Markup Attachments Right On Your iPhone or iPad

One of the coolest, most powerful (and sadly the least used) new features in iOS 9 is the Markup tool in Mail. This feature allows you to quickly add signatures, lines, arrows, magnification circles and text boxes to any PDF or image file with the tap of a button. Once the changes are made, another tap allows you to easily send that file via the Mail app.

This is a great tool for signing contracts, marking up documents, annotating images and more. So why aren't more people using it? Quite frankly, because I think that most people don't know that it exists! So that's why I wrote this post. To educate and encourage you to use this tool. So let's dive in!

Posted on June 1, 2016 and filed under Design, How To, iOS, iPad, iPhone.

Change the Way People See You On FaceTime and Skype

FaceTime, GoToMeeting and Skype are great tools that help us to stay in touch with those that we care about... family, friends, colleagues, etc. The fact that we can, with the click of a button, instantly see someone else regardless of their location is a modern miracle!

With that in mind, today's post will focus (no pun intended, sort of) on the camera element of these calls. Most laptops today come with a built-in HD webcam above the display of your laptop. If not, or if you use a desktop as your primary system, there are plenty of options to add an after-market HD webcam (I prefer the Logitech HD Pro C920 camera). Even with the best cameras on the market, there may be a need to make adjustments to that camera that the built-in software can't offer.

Posted on May 31, 2016 and filed under Design, How To, Mac.

Managing Dropbox Upload and Download Speeds

Today's post comes from a Dropbox user: "I've been using Dropbox for a long time and only lately noticed that it takes forEVER to upload files to Dropbox (it seems fine when downloading). Is there something I can do to speed this up??"

The short answer is yes... most likely (how's that for non-committal!). Dropbox syncing will only happen as fast as your Internet connection will allow, and keep in mind that your download speeds are usually much faster than your upload speeds (this is typical, especially for home Internet). Having said that, there is a simple change that you can make to your Dropbox settings that will give you full access to the speeds you have.

Posted on May 26, 2016 and filed under How To, Opinion, Mac.

Creating Complex but Easy to Remember Passwords

Everyone knows that in today's tech-heavy world, it's crucial that we use good, strong, hard-to-guess passwords to prevent others from accessing our personal and/or sensitive data (bank accounts, medical records, email, etc). Unfortunately, that often means using passwords that are nearly impossible to remember. As a result, we negate the entire effort by writing our password on a sticky note, and posting it on our screen.

Raise your proverbial hand if this is you.

Fortunately, I have some tips on how to create a strong password, and at the same time, make them easy to remember.

Posted on May 20, 2016 and filed under How To, Opinion.

Fastest Way to Batch Rename Files in OS X

Prior to the release of OS X Yosemite (10.10), the process of batch renaming files on a Mac required 3rd-party software. Some apps were better than others, and usually the good ones cost a few bucks (or more) to get the job done.

Apple included the option to batch rename files in Yosemite, and of course, this is still a feature in El Capitan (10.11). While it may not be obvious (at first) just how to do this, it's super-easy once you know how.

Posted on May 19, 2016 and filed under How To, Mac.

The Right Way to Archive Photos from the Photos App

If you're using a Mac, there's a very good chance that you are using the built-in Photos app to manage your precious photos and videos. It's a great, easy-to-use tool for those countless photos and videos that you take on your iPhone, iPad, SLR and even scanned photos.

Over time, your Photos library is likely to grow, and if you're like me, it will get pretty large, pretty quick. These growing libraries are like trees... they need to be pruned every so often to keep them at a manageable size. There's the wrong way to do this pruning (a.k.a.: archiving) and the right way. In this post, I will walk you through the steps I take to archive my photos the right way.

Posted on May 18, 2016 and filed under How To, Mac, Opinion.

Quickly and Easily Recover Deleted Notes

The built-in Notes app in OS X and iOS is a great way to gather and organize your thoughts. It can be especially powerful when used in conjunction with the Apple Pencil on an iPad Pro (even without the Apple Pencil, the drawing features are very useful).

If you're like me, you know it's a good idea to tidy up once in a while by deleting notes that you know yo won't need anymore (quick drawings, reminders to yourself, etc). A quick swipe on the note and tap on "Delete" is all it takes to delete notes. Because it's so easy to delete, however, you may find yourself deleting notes that you didn't want to delete. There's a quick and easy way to recover those deleted notes.

Posted on May 16, 2016 and filed under How To, iOS, iPad, iPhone, Mac.

Pro-level Image Editing Without Breaking the Bank

There are certain apps that I use al the time. I mean ALL the time. Mail, Calendar, Safari, etc are some of the ones that you would expect, but one that you may not expect (for someone who does what I do) is PhotoShop. It's an incredibly powerful (and versatile) image-editing tool that allows you to do some really amazing things. The problem is, it can be expensive. It can be hard to justify the cost when the average user wouldn't use more than 20% of what it can do.

There are a lot of PhotoShop alternatives available on the market, but there's really only one that I would (highly) recommend for Mac users...

Posted on April 22, 2016 and filed under Design, Opinion, Mac.

How to Use Split View in OS X El Capitan

When OS X El Capitan (10.11) was released in September, it came with some really great improvements. One of those improvements was a way to use two apps at the same time in a way that both apps are easy to view and are both seemingly in the forefront. Apple calls this Split View.

While it's easy to use Split View once you know how to use it, it can be a little confusing at first because it's not as intuitive as you would think. In the spirit of helping to improve your personal productivity, I thought I would show you a few simple tricks.

Posted on April 21, 2016 and filed under How To, Mac.

Enhancing OS X Voice Dictation

I love it when I come across super cool tricks in OS X that are also super easy to use. Enhanced Dictation is a feature that certainly fits that criteria.

Voice Dictation was originally introduced to OS X with Mountain Lion (10.8), and has been improved over time. To use Dictation, you simply press the Fn (Function) key twice, speak what's on your mind, then press the Fn key again to let the system know that you are done (read more about how Dictation works here). There were two problems with Dictation when it was first introduced: 1) it would only work if you were connected to the Internet (bad news for frequent travelers) and 2) it would only allow you to speak your mind in short blurbs... up to 30 seconds. After that, it cuts you off. Enter... Enhanced Dictation!

Posted on April 19, 2016 and filed under How To, Mac.

Reader Question: Using your iPhone as a Speedometer

I receive questions from readers like you all the time, and I love it! The question I received that prompted this post was one that I hadn't really been asked before, so it was worth a post. The question is this: "I am an avid cyclist and am looking for an easy way to track my speed and distance using my iPhone, which is already attached to my handlebars for music and texting. Do you have any recommendations?"

My first thought was, why not use a Garmin or other devices that are specifically designed for sports like cycling? But if you already have you're iPhone mounded to your handlebars for music and texting, I have just the app for you!

Posted on April 18, 2016 and filed under How To, iOS, iPhone, Opinion.

Use an iMac as a Secondary Display

On my desk, I have a MacBook Pro with an external Thunderbolt display. I have the two connected so that I can drag windows from my laptop's screen to my external screen. It's really slick. Next to my Thunderbolt display, I have a newer model iMac. While it's nice to have a second Mac for testing, etc right next to me, it would be nice to be able to use that as a third screen for my MacBook Pro on occasion.

Believe it or not, it's not only possibly, but it works great! It's called Target Display Mode and all you need is a Thunderbolt cable to go between the MacBook Pro and iMac. Here's how it works.

Posted on April 15, 2016 and filed under How To, Mac.