“Winter Wonderland” may be a great song to listen to when the snow flies, but if you’re sweltering in the summer heat, having it pop up while iTunes is shuffling through your music feels wrong. Happily, there’s a way to prevent holiday music from playing out of season—this trick is also useful for keeping children’s songs from shuffling alongside tracks from Abba, Beethoven, and The Clash. In iTunes, select the songs you want to prevent from being included when you shuffle all tracks, and choose Edit > Get Info. In the Get Info dialog, switch to the Options pane, select Skip When Shuffling, and click OK to save your changes. Note that the easiest way to find such music may be by selecting Genres in the sidebar and then Children’s Music or Holiday in the list that appears.
Apple has put a lot of effort into Mail, providing lots of features you can employ to get through your email more quickly. But one of the most effective ways to improve your email productivity has nothing to do with an app. Instead, train yourself to write better email and you’ll cut down on a lot of unnecessary back-and-forth and confusion. Remember, email is not chat—you say things in an interactive conversation that could take days to untangle in an email thread. Here are some of the top ways to ensure that your email achieves your goals.
1. Write a good Subject line
Everyone receives too much email, and as a result, most people scan email Subject lines and open only those messages that seem relevant. Good Subject lines should be direct and specific, and ideally have key words at the front to catch the recipient’s attention.
Bad: Finishing off reviews…
Good: Discuss performance reviews at lunch on Thursday at 12:30 PM?
2. Keep it short and focused
Even if your recipient opens your message, if it rambles on, they will likely set it aside to deal with later, and later may never happen. Plus, if it includes multiple unrelated topics, replying to everything may seem overwhelming. And if they don’t know how to respond to even one point, the entire message may go unanswered.
When you start an email message, consider the most important point you want to convey and focus on that. Summarize ruthlessly, and if you find yourself wanting to write more and more, propose a phone call or meeting to discuss the topic instead.
Carry this advice over to your words too. Aim for short, understandable sentences. Whenever the thought changes, start a new paragraph. Short, single-topic paragraphs are easier to scan and understand, which is why newspaper reporters write the way they do.
3, Provide relevant context and details
As much as it’s important to stay concise, don’t leave out essential information. To check that your message is complete, evaluate it according to the journalistic formula of the Five Ws: does your message answer the questions of Who, What, When, Where, and Why?
Consider the example above about scheduling a lunch to discuss performance reviews. The message needs to make it clear who is invited to the lunch, what the topic of discussion will be, when and where it will take place, and why you’re setting up the meeting. Although the Subject and To lines already answer Who, What, and When, be sure to repeat those facts within the message.
4. Stay polite and friendly
If you’re having a bad day, it’s all too easy to be abrupt or even abrasive in email. Resist the temptation, since it will reduce the chance that the recipient will take your words to heart or reply as you wish.
Instead, imagine that you’re speaking to the person, and don’t say anything in email that you wouldn’t say to their face. You’ll catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
5. Use proper spelling and grammar
Consider email a professional communication medium, even if you’re writing to your kid’s soccer league mailing list. Before sending, look over what you’ve written and fix errors in spelling (look for red underlines) and grammar (“it’s” should always be replaceable with “it is”). It never helps if your correspondents see you as barely literate.
6. State the desired outcome at the end
Finally, never send an email message unless you know what you want it to achieve, and be clear about that goal when you close the message. If your recipient doesn’t understand what you want, getting to that result may require several additional messages. In our example about the lunch meeting, compare these alternatives:
Bad: Let me know what works for you.
Good: Can you join me for lunch on Thursday at 12:30 PM in the conference room so we can go over the performance reviews?”
And to follow our own advice, we hope you’ll keep these tips in mind while composing future email messages. That will reduce confusion and irritation on the part of your correspondents, and reduce your email load by eliminating unnecessary requests for clarification.
Most people are probably waiting until September to buy a new iPhone, but Apple is laying the groundwork for making the migration from an old phone to a new one even easier this time around. In iOS 12.4, Apple introduced a new way to migrate your data directly from one iPhone to another. This is an extension of the iOS 11 Quick Start feature that helps you set up a new iPhone with settings from your current device. All you have to do is turn on the new iPhone and place it next to a current iPhone running iOS 12.4 or later. When you see the prompt asking if you want to set up a new iPhone, tap Continue and scan the animation on the new iPhone using the current iPhone’s camera. Then you have to enter your current passcode on the new iPhone and set up Touch ID or Face ID, and tap Transfer from iPhone. Well, that and you’ll need to wait a while for all the data to transfer. If you don’t see this Transfer Your Data screen for some reason, you’ll still be able to restore all your data from an iCloud or iTunes backup.
(Featured image by Adam Engst)
It’s extremely uncommon for a Mac to freeze or crash these days, but it can happen. What should you do if your Mac locks up and becomes completely unresponsive to the mouse and keyboard? The trick is to press and hold the power button until the Mac turns off. Wait 5 or 10 seconds, and press it again to turn the Mac back on. You will lose any unsaved changes if you do this, so use it only as a last resort when you can’t restart normally. Look for the power button on the back of a desktop Mac, and at the top right of the keyboard on most laptop Macs. For a recent MacBook Air or a MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar, press and hold the Touch ID button.
(Featured image by Adam Engst)
Have you wondered what you can do with the Wallet app on your iPhone? Although it started out life called Passbook, Apple soon realized that the only sensible name was Wallet. That’s because it stores digital versions of roughly the same sort of things you might put in a physical wallet: credit and debit cards, store cards, membership cards, and even cash (well, Apple Pay Cash, anyway).
Nearly all airlines can put your boarding passes in Wallet, too, and if you buy something like a concert ticket online, you may be able to add it to Wallet by tapping the “Add to Apple Wallet” button in the confirmation page or email. Having a boarding pass or ticket, which Apple calls a pass, in Wallet makes it easy to scan for a gate attendant.
Here’s how to use cards and passes in Wallet.
Display Your Cards and Passes
The main Wallet screen shows your cards and passes in a scrollable list, with credit/debit cards at the top. (If you’ve set up Apple Pay Cash, it’s treated as a debit card.)
To view more details about a card or pass, tap it.
In the case of a credit/debit card, you see the face of the card and a list of its recent Apple Pay transactions.
For boarding passes for multi-flight trips, you see a single pass in the main list, but after you tap it, you can swipe horizontally to display the pass for each leg of the trip.
Membership cards, such as the ChargePoint card, may work like credit/debit cards in that you need to hold them near a reader to sign in.
In each case, to access settings related to the card or pass, tap the black ••• button at the upper right.
Adding and Using Credit and Debit Cards
Adding a credit/debit card so it can work with Apple Pay starts with tapping the black + button at the upper right of the Wallet screen. From there, follow the prompts—you can scan your card with the camera instead of keying in the data.
If you add more than one card, you’ll want to specify which should be the default for Apple Pay. Go to Settings > Wallet & Apple Pay. Scroll down to Transaction Defaults, and tap Default Card. Tap the desired card. In Wallet, the default card appears with its full face showing, below your other credit/debit cards.
To pay for a purchase with a stored credit/debit card at a payment terminal, put your iPhone right next to the terminal. The iPhone may automatically prompt you to authenticate Apple Pay, but if not, double-click the Home button or, with the iPhone X, XR, XS, or XS Max, double-click the side button. Wallet displays your default card. To authenticate, rest your finger on the Home button or, with the iPhone X models, authenticate with Face ID. To use a non-default card, tap the card pile at the bottom of the screen and then tap the desired card.
Adding and Using Airplane Boarding Passes and Event Tickets
For flights, when you check in and get boarding passes using the airline’s iPhone app, you’ll be given the opportunity to tap an Add to Apple Wallet button. Do that and the boarding pass appears in Wallet, which will also display a notification for it on the Lock screen in the hours before your flight. When you need to show the boarding pass to security or the gate attendant, tap that notification to display the boarding pass with its QR code.
For events, the ticket-seller may display the Add to Apple Wallet button on the confirmation page of the checkout process or attach the tickets to your email receipt. In the latter case, open the message in Mail and tap the attachment to open it, and then tap Add to put it into Wallet. Later, when you arrive at the venue, open Wallet and display the ticket—again with a QR code—to gain entry.
Deleting Cards and Passes
Although you may want to keep some digital tickets for nostalgic reasons, it’s best to clean out old items:
- To delete a credit/debit card, tap the card to view it and then tap the black ••• button. Scroll down and tap Remove This Card.
- To remove a pass, go to the bottom of the main Wallet screen and tap Edit Passes. Tap the red delete button for that item, tap the next Delete or Delete All button, and then tap Done at the upper right.
Using Wallet makes it easier to keep your physical wallet slimmer. It can take a few minutes to add your cards and passes initially, but it’s worth the effort.