Have Siri Alert You to Disable Do Not Disturb

It’s easy to turn on Do Not Disturb on your iPhone manually, such as when you’re going into the movies or a doctor appointment, and you should do that to avoid unwanted interruptions. Just swipe up from the bottom of the screen and tap the moon-shaped Do Not Disturb button in Control Center. But it can be hard to remember to disable Do Not Disturb again when you’re done. It would be nice if you could get Siri to disable Do Not Disturb after a couple of hours, but that doesn’t work. You might think you could ask Siri to set a reminder to turn off Do Not Disturb, but the mere fact of having Do Not Disturb on blocks reminder notifications. However, alarms do work, so you can say “Create an alarm called ‘Turn off Do Not Disturb’ for 4:30 PM.” That should help prevent missed calls, texts, and other notifications that Do Not Disturb would block.

Remove Unused Apps from Your Mac’s Dock

Apple puts all sorts of apps into your Mac’s Dock by default, but if you find that you never use some of those items, like Siri, Launchpad, or Maps, don’t be shy about removing them. It’s your Dock! To remove an app’s icon from the Dock, simply click it and drag it far enough off the Dock that a Remove tag appears above the icon. Let go and the icon disappears—if the app is running, the icon won’t disappear until you quit the app. There’s no downside to removing items since it’s so easy to add them merely by dragging apps back to the Dock. Most apps are found in the Applications folder.

Load a Portion of a Web Page Instantly in Dashboard

For some Web pages, it seems like overkill to launch Safari, navigate to the site, use the page, and close it when you’re done. That’s especially true if all you want to do is get a quick glance and move on, such as with a daily comic strip, status page, or simple Web app.

Apple came up with a solution to this problem long ago—called Dashboard—but it never caught on in a big way so many people don’t know it still exists in macOS. Here’s how you turn on Dashboard, invoke it, and add what Apple calls a “Web Clip.”

First, open System Preferences > Mission Control. From the Dashboard menu, choose either As Space or As Overlay. The former displays your Dashboard widgets in their own space, whereas the latter overlays them on top of your Desktop.

Next, you need to set how you’ll invoke Dashboard. There are three possibilities: an F-key, a mouse button click, or moving the mouse pointer into a particular corner of the screen.

  • To configure an F-key, choose it from the first Show Dashboard pop-up menu. Press a modifier key like Command, Shift, Control, or Option to add it to the keystroke, as in Command-F11.
  • For a mouse button, choose an item from the second Show Dashboard pop-up menu. Again, you can specify that a modifier key must also be down.
  • To invoke Dashboard by moving the pointer into a corner, click Hot Corners, and in the dialog that appears, choose Dashboard from one of the four pop-up menus corresponding to a screen corner. 

Give it a try—Dashboard will load with some default widgets. You can delete those you don’t want by clicking the minus button in the lower-left corner of the screen and then clicking the X button that appears on every widget. You add more widgets by clicking the plus button, though creating a Web Clip requires more work. When you’re done viewing Dashboard, click anywhere other than on a widget to dismiss it.

To add a Web Clip, you need to work in Safari. Load the page that contains what you want to turn into a Web Clip, such as the Ice Conditions and Weather on Ottawa’s famous Rideau Canal Skateway. Then, choose File > Open in Dashboard. Safari guesses at selecting part of the page to clip, and you can move or resize the selection rectangle. Once you have it set, click the Add button in the upper-right corner of the page.

Now invoke Dashboard again, and you’ll see your new Web Clip! Like all widgets, you can drag it anywhere on the screen you like. It’s like a little window into that portion of the Web page, so it updates whenever you enter Dashboard. If there are fields to type in and controls to click on the page, those will be live too.

Keep in mind that Web Clips can’t change size. So, if you want to make one for a portion of a page that expands after you click a button, for instance, create it after what you want to capture is fully expanded. If you get the size wrong at first, just delete the Web Clip and try again.

Dashboard may not have set the world on fire when it was first introduced, but Web Clips remain useful today!

Peek Inside a Message in Mail with 3D Touch

On an iPhone 6s or 7, you can use 3D Touch on an item in Mail’s message list to peek inside without loading the entire message. Just press hard on a message summary to bring up a more complete preview of the message. Either let up to close the preview or press harder without lifting your finger to load the full message. You can also swipe up while previewing the message to reveal commands for Reply, Reply All, Forward, Mark, Notify Me, and Move Message. It’s faster than going back and forth repeatedly from the message list to individual messages.

Change How Icons Look on Your Desktop

Out of the box, icons on your Desktop are 64 pixels square. That’s a fine middle-of-the-road choice, but if your eyes aren’t what they used to be, you might prefer larger icons. Or, if you store a lot of files and folders on your Desktop, smaller icons may let you arrange everything more comfortably. To change the size of icons on the Desktop, click anywhere on the Desktop background, and then choose View > Show View Options. Use the Icon Size slider at the top to increase or decrease the icon size, and play with the Grid Spacing slider to see if it improves how your icons arrange themselves in a useful way. You can also choose whether icons preview their contents, change the size and position (bottom or right) of icon names, and display additional info about some items underneath their names.

How to Clear Space on a Nearly Full iPhone or iPad

Running out of space on an iPhone or iPad is frustrating. You can’t take new photos, some things don’t work, and iOS nags you about “managing” your storage. Thanks, Apple—we know our devices are nearly full, but clearing space isn’t necessarily easy!

What can you do? You have two options: delete apps and cull data from within apps. Before we start down those paths, let’s figure out where to focus.

Navigate to Settings > General > Storage & iCloud Usage. In the Storage section, tap Manage Storage. You see a screen that shows how much space you’ve used and how much is available, along with a list of apps and how much space they and their data occupy.

Tap any app to see more details about how much space it occupies, and, if it’s not a built-in Apple app, an option to delete it. If there are apps in this list that you never use, delete them. Start at the top of the list and work your way down. Remember, you can always redownload apps from the App Store app.

For Apple apps that can’t be deleted, and other apps you don’t want to delete, this list is useful for identifying where you can trim data quickly. The most likely culprits are video, audio, and photo apps, including Apple’s TV, Music, Podcasts, and Photos. Messages may also appear here, thanks to photos and videos in your conversations.

How you remove data from within an app varies widely, but here are pointers for common Apple apps:

  • For Apple’s Music, TV, and Podcasts apps (but not iBooks), you can delete data from within the Storage screen. Navigate into that app’s listing, and swipe left on any item to reveal a Delete button. iOS shows the data hierarchically, so in Music you can, for instance, delete All Songs, everything by an artist, a particular album, or just a specific song. (You can also delete data within each app, but it’s easier in the Storage screen.)

  • With Photos, what you can do depends on your setup: 
    • If you aren’t using iCloud Photo Library, photos go in your Camera Roll album and can build up there. Sync them to Photos on your Mac via iTunes, and then delete them from the iOS device. You can sync an album of favorites back if you have space. 
    • If you have subscribed to iCloud Photo Library, make sure to turn on Optimize iPhone/iPad Storage in Settings > Photos & Camera. That stores small thumbnails instead of full-sized images. If you’re low on space, Photos automatically uploads full-resolution originals to iCloud and then replaces them with smaller thumbnails on your device. Even thumbnails take up space, though, and there’s no way to reduce that space further.

  • In Messages, you have two choices. You can either delete a conversation wholesale (it’ll remain on your Mac) by swiping left on it in the message list, or you can navigate into a conversation, tap the i button, and scroll down to the list of images and attachments. Tap and hold briefly on an image or attachment to bring up buttons for Copy, Delete, and More. Tap Delete to remove just that file, or tap More to select multiple items (tap each one to give it a blue checkmark) and then tap the trash icon in the lower-right to delete them all.

Some apps may download a lot of media as you watch or listen but not delete it later or give you an interface for doing so. In such a case, your only option is to delete and reinstall the app, which recovers space but may result in the loss of some settings.

As a final note, when you’re ready to replace this iPhone or iPad, consider getting one with more storage!