How to: Hide Files on Any Phone or Computer

 

 

 

By David Nield of Gizmodo

If you’ve got something you want to hide away, then you’ve got plenty of options on Android, iOS, Windows, and macOS—options that we’ll run through here. Even if the kids or a stranger should get access to your devices somehow, these files will stay hidden from view and locked away.

Before we get started, though, we should note that while the solutions below will provide a measure of privacy from a casual user who nabs your device, they aren’t all necessarily going to protect your files from a hacker or someone else with expertise.

 

Android

When it comes to files on mobile devices, those files are usually photos or videos—your other files are likely to be stored in the cloud, not on your device. To hide an image in Google Photos for Android, long-press on it then tap the menu button (three vertical dots) and pick Archive. The photo can still be dug out of the archive, but it does give your sensitive photos some level of protection from the casual browser.

If you’re on a Samsung phone, the default gallery app does a bit of a better job at keeping any photos or videos you want private kept safe. Select the photos and videos you want to hide, tap the menu button (three vertical dots), then pick Move to Secure Folder—enter the folder PIN, and the content gets moved over. No one else can get into that Secure Folder without the PIN.

For something a bit more comprehensive, try Keepsafe: It creates a PIN-protected digital vault on your phone for those photos and videos that you really don’t want other people coming across. Getting files into the vault is easy, or you can take your photos and videos from inside Keepsafe instead.

Also worthy of a mention is Vaulty, which works in a similar way but makes the process of getting photos and videos in and out of your digital locker even easier. Remember that if you’re using Google Photos as your gallery, you’ll still need to delete the originals, otherwise they’ll just get shown from the cloud (which the likes of Keepsafe and Vaulty don’t touch).

File Hide Expert covers any type of file and is very straightforward to use—it simply gives you access to the file and folder structure on your phone, lets you select the content you want hidden, and then hides it. The interface is rather rudimentary, but if you want something basic that works for any type of file, it’s a good option.

There is actually another trick you can use on Android using a file manager like ES File Explorer: Put an empty text file called .nomedia inside any folder with images you don’t want to show up in the default gallery app (though they’ll still appear in the file manager). In fact Android will ignore any folder that starts with a period. It’s a rather fiddly solution, but it might suit some of you.

IOS

The iOS file system is even more locked down than Android of course, so you’re unlikely to have files floating around that you don’t want people to see that aren’t photos or videos. There is the new Files app, that shows your iCloud Drive files (if you’ve got any), but there are no options for hiding files here.

You can however hide photos and videos from the iOS Photos app to keep them away from prying eyes that aren’t yours: Open the file in question, tap the Share button (bottom left), then choose Hide. That removes the photo or video from Moments, Years, and Collections, though someone could still browse to the Hidden album in the Albums section of the app, so it’s not all that secure.

We’ve already spoken about hiding photos and videos in Google Photos, and the process is the same for Google Photos for iOS. Tap and hold on one or more files, tap the menu button (three horizontal dots), and choose Archive. This hides the pictures or clips from the front screen of the app, though they can still be found from the Archive entry in the menu (and still show up in albums and search).

One other option is to put photos inside Notes (though this doesn’t work for videos). First you need to set up a password in the Notes section of the iOS Settings app, then you can open any note, tap the Share button (top right) and choose Lock Note. You’ll also need to remove the photo you’ve added from the main Photos app.

If you need to hide files from specific apps, your best bet is looking inside that app to see what options are available. Dropbox, for example, can be passcode protected from its internal settings screen: Tap Account then the cog icon, and choose Passcode Lock to prevent anyone from getting into your files.

We’ve come across a number of handy third-party options too, including Private Photos Calculator and Private Photo Vault, which protect your sensitive snaps and clips with a PIN code. You can capture photos and videos inside the apps, or import them from the Camera Roll, but if you take the latter option you also need to them delete the pictures from the iOS Photos app.

Windows

Windows has a file hiding tool built right into it, as you might already know: Right-click on any file or folder, choose Properties, then tick the box marked Hidden and click OK. That’s it—your chosen file or folder is no longer visible in File Explorer.

Unless the person who’s gained access to your computer is clever enough to display hidden files, that is. The setting can be toggled right from the View tab of the ribbon menu—the Hidden items entry on the right. You can set files and folders to be hidden from this menu too, via the Hide selected items button.

If you think that’s enough protection to foil any would-be lurkers—that they won’t know Windows well enough to display hidden files—then you’re already all set. On the other hand, if you want to take your hiding file techniques to the next level, you’ll need some help from a third-party app, and there are quite a few to pick from.

Of the ones we’ve tested, Wise Folder Hider Free impressed us the most with its ease-of-use and feature set. You can just drag and drop folders on top of the program interface, and they disappear from File Explorer as if by magic. A password is then required to get into the application. If you want encryption as well, you can upgrade to the Pro version for $19.95.

We were also impressed by My Lockbox, which is also available in free and Pro versions (the latter lets you protect an unlimited number of folders). Again, one password protects access to the program, and it’s perfect for just hiding a single folder away rather than a bunch of files or folders.

Another option is to wrap up all the files you want to hide away in a compressed archive, and then put a password on that archive that blocks unauthorized access. 7-Zip is one free tool that can do this for you, though someone else could still see and delete the archive unless you added one of the hiding options we mentioned above.

MacOS

When it comes to Mac computers, the cleanest and simplest native option is to use the Terminal app, which you can launch from Spotlight (Cmd+Space). Type “chflags hidden file-or-folder-path” then Enter to hide something, and “chflags nohidden file-or-folder-path” and Enter to bring it back. If you like you can type out the command then drag and drop a file or folder into the Terminal window before hitting Enter (just remember the path so you can bring it back).

Various third-party options will take care of the task for you as well. Hide Folders does exactly what it says on the tin, and you simply drag and drop in files and folders from Finder and then click the Hide button. Anyone who launches Hide Folders can see what you’ve hidden though, so you might want to add password protection, which is a $20 upgrade for the Pro version.

Secret Folder does almost exactly the same job, though the interface is a little cleaner and easier on the eyes. Again, you can simply drag and drop folders into the program window to hide them, then toggle the Invisible/Visible switch accordingly. The application costs $20, but a free trial is available.

Hider is a more comprehensive solution that’s again is priced at $20 and again lets you give the software a trial run for free. In addition to hiding selected files and folders, your data is also encrypted, and you’ve got some useful extras thrown in as well (like support for external hard drives). Files can be shown or hidden using simple toggle switches, with everything protected by a master password.

If it’s particular apps that you want to block, then Cisdem AppCrypt might fit the bill for you. You can specify apps (or websites) to password protect, so anyone who gains access to your Mac won’t be able to run programs containing information you don’t want seen. It costs $20 a year, with a free trial available.

Going back to photos, if all you want to do is hide images and video clips, you can use the same options (with the same caveats) as we talked about for iOS. From the Photos app, right-click on an image and choose Hide Photo. This removes it from the main photo stream, but considering the Hidden album is only a click away on the left-hand navigation pane, it’s not the most effective solution.

 

How do keep your private stuff private on your device(s)? Tell us in the comments below!

How to: secure your iPhone and iPad Lock screen

 

 

By Peter Can of 9to5Mac

One of the things Apple touts is its focus on user privacy, and that commitment shows throughout the company’s ecosystem, all the way down to what is visible and not visible on a user’s Lock screen.

Follow along as we walk you through how to make the most out of your iPhone or iPad’s Lock screen.

How to secure your iPhone and iPad Lock screen

1 Head to Settings > Face ID (or Touch ID) & Passcode. You’ll need to enter your device’s passcode.
2 From there, scroll down until you see Allow Access When Locked.
3 By default, everything will be on. Now choose which options you’d like to disable access to when your device is locked.

Personally, I like to disable everything other than Siri, especially with Face ID on the iPhone X. By doing so, nearly every action on the Lock screen is not possible without authenticating with a passcode or Face ID. I keep Siri on to allow for “Hey Siri” on the Lock screen.

One thing I would like to see is the ability to disable the camera on the lock screen or perhaps a way to disable actionable notifications unless the device is unlocked.

For more help getting the most out of your Apple devices, check out our how to guide as well as the following articles:

How to turn off Airplane Mode and Do Not Disturb mirroring with iPhone and Apple Watch
How to create custom vibration pattern ringtones for iPhone
How to set up Apple Pay on iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, or Mac
How to report phishing attempts and other suspicious messages to Apple
How to back up your Apple Watch
How to enable ‘Calls on Other Devices’ like iPad or Mac
How to enable Wi-Fi calling on iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch
How to clean your dirty AirPods and charging case

How to: create a ‘do it later’ to-do list

A deferred do-it-later list can transform your to do list.

By Charlie Sorrel of CultofMac

Todo lists are great for not forgetting to, you know, do stuff. But they can be tyrannical, stressing you out with an endless queue of tasks which need to be completed. Even if you are hyper-productive, and manage to get through most of your chores, your todo list can end up cluttered with lower-priority tasks that don’t need to be on it.

This, then, is where the do-it-later list comes in.

A do it later to do list is the most useful to do list

A do-it-later list sounds like a goof-off. After all, you’re purposely putting a bunch of task off until an indefinite future date. But that’s exactly why its such a powerful idea. Instead of cluttering up your inbox with tasks that can’t be completed, you can keep your actual todo list short, while still gathering future task in a useful place.
Examples of good do-it-later tasks:
• A task with a definite future start date.
• Book and movie launches in the future.
• Notes, and things you want to remember, but don’t require you to actually do anything.
• Gathering the actual to-do tasks for a big future project.
• Tasks you can’t be bothered to do right now, even though you probably should.

As you can see, these are mostly the kinds of things that don’t need to be on your regular todo list. If your todo list is full of this kids of task, then you end up having to look at these same todos over and over, you learn to ignore them, until you end up actually forgetting to do them when the time comes.

The last entry — tasks you can’t be bothered to do right now — is just admitting to yourself that some things just aren’t going to gets done today, or even this week. Instead of torturing yourself, just get them off the daily list and do something else instead.
And all the while, they make reading your “real” todos much harder.

How to use a do-it-later list in Things

I’ll use Cultured Code’s Things app to demonstrate how some todo apps have built-in support for do-it-later lists. There are two main ways to create a do-it-later list. One is to make a separator list, and just put everything there. The other, which is much handier, is to use an app that can hide certain tasks. A good do-it-later feature lets you:

• a start date to a task.
• Hide tasks with start dates in the future.

Someday

Things is exemplary in this regard. First, it has a dedicated do-it-later list, called Someday. Anything added to this list (done with the mouse, or by typing Command-O) becomes a do-it-later item. You can find all your Someday task in the Someday box, listed up in the sidebar. But the killer part is that you can choose to hide or show Someday tasks in the rest of the app. For example, I have a list of ideas for How To articles. Perhaps I have a bunch of How Tos I want to write when the next version of iOS is released. If I mark these as Someday, then I can just hit a button in my How To list that shows or hides Someday items. Someday items also get a special checkbox made from a dotted line, to distinguish them visually.

 

If you add a date to a task, it also disappears when you choose to hide future items. Until, that it, the future date comes around, and the task magically reappears on your main list. Look for an app that supports “start dates” if you like this feature.

Things’ implementation of do-it-later lists is great, and the big advantage is that you can organize these tasks into projects, like any other, and yet still hide them.

How to use a do-it-later list in Reminders or any other app

Things’ handling of do-it-later items is great, but you can still keep a do-it-later list in a simpler app. For instance, in Apple’s own Reminders app, you can just create a special list that you use as a do-it-later list. Then, whenever you want to defer an item to your do-it-later list, just move it to this list.

On the Mac and the iPad, you can just drag-and-drop the task to your do-it-later list. On the iPhone, you have to enter the task’s edit mode by by tapping the task, then taping the little i button, then selecting the list you want send it to. That’s a pain, but then, Reminders on the iPhone is almost nothing but pain.

The disadvantage of this method is that tasks have to be manually moved back to their original list when you want to “reactivate” them. The advantage is that you can user it in any app ever, even a plain old text note-taking app.

Do you have a favorite To Do workflow? Sound off in the comments below!

How To: Switch Bluetooth Devices in the iOS 11 Control Center

 

By Chris Hauk of Mactrast.com

If you’re like me, you have multiple bluetooth devices paired to your iPhone and iPad. (I have multiple Apple TVs, my AirPods, and various speakers paired to my iPhone.) iOS 11 Control Center makes it easy to switch to active Bluetooth devices, with just a swipe and a few taps of your finger.

How To Switch Bluetooth Devices in the iOS 11 Control Center

1.) Open Control Center. You can do this on the iPhone X by swiping down from the top right of your device’s screen. For every other iPhone, you swipe up from the bottom of the screen.

2.) You’ll see the music player widget in the top-right portion of the Control Center. Look in the upper-right hand portion of the music player widget, and you’ll see an icon that looks like two curved lines. Tap those lines. (iPhone owners with a 3D Touch-capable device can force-touch the music player to pop out the Music Center to the screen. You can then tap the icon in the upper-right hand corner that looks like a triangle with three circle at the top of it.)

3.) You’ll now see the device options. All of the available connected devices that are in range are listed here. You’ll see a checkmark next to the device that is being used for audio.

4.) Tap the name of the device you would like to use for audio. Your sound should immediately transfer to that device.
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 Control Center short cuts do you use the most? Tell us about it in the comments below!

How to: stop annoying robocalls on your iPhone or Android phone

Fight back against the constant, annoying scam calls.

By Chris Welch of The Verge

Mobile spam calls have been a nuisance for years, but over the last few months, it’s felt to me like there’s been a surge of them. I get between four and six calls daily, and a quick survey of friends shows that I’m not alone. Every waking day brings with it a new barrage. Robocallers have upped their game by masking their spam with local, genuine-looking phone numbers. Sometimes their nonsense is amusing — like when you get a threatening voicemail about your impending arrest over owed back taxes — but the vast majority of the time, it’s an unwelcome distraction. It’s all too easy for these scammers to wield the power of the internet and fire off countless calls with ease. And once even just a few people fall for a scam, they’ve made enough profit to cover their trivial expenses.

Robocalls have become so infuriating that the Federal Trade Commission received over 375,000 complaints about them every month last year. The agency routinely says it’s doing its best to get a handle on the situation, and yes, there are occasionally significant crackdowns. But real-world feedback indicates that things are getting worse — not better — and it’s starting to feel a little out of control.

So if you’re as sick as I am of pulling a vibrating phone out of your pocket only to see a random, suspect number, let’s go over the options for fighting back and restoring some sense of peace.

First, I’ll review some definitions since the carriers make important distinctions between these calls — even if they’re all unwelcome and annoying. Here’s how Verizon looks at things:
• Robocallers: Automated, prerecorded phone messages
• Spammers: Unwanted callers that may be calling indiscriminately to a large number of recipients; sometimes includes callers to whom you’ve given consent to contact you
• Fraud calls: An entity likely pretending to be someone they’re not with malicious intent

OPTION A: BLOCK INDIVIDUAL NUMBERS ONE BY ONE

 

This is probably a hopeless endeavor if you’re aiming to completely eradicate robocalls, but if there’s a particular number that keeps calling, it’s fairly easy to block it forever from your iPhone or Android phone.

On iOS, just go to the Phone app, then your Recents, and tap the blue information icon to the right of the number you want to block.

For Android, the process isn’t much different: go to the Recents section of the Phone app, long press on the bothersome number, and choose block. On some Android phones, you’ll also be given the option of reporting the number as spam.
Again, this will take a lot of persistent work on your part to keep the spammers away — and it’s good for absolutely nothing against blocked or private callers.

OPTION B: TRUST (OR PAY) YOUR CARRIER TO PROTECT YOU

 

Most of the major mobile providers have taken steps to insert themselves as a barrier between you and these annoying callers. Unfortunately, two of them make you pay an extra monthly fee for their effort.

AT&T: Call Protect
Available for free for all postpaid customers. Unavailable on prepaid lines.

AT&T has a free app, Call Protect, that’s designed to block some fraudulent robocalls from reaching you, and you won’t have to do anything besides install the software on your phone. It won’t completely block spam or telemarketer calls, however; instead, Call Protect will identify those callers as “Suspected Spam” when the phone rings and give you the option of blocking their number in the future. Users can also manually block any numbers they’d like and report numbers to help improve the database.

The important caveats to know are that Call Protect is only available to postpaid customers; prepaid customers can’t use it at all. And the “Suspected Spam” feature only works in areas with AT&T HD Voice coverage. Also, the app is unable to block unknown callers altogether.

Sprint: Premium Caller ID ($2.99 / month)
If you’re willing to add an extra charge to your monthly bill, Sprint’s Premium Caller ID will identify spam callers and anyone not in your contacts list. It flags robocalls and spammers and assigns a “threat level” to give you an indication of how suspect the call might be.

But despite costing a premium, Sprint’s solution doesn’t automatically block anything from getting through. You can block future calls from a number or report it, but the best Premium Caller ID will do is make it clear that you shouldn’t answer. It won’t stop your phone from ringing, and all it takes is someone dialing *67 before your number to thwart it and show up as “Blocked” on your caller ID. Here’s an FAQ on the feature.

T-Mobile: Scam ID and Scam Block
Available for free for all postpaid customers.

T-Mobile includes two network-level layers of protection against robocallers, and both are free. Scam ID will identify known nuisance callers when your phone rings. It does that automatically without you having to install or sign up for anything.

You’ve got the option of enabling Scam Block to prevent those calls from ever popping up in the first place. To turn on Scam Block, dial #ONB# (#662#) from your T-Mobile phone. To disable it, just dial #OFB# (#632#). Like AT&T’s tool, T-Mobile will only prevent known scammers and fraud calls. Telemarketers and spam calls will still get through.

There’s also a third option, but it’s another that costs extra money. For $4 per month, you can subscribe to T-Mobile’s Name ID service. It can “identify any caller’s name and location and block any personal number, even if it’s not in your address book.” It also identifies organizations such as telemarketing agencies, political orgs, and survey callers. Name ID is included for free if you have a T-Mobile One Plus plan.

Verizon Wireless: Caller Name ID ($2.99 per month)

For no charge, you can block up to five phone numbers that you want to prevent from contacting you. However, blocks expire after 90 days and aren’t very helpful against robocallers with numbers that change every day.

If you really want to combat spammers, you’ll have to pay for Caller Name ID, which identifies suspected bunk calls and lets you block those numbers in the future or report them. A free 10-day trial is available to help you decide whether the extra monthly fee is worthwhile.

OPTION C: PROTECT YOURSELF WITH THIRD-PARTY APPS

There are a number of services such as Nomorobo, RoboKiller, Hiya, and others designed to prevent robocalls from ever ringing your phone. Most of them require a monthly (or annual) subscription. At their core, these services rely on a constantly updating list of robocallers, spammers, and fraudsters and use that database to stop nuisance calls. (When I say constantly updating, I mean they’re identifying thousands of bad numbers every day.) A call comes in, and the service runs it against that huge list of scam numbers. If it finds a match, the incoming call gets shut down before it reaches you.

All of them allow you to maintain your own personal blacklist of numbers that might be bothering you and whitelist those you want getting through. Some work by downloading a dedicated contacts list — separate from your regular contacts — to your phone. But both iOS and Android have recently given these services more leeway in taking control over your phone app and stopping the jerks from ever reaching you. On iPhone, you’ll have to enable them in the Settings app and give them caller ID permissions before they can start working. Apple shows you how to do that step-by-step right here.

I’d recommend looking into each of these services to see which one you like best. All of them are largely well-reviewed by customers, and all offer free trials to get started. One of these will ultimately be what you need to really fight back against the robocalls. It’s just a matter of finding your favorite.

Nomorobo: 14-day free trial. After that, $1.99 / month or $19.99 / year

RoboKiller: Free 7-day trial. After that, $2.99 / month or $24.99 / year

Hiya: Free. Hiya partners with Samsung, AT&T, and T-Mobile to provide their spam ID services and also has standalone apps.

TrueCaller: Free.

OPTION D: BUY A PHONE FROM SAMSUNG OR GOOGLE THAT AUTOMATICALLY IDENTIFIES SPAM CALLERS

 

 

Samsung’s recent Galaxy S and Note smartphones automatically flag suspected spam calls right in the phone app as they come in. The company calls this feature Smart Call.

Same goes for the Google Pixel and Pixel 2, which turn the entire screen red as an easy “do not answer!” visual reference whenever a known spammer dials you up. These systems aren’t perfect; my Pixel 2 XL still gets fooled by plenty of numbers that look like local calls. Speaking of which…

NUCLEAR OPTION: USE DO NOT DISTURB TO ONLY ALLOW CALLS FROM YOUR CONTACTS

 

On both Android and iOS, you can set each operating system’s Do Not Disturb mode to allow phone calls from only those people and businesses in your contacts list. This is a pretty drastic, sledgehammer solution to the problem of robocalls, and you’re almost certainly going to miss calls that you would’ve liked to have answered. But those calls will go through to voicemail, and then you can add that number to your contacts for the future. I’d still only recommend this option if you’re completely fed up, though, and only if you’re very good and meticulous about keeping contacts up to date.

WHY DO MORE AND MORE SPAM CALLS LOOK LIKE THEY’RE COMING FROM A LOCAL NUMBER?!

 

It’s super annoying, isn’t it? It’s a trick called neighborhood spoofing, and RoboKiller has a good explainer on it here. https://www.robokiller.com/blog/local-call/ In short, scammers think that a number matching your area code (and maybe even the first digits of your own number) will trick your brain and make you more likely to answer. And it makes their deception feel even more nefarious. What if it’s a family emergency? Maybe it’s your doctor’s office or the pharmacy?

Thankfully the robocall blocker apps have gotten better at spotting neighborhood spoofing. RoboKiller claims it’s been good at doing so since the beginning, and Nomorobo has also made detecting neighborhood spoofing a major focus.
TIP: DON’T FORGET TO ADD YOURSELF TO THE DO NOT CALL REGISTRY

In theory, telemarketers are supposed to be honoring the National Do Not Call Registry. You can add yourself to the list by visiting www.donotcall.gov. The FTC says to allow 31 days for legitimate telemarketer sales calls to stop. Once you’ve signed up, your presence on the Do Not Call Registry never lapses or expires, contrary to some recent rumors. There’s no reason to renew or re-add your number to the list.

The Do Not Call Registry only covers sales calls. Charities, political groups, debt collectors, and surveys are still allowed to call you once you’ve signed up. Same goes for companies that you might’ve recently done business with. (You might be able to stop this specific case by verbally telling them to stop calling you.) Unfortunately, scammers / robocallers don’t pay the DNC Registry any mind and just ignore the thing entirely. The robots answer to no one, which will have you circling back to one of the solutions earlier in this article.

TIP: NEVER LET THE ROBOTS KNOW YOU’RE A REAL HUMAN

 

Tempting as might be to swear up and down at a robocaller or scammer, your best course of action is to leave them unsure as to whether they connected with an actual person. Don’t say anything. Don’t push buttons — even if the robotic voice says doing so will prevent further calls. Put no faith or trust in the robot voice. Either just let it go through to voicemail or hang up immediately if you mistakenly picked up.

TIP: COMPLAIN TO THE FTC… PROBABLY IN VAIN

 

When all else fails and you’re consumed by despair and anger over the never-ending interruptions, you can always report callers to the Federal Trade Commission. They’re not going to pursue every individual complaint, but it’s certainly important to keep the commission aware of the magnitude of this problem. And as I said earlier, sometimes the FTC does actually take down some of these scammers.

If you have a method of eliminating robocalls that I haven’t listed here, definitely share it in the comments. It’s very disappointing to me that two of the major US carriers are charging their customers added fees just to help get spam calls under control. You’re already giving them plenty of money every month. I’m sure they’re doing a lot behind the scenes to detect mass robocalling operations and defend their networks against them, but peace and quiet ought to be included in your regular mobile bill.

 

How do you avoid RoboCalls? Tell us about it in the comments below!!

How to: Use Type to Siri on Your Mac

 

 

By Charlie Sorrel of Cult of Mac

Type to Siri isn’t just for iOS 11. You can also turn on this super-useful feature on your Mac if it’s running macOS High Sierra. Type to Siri lets you do everything you can with normal Siri — call people, send iMessages, look stuff up on the web, do math, set reminders, and so on — only you type the command into a box instead of saying it.

Type to Siri is classified as an accessibility feature, but it’s useful for anyone who works in a busy office, or just feels like a dork when they talk to their Mac.

How to enable Type to Siri on Mac

 

To enable Type to Siri, head to the System Preferences, found under Apple Menu>System Preferences, and click the Accessibility icon. Then, in the sidebar, scroll down to find the Siri icon, and click it.

Here you’ll find a single checkbox: Enable Type to Siri. Click that and you just switched Siri from a spoken interface, to a written one. Now you can do all the neat keyboard tricks that work with Type to Siri on iOS.

Add a keyboard shortcut to activate Siri

To get the most from Type to Siri on the Mac, you should set a keyboard shortcut to activate it. Otherwise, you’ll have to mouse up to the top left of the menubar and click the Siri icon every time you want to use it. This is done in the Siri preferences, found at Apple Menu>System Preferences>Siri. You can also get to this panel quickly by clicking the shortcut button in the previous Accessibility section.

Here, you can choose whether to show Siri in the menubar, as well as picking the language, and other settings. The one we’re interested in the is Keyboard Shortcut. Click this, and pick a shortcut. if you don’t fancy any of the suggestions, just click Customize… and then press the key you’d like to use. On a desktop Mac, one of the spare Function keys is a good choice.

Now, whenever you want to use Siri, hit the keyboard shortcut, and type your command or query. For some suggestions fo what you can do with Type to Siri, check out out Type to Siri on iOS article, which is full of great tips.

 

 

What do think of the Type to Siri feature? Sound off in the Comments below!

How to: To Scan A Document Using Notes on iOS

 

 

By Chris Chepek of MacTrast.com

Apple Notes received an overhaul in iOS 11 adding great features for users like enhanced text formatting, pinned notes and tables.

One awesome capability Notes has gained is the ability to scan documents; something 3rd party apps have been using your iPhone’s camera to do for years. This feature is great for everything from organizing important work items, business cards, warranty agreements, personal documents or receipts for your taxes.

How To Scan A Document Using Notes on iOS

 

Scanning a document for notes is very easy, let’s get started.

1.) First open up a new or existing note, then tap the “+” icon and select “Scan Documents.”

2.) For the best results place your document on a flat surface and align what you are scanning into the box as best you can. If you have “Auto” enabled in the top right, Notes will automatically snap a picture when everything is in alignment. If you’d prefer to take the picture yourself toggle modes by tapping on them in the top right. If you choose “Manual” mode, line up your document and snap a picture of it by tapping the large white button.

3.) If your scan didn’t come out as even as you would like, adjust the corners of your scan by dragging for better alignment. When you are happy with the alignment tap “Keep Scan.”

 

4.) Tap “Save” to finish scanning or you have the option to add another page. After you are done you can still edit your documents by tapping on one to bring up the edit toolbar, from there you can rotate, crop, change filters or add more pages.

 

How do you scan a document to your phone? Tell us about it in the comments below!

How to: create a full system backup in Windows 10.

It’s an oldie but goodie: Creating a system image of your Windows 10 PC in case your hard drive goes belly up and you need to recover your files, settings and apps.

BY Matt Elliott of CNet

It’s been around since Windows 7 ($22.95 at Amazon.com), and Microsoft hasn’t touched it since. You won’t find it in the Settings app where you likely first turn when you need to perform a bit of system maintenance on your PC. Instead, it’s hiding out in the the old Windows Control Panel. What it is is the ability to create a full system backup, which you can use to restore your PC should it fail, become corrupted or otherwise stop operating smoothly.

Because the tool to create a system image is somewhat buried in Windows 10 ($149.00 at Amazon.com), let’s shine a light on where it’s located and how to use it.

Steps to create a backup system image

1. Open the Control Panel (easiest way is to search for it or ask Cortana).
2. Click System and Security
3. Click Backup and Restore (Windows 7)

4. Click Create a system image in the left panel
5. You have options for where you want to save the backup image: external hard drive or DVDs. I suggest the former, even if your computer has a DVD-RW drive, so connect your external drive to your PC, select On a hard disk and click Next.

 

 

6. Click the Start backup button.

 

After the system image is created, you’ll be asked if you want to create a system repair disc. This puts your image on a CD or DVD, which you can use to access the system image you created if your PC won’t boot. Don’t worry if your laptop doesn’t have a CD or DVD drive; you can skip this step and boot the system from the system image on your external hard drive.


How do you back up your computer(s)? Tell us about it in the comments below!

How to: Master Microsoft Word

 

 

By Thorin Klosowski of Lifehacker

Microsoft Word is easily the biggest, most popular word processing program available, but it does a lot more than just edit text and TPS reports. If you’ve been telling yourself that you’ll finally learn Word’s ins and outs, now’s the time to actually learn how to edit styles, add a table of contents, and more.

Get Up and Running with Word Quickly

 

Of all of the Microsoft Office programs, Microsoft Word is probably the simplest from a user interface perspective. If you’ve ever used a word processing program in your life, you’ll recognize the menus for opening and creating files in the top left corner. The larger menu that runs across the top of the document Microsoft refers to as the “ribbon.” The ribbon has all the formatting tools you’ll need, as well as a few contextual commands that change depending on which tab you’re on.

For this series, we’ll assume you know the basics, but if you want a refresher, Microsoft’s quick start guide for Word gets you through the basics.

How to Do the Most Common, Essential Tasks in Microsoft Word

Of course, everyone’s needs are a little different, but considering most people use Office in an office setting, we’re willing to bet you’ll need to do things like edit styles, compare two documents, prepare a table of contents, and more.Let’s go ahead and cover some of those common tasks.

How to Apply and Edit Styles

A style in Word is a preset formatting for your document. This is what the document looks like, so it includes the font, font size, paragraph style, and so on. Creating or changing a style makes it possible to alter the look of a document all at once so you don’t need to go through and highlight individual sections and make specific changes. You can do things like set a universal heading style,or change what the default bulleted list looks like.

For example, if you’re working on a book, you might get a list of style guidelines from a publisher. Or if you’re working on weekly interoffice memos, a style is an easy to way to create a format guideline so every one you make looks the same way every time. Plus, you get the flexibility to change styles at any time, so if one department likes their memos one way, but your boss prefers a different style, you don’t have to change a bunch of formatting every time you open a new document.

To apply a style, make sure you’re on the Home tab, select a block of text in a document that you want to alter, and then click the Style menu in the ribbon. For example, if you want to make a heading in the middle of a block of text, you’d select the text you want as a heading, then click Styles > Heading 1. It’s as easy as that.

Making your own specific styles is pretty easy too. This is useful when you’re writing something consistently, like a newsletter or a book, and want a specific set of rules you can easily apply to a document as a whole. For example, you might want to change the font size of the default heading option, or change how creating a list works. Here’s how to do it:
From the Home tab, click on Styles Pane.
Click New Style or select the style you’d like to edit.
You’ll get a pop up window to edit a number of parameters here
including type, basis, and formatting.
Click through the options you want to change.

If you’re confused about what each term means, don’t worry, it’s pretty straightforward. Paragraph styles determine the look of the text on a paragraph level.

When you apply this style, it’ll change the whole paragraph. Character styles determine the look on a character level, so you can make one word stand out. Table styles alter the look of tables, like the header row or how the grid lines work. Finally, list styles alter the look of a list, such as bulleted lists or a number scheme.

How to Add a Table of Contents to the Beginning of a Document

 

If you’re working with a big document, a table of contents adds quick navigation. Thankfully, creating a table of contents in Word is easy and it’ll update itself automatically as you add more to the document.

Word’s automatic table of contents generator takes each heading you add to a document, and then creates the table of contents based on that. If you plan on creating a table of contents, make sure you style each of your section titles with a heading.
Click an empty paragraph where you want to insert the table of contents.
Click the References tab.
Click Table of Contents and then select the appearance you want to use.

That’s it. Word automatically updates that table of contents any time you add or alter a header.

How to Compare and Merge Two Documents

If you have two versions of a document, whether it’s because someone did edits in their own copy, a cloud backup failed, or if you’re just trying to hash out what exactly changed between two versions of the same thing, you’ll need to use the compare and combine functions.

If you just want to see what changes exist between two documents, you can compare them. Here’s how to compare two documents:

Open one of the two documents you want to compare.
Click Tools > Track Changes > Compare Documents.
Pick your original document and revised document files.

Type in a name under “Label changes with” text field so you can tell the difference between the two documents. This way, Word will add a note telling you where each change comes from.

Combining a document works the same way, but the end result is a single document that merges the contents of both documents together so everything that’s the same is overwritten:

Open one of the two documents you want to combine.
Click Tools > Merge Documents.
Pick your original document and revised document files.

When the documents are merged, the differences between the two are highlighted. From here, you can go in and pick what you want to keep in the final version.

How to Format a Document Properly with Tab Stops and Indents

If you’re the type who formats a document by pressing spacebar or tab a bunch of times, it’s time to learn how to do it the right way: Using indents and tab stops. The video above shows off how tabs and indents work so it’s easy to understand, but let’s just sum up what the two terms actually mean.

Tab stops: A tab stop is the location a cursor stops after the tab key is pressed. In Word, it’s a way to easily align text. When you click the ruler in Word, a tab stop appears as a little curved arrow. When you tap the tab key, the cursor and text will jump to that arrow. If you add in multiple tab stops, you can make it so you can format text by simply tapping the tab key a couple of times to get it in place and perfectly lined up.

Indents:
As the name suggests, indents determine the distance of the paragraph from the left or right margin. On the ruler, you’ll see two triangles that adjust the indentation. You can click either triangle and move it to change the indentation. The top triangle adjusts the indentation of the first line of a paragraph. The bottom triangle adjusts the indentation for subsequent lines (aka the hanging indent) in the paragraph. You can also click on the square below them to move both at the same time.
Learning how to use these indents and tab stops can make creating a document like a resume or academic paper a lot easier.

How to Add Citations and References

 

Academic papers are a beast to write, but Word makes creating bibliographies and citations super easy. Once you’ve created a new document and you’re writing that paper, you can add a citation with just a few clicks.

Click the Reference tab.
Click the Dropdown arrow next to Bibliography style and select the style
you’re using for that paper.
Click the end of a sentence or phrase where you want to add the citation.
Click Insert Citation. In the Create New Source box, enter in all the info you
need.

Once you enter a citation once, you can add additional citations from the same text by selecting a sentence, then clicking the Citations box and selecting the reference you want to insert. When you’re all done, click the Bibliography button and select either Bibliography or Works Cited to automatically generate the reference page for your paper.

The Best Features in Word 2016

Word 2016 is a word processor—that means it doesn’t have to make giant, revolutionary leaps over its previous versions. However, Word 2016 does have a few improvements worth noting:

You can search the ribbon: In Windows, above the ribbon, you’ll see a “Tell me what you want to do” box. Here, you can type in any question you have and Word will tell you how to do it. For example, you can ask it how to insert a picture, how to format text in a specific way, or how to create lists. It’s basically a boring version of Clippy for the 21st century. For whatever reason, this isn’t included in the Mac version.
You can see collaborators edits in real time like in Google Docs: You’ve been able to work on Word documents as a team for a while, but Word 2016 adds in live edits, so you’ll see other people’s notes and updates instantly.
– Smart lookup makes research a little easier: Word is now a little more connected to the web than it used to be. In Word 2016, you can right-click a word, then select “Smart Lookup” from the menu to look up a word’s definition, the related Wikipedia article, and top search results from Bing.

Other than those minor improvements, if you’ve used older versions of Word you’ll be right at home in Word 2016 within minutes.

Work Faster in Word with These Keyboard Shortcuts

Microsoft has full lists of every keyboard shortcut in Word for Windows and Word for Mac that are worth bookmarking,, but let’srun through some of the big ones you’re likely to use every day, and a few specific to word that are really useful:

CTRL+N/CTRL+O/CTRL+S: Create, Open, and Save a document.
CTRL+X/CTRL+C/CTRL+V: Cut, Copy, Paste
CTRL+B/CTRL+I: Bold, Italic
CTRL+A: Select All
CTRL+Z: Undo
CTRL+K: Insert a hyperlink
CTRL+P: Print a document
CTRL+H: Open Find and Replace
Shift+F3: Toggle Capitalization options
CTRL+SHIFT+C: Copies the formatting for selected text so you can apply
it to another set of text with CTRL+Shift+V
CTRL+Shift+N: Applies the normal style to the selected text

Beyond that, Word supports universal text editing keyboard shortcuts like Shift+CTRL+Up/Down arrows to select whole paragraphs. These can make navigating and highlighting text a lot easier, and we’ve got a list of all of them here. If you use Word heavily, get to know these shortcuts, they will make your life better.

Additional Reading for Power Users

Word’s a big program and we can’t cover everything here. Here are a few more guides to help you push the boundaries of what Word’s capable of.

Six tips for better formatting: Formatting is a big deal in MS Word, and if you want to get better at skills like showing hidden characters, dealing with sections, and more, this post should help.
Select all text with the same formatting: This hidden little menu in the ribbon lets you select blocks of text based on its formatting.
Everything you need to know about collaboration: Collaboration is a big part of Word. From tracking changes to learning how to use markup, this post covers everything you need to know about working on documents as a group.
Create your own keyboard shortcuts: Word has a ton of keyboard shortcuts as it is, but if you want more, you can make your own.

Word might just look like a boring old text editor at a glance, but as you can see, it’s a lot more complex than most people give it credit for. Mastering it can take a long time, but once you have the basics and understand what’s possible in Word, you’ll be well on your way to being a Microsoft Word ninja.

What are your best practices for Microsoft Word? Tell us about it in the comments below!

How to: Monitor Your iPhone Battery Health from your iPhone

 

By Jeff Gamet of The Mac Observer

Now that we know Apple controls device performance on older iPhones to avoid battery-related issues, maybe it’s time to pay closer attention to your battery’s health. You can do that easily from your iPhone or your Mac. Read on to learn how.
IPhones with older batteries were shutting off without warning, so Apple addressed the problem by essentially slowing down the processor. The issue was that the occasional peak power spike the processor needed over taxed batteries that couldn’t hold a full charge any longer. By spreading the processor requests over more cycles the battery strain was reduced and the phones stopped randomly shutting off.

If you want to track your battery’s overall health so you know what to expect from your iPhone’s performance you can do that from your phone or your Mac, and it doesn’t have to cost any money.

Checking Your iPhone Battery Health on Your Phone

If you want to monitor your iPhone’s overall battery health from your phone check out Battery Life. The app shows your current charge, wear level, and run time. You can see your charge history, too. If you don’t want to see adds and think additional data in the Today widget and Apple Watch app would be handy, that’s a US$1.99 in-app purchase.

 

 

Checking Your iPhone Battery Health on Your Mac

You can monitor your iPhone’s battery health from your Mac with coconutBattery. The app is popular staying on top of your Mac’s battery and it’s also great for seeing how your iPhone and iPad battery is holding up. You’ll need to connect your iPhone to your Mac’s USB port to see your phone’s charge and overall capacity, plus you can see details like model number, serial number, and manufacture date. coconutBattery is free and you can upgrade to coconutBattery Plus with additional device data for $9.95.

Apple isn’t saying what it’s threshold is for reducing performance for weak batteries, but anecdotally it looks like when your battery won’t charge beyond 80% of original capacity you’ll see the change. That number comes from several Reddit users saying that’s when they noticed their iPhone got slower, so if nothing else it’s a nice marker point for watching to see if your performance degrades.

What’s your best practices for monitoring your devices battery life? Tell ua about it in the comments below!

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