How to limit the volume on iOS.

Long gone are the days of ghetto blasters and monster speakers—now we pump music directly into our eardrums with EarPods and AirPods. Noise-induced hearing loss is a real problem, though, with millions of people damaging their hearing by playing music too loud, sometimes inadvertently. Happily, iOS can help protect your ears, and those of your loved ones. Navigate to Settings > Music > Volume Limit and lower the slider. If you’re doing this for a child, you can prevent them from changing it in Settings > General > Restrictions > Volume Limit > Don’t Allow Changes. This requires first setting a Restrictions passcode that only you know.

The Easy Shortcut to Delete Unwanted Photos Quickly

It’s a lot easier to take photos than it is to delete them, particularly in Photos on the Mac. You’ve done the dance: select a photo, press Delete, and press Return when Photos asks if you want to delete the photo. But you can sidestep that annoying dialog with this simple trick: press Command-Delete instead of Delete on its own. That sends the photo to your Recently Deleted album instantly.

Did You Know Your iPhone Can Help You Find Your Parked Car?

The iPhone’s Maps app automatically records where you park your car as long as the iPhone is connected to the car’s Bluetooth system. It even notifies you of this when you get out of the car. But how do you get back to the car after you’ve done your errands? Just bring up Maps, and you’ll see Parked Car in the recent locations list at the bottom. Tap it, tap the Directions button on the next screen, and then tap Go (tap the Walk button first if necessary). Then just follow the blue brick road and the directions that Maps gives you.

What Is APFS (and Why Should You Care)?

A major change in macOS 10.13 High Sierra is the switch to Apple’s new Apple File System, or APFS. With any luck, you’ll barely notice the change, just as almost no one did earlier this year when Apple updated millions of iOS devices to APFS with iOS 10.3. But let’s unpack what APFS is, why you should care, and what gotchas you might encounter.

A file system is a mechanism for storing files on a hard disk or SSD—it keeps track of where on the drive the pieces that make up each file are located, along with metadata about each file, such as its name, size, creation and modification dates, and so on. You see all this information in the Finder, but since the file system is a level below the Finder, you won’t have to learn anything new when Apple starts using APFS.

Why is Apple making this switch? In 1985, Apple first developed the Hierarchical File System (HFS) for the Mac, later replacing it with HFS+ in 1998. Although HFS+, now called Mac OS Extended in Disk Utility, has received numerous updates in the last two decades, it wasn’t designed to deal with terabyte-sized drives, solid-state drives based on flash storage, full-disk encryption, or supercomputer-class Macs.

That’s where APFS comes in. Being a modern file system, it’s vastly faster than HFS+. For instance, have you ever used File > Get Info to see how much disk space a folder uses? For a folder containing thousands of files, it can take minutes before you see that number. But with APFS, calculating folder sizes becomes nearly instantaneous, as does duplicating a file that’s gigabytes in size. Saving files should also be faster.

APFS is also more resistant to data loss or file corruption due to application crashes, and it keeps your data more secure with advanced backup and encryption capabilities. If you use FileVault to encrypt your drive, APFS will change the underlying encryption mechanism during the upgrade, but everything will look and work just as it always has.

When you install High Sierra on a Mac with an SSD or flash storage, which includes all recent Mac notebooks and many desktop Macs, your drive will be converted to APFS automatically. You cannot opt out of the conversion, and the installation will take a bit longer. However, if your Mac has a hard disk drive or Fusion Drive, it won’t be converted to APFS at this time. (If you’re not sure what sort of storage your Mac has, choose About This Mac from the Apple menu and click the Storage tab.)

That’s one gotcha, and although there are others, they get pretty geeky and most won’t affect you:

  • Macs running OS X 10.11 El Capitan and earlier cannot mount or read volumes formatted as APFS. So don’t format external hard disks or USB flash drives as APFS if you might need to use them with older Macs. However, Macs running High Sierra from APFS-formatted drives work fine with external hard disks still formatted as HFS+.
  • Although the High Sierra installer can convert a volume from HFS+ to APFS during installation, you cannot convert an APFS volume back to HFS+ without first erasing it. You’ll have to back up any data on it, format as APFS, and then restore the data.
  • We recommend against using old disk repair and recovery software that hasn’t been updated for High Sierra on an APFS-formatted volume.
  • Apple’s Boot Camp, which lets you run Windows on your Mac, doesn’t support read/write to APFS-formatted Mac volumes.
  • Volumes formatted as APFS can’t offer share points over the network using AFP and must instead use SMB or NFS.

Apart from the problem of APFS-formatted USB flash drives not being readable by older Macs (or Windows computers), most people shouldn’t run into any problems with APFS—everything it changes is under the hood and will just result in a Mac that’s faster, more reliable, and more secure. And since Apple already quietly transitioned millions of iOS devices to APFS, it’s a good bet that switching millions of Macs to it will go equally smoothly.

Use Personal Hotspot Tethering to Avoid Dodgy Wi-Fi While Traveling

Finding good Internet access for your Mac or Wi-Fi-only iPad while traveling can be maddening. Look in your Wi-Fi menu while sitting in an airport and you’ll see a bunch of networks, most of which require a password or won’t connect for other reasons. It isn’t any better when you reach your destination, since many hotels charge usurious rates for Wi-Fi. And while you might be able to find a coffee shop with free public Wi-Fi, those networks may not be secure—a hacker on the same network could watch your unencrypted Internet traffic.

If you’re like most Apple users, the solution is in your pocket or purse: your iPhone. For a number of years, turning on iOS’s Personal Hotspot feature involved additional fees from your cellular carrier, which dissuaded many people from using it. Nowadays, however, most mobile phone plans don’t charge extra for tethering, as it’s often called. If you have an “unlimited” plan, your carrier may throttle your bandwidth if you exceed some usage level because the carrier doesn’t want customers to use tethering for their primary Internet connections. Double-check your plan, but if you won’t have to pay more to use tethering, here’s how to use it to solve Wi-Fi problems while on the road.

On your iPhone (or cellular-enabled iPad), go to Settings > Personal Hotspot and enable the switch for Personal Hotspot. Then tap Wi-Fi Password, and in the next screen, enter a password. It must be at least 8 characters and can use only ASCII characters (English letters, numbers, and standard punctuation marks). It shouldn’t be trivial (like “password”), but don’t worry about making it super strong, since your iPhone isn’t likely to be in any single location long enough for someone to try to crack it. (You can also share a Personal Hotspot connection via Bluetooth or a USB cable, but both are fussier and may not work as well.)

Then, from your MacBook, click the Wi-Fi  menu in the menu bar and choose the network named for your iPhone—it may appear under a Personal Hotspot heading and will have a Personal Hotspot   icon. From an iPad or another iOS device, go to Settings > Wi-Fi and select the iPhone’s network.

In either case, if both devices are signed in to the same iCloud account and have Bluetooth turned on, Apple’s Instant Hotspot feature should make it so you don’t have to enter the password. It’s no great hardship if you do have to type the password; the Mac or iPad should remember it for future use.

Once you’re connected, everything should work just as though you were using a normal Wi-Fi network. Performance might be a little slow, but since random public Wi-Fi networks are often pokey, it may be better than you’d get otherwise.

If you worry about using too much data and generating overage charges or getting throttled, pay attention to what apps and services use bandwidth on your Mac. Things like Dropbox, Backblaze, and iCloud Photo Library can slurp a lot of data in the background, so you may want to turn them off. Or install TripMode ($7.99), a clever Mac utility that notices when you’re using a new Wi-Fi network and asks which services you want to allow through.

When you finish tethering, turn off the Personal Hotspot switch on your iPhone to make sure it doesn’t use any extra battery life or allow another of your devices to consume cellular data inadvertently.