple TV’s Settings menu and then enabling it from the AirPlay menu.

Supported Content

  • Audio streamed from iTunes or iOS devices
  • Video streamed from iTunes or iOS devices
  • Video from iOS apps (e.g. YouTube app or video embedded in web pages)
  • Photos from computers or iOS devices
  • Mirroring a device’s screen on the TV

Requirements

  • Apple TV: 2nd generation Apple TV and newer for video and photos, or 1st generation Apple TV for audio only
  • iTunes 10.2 or higher
  • iOS device running iOS 4.3 or higher to stream content from third-party apps, or iOS 4.2 or higher to stream from built-in iOS apps
  • An HDTV

AirPlay and Apps

 

A growing number of iOS apps support AirPlay, too. While the apps that supported AirPlay were initially limited to those built by Apple and included in iOS, since iOS 4.3, third-party apps have been able to take advantage of AirPlay.

Just look for the AirPlay icon in the app. Support is most often found in audio or video apps, but it may also be found on videos embedded in web pages.

Tap the AirPlay icon to select the destination you want to stream content to from your iOS device.
Supported Content

  • Audio
  • Video
  • Photos

Built-in iOS Apps That Support AirPlay

  • Music
  • iPod
  • Videos
  • Photos
  • YouTube
  • Safari

Requirements

  • AirPort Express, Apple TV, or compatible speakers
  • iOS device running iOS 4.3 or higher to stream content from third-party apps, or iOS 4.2 or higher to stream from built-in iOS apps
  • App that supports AirPlay
  • AirPlay With Speakers

AirPlay With Speakers

There are stereo receivers and speakers from third-party manufacturers that offer built-in AirPlay support.

Some come with compatibility built in and others require aftermarket upgrades. Either way, with these components, you won’t need an AirPort Express or Apple TV to send content to; you’ll be able to send it directly to your stereo from iTunes or compatible apps.

Like with the AirPort Express or Apple TV, set up your speakers (and consult the included manual for directions on using AirPlay) and then select them from the AirPlay menu in iTunes or your apps to stream audio to them.

Supported Content

  • Audio

Requirements

  • iTunes 10.2 or later
  • Compatible speakers
  • iOS device running iOS 4.3 or higher to stream content from third-party apps, or iOS 4.2 or higher to stream from built-in iOS apps
  • App that supports AirPlay

 

Do you have a favorite AirPlay Hack? Tell us about it in the comments below!

How to: use your smartphone without leaving a trace

Cover up your digital footprints.

 

By David Nield of Popular Science

Every time you grab your phone to participate in a group chat, watch a YouTube video, or search the internet, you leave a digital trail of activity. This footprint can compromise your privacy the next time a friend borrows your device. It also puts your personal information at risk should your phone fall into really unscrupulous hands.

In this guide, we’ll explain how you can prevent your device from logging and storing data where other people can easily stumble across it. We will focus on cleaning up your phone’s local storage, as opposed to limiting the information that apps send to the cloud.

Go incognito

The web browser on your phone, like the one on your computer, offers a data-limiting incognito or private mode. When you open a session in this mode, the app will forget the pages you visit and the keywords you search as soon as you close the window.

However, private browsing doesn’t make you invisible. For instance, if you log into Facebook’s web portal in incognito mode, the social network will record your activity. Your internet service provider (ISP), will also see your browsing, and it may log your online behavior as well.

To hide your browsing from your ISP, you’ll need to rely on a Virtual Private Network (VPN) (more on that in this roundup of security gadgets and apps). But if you simply aim to clean up the record left on your phone’s local storage, then this mode tidies up after itself very effectively.

The process for using this mode will depend on the browser app you prefer. For example, to launch incognito mode with Chrome, tap the Menu button (three dots) on the top right of the page and choose New incognito tab. If you forget to browse incognito, you can still clear your saved data. Just hit Menu > Settings > Privacy > Clear browsing data.

ForiPhone users who rely on Safari, tap the Show pages icon (two squares) on the bottom right of the screen and choose Private. Now, when you tap the Plus button to open a new window, it will be an incognito one. To erase data collected outside of private mode, open the Settings app and select Safari > Clear History and Website Data.

Erase messages

Unless you use a chat app with self-destructing messages, it will keep records of your conversations. Of course, most people like to check back on their old communications, but you don’t need to preserve every moment of a years-long thread. You can delete these old conversations manually, or try a less time-consuming option: Automatically erase chat history after a set period of time has elapsed.

On iOS, open the Settings app, go to Messages > Keep Messages, and set messages to automatically disappear after 30 days. Within the app itself, you can manually erase conversations from the front screen: Swipe left on the thread and then tap the Delete button.

Unfortunately, not all chat apps offer this auto-expunge function. To leave no trace of conversations on your phone, you may have to turn to manual deletion. This may be time-consuming, but it isn’t difficult. For example, in Android’s default SMS app, Messages, you delete a conversation by long-pressing on it and then tapping the Trash icon on the top right of the screen.

Some apps make it easier to purge your entire history all at once. In the case of WhatsApp, open the app and head to Settings > Chats > Chat history > Delete all chats. Then make a note to regularly check back and re-erase your latest messages.

Another solution is to only send the aforementioned self-destructing messages. Apps with this option include Telegram Messenger, Facebook Messenger, and Snapchat. For more information, check out our guide to self-destructing message apps.

Limit app logging

Each of the apps on your phone will take a slightly different approach to logging your activities. Some of them let you avoid their gaze by using incognito mode, while others will stop tracking you if you ask.

For example, the Android version of YouTube (this is not yet available in the iOS version) just added an incognito mode, which doesn’t track the videos you watch. To activate this mode, open the app, tap your avatar on the top right of the screen, and pick Turn on Incognito.

On the other hand, Google Maps will track your location by default, which lets it accumulate a lot of data about your real-world movements. To stop it, head to the settings: Launch the app, tap the Menu button (three lines) on the top left of the screen, and hit Settings (on Android) or the cog icon (on iOS). Within the settings, select Personal content and turn off the location history feature.

There are millions of apps on the market, with no hard and fast rules about how to keep them from recording your behavior. But in general, a good first step is to check for the aforementioned settings—incognito mode and stopping tracking.

If you don’t find these options, you’ll have to clear your activity manually. This process will vary depending on your operating system.

In Android, open Settings > Apps & notifications, pick an app from the list, and hit Storage > Clear storage. This wipes all the data that the app has stored locally. Afterward, the app will behave as if you’ve installed it from scratch, so you’ll need to log in again, set up your preferences, and so on.

On iOS, you won’t find an identical option, but you can achieve the same effect by uninstalling and reinstalling an app. Open the Settings app, tap General > iPhone Storage, and select one of your apps. Then choose Delete App to wipe all of its data. Finally, re-install the program from the App Store.

It’s not very practical to do this for all of your apps every day. But you might choose to run a manual clean-up at set intervals (say once a month), before you go traveling, or whenever you want to make a fresh start.

Delete search history

Many mobile apps store data locally and in the cloud, so they can sync your information to other devices. That means, to clear search logs from your phone, you’ll have to wipe the records across multiple platforms.

For example, your Google account will store the history of searches you’ve run from your Android phone. To wipe these records, you actually have to access them from the web. Open your browser and head to your Google activity history page. Click the Menu button (three lines) on the top left, then Delete activity by. Set the time span and content type—to erase everything, those should be All time and Search, respectively—and click Delete. This will wipe your search history across all the Google-linked products you use, including Android and the Google search engine.

On iOS, you won’t find a comparable activity cleaner. However, you can prevent Spotlight from betraying your past searches by displaying them as suggestions. To turn off this feature, head to the Settings app, tap Siri & Search, and toggle off the Suggestions in Search switch. Now, when you lend your phone to your mother to look something up, she won’t see all your past search terms.

 

How do you cover your tracks on your smartphone? Share your workflow in the comments below!

How to: make YouTube load up to 5x faster in Safari

 

 

By Killian Bell of CultofMac

Have you ever wondered why YouTube is so much slower than all the other websites you visit in Safari? Did you know that you could make it up to five times faster with very little effort?

YouTube’s new design doesn’t play nicely with browsers that aren’t Google Chrome, but with some simple tweaks, you can switch back to its previous design and enjoy much faster speedsHere’s how.

It’s not Safari’s fault that YouTube runs so poorly. In fact, the same problem affects Firefox and Microsoft Edge users, too. It’s all because of the way YouTube is designed.

Google builds its services to run better inside Chrome. Some have been blocked from running inside rival browsers at all. What makes YouTube slow is that it still relies on a deprecated shadow API that only Chrome still supports.

This makes YouTube five times slower in Safari, Firefox, and Edge, according to Chris Peterson, a program manager for Mozilla — but there is a way to change that.

Speed up YouTube in Safari

You could ask Google to upgrade to the Polymer 2.0 or even 3.0 APIs, which are supported by other browsers. This would help make YouTube pages load a lot faster. But that probably won’t work.

The easiest solution is to force YouTube to revert to an older design that doesn’t rely on the Polymer 1.0 API. You’ll lose its dark mode feature and a slightly more polished look, but the experience remains the same.

Here’s what you need to do if you use Safari:

1 Download the Tapermonkey script
2 Tell Safari that you “Trust” the script when it asks for your approval
3 Download this user script that forces YouTube to use classic mode

If you use Firefox on your Mac, Mozilla has done the hard work for you. Simply download this Firefox extension that automatically forces YouTube to load its older design.

Do you have any tricks for speeding up YouTube? Share them with us in the comments below!

How to: Quickly Identify and Delete iPhone Apps You Don’t Use Anymore

 

 

By Emily Price of Lifehacker.com

When it comes to giving new apps a try, I’m a pretty easy sell. I’ll download almost any app from the App Store someone has convinced me has a use and give it a test drive. However, once that test drive is over I’m not good at taking the time to delete the apps that don’t quite make the cut. The result? My phone is pretty loaded with stuff.

If you have an iPhone, finding those unused apps and deleting them is pretty easy to do. I used to do it regularly and was reminded of the feature this week thanks to a post on MacRumors.

To get to the apps on your phone go into the Settings menu and then select “General” followed by “iPhone Storage.” When you do, your device will list all of the apps you currently have installed on your device with the largest of those listed first.

If you scroll down, you’ll see a “Last Used” date below each app that lists the last time you opened it. If it’s been a few months, it might be time to part ways with it.

If you tap on the app on the list you’ll be given two options: Offload app and Delete app. If you choose to Offload it will remove the app from your device but preserve the data you have associated with it, that way if you decide to download it again later on, you’ll be able to pick up where you left off. If you choose to delete, then all the app’s data will go along with it.

If you’re routinely running out of space on your device, I also recommend enabling the “Offload Unused Apps” feature found on the iPhone Storage page. With that, your phone will handle offloading apps you’re not using on its own, so you don’t have to.


How do you manage your unused Apps? Sound off in the comments below!

How to: prepare for the iOS 12 public beta

 

 

By Matthew Potuck of 9to5Mac

Apple has shared that it will open up its public beta program for iOS 12 (along with macOS Mojave and tvOS 12) this month. Are you considering running the latest software on your iPhone or iPad? Follow along for how to get ready to join the iOS 12 public beta.

We don’t know exactly when Apple will launch the iOS 12 public beta, but based on previous years, it could be early next week. While it can be exciting to pickup the latest features and updates ahead of this fall’s general release, there are some considerations before installing beta software on your iPhone (or other device).

How to prepare for the iOS 12 public beta

 

Expectations

Before installing the iOS 12 public beta, it can be easy to focus on all the great features and changes that the software will bring. However, it’s also important think about the downsides and weigh the trade-offs.

Being pre-release software, the public beta will naturally include bugs that means apps and features won’t always be reliable. That being said, the first and second iOS 12 developer betas have been relatively stable.

Here’s a few of the issues we’ve noticed at 9to5Mac so far:
• GPS showing inaccurate location
• CarPlay crashing when viewing backup and side camera
• Reminders app crashing
• Increased battery drain

If you can, install the public beta on a secondary iPhone (or iPad). Otherwise, just make sure you’re okay taking some risks if you’re going to go for it on a primary device.

Backing up

If you do decide to run the public beta, backing up your iPhone is especially important. If you’ve been using iCloud to back up with iOS 11, these will be replaced by iOS 12 iCloud backups once you move to the public beta. If at any point you want to revert to iOS 11, you won’t be able to restore from an iOS 12 iCloud backup.

Be sure to make an iTunes backup with your Mac or PC with your iPhone prior to installing iOS 12. This will allow you to restore your data in the event you’d like to downgrade to iOS 11.

Keep in mind that while this is one of the best solutions to protecting your data when running the public beta, there may be some missing data depending on how long a timeframe there is between your last pre-beta backup and when you revert from iOS 12 back to iOS 11.

The best idea to cover your bases is to download and save any important information manually, both before installing the beta and before downgrading from iOS 12 (if you do).

Smörgåsbord

If you’re eager to try out the other public betas, Apple will be launching tvOS 12, macOS 10.14 Mojave alongside iOS 12 access. Like last year, Apple will be reserving watchOS 5 for the developer beta only.

Check out the videos below covering all that’s new with iOS 12, macOS Mojave and more.

 

Are you planning to try any of Apple’s Public Betas of their new software? Sound off in the comments below.

How to: Enable Markup Annotation Tools in MacOS

 

 

 

By Tim Hardwick of MacRumors

Recognizing the utility of Markup annotation tools, Apple has extended their availability in recent versions of iOS, but it’s worth bearing in mind that you can access a similar and equally useful annotation toolset within several native Mac applications.

In macOS, accessing an application’s Markup toolbar lets you draw on and annotate images or PDF documents within the app using arrows, shapes, and text. You can also use it to quickly sign a document with your digital signature.

We’ve highlighted which native apps support Markup in this article. But before you can access the toolset in desktop apps, you’ll need to check that the relevant extension is enabled on your Mac. Keep reading to learn how it’s done.

How to Enable the Markup Extension in macOS

  • Click the Apple () symbol in your Mac’s menu bar and select System Preferences….

 

  • Click the Extensions preference pane.
  • Click Actions in the left column of the Extension pane.

 

  • If it isn’t already ticked, Click on the box next to the Markup extension in the right column.

One of the most useful Markup integrations can be found in Mail. Once you’ve dragged an image into your message, hover your mouse cursor over it, click the arrow button that appears in the upper right corner, and select Markup from the dropdown menu.

Your attached image will be foregrounded with the Markup toolbar across the top, ready for you to apply your annotations.

Markup can be accessed in the same manner within TextEdit as well as some third-party document editors. To test whether it’s available, simply hover your cursor over the image once it’s inside your document and look for the arrow in the upper right corner.

In Preview, the Markup toolbar has its own button next to the Search input field on the right of the taskbar. You also get a few extra Markup tools here, like Adjust Color, Adjust Size, and Crop, so if you can’t annotate an image within your application of choice then Preview should be your next stop.

Finally, the Markup toolset is also accessible in Apple’s Photos application: Next time you’re editing an image, click the Extensions icon (the three dots in a circle) and select Markup to enter annotation mode.

 

Do you find Markup useful? Tell us in the comments below!

How to: reboot your router following urgent FBI warning about viruses.

Hundreds of thousands of Routers could be infected.

 

By Daniel Paez of Inverse.com

Even if your internet is running smooth and speedy, you still need to restart your router. On May 25, the Federal Bureau of Investigation issued a public service announcement to everyone with a router in their home or office warning that an unidentified group of cybercriminals may have mounted a large-scale attack on networked devices across the globe.

The FBI advised people to reboot their routers to “temporarily disrupt” the malware that could be infecting your device. The government agency also recommended you make sure your device is fully updated, secured using a strong password, and is encrypted.

Here’s a breakdown of what the FBI said happened and how you can reboot or reset your router, just in case your network was compromised.

 

In its warning, the FBI said that the agency didn’t yet know how or where the initial infections began, but the scope of that attack has grown significantly. Hundreds of thousands of home and office routers have been infected with malware known as VPNFilter.

“The actors used VPNFilter malware to target small office and home office routers,” stated the announcement. “The malware is able to perform multiple functions, including possible information collection, device exploitation, and blocking network traffic.”

Cybersecurity firm Symantec recently published a list of devices that are known to be more vulnerable to this type of attack. It went on to say that most of the devices that are targeted are known to use default passwords or have not been updated to the latest version of its firmware.

If you’ve ever had problems connecting to the internet and have called tech support, the person on the other end of the line likely had you unplug your router. Rebooting — or power-cycling — your router gives it a fresh start and is generally one of the first steps recommended when troubleshooting your network device.

The FBI states power-cycling could interrupt VPNFilter, though Symantec states that this type of attack can persist even after a reboot. If you own one of the devices that are known to be susceptible to VPNFilter, you might want to reset your router to factory settings. This will require you to set up your WiFi all over again, but better safe than sorry.

 

How to Reset Your Router to Factory Settings

  • Rebooting: Unplug your router from its power outlet, don’t just turn it off. Wait about thirty seconds before plugging it back in. Finally, give the device a couple of minutes to turn back on.
  • Reset: You’ll find a small button on the back of your device that is labeled “Reset.” Holding this down will remove all customizations including passwords, usernames, and security keys, effectively wiping everything other than the latest version of firmware from the device. This will restore your router to its factory settings. From there you’ll need to follow your router’s set up instructions or call your internet service provider for assistance to get back online.

 

How do you feel about the FBI’s warning? Do you have tips on protecting your router and home network? Sound off in the comments below!

How to: Add AirDrop to Your Mac’s Dock for Quicker Access

 

 

 

By Chris Hauk of MacTrast

AirDrop is a great way to send and receive files between Macs or between your Mac and iOS devices. Here’s a quick way to shave a few clicks off of the process.

If you’re initiating an AirDrop transfer from your Mac, you usually have to open a finder window and then navigate to AirDrop. But, by following the quick steps below, you can open an AirDrop window with a single click.

1.) Open Finder on your Mac. (You can just click anywhere on your Mac’s Desktop and the Finder menu will be enabled.)

2.) In the Finder menu, click on the “Go” menu item, and then select the “Go To Folder” item in the Go menu.

3.) In the dialog box that appears, enter the following directory path exactly, then hit the Enter / Return key:
/System/Library/CoreServices/Finder.app/Contents/Applications/

4.) A window will open on your Mac’s Desktop, in it you’ll see an icon marked “AirDrop,” as seen below.

5.) Click and hold on the icon with your mouse pointer. Then drag-and-drop the icon onto your Mac’s Dock, dropping it in the spot where you want it to appear.

6.) Close the folder you grabbed the AirDrop icon from.

The AirDrop icon will now always be available in the Dock. Just click on it, and an AirDrop windows will open, ready to go.

For more tips and tricks on how to make better use of your Mac, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple Watch, or Apple TV, be sure to visit the “How To” section of our website.

 

What’s your favorite AirDrop tip? Tell us in the comments below!

How to: master Split View on the Mac

 

 

 

By Charlie Sorrel of Cult of Mac

Split view on the iPad is amazing. Two apps, side-by-side, open up all kinds of neat shortcuts. You can drag text, links, and pictures from Safari into notes apps, emails, Pages documents and so on. The Mac is less in need of such a mode, because screens are bigger, and you can already place two windows side-by-side, but on a little MacBook, where every 1/64th inch counts, Split View is a great feature. Here’s how to use it.

Split View on the Mac

Split View on the Mac is possibly harder to use than on the iPad, but once you get used to it it works just as well. Instead of grabbing an app icon and dropping it onto your workspace, like on the iPad, Mac Split-View uses app windows. So, how do you grab a window on the Mac? After all, we grab and drag Mac windows all day long, and they never try to go into a full-screen split view.

To enter Split View on the Mac, you have to click and drag on the green full-screen button at the top left of any window. Doing so will drop you into Split mode. The menubar disappears, your window shrinks, and a transparent gray block covers half the screen. This block is the target for Split View. Drag your window to the left of the right of the screen, and then drop it.

That’s step one. Once you have dropped your window into one half of the screen, the other half gets filled with miniature versions of all the other app windows that are open. Just click on any one of these to select it as the partner to your first window. Boom, as they say. You’re now in Split View, with two apps each using half the screen, with no menubar. It’s very Zen.

Enter Split View when you’re already in full-screen

If you already have an app in full-screen view, you can add another app to make it a Split View. To do so, swipe up on the trackpad with four fingers to Open Mission Control. This opens a section at the top of the screen showing your full-screen apps. Just grab an app window from the lower section of the screen, and drag it onto the full-screen app in the top section. That’s it. The apps will share the screen 50:50.

How to resize apps in Mac Split View

Just like on iPad, you can resize your windows in Split View. To do so, hover the mouse pointer over the line that splits the apps. The mouse pointer will turn into a horizontal, double-ended arrow. Use this to drag the centerline and resize the app windows. On iOS, you can only split 50:50 or (roughly) 70:30. On the Mac, there are no such restrictions. You can resize the windows however you like, although there is a minimum width for the smaller window.

How to exit Split View on the Mac

You can exit Split View, in two ways. You can click the green full-screen button of one of the apps, and that app will shrink back into a normal window. The other app will be left as a full-screen app, which you can return to using Mission Control.

The other method is to hit the Escape key, which does the same thing. I find the Escape shortcut quite annoying, because sometimes I’m using the escape key for something else, and I end up getting kicked out of Split View.

 

Do you know any slick tricks like this for the Mac? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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