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Allow Certain Contacts to Reach You During Do Not Disturb

Do Not Disturb icon above a starry night sky with the Phone app icon in a thought bubble

You probably want a some people to reach you even when your iPhone’s Do Not Disturb is on. You can easily set your Phone app’s Favorites to have this privilege, but it might not be the most efficient method. Each entry in your Favorites can hold only one phone number. So if one person has two numbers (for example, a mobile and land line), then you need two entries in your Favorites. This can quickly clutter your Favorites list.

There is a better way: Create a Contact Group and then allow calls from the group.

Doing this allows any phone number from that contact to call through. No more separate entries from cell and land line numbers. And adding a new contact to the group at any time means that contact can reach you even when Do Not Disturb is on.

The only catch here is that you cannot create Contact Groups on your iPhone. Sigh!

The setup process is not too difficult. You can use the Contacts app on your Mac or you can use the web-based iCloud.

Using Your Mac

  1. Open the Contacts app.
  2. Click the File pull-down menu from the Task Bar.
  3. Click New Group.
  4. Type the name of your new group. I chose to use “DND Allow”.
  5. Drag and drop individual contacts from All Contacts to your new group.

Contacts on Mac

Using iCloud

  1. Log into your iCloud.com account using your web browser.
  2. Click or tap into the Contacts app.
  3. Click the plus (+) symbol at the bottom of the left pane.
  4. Click New Group.
  5. Type the name of your new Contact Group. I chose to use “DND Allow”.
  6. Drag and drop individual contacts from All Contacts to your new group.

Contacts on iCloud

Remember: You will need to maintain the Contacts in this group using iCloud.com or your Mac.

Configure Do Not Disturb on Your iPhone

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Swipe down and tap on Do Not Disturb.
  3. Swipe down to Phone and tap Allow Calls From.
  4. Under Groups find your new Contact Group and tap it. A checkmark should appear to the right.

Do Not Disturb on iPhone

That should do it. Best of luck!

Quick Tip: Text Replacement in iOS and Mac

Text ReplacementApple has baked in text replacement (aka, text substitution) in Mac OS X and iOS. This can take the drudgery out of typing frequent things like your email address whether on your Mac or iPhone (or iPad or iPod touch). You just need to know it’s there and how to configure it. Both of which are simple.

Mac OS X

  1. Click System Preferences.
  2. Click Keyboard.
  3. Click the Text tab.

To create a new replacement, click the plus-sign (+) under the list.

To edit an existing replacement by clicking once to highlight the row then click onto the text in either the Replace or With cells to change them.

You can delete a replacement by clicking to highlight the row and then click the minus-sign () at the bottom of the list to delete that item.

iOS

  1. Tap the Settings app.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Tap Keyboard.
  4. Tap Text Replacement.

To create a new replacement, tap the plus-sign (+) in the upper right corner. Under Phrase type the long text string (like your email). Under Shortcut, enter the short text string that will invoke the replacement action. Then tap Save.

To edit an existing replacement, tap the row. Then, like described above, edit the Phrase and Shortcut and tap Save.

To delete a replacement, swipe your finger to the left on a row to expose the red delete button. Tap Delete.

iPhone Tip: Unique Ring and Text Tones

iOS Sounds Icon

While most of the ringtones and alert sounds in iOS are pleasant (Owl City is rumored to have developed several of them), you might find some utility by having specific sounds for specific contacts.

Thankfully, the process is pretty simple.

First, get to your contacts. There are two ways to do this. You can open the Phone app and then tap Contacts in the navigation bar at the bottom. Or you can just find and tap into your Contacts app.

You’re ready to customize the sounds.

  1. Find the contact to which you’d like to assign a specific ringtone or alert sound, then tap that entry in the list.
  2. In the upper left, tap Edit.
  3. Scroll to find the settings for Ringtone and Text Tone. Chances are it says “Default”.
  4. Tap “Default” for either Ringtone or Text Tone. This will open the tone selection screen. Note that the Default tone name appears followed by the other available tones.
  5. Choose the sound you wish to assign to the contact. Tapping individual tone names from the list will place the checkmark next to the name and play the tone. Tapping a bunch of these in succession will probably draw the attention and ire of those around you, so be considerate.
  6. Tap Done when you’re happy with your choice.

Airtable for Lists and Reference

AirtableApp: Airtable – Cost: Free

Sometimes you want to track a certain type of thing (perhaps ratings of your favorite coffees or brews). There are probably apps for that, but maybe they’re too socially connected or just downright confusing. Personally, I’ve been wanting to track favorite beers, but the apps I’ve found stink for one or more reasons. And using the iOS Reminders or Microsoft OneNote never really worked well. Then I heard of Airtable.

Airtable provides a fairly intuitive interface for creating simple or complex lists called Bases. It’s like creating a spreadsheet but Airtable makes it work like a charm in a tappable interface like your phone. For those who understand database concepts like tables and views, Airtable can become that much more powerful.

If you’re interested in this kind of app but databases sound intimidating, the folks at Airtable have you covered. The support section is thorough and surprisingly easy to grasp. The sample Bases have a refreshingly short learning curve, and once you take a close look, the concepts will just click for you.

Hey, I’m dense, and I figured it out.

Airtable Bases can be created and edited in app or online, and they’re always in sync. There’s collaboration tools and connectivity to online services like Dropbox, Evernote, and many more. If you keep your Bases under 1,200 rows (aka, records), then the service remains free. If you need more, then there are reasonable levels of service.

Airtable.com

Airtable App [iTunes] – Android coming soon

Non-Obvious Features Hidden in Your iPhone

Hidden FeaturesBack in 2007, Apple revolutionized the smart phone industry with the iPhone. And at that time, the phone’s operating system was refreshingly simple. Since that time, the operating system (now called iOS) has become much more complex with a simple-looking interface. Some of the best features are hidden in that simple-looking interface.

Here are a few tips to expose some non-obvious functionality that you might be able to adopt into your daily usage.

App Switcher

Double-press the Home button and then use two fingers on two apps (one finger each) and swipe upwards to close both with one gesture. This requires a bit of practice and dexterity, but it works.

Calculator

Turn the phone to landscape orientation (sideways) to expose the built-in scientific calculator.

To backspace (delete) a digit that you’ve entered, just swipe left or right across the number string.

The calculator in portrait mode limits numbers to 9 digits in length. Turn to the landscape, scientific mode to work with larger numbers.

Camera

When set for taking a photo, press and hold the shutter button for burst mode. This takes several photos per second. This is great for those action moments to get the perfect picture of the winning goal, touchdown, or slide into home plate.

While taking a video, notice the white circle within a circle. Tap that during the video recording session to take a still photo. While this isn’t hidden per se, it’s kinda hiding in plain sight.

You can activate the photo shutter with the volume keys on the side of the phone. You can also do this with the volume buttons on the EarPod headphones. This is good if you ever use the phone on a tripod and long shutter exposures (you’ll need a third-party app for long exposures, many of which are free).

Find the Owner

Press and hold the Home button and ask “Who owns this phone?” You’ll get contact information that should help you return the phone.

Flashlight

If you have the flashlight on and the phone auto locks, you can simply swipe up on the lock screen’s camera icon and the light will go off. This is probably more of a tip than a feature.

Mail

There are many hidden ways to view your email messages. Navigate to your list of Mailboxes, then tap Edit. You might find the ability to view only Flagged or Unread messages helpful. Also in this edit mode, you can reorder you mailboxes to have your primary service at the top of the list.

Messages

When you’re not in the Messages app and you receive a new message as a banner notification at the very top of your screen, you can swipe down while it’s visible to respond to the message without going into the Messages app.

Phone

On the Keypad screen, tap the green call button to display the last dialed number. Don’t worry, it won’t automatically call it.

Photos

In the Albums view, long press the plus sign to be offered to create a new folder or a new album.

Reachability

[For iPhone 6 and later] From anywhere except the lock screen, lightly double tap (not press) the Home button. The top half of the screen will drop to the lower half allowing your finger to reach the items. Double tap again for the screen to return to normal.

Safari

From the carousel view of open windows, tap and hold the plus sign to view a list of recently closed browser tabs.

Quickly request the desktop version of a website by pressing and holding the reload icon in the URL bar. If you have a content blocker enabled, you can also choose to reload a page without the blocker temporarily disabled.

Spotlight

Spotlight appears when you swipe downward on any home screen (but not swiping down from the screen edge which shows Notification Center). It’s also available when you swipe to the left from the first home screen. It shows a search box, app suggestions, and (sometimes) news.

Enter a simple math problem to get the solution.

Type in a measurement or currency to get a conversion.

System

Clear iOS cache by tapping any single tab icon 10 times in the following Apple apps: Apple Store, Podcasts, Music, Game Center, and Phone. For example, tap the For You icon in the music app 10 times. Don’t expect any confirmation for this action. I guess you just have to have faith.

To clear iOS RAM, press and hold the Power/Sleep button until the Slide to Power Off prompt appears. Then press and hold the Home button until you’re returned to your home screen.

Touch ID

[For iPhone 5s and later] In the Setting app, navigate to Touch ID & Passcode. Now place a registered finger on the Home button. The entry under which that finger is registered will highlight while the finger rests on the button.

Wallet

From the lockscreen, double press the Home button to open the Wallet app. THis gives you access to Apple Pay and supported payments and loyalty cards.

3D Touch

[For iPhone 6s and later] In Safari’s carousel view of open tabs, you can peek and pop any of the web pages. Press to peek. Press deeper to pop it fully open.

In Reminders, press a reminder to get a quick menu to add an alarm based on time or location.

Almost everything in the Music app supports peek and pop.

The drawing tools in Notes support 3D Touch. Deeper swipes make a darker, wider line.

Source: ArtKeele.com, BGR

Fix iTunes When It Doesn’t Recognize Your iOS Devices

iTunes

[UPDATE: This article was first published Feb 1, 2014. I republished it for today, July 2, 2015, because it has proven very helpful to me lately. I am testing Windows 10. During the last few builds, my iPhone has not been recognized by Windows or iTunes. Going through this quick driver re-installation has saved me a lot of time compared to uninstalling/re-installing Apple’s iTunes and related software. Perhaps it will help others, too.]

If iTunes on Windows will not see your iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch), you may be thinking that uninstalling and reinstalling iTunes will fix the problem. Well, it probably won’t. You might think that uninstalling and reinstalling all Apple applications could do the trick. Well, this will probably work, but will take a lot of time.

Here’s your quick(er) fix.

  1. Open Device Manager.
    • In Windows 8, go to the Desktop and right-click in the very lower left of the screen. Click Device Manager
    • In Windows 7, click the Start orb and type “Device Manager” and press the Enter key.
  2. In Device Manager, find Portable Devices.
  3. Click the + or the arrow beside Portable Devices to view those devices.
  4. Right-click the first Apple device and click Update Driver Software…
  5. In the dialog box, choose to browse to a location on your computer.
  6. Browse to this folder path (or type it in directly if you wish): C:\Program Files\Common Files\Apple\Mobile Device Support\Drivers
  7. Click Next.
  8. It should confirm that you’ve just installed the latest driver.
  9. Repeat the Steps 4 through 7 for each of your remaining iOS devices.

If it says you have the latest driver already, then you’ll probably need to uninstall and reinstall all Apple software of your computer. Uninstall these in this order.

  1. iTunes
  2. Apple Software Update
  3. Apple Mobile Device Support [This one might refuse to uninstall. If so continue with the remaining apps.]
  4. Bonjour
  5. Apple Application Support

Now, reinstall iTunes. Good luck!

Handoff Problem for OS X Yosemite and iOS 8

HandoffI was eager to upgrade my MacBook Air from Mavericks to Yosemite to give the Handoff feature a try. I downloaded the update and installed it.

And Handoff refused to work.

I checked all the settings. I searched the forums. I maddeningly checked the settings and forums again again. Everything was right, but nothing worked. At least not consistently.

Until I turned off Handoff in my iPhone and turned it back on. Bingo! It all came to life.

I also rebooted the iPhone (see how to do that the right way) and the MacBook. I even waited a while to test it again. No hiccups. Everything continued to work fine.

Here are the main steps:

  1. On iPhone, go to Settings > General > Handoff & Suggested Apps.
  2. Ensure Handoff is toggled on (this is the setting I turned off and back on to get everything working right).
  3. Make sure your iPhone Bluetooth is on under Settings > Bluetooth.
  4. On the Mac, go to Settings > General, then scroll down a bit and ensure that “Allow Handoff between this Mac and your iCloud devices” is checked.
  5. To be safe, reboot your Mac and iPhone (do this the right way).

I hope this helps someone else suffering the same frustration.

 

Completely Configure Your Outlook.com Account in iOS

Outlook Logo

I recently reviewed Microsoft’s guidance for getting your Outlook.com (aka, Hotmail and Windows Live) email account. While they represent a good start, the instructions will likely leave you with some odd behavior. Granted that Apple is probably more to blame than Microsoft, I’d like to round out the instructions so you’ll have a better experience.

Here’s Microsoft’s advice:

iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch

  1. Tap Settings, and then tap Mail, Contacts, Calendar.
  2. Tap Add Account in the Accounts page.
  3. Select Hotmail.
  4. Enter your Outlook.com address and password.
  5. Select the fields that you want to sync. Tap Save.

Here’s the rest:

Outlook.com Configuration

 

  1. Return to your Outlook/Hotmail account settings (see Figure 1).
  2. Decide which services you’d like to sync with your iOS device (Mail, Contacts, Calendars, Reminders).
  3. Tap Account.
  4. In the Description field, you can enter a name for the account. It can be anything. Keep it simple, though. “Outlook.com” or “Hotmail” or something else meaningful to you.
  5. Tap Advanced.
  6. Choose whether you want discarded messages to be deleted or archived.
  7. Tap Account in the upper left.
  8. Tap Done.
  9. Tap Mail Days to Sync.
  10. Decide how far back you wish to sync your messages. I chose No Limit, but you might have a compelling reason not to do this. If you limit the time, you might only see some messages on your iOS device. Then when you log in from a Web browser, you’ll see many more messages. This confused me the first time it happened.

Hope this helps!

Apple TV Tips

Apple TV RemoteSteve Jobs once described the Apple TV as a hobby. Hobby or not, it’s fairly popular. But it isn’t covered as fully as iPhones and iPads. If you have one, here are a handful of tips that might make living with an Apple TV a little easier.

Rearrange the onscreen icons. Move the selection to the icon you’d like to move, then press and hold the center selection button until the icons start their infamous jiggling. Direct the icon to is new location and press that center selection button again.

Hide onscreen icons. Within Settings, go to General, then Parental Control. In the list of apps, toggle between Show and Hide.

Get Video Info and Audio Options. During video playback, press and hold the Up button. A bar will appear with information about the currently playing video will appear. While this info bar is on the screen, press and hold the center selection button. Audio options including Closed Captioning will appear.

Return to the Main Menu Quickly. If you’re several levels deep within an app or Settings and you just want to get back to the main menu (aka, Home screen), then press and hold the Menu button.

Use the Remote App. If you have an iOS mobile device, consider downloading Apple’s Remote app. You can control your Apple TV when your mobile device is attached to the same network. More importantly, you can use that devices keyboard to make it easier to type in a search query.

Put Your Apple TV to Sleep. On the main menu, press and hold the Play/Pause button.

Kwik Koncept: PhotoStream and iCloud

iCloud Icon

Apple introduced Photo Stream a few years back. It’s a great idea and is implemented well, but I’ve come to realize many people have misconceptions about the service.

 

Photo Stream Works Via Wi-Fi 

Your iOS device must connect to a wireless network (Wi-Fi) to send your photos to Apple’s iCloud service.

Photo Stream Needs iCloud 

Photo Stream synchronizes photos to other devices using iCloud. These can be other iOS devices, Macs, or Windows PCs. Each device or computer must be configured properly. Macs and iOS devices come with the iCloud software. Windows PCs must download and install the iCloud Control Panel.

Photo Stream is Not a Backup Service 

It keeps your photos from the last 30 days. Apple feels that is enough time for other configured devices to download those pictures.

Photo Stream Enables You to Backup Your Photos (It’s Not a Backup Service) 

This is best explained using a common scenario: You take a picture with your iPhone. That picture will remain on your iPhone until you delete it. If you have iCloud configured on that iPhone, it will upload the photo automatically to iCloud when the phone connects to a Wi-Fi network. Once the photo is in iCloud, it will download to all computers and devices configured to receive it. Now that the photo is on your computer, you may back it up (you do that, right?!) and you can either leave it on your phone or delete it from your phone.

Learn More: My Photo Stream FAQ