📱💻 How to close all Safari tabs at once

Safari for iOS and Mac has a quick shortcut for clearing out all your tabs, except the current one you’re viewing, and starting fresh.

📱 – Tap and hold on the tabs button (the two overlaid squares), a “Close [X] Tabs” option will appear

💻 – Command-Option-W, or hold the Option key and go to File > Close Other Tabs

Photos can search for people, places, and things

Photos for iOS and Mac can seem deceptively simple, but it hides a fair amount of search (and editing) power. For example, you can search on any of your devices for something like “water” or “California,” and it will return results for that thing or that place.

If you’ve trained Photos to recognize some of the people in your photos, you can search for them too.

You can learn more about how this works on iOS and on your Mac. Note that, when it comes to identifying people, the faces you identify unfortunately don’t sync between devices.

[via OS X Daily]

The Finer Things in AirPods

Apple’s new AirPods have quickly become my favorite headphones I’ve ever owned. They have their shortcomings, but their excellent array of features greatly outweigh the cons for me.

I received mine just before Christmas, and there’s barely a day I leave the house now when they aren’t with me. In that time I’ve found AirPods to have some unexpected advantages and perks, so I’d like to dig into some of the details of what makes AirPods a great set of headphones.

They stay in through many kinds of physical activity

I’ve run and lifted with them at the gym. I also live and commute with them in Chicago, which means I’ve occasionally whipped my head around to check traffic or avoid someone rushing down the street. To my surprise, they stay in great.

You can opt to use just one AirPod like a ‘traditional’ Bluetooth headset

It’s really useful for phone conversations, podcasts, or listening to Anchor stations. It’s also discreet for when you’re at a social or other function and just want to quickly and quietly listen to or watch something.

If your pants have a ‘watch pocket,’ AirPods probably fit in it

I wear guy’s pants, and they all have had that tiny little pocket just above the right pocket (apparently, it was originally for pocket watches and dates back to at least 1879). These days I wear my Watch and, as it turns out, the AirPods case fits just fine in my watch pocket. Hence, they almost always leave the house with me now, just in case, as I usually keep them by my wallet and keys.

You probably don’t need to make space for them

I think it’s worth noting separately that AirPods don’t take up much space. You don’t need a separate bag to bring them with you in most cases, and they barely need any room in most bags and tech ensembles. I have a pair of Jabra Revo Wireless and similarly designed Beats Solo3s (which I’m eBaying soon). They certainly have their perks, but even folded up, they practically took up half my backpack.

Space is important. The fact that AirPods barely take up any is refreshing.

Total battery life is insane

A lot of the initial coverage focused on the ‘5 hours on a charge’ bit for the AirPods themselves. But in practice, I don’t use mine for nearly that long in a sitting. I use them for a phone call, then some music while I work, then put them back in the case to charge. I take them back out to take a break and play a round of Vainglory, or maybe a podcast or two while I commute somewhere. Put them back in the case.

There’s a cadence to my usage, which means my personal, total perceived battery life easily hits that 24 hour mark (so far I’ve only goften them in the red at 11 percent once). I’ve owned a few wireless earbud-style headphones over the years, but none of them can touch that. Not even Apple’s other brand new wireless earbud-style headphones, the BeatsX at 12 hours.

If you’re iOS only, you can reach the Charger Singularity

When I leave the house to work in a field office or co-op, I usually bring my iPhone, AirPods, and iPad (I use my Mac much less these days). This allowed me to achieved Charger Singularity—all I carry is a Lightning charger now (the 29-watt block charger with Apple’s longer cable for fast charging). It’s pretty nice.

Not for everyone, but they’re great for me

The AirPods certainly aren’t perfect for everyone; what is? But they fit my needs very, very well, and I’m an extremely happy owner. I hope these tips and perks help if you have a pair or decide to pick one up.

Apple Notes: View all attachments in one place, including links

In Notes for Mac and iOS, you can quickly view all the photos, links, documents, and other things you’ve attached to all your notes.

  • iOS: When viewing your list of notes, tap the four-square button; the icon made of four squares
  • Mac: Use ⌘-1, or View > Show Attachments Browser, or the four-square button in the toolbar
notes-attachments-browser-ios

Notes Attachments Browser iOS

This view allows you to filter your attachments by six types, as of this writing: Photos & Videos, Sketches, Maps, Websites, Audio, and Documents.

You can use standard Mac features here, too. Double click any attachment to open it in a corresponding app (photos open in Preview, links in your default browser, etc.). You can also click and press Space to use Quick Preview for supported files.

If you want to view an attachment’s corresponding note:

  • iOS: If you can preview an attachment in Notes, an ‘Open in Note’ button will appear at the top. Otherwise, tap-and-hold on it to get that option in a menu
  • Mac: Right-click any attachment

Apple Maps tip: Mark places as Favorites to easily see, search for them

Maps gives you an easy way to prioritize places when viewing an area or searching. This will make them appear at the top of search results and always on the map at certain zoom levels.

img_0701To prioritize a place, tap on it and scroll its location card to the bottom. One of the buttons there is “Add to Favorites.”

This tells Maps to favor it in you general browsing and searching. It works on places that have an official info card, like businesses and parks, as well as manually typed addresses. Also, iCloud syncs your Maps favorites with all your devices.

macOS: How to send iMessages without the Messages app open (Updated)

I’ve met some Mac users who want to be able to send iMessages without having the actual Messages app and all its tempting distractions open.

Fortunately, there’s an easy way to do this from the Social widget in the Today page. To open that page, two-finger swipe from your trackpad’s right edge, or click its icon in the far right of the menu bar. Make sure it’s on the Today tab, not Notifications.

If you don’t have the Social widget enabled, click Edit at the bottom of Today and add it. Then, use the fourth button on the right to open a simple iMessage compose box. You can’t send images (see below) read incoming messages, but it’s an easy way to quickly fire off a message and get back to what you’re doing.

Update: Turns out you can paste images and files from your clipboard, but only with ⌘-C and ⌘-V; no drag-and-drop. [thanks Craig Morgan!]

From Dropbox to iCloud Drive: a review and some thoughts

My Dropbox-to-iCloud Drive experiment has gone pretty well overall. Both were charging me $10 per month for 1TB of space, but now that I moved everything to iCloud Drive and pulled Dropbox back down to the free tier, I get to save $120/year.

For personal uses, iCloud Drive has performed pretty well for me the past couple months. The speed of saving files to and retrieving files from iCloud Drive feels on par with Dropbox on both iOS and Mac, thanks in part to improvements in macOS Sierra. However, I should restate that I do much less collaboration with raw files these days. I create and manage nearly all of my work in apps and services like Ulysses, Quip, Todoist, and Trello, then share or publish it with others in online systems like WordPress (this site), Weebly (my personal and business sites), Quip, or Google Drive. Of course, your mileage will vary.

The few raw files I still work with are things like PDF books I download, or media resources I snag from Unsplash, Envato, and elsewhere for content and blogging. If I need to receive files, I can of course still use my free Dropbox space, or I can visit Dropbox share links in a browser on any device. When it’s time to share files with others, Dropbox can still work, but so can Droplr.

Others who have made this transition told me there’s a noticeable performance boost to be had by uninstalling Dropbox from a Mac, which I just did yesterday. They weren’t kidding.

I’m pretty happy so far. I still use my Mac for a dwindling handful of tasks at least a couple times a week, so it downloads everything from iCloud (and still Dropbox) and backs up to my Time Capsule, just in case. But at this point, I’m feeling pretty good about simplifying my cloud services and saving money.

All that said, iCloud Drive is not without its drawbacks. Here are a few problems and speed bumps I’ve hit so far, and yes: I’ve filed radars (sometimes multiple) for all of these.

Complaints

The ‘Save to iCloud Drive’ app extension is great, but

The “Save to iCloud Drive” dialog uses a terrible file viewer that is hard wired to 1) a list view, with no icon view option, and 2) have all folders and sub folders opened. It makes scrolling even a modest file library nearly unusable. I am quite disappointed that this shipped at all, especially since the iOS 9 app extension file viewer was much nicer. To work around this problem, I created an @Inbox folder on my Mac, which floats it to the top.

Oh yeah, folders

Update: Turns out I was wrong, you can create new folders in iCloud Drive for iOS. It’s arguably a little hard to find, but easy to use once you do. Tap the select button in the upper right, then a New Folder button appears with the other file management controls.

There’s no way to create a new folder on any iOS device. You need a Mac, because it is apparently still 2010.

Also, tags

Finder on the Mac has supported tagging files for a few years. While you can sort folder contents on iOS by these tags, there is no way to apply tags on iOS. You need a Mac, because it is apparently still 2010.

App folder clutter

All apps that store files in iCloud Drive are hard wired to have their own folders in the top-level directory. This means I have to scroll past folders for Byword, Cinemagraph Pro, Mindnode, etc. just to find my Documents or Resources folders. It would be great to have the option to collect those files in a specific folder, such as /Apps.

Restoring deleted files

This is a ding on both Dropbox and iCloud. iCloud Drive has what I think is a fairly standard a 30-day retention policy, kinda like Photos does for your media. But to restore files, you’re stuck like Dropbox: you need to jump on a Mac or PC to use the web interface. Also like Photos, this is functionality I believe should be built right into the app, especially since iCloud.com won’t let you get into any of the apps if you visit on an iOS device. While you can use the ‘Request Desktop Site’ option, I doubt it works well on iOS.

Summary

A while ago I got tired of suffering death by 1,000 clouds. I’ve canceled a couple of small services since then, but this is one of the largest changes and savings I can make. For my needs, it’s gone well so far, though I certainly hope Apple pays more attention to iCloud Drive to make it a more viable competitor in this space. Things like file sharing and competent file browsing tools are a must, and I’m hopeful Apple can close those gaps soon.

Progress update: My Dropbox to iCloud Drive experiment

To catch everyone up: A while ago, I wrote about paying for too many clouds that are getting too Venn-diagram-y for my comfort and wallet. Dropbox and iCloud are two of my most expensive and overlapping clouds, but I can leave Dropbox easier than iCloud, so I decided to try just that.

My plan is:

  • Phase 1: copy the roughly 70GB of stuff I have in Dropbox to iCloud Drive
  • Phase 1 part deux: backup the hell out of everything
  • Phase 2: test the hell out of changing my file-based workflows with iCloud Drive
  • Phase 3: Delete everything from Dropbox, except folders I’m collaborating on
  • Phase 4: fall back to Dropbox’s free tier for what little collaboration I still do with it, and to support the apps I use that sync only via Dropbox

Because of how much stuff I have, I’ve been paying $10 per month per service, so I hope to save $120/year.

If 70GB doesn’t sound like much to you, I have about 110GB of photos in iCloud Photo Library, and probably 1+ TB of purchased iTunes music and movies, and around 440 apps from over the years. But I generally don’t consider that stuff “data I need downloaded and backed up,” at least not in Dropbox or iCloud Drive. I have an external iTunes drive that I hook up once every few months, and I download my recent purchases ‘just in case.’ I also have a Time Capsule at home to which I backup my entire Mac, including both Dropbox and iCloud Drive, also just in case.

Part of the impetus for this experiment, beyond saving money and simplifying where I store stuff, is that I realized most of my collaboration now happens in Quip and task apps like Todoist, Trello, and Basecamp. In other words, I mostly collaborate in systems and apps these days, not raw files and folders. Being that I’m a much bigger fan of using various apps for most of my work, this fits my style. Obviously, your mileage may vary.

Status report

As of about September 23 or so, phases 1 and 1 part deux are done. I finished copying all my Dropbox files into iCloud Drive, then ran a Time Machine backup to cover my ass. Then another, mostly because I’m human and I still don’t trust these things. Also, no, I’m not blind or deaf to the, shall we call it, “ever so slightly turbulent road” iCloud has taken to get where it is today.

I am also what I would consider a pretty good way through phase 2—testing iCloud Drive for my day-to-day needs. I’m mostly iOS these days, so when I do things like scan travel receipts into a PDF for expenses, I now save to a folder in iCloud Drive. On my Mac, I moved the Dropbox item in the Finder sidebar down, and put iCloud Drive in its place.

So far, it’s gone pretty well. Saving and accessing files in iCloud Drive feels about as fast as Dropbox. Watching the file upload/sync process to iCloud Drive feels fine too.

Of course, one major feature iCloud Drive lacks for my needs is collaboration—it can’t share folders or even individual files with others (sure, MailDrop is a smart feature that might suffice in some cases, but.. eh, it’s just not the same). Being that my content strategy business is client-based, it’s a prime argument for why I still should keep around at least a free Dropbox account for the near future. I also have a handful of apps that still sync only via Dropbox, so I hope the free tier accommodates them too. Gradually, I’ll ask those devs to support iCloud Drive (if they don’t already), and possibly seek out alternatives that do. But if the free Dropbox space works for now, it isn’t a high priority, at least not just yet.

Naturally, I hope Apple is working on addressing these collaboration features which pretty much feel like a necessity these days. Considering it already has features like calendar sharing and a whole feature umbrella called Family Sharing, I think Apple gets it. I just want to see it move faster; it’s already way behind here.

I feel pretty good about moving ahead with phase 3 and 4, so I might take care of that this weekend. I’ll write a follow-up once the dust settles.

macOS Sierra: Ask Siri to find files, turn results into a widget

Now that macOS Sierra is out, we now have Siri on the Mac. It’s mostly the Siri you know from iOS, but it has a few unique tricks. To trigger Siri for Mac, hold the Command key and Space bar for a second or two.

One is that you can ask Siri for Mac to help you find specific files, open folders, display the files you worked on last week, or to show the files you’ve shared with a specific contact. Once you learn the proper commands, it’s a really convenient way to work with your files. It’s also something Siri for iOS simply doesn’t do, at least as of version 10.

If you need to perform a certain type of search often, you can also turn the search into a widget for the Today screen. Once you ask Siri a file-related command, top of the search results has a (+) button. Click it, and a live widget of those search results is added to the top of the Today screen.

To access your Today screen, you can click the Notification Center at the right of your Mac’s menu bar. Or, with a MacBook or Apple trackpad, you can swipe left with two fingers from the right edge of the trackpad.

From Dropbox to iCloud Drive: An Unexpected Experiment

A while ago, I realized I’m going through death by 1,000 clouds. I pay for too many cloud services, many of them redundant, and I’d like to find a way both to simplify and to go easier on my wallet.

I’ve cut back on a service here and there, but now I’m trying an experiment: copying all my files from Dropbox to iCloud Drive, and downgrading Dropbox to a free account. My goals are:

  • Simplify where I keep most of my files
  • Keep a free Dropbox account (for now) so I can still get and share files
  • Pay for only one cloud locker and save around $100 per year

iCloud Drive and Dropbox are two of my most expensive clouds which have the most overlap. However, I’m pretty embedded in Apple’s ecosystem and generally happy—a large part being iCloud Photo Library—while Dropbox is more of a generic, replaceable cloud locker. In other words: between the two, I can leave Dropbox easier than iCloud.

As I write this, I’m uploading just over 100GB from my Dropbox to iCloud Drive (my screenshot shows only 45GB because I don’t need the rest readily available; I can finish uploading it later in a separate batch). Since I’m beta testing macOS Sierra and iOS 10, I went all the way and switched on the new iCloud feature that syncs my local Desktop and Documents folders with iCloud, too.

Now, Apple’s cloud has become much more reliable for me in the past couple years, but I won’t put all my chickens in one basket, not for a while. I use a Time Capsule at home to backup my entire Mac, including my cloud directories. I’m also considering firing up one of my other previous backup drives because, let’s face it—you can never have too many backups.

I’ll keep my free Dropbox account mostly because I still collaborate with clients and on various projects. But my hope is that the free 2GB, plus whatever extra free space I’ve earned over the years, will be enough.

Who knows, maybe this will work, maybe it won’t. If it does, I’ll gain some simplicity and save a little extra cash each year. To me, that is at least worth taking a shot.