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

Tracking packages directly from Mail in iOS

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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

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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.

Putting an iOS device in DFU mode

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Whether it’s an unresponsive device, an upgrade gone bad, or some other sort of software-based gremlin, sometimes you literally have to force iTunes to recognize and restore your iOS device. Short for Device Firmware Update, DFU mode is a last resort for bringing misbehaving units back to working order—and here’s how to trigger it.

To start, you need to have the device plugged into your computer via USB, and then turn it off. Once it’s completely powered down, press and hold both the sleep/wake and Home buttons for ten seconds. After ten seconds, release the sleep/wake button but continue to hold the Home button down until you see a pop-up alert from iTunes telling you that it has “detected an iPhone/iPad/iPod touch in recovery mode,” and that it needs to restore the device before it can be used. If your device starts up normally without seeing this pop-up, simply try the process again—sometimes it takes a couple tries. And if that doesn’t work, well, there’s always the Genius Bar!

Getting rid of Wi-Fi network pop-ups on iOS

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Today’s tips is aimed at the urban dwellers. Do you frequently notice that your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad is asking you to join random, unknown networks while you’re walking, riding, or even just sitting at a nearby cafĂ©? Unless you like these interruptions, there’s an easy way to rid yourself of these annoying notifications. Simply open the Settings app, tap Wi-Fi, and set the “Ask to Join Networks” slider to off. Now your device will only connect to networks that it’s previously connected to—like the ones at your home and work—unless you open that same Wi-Fi menu and manually look for a new connection. It can be a little less handy, but it’s also a lot less aggravating.

Quickly add apps, content to iOS devices

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More than likely you’re accustomed to using iTunes’ tabbed device management interface for handling what apps, music, videos, and other media you want on your devices. But did you know that you can add just a few items quickly and easily without ever having to change those settings? Simply drag-and-drop any app or content you want from your iTunes library to the iOS device’s listing in the sidebar. iTunes will automatically add it to the device—assuming there’s enough available space—even if you’ve got automatic syncing turned on.

Setting up Automatic Downloads in iOS and iTunes

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Announced this week as part of Apple’s new iCloud service, you can now set your iOS devices and iTunes to automatically download new purchases made on other devices. On your iOS device running 4.3.3, go in to the Settings apps and tap on Store. Right at the top, you’ll see slider toggles for turning Automatic Downloads of Music, Apps, and Books on and off. In addition, there’s a separate option below that on 3G-enabled devices that lets you decide whether you’d like them to download purchases over the cellular network when you’re away from Wi-Fi.

In iTunes 10.3, the process is just as simple. Open the iTunes > Preferences… menu, click the Store tab, and then click the three check boxes for the Automatic Downloads of Music, Apps, and Books as you’d like. From now on, whenever you purchase a song, app, or book on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or home computer, you’ll find it waiting for you the next time you use one of your other devices.

Downloading past iTunes purchases to your iOS device

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As you might have heard, Apple has announced iTunes in the Cloud, allowing users to download past iTunes Store music and music video purchases directly to their iPhones, iPads, or iPod touches, free of charge. If your device is running iOS 4.3.3, simply open the iTunes Store app and look at the bottom row of tabs. You should see a new tab called Purchased, from which you can access and download all your past iTunes Store music purchases. You can look for specific songs by searching, browse past purchases via Recent Purchases or Not On This iPhone automatically-populated lists, or browse by artist. When you’ve found the song or album you were looking for, simply tap the cloud download button to the right of the listing. Just remember that if you’re on 3G, these downloads will count against your data limit, so try to stay away from grabbing up album after album until you’re back on Wi-Fi.

Grabbing screenshots on iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch

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Whether you’re a designer trying to get a mobile layout pixel-perfect, a frustrated customer needing to document some strange behavior for the folks at the Genius Bar, or a wordsmith wanting to memorialize your latest Words With Friends achievement, you’re going to need a screenshot. Luckily, every portable iOS device has a super-simple way to capture whatever’s happening on your screen. Simply push the sleep/wake and Home buttons simultaneously, and you should see the screen flash, accompanied by the familiar camera snap sound—provided your device has a built-in speaker. This trick works anywhere in the OS—including when an app is running—and you’ll find the resulting image in your Camera Roll, where you can access and share it just like any other photo you’ve snapped.

Getting the most out of iOS’ software keyboard

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When Apple CEO Steve Jobs first unveiled the iPhone, he made a point to highlight the device’s software keyboard, which allowed it to adapt to different uses, unlike the hardware keyboards popular at the time. Well, this adaptability can also make typing on your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad faster. When typing an uppercase letter, for instance, you can use a single “tap and slide” motion from the shift button to the letter you need; the same “tap and slide” maneuver can be used when typing a number or symbol. When you’re typing in a web address, tap and hold on the “.com” button to access other frequently used top-level domains such as .net, .edu, and .org, and if you’re typing on the iPad, you can swipe up on the exclamation point/comma or question mark/period button for quick access for an apostrophe or quotation mark, respectively. While they’re not exactly game-changers, these simple tips can save you a few extra taps—and with them, extra seconds—every single day.

Turning on Home Sharing for iPod, iPhone, and iPad

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Apple’s cloud-based music service might be just around the corner, but in the meantime, you can have complete access to your iTunes library on any iOS 4.3 device via your home’s Wi-Fi network by setting up Home Sharing. In the iTunes Preferences window, make sure you have Sharing turned on, then go to the Advanced menu and turn on Home Sharing. Once that’s done, go to your iOS device’s Settings app, tap on iPod, and scroll down to the Home Sharing section, then enter the same Apple ID and password that you used to setup Home Sharing on iTunes. From then on, whenever you access the iPod app while connected to your home network, you’ll see an option for Shared under the More tab. Select your library, and you’ll have full access to every song, album, and playlist you’ve got, turning every iPod/iPhone/iPad speaker in the house into a mini music server. Note that if you have a second-generation Apple TV, you can likely skip the iTunes steps and go straight to your portable device.

Bookmarks for iPhone, iPod touch + iPad

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If you’re new to iOS—or just a casual user—you might not know that the Safari browser on your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad has bookmarks just like the one on your PC or Mac. To access them, simply tap on the open book icon—located at the bottom of the screen on iPhone and iPod touch, and in the top bar on the iPad. A list of links and folders will appear, headlined by your browsing history. If you’ve chosen to sync your bookmarks through iTunes (handled in the Info tab for your device) or via MobileMe, all of the bookmarks from your Mac or PC should be there as well. To add a bookmark, simply tap the action icon and select Add Bookmark; this should sync back to your computer upon your next sync, or over the air if you’re a MobileMe subscriber.

Sharing a Contact in iOS

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It’s inevitable: at some point when you’re out and about with a group of friends, someone will need an email address, phone number, or some other piece of information about someone else, and you’ll have it sitting right on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. Luckily, there’s a simple and easy way to share this information, and it doesn’t involve a pen and a cocktail napkin. In either the Contacts or Phone applications, tap on the contact whose information you need to share, and scroll down to the bottom until you see the “Share Contact” button. On the iPhone, you’ll have your choice of sending the info via email or MMS—the latter super handy for sharing with friends that also have iPhones—while iPad and iPod touch users can ship the info out via email.

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Adding a website to your iOS Home screen

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Have a website or web app that you find yourself using a lot? Give it the same stature as your real, native apps by adding it to your Home screen. To do so, simply tap the action button—the box with the arrow pointing out of it—and tap the option to “Add to Home Screen.” This will bring you to a page where you can give your new direct link a personalized name, and then simply tap the “Add” button in the upper right hand corner to complete the process. Once a website has been added to your Home screen, you can move it around just like any other app—including putting it in a folder—and it can be removed from the Home screen using the same process you use to delete an app.

Please visit our Tip of the Day sponsor PowerSupportUSA.com for more information on their iPod/iPhone/iPad cases and films.

Multitasking on iPhone, iPod + iPad with iOS 4

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New to iOS, or just a long-time user who’s set in your ways? Then you might not know that the latest version of iOS allows newer iPhones, iPod touches, and all iPads to skip directly from one app to the next without needing to hit your Home screen. Simply double-tap the Home button, and the screen will slide up to reveal a tray of recently opened apps, any of which you can tap on to go directly to that app. In addition, you can tap and hold on any app to bring up small red buttons in the icons’ corners, which let you quit any apps that have become unresponsive or you otherwise no longer need to have open.

Swipe all the way to the right with the tray pulled up, and you’ll also find a screen with music controls for either the iPod app or any eligible third-party audio app—including Pandora—and either a screen orientation lock toggle or a mute button. iPad users will also see screen brightness and volume controls, all of which combine to give you quite a bit of control over your device without needing to ever “leave” your currently-running app.

Please visit our Tip of the Day sponsor PowerSupportUSA.com for more information on their iPod/iPhone/iPad cases and films.

Sharing Multiple Photos on iOS

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It’s super-simple to share a single photo from an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad, but what about those times when you want to share a batch of photos all at once? In the Photos app’s Camera Roll or album view, simply tap the box with the arrow coming out of it—also known as the action button, or the “do something with this” box. Once it’s been tapped, you can select up to five photos to share via email or MMS (on the iPhone); if you want to share larger photos at full resolution, simply hit the copy button, and then paste them into a new email message—but note that it may take awhile to send out the message, so this option is for quality, not speed. Happy sharing!

Please visit our Tip of the Day sponsor PowerSupportUSA.com for more information on their iPod/iPhone/iPad cases and films.

Tap to Focus/Expose on iOS

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If you’re new to the iPhone 3GS/4, iPad 2, or iPod touch 4G, you mightn’t know that Apple’s Camera application has a handy feature that lets you change the focus and/or exposure of an image. Taking advantage of this feature is deceptively simple: just tap on the area of the image you want to bring into sharp focus, and/or want to use for exposure purposes. You’ll see a blue box appear around the chosen area, giving you visible confirmation of your selection; the trick works for both video recording and traditional photography. Notably, only the rear cameras of the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 actually focus using this trick; all the rest—including the front-facing camera found in Apple’s most recent devices—will use your chosen spot to properly expose that area, instead of using the entire frame. Shifting the placement of the box can give dramatically different results, so feel free to tap multiple times until you get the look you want, and be sure to try the trick in your favorite third-party camera app, as many of those offer the feature, as well.

Please visit our Tip of the Day sponsor PowerSupportUSA.com for more information on their iPod/iPhone/iPad cases and films.

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