Productivity

The new iOS 11 update is great

The new iOS 11 update is great

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been playing around with the iOS 11 beta release on my iPhone 6S. And I have to say, I am very impressed. This update is loaded with a lot of small improvements that all add up to a greatly improved experience. The new Control Center is customizable and I think that it’s incredibly useful now. I love the fact that you can now place different apps in this new Control Center for super quick access. The Lock screen lets you see more stuff than iOS 10 did, and it just feels right. The Photos app added some cool new features and feels a little more responsive somehow. The App Store redesign threw me for a loop initially, but now that I’ve gotten used to it, the changes they made totally make sense to me. Apple Pay in messages is something I could see myself using quite a bit in the future. The QuickType keyboard let’s you choose a shrunken keyboard that is supposed to make it easier for you to type messages one-handed. I don’t know that I’ll ever need that one myself, as I tend to speak my messages if I find myself in a situation where it’s hard for me to type. But I’m glad it’s there.

The iPad is the device which is going to benefit the most from the iOS 11 update. They’ve packed some awesome new features for use specifically with the iPads. Unfortunately, this update will only work with fairly recent models, and does not work with my current iPad. Probably time for an upgrade ūüėé

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in Apple news, iOS, iPhone, Productivity, 0 comments
Using Onyx on your Mac

Using Onyx on your Mac

Onyx for Mac is a popular free utility that’s been available since 2003, and is regularly updated by Titanium software. It lets you verify the structure of your Mac’s hard drive, and perform a number of other functions in a fairly simple way. You can empty different caches, rebuild services and indexes, and loads more.
It’s not for everyone, but if you have a reasonably good understanding of how your Mac works, and want a good free tool to do some occasional cleaning up on your Mac, it’s a great tool. While I would not recommend it for complete beginners, if you’re an intermediate Mac user and would like a free maintenance tool in your arsenal, this is probably the one I would recommend.

There are different versions of Onyx specific to each macOS / OSX operating systems. From the Titanium software homepage, you can find the version that’s right for you. You can download Onyx from their homepage.

The only thing I would add is that if there are options that you don’t understand, don’t click on them until you learn more. While you’re not going to break anything, you could end up with some unintended consequences if you just click on everything. Happy cleaning !

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in Mac, Productivity, Software, 0 comments
Using the Focus app for productivity

Using the Focus app for productivity

There are times when you need to get some serious work done on your Mac, and you cannot allow yourself to be easily distracted. Of course, these days, that is easier said than done. Between Email, social media, Netflix, YouTube, web-sites, games and whatever else you might find yourself compulsively going to when working on the computer, it can be hard to resist distractions. But of course, there is technology available to help you resist those urges. I’ve been using the Focus app for a couple of years now, and I find it to be a fantastic tool.
Once installed, you can use Focus to create timed sessions during which you can either block certain applications from working, or block certain distracting web-sites, or do both. I often use Focus to block my Mac Mail application from working, while also blocking a large list of web-sites from being accessible.

You can customize a number of things about Focus, including which apps and web-sites you can block, create schedules, choose how long your focused sessions last, and plenty more. I definitely recommend this app, and you can try for free for 14 days, and buy it for $19.99 if you want to keep using it ( I am in not affiliated with this company in any way ). You can find the Focus app on their website at https://heyfocus.com/

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

Taking screenshots on Mac

One of the most useful keyboard shortcuts on the Mac (which is not easy to remember), is the shortcut to take a screenshot. If there is something on your Mac that you’d like to save as an image , you can easily do so by doing the following : Press a combination of Shift + Command + 4 on your keyboard first, you will see a little target icon appear instead of your mouse pointer, and you can then make a selection around the area on your screen you’d like to save as a screenshot.
Once you release the keys, the image will be saved to your desktop. And there you have it ūüĒ•

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in Mac, Productivity, Tips & Tricks, 0 comments
Apple’s new ProMotion technology

Apple’s new ProMotion technology

Apple’s newest display technology, which was introduced recently in the new iPad Pro, is going to vastly improve the way you interact with your Apple devices in the future. It manages to really cut down of the latency you feel when doing things such as drawing on your iPad with the Apple pencil, or just scrolling around through web pages, and yet it does not affect battery life. To find out more about ProMotion and why it’s going to be big for Apple, check out this article on iMore.

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in Apple news, iOS, Productivity, 0 comments
The iWork apps have been updated

The iWork apps have been updated

Today, Apple released updates for Keynote, Numbers and Pages. The biggest new feature they’ve added is a greatly expanded shape library by adding over 500 new shapes and symbols. And these look great ! They are very high quality and you can also do some very cool things with these shapes, such as Unite, Intersect, Subtract and Exclude in order to create some brand new shapes of your own. You can also add styles to these shapes such as borders, fills, shadows and more. So, it opens up a whole lot of possibilities for creating and saving new artwork and symbols in your documents.
There is also some improvements to Auto-correction, Threaded comments, and Print Preview. The updates are available from the Mac App store and when you open up one of the apps after updating, it will show you a list of the new available features and improvements.

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in Apple news, Mac, Productivity, Software, 0 comments
Stay away from MacKeeper

Stay away from MacKeeper

MacKeeper is one the worst applications you can have on your Mac. What was once a great application has unfortunately been turned into a very crappy piece  of malware. Under no circumstances should you ever install MacKeeper on your computer, no matter how compelling some of the reviews you may read online. Those reviews have been paid for by Kromtech Alliance, the company that acquired MacKeeper in 2013. There has been many claims of fraud regarding this company.
So, my advice is to stay away from this product at all costs. And if you’ve ever installed it on one of your Macs, make sure to fully delete it from that computer using the instructions in the article that I’m providing a link to below :
This article explains how to completely delete MacKeeper from your Mac

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

Microsoft OneNote App

My favorite note taking application for the Mac is Microsoft’s OneNote, which works on the Mac, iPhone and iPad. It’s a wonderful and full-featured note taking tool that has been around since 2003 on Windows, and since 2014 on the Mac. It allows you to blend text, images, videos, PDF’s, graphs, tables and whatever else you can think of to create notebooks blending all these elements together. You can use it for super basic note taking, or very complex presentations using all types of media. You can create to-do lists, use it for project management, write in it using a touch-screen, and all sorts of other uses. If you haven’t yet tried OneNote, do yourself a favor and download it (it’s free) and play around with it. It’s quite easy to use and you’ll quickly discover all it’s potential.

You can find out more about OneNote here

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in iPhone, Mac, Productivity, Recommendations, 0 comments
Managing hard drive space on your Mac using Sierra

Managing hard drive space on your Mac using Sierra

The management of files on your Mac hard drive has always been an important issue, and something you should carefully monitor. And now,¬†¬†because¬†a lot of the newer Macs come with SSD drives which are quite fast but usually smaller¬†in capacity than the older traditional hard drives, it’s become tougher for some mac users to fit all their files on their computer. Pictures, movies, TV shows, music and podcasts on your computer can gobble up your hard drive space very quickly. You can, and should, move those types of files to the cloud or to external hard drives whenever possible. But first you need to know exactly what is taking up space on your Mac, which is what I’m going to show you now.

If you’re using the latest version of macOS, which is Sierra, or 10.12, you have a very powerful built-in tool which let’s you see exactly what is taking up space on your hard drive. All you have to do is go to the¬†Apple logo on the top left of your screen and choose > About This Mac. A little panel will open up with a few different options. Choose Storage, at which point your Mac will scan itself, and after a few minutes will show a little colored graph with a breakdown of different categories of files on your Mac. Such as System files, Documents, Apps, Photos, iTunes, and so on. Now, if you click on the Manage button, a new panel will open up showing you an exact breakdown of all these files in each categories, the size of the files, and when it was last accessed. If you find any files that are certain you will no longer need, you can right-click on the file and delete it. Just be careful and do not start just deleting stuff if you’re not sure what the file is.

Storage graph

mac file management
If you are not using macOS Sierra, but an older version of the Mac operating system, then I would highly recommend an app called DaisyDisk, which does something very similar to what I’ve just described. It’s a paid app, but definitely worth it. You can find DaisyDisk¬†here

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in Learning, Mac, Productivity, Software, Tips & Tricks, 0 comments
Avoid overly long reply email chains in Mac Mail

Avoid overly long reply email chains in Mac Mail

By default, when you’re replying to an email using Mac Mail, ¬†all previous emails will also be included below your response. In certain cases, that’s a good thing, as you want the other party to see all previous correspondence. But sometimes, you just end up with¬†overly long and messy looking email threads.

There’s an easy way to remedy this, by¬†changing one setting in your Mail preferences. By choosing Mail > Preferences > Composing you will find a couple of relevant¬†options¬†under the Responding area. If you choose the option to “Include selected text, if any; otherwise include all text”, you can now simply select an area of the email you want to respond to, and only that selection will be included in your reply email. This¬†allows for much more clutter-free back and forth replies.
Experiment with it, and you’ll see what I mean.

Mail reply settings

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