You know that you can drag files or folders to the Trash icon in the Dock for later deletion. And you probably know that you can select multiple items on the Desktop or in a Finder window by Command-clicking each one in turn (Shift-click to select a sequential range of items in a list view), after which you can drag them all to the Trash. But there’s no reason to expend effort mousing if you prefer to keep your hands on the keyboard—just press Command-Delete to send one or more selected files and folders directly to the Trash. Finally, if you need your disk space back right away, press Command-Shift-Delete to empty the Trash. However, we recommend not emptying the Trash frequently—that way, you have a chance to recover something you discover that you needed after trashing it.
(Featured image by iStock.com/FabrikaCr)
For several decades, Russia has targeted a wide variety of cyberattacks at countries with which it has had disputes. That includes the United States and other Western nations, which have recently levied unprecedented sanctions against Russia after it invaded Ukraine. President Biden has warned that “Russia could conduct malicious cyber activity against the United States” in response, encouraging the private sector to increase the protection of systems and networks. This isn’t theoretical—the US Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency lists numerous such attacks in the last five years. The UK National Cyber Security Centre has also issued official advice and guidance to help businesses ensure they have effective cyber security fundamentals in place
It’s tempting to think that your business is too small or unimportant to be targeted in a Russian cyberattack. While that may be true of direct infiltration by individual Russian hackers, many cyberattacks are carried out indiscriminately by bots—the ultimate is the DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack that uses compromised computers and Internet-of-things devices to flood a targeted server or company with an unmanageable amount of random Internet traffic. Plus, a common hacking approach is to compromise an account on one seemingly unrelated system as a stepping stone to another, more secure system.
There’s nothing new here—we’ve been encouraging everyone to take cybersecurity seriously for years now. But the threat is now more serious than ever before. So, here’s what we suggest—if you need help with any of this, don’t hesitate to contact us.
- Be vigilant: The most common way that hackers gain entry into computer systems is through an employee opening a malicious attachment or being fooled into entering credentials into a fake website. Implement or refresh security awareness training that teaches employees how to recognize suspicious email, identify phishing attempts, and report appropriately.
- Use good password practices: Make sure that everyone uses strong, unique passwords that are created, stored, and entered using a password manager, such as 1Password. Password managers also identify weak passwords and those that have been compromised in security breaches—ask everyone to audit their passwords and update any that aren’t secure. (But there’s no reason to change good passwords willy-nilly.)
- Implement 2FA: Whenever possible, require two-factor authentication, which provides extremely strong protection against remote intrusion given that a compromised password is no longer sufficient.
- Keep software up to date (patch management): Install all software and operating system updates on all platforms. In its security update notes, Apple often says that particular vulnerabilities are actively being exploited—it’s crucial to install such updates immediately. It is essential to use anti-malware software (even with macOS), keep its signatures current.
- Backup regularly: Ensure that all systems are backed up regularly, and for your most important data, make sure backups are protected from ransomware encryption by storing them offline or using object locking on a cloud storage service. Be sure to test your backups regularly as well—backing up is the first step, but being able to restore is what’s necessary.
- Increase monitoring: Keep a centralised record of all employee reports of suspicious behavior to better identify attack patterns and targeted systems. Whenever possible, make sure server and network device logging is enabled so any incidents can be investigated more fully. Turn on any anomaly reporting capabilities in backup and other security-related apps.
- Plan for the worst: Develop or revisit business continuity and crisis response plans. For instance, discuss how you’d deal with losing Internet connectivity, being locked out of key online accounts, or having all your data rendered inaccessible by ransomware.
There’s no reason to panic, but the increased threat from Russian cyberattacks is a good excuse to focus more attention on digital security and maintaining your Macs.
We offer a great managed program called Peace of Mind +, where we will take care of that maintenance and patch management, so you can get on with more important things. We even include the anti-malware software.
The Internet makes astonishing things possible, but it also opens us up to attacks that would previously have been inconceivable. As more of our business is conducted across the internet, now is the time to start making sure our business and Apple devices are properly protected and maintained.
(Featured image by iStock.com/BeeBright)
Social Media: The Russian invasion of Ukraine is horrific, but the economic sanctions and other responses from Western nations mean that businesses of all sizes need to be more vigilant about cybersecurity. Read on for suggestions:
With the recent release of macOS 12.3 Monterey and iPadOS 15.4, Apple shipped Universal Control, the last major technology promised in its 2021 operating system upgrades. Universal Control enables you to use the keyboard and mouse or trackpad attached to one Mac to control up to three other Macs or iPads—you can even copy and paste or drag items between devices. It’s a great way to make more of your Apple devices while staying on task—no longer do you need to stop using your Mac to accomplish something on your iPad, and if you have both an iMac and a MacBook Air, it becomes trivially easy to use them simultaneously.
Universal Control can simplify grabbing a file from your MacBook Air while using your iMac, or it might make it easy to check something in an iPad-only app without switching from your familiar Mac keyboard and trackpad. For those who would benefit from more screen space, Universal Control simplifies keeping a Web browser window open on one Mac while you’re writing about it on another.Read More
We’ve become accustomed to our iPhones and iPads switching into Low Power Mode to preserve battery life, and you can enable it manually if you want to reduce power usage for a day. New in macOS 12 Monterey for the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro is a similar feature, though you must enable it manually. Open System Preferences > Battery, click Battery in the sidebar, and select Low Power Mode. It reduces the screen brightness automatically and may decrease CPU performance. Make sure to turn it off once you don’t need it anymore.
(Featured image by iStock.com/Pascal Kiszon)
Few would disagree that the most popular image editing software in the world is Adobe Photoshop, the top illustration app is Adobe Illustrator, and the preeminent page layout package is Adobe InDesign. Many design and publishing professionals spend their lives in one or more of these apps.
There’s one problem: cost. Adobe provides access to them only via Creative Cloud subscriptions, where each app costs £19.97 per month, making it hard to pass up the £49.94-per-month All Apps bundle that includes all three plus Premiere Pro, Acrobat Pro, and more. That All Apps bundle works out to an eye-watering £600 per year.
For many people, that £600 annual expense is just the cost of doing business. They need the full power of Adobe’s tools, and they need to collaborate with others using native Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign files. If you fall into that camp, no worries, and you can stop reading right now.
Quick quiz: what does a red number badge on the Phone icon on your iPhone mean? You’d be right if you said that it indicates the number of missed calls or voicemail messages. The Mail and Messages apps also use a red badge to display the number of unread messages; Settings uses one to indicate that software updates are available; and Reminders shows a badge for the number of tasks due today. Third-party apps also use red badges to indicate that some number of somethings await you inside. You’ll also see a red badge on any folder that contains apps that are themselves showing badges—the folder’s badge sums the total of the badges inside.
Siri has plenty of tricks up its sleeve, and we’ve just discovered a new one. Let’s say you set iPhone alarms to wake up and remind you to take medication throughout the day. However, if you don’t have your iPhone handy when those alarms go off, it can be annoying (for both you and others) to find your phone and stop or snooze the alarm. If you have a HomePod, it turns out that you (or someone else) can say, “Hey Siri, snooze the alarm” or “Hey Siri, stop the alarm.” Siri usually asks for confirmation—just reply with “Yes”—and sometimes tells you to continue on the iPhone, but it can be easier than finding the iPhone and stopping the alarm. (And yes, if you’re wearing an Apple Watch, you can stop the alarm from it as well. It’s also possible to set alarms on a HomePod directly, though they’re useful only if you’re guaranteed to be home when they go off.)
(Featured image by iStock.com/Antonio_Diaz)
Do you know someone who’s always misplacing their keys, purse, or backpack? Apple’s new AirTag tracker is the perfect gift for such a person. Attach one to a keyring (with a separate £29 AirTag Loop or £39 AirTag Leather Loop) or drop it in a bag, and from then on, the person can use the Find My app to see where they left their stuff. Support for ultra-wideband enables precision finding with an iPhone 11 or later—with earlier iPhones, the detected location won’t be quite so precise. AirTag uses the Find My network, so even if the item is far away, passing Apple devices that detect it can securely share its location with you. One AirTag costs £29, or you can get a pack of four for £99. You can even have Apple personalize each AirTag with custom text and emoji.
AirPods and AirPods Pro
Apple’s wireless earbuds remain popular, and the company just released the third-generation AirPods to supplement the second-generation AirPods and the AirPods Pro. All three make excellent gifts. The second-generation AirPods cost £119, have a relatively long stalk, and boast up to 5 hours of listening on one charge. The £169 third-generation AirPods shrink the stalk, switch to a force sensor for controls, add support for spatial audio with dynamic head tracking, feature sweat and water resistance, have a MagSafe wireless charging case, and last up to 6 hours on a single charge. For £239, the AirPods Pro include the features of the third-generation AirPods and add silicone ear tips and active noise cancellation with optional transparency mode, but they have only 4.5 hours of listening time. All three have charging cases, support Hey Siri commands, and automatically switch between Apple devices.
Earlier this year, Apple discontinued the full-size HomePod, which wasn’t a big hit at its relatively high price of £299. However, the £89 HomePod mini remains available, and Apple is now selling it in five colors, with blue, orange, and yellow joining white and black. (The new colors will become available at some point in November.) The grapefruit-sized HomePod mini may be small, but it produces great sound for its size, and it can do pretty much everything the larger HomePod could do. You can control it entirely via Siri, pair two for stereo sound, use it as a hub for your HomeKit home automation accessories, and even have it play the sound from your Apple TV. Put a HomePod mini in different rooms in the house, and you can use Intercom to communicate with family members using your voice. If you’re giving it as a gift, remember that it’s best when paired with an Apple Music subscription.
iPad and iPad mini
If you’re looking to give an iPad as a gift, you have a lot of choice. The top-of-the-line iPad Pro may be overkill for most given its power and price—£749 for the 11-inch model and £999 for the 12.9-inch model. But the fourth-generation iPad Air, which starts at £579, provides sufficient power for even the most intensive tasks, especially when coupled with a second-generation Apple Pencil (£119) and either a Magic Keyboard (£279) or Smart Keyboard Folio (£179).
If those possibilities seem pricey for an iPad that’s destined for a kid or an adult with basic needs, look no further than the new ninth-generation iPad, which remains a bargain at £319. It works with the first-generation Apple Pencil (£89), and those who need to write can add the £159 Smart Keyboard. Finally, don’t forget the sixth-generation iPad mini, which benefited from a major redesign back in September. It’s now more like a diminutive version of the iPad Air, with more colors and a squared-off industrial design compatible with the second-generation Apple Pencil. It’s £479, and if you need a keyboard, you’ll have to look to a third-party manufacturer or use a standard Bluetooth wireless keyboard.
Apple Watch Gift Certificate
Last but far from least, we love the Apple Watch, and it would seem to make a great gift. However, we urge caution. Apple provides a dizzying number of options for case size, material, and color, plus the band and color, making it difficult to know what would be most appreciated. So we’d encourage giving a certificate that’s good for a conversation about what to purchase. Then sit down with the recipient to run through all the decisions in the Apple Watch Studio.
There are three options this year: the new Apple Watch Series 7 (starting at £369), last year’s less expensive Apple Watch SE (starting at £249), or the much older Apple Watch Series 3 (starting at £179). Get the Series 7 if you want an Always-On Display, blood oxygen sensor, and ECG capabilities—it also boasts a larger screen than last year’s Series 6 while remaining compatible with all the bands. The Apple Watch SE lacks the Series 7’s advanced sensors and has a slightly smaller screen size, but it still provides the compass, altimeter, and fall detection features. The screen on the Series 3 is smaller yet, and it lacks a number of key features. Unless keeping the cost to a minimum is essential, we have a hard time recommending the Series 3—it’s getting too old. Apple has a helpful comparison tool.
You may have noticed that we didn’t include any Macs in this article. They are worthy gifts, but they’re quite a bit more expensive and more difficult to select without extensive discussion of the recipient’s needs. Let us know if you need help choosing the right Mac for someone on your list, but we’re partial to the M1-based MacBook Air and 24-inch iMac for many users.
(Featured image by Adam Engst)
Social Media: Looking for the perfect holiday gift for the Apple user in your life? Given supply chain problems, it’s not too early to start shopping. Here are our suggestions for the top Apple-related gifts for 2021.
It’s no exaggeration to say that videoconferencing went mainstream during the pandemic. However, Apple’s FaceTime didn’t stack up well against Zoom and others due to its emulation of the telephone call experience, questionable interface decisions, and lack of cross-platform compatibility. However, with iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS 12 Monterey, Apple has nearly brought FaceTime into feature parity with Zoom and others and it has even added a few features that break new ground.
One of the smallest new features in FaceTime may be the most important. No longer do you have to call others via FaceTime, an awkward approach left over from the days of landlines. That’s still possible, but it’s easier and more considerate to make and share a FaceTime link instead, which lets others join your call when they’re ready. FaceTime links make it effortless to rejoin a call if you have to drop off or if something goes wrong, and they simplify switching from one device to another. You can share FaceTime links like any other Web link, through Messages, email, discussion systems like Slack, or posting on a Web page.
To create a FaceTime link, launch the FaceTime app and use the Create Link button in the upper left. If you’re creating it in iOS 15 or iPadOS 15, you can add a name before copying or sharing the link in the share sheet. In Monterey, clicking the button presents a sharing menu with similar appropriate options.
To join a call, all a recipient of the link has to do is tap or click the link. If they’re running one of Apple’s latest operating systems, the call will also appear in the FaceTime app, under Upcoming.
Either way, people joining the call get a preview window in which they can adjust their video and mic settings. After they hit the Join button, the organizer is notified that they’re waiting and can add them to the call. (That may seem like an unnecessary extra step, but it ensures random trolls can’t join FaceTime calls whose links have been shared publicly.)
If you’re scheduling a call, you can create a FaceTime link within an event in Calendar. That’s handy to make sure you have the link available at the right time, to make it available on all your devices, and to let others access it via a shared calendar. Use the Location or Video Call field, and select FaceTime when it’s offered. The event then gets a Join button that makes it easy to access the call. (If you’re sharing the calendar with someone who isn’t using one of Apple’s latest operating systems, they’ll just see a link they can click.)
Despite being associated with an event, such FaceTime links aren’t time-specific. You can start the call any time you want, and anyone else can attempt to join it at any time, but they’ll be able to get in only if you as the organizer let them in. So it won’t do them any good to join before or after the scheduled time.
FaceTime Web App
FaceTime links are also essential for allowing FaceTime calls to include those who aren’t running Apple’s latest operating systems. If you’re still on macOS 11 Big Sur or iOS 14, opening a FaceTime link switches to Safari and opens the FaceTime Web app. That also works for those using Android, Windows, or Linux, as long as they have a compatible Web browser, which means Google Chrome or another Chrome-based browser like Brave or Microsoft Edge. Firefox won’t work.
For the most part, the FaceTime Web app works just like the native FaceTime app, with the ability to change basic camera and microphone settings and support for grid view. There are two notable limitations:
- FaceTime Web app users can only join calls, not initiate them.
- Advanced options like the mic modes and video effects aren’t available.
Mic Modes and Video Effects
In an effort to catch up with the likes of Zoom, Apple added several audio and video features to FaceTime. There are now three mic modes that you can enable in Control Center during a call:
- Standard: FaceTime does nothing special to the audio.
- Voice Isolation: FaceTime focuses on your voice, working to eliminate non-vocal sounds and other background noise.
- Wide Spectrum: FaceTime expands its attention to all the sounds in the room, which is essential for things like music lessons.
Although the equivalent Control Center button is labeled Video Effects, there’s only one at the moment: Portrait mode. It works exactly as it does in the Camera app for photos, keeping you in focus and blurring the background. Perhaps Apple will add other video effects in the future, much like Zoom’s virtual backgrounds and immersive sets. You can also toggle Portrait mode by tapping the Video Effects button in your FaceTime tile.
The Voice Isolation and Wide Spectrum mic modes, and the Portrait mode video effect, are available only on iPhones and iPads that have an A12 Bionic chip or later, or an M1 chip. Similarly, they work only on M1-based Macs, not older Intel-based Macs.
When Apple first introduced FaceTime group calls, participants’ tiles would swim around on the screen, moving and expanding to indicate who was speaking. It was dizzying. Happily, Apple finally listened to annoyed users and has now introduced a simple grid view like every other videoconferencing app on the planet.
Once there are four or more participants in a call on an iPhone or iPad, a Grid button appears when you tap the screen to reveal the FaceTime controls. Tap it to switch into or out of grid view. In Monterey, there’s an always-visible Grid button in the upper-right corner.
Screen Sharing for iPhones and iPads
As helpful as FaceTime links are, our favorite new feature of FaceTime is screen sharing for those using an iPhone or iPad. (Macs can’t currently participate in FaceTime screen sharing but have their own screen sharing capabilities, accessed through the Conversations menu in Messages.) With a couple of taps, you can share your screen with someone else, or they can share their screen with you, all while maintaining the video call. For many remote workers, this feature is essential, whether you are collaborating on a project or showing your work to your boss. Another obvious use is remote tech support. If someone is having trouble accomplishing something on their iPhone or iPad, you can see what’s going wrong live on a FaceTime call. And kids, no doubt, will find many fun things to do together.
To share your screen during a FaceTime call, tap anywhere on the screen to reveal the FaceTime controls, tap the screen sharing button on the right, and tap the Share My Screen confirmation prompt. After a 3-second countdown, others on the call can see your screen, even as you switch away from the FaceTime app and use your iPhone or iPad however you want.
While you’re sharing your screen, a purple status icon reminds you that others can see what you’re doing. To stop sharing your screen, tap someone’s video tile to switch back to the FaceTime app and tap the screen sharing button again.
When someone shares their screen with you, a Picture-in-Picture (PiP) window of their screen appears. Tap it to expand it to the entire screen, moving the FaceTime call video to its own PiP window. Tap that FaceTime PiP window to return to the call. If you switch to another app, as shown below, the shared screen returns to being a PiP window. If any PiP window is in your way, you can drag it to another corner or swipe it off the screen to the left or right to hide it entirely. A tab appears to indicate the hidden PiP window; tap it to bring the window back.
People will either love SharePlay or ignore it entirely. It enables everyone on a FaceTime call to watch the same video or listen to the same audio while continuing the conversation. The big caveat is that everyone must have legal access to the content, which generally means a subscription to whatever service is being used, whether that’s Apple Music, Apple TV+, Disney+, HBO MAX, or Paramount+. Currently, SharePlay works only in iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 and on the Apple TV running tvOS 15. It’s slated to appear in a future version of Monterey, perhaps 12.1.
Initiating a SharePlay session is easy: simply navigate to Apple’s TV or Music app, or another app that supports SharePlay, and start playing something. You may be asked if you want to play it for everyone or just for yourself, or you may be told the content will play automatically. Assuming everyone on the call has the necessary subscription, the audio or video starts playing instantly.
What’s a little freaky about SharePlay is that, with one minor exception, everyone is an equal participant. If you start playing something, someone else can pause it or rewind it, say, and the video will pause or rewind for everyone. The exception is that only the person who started playing a video can stop it (tap the screen to reveal the controls), although anyone can start playing something else to replace it.
If you have an Apple TV, you can initiate video playback from the Apple TV or move something that’s already playing to the Apple TV. While you’re on a FaceTime call on your iPhone or iPad, press and hold the TV button on the Apple TV’s remote to open Control Center, and then select the SharePlay button that appears there to get started.
With all these new features, it’s time to rethink how you use FaceTime, and that’s especially true if you haven’t been using FaceTime because it lacked the features in some other videoconferencing app.
(Featured image by iStock.com/jacoblund)
Social Media: FaceTime has joined the big leagues in iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS 12 Monterey. Read on to learn about FaceTime links, its cross-platform Web app, special mic modes and video effects, grid view, screen sharing, and SharePlay.
Apple makes great computers, but they’re not cheap. Even if you are happy to pay the entry-price for a new iMac or MacBook Pro, you may be painfully aware that for just a few hundred pounds more you could get a much more powerful model. But can you justify the extra spend?Read More