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You can use your email for iMessage, plus it’s more identifiable

By default, your iCloud account is your iMessage to/from address. If you own an iPhone, your phone number is enabled for iMessage and, as far as I can tell, becomes the default to/from address on every device.

You can also attach extra email addresses to your iCloud/iMessage to use as your default to/from address. I added my personal email (at chartier.land) and set it as the default on all devices. I think it’s easier to identify and remember than some random string of numbers, especially when I’m messaging someone new.

To do this:

  • iOS: Log into appleid.apple.com with the iCloud account you use for iMessage. Under the Account > Reachable At section, click Add New and add any other email addresses you want to use with iMessage.
  • Mac: Open Messages and go to Preferences > Accounts > your iMessage account. In the Reachable At section, click Add New. You can also use the iOS method if you prefer.

**Important Note**: Any email addresses you attach to your iCloud/iMessage account are no longer eligible to become Apple IDs. However, you _can_ detach these addresses later at appleid.apple.com to make them eligible again.


To set an email address as your default from for new conversations:

  • iOS: Open Settings > Messages > Send & Receive, then make your selection in the Start New Conversations From section.
  • Mac: Open Messages and go to Preferences > Accounts > your iMessage account. Make your selection in the Start New Conversations From section.

Now, when you iMessage someone new, or start new conversations with existing contacts, your messages will come from your email address instead of a phone number. Bonus points: if you set an email address you actually use, now your contacts also know your email address for sending more email-y stuff.

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A guide for switching from Dropbox to iCloud Drive

A while ago, I switched from Dropbox to iCloud Drive. I did it mainly because I realized I was paying for too many clouds and, between the two, iCloud had become more indispensable to me than Dropbox. People asked me for a guide on how to do it, and I think I have something fairly straightforward for you.

This could probably work for switching between just about any Cloud Service A to Service B. The main requirement of my method is that you have on-disk file access to both services; not just silly web apps in a browser. In other words, their apps are installed and you have local/synced access to all files.

Naturally, before diving in, I recommend you back up everything and triple check them just to be sure. Here are the steps I took:

  • Find a file cloning utility like ChronoSync. I’ve owned a copy for years, and it’s always performed beautifully, including for this recent switch
  • Set up the file copy source as the root of your Dropbox folder
  • Set up your destination as the root of iCloud Drive
    • As far as I can tell, the Finder doesn’t reveal the actual directory location of your iCloud Drive. In the File selection sheet, iCloud Drive should be in your Finder sidebar. If not, Command-Shift-I will select it
  • (Optional) Exclude any folders you don’t want copied. For example, I have a “Family” folder in Dropbox for stuff I share with Jessi. Sadly, iCloud Drive still doesn’t support this in iOS 11 and High Sierra, so I didn’t see a point (yet) in copying that folder over
  • (Optional, but highly recommended) Do a trial run first. ChronoSync has a ‘test’ option that will display all the changes it intends to make. This helped me feel better that I had the sync set up properly
  • Run the copy. As long as you have the space for it, I recommend doing a copy, not a move, just to be safe. But if you’re short on space, a move might be your only option. Proceed with caution, backup backup backup, etc.
  • Check that everything is in iCloud Drive
  • Delete everything from Dropbox
  • (Optional, if possible) Uninstall Dropbox. It’ll free up a decent chunk of CPU and memory. I’ve seen people with big powerful MacBook Pros mention a slight, but notable increase in performance once they got rid of Dropbox’s sync client
  • (Optional) If your goal is to save money like me, don’t forget to downgrade your Dropbox account. I dropped back to the free tier, so that’s around $100/year back in my pocket

The end.

Of course, I still collaborate on documents with other people, moreso these days since I freelance for multiple clients. Your mileage likely varies, but most collaboration I do happens in Google Drive (unfortunately) and Quip, so I simply have less of a need for a shared raw file space.

Overall, it’s gone pretty well. I haven’t lost files, and the iOS 11 iCloud Drive Files app is a big leap forward. If Apple ever bothers to catch up to competition with shared folders, I might close my Dropbox account entirely.

I hope this helped. Hit me with any questions, and I’ll answer best I can.

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[iOS 11] Drag links in Safari for iPad to open them in a new background tab

In Safari for iPad on iOS 11, you can quickly open a link in a background tab by dragging it to the new tab (+) button.

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Subscribe to my next newsletter all about Messages, iMessage tips

As you may know, I now publish a weekly Finer Things in Tech Newsletter alongside this site, and you should totally subscribe. In addition to a handful of bite-sized tips that are almost entirely exclusive to the newsletter, I also include a few links to insightful and inspiring reads from around the web. 

For example, last issue I linked the brilliant 100 Demon Dialogues about impostor syndrome and self-doubt, and this great piece from Benedict Evans exploring the cognitive dissonance and statistics around which traditional and modern devices have actually been used for creation versus consumption.
I’m experimenting with focusing some issues on a particular topic or app, and next week’s issue will be all about Messages and iMessage for iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Be sure to subscribe now to make sure you get it, and share the signup link with friends and coworkers who could use help in the messaging department.

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How to archive your internet likes with Day One

A long time ago, I had an app called Favs that collected everything I liked/hearted/bookmarked/whatevered across a ton of services (it was sadly abandoned). We’re talking Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Pinterest, newsreader services, Pocket—probably over 20 services. It was a one-stop journal to find that thing I know I liked somewhere, and it made me happy.

IMG_0124I miss Favs, so I recently decided to try and recreate it using apps and services at my disposal. Last week, I settled on Day One + IFTTT, and so far it’s working pretty well. If you dig this idea and you’re a Day One user (2.0, not Classic), or this post inspires you to give it a try, here’s how to set it up. I’ll write from the assumption that you have accounts for both apps and a basic understanding of how they work:

  • Open Day One and create a new journal. Name it something relevant to you. I went with “Favs”
  • Open IFTTT, tap the Search tab, and search for the first service for which you want to archive your likes
  • (Optional) You might need to log into that service in order to enable it for your IFTTT needs
  • Tap it, scroll down a smidge, then tap “New Applet”
  • In the “If ‘This’ then that” screen that appears, tap ‘This’ and pick the action for your service related to liking something
  • “That” should now be highlighted in the applet screen. Tap it, then find Day One and select it (you might need to log into Day One to enable it for IFTTT)
  • Tap “Create new journal entry”
  • In the Day One journal entry customization screen that appears, be sure to select your new Day One journal for these entries
  • (Optional) Customize the entry template to your desires
  • Save your applet
  • Rinse and repeat for every relevant service

Day One can often grab things like metadata about the item you liked, and sometimes the related photo thumbnail or featured image.

Things To Know

One drawback of this setup is that IFTTT doesn’t support grabbing your likes from every service. For example, while Facebook does support IFTTT, it doesn’t allow access to grabbing your likes.

Other services simply may not be available since, as I understand it, even if they have an API, their maker needs to opt into IFTTT’s service and pay a monthly fee to be listed. Some, like my new bookmarking service Dropmark, do not yet have an interest or budget for it.

A Tip

When it comes to searching your likes later in Day One, you might need to make sure you select this specific journal. Day One has an “All Entries” view that searches everything, or you can search each individual journal by first selecting it, then searching.

So Far, So Mostly Good

I’m generally happy with this setup so far. My main gripe is that, since it’s dependent on IFTTT, there are a number of services I can’t plug in simply because they don’t support IFTTT. Swarm checkins are there (handy because I’m bad at remembering restaurant names), so are Tumblr, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Pocket, and Feedly. But Untapped, Distiller, and others aren’t.

That said, I’ll probably stick with this unless something better comes along. I’d love to see Favs return or a new app built to solve this exact problem, though I realize indie App Store economics can be tough these days. Still, this is a good way to keep an ongoing catalog of those many things you like all over the internet.

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Dropmark is my new service for bookmarks and collecting, sharing neat stuff

Like many nerds, I started using Pinboard for a bookmarking service quite a while ago. Being an app person, I’ve shuffled through a handful of iOS and Mac apps as my actual interface for it. I’ve also bounced between Droplr and CloudApp for sharing files from time to time. But a few months ago I found Dropmark and its still-in-beta but excellent iOS app, and it’s become my replacement for all of this.

Pinboard is a fine enough service, but I have two big complaints about it. First, I find its design lacking and difficult to navigate and use. While apps are a decent enough workaround most (but not all) of the time, my second and more important complaint is that Pinboard refuses to support multi-word tags. They’re really important to the way I think and work.

Plus, I’m able to use multi-word tags on nearly every other service that matters to me—Tumblr, WordPress, Weebly, Squarespace (for client work), Pocket, Evernote, the list goes on. If you ask me, multi-word tags are basically synonymous with internet content, and have been for nearly two decades.

Dropmark calls itself “a smart way to organize all your links, files, and notes into visual collections” (collections = folders). I use it for two main purposes: bookmarks and sharing files or collections. For example, my main bookmarks are private (and I actually edited out a couple private collections in my post screenshot for unannounced projects), but here are my public collections of:

I’ve created a couple Dropmark collections of example links and videos to share with clients for new projects. It went pretty well. I also have a “Scratch” collection for when I need to quickly share a file with someone when email or MailDrop aren’t a good fit.

Dropmark has a great browser extension and Mac menubar app. For the past few months, it’s also been beta test a really good iPhone and iPad app that has a strong app extension. Even though it’s only in beta, the iOS app was really what got me to buy in, being a mostly-mobile person these days.

Dropmark has a few free and paid plans. Theres a trial for testing out all the features, a free plan if you don’t need much, then paid plans for individuals and teams. I’m on the Individual Pro plan at around $50/year, which unlocks features like:

  • tags
  • unlimited collections
  • private collaboration (you can add people to a collection so they can add things with you)
  • a custom domain (you can see all my public collections at share.chartier.land)
  • quite a bit more

I’ve been pretty happy with Dropmark and now consider myself to be switched over full-time. I still use similar services like Evernote and Pinterest for specific purposes, but I like Dropmark for what I need it to do. I also like that it’s a paid service, and even its free options seems refreshingly reasonable to me. You get a free trial of all its features, but the ongoing free plan restricts a good amount of stuff. If you need more, you can pay to support the service. Seems fair.

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📱💻 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