Tips & Tricks
- June 19, 2012
Despite the company’s efforts to promote it, not everyone likes Siri—and some folks like the Dictation key that comes with her even less, as it shrinks the iPhone’s space bar. Luckily, there’s an easy way to get rid of it—you just have to disable Siri in the process. To do so, open the Settings app, tap on General, and tap on Siri, then turn the slider to off. Once this is done, you’ll have your pre-4S keyboard back, larger space bar and all.
- June 14, 2012
- Apple TV,
iTunes and Apple’s media devices typically do a good job of keeping track of what media you have or haven’t yet watched—but for those times when you don’t want a TV show, season, or movie marked the way it is, there’s a simple way to change it—right from the Apple TV. When browsing through your TV shows or movies, simply select the episode or movie you’d like to mark as watched or unwatched, and hold down the select button on the Apple Remote to bring up a menu. From there, you can mark the video as you see fit, and in the case of TV shows, will also have the option to mark the entire season however you want it.
Typically, getting an iOS device to update is as easy as plugging it into your computer and hitting the Update button in iTunes—or even easier if you have an iOS 5 device, as you can handle the update directly from the Settings app. But what if you need to downgrade your OS, or install an Update image that iTunes can’t retrieve from the server—such as the just released iOS 6 beta? Doing so is easy. Simply connect your device to your PC or Mac, make sure you have the latest version of iTunes installed and the necessary update image downloaded, click on your device in the iTunes sidebar, and when the main tab appears, hold the option (on Mac) or shift (on Windows) key in and hit the Update or Restore button, then choose the location of the update image. Click done, and iTunes will begin its normal process of updating or restoring the device’s software, no separate download required.
Most folks are familiar with Closed Captioning (CC)—the system for displaying text during a TV or video to help those with hearing disabilities follow along. But the system isn’t useful solely to them—if you’d like to watch a movie or TV show silently, for instance. Luckily, there’s lots of CC-enabled content available from the iTunes Store, and enabling the service on Apple’s devices is fairly simple. In iTunes on a Mac or PC, open up the Preferences, select Playback, and turn on the “Show closed captioning when available” option. On an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, open the Settings app, tap on Video, and turn Closed Captioning on. Last but not least, you can access the same option on the Apple TV by visiting the Settings menu, selecting Audio & Video, and then turning Closed Captioning on. Now you can enjoy your content—and some peace and quiet. [via OS X Daily]
- June 5, 2012
- Apple TV,
The Apple TV is pretty good about giving you on-screen reminders when it needs updated—but if you want to make sure your unit is running the latest and greatest software, it’s easy to do. Open up the device’s Settings menu, select General, and select Update Software. It there’s an update available, it will prompt you to download and install it—and if not, you’ll get a reassuring message that your software is up to date.
- May 31, 2012
Watch any of Apple’s recent iPhone 4S commercials and you’ll no doubt see a celebrity tapping and holding their phone’s Home button in to activate the (miraculously accurate) virtual assistant. But did you know that you can use Siri without hitting the Home button at all? Simply open up the Settings app, tap on General, tap on Siri, and turn Raise to Speak on. Now when you need help pulling together your gazpacho or answering ridiculously obvious questions about the weather, all you need to do is grab your phone and hold it to your face.
Apple has generally done a great job of keeping its built-in iOS apps up to date—with the YouTube app a glaring exception to this rule. Barely updated since its debut on the original iPhone in 2007, it has long since been surpassed by the video sharing giant’s own mobile website—yet iOS is still set to open all YouTube videos in the native app. Luckily, there’s an easy way to get around this limitation. Simply fire up Settings, tap on General, tap on Restrictions, enable Restrictions if you haven’t already, and disallow YouTube. Doing so has the dual benefit of redirecting all YouTube links to the mobile website and hiding the native app on the device, clearing up more space for apps you actually want to use. [via Lifehacker]
- May 24, 2012
Siri is certainly smart, but she’s not a mind reader—if you want to be able to tell her to call your mom, you have to tell Siri who she is first. Doing so is amazingly simple. Just call up Siri, and when you hear the familiar prompt, say “Jane Doe is my mother” or “John Doe is my father”—note that you should use your actual family member’s names, unless your name happens to be James Doe—and soon enough Siri will know your spouse, parents, siblings, and other relations—possibly better than you do.
Most of the time, it’s easy to find what you’re looking for on a webpage from an iOS device—especially if you’re on a mobile-friendly site. For those times when it’s not so easy, like when you’re searching for a particular passage in a long-form article, Safari offers an easy to do so. Simply tap in the built-in search area and type in what you’re looking for. Below the recommended search suggestions you see an area marked “On This Page”, with the number of times a certain term is used. Tap on it, and you’ll be given a pair of arrows that will let you hop between each appearance of the term; once you’re finished, simply tap the Done button to start reading.
- May 17, 2012
Ever notice how the Ping button in iTunes always tries to send you back into the iTunes Store? Ever wish it would show options to explore your own Library instead? If you’re on a Mac and can work the command line, you can make it do just that. Make sure you’ve quit iTunes, then launch Terminal, and type or paste in the following instruction:
defaults write com.apple.iTunes invertStoreLinks -bool YES
When you open iTunes back up, you’ll notice that the Ping button now shows you options to look through your own Library instead of the Store. If you’d like your Store links back, simply repeat the process, but replace the “YES” at the end with a “NO”. [via CoM]
- May 10, 2012
- Apple TV,
(Most) everyone likes plants and animals, but may not want to watch them repeatedly dance across their screen. Luckily, the Apple TV provides you with a number of ways to access other photo content for your screensaver. To change things up, roll over to the Apple TV’s Settings menu, then down to Screen Saver. On this screen you can decide how long you want the little black box to wait before taking over, choose whether you want the ‘saver to show up during music playback, choose what style of screen saver you want—there’s plenty to choose from, or you can even have it pick one at random—and choose what photos you want to appear.
Most users of iBooks are familiar with the Define option that appears whenever you select a word — but did you know this trick works all over iOS? In any app that has selectable text, simply highlight the word you’d like defined and tap the Define button. On the iPhone or iPod touch, a definition pane will slide up from the bottom of the screen, while on the iPad, the definition will popup to the side of the word.
Tired of the built-in alert tones on your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad? It’s easy to acquire new ones via the built-in iTunes Tone Store. Simply fire up Settings, and click on Sounds (if you’re on an iPhone or iPod touch) or General, then Sounds (if you’re on an iPad), then select any of the Alert options you’d like to change, such as Ringtone, Text Tone, or New Mail. Scroll up to the top of the screen, and you’ll see an option to Buy More Tones, which will launch the iTunes Store and take you to the Tones section.
Alternatively, you can launch the iTunes Store first, then tap the More button, and select Tones (on the iPhone and iPod touch) or tap the Genres button in the upper left-hand corner of the iPad app, and select Tones. At $0.99 a pop, they aren’t cheap, but there’s a ton to choose from, and it sure beats being the 20th person in the restaurant to check your phone when someone’s device starts blaring Marimba.
iOS is known for its smooth scrolling, but sometimes all that swiping can be an annoyance when all you really want to is get back to the top of the screen—to access the address bar in Safari, for instance. It appears that Apple planned for this, as iOS has had a simple shortcut built-in since the days of the first iPhone that does precisely that. In nearly any app, you can tap the status bar—where the time lives—to instantly jump back to the top of a list or page, letting you get get where you need to go—no more wasted swipes.
- April 19, 2012
The iPad’s built-in Picture Frame is one of its coolest (sorta) hidden features—but did you know that you don’t have to settle for its default settings? Open the Settings app, and right below Brightness & Wallpaper you’ll see the selection for Picture Frame. On this screen, you can choose between two transitions—Dissolve and Origami—set the time that each photo is on the screen, choose whether or not to zoom in on faces—set to on by default when using Dissolve, and unavailable on Origami—choose whether to show the photos in order or shuffle them, and choose whether to display all your photos or just a subset. With all those options, you should find ways to make this long-standing feature feel fresh and new.
- April 17, 2012
While no one is likely to use it for critical music listening, the iPad’s built-in speaker is perfectly serviceable for watching video. But you might sometimes find yourself in need of just a little more volume than it can provide—for those occasions, there’s a cheap solution: passive amplification. Since the iPad 2 and third-gen iPad speakers point backwards rather than forwards, you can increase their volume by redirecting their sound waves. Simply cut an iPad corner-sized hole in the closed end of a cup, insert the iPad with the speaker aiming towards the rear of the cup, and voila—your iPad should sound noticeably louder, if not necessarily better. Make sure you cut the hole in a place that will let your iPad stand upright, and at a size that captures as much of the audio as possible from the rear speaker for redirection. [via Reddit | Lifehacker]
Find yourself frequently changing the From address when composing a new email in Mail? Perhaps it’s time to change your default Mail address. To do so, open the Settings app, tap on Mail, Contacts, Calendars, scroll down, and tap on Default Account. From the screen that appears, you can select your most oft-used account from every account on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, shaving one step off your new email routine.
With iOS devices becoming ever more capable of creating and downloading content and apps, managing your device’s storage has become increasingly important. If you find yourself running out of room on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, there’s a simple way to see what apps are using the most storage. Open the Settings app, tap on General, then tap on Usage. At the top of the screen under the Storage header, you’ll see a list of your installed apps, sorted by the amount of storage used, with an option to show all apps at the bottom. Using this list, you can discover which apps are the most storage hungry, and simply tap on any app to see more details, along with a button to delete the app, letting you delete only those apps that are adversely affecting your storage and leave the rest on your device.
No matter how hard you try, sometimes you just aren’t able to make the first available train offered to you by the Maps application’s transit schedule. Luckily, there’s a simple way to adjust the times to allow for a certain departure or arrival time. Once you’ve done your route search and settled on one you’re happy with, tap the clock icon to see the available options, then tap on Depart to bring up a page that will allow you to adjust your departure or arrival time to better fit your schedule. Just note that it’s not a time machine, so setting the Arrive By time to two hours ago won’t get you there on time. [via CoM | UK Cnet]
- March 27, 2012
You know that rumor that cropped up right before the release of the third-generation iPad, about it not having a Home button? It wasn’t as silly as it sounded, thanks to Multitasking Gestures, a hidden iPad/iOS 5 feature that you can take advantage of right now. Simply open the Settings app, tap on General, and turn on the slider for Multitasking Gestures. Once it’s on, you’ll be able to use four or five fingers to pinch your way back to the Home screen, swipe up to reveal the multitasking bar, and swipe left and right between apps—no buttons required.
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