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Dec
01

Avoid Inclement Weather by Enabling Notifications in iOS 15’s Weather App

Avoid Inclement Weather by Enabling Notifications in iOS 15’s Weather App

Thanks to Apple’s 2020 acquisition of weather company Dark Sky, the iPhone’s Weather app has learned some new tricks in iOS 15. (It still isn’t available on the iPad, oddly.) Most obvious is its addition of weather maps that can show precipitation, temperature, and air quality. More subtle are the notifications that can alert you to incoming precipitation at your precise location. To turn them on in Weather, tap the location button in the lower-right corner of the screen, tap Turn On Notifications, and agree to the necessary location and notification permissions when prompted. (You can also do this later in Settings > Weather > Location and Settings > Weather > Notifications.) From then on, whenever Weather thinks precipitation is about to start or stop at any of your preset locations, you’ll get an alert. Some people find that Weather’s notifications aren’t as frequent or accurate as those from other weather apps like CARROT Weather, but Apple will likely be improving the system.

(Featured image by iStock.com/trendobjects)

Dec
01

Shrink Apps to Prevent the MacBook Pro Notch from Obscuring App Controls

Shrink Apps to Prevent the MacBook Pro Notch from Obscuring App Controls

The new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models feature a camera housing built into the screen, resulting in a notch like that on the iPhone. Most developers are updating their apps to ensure that no controls or menu bar items appear blocked or hidden by the notch, but if you use an older app that doesn’t play nicely with the notch, there’s a fix. Quit the app if it’s running, select it in the Finder’s Applications folder, and choose File > Get Info. In the Info window that opens, select “Scale to fit below built-in camera.” The active area of the display resizes so everything appears below the notch, slightly reducing the overall screen space. This checkbox won’t appear once the app has been updated to avoid the notch.

(Featured image by Apple)

Dec
01

FaceTime Gains Cool New Features in Apple’s Latest Operating Systems

FaceTime Gains Cool New Features in Apple’s Latest Operating Systems

It’s no exaggeration to say that videoconferencing went mainstream during the pandemic. However, Apple’s FaceTime didn’t stack up well against Zoom and others due to its emulation of the telephone call experience, questionable interface decisions, and lack of cross-platform compatibility. However, with iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS 12 Monterey, Apple has nearly brought FaceTime into feature parity with Zoom and others and it has even added a few features that break new ground.

FaceTime Links

One of the smallest new features in FaceTime may be the most important. No longer do you have to call others via FaceTime, an awkward approach left over from the days of landlines. That’s still possible, but it’s easier and more considerate to make and share a FaceTime link instead, which lets others join your call when they’re ready. FaceTime links make it effortless to rejoin a call if you have to drop off or if something goes wrong, and they simplify switching from one device to another. You can share FaceTime links like any other Web link, through Messages, email, discussion systems like Slack, or posting on a Web page.

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Dec
01

Print Mailing Labels for Your Holiday Cards with Apple’s Contacts App

Print Mailing Labels for Your Holiday Cards with Apple’s Contacts App

If mailing your holiday cards (which you designed in Photos with a plug-in like Motif or Mimeo Photos, right?) is made harder by having to write addresses on envelopes, you can skip the handwriting step this year. Although many people don’t realize this, it’s easy to print mailing labels on standard label stock using the Contacts app on the Mac. You can even add a personal touch by including a graphic and using a custom color and font choice. Follow these steps:

In Contacts, choose File > New Group to create an empty group into which you can collect your card recipients. Name the group something like Holiday Cards. Click All Contacts to see your full collection of contacts, and then drag your recipients from the center column to copy them into the Holiday Cards group. Note that you have to click and hold briefly before Contacts lets you start dragging a contact. You can drag contacts one at a time or select several at once and drag the entire selection. This doesn’t move contacts out of All Contacts—you’re just adding them to the Holiday Cards group, which functions like a playlist in Music.
Once the Holiday Cards group contains all your recipients, click its name in the sidebar, and then choose File > Print to open the Print dialog. To set up your cards, you need to see details in the Print dialog, so at the bottom of the Print dialog, click the Show Details button (if it’s already called Hide Details, you’re all set). You also need to see the special controls for Contacts, so make sure Contacts is chosen from the pop-up menu underneath the page range fields. Then from the Style pop-up menu, choose Mailing Labels.
Beneath the Style pop-up menu, make sure Layout is selected, and then in the Layout view, from the Page pop-up menus, choose the manufacturer of your labels and the number associated with the labels. (Avery 5160 is a particularly common label type and is readily available at office supply stores and online.) Click Label to switch to the Label view. From the Addresses pop-up menu, choose the type of address you’re using. Home is likely the most appropriate; if you choose All, Contacts will print both Home and Work addresses if available. You can also select the checkboxes for Company and Country here, and if you print the country, you can exclude your own country, which makes it easy to include overseas friends and relatives without printing the country for most people.
Although the defaults are fine, you can change the color of the label text, select a small image to print next to each contact, and change the font. It’s time to print, but not on your label stock just yet! Click the Print button to print a draft of your labels on plain paper. You’ll use this draft for two things—checking the addresses for accuracy and verifying that the labels will print properly on the label stock. To check if the labels will print correctly, stack a page from the draft on top of a sheet of blank labels, and then hold them up to a bright light or sunlit window. You should be able to see whether the positioning is right—it should be in most cases. If not, make sure you’ve chosen the right label in the Print dialog, and if all else fails, create a custom label with your own margins and gutters to make it work. You may also want to increase or decrease the font size, making sure that even your longest addresses will fit. Once you’ve fixed addresses for everyone who has moved recently and verified your positioning, you can print for real on your label stock.

There’s only one limitation to using Contacts to print your labels. If you’re a perfectionist, you might want to customize how the names of couples appear on the label. Even though it has the necessary Spouse relationship field that links contacts together, Contacts doesn’t support different name formats on labels. For instance, if you’re sending a card to a couple who share a last name, you might want the name line to read “Barack and Michelle Obama.” The same goes for couples who don’t share a last name, like “Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi.” The solution for this picky conundrum is Belight Software’s $9.99 Swift Publisher app, which lets you create label templates using individual fields from Contacts.

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Nov
01

Apple Provides Temporary iCloud Backup Space for New Device Transfers

Apple Provides Temporary iCloud Backup Space for New Device Transfers

When you move from an old iPhone or iPad to a new one, the easiest approach is often the Quick Start device-to-device transfer. But if that doesn’t work, or if you have to give up one device before receiving the other, iCloud Backup is a fine alternative. Fine, that is, if you have enough iCloud storage space, which many people with the free 5 GB plan do not. For devices running iOS 15 or iPadOS 15, Apple just introduced the option to create a temporary iCloud backup that’s larger than the available space. Tap Settings > General > Transfer or Reset Device > Get Started to create the backup. You have 21 days (plus another 21 if necessary) to restore that backup, and it sticks around for another 7 days after you restore.

(Featured image by iStock.com/honley)

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