Make It Stop! How You Can Control Notifications on Your iPhone

Is every app on your iPhone or iPad constantly nagging you with notifications? It’s like a three-year-old saying “Look at me!” every few minutes, but on the plus side, a little work in the Settings app can quiet your device. And it won’t whine about being sent to time-out.

To get started, go to Settings > Notifications and check out the list of apps. Every app that can provide notifications appears here, so it might be a long list. Under the app’s name is a summary of what notifications it can present. That isn’t to say it will abuse that right to show you notifications—every app is different in how chatty it is. Tap an app in the list to see its notification settings.

There are six notification settings available to apps, but not every app will avail itself of all of them. Here’s what these settings do:

Allow Notifications: This is the master switch. Turn it off if you never, ever, under any circumstances, want to get a notification from the app.

Show in Notification Center: If you swipe down from the top of the screen on an iOS device, you’ll reveal Notification Center, which collects notifications from all apps in one place. It’s a handy spot to review banner notifications you couldn’t read in time, or notifications that you never saw originally. Turn this switch off if you don’t want the app’s notifications to appear in Notification Center. In general, it’s best to leave it on.

Sounds: Those who dislike being interrupted by inscrutable noises from their pockets or purses should disable sounds. If you really don’t like sounds coming from your iPhone, turn off the ringer switch on the side.

Badge App Icon: Many apps, including Mail, Reminders, and Calendar, can tell you how many unread messages, overdue events, or other waiting items they contain. They do this by putting a red number badge on the app’s icon. If you don’t find that number useful—knowing that you have 13,862 unread email messages isn’t exactly calming—you can turn off the badge for the app.

Show on Lock Screen: Only important notifications should appear on your Lock screen, so you can see what’s happening at a glance. If you have a recipe app that likes to tell you about every new recipe, you might want to disable this option to prevent it from cluttering your Lock screen with trivialities.

Alert Style When Unlocked: The last option is the notification style the app will use when you’re actively using the device. You have three choices here: None, Banners, and Alerts. Select None if you don’t want to be bothered while you’re working on the device. Banners and alerts are similar, but banners slide down from the top of the screen, pause briefly, and then slide back up, whereas alerts stick around until you dismiss them. In general, use banners for most things, and restrict alerts to only the most important apps.

You don’t need to sit down and go through every app in the Notifications screen. Instead, just let apps do what they want by default, and take side trips to Settings > Notifications whenever an app starts to annoy you with the frequency, location, or type of notifications.

The Single-click Trick to Declutter Your Mac’s Screen

Is your Mac’s screen cluttered with windows from different apps? Sometimes it’s handy to be able to see a couple simultaneously, but having too many apps visible is often distracting. There are a variety of ways to focus on a single app at a time, but here’s one of the easiest. Whenever you click on an app’s window or Dock icon to bring it to the foreground, also hold down the Option key to hide all the windows from the app you’re switching away from. Get in the habit of Option-clicking to switch apps regularly, and before long you’ll find that you can more easily focus on what you’re doing without distractions from other apps.

How to Stop Annoying Screen Flipping on Your iPad or iPhone

Normally, it’s helpful when an app on your iPad or iPhone switches from vertical (portrait) to horizontal (landscape) as you rotate the device. But it can be annoying to have the screen orientation flip back and forth, such as when you’re reading while lying on your side and holding the iPhone at an angle. Luckily, you can prevent the flipping by swiping up from the bottom of the screen to reveal Control Center and then tapping the Orientation Lock button. On the iPad, that sticks the screen into whatever orientation it’s in at that time—either portrait or landscape. But on the iPhone, the Orientation Lock button forces the screen into portrait orientation. Tap the button again to disable orientation lock, and remember this setting if you can’t get your device to rotate when you think it should.

Peer Deep into Your Mac’s Soul with About This Mac

It’s easy to forget details about your Mac—what precise model it is, how much memory is installed, and so on. The quick way to remind yourself of the specifics is to choose About This Mac from the Apple menu. Obvious, we know, but it’s essential to remember when talking to tech support or trying to determine if you need more storage or can add more memory. Click each button at the top to learn more about your Mac’s configuration or, in the case of Support and Service, to get links to information from Apple.

Can’t Find an App on Your iPhone? Ask Spotlight or Siri!

It’s easy to find the apps you use regularly on your iPhone or iPad, but there’s little more frustrating than needing an app you seldom launch and not being able to find it. You could scroll through all the home screens on your device and hope you recognize the icon, but here’s a faster approach. Search in Spotlight by swiping down on the home screen and entering the first few letters of the app’s name. That’s especially handy if you can’t remember exactly what the app is called. If you can remember the app’s name, another quick approach is to hold down the Home button, wait for Siri to activate, and then ask Siri to “open” the app’s name, as in “Open Runkeeper.”