Productivity

Using Low Power Mode for your iPhone

Using Low Power Mode for your iPhone

Almost everyone who owns an iPhone has on a few occasions run dangerously low on power. You then have to scramble around to find some way to charge your iPhone before it runs out of juice completely. If you want to avoid that unpleasant situation, you should be using Low Power mode before the problem occurs. Maybe you have in the past been prompted by your iPhone to enable Low Power Mode after your battery reached 20%. But in my opinion, you should enable it way before it reaches that point, as it can make a big difference. If you know for example that you’re going to be out on the lake all day with nowhere to charge, you should turn it on even if you’re at 80% charged. It can extend your battery life by a few hours in some cases.

So, what does Low Power Mode do exactly? And how well does it really work?
The trade-off is that when you turn it on, it will affect certain features on your phone, which you should be aware of before you turn it on. Mainly, it will pause a lot of background tasks that your phone usually does automatically repeatedly all day long. Such as:

  • Email Fetch: Your phone will no longer fetch your emails in the background. It will only fetch them when you actually click your email app such as Mail or Outlook.
  • “Hey Siri”: The phone will no longer be always listening out for you to voice activate Siri, if that’s a feature you’ve got turned on.
  • Background app refresh: This is a big one in my opinion. Apps like Facebook and Instagram will no longer constantly update your feed when you’re not using them. Your feed will populate only when you open the app. So, you may have to wait an extra second or two before you see all the new stuff. For most people, this is not a big deal.
  • Automatic downloads: App updates will no longer be downloaded in the background. It could also affect things like podcast downloads.
  • Some visual effects: Some of the visual eye candy that happens while you’re using your phone will be reduced, and the screen brightness may be automatically reduced in some cases.
  • Auto-Lock: Auto-lock will default to 30 seconds.
  • iCloud Photo Library: The syncing of your iCloud Photo library will be temporarily paused, and will resume once Low Power Mode has been turned off.

In my experience, most of these things are not a big deal for the majority of iPhone users. But still, you do need to keep an eye on things, as you may encounter some unexpected behavior once in while. For example, I realized after a few mishaps with my Uber app that Low Power Mode messed with my location on the Uber map for some reason. I’m not sure exactly why this happened, but it happened repeatedly, only while I was using Low Power Mode. That’s really the only quirk I’ve ever experienced with Low Power Mode, even though there may be more that I’m just not aware of.

how to turn on low power mode

Once you’ve decided that you want to use Low Power Mode, you can activate it from Settings  > Battery and activate the “Low Power Mode” slider. The battery indicator in the status bar will turn yellow while Low Power Mode is enabled. Your iPhone will always automatically disable Low Power Mode when you charge it up to a certain point. Low Power Mode is always temporary and only lasts until the next proper charge. There’s no way to permanently enable it.

Now, if you end up using Low Power Mode a lot, you don’t really want to have to turn it on and off by going through Settings app every single time. So, instead you can create a shortcut that’s really easy to access through Control Center. On iOS 11 or later, you can  activate and deactivate Low Power Mode from the Control Center. However, you have to add the shortcut to Control Center yourself.
Hers’ how: Go to Settings > Control Center > Customize Controls. Tap the plus sign to the left of “Low Power Mode” to add the toggle to your Control Center, and then touch and drag it to position it where you like it. You can now swipe up from the bottom of the screen and tap the battery-shaped button to enable or disable Low Power Mode.

Customize Control Center part 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alright, so that’s it for how to use and customize Low Power Mode for iPhone. I hope that you’ll find it useful.

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in iOS, iPhone, Productivity, Tips & Tricks, 0 comments
The best To Do apps for Mac

The best To Do apps for Mac

There are some great options available on the Mac to help you organize your to-do list and manage your tasks efficiently. Given the fact that many Mac users are also using an iPhones and iPads, I will focus on to-do apps that work on both macOS and iOS.

There is some excellent free to-do apps currently available, as well as some really top notch paid apps available on the market.

Things 3: This is one of the most popular task management application available for the Mac and iPhone. This application has been around for 10 years, and they’ve won many awards over the years as one the best productivity tools for Apple users. It’s a very elegant looking application with a very minimal interface, yet still manages to pack in a lot of features. Things 3 has won a lot of praise recently and has a large user-base, and continues to receive regular improvements and new features. With a price of $49.99 for the Mac version, $19.99 for the iPad version, and $9.99 for the iPhone version, it can be pretty costly to have it installed on all your devices. Also keep in mind that you have to buy these all over again apps again when they introduce a new version, such as the upgrade from version 2 to version 3.
So, while I think it’s a great app from a great company, just be aware that it’s also one of the most expensive tool you can buy for task management.
You can find more information about Things 3 on their website here

2Do: This is my personal favorite at the moment, and the one I use on a daily basis. This one is also a paid application which usually costs $49.99, but is occasionally on sale for $24.99. But unlike Things, the iPhone and iPad versions of 2Do are free, which is a great little added bonus. It’s a very powerful application loaded with features and many ways to customize it the way you like to work. It is always one of the most highly rated productivity app on the Mac App store with a 5 star rating, and for good reason. I highly recommend that you check it out.

You can find more information about 2Do on their website here

Wunderlist: Wunderlist is a wonderful to-do list app which works well on your Mac, as well as on mobile devices. It’s also cross-platform, meaning that it also works for Android, Windows and Kindle devices. It’s completely free to use, with an option to sign-up for some premium features which are mainly useful for teams. And while I used to really recommend Wunderlist, the company that created it was bought by Microsoft in 2017, and it now looks like they will eventually kill off Wunderlist for their own to-do app. So, for that reason, I wouldn’t get too invested in Wunderlist, as I think it’s eventually going away.

Get more information about Wunderlist on their website.

These 3 apps are the most useful for anyone using Apple products at the moment in my opinion. Leave me a comment below if you think there’s something else better out there.

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in iPhone, Mac, Productivity, Recommendations, Software, 0 comments
Choosing a MacBook stand

Choosing a MacBook stand

If you’re currently using a MacBook or MacBook Pro, you’ve probably noticed that they can get hot pretty quickly. That may force the fans to turn on quite often, which can get pretty noisy. And more importantly, I believe that letting your Mac regularly run hot reduces its life span.
One of the easiest ways you can stop your Mac from getting hot is by elevating it from whatever surface it’s sitting on. You have a number of options available to you when it comes to laptop stands for Mac.

The first option is to purchase one of the many MacBook cases that come little flip stands attached at the bottom. This is a great solution because you’re getting a protective case, and gaining the ability to elevate the Mac using just one accessory. And these types of cases tend to be quite affordable.
Here’s a good example one of these cases that you can purchase on Amazon:
Beatunes 2-in-1 Ultra Slim Hard Shell Case with Foldable Stand and Free Keyboard Cover for Apple MacBook Air

Your other option is to purchase a separate, stand-alone stand whose whole purpose is to elevate your Mac completely off the surface beneath it. You can find many options for these stands. It really just depends on how stylish you want to be, and how much you want to spend. And one the big advantages with some of these stands is that they will raise your Mac much higher, which might help reduce neck strain noticeably.
Here are some good examples of some cases you might want to consider for your Mac:

Twelve South ParcSlope for MacBook and iPad Pro

Bestand Aluminum Cooling Macbook Stand

Vogek Adjustable Foldable Portable Laptop Stand for Macbook Pro / Air , iPad Pro

 

There are plenty of great options out there if you spend a little time looking online. It really just depends on your personal taste and specific needs.
This article also recommends a few good ones. So, do a little research and find something that you like. And most importantly, use the stand.
It’s a small thing, but you’ll be doing yourself a favor and will most likely extend the life of your Mac by a noticeable amount.

 

 

 

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in Mac, Productivity, Recommendations, Tips & Tricks, 0 comments
Backing up your Mac

Backing up your Mac

Backing up your Mac regularly is quite possibly the most important task you should get in the habit of doing as a Mac user. Your Mac’s hard drive will most likely fail at some point. It may take a couple of years, or quite a few years. And in some rare cases it can happen after just a few months. Sometimes, just a small drop of your laptop, or an electrical surge can damage the drive and eventually cause hard drive failure. Which is why it’s extremely important that you backup your computer on a regular basis. That way,  you can recover all of  your data from that backup if something goes wrong.
I do a fair amount tech support and data recovery work. And for me, one of the worst situation is diagnosing a failed hard drive, and finding out that the client does not have a recent back-up. That could mean thousands of photos and videos gone all of the sudden. Or important work and business documents that are no longer accessible. Sometimes the data can be recovered, but in some cases the drive is so damaged that the data cannot be recovered. Or it can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars to get the data recovered. So, this is really important stuff !

In this article, I want to cover the 2 basic ways you can backup your Mac. Personally, I think the easiest and quickest option is to backup to an external drive plugged into your Mac. You can then use the built-in Apple application called Time Machine to completely backup your Mac on a daily basis, or just once in a while. You can use pretty much any external drive, as long as it’s big enough in size to hold your data. This kind of external drive from Western Digital, or something similar, should be good enough for most people: Western Digital 2TB drive
Time Machine is not your only option, but it’s definitely the easiest. Here’s a good article that shows you how to use Time Machine.

time machine image
If you’d like something a little more powerful, and with more flexibility, here are some other good options:

Carbon Copy Cloner 
Super Duper
Mac Backup Guru

Another way you can backup your data is by doing it through the cloud, and you have many services you can choose from.
Basically, there is two varieties of cloud solutions:
1) Companies that specialize exclusively in offering backup solutions such as Dropbox, Backblaze or Carbonite.
2) Cloud services offered by large companies as an added feature to their other services, such as Apple’s iCloud, Google Drive, and Microsoft’s OneDrive.

Each service has its own pros and cons, and you’ll want to do a little research before you pick any one service. You can of course combine some of these services together for different purposes. You could for example, use iCloud for photos, Dropbox for business documents, and OneDrive for various other files. It’s completely up to you to decide what works best for you, and it will probably also depend on what services your family and co-workers use.
But most importantly, pick a system that works for you , and make sure use it. If you’re looking for something fast and easy, your best option is to use an external hard drive with Time Machine. If you are constantly traveling and would rather not have to lug around an external drive with you, then a cloud solution will be best. And if sharing files or collaborating with others is essential to your workflow, a cloud solution will be most useful.

As far as I’m concerned, you cannot overdo it with backups. I highly recommend that you at least have a Time Machine backup, and that you also backup your most important files the cloud as well. Take the time to set up your backup strategy correctly, and you could end up saving yourself  a lot of frustration and money in the long run.

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in iCloud, Mac, Productivity, Recommendations, Tips & Tricks, 0 comments
3 tools to cut out distractions on your Mac

3 tools to cut out distractions on your Mac

There are times when you really need to get things done on your Mac, and you need to make sure you can avoid distractions as much as possible. Notifications, pings, emails, and other intrusions can put a severe dent in your productivity. Fortunately, there are tools that can help you specifically resolve that problem.
In this article, I’ll show you 3 things you can do to cut back on those pesky distractions:

First off, your Mac already has one very useful tool built-in, which is the DO NOT DISTURB feature. This is similar to the DO NOT DISTURB feature on the iPhone. This feature is available on the Mac in Control Center, which you can access from the very top right of your screen. When you click on the 3 little bars icon at the right top corner, that will open up Notification Center and by default you should be in the Today tab. At the very top, you should see today’s date listed, along with the weather forecast and some calendar information. If you scroll UP, you’ll see the DO NOT DISTURB on and off toggle switch. Using this switch, you can turn on DO NOT DISTURB for however long you need, so that you’re not getting notifications on your Mac. Very useful !

The second tool I’d like to recommend is an app for Mac called Focus. Focus gives you a lot of flexibility to block certain distracting websites, and you can even block certain distracting apps for a set amount of time. This way, you can block sites like Facebook, Twitter or whatever other site you may find yourself going to compulsively for a set amount of time. You can also block apps like Apple Mail or Outlook if you find yourself checking your email too often when you should be working. So, any distracting website or app can be blocked for a short or long period of time. Focus is not the only app capable of doing what it does, but with it, you do get a lot of options such as scheduling, statistics, and the ability to take breaks.
You can purchase the Focus app for $20 on their website by clicking here. I’m not associated with this company whatsoever, I just love this product.

The third and final tool I want to bring up is called Self-Control, which is very similar to the Focus app, simply with less options. But this one is free, with an option to donate if you choose to. But you get the same functionality of being able to block both distracting websites or apps on your Mac. It’s simple and to the point and a great little app. You can download it here.

Alright, so those would be my picks for 3 of the best ways you can help yourself stay on track and get stuff done without getting caught up with distractions on your Mac. If you have any other recommendations, please them below.

 

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in Mac, Productivity, Recommendations, Software, 0 comments
Clean up your iPhone storage

Clean up your iPhone storage

Today, I want to go over something which is sometimes confusing for some of the clients I work with. And that’s the issue of storage on iPhone.
The issue of running out of storage on the phone is probably one the biggest complaints that I get from clients I work with. And there seems to be a lot of confusion with this problem about how to make sure your don’t run out of storage. So, when we’re talking about your iPhone and iPad, there is two types of storage you need to stay on top of. The actual storage available on the phone itself, and the iCloud storage that you can use to store some of your files online and sync your devices.
In this video, I explain how you can check on your iPhone storage and clean things up if needed. Or you can read the instructions listed below the video.

First, there is your iPhone’s storage, which is how much physical storage space you have on the iPhone itself. And that’s something that you choose when you purchase your phone, and that storage size cannot be changed later on. It’s a fixed amount which cannot be altered, or added to, from then on. So, if you purchased an iPhone with 16GB of storage, that’s all it’s ever going to be able to hold. Which is of course different than what you can do with most computers, where you can usually add a bigger hard drive and more RAM.

And then you have your iCloud storage, and that’s how much storage space you have available on Apple’s computers that is reserved specifically for you, using your Apple ID. And that iCloud storage is something that you can upgrade later on, and buy more space for a fee, if you need to. And the reason you may want to do that is to be able to remove certain items from your phone to clear some space, and store those items on the cloud instead. So, I’ll show you how to check how much space you are currently using on your iPhone and iPad.

First, we’ll look at your iPhone storage to see how much room you have left on the phone itself, since usually, that’s going to dictate whether or not you might need to purchase extra iCloud storage. And you can find that information under Settings, then under the General section. Then if you scroll down a little bit, you’ll see the iPhone storage section. When you click on that, the phone will scan itself, and essentially take an inventory of everything on it, which might take a few seconds, or a few minutes depending on how full your device is. Once it’s done, you’ll see a colored graph that tells you exactly what is taking up space on your phone. You’ll see different colored sections for Apps, Photos, Media, Mail, and so on.

At this point, you’ll be able to easily see what’s taking up space, and exactly how much room you still have left on your device.
Underneath that, you’ll see a section called Recommendations which is a new feature in iOS 11. And the way this feature works is that, if for example you downloaded a game a few months ago, and it’s taking up quite a bit of space but you haven’t played that game in quite a while. If you Enable “Offload unused apps”, it will remove that game from your device, as well as anything else you haven’t used in a while, but it will keep your settings. So, at some point in the future, you can just re-download the game if you want to play it again, and all your preferences and any progress you’ve made will still be there, so it’ll be exactly the same as the last time you played it.

Underneath that, you’ll see a list of everything that is taking up space on your device. The apps taking up the most space will be listed at the top of this list, and this is going to give you a very clear indication of what exactly is gobbling up your storage on your device. The main thing to be aware of is that the number you see to the right of the App’s name is the combined size of the app, as well as any content that’s within the app. So, for example with me, I use an app for listening to podcast called Overcast, and if I click on it, I can see that the app itself is really quite small at only 12 MB, but it’s the podcasts themselves which I’ve downloaded to the phone, those are what’s taking up a ton of space. I listen to a lot of podcasts, so there’s a full 20 GB of audio podcasts currently stored on my phone. If I were to delete the Overcast app from my phone, that would remove both the app and all the podcasts, and therefore clear up 20GB of space. Or, in this instance, I don’t really want to do that, so I could just go to the Overcast app and delete certain episodes to make room, now that I know that this is what is taking up a lot of the space on my phone.

Typically, the apps that tend to take up the most space are going to be anything containing videos and photos, and sometimes also music up to a certain extent. Some of the apps to keep an eye on are going to be the Photos app, or any other apps that you use to shoot pictures and videos with. And if you’re completely filling up your device with images and videos, you might want to consider using the iCloud Photo library, which we will look at later.

The Messages app is also one definitely worth checking on, because the files in there can really sneak up on you. A lot of people don’t really think to look there, but if you’re someone that sends and receives a lot of pictures and videos with friends and family through the Messages app, you can end up with tons of space being taken up by those files until you delete them. And one of the best new features in iOS 11 is the ability to check exactly what is taking up space in your Messages app. Mine is not a great example because I’ve already tidied up in here, but you can now click on the Messages app and you’ll get an exact breakdown of which files are taking up space. Then, you can click on Photos for example and see all the pictures that you currently have in the Messages app. You can then choose Edit at the top right of the screen and add little check-marks to each image you’d like to delete before hitting to trash can icon to actually get rid of them.

Now, keep in mind, if there’s an image that you see listed here that you want to save, you would need to go to the Messages app first, and click and hold on the image until you see the Save option, which will save that image to your Photos library. And it works the same way for the videos.

So, spend some time in here and look around, and see exactly what is taking up space on your phone. You might find that there are some apps that you never use, and probably no longer need to be there. So,  if you need to clear up space on your phone because it’s getting full, this is the first place you should look to understand what exactly is taking up the most room.

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in iPhone, Productivity, Tips & Tricks, 0 comments
Keep your apps updated

Keep your apps updated

Today, YouTube updated their iOS app after users reported that their devices would get unusually warm and the battery would deplete much quicker than usual while watching videos on the YouTube app. This update is supposed to fix that. And I think this brings up another important point. Whenever Apple releases a major software update such as they did with iOS 11 a couple months ago, many users will experience battery issues and are often very quick to blame Apple for what they are experiencing. I see a lot of comments implying that Apple is intentionally breaking or slowing down their phones with these updates so that consumers will be forced to buy a new iPhone or iPad. But I think that’s completely wrong. In most cases, I do think the problem lies with poorly written apps, or outdated apps that do not function properly with the new iOS update.

I often work with clients and when I open up their App Store, there is often dozens of apps that need updates. And once we’ve updated those apps, it usually resolves most of the issues they had been experiencing. Somewhere along the way, it seems like many people using various technology have gotten weary and suspicious of updating their devices. But updates in the vast majority of cases actually fix bugs and improve the app. Rarely is it a bad idea to update your devices. So, keep all your apps up to date and and you will most likely experience a better functioning device and new feature in your apps.

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in iOS, iPhone, Productivity, Software, Tips & Tricks, 0 comments
New Firefox Quantum

New Firefox Quantum

Yesterday, a big update to the Firefox web-browser was released. Firefox Quantum was redesigned for better and faster performance, less impact on the battery, and a nice shiny new interface. They’ve done an excellent job with this big update. I think Firefox was already an excellent browser, but they have been losing market share to Chrome in a big way the last few years. Far less people use Firefox nowadays than they did 5-6 years ago, as Chrome has sort of taken over. The improvements in this version may help Firefox regain some users. At least I hope so, since competition is a good thing, and Mozilla (the makers of Firefox) is a great non-profit organization as well. Download or update to the new version and check it out.

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in Mac, Productivity, Recommendations, Software, 0 comments

10 tips for Apple Mail

I’ve recently uploaded a video to YouTube with 10 tips for customizing and working smarter in the Mail application for Mac. These should help anyone work a little faster when using the Mail app. In this video I explain how you can :

  1. Customize the Mail toolbar.
  2. Make your email replies a little more concise.
  3. Check the real email address of a sender in order to prevent scams.
  4. Clean up old email addresses stored in Mail.
  5. How you can use the Filter and VIP function.
  6. Save attachments to different locations on your Mac or in the cloud.
  7. Use shortcuts to store messages in your folders.
  8. Select the default account for sending new messages.
  9. Use the Stationery browser.
  10. Change the sidebar icon size.

Hopefully you’ll find a couple of these tips and tricks useful, and let me know if you have any questions about any of these.

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in Mac, Productivity, Software, Tips & Tricks, 0 comments