Finder freezes. They shouldn’t happen at all, and they don’t happen often, but it’s not unheard of for your Mac’s Finder to freeze, freak out, or otherwise stop responding properly. To bring it back to life, hold down the Option key, click and hold the Finder icon in the Dock, and choose Relaunch. (If the “click and hold” action feels odd, you can instead hold down Control and Option, and then just click.) In theory, you should be able to keep working normally after the Finder relaunches, but we recommend restarting your Mac afterward just to be safe.
You can teach Siri how to pronounce names properly. Siri is supposed to be a competent voice assistant, but sometimes Siri can’t even pronounce your own name correctly! Luckily, it’s easy to fix Siri’s pronunciation for any name. Just say to Siri, “Learn how to pronounce Jill Kresock.” (Siri defaults to “krehsock” rather than the correct “kreesock” in this case.) Siri first asks you to say the person’s first name and then presents a list of options for the best pronunciation. Tap the play button next to each option to hear it, and tap Select for the one you like best. If none are good, tap Tell Siri Again and say the name again, perhaps changing your enunciation slightly. Once you’ve set up the first name, Siri will ask you to say the person’s last name, after which you can pick the best pronunciation for the last name.
Attend any live theater presentation, and someone will ask the audience to silence their cell phones. But what about your Apple Watch? You don’t want it lighting up or making noise during the show either. To ensure that doesn’t happen, swipe up on the face to display Control Center, and then tap the theater masks icon to enable Theater mode (you may have to scroll down to see it). That automatically turns on Silent mode and prevents the screen from lighting up unless you tap it, press a button, or on the Apple Watch Series 2 or 3, turn the Digital Crown. To leave Theater mode after the performance, tap the masks icon in Control Center again.
If your Mac is anything like ours, you end up with lots of apps open, each with one or more windows that obscure the Desktop. For those people who like to save in-progress documents to the Desktop and keep current project folders there, all those windows get in the way. macOS has a solution. Open System Preferences > Mission Control, and in the Keyboard and Mouse Shortcuts section, from the Show Desktop pop-up menu, choose a keyboard shortcut. Try the right-hand modifier keys—we’re fond of Right Option—because they’re easy to press and aren’t likely to be used for other purposes. Then, whenever you want to see and work with the icons on your Desktop, hit that key, and do what you want. If you like, you can press that key again to bring the windows back.
Smartphone addiction is real. Do you check your iPhone before you get out of bed? During family dinners? Right before you go to sleep? Constantly during the day even when you’re on vacation? If you—or your family members—feel that you’re disappearing into your phone too often or at inappropriate times, it may be time to do something about it.
To start, you might want to quantify the problem, and for that, you can turn to a free iPhone app called Moment. Written by developer Kevin Holesh, Moment is designed to track three key pieces of data:
- How often you pick up your iPhone every day
- How much time you spend on your iPhone
- Which apps you use the most
It then uses that information to paint a picture (well, not literally) of your iPhone use. Most people underestimate how much time they spend on their iPhones by about 100% (the average Moment user uses their iPhone for nearly 4 hours per day!). Knowing how much time you spend is the first step toward using your phone intentionally, rather than as a conduit to a constant stream of social media updates (look at the stats shown below), email messages, and quick-hit entertainment.
To get started, use the App Store app to install Moment, and then launch the app. It starts tracking your usage immediately, although once per week you’ll need to take screenshots of Settings > Battery so Moment can figure out how long you use each app. Then ignore Moment for a few days so it can gather some data.
On the main Screen Time screen, Moment shows how much time you’ve spent on your phone today, along with a scrolling bar graph of how much time you spent every day since you installed Moment. Don’t get too hung up on these raw numbers, though, since Moment tracks every second the screen is on. You probably aren’t concerned about time spent reading an ebook or working out with an app that talks you through a routine.
To view both a breakdown by app and a timestamp for each time you picked up your iPhone, tap any day’s entry, and to see how much you use a particular app on average, tap it in the day view. You can answer a Yes/No question about whether you’re happy with how much you use the app, which informs the Time Well Spent aggregate data about which apps people are and are not concerned about.
All that is helpful, but for a more useful overview, tap Insights and then Week. You’ll see graphs of your usage patterns for screen time, waking life, pickups, most used app, and sleep (this depends on your first and last pickups of the day, so take its data with a grain of salt). Tap any graph to see more detail, but wait until you’ve used Moment for a while.
Everything we’ve described so far is free, but Moment offers additional features for a one-time $3.99 in-app purchase. They let you exclude certain apps from the app-use detection, if you don’t want to be dinged for using apps that are necessary or otherwise positive. You can receive quick reminders about your usage, and set daily time limits. There is even a 14-day Phone Bootcamp course that helps you rethink your relationship with your phone.
More interesting for parents is Moment Family, a subscription service ($26.99 for 6 months or $44.99 for 12 months) that allows you to monitor your entire family’s screen time with Moment, set phone-free dinner times, and enforce daily limits.
So if you’re perturbed by the amount of time you spend using your iPhone every day, give Moment a try. On its own, it won’t solve your problem but by showing you exactly how often you turn to your phone—and for what apps—it can help you regain control over your usage patterns. And if others in your family have trouble putting their iPhones down at dinner or to do homework, Moment Family could be the answer.
Did you know that you can block telemarketing calls automatically on your iPhone? Junk calls are one of the great annoyances of the modern world. You’re minding your own business when your iPhone vibrates in your pocket. You pull it out, curious as to who’s calling, but don’t recognize the number. You may notice that it’s in the same exchange as your phone number, suggesting that it’s a neighbor. But no. When you answer, it’s “Heather,” a pre-recorded voice wanting to sign you up for a resort vacation, give your business a loan, or help with your credit card debt. Angered by the intrusion, you tap the red hangup button, wishing you had an old-style telephone receiver to slam down.
There’s no way to retaliate against these scum-sucking bottom feeders, and the best option is to hang up immediately. For quite a few versions of iOS, you’ve been able to block a caller manually—just tap the i button next to the call in the Recents screen in the Phone app, scroll to the bottom, and tap Block This Caller. But that’s seldom worth doing since telemarketers often spoof the numbers they call from, so it’s unlikely you’d get a second call from the same number.
Instead, we recommend taking advantage of a feature Apple introduced in iOS 10 that enables apps to block calls for you. Quite a few of these apps have appeared, with some of the best reviewed being Hiya, Mr. Number, RoboKiller, and Truecaller. Hiya and Mr. Number are both free and from the same company—Mr. Number is a stripped-down version of Hiya—whereas RoboKiller and Truecaller require an in-app purchase for a monthly membership.
In general, these apps work by receiving caller ID information from iOS and comparing it against both your local contacts (to identify good calls) and a constantly updated database of numbers used by telemarketers (bad calls). Calls from your contacts ring through normally, as do calls from phone numbers not in either of those sets. That’s key, since your doctor might call back from a secondary number, or your kid’s new teacher might call to talk about an upcoming snack day. But if you receive a call from a number known to be used by a telemarketer, the app can either identify it on the incoming call screen or block it automatically, sending it to voicemail.
To enable one of these apps, after you download it from the App Store, go to Settings > Phone > Call Blocking & Identification and enable its switch. You’ll probably also have to do some setup in the app itself, providing your phone number, perhaps creating an account, and determining what should happen with different calls (Mr. Number is shown below, right).
With Hiya and Mr. Number, you can copy a number from the Phone app’s Recents screen (tap the i button for a call, and then press the number to access a Copy button) and then look it up to learn more and see comments other users have made. And if you get a telemarketing call from a number that the app doesn’t recognize, you can submit it to protect others.
RoboKiller claims that it wastes the telemarketers’ time by playing pre-recorded “Answer Bots” conversations to keep them on the line, preventing them from calling more people.
Details vary by app, but the only real downside to using one of these apps is that it may ask for information about you or your contacts to improve its services. If that feels intrusive, investigate one of the apps that requires a membership, like RoboKiller, to see if it better answers your concerns.
In the end, it comes down to how many telemarketing calls you receive each day, week, or month. If you’re lucky and get only one or two per month, it’s probably not worth messing with a call blocking app—maybe just send unidentified (and unexpected) calls to voicemail. But if you’re interrupted by multiple junk calls per day or week, give one of these apps a try and let it reduce the onslaught.