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The “Hey” Part of “Hey Siri” Is Now Optional

If you use Siri, particularly on a HomePod, you’re probably accustomed to saying “Hey Siri” as the trigger phrase before your requests. In Apple’s new operating systems for 2023, you can now choose to invoke Siri using the traditional “Hey Siri” or just “Siri” (at least in Australia, Canada, the UK, and the US). You might appreciate being able to stop saying “Hey” every time, or you might find that using just “Siri” generates incorrect activations. (And if someone in your family’s name sounds like Siri, you may want to turn the feature off entirely!) There are four places to look:

  • iOS 17 and iPadOS 17: Settings > Siri & Search > Listen For
  • macOS 14 Sonoma: System Settings > Siri & Spotlight > Listen For
  • watchOS 10: Watch app > My Watch > Siri > Listen For
  • HomePod Software 17: Home app > long-press HomePod > Accessory Settings > Listen For “Siri” or “Hey Siri”

(Featured image based on an original by Apple)


Social Media: In Apple’s new operating systems for 2023, you can choose to invoke Siri with just “Siri” or the old “Hey Siri”—or turn the feature off entirely. We explain where to find the feature for each of your Apple devices.

watchOS 10.1 Brings Double Tap to the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2

Apple recently released watchOS 10.1, with support for the much-ballyhooed double-tap gesture that selects the primary action in many apps without requiring that you touch the screen! It’s available only on the new Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2, where you activate it by raising your wrist and tapping your thumb and index finger together twice. On the main Apple Watch screen, a double tap opens the Smart Stack of widgets you would otherwise get by turning the Digital Crown, and subsequent double taps advance through the widgets. A double tap also activates the primary action in many apps, such as answering and ending phone calls, playing and pausing media, viewing and scrolling through messages, ending timers, stopping and resuming the stopwatch, snoozing an alarm, responding to reminders from the Workout app, and performing the primary action from notifications. Whenever you double tap, you’ll see this icon at the top of the screen. If you have a supported Apple Watch model, give it a try!

(Featured image by Adam Engst, article image by Apple)


Social Media: Apple’s promised double-tap gesture is now available in watchOS 10.1 for those with an Apple Watch Series 9 or Apple Watch Ultra 2. Give it a try to perform the primary action in a watchOS app without touching the screen.

Use iOS 17’s Check In Feature to Reduce Worry

We’ve all had a friend or family member say, “Text me when you get home,” because they want the peace of mind from knowing you arrived safely. But what if something goes wrong—or you forget—so they never receive that text? They’ll be worried and won’t know where you are, if you’re OK, and so on.

In iOS 17, Apple has introduced the Check In feature to provide peace of mind—or in the worst case, to help emergency services. It’s conceptually simple. Before you leave to go somewhere, you create a Check In with someone—call them a safety partner—in Messages. You specify where you’re going and whether you’re driving, taking transit, or walking. Then, when you arrive, the Check In automatically ends, alerting your safety partner that you arrived. If you’re delayed en route, Check In takes that into account and extends the expected arrival time appropriately. If you fail to arrive, Check In shares your location and route with your safety partner. Also, if you make an Emergency SOS call or your iPhone or Apple Watch calls emergency services automatically during the Check In, it notifies your safety partner.

Not all situations revolve around following a specific route to a location, so Check In also supports timers. Perhaps a college student is going for an hour-long trail run and wants a friend to check on her if she’s not back as expected. She can use Check In to set a timer for 1 hour, share it with her friend, and when the timer ends, either tap the End button if she’s back or add more time if the run is going fine but taking longer than expected.

Although Check In may seem targeted at friends and family, it could have business uses as well. For instance, a destination Check In might work well for keeping tabs on a colleague traveling to a make-or-break pitch presentation.

Before you start using Check In with someone—in either direction—explain Check In to them and discuss an appropriate response if you or they fail to end Check In successfully. Responses should probably start with a quick text, followed by a phone call. If initial efforts to reach out are met with silence, contacting other people—friends, family members, neighbors, etc.—may be appropriate. At some point, depending on various factors, it will be time to call law enforcement. Of course, if the other person triggers an Emergency SOS during the Check In, call law enforcement immediately. At least in the US, if the person isn’t in your area, don’t call 911. Instead, find the law enforcement website for where the person is and call that organization’s 10-digit number. And here’s hoping it never comes to that!

Create a Check In

To get started with Check In, follow these steps:

  1. In Messages, open a conversation with the person you want to be your safety partner (Check In doesn’t currently work with group conversations).
  2. Tap the ⊕ button to the left of the message field, tap More at the bottom, and tap Check In.
  3. The first time you invoke Check In, Messages walks you through a series of explanatory screens, one of which is important—the privacy level of the data shared with your safety partner if you don’t arrive. Select Full—we can see almost no reason why you wouldn’t want that person to be able to share your exact location and route with emergency services if something has gone wrong. (If necessary, tweak this setting later in Settings > Messages > Data.)
  4. On subsequent uses of Check In, an unsent card appears in the Messages conversation, usually set for an hour in the future. The card isn’t sent automatically so you can customize it before sending it.
  5. Tap the Edit button to adjust the timer or destination.
  6. To change the timer duration, use the time picker and tap Done. Skip to the last step in this list.
  7. To set a destination instead of a timer, tap “When I arrive” at the top of the screen.
  8. Tap the Change button, and in the map, either search for a location or find one manually by pinching and zooming—touch and hold the map to drop a destination pin. At the bottom of the screen, select Small, Medium, or Large to set the size of the area in which you’ll arrive.
  9. Tap Done to close the map and then select Driving, Transit, or Walking so Check In can estimate your arrival time based on your method of transportation.
  10. If you want additional buffer time, tap Add Time and give yourself 15, 30, or 60 minutes beyond when Check In thinks you’ll arrive. This shouldn’t usually be necessary.
  11. Tap Done.
  12. Once you’re back to the Check In card in the Messages conversation, tap the Send button to start the Check In.

Note that safety partners can’t reject Check In cards.

End a Check In

Once you trigger a Check In, it can end in a few ways. First, you can cancel it before the timer completes or you arrive at your destination. Second, it can end successfully when you tap End when the timer finishes or when you arrive at your specified location. Third and finally, there’s the core purpose of the Check In, which is to alert your safety partner if you fail to respond to a timer or arrive where and when you said you would.

  • Cancel: To cancel a Check In, tap the Details button on the Check In card in Messages, tap Cancel Check In, and agree that you don’t want your safety partner notified. Timer and destination Check Ins look slightly different but act the same way. Your safety partner will only see that the Check In card in Messages says it has ended.
  • End successfully: For a timer Check In to end successfully, you must respond when the iPhone prompts you (below left). All your safety partner sees when that happens is a note in the Check In card that the timer ended (below right). You don’t need to interact with your iPhone for a destination Check In to end successfully—just arrive at the specified location. The safety partner’s Check In card updates to say that you arrived.
  • Check In fails to end (initiator): If you don’t arrive at your destination or fail to tap End when prompted, Check In gives you the option of adding time (below left) but after 15 minutes, tells you that it has alerted your safety partner (below center and right).
  • Check In fails to end (safety partner): More interesting is what your safety partner sees if you fail to complete a Check In. They’ll be alerted and can tap Details to see your location, when your devices were last unlocked, and more. They then have to figure out the best way to respond given your setup conversation.

It can take some practice to become fluid with Check In, so it’s worth testing it in everyday situations before using it when it might really matter. Once you use it a few times, you may notice Siri Suggestions offering to start it for you, making it even easier to initiate regularly. We hope you find that it provides some peace of mind and, in the worst-case scenario, helps someone in need of emergency services.

(Featured image by iStock.com/PeopleImages)


Social Media: The new Check In feature of iOS 17 can provide peace of mind by letting you specify a safety partner who will automatically be notified if you fail to arrive at your destination or complete a timer.

Forget Your Just-Changed Passcode? iOS 17’s Passcode Reset Has Your Back

The hardest time to remember your iPhone or iPad passcode is right after you’ve changed it. Generally speaking, there’s no reason to change your passcode, but if you inadvertently or intentionally shared it with someone with whom you wouldn’t trust your bank account information, changing it to something new is a good idea. We could also imagine a child who knows your passcode changing it on you as a prank. For whatever reason, if you can’t enter your new passcode, a new iOS 17 feature called Passcode Reset lets you use your old one for 72 hours. Once you’ve tried the wrong passcode five times, tap Forgot Passcode , enter your old passcode , and create a new one . If you’re certain you know the new one, you can expire the old one sooner in Settings > Face ID/Touch ID & Passcode.

(Featured image by iStock.com/NazariyKarkhut)


Social Media: If you change your passcode and can’t remember it (or it was changed for you by a prankster), iOS 17 lets you use your old passcode for 72 hours. It’s a helpful backstop for the results of a memory lapse or mischievous child.

Faster Copying of Two-Factor Authentication Codes from Messages

One welcome feature of Safari is its automatic detection and auto-filling of SMS-based two-factor authentication codes you receive in Messages. It allows you to complete your login quickly, without having to retrieve the code from Messages. But what if you use a different Web browser, like Google Chrome, Firefox, Brave, or Arc? Apple doesn’t allow other developers access to those codes in Messages, but Messages itself recognizes the verification code, marking it with an underline. Rather than transcribing the code manually like an animal, you can Control-click the underlined numbers and choose Copy Code. Then, switch to your Web browser and press Command-V to paste it. Not all websites accept pasted codes, but most will, even if they present a custom interface.

(Featured image by iStock.com/Galeanu Mihai)


Social Media: Need to enter SMS-initiated two-factor authentication codes manually in Web browsers other than Safari? Try this hidden trick for quickly copying and pasting them instead of retyping all those numbers.

Stay Alert! Voice Phishing Used in Recent Ransomware Attacks

All it took for MGM Resorts International to be compromised with ransomware was a quick phone call, which some now call “voice phishing” or “vishing.” An attacker using LinkedIn information to pose as an employee asked MGM’s help desk for a password change, after which they were able to install ransomware. MGM is now up to $52 million in lost revenues and counting. Two takeaways. First, if you call support for a manual password reset, expect to be asked for a lot of verification, such as a video call where you show your driver’s license. Second, if you receive a call at work from an unknown person asking you to do anything involving money or account credentials, hang up, verify their identity and authorization, and proceed accordingly only if they check out.

(Images by iStock.com/1550539 and HT Ganzo)


Social Media: Phishing isn’t limited to email and texts anymore—“voice phishing” or “vishing” was used recently in a major ransomware attack on MGM Resorts. The rise in such attacks means that requests over the phone will need much more verification.

Keep a USB Keyboard and Mouse for Troubleshooting

Steve Jobs famously railed against cable clutter, and it’s now easy to use a desktop Mac with a wireless keyboard and mouse, either from Apple or another manufacturer. That’s fine for regular usage, but Bluetooth keyboards and mice aren’t always sufficient. Batteries wear out, pairing can fail, and wireless interference can cause lags or spurious inputs. Plus, if you need to boot into macOS Recovery, wireless input devices may not work. We recommend keeping an extra USB keyboard and mouse—preferably from Apple, but any brand will work—to use in case you have problems with your wireless versions. If you don’t have a keyboard and mouse left over from an old Mac, a friend or family member may be happy to give you theirs, or you can probably find them for next to nothing at a local reuse store.

(Images by iStock.com/Jeffrey Glas and RafalStachura)


Social Media: The minimalist approach with a wireless keyboard and mouse is good most of the time, but if things go wrong, it can be handy to have a wired USB keyboard and mouse available for troubleshooting.

Is Your Mac Running Low on Disk Space? Here’s How to Delete Unnecessary Files

Between apps, photos, videos, music, and downloads, it’s easy to fill up your Mac’s drive, particularly one with just 128 or 256 GB of drive space. macOS warns you when you get too low on space, but those warnings may come late—for optimum Mac performance, we recommend you keep at least 10–20% of your drive free for new downloads and virtual memory swap files. There are excellent utilities that help you find and delete unnecessary files, such as the free GrandPerspective, the $9.99 DaisyDisk, and the $14.99 WhatSize, but Apple’s built-in storage management capabilities will likely be all you need.

Apple first introduced its Storage Management tool in the System Information app in macOS 10.12 Sierra, making it accessible from the About This Mac dialog. Starting in macOS 13 Ventura, Apple moved those capabilities to System Settings > General > Storage, providing a quick overview of your drive usage at the top. Hover over each colored bar to see how much space is taken up by a particular type of data. The light gray space at the end of the bar is what’s still available.

Below the graph, macOS may offer some recommendations for reducing storage over time, but they come with tradeoffs. Storing files in iCloud and optimizing Apple TV videos will replace local files with stubs pointing at a version stored in the cloud. That’s OK, but you then have to download the original before you can use it. Deleting files automatically after they’ve been in the Trash for more than 30 days is also fine but could have undesirable results if you ever want to recover older files from the Trash. Enable these if you wish, but the real work happens farther down on the screen, where you find all the categories of files you can explore. Depending on what apps you use, they will vary a bit between Macs, but they correspond to the colored bars you saw in the storage graph. Double-click each one to see what it displays.

For a few app-specific categories, like Mail and Podcasts, you merely learn how much space the app’s data occupies—to save space, you must delete unnecessary data from within the app itself. iCloud Drive and Photos are similar but also let you enable space optimization, which stores only placeholder files or smaller optimized photos on the Mac, leaving the originals in iCloud for later downloading whenever you access them.

More interesting are the Applications, Documents, and iOS Files categories, each of which may reveal gigabytes of unnecessary data. iOS Files, for instance, shows any device backups and software updates stored on your Mac’s drive. It’s worth keeping the latest backup of devices you still use, but delete any older backups and updates that are just wasting space—well over 8 GB in the screenshot below.

The Applications category lists your apps and is sorted by size by default. But try clicking the column header for Kind and scrolling down. You can probably delete most apps tagged as Unsupported, Duplicates, or Older Versions. Similarly, click the Last Accessed column header to see which apps you haven’t launched in years. Many of them can probably go, too.

In Documents, you’ll see four buttons: Large Files, Downloads, Unsupported Apps, and File Browser.

  • Large Files shows huge files regardless of where on your drive they’re located.
  • Downloads shows you the contents of your Downloads folder, much of which you likely don’t need.
  • Unsupported Apps lists any PowerPC or 32-bit apps that won’t run on your Mac. You can delete them.
  • File Browser provides a column view sorted by file size and shows sizes next to each item. It’s great for trawling through your drive to see what’s consuming all that space.

In any of these views, click Delete or Move to Trash to remove the file or Show In Finder to see it in its native habitat, which may help you decide if you should keep or delete the file. To delete multiple files at once, Command-click or Shift-click to select them and then click Delete to remove them all at once.

You may find it worth using GrandPerspective to get a visual overview of how space is used on your drive. After scanning, which can take a long time, it uses tiny colored blocks to represent files, collecting multiple blocks into bigger rectangles to show folder size. Toolbar buttons let you open, preview with Quick Look, reveal location, or delete whatever file block you click. Look in the status bar at the bottom of the window to see the path to the file.

In the screenshot below, the big boxes of color are massive virtual machine disk images, and the selected folder outlined in white at the right contains desktop pictures downloaded by an app that rotates them regularly—gigabytes of old files that can easily be deleted.

If your Mac’s drive has less than 10% free space, consider using Apple’s storage management capabilities—perhaps supplemented with GrandPerspective or another utility—to find and delete files that are wasting space.

Two final notes: Don’t get too wrapped up in the exact numbers in the storage graph matching what the Finder reports, and give the Mac some time to update its free space amounts after deleting files directly or emptying the Trash.

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


Social Media: Is your Mac low on drive space? Learn how to use Apple’s built-in storage management capabilities—perhaps supplemented with a third-party utility—to find and delete gigabytes of unnecessary files.

Apple Announces iPhone 15 Lineup, Apple Watch Series 9, and Apple Watch Ultra 2

September is here, and with it, Apple’s latest iPhones and Apple Watches. At its Wonderlust event on September 12, Apple threw back the curtains on the new iPhone 15 lineup, Apple Watch Series 9, and Apple Watch Ultra 2. These devices all provide incremental improvements that make them attractive to people planning to purchase a new iPhone or Apple Watch, though they may not be irresistible upgrades for those still happy with older models. You can pre-order any of them starting September 15, with delivery and in-store availability on September 22.

Alongside the announcement, Apple revealed that iOS 17, iPadOS 17, watchOS 10, tvOS 17, and HomePod Software 17 will become available on September 18, with macOS 14 Sonoma arriving on September 26. Wait a week or two before installing this first batch of updates on essential devices to avoid any last-minute bugs, and hold off on Sonoma for a few months or until you’re confident your necessary Mac apps are compatible. Regardless of when you upgrade, make a backup right before in case an unexpected problem forces you to erase and restore.

Let’s look at each of the new products.

iPhone 15 Lineup

Last year, Apple moved to a four-part iPhone lineup that continues this year, with the 6.1-inch iPhone 15 and the 6.7-inch iPhone 15 Plus. On the high end, we get the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max, again in those 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch sizes. The company updated the industrial design with slightly contoured corners. The iPhone 15 models come in five pastel colors with an aluminum enclosure and color-infused back glass, whereas the iPhone 15 Pro models now boast a titanium enclosure in four colors.

Along with the updated industrial design, all the iPhone 15 models share three notable changes:

  • USB-C for charging and data transfer: Driven by new European Union regulations, the iPhone 15 models all trade their Lightning port for a USB-C jack. Although it will be annoying to keep both Lightning and USB-C cables around until all Lightning devices have aged out, many Apple users already have USB-C cables and chargers for iPads and MacBooks.
  • Roadside Assistance via satellite: This extension of Emergency SOS via satellite allows anyone experiencing vehicle difficulties in a cellular dead zone to get help using satellite messaging. Apple includes access to satellite services for 2 years, and AAA membership in the US includes the roadside service. Those who aren’t AAA members will be able to purchase service separately.
  • Better Precision Finding: The iPhone 15 and new Apple Watch models all have a second-generation Ultra Wideband chip that lets users employ Precision Finding in the Find My app to locate each other accurately at a much greater range. Apple suggests you can use it to find iPhone 15-equipped friends in a crowd.

Although the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus aren’t as technologically capable as their Pro siblings, they’re more interesting than the iPhone 14 models they supplant. They receive increased performance thanks to the A16 Bionic chip from the iPhone 14 Pro, and the chip also enables computational photography improvements on top of a new 48-megapixel camera. Also inherited from the iPhone 14 Pro is the Dynamic Island, which displays alerts and Live Activities in the area surrounding the camera and sensor package at the top of the screen, eliminating the need for a notch.

Even though there’s more new on the Pro end, the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max don’t make as significant a jump from their iPhone 14 Pro predecessors. The change everyone will notice is the new Action button that replaces the Ring/Silent switch. You can press and hold it to put an iPhone 15 Pro into silent mode or redefine it to activate Voice Memos, set Focus modes, access the camera or flashlight, enable Accessibility options, or launch a Shortcut. 

The 48-megapixel main camera gains additional computational photography capability thanks to the new A17 Pro chip underpinning the iPhone 15 Pro models, but the most noteworthy enhancement is restricted to the iPhone 15 Pro Max. A tetraprism design enables its Telephoto camera to achieve a 5x optical zoom, an unprecedented capability available only for photographers who don’t mind the 6.7-inch form factor.

Several other improvements are technically impressive but likely of interest and utility only to media professionals. The iPhone 15 Pro’s USB-C port supports USB 3 transfer speeds up to 10 gigabits per second (the iPhone 15 is limited to USB 2.0’s pokey 480 megabits per second), and support for Wi-Fi 6e will enable faster wireless transfers. Both will be welcome to those transferring large image, audio, or video files.

Pricing remains basically the same, with the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus starting at $799 and $899 for 128 GB of storage, with 256 GB and 512 GB options. The iPhone 15 Pro costs $999 for 128 GB, with 256 GB, 512 GB, and 1 TB storage options. The iPhone 15 Pro Max is $1199 for 256 GB, with 512 GB and 1 TB storage options. If those prices are too steep for your budget, the iPhone SE ($429), iPhone 13 ($599), and iPhone 14 ($699) all remain for sale.

It might be worth upgrading from an iPhone 14 to an iPhone 15 for the 48-megapixel camera and Dynamic Island, but it’s harder to recommend an upgrade from an iPhone 14 Pro unless you find the 5x Telephoto camera indispensable. Otherwise, the older your current iPhone, the more you’ll be impressed by the new models.

Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2

Last year brought the release of the beefy Apple Watch Ultra, so it wasn’t surprising that Apple gave us the Apple Watch Ultra 2 this year alongside the Apple Watch Series 9. They have no industrial design changes, and their improvements are driven by the increased performance and efficiency of Apple’s new S9 SiP (a package containing multiple chips).

Most notable among the changes is a new double tap gesture, which relies on the S9’s faster Neural Engine to detect when your index finger and thumb perform a double tap. watchOS 10 interprets the gesture as activating the primary button in an app, so it can be used to answer or end a phone call, stop a timer, play and pause music, snooze an alarm, take a photo, or open and scroll through the new watchOS 10 Smart Stack from the watch face. It will be available next month. 

Other S9-driven improvements include:

  • Brighter displays: The Apple Watch Series 9 can now display up to 2000 nits, and the Apple Watch Ultra 2 can go up to 3000 nits, making them more readable in bright sunlight.
  • On-device Siri: Siri requests that don’t require information from the Internet can now be processed on the Apple Watch locally, making Siri more helpful for starting workouts or setting timers when there’s no cellular or Wi-Fi connectivity.
  • More capable and accurate Siri: You can now use Siri to access Health data such as sleep hours, Activity ring progress, and more. Plus, you can use Siri to log health data such as weight, period, or medications taken. These capabilities will be available later this year. Apple also claims 25% more accurate dictation.
  • Precision Finding and HomePod integration: The second-generation Ultra Wideband chip in the S9 enables the Precision Finding feature that can direct you to a lost iPhone 15 rather than just playing a sound. Also, when you get close to a HomePod, the Apple Watch provides media controls or offers media suggestions in the Smart Stack.

Finally, both the original Apple Watch Ultra and the new model gain a new Modular Ultra watch face that uses the outermost edge of the large display to present real-time data like seconds, altitude, or depth.

The Apple Watch Series 9 starts at $399 for a 41mm aluminum GPS-only model; 45mm models are $30 more, and cellular connectivity adds $100. It’s available in pink, midnight, starlight, silver, and PRODUCT(RED). In stainless steel, pricing starts at $699 for a 41mm model and includes cellular connectivity; the 45mm models are $50 more. Some textile bands and all stainless steel bands cost an additional $50 to $300. The Apple Watch Ultra 2 remains $799 with an Alpine Loop, Trail Loop, or Ocean Band.

While undoubtedly the most capable watches Apple has ever produced, these new models don’t offer enough new to warrant an upgrade from last year’s models. They’re great for those getting started with the Apple Watch or upgrading from a much older version. Don’t forget that Apple still sells the Apple Watch SE, which lacks the Always-On display and ECG capabilities of the Series 9 but is $150 less expensive. Apple’s comparison page can help you tease out the differences.

(Featured image by Apple)


Social Media: At its Wonderlust event, Apple introduced the iPhone 15 lineup, the Apple Watch Series 9, and the Apple Watch Ultra 2. For the most part, they’re incremental upgrades, making them most compelling to those upgrading from much older devices.

Erase Image Content in Preview with Copied Color Blocks

Apple’s Preview is a surprisingly capable graphics editor for making quick changes to screenshots and other illustrations, but it lacks a built-in way to delete content while leaving the background. Here’s the workaround—select a rectangle of the background color, copy it, paste it, and then move it over the undesirable content—as shown in the After screenshot below, where blue selection dots denote the pasted box. As you resize the box, press Shift to prevent it from resizing proportionally, which helps you make it the shape you want. If you need a second box of the same color, Option-drag the first box to copy it. When you save and close, your boxes will be merged into the image, permanently removing the content underneath, so make sure they’re in the right spot before moving on.

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


Social Media: Have you ever needed to remove some content from a screenshot or other illustration? There’s no need for a fancy graphics app—you can do it quickly in Preview with this little-known trick.