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How To Enter Emoji On Your Mac

I remember the first day I got a new computer, ok a new-to-me computer. It was a hand-me-down PC of sorts. I think it ran some DOS operating system and the screen was always orange. AOL had just come out and I loved nothing more than the sound of my modem and the eventual entry into a chat room where I learned things like :-) was a smiley face and :-P meant I was sticking my tongue out.

Fast-forward many years and my basic AOL symbols are now referred to as emojis. I admit the basic smile is probably still my most commonly used one, but there’s a world of emojis out there and they can make everyday conversations just a little bit more fun.

I use emojis frequently on my iPhone and iPad, but it’s just as easy to use emojis on your Mac once you know where to find them. On your Mac it might not be as obvious where you might find these because you can’t just pull them up from your keyboard (unless you know the shortcut). If you want to insert a smiley face in a post with Messages or a note in Mail, you need to use the characters viewer. To bring up the Character viewer in most Mac apps, choose edit > emoji & symbols or use the keyboard shortcut: Command-Control-Space. When the characters viewer opens you can insert an emoji from a few different ways, you might need to play around and see which method works best depending on which app you are using.

*While the curser is active in a text area, double-click a character in the viewer.
*Drag a character out of the viewer and into a text area.
*Drag a character out of the viewer to the Desktop to create a text clipping with it. Then drag that text clipping anywhere you can type.

Once you insert a character or emoji, it will appear in the frequently used category. You can feel free to add your most commonly used emojis to your favorites category. You’ll find all the same emojis on your Mac as you do on iPhone, making your conversations on your Mac now just as fun as those on your iPhone or iPad.

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Customize Your Toolbar

Many Mac users don’t realize just how customizable their Macs are, and a part of the Mac interface that’s simultaneously among the most useful and the most overlooked is the toolbar that appears in every Finder window.

By default, the toolbar contains buttons for navigating back and forth, changing the view, arranging the files in the window, performing a variety of actions, sharing the selected file, working with tags, and searching. There’s nothing wrong with these controls, and you may even use them regularly.

But those defaults are just the tip of the iceberg. Choose View > Customize Toolbar and a dialog appears with a slew of additional controls that you can drag to the toolbar, after which they appear in every Finder window. None of these controls are unique—they’re all available from Finder menus and via keyboard shortcuts—but it’s often easier to click a button that’s front and center in a Finder window rather than hunting through menus or trying to remember a key combo.

The most useful toolbar controls include:

Arrange: The choices in this menu let you group files and folders by different criteria, such as file kind, what app owns each file, or the date each file was modified. It’s great when you’re working in a folder with a lot of similar files.

Action: This menu duplicates many of the options in the Finder’s File menu but can be easier to access.
Space/Flexible Space: Drag Space to the toolbar to separate controls by a fixed amount so you can group related items. Flexible Space works similarly, except it can expand or contract to match the window width.

*New Folder: *Click it and you get a new folder. Handy, if unsurprising.

Delete: Equally unsurprising is the Delete button, which moves selected files and folders to the Trash when you click it.

Search: Enter some text here to search for it within your files (or choose the “Name matches” item that pops down from the Search field to search for it in just filenames). You can set the default search to be the entire Mac or just the current folder in Finder > Preferences > Advanced.

Share: When you want to share a file with someone else, look here for sharing extensions for AirDrop, Mail, Messages, and more. You can also import files into some apps, like Notes, using the Share menu.

Edit/Add Tags: If you rely on Finder tags to group and find related files, this menu makes it easy to add and edit tags for selected files and folders.

Don’t miss the Show pop-up menu, which lets you customize your toolbar to show icons with names, just icons, or only text.

What if you want to get rid of a toolbar button? Just drag it off the toolbar while the Customize Toolbar dialog is open. But that’s not all!

While the Customize Toolbar dialog is open, you can drag buttons around on the toolbar to rearrange them. Even better, you can drag any app, document, or folder into the toolbar (from another Finder window) to add it. It’s a great place to put that spreadsheet you open every day or the utility app you use to upload a weekly report. You can even drop a file on an app in the toolbar to open the document in that app.

To modify the toolbar quickly without opening the Customize Toolbar dialog, just hold down the Command key. With that key down, you can move items around on the toolbar, drag unnecessary items off, and drag new files on.

No matter what you do on your Mac, taking a few minutes to customize the toolbar with controls you’ll use and your primary apps and documents will make using the Mac faster and easier every day. Give it a try!

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I will be getting my new MacBook Pro which will sport four Thunderbolt 3 ports and I am going to need to connect various things to my new Mac. Actually, I really only have my display because I have gone wireless with keyboard, mouse and printer. Back at my Vermont office, though, when I get back I will have a USB scanner, a USB keyboard, a USB backup drive and a display to deal with so I thought it would be a good time to review the various Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C adapters from Apple. While Apple provides quite a few, 3rd party companies also have some handy adapters. For this article we will stick with Apple products.

Okay, first what is the difference between USB-C and Thunderbolt 3? USB-C basically describes the port and cable end. The USB-C port is used by ThunderBolt 3 to provide additional capabilities. Basically, Thunderbolt 3 runs on USB-C so with Thunderbolt 3 you can enjoy 40Gbps bandwidth and reduced power consumption, while being able to move as much as 100 watts of power. A USB-C port with Thunderbolt 3 means a single cable is all you need to power and move a large amount of information, up to and including two 60Hz 4K displays. It is also bi-directional with four lanes of PCI Express Gen 3 and eight lanes of DisplayPort 1.2. Computer companies are quickly taking advantage of the new Thunderbolt 3 standard and as usual Apple is leading the way.

Apple USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter

This is the first Apple adapter I will buy. It connects to one of the Thunderbolt 3 ports on the new MacBook Pros or the USB-C port on a MacBook. The USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter lets you connect to an HDMI display, while also connecting a standard USB device and a USB-C charging cable. This will be perfect – I can use my existing large display, connect my charger and have a free USB port.

This adapter also allows you to mirror your MacBook or MacBook Pro display to your HDMI-enabled TV in up to 1080p at 60Hz or UHD (3840 by 2160) at 30Hz. It also outputs video content like movies and captured video. Simply connect the adapter to the USB-C port on your MacBook or any of the Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports on your MacBook Pro and then to your TV or projector via an HDMI cable.

Use the standard USB port to connect devices such as your flash drive or camera or a USB cable for syncing and charging your iPhone, iPad, or iPod. You can also connect a charging cable to the USB-C port to charge your MacBook or MacBook Pro.

Apple USB-C VGA Multiport Adapter

This is the same adapter but instead of HDMI connector it provides a VGA connector. Most modern displays and TVs have HDMI so you will probably want the HDMI adapter.

Apple Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter

The Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter lets you connect Thunderbolt and Thunderbolt 2 devices — external hard drives and Thunderbolt displays, for example — to any of the Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports on your MacBook Pro. As a bidirectional adapter, it can also connect new Thunderbolt 3 devices to a Mac with a Thunderbolt or Thunderbolt 2 port. It will NOT work with the MacBooks USB-C ports. If you have a wired ethernet network you might want this adapter and the Apple Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet adapter to connect to the network. I will need this once I am back in Vermont to connect to our secure wired network.

Apple USB-C to USB Adapter

The USB-C to USB Adapter lets you connect iOS devices and many of your standard USB accessories to a MacBook with USB-C port or MacBook Pro with Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports.

Plug the USB-C end of the adapter into the USB-C port on your MacBook or any Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) port on your MacBook Pro, and then connect your flash drive, camera, or other standard USB device. You can also connect a Lightning to USB cable to sync and charge your iPhone, iPad, or iPod although I think I might just invest in one of the Apple USB-C to Lightning cables.

Apple USB-C to Lightning Cable

Okay so you have a brand new iPhone and a brand new MacBook Pro. How do you connect them? Well, unfortunately Apple has not moved to USB-C for their iPhones yet, so if you want to connect your iPhone to your new MacBook or MacBook Pro you will either need an adapter or this cable.

Connect your iPhone, iPad, or iPod with Lightning connector to your MacBook with USB-C port or MacBook Pro with Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports for syncing and charging.

You can also use this cable with your Apple 29W, 61W, or 87W USB-C Power Adapter to charge your iOS device, and even take advantage of the fast-charging feature on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. It comes in 1m or 2m lengths.

Right now, Apple has reduced all the prices on USB-C cables and adapters so it is not a bad time to gear up.

Third-party adapters may provide some additional features such as Belkin’s USB-C to Ethernet adapter or some adapters that incorporate multiple ports that might make hooking up easier. My ultimate goal will be a USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 display that will have multiple ports built-in. Apple has teamed up with LG for some that are on sale now but I’ll bet I find a bunch more at the Consumer Electronics Show coming up in January!

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Certified for Safety!

People are buying more and more technology online these days, and given the time of year, I think the topic of this article will be very timely. It also has to do with many of the things I’ve been writing about regarding electronics and electrical safety. In recent years there’s been a proliferation of tech companies (and random people on sites like and amazon marketplace) selling all kinds of electronic devices. Many of them appear quite sophisticated and are offered at extremely cheap prices, but the reality is often not so great. Here are some things to look out for in cheap, poorly constructed products.

One of the biggest ways manufacturers cut corners to save money is by using materials that are insufficient for the task. The most critical and dangerous way this shows up in electronics is insufficient insulation. If insulation breaks down, short circuits can be created resulting in catastrophic failure of the device. This failure can cause fire, electrocution or other damage. Under normal use, the device will probably be ok, but well-constructed devices are often built with excess for those unforeseen situations. Another shortcut is good old poor construction. This could be anything from skipping solder points on PCBs to poor component choice. Depending on the device, these shortcuts can create very dangerous situations.

Fortunately, there’s a very simple way to identify a product that’s safe. Almost all devices that use or create electricity will have a label on them with electrical properties of the device. Take a look at Apple’s own iPad charger. The writing on it is in tiny grey letters, but if you look at it, you’ll see many things including a number of symbols. There are two that you really want to look for: a “UL” in a circle and “CE”. The UL symbol stands for Underwriters Laboratories. Founded in 1894, Underwriters Laboratories is a certification company in the US that certifies the safety of electrical devices. They provide certification services for many organizations including OSHA. The CE symbol stands for Conformité Européenne (European Conformity). All products sold within the European Economic Area must have this symbol. We find the symbol on products even in the US because companies generally make one version of their products that will pass regulations in all markets. A CE label means the device complies with all relevant safety directives as declared by EU legislation.

A few years ago when I was building my photovoltaic power station, I was looking for a high quality pure-sine inverter. This class of device is notorious for being produced cheaply and unsafely. Any time you have something where the promise of results is high (power 120V appliances from the 12V socket in your car!) and the cost is relatively low, you should be extra cautious. Obviously, buying from a reputable manufacturer is one good way to get a safe, high quality product, but if the product is UL-certified, you can rest easier. I ended up purchasing a 300-watt Samlex pure-sine inverter. If you look at the specifications tab on the product page, you can see that it’s ETL and UL certified. ETL is a competing testing laboratory based in London. Having two certifications including UL means this device is likely very safe. Samlex is also a large, well-established and known manufacturer.

It’s just not worth saving a few bucks on a product that could be dangerous. Many retailers won’t necessarily list on their websites the safety certifications of products, but they can be easily found on the packaging. This is something I’ve gotten into a habit of doing, much like reading the nutrition facts label on food I buy. Typically, retail stores (including Small Dog Electronics) only carry devices from well-known, reputable manufacturers. These items will virtually always bear the CE or UL label. Also remember that I’m speaking of these certifications from an electrical safety perspective. UL and other organizations also certify safety of other things like fireproofing materials and certain plastics. Again, I treat looking for these signs of quality workmanship the same as reading nutrition facts on food I buy. It’s a great habit to get into. Be safe out there with all your electrical gizmos!

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Use Tabs in Apps in Sierra

We’ve all become accustomed to opening web pages in separate tabs in Safari, Google Chrome, and Firefox. In OS X 10.9 Mavericks, Apple gave us the capability to open different folders in tabs in Finder windows, making it easy to work in multiple folders with limited screen real estate.

In macOS 10.12 Sierra, Apple has gone one step further, building tab support system-wide so you can open windows in tabs in most Mac apps. Tab support is ‘free’ in apps, developers don’t need to do anything to support it and you won’t need to download an update to take advantage of it in most of your apps. So how do you get started with tabs and how can you use them in your everyday work?

First, to determine whether Sierra was able to add tab support to a particular app, look in the app’s View and Window menus. If you see View > Show Tab Bar and tab-related commands in the Window menu you’re good to go.

Next, if Show Tab Bar doesn’t have a checkmark in the View menu, choose it to reveal the tab bar, which appears between the app’s main toolbar and the document itself. You’ll see a tab for the current document or window, and (in most apps) a + button at the right side of the tab bar.

One final setup step: By default, documents open in separate windows. To make them open in tabs, open System Preferences> Dock, and choose always from the Prefer tabs when opening documents pop-up menu. This setting applies to both existing documents and those you create by choosing File > New. Now that you have everything configured, here is what you can do:

Create a new, empty tab:

Click the + button in the tab bar

Move between tabs:

1. Click the desired tab
2. Choose Window > Show Next Tab or Show Previous Tab
3. Press the control-tab (next) or control-shift-tab (previous) keyboard shortcuts
4. Choose Window > Tab Name

Merge multiple windows into tabs in one window:

1. Drag a document’s tab from one window’s tab bar to the tab bar window in another window
2. Choose Window > Merge All Windows

Move a tab to it’s own window:

1. Drag the tab out of it’s tab bar until it becomes a thumbnail of the document
2. Choose Window > Move Tab to New Window

Rearrange the order of the tabs:

Drag a tab to the desired position

Close a tab:

1. Hover over the tab to see the X button at the left side of the tab; click the X
2. Choose File > Close Tab
3. Press Command-W

Getting used to tabs may require a little adjustment, but if you configure your Mac to always prefer tabs when opening documents, using tabs will quickly become second nature just as it likely did for you in web browsers.

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