Reduce Mac Desktop Clutter by Sorting

Is your Mac’s Desktop a cluttered mess? That’s not a criticism—it happens to all of us. A few files here, a folder or two there, and before long you can’t find anything amid all the icons. There’s a solution, of course, which is that the Finder lets you sort the icons on your Desktop just like any other folder. Click once on the Desktop, then choose View > Show View Options. In the window that appears, along with icon size and positioning, you can use the Sort By pop-up menu to choose how icons will sort on the Desktop. Date Modified is often the best, since that puts the most recently changed file or folder at the top right, or directly underneath any drive icons.

Do You Know What Happens When You Tap Space Twice in iOS?

If you’re thinking, “Why yes, I do know that in iOS a double-tap on the Space bar after typing a word inserts a period and then a space,” award yourself a virtual gold star. If you weren’t aware of that super useful trick, well, you are now. Getting to the Period key on a small-screen iPhone or iPod touch keyboard requires switching to the number keyboard and back again, so this shortcut can provide proper punctuation promptly.

iOS 10.3 Moves iCloud and iTunes in the Settings App

iOS 10.3, which Apple released in March 2017, had a number of notable changes, along with one minor tweak that could cause confusion. In iOS 10.2 and earlier, if you wanted to change your iCloud, iTunes, or App Store settings, you’d tap Settings > iCloud or Settings > iTunes & App Store. In iOS 10.3, however, Apple combined all these settings and more into a new Apple ID menu item that’s labeled with your name and prominently positioned at the top of the Settings app. In that Apple ID screen, you can control every aspect of your account, including personal information, passwords, security options, payment details, iCloud syncing, iTunes and App Store downloads, Family Sharing, and all your devices. Take a minute to scan through everything that’s possible so the next time you need to adjust one of these settings, you’ll remember where to go.

How to Unlock Your Mac with a Wave of Your Hand (well, Apple Watch)

It’s magic. You walk up to your Mac, touch a key to wake it up, and upon noticing that you’re wearing your Apple Watch, it unlocks without making you enter a password. Brilliant! For some of us, it’s almost a reason alone to get an Apple Watch.

Auto Unlock, as Apple calls this feature, lets you protect your Mac with a strong password—recommended for international spies and teenage girls alike—without forcing you to type your password repeatedly. (You will have to type it the first time after you turn on, restart, or log out of your Mac.)

To enable this protection and keep people out of your Mac when you’re away, go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > General and select “Require password after sleep or screen saver begins.” Since your Apple Watch will be doing all the heavy lifting, feel free to set a short time span. Then select “Allow your Apple Watch to unlock your Mac.” If the stars are smiling on you, that’s all you’ll need to do.

However, it’s likely that something won’t be quite right for Auto Unlock to function properly, since it has a bunch of requirements.

First, make sure your hardware is new enough and sufficiently up-to-date. Your Mac must be from mid-2013 or later, and it must be running macOS 10.12 Sierra or later. (If you aren’t sure about your Mac, see if that checkbox labeled “Allow your Apple Watch to unlock your Mac” is present. If not, your Mac is too old.) Any model of Apple Watch will work, but it needs to be using at least watchOS 3.

Next, you need to turn on two-factor authentication. If you were using Apple’s previous two-step verification, you must switch to two-factor authentication. It adds an extra layer of security to your Apple devices and accounts, including iCloud, and is well worth doing in this day and age of password thefts. Plus, it ensures you don’t have to remember those inscrutable security questions about your favorite elementary school teacher! The links earlier in this paragraph have more details, but you enable two-factor authentication in System Preferences > iCloud > Account Details > Security.

Now for the checklist. For Auto Unlock to work:

  • Your Mac must have Bluetooth turned on. Click the Bluetooth icon in the menu bar or look in System Preferences > Bluetooth.
  • Your Mac must have Wi-Fi turned on, even if you’re using Ethernet. Click the Wi-Fi icon in the menu bar and choose Turn Wi-Fi On if necessary.
  • Your Mac and your Apple Watch must be signed in to iCloud using the same Apple ID. Verify that in System Preferences > iCloud on the Mac, and on your iPhone in the Apple Watch app, in General > Apple ID.
  • Your Apple Watch must have a passcode enabled. On your iPhone, in the Apple Watch app, tap Passcode and then Turn Passcode On. So you don’t have to enter your passcode, enable Unlock with iPhone.
     
  • Your Mac must not be using Internet Sharing. Verify that in System Preferences > Sharing.


It’s a lot to check, we know, but you only have to do it once. After that, go back to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > General and select “Allow your Apple Watch to unlock your Mac.” It may prompt for your password, and Bob’s your uncle. (Unless he’s not. We’ve never understood that expression.)

After that, every time you wake your Mac or stop the screensaver, it will unlock automatically with your Apple Watch. If you’re not wearing the Apple Watch, or if your watch is locked (hence our recommendation of Unlock with iPhone), you can still type your password at the Mac’s login screen.

There is one small gotcha. Every time you install a macOS update, Apple disables that checkbox, presumably for some security reason. Just go back into the Security & Privacy preference pane and turn it back on. Happily, that’s nothing for the win of not having to unlock your Mac with your password multiple times per day.

Capture Perfect Photos of Kids, Pets, Sports, and Wildlife with the iPhone’s Burst Mode

Snapping the perfect photo is tough. Children, especially babies and teenagers, can be difficult to pose. Cats relish looking cute and then turning away just as you grab your camera. Action shots in sporting events are impossible to predict. And you never know when that unusual bird will choose to fly away. Miss the moment, and you’ve got a picture with closed eyes, funny expressions, blurry action, or nothing in the frame.

Professional news, sports, and wildlife photographers have long solved these problems with burst mode, which takes multiple photos in quick succession. Film cameras required a motor drive to advance the film quickly enough, but now that nearly every camera is digital, burst mode simply needs enough processing power and storage space to record frame after frame. And, unsurprisingly, the iPhone (and iPad) has more than enough of both, plus a tremendously easy way to engage burst mode.

The secret hidden trick to using burst mode in the iPhone’s Camera app? Instead of pressing the shutter button once, press and hold it as long as you want to keep taking shots, releasing it when you’re done. That’s it!

You’ll hear the shutter sound continuously as long as you hold the button down, and a count indicator appears just above the shutter button to show how many images you’ve taken. The iPhone’s burst mode captures at 10 frames per second, so if you shoot for 2.5 seconds, you’ll end up with 25 photos. Burst mode appears to be limited only by storage space; an iPhone 7 didn’t hesitate when using burst mode for 20 seconds—200 photos!

The hardest part of using burst mode is picking which images to keep, which you do in Photos in either iOS or macOS. Images captured in burst mode appear as “stacks” in both the main Photos view and the automatically created Bursts album.

First, tap a burst stack, tap Select (on the Mac, double-click the stack and then click the Make a Selection button), and swipe left and right to compare all the photos. Tap anywhere on each photo you want to keep so it gets a blue checkmark at the bottom. When you’re finished, tap Done.

Photos then asks if you want to keep everything or just the favorites—unless you hadn’t finished selecting the best shots, tap Keep Only X Favorites (on the Mac, click Keep Selection).

One warning. If you use iCloud Photo Library or My Photo Stream to sync photos between devices, it might take quite some time for all the burst shots to move from the iPhone to the Mac. Photos on both platforms reports on the number of pictures in the burst, so if you’re selecting photos shortly after shooting, make sure the number of shots matches before proceeding. Photos on the Mac puts a circular progress indicator in the lower-right corner to indicate that photos are still loading.

OK, two warnings. If you’re using My Photo Stream to transfer photos to your Mac, only those burst photos that you’ve marked as favorites will transfer. To set it so entire bursts transfer automatically, open Settings > Photos & Camera and enable Upload Burst Photos.

Along with the obvious uses with kids, pets, sports, and wildlife, you might also find burst mode useful when:

  • Framing a shot before a moving person or object enters it
  • Capturing splashing water
  • Shooting groups of people who can’t keep their eyes open at the same time
  • Photographing someone walking in full stride
  • Getting the perfect picture of an object blowing in the wind.

So give burst mode a try today!