Fix a Frozen Finder with This Quick Tip

Finder freezes. They shouldn’t happen at all, and they don’t happen often, but it’s not unheard of for your Mac’s Finder to freeze, freak out, or otherwise stop responding properly. To bring it back to life, hold down the Option key, click and hold the Finder icon in the Dock, and choose Relaunch. (If the “click and hold” action feels odd, you can instead hold down Control and Option, and then just click.) In theory, you should be able to keep working normally after the Finder relaunches, but we recommend restarting your Mac afterward just to be safe.

Use Modifier Keys to Do More—a Lot More—with Mouse Drags

Dragging files and folders around is core to the Mac experience—drag a file from one folder to another to move it, drag a folder from one drive to another to copy it. But did you know that if you hold down the Option key while dragging a file in the Finder, you’ll get a green + pointer and it will make a copy in the destination? That’s easier than duplicating, moving, and renaming the file. Similarly, if you want to move a large folder from one drive to another, hold down the Command key during the drag to do in one step what would otherwise require copying, trashing, and emptying the Trash. Finally, if you want an alias, hold down the Command and Option keys while dragging, and presto, the original stays put and an alias appears in the destination.

Print from any device

Print from any device

Where exactly is this cloud?

Sharing photos has never been easier. Finding them? That’s a whole other thing. If you feel a little lost in the cloud, you’re not alone. Ask anyone where their photos are and most will answer with some variation of, “Right here, on my phone.” Now ask where, actually, physically do they reside? Blank stare. Even the techiest of us have to pause to remember exactly which platform we captured or shared this particular photo on. Or we’ll just go with the standard answer we give our wives when they ask… weekly. “Honey, we use iCloud.” or “…Google Photos.” or …”Facebook saves them forever.” Eye roll.

So where, really, do all these pixels exist? The truth is it doesn’t matter where they’re stored. We can fetch them from any device, any platform, any time. Maybe they’re on instagram, or in your Google Drive, or in link to a Dropbox folder. No problem. We are the locksmiths of photo vaults. (Don’t worry, we aren’t breaking in!)

There are three ways to order just about everything we make. That includes prints, posters, wall art, books, cards, the works.

1.    Online from a computer.

It’s old school but that’s where most of us store the good stuff; high resolution photos from dSLRs and family portrait sessions. If they’re on a hard drive or cloud drive connected to your computer, this applies. Start at our website and choose the type of product you’d like to order. You’ll be prompted to “Add Image(s)” in a window that looks something like this.

print from any device

Choose your source and the rest is easy! We’ll even verify image quality once uploaded.

2.    Online from any phone or tablet.

If our app is compatible with your device, give it a try! Otherwise continue in your device’s browser and you’ll see a box similar to the one above. Once uploaded, you can crop and edit during the order process.

3.    In-store from any device.

This is your best option because our experts can help every step of the way. Getting pictures from your phone into one of our kiosks is as easy as plugging it in. Just like your camera card or USB drive, the kiosk will find all the pictures on your device and then you can choose the ones you want.

If you need only a few images, you can choose them first on your phone and send them wirelessly to the kiosk, like AirDrop®!

What if they’re not on your phone at all? No problem. Our kiosks connect to every web service above. Once your order is complete, the secure connection is closed.

Print from any deviceI’m everywhere. All the time.

Your photos will probably never all be in one place. Don’t let that stop you. Here’s an example. I wanted to make a photo book for my wife’s birthday. I had some family portraits that the photographer shared with us in Dropbox. I knew that about 20 of her favorite memories from the year are posted on her Facebook page, and the rest were on my phone.

I walked up to the kiosk with only my phone in my pocket, selected the book design I wanted and clicked “Add Photos.” A list of local and online sources appeared. I clicked the Dropbox icon, entered my username and password, found the folder from my Photographer and chose her favorites. Once they were uploaded, I clicked  “Add Images” again. This time I chose the Facebook icon and entered my username and password. But wait, the photos were posted in my wife’s account, not mine. No problem! Facebook shows you images posted by you and your friends, organized by person. I navigated to my wife’s shared photos and selected about 25 of them. The kiosk put them in the same bucket as our family portraits and I went back to “Add Photos” one more time. This time, I selected wireless device as my source. The kiosk directed me to a webpage on my phone where I selected the images I wanted transferred. This can also be done with an app.

Once uploaded, I had images from all three sources in one bucket. The whole upload process took about ten minutes. I spent a bit longer customizing my book before placing the order.

 

iCloud Photo Library Users: Do NOT Turn Off iCloud

File this warning under “unless it’s absolutely necessary.” If you use iCloud Photo Library on your Mac, don’t sign out from iCloud. Also, don’t deselect the iCloud Photo Library checkbox in either the Photos options of the iCloud pane of System Preferences or in the iCloud preferences in Photos itself. Why not? Because, when you re-enable iCloud or iCloud Photo Library, Photos will re-upload all your photos, which could take days. (It’s not really re-uploading all of them, but even just resyncing will take a long time.) Worse, if you don’t have enough space in iCloud for your entire Photos library again, you’ll have to upgrade to a larger plan temporarily, resync, and then downgrade to your previous plan. Apple will refund you the cost of the upgrade, but you’ll have to work with support to get reimbursed. 

View Notes in Their Own Windows, and Float Them Over Everything Else

Here’s one for those who use Apple’s Notes app for storing bits of information. By default, Notes in macOS gives you a single window, with each note listed in a sidebar. But what if you want to see two notes at once? Or keep one always available no matter what else you’re doing? Select the desired notes in the sidebar by Command-clicking them, and then choose Window > Float Selected Notes to open them in their own windows. Or, just double-click them in the sidebar! Then, to make sure one or more of those windows is never obscured by another app, make it active and then choose Window > Float on Top. It’s still a normal window that you can move and resize and close, but no other app will appear over it. See how Safari is the frontmost app below, but the Notes window is on top?

Did You Know You Can Put Shadows on Text You Type on the Mac?

Snazzy shadowed text probably isn’t appropriate for your company’s annual report, but if you’re whipping up a flyer for a birthday party, you might want to jazz up the text. You can do that in most Mac apps that support macOS’s system-level Fonts palette. Select your text, and then bring up the Fonts palette. Generally speaking, such as in Pages and TextEdit, you do that by choosing Format > Font > Show Fonts, though the exact location may vary by app. Then click the shadowed T button toward the right of the toolbar, which activates the next four controls: Shadow Opacity, Shadow Blur, Shadow Offset, and Shadow Angle. Play with each slider and the rotating angle control until you have an effect you like.

10 Things You Need to Know about Apple’s New HomePod Speaker

After months of anticipation, Apple’s new HomePod smart speaker finally shipped in mid-February. Reviews of its audio quality have been positive, and for the most part, it works both as advertised and as you’d expect. However, there were some surprises, most good but some bad. Whether you have a HomePod on your credenza (which may be a bad spot for it!) or you’re still deciding if you want to buy one, here are ten things you should know:

  1. Furniture rings. Let’s get this one out of the way. The HomePod can leave rings on oil-finished wood furniture because the silicone base can react with certain wooden surfaces. That has to be embarrassing for a company that prides itself on materials expertise like Apple. The solution is easy—just put something under it.
  2. Single user. Anyone in the room can give Siri commands, but when it comes to account-based connections, the HomePod is a single-user device. So if you set it up, which is astonishingly easy, it will connect to your Apple Music account, your iMessage account, your iCloud account for Reminders, and so on. That’s fine for you, but your family members won’t be able to access their Apple Music playlists, for instance.
  3. Speakerphone. The HomePod may be the best speakerphone you’ve ever used. Alas, you can’t initiate a call on it, but once you start one on your iPhone, you can transfer the call by tapping the new Audio button that replaced the Speaker button in iOS 11.2.5 and selecting the HomePod.

  4. Apple Music. The HomePod can act as an AirPlay speaker, and can thus play audio from your other Apple devices. But when you control it via Siri, the music must come from Apple Music, your iTunes Store purchases, or be matched in your iCloud Music Library. To send Mac audio from apps other than iTunes to the HomePod, get Rogue Amoeba’s Airfoil.
  5. Audio power. It may be small, but the HomePod has plenty of power. At 6 feet, we measured the sound output at 100% volume at 80 decibels, which is louder than is comfortable.
  6. Volume control. Speaking of volume, you control it by percentages, as in “Hey Siri, set the volume to 15 percent.” You can also tap the + and – buttons on the top of the HomePod to adjust the volume in 5% increments.
  7. Electrical usage. The HomePod may be turned on all the time—it has no power switch—but it uses very little electricity. In our testing, it used 2.5 to 3 watts when it was idle but has been used recently, and 4 to 7 watts when playing. Leave it alone in a quiet room for a while, and its power usage drops to 0 watts with just an occasional 1.5-watt spike.
  8. Good listener. The HomePod hears your commands remarkably well, even when it’s playing music at a high volume. You shouldn’t have to shout at it.
  9. Hey Siri. If you’re within earshot of a HomePod and want to give Siri a command on your iPhone or Apple Watch, don’t say “Hey Siri” right away. Instead, to use your iPhone, unlock it first. Or, to use your Apple Watch, raise your wrist. Apple has an explanation of how Hey Siri works with multiple devices.
  10. Apple TV. You can play audio from your Apple TV through your HomePod. On the main screen of the Apple TV, press and hold the Play/Pause button on the Siri Remote, and then select the HomePod before playing a show. Or, while playing video, swipe down on the Siri Remote, swipe right to select Audio, and then select your HomePod in the Speaker list.



    Once you’ve transferred audio to the HomePod, you can use Hey Siri commands to pause and play the Apple TV content, change volume, and even rewind and fast-forward by a certain amount of time (“Hey Siri, rewind 10 seconds”). However, other things that Siri on the Apple TV can do, like tell you who stars in a movie, work only when you press and hold the Siri button on the Siri Remote.

Much as the HomePod works well right now, it stands to improve in the coming year. Apple plans to release software updates that will enable two HomePods in the same room to provide true stereo sound, and that will let you control multiple HomePods simultaneously for multi-room audio.


 

Swipe Back and Forth between Web Pages for Easier Navigation

For navigation, every Web browser offers back and forward buttons, generally represented by arrows in the upper left of the toolbar. You can also navigate by choosing menu commands and typing keyboard shortcuts—did you know that Command-Left arrow and Command-Right arrow work too? But if you’re using a Mac with a trackpad, you can move back and forth between Web pages—in Safari, Chrome, and Firefox—with a two-fingered swipe left (for back) or right (for forward). If you prefer, you can switch to a three-fingered swipe in System Preferences > Trackpad > More Gestures. Or, if it’s difficult for you to keep exactly two or precisely three fingers on the trackpad, you can choose to swipe with two or three fingers.

Trading Faces: Picking a Better Face for People Photos Recognizes

Apple’s Photos app is remarkably good at identifying people in your snapshots and collecting all the pictures that contain a particular person into a group in its People view. At its top level, the People view shows a thumbnail photo for each person, picking one automatically from all the available photos. Needless to say, it doesn’t always pick the photo you want, so if you dislike what’s there, you can change it easily on the Mac. In Photos, click People in the sidebar and double-click the thumbnail of the person you want to change. If necessary, click Show More to see all their photos, then Control-click the desired photo and choose Make Key Photo from the contextual menu.

Install Minor Operating System Updates to Maintain Herd Immunity

It seems like Apple releases updates to iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS nearly every week these days. It has been only a few months since iOS 11 and macOS 10.13 High Sierra launched, and we’ve already seen ten updates to iOS and seven updates to macOS. Some of these have been to fix bugs, which is great, but quite a few have been prompted by the need for Apple to address security vulnerabilities.

Have you installed all these updates, or have you been procrastinating, tapping that Later link on the iPhone and rejecting your Mac’s notifications? We’re not criticizing—all too often those prompts come at inconvenient times, although iOS has gotten better about installing during the night, as long as you plug in your iPhone or iPad.

We know, security is dull. Or rather, security is dull as long as it’s present. Things get exciting—and not in a good way—when serious vulnerabilities come to light. That’s what happened in November 2017, when it was reported that anyone could gain admin access to any Mac running High Sierra by typing root for the username and leaving the password field blank. That one was so bad that Apple pushed Security Update 2017-001 to every affected Mac and rolled the fix into macOS 10.13.2.

Part of the problem with security vulnerabilities is that they can be astonishingly complex. You may have heard about the Meltdown and Spectre hardware vulnerabilities discovered in January 2018. They affect nearly all modern computers, regardless of operating system, because they take advantage of a design flaw in the microprocessors. Unfortunately, the bad guys—organized crime, government intelligence agencies, and the like—have the resources to understand and exploit these flaws.

But here’s the thing. Security is an arms race, with attackers trying to take advantage of vulnerabilities and operating system companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Google proactively working to block them with updates. If enough people install those updates quickly enough, the attackers will move on to the next vulnerability.

The moral of the story? Always install those minor updates. It’s not so much because you will definitely be targeted if you fail to stay up to date, but because if the Apple community as a whole ceases to be vigilant about upgrading, the dark forces on the Internet will start to see macOS and iOS as low-hanging fruit. As long as most people update relatively quickly, it’s not worthwhile for attackers to put a lot of resources into messing with Macs, iPhones, and iPads.

That said, before you install those updates, make sure to update your backups. It’s unusual for anything significant to go wrong during this sort of system upgrade, but having a fresh backup ensures that if anything does go amiss, you can easily get back to where you were before.