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Display an Album of Photos on Your iPhone or iPad Lock Screen

A popular feature of iOS 16 was the Photo Shuffle option for customizing the iPhone Lock Screen. It used machine learning to select photos in four categories—People, Pets, Nature, and Cities—and rotated through them when you tapped, on lock, hourly, or daily. If you didn’t like the automatic selection, you could pick photos manually, but it was clumsy. In iOS 17 (and iPadOS 17, which also added customizable Lock Screens), you can now point the Lock Screen’s Photo Shuffle wallpaper at an album. Touch and hold the Lock Screen, tap Customize, tap the blue ⨁ button to create a new wallpaper, select Photo Shuffle, select Album, choose the desired album from the pop-up menu, set a frequency, tap Use Album, and tap the Add button at the top. Then tap Set as Wallpaper Pair or Customize Home Screen to choose a different image for the Home Screen wallpaper.

(Featured image by Adam Engst)


Social Media: If you like how the Lock Screen’s Photo Shuffle wallpaper rotates through photos but would prefer that it worked from an album you specified, you’re in luck! That’s now possible in iOS 17 and iPadOS 17.

Where Can You Control Automatic Smart Quotes and Dashes in macOS?

Most people like smart quotes and dashes, at least most of the time. Your Mac is probably set up to turn the single (‘) and double (“) hash marks and double hyphens (–) that you type into the apostrophes (’) and single smart quotes (‘’), double smart quotes (“”), and em dashes (—) used in professional publications. However, in some situations, like programming, smart quotes and dashes are problematic. To prevent macOS from automatically inserting them, open System Settings > Keyboard and click the Edit button next to Input Sources. In the dialog that appears, turn off “Use smart quotes and dashes.” As a bonus tip, if you occasionally want single or double hash marks, such as to indicate feet and inches, instead of turning the entire feature off, immediately press Command-Z after typing a single or double hash mark to undo the change from straight to curly.

(Featured image by iStock.com/Wirestock)


Social Media: Smart quotes and dashes usually make your text look more professional. But if they’re problematic, you can turn off the feature that inserts them automatically or revert them on a one-off basis.

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.

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.

Use the Command Key to Rearrange and Remove Menu Bar Icons

Is your Mac’s menu bar overwhelmed with icons? They’re helpful little critters, but finding one can be difficult when you have too many and they’re in no particular order. The hidden trick to cleaning up your menu bar relies on the Command key.

  • Rearrange the menu bar icons in an order that makes sense to you by Command-dragging them around. You can’t move the Control Center icon or put anything to its right, but every other icon is movable.
  • Delete unnecessary Apple-provided status icons by holding down Command and dragging them off the menu bar. (To put one back, select the “Show icon-name status in menu bar” checkbox in its System Settings screen.) You can’t remove the clock, Control Center, or the Siri icon this way, though you can turn off Siri in System Settings > Siri & Spotlight. Command-dragging to delete doesn’t work for non-Apple apps; instead, look for a preference in the app itself.

(Featured image by iStock.com/Valentyna Yeltsova)


Social Media: If your Mac’s menu bar is a mess, you can use the Command key to rearrange the icons and remove those you never use.

Time Machine Now Offers Daily and Weekly Frequencies

Since its inception, Time Machine has backed up on an hourly schedule. It then keeps hourly backups for the previous 24 hours, daily backups for the last month, and weekly backups back to the start of the backup. Once free space on the backup drive gets low, Time Machine deletes older backups to make room for new ones, always maintaining at least one copy of every backed-up file. The traditional hourly backups are usually fine, but starting in macOS 13 Ventura, Apple lets you choose a daily or weekly schedule instead. One of those might be useful for Macs that are turned on infrequently or where very little important data changes. It also might reduce resource usage and how much data Time Machine backs up. Most people shouldn’t need to change the backup frequency, but if you’ve always wanted to, now you can.

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


Social Media: Has Time Machine’s hourly backup frequency been problematic for you? Starting in macOS 13 Ventura, you can instead choose a daily or weekly backup schedule.

Use StandBy to Make Your iPhone into a Clock, Photo Frame, and More

iOS 17 brings a new mode for the iPhone: StandBy. All you have to do is connect your iPhone to a charger wirelessly or with a cable, position it on its side in landscape orientation, and press the side button to lock the screen. Standby works best with a MagSafe charging stand. Swipe left or right to switch between three screens: widgets, photos, and clocks. Swipe up and down to move between widgets, photo collections, and clock styles. On the widget screen, touch and hold to add and remove widgets, and on the photo screen, to choose which collections and albums to display. You can choose how long the display stays active in Settings > StandBy > Display. By default, it will stay on all the time on iPhone models with an Always-On display; a tap or nudge will wake it on other iPhone models. Finally, StandBy remembers your preferred view in different locations, so it can be a clock in the bedroom, a photo frame in the kitchen, and a clock at the office.

(Featured image by Apple)


Social Media: The new Standby mode turns your iPhone into a digital picture frame, clock, or customizable widget display—and it remembers which approach you prefer in different locations.

Concerned by the Privacy or Results of Google Search? Try These Other Search Engines

Google is big. Google Search generated $225 billion in revenue in 2022, thanks in part to being the default search engine on all Apple devices. To retain that position—and continue to reap the ad revenue that it generates—Google pays Apple about $18 billion every year. Along with Apple, Google pays billions to phone manufacturers like Samsung, LG, and Motorola; major wireless carriers such as AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon; and browser developers like Mozilla and Opera.

So is Google Search’s 90% market share because it’s the best search engine or because Google has enough money to pay distributors for top placement?

Along with concerns about whether Google is the best search engine, some people worry about Google collecting information about them to show targeted ads alongside search results. The more information Google has on users, the argument goes, the better that ads can be targeted, and the more likely it is that users will click the ads, which generates money for Google from advertisers. Others worry that Google’s results may reflect certain types of bias.

If you’re perturbed by the privacy implications of Google knowing everything you search for, or if you’ve found Google’s search results less helpful than you’d like, you can easily switch to another search engine to see if you prefer its results and privacy stance.

How to Switch Search Engines

For many Apple users, the main place to choose a preferred search engine is in Safari’s settings. On the Mac, choose Safari > Settings > Search and choose the desired search engine from the Search Engine pop-up menu. You can choose a different one for Private Browsing windows if you want.

In Chrome-based browsers like Google Chrome, Arc, Brave, Microsoft Edge, and Opera on the Mac, open the settings and look for Search Engine. A pop-up menu lets you choose from some standard options, and additional choices let you add search engines like Brave Search that are too new (or not paying) to appear. Firefox offers similar options when you choose Firefox > Settings > Search.

On the iPhone and iPad, go to Settings > Safari >  Search Engine. Again, if you want a different search engine in Private Browsing tabs, turn off Also Use in Private Browsing and choose another option.

Top Alternative Search Engines

Conceptually, what search engines do is simple—they search a set of Web pages for matching keywords and return a list of them in order of relevance to the user. The hard part is dealing with the number of pages—estimates suggest Google indexes 50 billion pages and Bing 4.5 billion—and scaling the service to respond instantly to tens or hundreds of millions of queries per day. (Google processes 8.5 billion searches per day; Bing handles 400 million.) Beyond Google, here are the main search engines and what sets them apart. (You will also likely see Yandex, sometimes called “the Google of Russia.” Avoid it. For so many reasons.)

  • Bing: The second-most popular (though far, far behind Google) search engine in the world, Microsoft’s Bing sets itself apart with a busy, highly designed search results page that mixes a variety of results. It may work well for you, or you may find it overwhelming and difficult to parse. Microsoft is also putting a lot of effort into chat-based AI-powered results. Bing claims to offer more user privacy than Google, but it’s still tracking users to target ads better. If Bing has better privacy than Google, it may mostly be due to not being part of the larger Google data-collection empire.
  • Yahoo: Though it was the first Web search engine, Yahoo hasn’t run its own index since 2009. Today, Yahoo’s search results are powered by Microsoft Bing, so while the look of the search results page may differ, the results should be identical to Bing’s. Yahoo’s privacy stance is also similar to Bing’s.
  • DuckDuckGo: If privacy is paramount, DuckDuckGo is worth a look because it does not track or store user information at all. Instead, it chooses ads to display only by matching with search keywords. Although it uses Bing for some of its results, DuckDuckGo also incorporates information from numerous other sources, so it won’t seem like an exact clone of Bing.
  • Ecosia: The main reason to use the Berlin-based Ecosia is if you like Bing’s results (but not its layout) and want to support a “social business” that claims to be carbon-negative, offers full financial transparency, and protects users’ privacy. Founded in 2009, Ecosia today relies entirely on Bing’s search results and ads (clicks on which are how Ecosia earns money), and it claims to have planted over 188 million trees in 35 countries since its inception. It’s hard to argue with Ecosia’s environmental results, but as a search engine, it doesn’t feel special.
  • Brave Search: A truly independent search engine, Brave Search relies on its own created-from-scratch index (it leaned on Google and Bing for some results early on, but ceased in August 2023). It also emphasizes user privacy and doesn’t track users, searches, or clicks. Although Brave Search displays keyword-based ads by default, users can pay $3 per month for Brave Search Premium, which provides ad-free results pages. You’ll have to set Brave as the default search engine for most browsers manually; for Safari, all you can do is make a favorite to search.brave.com.
  • Kagi: Speaking of paid search engines, if you really want to avoid ads, Kagi is another independent search engine that rolls its own index and provides access only to subscribers, eschewing ads entirely. You can sign up for a 100-search test account, and if you like it, pay $5 per month for 300 searches or $10 per month for unlimited searches. As with Brave Search, you must manually set Kagi as the default search engine (there’s an extension for Safari).

The “best” search engine is the one that gives you the answers you want without triggering privacy worries or concerns about bias. If you want to see if something other than Google will work better for you, set it as your default search engine and try it for a few weeks.

(Featured image by iStock.com/Prykhodov)


Social Media: Have you become disillusioned by Google due to its search quality or how it tracks your activity to serve targeted ads? You can try other search engines that promise to protect your privacy and provide independent search results.

Use This Hidden Setting to Stop Triggering Caps Lock Accidentally

There’s little more annoying than accidentally touching the Caps Lock key while typing and having your text suddenly TURN INTO CAPITAL LETTERS, which we all know is seen as shouting. Unless you have some reason to type in capital letters regularly, you can prevent this mistake by disabling the Caps Lock key or remapping it to another modifier key. In macOS 13 Ventura and later, choose System Settings > Keyboard > Keyboard Shortcuts > Modifier Keys, and choose from the pop-up menu next to Caps Lock. (In earlier versions of macOS, open System Preferences > Keyboard > Modifier Keys.)

(Featured image by Adam Engst)


Social Media: If you very seldom want to type in all caps, disable or remap the Caps Lock key so an errant key press doesn’t turn it on accidentally.

Locate a Featured Lock Screen Image in Photos

iOS’s Photo Shuffle wallpaper does a great job of identifying attractive photos for your Lock Screen. However, if you’re like us, you’ll sometimes wonder when or where you took a Lock Screen photo. Here’s how to figure that out. Touch and hold the Lock Screen when it’s displaying the photo in question, tap Customize, tap the Lock Screen wallpaper, tap the ••• button in the lower-right corner, and tap Show Photo in Library. Then you can swipe up to reveal more information about the photo, swipe left and right to see the photos on either side, or pinch to see it in the context of your entire photo library.

(Featured image by Apple)


Social Media: Do you sometimes wonder when or where you took a photo that iOS’s Photo Shuffle wallpaper is displaying on your Lock Screen? Us too, and here’s how to find out more.