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iCloud Photo Sharing Makes Sharing Easy

I took a bunch of photos on my recent trip and while I shared a few publicly on Facebook, others I want to share with a more select group of family and friends. Thanks to the iPhone, more people are taking pictures than ever, and with an iPhone you always have your camera!

While you probably don’t want to share all of them, friends and relatives might like to see a “Best Of” collection. Or you might wish to share the photos of your new puppy with your dog friends or pictures of your new city with friends back home.

With iCloud, it’s easy to create a shared album, invite other iCloud users to subscribe to it (handy for viewing on an iOS device or Apple TV, in particular), and to create a public web page of the photos that anyone can see, even if they don’t use any Apple devices.

Let’s set it up:

On an iOS device, go to Settings > iCloud > Photos and turn on the iCloud Photo Sharing switch.

On a Mac, open System Preferences > iCloud, click the Options button next to Photos, select iCloud Photo Sharing, and click the Done button.

Next, follow these steps, which are similar regardless of the device you’re using:

  1. In the Photos app, select some photos or videos. In iOS, that involves tapping Select before tapping the items to select; on the Mac, just Command-click the items you want, or drag a selection rectangle around them.
  1. Hit the Share button , and then pick iCloud Photo Sharing.
  1. Select an existing album or create a new shared album.
  1. For a new album, provide a name, enter the names or email addresses of any iCloud users with whom you want to share the album, and add an optional comment.
  1. When you’re done, tap Post in iOS or click Create on the Mac.

To add more photos, repeat those steps to select photos and then add them to a shared album. Alternatively, start with the shared album, though the steps vary slightly between iOS and the Mac:

  • In Photos for iOS, if necessary, back out of the view until you see the Shared button in the toolbar. Tap Shared and select the shared album. Then tap the + button, select the items to add, tap Done, enter an optional comment, and tap Post.
  • In Photos for the Mac, in the sidebar, select the shared album in the Shared category. Then click “Add photos and videos,” select the items to add, and click the Add button.

It’s easy to tweak the options for your shared album or to create a public Web page for it. The process is again similar in both operating systems:

  • In Photos for iOS, tap Shared in the toolbar and select the shared album. Tap People to bring up a screen where you can share the album with more people, control whether subscribers can post their own photos, create a public web page, enable notifications, and delete the album entirely. To share the URL to the public web page, tap Share Link and select a sharing method.

  • In Photos for the Mac, select the shared album in the sidebar, and then click the People button in the toolbar. From the popover that appears, you can do the same things as in iOS, although sharing the link is best done by either clicking it to visit it in a web browser and then copying from there or Control-clicking it and choosing Copy Link from the contextual menu.

After practicing these steps a few times, you’ll be able to create shared albums in a flash, and share them easily.

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Make The Most Of Reminders

The Reminders app built into Mac and iOS is a simple to use yet often underutilized app for many of us. I have been a long-time user of the calendar app and notes for my reminders and to do lists, frankly, out of habit. I’ve been trying to use reminders more and wanted to share a bit about how to get the most out of this app.

Setting up multiple lists can be a huge time-saver in the end. I’m often splitting my time between my house and a summer camp, so I am forever needing to make a reminder about what to bring either home or to camp next. Separating lists makes it much easier to keep track of what you needed when and why. When in Reminders you simply need to hit the add list or + button located to the left either at the top if it’s iOS or bottom if it’s a Mac.

Use Siri to add to a list rather than typing in what you wanted to add. If you have a list called groceries and need to add milk to it, you can simply say “add milk to grocery list” and Siri will add the information for you. My favorite feature is to tell Siri to remind me about something when I reach a destination. If you’re worried you are going forget to call your mom when you get home you can ask Siri to remind you when you reach home. You will need to make sure that location services are enabled and that the address for the location is entered in your address book.

Sync your reminder lists. Your reminder lists are stored in iCloud, so they are automatically shared among all your devices as long as each device is signed in to iCloud and has Reminders syncing turned on. On the Mac, look in System Preferences > iCloud, and in iOS, navigate to Settings > iCloud. The syncing feature can be an invaluable feature and saves you tons of time if you’re someone who jumps from device to device.

Share a reminder list. If you need to share a list with your spouse or colleagues and they to are on iCloud you can quickly share your reminder. To do this on the Mac, hover over the list name in the sidebar to click the Sharing button and then enter one or more iCloud-connected email addresses. In iOS, go into the reminder list you want to share,** tap Edit > Sharing > Add Person** and then either enter email addresses or tap the + button to select someone from your contacts.

One downside of Reminders is that you cannot view them within the calendar program on your Mac. Apple made Reminders its own app, even your timed reminders won’t show up in Calendar, forcing you to check both Calendar and Reminders as you plan your day. For me this is one draw back as I have my calendar program open all day long on my computer. However, there are some solutions. If you want reminders intermixed with your calendar events, check out BusyCal, from BusyMac. I have used Busy Cal for many years and have always been pleased with it.

I still find myself putting reminders in my calendar app or still using my notes, so I’m not yet fully integrated into Reminders. But, the more I use it, the more I like it.

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Take Advantage Of Group Messaging

Group text messages can be an incredibly convenient way to communicate with several people at once, but it can also be a bit of a headache! Messages has become an extremely versatile app, and knowing some of the tricks to group messaging can easily turn your frustration into one of the most valuable way to talk to a group.

Locating the right group conversation on your phone can be a real struggle, perhaps you’ve even has a similar conversation with two different, yet similar list of names. Consider giving the conversation a name that’s more descriptive than the truncated names of the people in the conversation. On the Mac, just type in the Group Name field; in iOS, pull down on the Details screen to reveal the Group Name field. At any time, you can add more people to the conversation; just click or tap Add Contact and select the desired contacts.

Similarly, people can be removed from the conversation. On the Mac, click the person’s name and press Delete; in iOS, swipe left on their name and tap Delete. Be careful with this feature since there’s no opportunity to confirm the deletion, so you’d have to add any mistakenly deleted people back manually. Plus, the iOS version of Messages doesn’t always let you remove people.

You can even “delete” yourself. If you’ve been included in a group conversation accidentally or ended up in one that doesn’t interest you, click or tap Leave This Conversation at the bottom of the Details screen. Once you’ve left, you can’t get back in without someone else adding you.

Is leaving a little drastic? Perhaps the conversation is just being too chatty while you need to get work done. Turn on Do Not Disturb to mute notifications from the conversation; turn it off again when you’re ready to be alerted to new messages again.

Did you know that everyone in the conversation can send or share their location from an iPhone or iPad? Sending a location is like posting a message saying “I’m at the library now” along with a map to where you are. Sharing your location allows the others to see where you are at all times, for one hour, until the end of the day, or indefinitely. Of course, if you opt to share indefinitely, you can revoke that sharing later.

When anyone in the conversation is sharing their location, a map appears at the top, showing the locations of those who have shared. This is fabulous for keeping track of relatives during family reunions where different groups might head out on separate outings.

Finally, at the bottom of the Details screen, you can see all the attachments that people have shared within the conversation. Messages gives you control over attachments, letting you preview, copy, save, open, delete, and share them. It’s all easy; on the Mac, select attachments and Control/right-click to display a contextual menu, or press the Space bar to invoke Quick Look. In iOS, press and hold on the attachment until additional options appear.

Hopefully with a better understanding of some key features in group messages you’ll find yourself enjoying group conversations more!

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Back it up!

I am surprised at how many people neglect to backup their important data, pictures and movies until it is too late and they are standing in line at our service counter seeking to have that data recovered. We have talked about backing up your Mac using Time Machine. It is so easy and drives are so inexpensive that there simply is no excuse for not having a backup.

But what about your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch? You can’t just hook up a drive to them to back-up. Fortunately, Apple has given you two easy ways to backup your data from your iOS device. You can use iCloud back-up or backup using iTunes. I use BOTH and urge you to consider that, too!

iCloud Back-up

Backing up your iPhone using iCloud backup is easy. Make sure your iPhone (or iPad or iPod touch) is connected to your Wi-Fi network. Tap on “Settings” scroll down a bit and select “iCloud”. Once you are in the iCloud screen you can select “Back up”.

Make sure backup is turned on. If you are doing this for the first time, select “backup now” grab a nice cold brew coffee and wait for your back-up to complete. Make sure that the backup finished: Tap Settings > iCloud > Storage > Manage Storage, then select your device. The backup should appear in the details with the time and backup size.

Tell iCloud to automatically back up your device each day:

  • Make sure that iCloud Backup is turned on in Settings > iCloud > Backup.
  • Connect your device to a power source.
  • Connect your device to a Wi-Fi network.
  • Make sure that your device’s screen is locked.
  • Check that you have enough available space in iCloud for the backup.

iTunes Back-up

To make an iTunes back-up you need to have a Mac or PC running iTunes (doh!). Connect your iOS device to iTunes with a USB cable. If a message pops up for your device passcode or to “Trust This Computer”, follow the onscreen steps.

Select your iPhone, iPad, or iPod when it appears in iTunes. If you want to save Health and Activity data from your iOS device or Apple Watch paired to your iPhone, you will need to encrypt your backup. To do so, select the box called “Encrypt backup” and create a memorable password. Write down your password and store it somewhere safe, because there’s no way to recover your iTunes backups without this password.

If you are a couch potato like me and don’t want to backup your health and activity data you can skip this step and simply click “Backup now”. To check to see if your backup was successful you can click on iTunes Preferences > Devices and you should see your backup listed.

Once you have set up iCloud or iTunes backup to be automatic you can rest comfortably that your data is safe from that unfortunate accident with the sea. The way I handle backups is to make iCloud my automatic backup and from time to time plug my devices into my Mac and back them up using iTunes. Whatever way you choose, take a few moments to give yourself peace of mind and backup your iOS devices now!

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Flying in Airplane Mode

Going into Airplane Mode: Flying with Technology

Since 2013, we’ve been able to use handheld electronic devices such as the iPhone, iPad, and Kindle at pretty much all times during airplane flights, including takeoff and landing. That was a big change from previous FAA policy, which banned the use of personal electronic devices below 10,000 feet, forcing passengers to occupy themselves with books and magazines at the start and end of flights.

But now flight attendants ask us to put our devices into “airplane mode.” You probably know how to do this on your iOS device, but if not, here’s how. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to bring up Control Center, and tap the Airplane Mode button at the top left. Or open the Settings app and enable the Airplane Mode switch that’s the very first option. When you land, use the same controls to turn it off again.

What does airplane mode do? It disables the wireless features of your device to comply with airline regulations. Specifically, it turns off the cellular voice and data features of your iPhone or iPad, and on all iOS devices it turns off both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. However, only the cellular features are important to your airline—you can re-enable both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth at any time. That might be useful if you want to use the airplane’s Wi-Fi network for Internet access (usually for a fee) or Bluetooth to play music over wireless headphones.

To turn these wireless features back on, tap the grayed-out Wi-Fi and Bluetooth buttons in Control Center, or flip their switches in Settings > Wi-Fi and Settings > Bluetooth. Don’t bother turning them on unless you’re going to use them, though, since you’ll save a little battery life by leaving them off for the duration of a long flight.

Why do the airlines care about cellular? It has little to do with airplane safety; the prohibition on their use comes from the FCC, the Federal Communications Commission, not the Federal Aviation Administration. The reason is that fast-moving cell phones used high in the air may light up many cell towers at once, which can confuse the mobile phone network.

The technical solution is akin to what the airlines do to provide Internet access now; a device called a “picocell” would be installed on the airplane to provide connectivity with the phone network, and cell phones on the plane would communicate with it instead of individual cell towers on the ground below. Will it happen, though?

The FCC has proposed that it would allow cell phone use on properly equipped planes; however, the thought of fellow passengers having phone conversations during flight fills many people with dread. Many lawmakers in the United States oppose allowing passengers to make and receive phone calls during flight, citing concerns about cabin safety, a worry echoed by the flight attendants union. Even FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has acknowledged this, saying “I get it. I don’t want the person in the seat next to me yapping at 35,000 feet any more than anyone else.” So don’t expect that rule to change.

If you’re allowed to use Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, why do the airlines make you stow your MacBook Air during takeoff and landing? It has nothing to do with the technology—the airlines ban laptops during times when there could be an emergency landing because they could, like carry-on luggage or lowered tray tables, impede evacuation.

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