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Reduce iPhone and iPad Data Usage with Low Data Mode

Do you need to be careful about how much data you use with your iPhone or iPad, either via cellular or Wi-Fi? That could be true for those with Internet data caps, people using an international plan while traveling, and anyone in an area with slow data speeds. To reduce your data usage, turn on Low Data Mode, which you can do separately for cellular and Wi-Fi. For cellular, look in Settings > Cellular > Cellular Data Options, where you can either enable Low Data Mode for LTE/4G or take one more step into Data Mode for 5G. If you’re using two plans with a dual SIM iPhone, you can set each one separately. For Wi-Fi, go to Settings > Wi-Fi and tap the i button next to the desired Wi-Fi network and then tap Low Data Mode. Apple lists what you can expect to change in Low Data Mode. If you need a similar capability for the Mac, check out TripMode.

(Featured image by iStock.com/Created_by_light)

Delete or Position iOS Apps from Search

In iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, Apple added a feature that would have been even more welcome before the advent of the App Library: the capability to manage apps from Search. But it’s still handy as a way to delete or position an app you can’t find on a Home screen page. Swipe down from the middle of the Home screen to enter Search, after which you can work with any app you see in Siri Suggestions or find with a search ➊. Touch and hold an app to display its contextual menu ➋, including a Delete App option. Or touch and hold it and start dragging to move it to a Home screen page ➌. Bonus: you can even drag an app out multiple times to put it on multiple Home screen pages or in multiple folders!

(Featured image by iStock.com/B4LLS)

Use Reduce Transparency for a Consistently Colored macOS Interface

For years now, Apple has made transparency a part of the macOS interface, which has the effect of blending the menu bar into the background and making menus and some windows take on the background hue, as you can see on the left side of the illustration below. For many people, transparency blurs the interface, making it harder to differentiate interface elements from the wallpaper. It also causes problems for screenshots meant for publication because the images end up with unrepresentative color levels. To prevent that from happening, open System Preferences > Accessibility > Display and select Reduce Transparency. It can be a significant difference, as you can see on the right side of the illustration below.

(Featured image by Adam Engst)

iOS 15 Allows Rearranging and Deletion of Home Screen Pages

Back in iOS 14, Apple added the App Library, which collects all the apps on your iPhone. With everything available in the App Library, iOS 14 was also able to provide the option of hiding Home screen pages, a boon for those of us with too many disorganized pages. In iOS 15, Apple has taken the next step. You can still hide Home screen pages, but if you never want to see them again, you can delete them (apps remain in the App Library). Or, if they’re not in the order you want, you can rearrange them. Touch and hold any empty spot on the Home screen to enter jiggle mode. Tap the dots above the Dock that indicate which Home screen page you’re on. In the Edit Pages screen, you can now tap the – button next to a hidden page to delete it ➊. If you want to delete a visible page, first hide it by tapping its checkmark underneath ➋. Or, to rearrange Home screen pages, drag a thumbnail to a new location ➌. Tap Done or press the Home button when you’re finished.

(Featured image by Adam Engst)

Keep the Menu Bar Showing in Full Screen in macOS 12 Monterey

Do you like using full-screen mode on your new M1-based MacBook Pro but hate having the menu bar disappear unless you move the pointer to the top of the screen? Happily, in macOS 12 Monterey, Apple has at long last added a setting to keep the menu bar visible at all times. Open System Preferences > Dock & Menu Bar and uncheck “Automatically hide and show the menu bar in full screen.” The change won’t affect apps currently in full-screen mode until you toggle their window state again or quit and relaunch. Unfortunately, some apps, including Apple’s Photos, need to be updated to show toolbars or other controls at the top of the window without forcing you to mouse up there to reveal them.

(Featured image by Adam Engst)

With Apple Watch Faces, Too Much Choice Can Be Confusing

The Apple Watch has a lot to offer older people, including heart rate monitoring, atrial fibrillation detection, fall detection, and electrocardiogram recording. But if you are—or are helping someone who is—of the generation where watches once did nothing beyond telling the time, too many options can be overwhelming. Adding to the confusion is how easy it is to create and accidentally swipe between multiple watch faces, making it so the Apple Watch suddenly looks and works completely differently. If that’s an issue, use the Watch app to delete all but the preferred watch face. In Watch > My Watch, tap Edit to the right of My Faces ➊, tap the red delete button next to a face ➋, and then tap Remove ➌.

(Featured image by Adam Engst)

Safari 15.1 Reverses Course, Reverts to Old Tab Interface

With the betas of Safari 15 on the Mac and iPad, Apple experimented with a variety of interface tweaks related to tabs. By the time Safari 15 shipped, however, Apple had pulled back on the more radical changes from the betas, offering the new Compact Tab Bar layout and colorized tab bar as options. Even with the more traditional Separate Tab Bar layout, however, tabs appeared as buttons above your favorites, a switch from earlier versions of Safari. With Safari 15.1 in macOS and iPadOS 15.1, Apple has reverted the Separate Tab Bar layout even further, making the tabs look like, well, tabs, moving them below the favorites, and eliminating the colorized tab bar (it remains an option in iOS 15.1). The Compact Tab Bar option remains available for those who prefer it, but if you’ve been feeling the sand shifting under your feet, it’s not your imagination—tabs really did change in Safari 15.1.

(Featured image by iStock.com/ESOlex)

Avoid Unusual Top-Level Domains in Custom Domain Names

Remember the heady dotcom days, when businesses were desperate to get a short, memorable, easily typed .com domain? It quickly became difficult to get what you wanted—so much so that deep-pocketed companies paid exorbitant sums for just the right domain.

Before we go any further, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page. Domain names are necessary because computers on the Internet are all identified by inscrutable numeric IP addresses. You can remember and type apple.com easily; 184.31.17.21 not so much. Domain names have two or more parts: the top-level domain (read from the end, such as com) and the second-level domain (like apple), plus optional third-level domains (which could give you support.apple.com).

Since the days of speculating in .com domains, however, hundreds of additional top-level domains have been opened up, including domains from .aaa to .zone. There are now top-level domains for .doctor, .florist, .lawyer, and many more, including the general .xyz. It might be tempting to switch from the awkward dewey-cheatham-howe.com to the shorter and more memorable dch.lawyer. And even if there isn’t a profession-specific top-level domain that works for you, you may think that if abc.xyz is good enough for Google’s parent company Alphabet, surely it’s good enough for you.

Alas, much as we appreciate the creativity and flexibility offered by these alternative top-level domains, we’d like to dissuade you from using one, if possible. Problems include:

  • Email deliverability: If you’re sending email using an alternative top-level domain or including links to that domain, it’s much more likely that your email will be considered spam by receiving systems.
  • SMS deliverability: Some SMS text message providers will automatically delete messages containing URLs with alternative top-level domains in an effort to protect their customers from phishing attacks.
  • Social media spam filtering: As with SMS text messages, social media posts that include URLs with alternative top-level domains may be categorized as spam or as linking to a malicious site.
  • Firewall blocking: Abuse of alternative top-level domains has become so commonplace by scammers that some companies prevent their employees from accessing websites using certain alternative top-level domains at the firewall level.
  • User perception: Although there’s no telling how anyone will react to a particular top-level domain, people won’t think twice about .com but might think .ooo seems sketchy. (We would.)

Obviously, it may not be possible to get the domain name you want in .com. What to do? There are a few strategies:

  • Expand or abbreviate: At this time, people mostly don’t see, remember, or type domains apart from those that go with businesses that do a lot of real-world advertising. So if you need to add or subtract words (or letters) in your domain to find a unique one, that can work.
  • Use a country domain: Two-letter top-level domains are restricted for use by countries, so .us is for the United States, .ca for Canada, and .au for Australia. Every country has different rules for who can register them. For instance, it’s possible to get a domain ending in .it (Italy) as long as you work through a registrar that acts as your representative there. .io (British Indian Ocean Territory) and .ai (Anguilla) are popular top-level domains among tech companies.
  • Stick with better, pricier alternatives: Not all alternative top-level domains are equally problematic. The classic .net and .org are fine, and .biz isn’t bad. But how to determine that? When you’re checking to see if a domain name is available, compare prices. For instance, at one domain name registrar, iphonewhisperer.xyz costs only $1 per year, whereas the iphonewhisperer.biz version is $4.98 per year, iphonewhisperer.net is $9.18 per year, and iphonewhisperer.studio is $11.98 per year. The more you pay, the less likely that domain has been abused by spammers and marked for filtering.

In the end, when it comes to domain names, it’s best to be conservative and stick with a top-level domain that won’t cause people or filters to think twice. That’s probably .com, if you can make the rest of the name work for you.

(Featured image by iStock.com/BeeBright)


Social Media: Tempted to get a short, memorable domain name ending in .xyz or .shop? As we explain, that’s a bad idea if you care about user perception, email and text message deliverability, and not being blocked by social media and firewalls. Details at:

New Features to Try (Or Not) in Safari 15

Along with a new version of Safari in iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, Apple has released Safari 15 for macOS 11 Big Sur and macOS 10.15 Catalina. Why do this before macOS 12 Monterey ships? Some of the browser’s new capabilities—notably the Tab Groups feature—integrate it more deeply into your Apple device experience by syncing across devices. So, assuming you have Safari 15 on at least some of your devices, what’s new, and is it any good?

New Tab Bar Interface

For Safari 15, Apple tried to minimize the tab bar interface to occupy less screen real estate and stand out less from the content of Web pages by co-opting the color of each page. Early betas were met with a litany of complaints from testers, and Apple pulled back in the eventual releases, offering settings that let you retain the old interface. How that plays out varies between the iPhone, iPad, and Mac:

  • iPhone: Apple combined the address bar and tab bar into a single set of controls at the bottom of the screen, where they’re easier to reach with your thumb while working one-handed and where you can swipe left and right to switch tabs. Plus, the status bar area at the top of the screen takes on the color from the current site, which isn’t necessarily a visual win. This is a huge change from the controls appearing at the top, so if you don’t like it, go to Settings > Safari and switch from Tab Bar (below left) to Single Tab (below right). Turn off Allow Website Tinting (also below right) if you don’t like the colorizing.
  • iPad: Displays on the iPad are relatively small, so saving some vertical space with the new Compact Tab Bar could be helpful. However, since the tab bar automatically minimizes when you scroll down a page, reducing its size when it’s visible isn’t as much of a win as it might seem. And the colorized tab bar can be shockingly bright. In Settings > Safari, you can choose between Compact Tab Bar (below top) and Separate Tab Bar (below bottom); either way, consider disabling Show Color in Tab Bar.
  • Mac: Laptop screens aren’t huge, and Safari doesn’t minimize its tab bar when you scroll, as it does on the iPhone and iPad, so saving some vertical space might be welcome on a smaller screen. But the way the Compact layout embeds the address field inside a tab and reduces the number of buttons you can see may perturb you (below top). Once again, the colorized tab bar can be glaring. To revert to something closer to the old look, in Safari > Preferences > Tabs, select Separate for the tab layout (below bottom), and disable Show Color in Tab Bar to keep the controls gray regardless of the site color.

Voice Search

For many searches, it’s easier to speak than type, and Apple has made doing that even faster with Voice Search on the iPhone and iPad. Tap the current tab to display the address field, tap the microphone button, and speak instead of typing. As soon as you stop, Safari performs the search. You can even navigate directly to a site by speaking its URL, like “apple dot com.” Sadly, Apple didn’t extend this feature to the Mac version of Safari 15.

Tab Switcher

In iOS 14 and earlier, Safari used a card stack metaphor for its tab switcher (below left), which could make it hard to see what each tab contained. In Safari in iOS 15, Apple took a cue from the iPad and Mac versions of the app and moved to a grid interface for the tab switcher (below right). You can drag the tab thumbnails around to organize them and remove them by tapping an X button (weirdly located in the upper-right corner) or swiping them left off-screen. You can also bring up the option to close all open tabs by pressing and holding Done at the lower right corner of the screen.

Tab Groups

If you struggle under the cognitive load of dozens of unrelated tabs, the new Tab Groups feature might help. With it, you can collect tabs into as many groups as you like and switch among them. You work with tab groups in either the tab switcher interface (iPhone and iPad with the Separate Tab Bar) or the sidebar (Mac and iPad with the Compact Tab Bar).

To open the tab switcher on the iPhone, tap the tab button in the lower-right corner of the screen; on the iPad, tap the different-looking tab button in the upper-right corner. Once you have the tab switcher open, tap X Tabs to reveal the Tab Groups menu. To show the sidebar on either the iPad or the Mac, tap or click the sidebar button in the upper-left corner of the tab bar.

Once you have the Tab Groups menu or sidebar showing:

  • To create a new tab group on the iPhone’s or iPad’s Tab Groups menu, tap New Empty Tab Group, name it, and tap Save. In the sidebar on a Mac or iPad, use the New Tab Group button at the top (or choose File > New Empty Tab Group on the Mac). You can also use New Tab Group from X Tabs to create a tab group from currently open tabs.
  • To switch to a different tab group, tap it in the Tab Groups menu on an iPhone or iPad, or access it from the sidebar on a Mac or iPad.
  • To delete a tab group, swipe left on it in the Tab Groups menu or sidebar to reveal a delete icon on an iPhone or iPad; on the Mac, Control-click it and choose Delete.

Shared with You

Ever gone spelunking through Messages to find a link someone sent you? Safari 15’s new Shared with You feature should help. It automatically collects all Web pages you receive in Messages into a new Shared with You section of the Safari start page. On the iPad and Mac, there’s also a Shared with You item in the sidebar.

Customizable Start Page

Speaking of the start page, if you want to customize which headings appear and in what order, you can now do that on the iPhone and iPad. (Choosing which headings appear has long been possible on the Mac by clicking the little settings button in the lower-right corner, but reordering isn’t possible there.)

Create a new tab to view the start page, scroll to the bottom, and tap Edit. Then disable any headings you don’t want to see and drag the remaining ones into your desired order. You can also choose among several Apple-provided background images and have your start page settings sync to your other devices.

Other Stuff

Two final new features may be welcome but probably won’t rock your world:

  • Pull to refresh: If you need to reload a Web page on the iPhone or iPad, either you can tap the reload button in the address field if it’s visible with your tab bar settings, or you can now just pull down with your finger from the top of a page.
  • HTTPS upgrade: If you visit a website that supports encrypted HTTPS but is also loading insecure content over unencrypted HTTP, Safari will now ensure that you connect to it over HTTPS so your entire connection is secure.

There you have it! Check out the new features in Safari 15 and let them improve your browsing experience.

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


Social Media: Safari 15 brings some welcome new features, along with tab bar interface changes that have received mixed reviews. Read on to learn about the features and how you can customize the tab bar more to your liking.

Nightstand Mode Makes Your Apple Watch a Helpful Bedroom Companion

Most Apple Watch users charge their watch every night, putting it on a charger as part of a bedtime routine. If that’s you, make sure you’re not missing one of the Apple Watch’s best features: nightstand mode. When you enable it in the iPhone’s Watch app, in General > Nightstand Mode, a charging Apple Watch displays the charging status, current time and date (in a large, easily readable font), and the time of any alarm you’ve set. It uses a green color that won’t shock your eyes in the middle of the night, and after a minute, the screen goes completely dark. To see it again, tap the watch or—even better!—the surface it’s on. The screen lights up for 10 seconds before going dark again. (And yes, we love the little classic Mac stand.)

(Featured image by Adam Engst)