How to Display the Battery Percentage in Your Mac’s Menu Bar

By default, the battery icon in your Mac laptop’s menu bar shows how full your battery is. Clicking it reveals the exact percentage, but you can also set macOS to display the battery percentage next to the icon. The setting isn’t where you might expect in System Settings > Battery. Instead, you’ll find it in System Settings > Control Center, where you need to turn on both “Show in Menu Bar” and “Show Percentage.”

(Featured image by Adam Engst)


Social Media: If you’re tired of trying to interpret how full your MacBook’s battery is from its menu bar icon, here’s how to get it to display a percentage as well.

Apple’s iCloud Keychain Password Management Is All Many People Need

Apple’s iCloud Keychain Password Management Is All Many People Need

We constantly recommend using a password manager like 1Password, BitWarden, or Dashlane. But many people resist committing to yet another app or paying for yet another service. Isn’t Apple’s built-in iCloud Keychain password management good enough?

The answer now is yes, thanks to two recent changes:

  • In iOS 17.3, Apple added Stolen Device Protection, which leverages biometric authentication—Face ID or Touch ID—to protect users against thieves who would surreptitiously learn someone’s passcode, steal their iPhone, and then take over their digital lives. One of the worst aspects of that attack was that the iPhone passcode was sufficient to access the user’s stored passwords, so the thief could get into everything.
  • Until mid-2023, Apple’s built-in password management worked only in Safari, which was problematic for users who rely on other browsers. Then Apple updated its iCloud Passwords extension for Google Chrome to work not just in Windows, but also in Mac browsers based on Google Chrome running in macOS 14 Sonoma. There’s also now an iCloud Passwords add-on for Firefox.

If you aren’t yet using a password manager, try iCloud Keychain.

Passwords Basics

Apple integrated iCloud Keychain into macOS, iOS, and iPadOS at a low level, so you mostly interact with your passwords in Safari. But first, make sure to enable iCloud Keychain so your passwords sync between your devices. On the Mac, you do that in System Settings > Your Name > iCloud > Passwords & Keychain. On an iPhone or iPad, it’s in Settings > Your Name > iCloud > Passwords and Keychain.

If you’re using a browser other than Safari, install the iCloud Passwords extension or add-on and activate it by clicking it in the toolbar and entering the verification code when prompted.

When it comes to website accounts, there are two main actions: creating a login and logging in to a site:

  • Create a new login: When you need to create an account on a new website, after you enter whatever it wants for email or username, Safari creates a strong password for you. Unfortunately, the iCloud Passwords extension or add-on on the Mac can’t generate passwords—you can either create a strong password manually or switch to Safari temporarily to let it create one. When you submit your credentials, you’ll be prompted to save them.
  • Autofill an existing login: The next time you want to log in to a site for which you’ve saved credentials, Safari or your other browser on the Mac displays a pop-up with logins matching the domain of the site you’re on. On the iPhone or iPad, you might get an alert at the bottom of the screen or have to pick a choice in the QuickType bar above the keyboard.

For basic usage, that’s it! However, iCloud Keychain can make mistakes. The site shown above asks for both an email address and a username and wants the email address for logging in, but iCloud Keychain remembered the username instead. Happily, Apple makes it easy to fix such unusual missteps. On the Mac, open System Settings > Passwords, or on the iPhone or iPad, open Settings > Passwords. Here’s where you find and edit your saved logins.

Open the desired login by double-clicking it on the Mac or tapping it on the iPhone or iPad, then click or tap Edit and make any desired changes.

iCloud Keychain provides additional features and options:

  • A search field at the top of the Passwords window or screen helps you find logins if scanning the full list is frustrating.
  • You can use commands in the + menu to create new passwords and shared groups. On the Mac, commands in the ••• menu let you import and export passwords; the iPhone and iPad use that menu to bulk-select passwords for deletion and show generated passwords.
  • Shared groups let you share a subset of passwords with family or colleagues. Choosing New Shared Group triggers an assistant that walks you through naming the group, adding people from Contacts, and choosing which passwords to share. You can move passwords between groups at any time.
  • The Security Recommendations screen displays logins exposed in known breaches and points out logins with weak passwords. Check those and update them as necessary.
  • In Password Options, you can turn off autofill, but why would you? Another option automatically deletes verification codes you receive in Messages after it inserts them with autofill.
  • On websites that support two-factor authentication, you can set up a login to autofill the verification code. During setup on the site, you’ll get a QR code you can scan with an iPhone or iPad if you’re using a Mac; if you’re using an iPhone or iPad, touch and hold the QR code and choose Add Verification Code in Passwords. Once you finish configuring the login, you’ll have to enter the six-digit verification code on the site to link it with the login.

Overall, iCloud Keychain provides the password management features that most people need, and it’s a massive security improvement over keeping a document of your passwords on your desktop.

(Featured image by iStock.com/loooby)


Social Media: Apple’s iCloud Keychain password manager keeps improving, and we now recommend it, especially for those not already using a third-party password manager. Here’s how to use iCloud Keychain to store and enter secure passwords.

Apple Podcasts Adds Transcripts

In iOS 17.4, iPadOS 17.4, and macOS 14.4 Sonoma, Apple enhanced its Podcasts app to include transcripts of all podcasts in the Apple Podcasts catalog as long as they’re in English, French, German, or Spanish. (It doesn’t translate from one language to another.) Much like song lyrics in the Music app—open it by tapping the dialog button in the player—the transcript scrolls in sync with the podcast’s audio, and you can tap anywhere in the transcript to play the audio from that spot. Tap the Search button that appears when you view the transcript to look for any text contained within. Recent podcasts should all have transcripts now, and Apple is working to catch up on older podcasts. The AI that generates the transcripts sometimes makes mistakes and doesn’t distinguish between different speakers, but overall, the transcripts provide a good sense of what’s being said.

(Featured image by iStock.com/microgen)


Social Media: Did you know Apple’s Podcasts app now includes written transcripts? Our tip helps you view the text while you listen, use it to navigate within the audio, search for specific bits, and more.

Tips for Working with Mac Display Resolutions

You can change the resolution of your Mac’s screen—how many pixels appear—to make text and graphics larger and easier to see or smaller to fit more content onscreen. In System Settings > Displays, Apple shows thumbnails for five likely possibilities. Hover the pointer over a thumbnail to see its numeric resolution underneath. If you prefer the traditional list of numeric resolutions, Option-click a thumbnail—another Option-click in the list brings back the thumbnails. Although the Show All Resolutions switch reveals more options, most will be fuzzy. If you always want to see resolutions as a list, click Advanced at the bottom and turn on Show Resolutions as a List. Finally, look closely for a tiny Easter egg: the text in the thumbnails is the script from Apple’s classic Think Different ad spot.

(Featured image by Adam Engst)


Social Media: You can adjust your Mac’s screen resolution to make text and graphics larger so they’re easier to see, or if you have good vision, you can make them smaller so more content fits on the screen. Our tips will help.

Want an Event List in Apple’s Calendar App? Try This Trick

Along with day, week, month, and year views, most calendar apps offer the option of a simple chronological list of events, which can be a handy way to see what’s coming up. Apple’s Calendar app on the Mac is unfortunately not among those apps. However, there is a trick you can use to get it to show all your upcoming events in a scrolling list. Click in the Search field in the upper-right corner and enter two double quote marks (“”). In essence, it’s a search for “everything,” and Calendar promptly shows all your events in a row down the right side of the window. If you’re looking for a more capable calendar app, BusyCal and Fantastical are popular in the Mac community, and some apps like Microsoft Outlook and Zoom also include calendaring features.

(Featured image by iStock.com/AndreyPopov)


Social Media: Want to see all your upcoming events in a list in Apple’s Calendar app on the Mac? It doesn’t have a built-in list view, but there’s a workaround.

Looking for Apple Manuals? Check the New Documentation Site

Apple publishes a multitude of manuals and tons of technical documentation for its products on its support site, but until recently, it could be challenging to find something specific because the search engine on Apple’s site is poor. For a better path into Apple’s online support materials, check out the company’s new Documentation site, which brings together manuals, specs, and some downloads for nearly all its products. The operating system User Guides are particularly helpful, and they even provide a Version pop-up menu that lets you make sure you’re getting information for the version you’re using.

(Featured image by iStock.com/Ildo Frazao)


Social Media: Do you want to read the actual manuals or specs for Apple products? You can now easily find them on Apple’s new Documentation website.

How to Sync Your Text Messages across All Your Apple Devices

Although many of us think of Messages as an iPhone app, Apple’s platform integration lets you read and reply to conversations in Messages on other Apple devices, including the Mac and iPad. All your devices must have the correct settings to make this work reliably. We regularly hear from users who don’t see all their messages on all their devices. If that’s you, check these settings:

  • Same Apple ID: Your devices all know they’re yours when they’re logged in to the same Apple ID. That’s not a problem for most people, but couples who share an Apple ID, for instance, can run into trouble here. To verify this, open Settings > Your Name in iOS and iPadOS, or System Settings > Your Name in macOS. The email address under your picture at the top of each of those screens should match. If it doesn’t, scroll to the bottom, tap or click Sign Out, and sign in again with the correct Apple ID.
  • Two-factor authentication: As with so many Apple services now, your Apple ID must be set up for two-factor authentication, which causes certain logins to be queried a second time on another device. Most people have two-factor authentication set up by now, but if not, turn it on using Apple’s instructions.
  • iCloud Keychain: Your devices must have iCloud Keychain turned on to share your Messages account information. It’s probably already on, but you can enable it if not. Turn it on for an iPhone or iPad in Settings > Your Name > iCloud > Passwords and Keychain > Sync this iPhone. On a Mac, the switch is in System Settings > Your Name > iCloud > Passwords & Keychain > Sync this Mac.
  • Messages in iCloud: This is the key setting—the previous three are just foundational requirements. Enable it for an iPhone or iPad in Settings > Your Name > iCloud > Show All > Messages in iCloud > Use on this iPhone. On the Mac, look in System Settings > Your Name > iCloud > Show More Apps > Messages in iCloud > Use on this Mac.
  • iMessage account: You’ve checked that you’re using the same Apple ID everywhere, but there’s a similar setting that’s also important. On your iPhone or iPad, go to Settings > Messages > Send & Receive and make sure you’re signed into iMessage with the same Apple ID—look at the bottom of the screen. Also, ensure you’re set to send and receive from your phone number and appropriate email addresses. It’s safest to send and receive from all the possibilities and start new messages from your phone number. On the Mac, verify that you have the same settings in Messages > Settings > iCloud.
  • Text Message Forwarding: Turning on Messages in iCloud should keep message history synced across all your devices, including green bubble SMS/MMS text messages. However, it’s worth verifying that SMS/MMS messages are being sent to all your devices. On your iPhone, in Settings > Messages > Text Message Forwarding, select all the devices you want to receive text messages.

Although all the above settings may seem like a lot, most should already be set up correctly. We listed them all because when people have trouble with their messages syncing across all their devices, one or more of these are usually set wrong.

Even with everything configured correctly, there can be hiccups—nothing’s perfect. If messages fail to sync consistently, try these troubleshooting steps:

  • Use the Sync Now button in the Messages in iCloud settings on any device that hasn’t caught up. That likely won’t help instantly, but syncing should eventually catch up.
  • Restart the device—it’s always worth trying. On an iPhone or iPad, choose Settings > General > Shut Down (at the bottom), slide to power off, and then press and hold the side (iPhone) or top (iPad) button to turn the device back on. On a Mac, just choose Restart from the Apple menu.

When Messages in iCloud is working properly, though, you can carry on text message conversations using any of your devices at any time. It’s especially nice to switch to the Mac for easier typing when you’re in an involved conversation.

(Featured image by iStock.com/anyaberkut)


Social Media: One of the best parts of Apple’s tight platform integration is that you can view your text messages on all your devices. Or at least you can if you get everything set correctly.

Apple Announces New MacBook Air Lineup with M3 Chip

In November 2023, Apple unveiled the M3 chip in new versions of the 24-inch iMac and MacBook Pro, causing speculation about when other Mac models would be updated to match. If you’ve been longing for a MacBook Air with an M3 chip, your wait is over. (And we expect Apple to update the Mac mini soon.)

Apple has now announced M3 versions of the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Air. For most Mac laptop users who don’t need the additional speed of the M3 Pro or M3 Max chips in the MacBook Pro lineup, these new MacBook Air models combine excellent performance with low prices. The 13-inch MacBook Air starts at $1,099, and the 15-inch model starts at $1,299.

Nothing has changed regarding size, weight, and industrial design, and nearly all the specs remain identical to the previous M2 MacBook Air models. There are three notable differences:

  • The M3 chip: Although the earlier M1 and M2 chips are no slouches, the M3 chip provides even better performance. Benchmarks suggest a 25% to 35% improvement over the M1, and Apple cites real-world examples where the M3 is 35% to 60% faster than the M1. Compared to the M2, the M3 is probably 10% to 20% faster.
  • Support for two external displays: Previously, the MacBook Air could drive only one external display. These new models, however, can drive one external display at up to 6K resolution and another at up to 5K resolution, as long as the lid is closed. (Apple says a software update will enable the same capability for the 14-inch M3 MacBook Pro.)
  • Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3 wireless connectivity: These upgrades aren’t exciting, but they bring the MacBook Air up to par with other recent Apple devices and industry standards. Both provide faster, more robust wireless connectivity, but only when used with other compatible gear.

Should you buy one of these new MacBook Air models? It all depends on what you use now:

  • Intel-based Mac laptop: In terms of performance, the M3 MacBook Air will blow the doors off any Intel-based Mac laptop, and we strongly encourage you to upgrade. The main area where the MacBook Air might disappoint is in the number of ports. It charges via MagSafe 3 and has two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports, which are sufficient for an external display and a Time Machine backup drive, for instance. If you need more ports, a Thunderbolt hub is probably in your future.
  • M1 or M2 MacBook Air or MacBook Pro: Although the M3 chip is faster than the base-level M1 and M2, our experience is that most people with those Macs aren’t suffering from performance problems. So no, don’t upgrade. If you need more performance, a MacBook Pro with an M3 Pro or M3 Max chip makes more sense.
  • No laptop: For most students getting their first computer or someone who’s adding a laptop to complement a desktop Mac, the M3 MacBook Air models are extremely attractive. We recommend the higher-end MacBook Pro models only for those who anticipate doing processor-intensive audio, video, photo, or development work.

Finally, if you’re pinching pennies, you can still buy the 13-inch M2 MacBook Air starting at $999, and even if you customize it with more memory or storage, you’ll save $100.

You have four decisions to make once you’ve decided to buy a new M3 MacBook Air. We’re happy to consult on your specific situation, but here’s our general advice:

  • Memory: The base amount of memory on the M3 chip is 8 GB (it’s on the chip and can’t be upgraded later), but you can get versions that come with 16 GB or 24 GB. 8 GB is acceptable for casual use, but 16 GB is safer if you want to run a bunch of apps or may have more involved needs in the future. Get 24 GB only if you use memory-intensive apps.
  • Storage: The base level of storage is 256 GB, which isn’t much. We know many people with photo libraries larger than that. You can upgrade to 512 GB, 1 TB, or 2 TB. Note that if you have a lot of old, seldom-needed files, it may be better to order only 512 GB of storage, for instance, and buy an inexpensive external SSD for your archives.
  • Processor: The M3 comes in two versions. Both have 8 CPU cores, but one has only 8 GPU cores, whereas the other has 10 GPU cores. The 8/8 version is available only in the 13-inch MacBook Air and only if you don’t expand memory beyond 8 GB or storage beyond 256 GB. Get the low-end version only if you’re sure you don’t need more memory or storage.
  • Screen size: You must choose a 13.6-inch or 15.3-inch Liquid Retina screen. The 15-inch screen is undeniably larger and displays more content, but the overall Mac is about an inch (2.25–3.5 cm) larger in both dimensions, and it weighs 3.3 pounds (1.51 kg) compared to 2.7 pounds (1.24 kg) for the 13-inch model. This decision is purely personal preference, and we recommend checking out each one in person before buying.

For most Mac laptop users, the M3 MacBook Air models are compelling and well worth a look.

(Featured image by Apple)


Social Media: Apple has announced 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Air models based on the M3 chip. Along with faster performance, they can drive two external displays when the MacBook Air’s lid is closed. Read our buying advice here:

Did You Know Text Entry Boxes in Web Browsers Are Easy to Expand?

Have you ever noticed the shading in the corner of text area fields in Safari, Chrome, Firefox, and most other Mac Web browsers? These “handles” let you resize the field—always vertically and sometimes horizontally. That’s handy when the website designer has provided only a small text box and you want to enter more text than will fit. Just drag the handle to make the text box the size you need. Other objects on the page move to accommodate the larger text box. If a text box doesn’t have a resize handle, the site designer doesn’t expect it to need to hold more than a single line of text.

(Featured image based on originals by iStock.com/OlgaCanals and PhotoMelon)


Social Media: If you want to enter more text than will seemingly fit in a text box on a Web page, you can use a trick to expand the box so you can see what you’re typing.

Use 1Password to Enter Your Mac Login Password

We think of 1Password as being helpful for entering passwords on websites and in iPhone and iPad apps. But its Universal Autofill feature has a hidden capability that lets 1Password enter your Mac login password when you have to provide it to change certain system settings, install apps, format drives in Disk Utility, and more. (But it won’t work to log in at startup before 1Password is running.) To turn this feature on, click the New Item button in 1Password, search for and select “Mac login” , give it a name that will sort alphabetically to the top, like “2020 27-inch iMac” , enter your password, and click Save . From then on, whenever you’re prompted for your Mac login password , press Command- (Backslash, located above the Return key), and then click the desired login or press Return to select the topmost item .

(Featured image based on an original by iStock.com/ipuwadol)


Social Media: 1Password is tremendously helpful for entering website passwords, but a little-known feature also enables it to enter your Mac login password for changing system settings, installing apps, and more.