Archives For tips

Talking about the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar on the MacJury podcast last week brought up battery life and how initially the new machines suffered from a problem where the discrete graphics processor (GPU) was running when it shouldn’t. A system update fixed that problem, but sometimes an application might be forcing the GPU into use, even in the background.

For TidBITS this week, I wrote a short article explaining how to determine which applications are using significant energy, and how to tell whether the discrete GPU is in use instead of the power-saving integrated graphics. This advice applies to any Mac laptop with a secondary GPU, not just the Touch Bar models.

Read it here: How to Identify High-Performance GPU Apps on the MacBook Pro

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The ol’ eyes just aren’t what they used to be. After getting a new eyeglasses prescription and noticing how my mother’s iPhone text is permanently larger than normal, I decided to write my latest Seattle Times column about the many ways anyone can make their phone screens more legible. That ranges from simply enlarging text in the Display & Brightness settings to activating accessibility features such as text zoom. I also point out a few new options coming in iOS 10, such as adapting the screen’s display to accommodate different types of color blindness.

This just scratches the surface of iOS accessibility features, which are rich and highly regarded. I recommend following Steven Aquino’s work; he has produced lots of great coverage in many venues.

Read my latest Seattle Times column here: iOS aid makes reading on a screen easy.

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If history is a guide, Apple won’t start announcing new products for a couple of months, so in the meantime, I’ve offered a host of tips for Mac, iPhone/iPad, Apple TV, and Apple Watch in my latest Practical Mac column for the Seattle Times: Start the year with these Apple polishing tips.

Traveldata 03 tripmode

When I was co-leading a photo workshop in May, we spent several days at a hotel that had meager (to be polite) Internet access. Fortunately, my cellular-equipped iPad picked up an LTE signal easily. So, using the iOS Personal Hotspot feature, I connected my MacBook Pro to the iPad…

…and swiftly burned through my cellular plan’s data allotment.

Twice.

At Lynda.com, I relate the sad tale and review a Mac app that would have saved me: TripMode. It’s a little menu bar item that lets you choose which applications connect to the Internet. (I suspect Photos for OS X was the bandwidth hog at the time.)

Read the article here: TripMode: Don’t Blow Through Your Allotted Data While Traveling.

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Watch fitting

I’ve now had my Apple Watch for two months (here’s my review for the Seattle Times), and in that time I’ve gotten to know it very well while updating my Apple Watch: A Take Control Crash Course book (which is available now!). But don’t worry, this isn’t another “here’s my take on the Apple Watch after eight weeks” type of article.

Instead, my latest column for the Seattle Times is all “Practical Apple Watch” instead of “Practical Mac.” I share some of the useful tips and techniques I’ve run across with the watch so far, such as unlocking the watch without using the onscreen passcode, getting notified when emails from VIPs arrive, and, believe it or not, receiving phone calls on the watch.

Read the article here: Essential tips, tricks for living with an Apple Watch.

And since I mentioned my book, I want to point out that through the end of June, as part of a larger bundle deal called SummerFest 2015, you can get the Apple Watch Crash Course and all other Take Control books at a 25% discount when you use the code SUMMERFEST2015.

If you like the work I do, please consider signing up for my low-volume newsletter that I use to announce new projects, items, and giveaways that I think my readers would be interested in.

A quick, in-the-weeds-of-book-production post:

I’m an oddity among book authors in that most of my books are written directly into layout. Most people write a manuscript in Microsoft Word or Scrivener or some other word processor, then hand it off to design and production folks who lay it out with styles and artwork in an application such as Adobe InDesign.

I cut my teeth in PageMaker on my high school and college newspapers, and have used QuarkXPress and InDesign since then. For me, it’s easier to work within the layout where I can fix errors right away and write to the space I need. If a paragraph runs too long and spills over to the next page, I can edit it to fit; it doesn’t need two trips to a copyeditor and compositor to accomplish what I can do in less than a minute.

Until last year, I’ve worked mostly using extended keyboards that include a 10-key off to the side. In InDesign, I’d set up keyboard shortcuts to apply paragraph styles quickly: For example, to apply the Body style, I’d press Command-Option-Num 0 (the zero on the number key). But when my last extended keyboard died in the middle of a deadline, I switched to an Apple Wireless Keyboard, which has no 10-key.

I thought I’d be stuck using the mouse to change styles, but then I discovered a fast workaround. In InDesign, press Command-Return to bring up the Quick Apply palette and start typing a style name (either paragraph or character styles).

Indesign quick style

Often just one or two characters will get you in range. For my current book, I often need to apply the “Figure Number-P” character style (which switches to a bold font and reduces the text size), which works like this:

  1. Press Command-Return
  2. Type “f”
  3. Press the down-arrow twice to highlight Figure Number-P
  4. Press Return to apply

I find it’s really fast and doesn’t disrupt the flow of writing.