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Trash Files Instantly

This past week I’ve been thinking about how there are countless tasks I perform daily on my computer in the same way I have always done it, but is it the most efficient way? When thinking about this question I think I can easy say fifty percent of the time I could do a task faster with a shortcut or a keystroke.

Every Mac user knows that you drag files or folders you want to delete to the Trash icon in the Dock. And you probably even know that you can select multiple items by Shift-clicking (for a sequential range of items in a list view) or Command-clicking (for an arbitrary set of items) and then drag them to the Trash. But you’ll save yourself mousing time if you learn the quick shortcut that trashes selected files and folders: Command-Delete.

A quick little tip to hopefully make a common daily task just a little bit quicker.

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VPNs and You

History books of the future will refer to the mid-90s to early 2000s as the golden age of the internet. Why do they they think that? Well for starters, before I sat down to write this I googled “how to write a good tech article” and over 6 million results were found. Truly a marvelous time! However, it seems these days there is always something in the news about a hacking scandal or somebody getting their identity stolen, a bank account hacked, etc. With how open and cavalier some folks can be with their online activity and digital footprint, it’s no surprise there are so many instances of privacy crimes and security breaches taking place over the internet.

If you’re like me, you probably enjoy being able to venture freely across the digital serengeti that is the inter-webs, all the while remaining protected and anonymous to anyone who may be lurking in binary-coded shadows.

So how can you stay protected?

The answer is VPN. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and it is many things, but above all else, it provides safe and anonymous access to the Internet. When you are connected to your wifi through a dedicated VPN, all of your traffic and activity becomes encrypted and impossible to be read and understood,¬†essentially “scrambling” your IP address and redirecting its “origin” elsewhere, thus granting you total anonymity to anyone who may be looking. Thus, even if your communication is eavesdropped by malicious persons, they would be unable to decipher what site you are connecting to or what information you are exchanging. Acquiring a VPN is just as easy as a few clicks. I personally use Private Internet Access (PIA), which requires a monthly or yearly subscription to use the VPN service. Now, as far as setup goes, think of a VPN as just another application. It requires a download, a brief registration process, and that’s it! Once it’s downloaded and you’ve registered with the service, open it up and start surfing freely and privately. Keep in mind, a true, dedicated VPN runs in the background on your computer and is non-invasive, thus you shouldn’t even notice it doing its job. Remember this if you are setting out on the hunt for a reliable VPN service. Most importantly, do the research! There are dozens upon dozens of VPN services out there, free and subscription based, so take the time to make sure the one you go with is suited to your needs and desires.¬†

If you’re the type of individual who doesn’t do much online business and/or banking, you may have no need for a VPN, but of course it never hurts to add that extra level of security and peace of mind!

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We Don't Need No Stinking Badges

But stickers are sorta cool. iOS 10 brought stickers to Messages. With your iPhone or your iPad you can embed stickers in a thread, adjust their size, rotate them or peel and place stickers on top of bubbles or photos in your conversations. I found some animated stickers that look a bit like my dog, Jezebel but there are lots of stickers out there to buy at the somewhat hidden App store for stickers.

Apple is great about helping you create your own stickers without any coding experience. Stickers are created with image files in PNG, JPEG or GIF format. They can also be animated in APNG or GIF format. You can learn about creating your own sticker packs at Apple’s Creating Stickers for iMessage page.

Okay, where is this sorta hidden sticker store? First off, you can’t find it on your Mac. This is an iOS thing. The stickers will display in Messages on your Mac but you cannot send them. So, here’s how to find the sticker store on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch:

  1. Open Messages on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch and tap a conversation in the list or create a new one. You need to have a conversation going to find the store.
  2. Tap the Apps button (it resembles an App Store icon) to the left of the text entry field to access the Messages app drawer.
  3. Push the App Shelf button in the bottom left corner (it is four dots in a grid).
  4. Tap the Store button.
  5. The Messages App Store appears in an overlay, allowing you to:

    • Browse featured sticker packs

    • Browsing sticker packs by category

    • See all sticker packs in the App Store

    • Find specific sticker packs

  6. Buy by category or individual pack

To make sure you have this newly purchased sticker pack available be sure to set the toggle Automatically Add Apps under the Messages App Store’s Manage tab to the ON position. If you prefer, of course, you can individually manage each sticker pack to turn it on and off.

Now you have spent your $0.99 with ApplePay for that great sticker pack. How do you use them in a conversation? Easy peasy…

  1. Open Messages on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch and start a conversation or pick an old one.
  2. Tap the Apps button to the left of the text entry field to reveal the Messages app drawer at the bottom of the interface.
  3. Now you can either pick a previously used sticker from Recents or choose a specific sticker from one of your installed sticker packs.

Then you just tap on that sticker to add it to the conversation. You can add some text to the sticker and hit send.

You can peel a sticker and stick in anywhere in a chat bubble. You just tap and hold the sticker and then drag it over your selected chat bubble. You can do the same thing with photos that you have sent in chat. Just tap and hold a sticker and drag it onto the photo in the conversation and let it go.

Rotate your sticker using two fingers. Tap and hold the sticker you wish to rotate and then tap and hold with another finger and swipe up or down to rotate the sticker. You can make it bigger, too, by swiping left or right.

There are a lot of stickers to choose from and while it does get boring after a bit at least for me it is a great way to spice up a conversation!

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Terminal Tidbits

Disk Usage Command

There might be a time when you need to know how much space is available on your hard drive and you need to do it without a GUI. When trying to do diagnostics to find issues, it’s good to know if your hard drive is simply at capacity. Hard drives filled to their limits can display some scary signs, making one think that they have serious issues. When your drive is just stuffed more then your family’s thanksgiving turkey you can run into some pretty troubling and difficult issues.

By opening Terminal and going into the Command line you can find out quickly what youR disk space is looking like. Within terminal enter the command, that is simply “df”.

Once you run “df” you are going to get a weird confusing result. There will be many blocks, so to help your sanity us the -h (human readable) flag so that the overall syntax is “df -h”. This will give the result of used space and available space in gigabytes instead of blocks.

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Teleporting Web Links Between Devices

Many of us use multiple Apple devices throughout the day and I am most definitely one of those people. I had one sad little tear this morning when I arrived at the office as I realized I left my iPad on my nightstand and had to actually take my MacBook Air into my morning meeting. I’ve grown very accustomed to preparing for meetings on my MacBook Air and then just grabbing my iPad or iPhone to bring the necessary notes and files while on the move around the office. I’ve talked a lot about sharing of files from device to device, but what about web pages? Many users rely on bookmarks and that works smoothly, but there are other options as well.

With the release of Yosemite Apple introduced hand off. For some users it might have been something utilized all the time and then fell off their habits list, but it’s super handy! If you’re researching an issue on your Mac and after digging through several forums you need to need leave for an appointment but you want to keep the research going, in comes handoff.

Handoff allows you to immediately move a webpage ( and other Apps like Mail ) instantly to another Mac or iOS device. On your Mac, to the very left of your dock if you have Safari open you will see a Safari icon with a shadow image of an iOS device. You can simply click on that and boom, the webpage that was on your iPad or iPhone is now on your Mac screen. If you’re going from your Mac to your iOS device you will see the Safari icon in your lock screen and you simply swipe up. You can also double press your home button as well to access the information.

Another cool feature that you might have found by accident is via tabs in safari on either you Mac or iOS device. When you open a page in Safari a tab opens. You can see this easily on your Mac in the Tab Bar ( select View > Tab Bar if you don’t see it). It gets just a little bit cooler when you view all the open tabs on all your Apple devices. You can do this by tapping or clicking the tabs button. This button is a double square image on the top right of your Safari tab bar or the lower right corner on your iOS device. In this view you will see first all the tabs from the device that you are using. Beneath them as you scroll down you will see the tabs from your other Apple devices.

Lastly, you can designate a site as a reading list. Safari can store a list of pages that you want to read later in the reading list. This is great for longer articles or just tagging an interesting recipe you found at lunch. To add the current page to your reading list on the Mac choose Bookmarks > Add to Reading List. On your iPhone or iPad, tap the share button and them tap Add to Reading List. To later access your reading list on your Mac choose View > Show Reading List Sidebar. In Safari on your iOS device, tap the book icon and then tap on the eyeglasses icon.

In order for these features to work seamlessly on your Mac and iOS devices there’s a few important tips. First you need to be running 10.10 Yosemite or newer and at least iOS 8 on your iPad or iPhone. Lastly all of your devices need to be logged into iCloud. It’s also important that you have Bluetooth turned on as well, since handoff uses that specifically.

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