Tips & Tricks
In theory, Apple’s iMessage service sounds wonderful—the ability to send and receive texts to/from people from your iPad or iPod touch as well as your iPhone is great. But you have to set it up a certain way to make that happen. By default, iMessage on the iPhone defaults to using the device’s phone number—but as long as friends and family continue messaging that number, those messages will never go to your other devices. In order to make that happen, you need to make sure your Apple ID is also set up for iMessage on all your devices, then tell folks to message you using the ID, and not your phone number—new messages should then start arriving on all your devices, letting you respond from whichever is the most convenient. Oh, and one important note: if you use your phone number for iMessage, Apple does some sort of device ID/SIM authentication that could leave that handset receiving your messages long after you’ve upgraded, even if you’ve wiped and restored it.
If you’ve been used to finding your iTunes U content in its normal home inside the iTunes Store or Videos apps, the recent release of Apple’s dedicated iTunes U app may have thrown you for a loop. But fear not—all the content is still available. Just not where you remember it. To access iTunes U content today, you need to download and/or launch Apple’s official iTunes U app. A simple Catalog button on the Library screen will take you to the same iTunes U content you’ve accessed before, only now it will live inside the iTunes U app—on that aforementioned Library screen—instead of in your Videos app.
Use a Mac? Had problems with new contacts created in Address Book syncing over to your iOS devices? Thanks to an obscure setting in Address Book, iCloud doesn’t always work as it should, but fixing it is typically pretty simple. First, open System Preferences, and open the iCloud tab, then double-check that Contacts sync is turned on. Once that’s done, fire up Address Book, and open Preferences. Down at the bottom of the General tab, you’ll see an option for Default Account - click this, and switch it from On My Mac to iCloud. Once that’s done, all new contacts created should automatically appear on all your iOS devices.
iOS 5’s Newsstand feature can be great for those who read a lot of publications on their devices, but the trouble is that most of those publications tend to be iPad-focused if not iPad-only, leaving most Newsstands on the iPhone and iPod touch bereft of icons, like a shelf in an empty store. And unfortunately, there is no “official” way to hide or turn off the icon, and since it’s just a glorified folder, you can’t put a folder inside another folder. Or can you?
With a bit of speed, it’s possible. To start, make sure your Newsstand icon is nearby, then press, hold, and drag an app on top of another app to create a new folder, then immediately grab the Newsstand icon and drag it into the folder. If you’re fast enough, your Newsstand icon will be neatly tucked away inside a folder, freeing up valuable screen real estate. Just remember that if you want to actually use the Newsstand, you’ll need to drag it back out of the folder and on to the main screen—trying to use it from within the folder will cause your device to restart. [via GigaOM]
Continuing our end-of-year roundup, we’ve decided to use today’s Tip to give you a list of links to our top tips of the past year. Below, you’ll find links to tips for iTunes, iPhone, iPad, iPod, and Apple TV users, with a little something for both new users and experienced pros.
Sharing Multiple Photos on iOS
Taking control of your iTunes Library with Smart Playlists
Getting the most out of iOS’ software keyboard
Setting up Automatic Downloads in iOS and iTunes
Getting rid of Wi-Fi network pop-ups on iOS
Navigating the Music app with one hand
Mastering the Apple TV remote
Setting up an iTunes Store Allowance account
Setting up Notification Center on iOS 5
Making Siri work with Facebook + Twitter
Sharing an iCloud account for multi-device access
Customizing your Mail signature on iOS
Apple’s Mac computers have long offered users a built-in speech engine that can read on-screen text aloud—but did you know that your iOS device can do the same thing? To activate the feature, open the Settings app, tap on Accessibility, tap on Speak Selection, and turn on Speak Selection. Once you’ve got that set up, simply select any text, and you’ll see a new “Speak” option sitting next to the standard copy option. Tap it, and you’ll hear your device begin to read the text back to you. While it’s definitely a handy feature, you’ll want to play around with the speaking rate until you find a pace that’s right for you—we found the default setting to be a bit too speedy.
Searching around for some last-minute holiday gifts? If you’ve got any iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch users left on your list, an app might be just the gift they’re looking for. To gift an app, simply open the App Store on your desktop computer or own iDevice, and find the app you’d like to send out. On the desktop, click on the downward-facing arrow next to the app price, and choose “Gift This App”, or if you’re on an iOS device, simply scroll to the bottom of the individual app’s page—if necessary—and tap on “Gift This App”. You’ll be taken to a page where you can enter the recipient’s email, a personal message, and choose whether to have the gifted app delivered by email or—if you’re on a desktop—via a physical page that you can print out and hand to the recipient yourself. Just make sure you don’t send the app to new owners until after they’ve opened their iOS device.
Sure, it was cool at one time, but these days iPhones—and iPads and iPod touches, for that matter—are so common that the “Sent from my iPhone” signature on your email has ceased to be special. If you’re not leaving it there for the purpose of explaining away a potentially terse and/or typo-ridden reply, why not make it a little more personal, or just remove it altogether? Doing so is easy. Open the Settings app, tap on Mail, Contacts, Calendars, scroll down, and tap on Signature. Your current “Sent from my…” message will appear in a text field that will let you easily edit it to whatever you want. Once you’re pleased with the result, tap the back button, and you’ll never send those unnecessary characters again. [via Cult of Mac]
After installing iOS 5 on our devices, the Weather widget in Notifications Center quickly became one of our most often-used, if not favorite, features of the new OS. But did you know it does more than just show you the temperature? Simply swipe to the left or right on the widget to access a six-day forecast, and repeat the motion to return to the temperature view. It’s not the most complex tip, but as with many things Apple-related, sometimes it really is that simple.
So you’d like to share a calendar with a family member or spouse, but that person doesn’t want to deal with the alarms you set for yourself. Signing into your account on the other person’s device sounds like an ideal solution, but unfortunately, you can’t turn off the alarms on an iOS device, so unless that other person doesn’t mind hearing an audible alert every time you’ve got a meeting, it’s not a workable solution.
There is a workaround, though. If you set the calendar in question to be shared publicly by visiting iCloud.com and hitting the small “broadcast” button next to the calendar, you’ll be given a highly obscure URL that the other person can use to subscribe in iCal, choosing “Remove Alarms” when they add it. If the other person isn’t a Mac user, they can subscribe to the URL directly from their iOS device by entering the URL in Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Add Accounts > Other > Add Subscribed Calendar, and choosing the “Remove Alarms” option. Once that’s done, they’ll have access to your complete calendar, but without the potential annoyance of unnecessary alarms.
So iCloud and iOS 5’s new Photo Stream feature is, conceptually, a great one: any photo you shoot—provided you’re on Wi-Fi—can instantly be accessed across all of your devices, and even used as a screensaver for your Apple TV. But what if you shot something you didn’t want to have plastered all over your TV, only to realize that there’s no simply way to remove a single photo? Well, you either have to live with it until it gets pushed out by 1,000 other photos, or reset your entire stream. Today we’ll show you how to handle the second option.
First, make sure you have an original backup of the photos in your Photo Stream, preferably in Apple’s iPhoto or Aperture photo management programs. Then, visit iCloud.com, sign in, and click on your name in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. On the pop-up that appears, click on Reset Photo Stream. One you’ve given confirmation, go around to your devices and turn Photo Stream off and back on to flush the previous contents. Sure, you’ll then be left with an empty Photo Stream, but you can easily refill it using those originals in iPhoto and Aperture, and even if you don’t, it’s still better than leaving potentially embarrassing photos on semi-permanent rotation in your living room. For more information on iCloud, see our Instant Expert article.
Sure, it would have been crazy just five years ago, but in these modern times of iTunes Match, iTunes in the Cloud, eight-megapixel photos, and HD video, the idea of needing to quickly—and temporarily—free up space on your iOS device isn’t as absurd as it might sound. Apparently, Apple’s developers thought this way too, and included a super-simple way to do so. First, open the Settings app, then General, Usage, and Music, in that order. At the top, you’ll see a listing called “All Music”—simply swipe to the right across this listing, and a Delete button will appear, giving you back however many MB—or GB—you might have tied up in audio. And if you’re ready to get some of it back and don’t have access to your home computer, follow this easy tip to re-download past purchases straight from iTunes.
If you’re into photography, odds are you know that lots of pros use cable releases as a way to eliminate vibrations and thus take sharper photos — but you might not know that as of iOS 5, your iPhone comes with a cable release packed right into the box. Since Apple added the ability to snap a photo in the Camera app using nothing but the volume up button, it also made it possible to do the same using the volume up button on most remote-laden sets of headphones, letting you mount your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad on a tripod or in some other secure fashion and make your picture from afar. [via Lifehacker | Mac OS X Hints]
While third-party camera apps have allowed users to lock the focus and exposure of their shots for some time, the feature is a new one for users who prefer Apple’s built-in Camera app. Thankfully, the steps to enable it couldn’t be simpler. Once you’ve decided on a subject you want to be in focus and properly exposed, simply tap and hold on its image in the viewfinder until the blue focus box pulses a few times. Once you let go, you’ll see “AE/AF Lock” on the screen, letting you know that your settings are locked in. Disabling it is just as easy: simply tap anywhere in the viewfinder.
iCloud is already proving to be incredibly handy for syncing personal information, documents, and media across devices, but what if you’ve got someone—a spouse, roommate, or child, for example—with whom you’d like to be able to share some of your information? Luckily, there’s an easy way to do so. If the information you’re wanting to share includes Contacts, Calendars, Reminders—such as a shared shopping list—Bookmarks, or Notes, you can simply add your iCloud account as a secondary account on the other person’s device. Simply open Settings, tap on Mail, Contacts, Calendars, and then tap on Add Account…. Choose iCloud from the list, enter your account information, and when prompted, turn on the options you want to share.
If you’d like to share Documents or have a joint Photo Stream with the person, you can do that too—simply setup the shared account as the main iCloud account on the both devices, then add personal accounts as secondary accounts using the steps above. Notably, this method will require you to share iCloud backups, but for families that need additional storage space anyway, this may save them from having to pay for additional storage for two separate accounts. For more specific information on iCloud, see our Instant Expert article. [Thanks, Allen Mazie]
While it’s not a feature you’re likely to use every day, the new version of Safari on iOS 5 does have a handy new trick up its sleeve: Private Browsing. If you need to turn it on—for instance, you’re using someone else’s phone to check your bank information, or otherwise simply don’t want to leave a trace of what you’re looking at—simply open the Settings app, tap on Safari, and turn Private Browsing on. You’ll see a prompt asking if you want to keep the currently open tabs open—if there are any—and will see a similar prompt when turning the feature off. Once it’s enabled, Safari won’t remember the pages you visit, your search history, or your AutoFill information, allowing you to browse in (relative) anonymity.
Ever find yourself going through your music only to find an artist or track name that’s too long to display fully on the screen of your iPhone or iPod touch? Well, if you’re running iOS 5, there’s a simple and easy way to see the track information without leaving the screen you’re on. Simply tap and hold on the song you’d like to know about, and a popup will appear showing you the full track name, album title, and artist. You can even move your finger up and down while continuing to hold to see the info for the songs around it.
Giving a name to an iPod, iPhone, or iPad is one of the first things owners do to personalize their devices, but what do you do if you’ve taken advantage of iOS 5’s PC-free setup, only to decide that you’d rather your digital pal carry a different moniker? Thankfully, Apple has thought of this exact situation, and has built-in a way to change it without ever plugging the device in. Simply open Settings, tap General, tap About, and tap into the Name field—it will become editable, letting you rename you device anything you want. When you’re finished, simply tap Done, and enjoy the fact that “Charles’ iPhone” is now the “White Knight,” “Grover Cleveland’s Wallet,” or anything else you can come up with.
Apple hasn’t yet released its first point update to iOS 5, but when it does, you’ll be prepared to grab it without having to plug your device into your computer. When word drops that an update has been released, all you need to do is open Settings, tap on General, and tap Software Update. This causes your device to ping Apple’s servers, responding with a graphic showing the new update’s version number and brief release notes if one is available, along with an App Store-like install button. Tap it, and voila—you’ll have the latest update installed on your device before you know, all without plugging in a cord.
Among all the features and improvements in iOS 5, the revamped Notifications system—dubbed Notification Center—is one of the most anticipated and welcome. Like a lot of things, while it’s good out of the box, it can be even better if you take a little time to configure it to match your priorities and preferences. To do so, simply open the Settings app and tap on Notifications. You’ll be taken to a view that lets you choose how you’d like the apps to be sorted, and shows you which apps are in Notification Center and which aren’t. Tapping on any of the apps brings up a view with even more options, letting you decide whether it appears in Notification Center, how many updates to show if it does, what type of on-screen alert you’d like the app to present—you can choose between old-school, screen-blocking alerts, sleek, top-of-the-screen banners, or none at all—whether or not you want the red, numbered update badge to appear on the app’s icon, and whether or not its notifications appear on the lock screen. It might take a few minutes to get everything set up to your liking, but the first time a relatively minor notification comes in, appears briefly at the top of the screen—you can even swipe to the left on the banners to make them disappear more quickly—and leaves you, uninterrupted, right where you were, it’ll all be worth it.
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