iPod, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iOS and iTunes Tips & Tricks | iLounge

Tips & Tricks

Setting up an iTunes Store Allowance account

Making purchases on the iTunes Store is simple—a little too simple, if you ask some parents. If you’d like to give a child or loved one an account of their own while keeping their spending in check, an iTunes Store Allowance account is the way to go. Here’s how to set one up.

First, make sure you’re logged into the store with your own account, then click on the “Buy iTunes Gifts” link on the front page of the store. From there, scroll down to the “Allowances” section and follow along with the instructions, making sure to take advantage of the option to create a new Apple Account for the recipient. Once all the necessary info is entered, the recipient will get an email explaining how to access their account and information on the allowance itself. Once it’s setup, you can manage the allowance from the main iTunes Store account management screen. For more information on iTunes Store Allowance accounts, see our Complete Guide to Using the iTunes Store.

Migrating between iOS devices

As our iOS devices become more and more powerful, they also end up holding more and more of our information — making it an even bigger pain to move from one to another. Thankfully, there’s a super simple way to make sure your newest device has all the info from your old one. As long as you’ve backed up prior your device to iTunes and your new device is running the same or later version of iOS, you simply plug in your new iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad into your main computer, select your prior device’s backup, and hit restore from backup—after it’s done syncing, you should have all the same preferences, settings, apps, and media as you had on your old device without needing to do a thing. For more information on migrating between iOS devices, see our August 26 Ask iLounge article.

Charging your iOS devices on a Mac or PC

While Apple’s pack-in chargers for the iPhone and iPad provide just the right amount of power for each device, charging iOS devices on desktops and laptops can be more of a crapshoot. Luckily, it’s not too hard to take control of the situation and ensure that your device is getting the juice it needs. If you’re having problems charging or upgrading your device on a PC, you’ll want to make sure it’s plugged in to a port on the machine—not a hub—and try to unplug any other unnecessary USB devices while you’re at it. Perhaps unsurprisingly, users of Apple’s Mac computers have things a little easier.

On Macs newer than 2007, all your USB ports should supply at least 1100 mA of charging power to any device—such as an iPhone or iPad—that needs it. The extra power is doled out on a first come, first served basis, so the first device you plug in is virtually guaranteed to receive the maximum amount of power, while later devices are less likely. If you have a Mac that was built this year, it might even support full 2.1 Amp fast charging of the iPad. Mac users also have a very simple way to check how much juice each device is receiving. Simply go the the Apple menu, select About This Mac, and hit the More Info… button, which launches System Profiler. From there you can select USB from the sidebar under Hardware, and select the device you want to check on. It’ll show you the Current Available, the Current Required, and the Extra Operating Current—by adding the Available and Extra Current together, you’ll get the current power output for that port. For more info, see this Apple Support document.

Adding PDFs directly to iBooks via Safari

When Apple added PDF support in iBooks, it was a huge boon to users who hadn’t yet sprung for a standalone, third-party reader. But did you know that you can add files directly to this PDF library from Safari on the iPad? Simply open a PDF in Safari and tap the page - at the top you’ll see a button to “Open in iBooks,” which will automatically add the document to your library. Starting in iOS 5, you’ll also be able to take advantage of this feature on your iPhone or iPod touch, making the process of adding a PDF to your iBooks library far more streamlined.

Scrolling inside boxes in Safari

If you’ve ever come across a box containing text, a map, or some other interactive element on a webpage in Safari on your iOS device, you may have noticed that when trying to scroll inside it with a single finger, you end up moving the entire page instead. As it turns out, Safari on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch does offer a way to do so: simply scroll inside the box as you’d normally do, but use two fingers instead one. Problem solved.

Making the most of Maps

  • August 23, 2011

Sure, with its built-in search and global reach, iOS’ Maps application is a wonderful digital replacement for the traditional atlas—but it’s also so much more than that. Thanks to that search bar, Maps is often the simplest way to find the address and phone number of nearby businesses, restaurants, and points of interest—just start typing, and the result you’re looking for often appears after only one or two words. It works just as well for out-of-town searches—just search for the city, then the name. Hybrid view—hidden behind the folded-up corner in the bottom right hand of the interface—can provide you with a lot more detail than the standard view, and for an even more detailed look at where you’re going—or want to go—simply tap the little person icon (if available) next to an address or business to launch Street View.

Enabling Find My iPhone in iOS

If you’ve had the need to use Find My iPhone to locate your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad even a single time, you know the outstanding utility of this feature. Once limited to paying MobileMe customers, it’s now free for all iPhone 4, fourth-generation iPod touch, and iPad users, and will continue to be when Apple makes the transition over to iCloud. If you haven’t yet set it up on your device, here’s how to do so.

Open up the Settings app, then tap on Mail, Contacts, Calendars, and tap Add Account. Choose MobileMe, then use your Apple ID—it can be the same one you use for the iTunes Store, or a separate ID, if you have one—to sign up. Don’t worry if you’re not a MobileMe subscriber—logging in with a non-MobileMe ID will still give you access to the following screen, on which you can toggle the feature on and off. Turn it on, and you’ll be able to login on the web or from another iOS device using the same login and track, lock, remotely wipe, or just display a message or play a sound on your device.

Searching the Store from anywhere in iTunes

This week’s tip may be simple, but if you’re frequently searching the iTunes Store for new music, movies, books, and apps, it can be a big time saver. Normally, you need to click on the iTunes Store in your sidebar to search the Store—but this isn’t the only way to do it. Simply hold down option when you hit return after typing something in iTunes’ built-in search field and it will automatically route your query to the iTunes Store instead of searching locally.

Controlling your iPhone’s vibrations

Ever wonder why your iPhone vibrates whether or not it’s set to silent mode? The answer lies in a simple setting that—depending on the number of calls you have coming in—might be able to eke out a little extra battery life throughout the day. To change this, open up the Settings app, then tap on Sounds. On that page you’ll see two on/off toggles labeled “Vibrate”—one under Silent, and one under Ringer and Alerts. Simply go down to the latter one and make sure it’s set to off, and from then on your phone won’t vibrate unless it’s set to silent mode, saving you an extra bit of battery life and potentially saving it from rattling around and falling on the floor.

Splitting a track in iTunes

Have any tracks hanging out in your library that were ripped from CD, and therefore include one song, a few minutes of silence, and then a bonus track afterward? Well, this tip—an oldie but a goodie—will show you how to split the two using nothing but iTunes.

Simply find out the time code for when the hidden song starts, make sure you have the track selected, go to File > Get Info or hit Command-I on the keyboard, go to the Options tab, and then set the Start Time to the start of the hidden track. Hit OK, and then with the song still selected, go to Advanced > Create AAC Version, or select the same option by right-clicking on the track. After a short conversion process, you’ll have two copies of the track, one of which is complete, and one of which contains only the hidden track. You can then go back in, set the Start Time on the original to 0:00 and the Stop Time to the end of the first track, leaving you with both songs intact but none of the silence.

Mastering the Apple TV remote

The aluminum remote that comes with the second-generation Apple TV has been praised for its sleek form and intentionally minimalist array of buttons, and while most of its functions are self-explanatory, there are a few tricks you should know if you want to get the most out of it.

For example, you can get to the main menu from anywhere just by holding down the “Menu” button. If you’re playing music and would like to start a Genius playlist based on the song you’re listening to, hold down the select button. When you’re watching video, you can tap the down button and then use the left or right buttons to skip through chapters. We could go on, but to be honest, there aren’t any tricks for the aluminum wand that will make it better than Apple’s excellent—and free—Remote app for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, so if you have an iOS device around the house, be sure to download and install Remote to take full advantage of your Apple TV.

Setting up AutoFill in Safari on iOS

Over the years, Safari on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch has become more capable, incrementally gaining features from its desktop counterpart. One of those features—AutoFill—can come in extremely handy, but doesn’t necessarily get used a lot because it’s not turned on by default. To add this trick to your mobile web browsing arsenal, open the Settings app, tap on Safari, and then tap on AutoFill. On the screen that appears, you’ll need to turn Use Contact Info on, Names & Passwords on—if you want—and tap the My Info area to select your own entry from your list of contacts, letting Safari in on specifics like your address, phone number, and other details it can use to automatically populate forms, saving you time and frustration.

Quickly adding your Digital Booklets to iBooks

Long before the advent of iTunes LP, Apple offered—and still does offer—so-called Digital Booklets with certain album purchases. Unfortunately, these files have been basically useless outside of iTunes, as Apple has never offered a good way to organize and view them on its portable devices—until it added PDF support iBooks. While it might not do it automatically, iTunes does offer an easy way to gather these Booklets up and move them over to iBooks.

Taking iTunes Full-Screen in Lion

If you’re one of the million-plus people who took the leap and installed Lion on your Mac last week, odds are you know about the new OS’ Full-Screen App feature—but if you haven’t upgraded to iTunes 10.4, you might be missing out. One of the first things you might notice upon launching the app in Lion is a pair of diagonal arrows pointing out towards the corners of the screen—these are there to let you turn on Full Screen mode, which can also be activated by hitting control-command-F on the keyboard.

Using SMS Character Count to avoid split texts

Ever receive a text from someone that was mysteriously cut off at the end, only for the rest to appear later in a separate text—or worse yet, receive the end of a text before the beginning? That happens when you run over the limit of 160 characters that some carriers use to keep SMS messages small. For iPhone owners using iOS 4 or later, there’s a simple way to ensure that you won’t be joining the broken text crowd. Open the Settings app, tap on Messages, and make sure that the slider for Character Count is turned on—and that’s it. Once you hit 30 characters when composing a message, a counter will appear overtop the Send button, letting you see how many characters you’ve used, and thus letting you figure out how many you have left.

Declining a call from a locked iPhone

Ever noticed that when you receive a call on the iPhone and it’s on, you get two options for dealing with the call—Answer or Decline—but if the phone is off, all you get is the slide to answer notice at the bottom? Believe it or not, you actually still have multiple options available to you. By tapping the volume or sleep/wake buttons, you can silence the ringer with ease. But if that’s not enough, simply tap the sleep/wake button twice in succession and it will have the same effect as tapping the Decline button, sending the caller directly to your voicemail system.

Checking your upgrade eligibility from iPhone

With the announcement of the next-generation iPhone quickly approaching, now would be a great time to check on whether you’ll be able to qualify for the subsidized—or in layman’s terms, cheap—pricing. As it turns out, both AT&T and Verizon let you do that right from your phone. AT&T users will want to dial *639#, while Verizon customers can hit up #UPG—with either carrier, you’ll soon after receive a text message telling you whether you’ll be able to pick up the next iPhone on the cheap or whether you’ll be waiting for a while longer.

Toning down new message alerts on iPhone

If you’ve had your iPhone for very long, odds are you’ve noticed that it isn’t shy about reminding you that you’ve got an incoming text or MMS message that you haven’t gotten around to looking at—a problem that can sometimes lead to you thinking you have more messages than you really have. There’s a simple way to take control of this potentially aggravating feature, however. Open up the Settings app, tap on Messages, and then tap on Play Alert Tone. From here, you can bring the number of times it will alert you down to once or twice, or crank things up ‘til it’s going off 10 times for each text, or enough to make you sound like the most popular person in the room.

Tracking packages directly from Mail in iOS

If you’ve ordered something online, odds are you’ll get a shipment notification via email—and that means it’s likely to show up in Mail on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. Luckily, Apple’s latest versions of iOS can automatically parse UPS and FedEx tracking numbers, giving you fast access to the whereabouts of your latest arrival. To take advantage of this feature, simply find the tracking number in the email, and tap and hold until an option to Track Shipment appears, and tap on that to be taken to the courier’s tracking page. It’s a lot easier for the anxious than trying to copy and paste the number every time. Trust us.

Erasing your iOS device without a computer

The ability to take your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad into an Apple Store for service is great—but handing over all of your personal info? Not so much. If you’re getting your iOS device replaced, selling it, or simply handing an older model over to a family member, you’ll want to get all your contacts, calendars, and other personal data off the device—and luckily, there’s an easy, built-in feature in iOS for doing exactly that. Open the Settings app, tap on General, and scroll to the bottom of the screen until you see the button for Reset. Tap on that, and then tap Erase All Content and Settings. The device will have you verify that this is what you want to do—you are erasing everything, after all—and will then do its thing, rebooting afterwards into the same state it was in when you first took it out of the box.

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