Make It Stop! How You Can Control Notifications on Your iPhone

Is every app on your iPhone or iPad constantly nagging you with notifications? It’s like a three-year-old saying “Look at me!” every few minutes, but on the plus side, a little work in the Settings app can quiet your device. And it won’t whine about being sent to time-out.

To get started, go to Settings > Notifications and check out the list of apps. Every app that can provide notifications appears here, so it might be a long list. Under the app’s name is a summary of what notifications it can present. That isn’t to say it will abuse that right to show you notifications—every app is different in how chatty it is. Tap an app in the list to see its notification settings.

There are six notification settings available to apps, but not every app will avail itself of all of them. Here’s what these settings do:

Allow Notifications: This is the master switch. Turn it off if you never, ever, under any circumstances, want to get a notification from the app.

Show in Notification Center: If you swipe down from the top of the screen on an iOS device, you’ll reveal Notification Center, which collects notifications from all apps in one place. It’s a handy spot to review banner notifications you couldn’t read in time, or notifications that you never saw originally. Turn this switch off if you don’t want the app’s notifications to appear in Notification Center. In general, it’s best to leave it on.

Sounds: Those who dislike being interrupted by inscrutable noises from their pockets or purses should disable sounds. If you really don’t like sounds coming from your iPhone, turn off the ringer switch on the side.

Badge App Icon: Many apps, including Mail, Reminders, and Calendar, can tell you how many unread messages, overdue events, or other waiting items they contain. They do this by putting a red number badge on the app’s icon. If you don’t find that number useful—knowing that you have 13,862 unread email messages isn’t exactly calming—you can turn off the badge for the app.

Show on Lock Screen: Only important notifications should appear on your Lock screen, so you can see what’s happening at a glance. If you have a recipe app that likes to tell you about every new recipe, you might want to disable this option to prevent it from cluttering your Lock screen with trivialities.

Alert Style When Unlocked: The last option is the notification style the app will use when you’re actively using the device. You have three choices here: None, Banners, and Alerts. Select None if you don’t want to be bothered while you’re working on the device. Banners and alerts are similar, but banners slide down from the top of the screen, pause briefly, and then slide back up, whereas alerts stick around until you dismiss them. In general, use banners for most things, and restrict alerts to only the most important apps.

You don’t need to sit down and go through every app in the Notifications screen. Instead, just let apps do what they want by default, and take side trips to Settings > Notifications whenever an app starts to annoy you with the frequency, location, or type of notifications.


Twitter:cAnnoyed by the constant barrage of alerts on your iPhone? We show you how to rein them in at:

Facebook: You don’t have to put up with annoying alerts on your iPhone!

The Fastest Way to Invoke Apple Pay

When it’s an option at a cash register, Apple Pay is faster, easier, and safer than using a credit card. But accessing it from the Wallet app is way too slow! Here’s the trick to pull up Apple Pay quickly. In Settings > Wallet & Apple Pay, under “Allow Access When Locked,” enable Double-Click Home Button. Then, when you want to pay in a checkout line, double-click the Home button from the Lock screen of your iPhone to bring up Wallet instantly. If you have trouble with your thumb unlocking the iPhone instead, use another finger that isn’t registered with Touch ID, and then use your thumb to authenticate once Apple Pay comes up.

9 Tricks that Make It Easier to Save Files on the Mac

There’s nothing sexy about the Save dialog in Mac apps. It’s not pretty, you can’t tweet from it, and Apple hasn’t changed anything about it in years. But every time you create a new document in a Mac app, you have to save it. Once in the Save dialog, you name your document, pick a location, and click Save. (Many apps also add their own options, such as picking a file format.)

Using the Save dialog isn’t hard, but there are a bunch of ways to simplify the act of naming and positioning your document. Here are our favorites:

  • Expand the Save dialog. By default, it appears in an abbreviated form that shows only fields for the file name and entering Finder tags, plus a destination pop-up menu that includes favorites from your Finder’s sidebar and recently used folders. What if the folder in which you want to store the document isn’t in the menu? Click the expansion triangle to the right of the Save As field to get the full-fledged Save dialog.

  • Change the view. Once you’re working in the expanded Save dialog, note that you can switch between Icon, List, and Column view using the view  buttons at the top. Icon view isn’t terribly useful, but it’s much easier to see what’s in the destination folder in List view, and much easier to navigate around your drive in Column view. You can even press Command-1 (icon), Command-2 (list), and Command-3 (column) to switch to specific views. 
  • Search for a folder. Not sure where the folder you want is located? Ask macOS to find it using the Search field, which limits itself to finding folders. 
  • Resize the dialog. If the Save dialog feels cramped, particularly in Column view, move your pointer over an edge or bottom corner until it turns into a double-headed arrow. Then click and drag to change the size of the dialog. 
  • Use the sidebar. The folders you’ve put in the Finder window sidebar appear in the sidebar here too, and a single click on any one teleports you to it instantly. 
  • Take advantage of keyboard shortcuts. Many people like to save new documents to the Desktop and file them later. If that’s you, try pressing Command-D in the Save dialog to jump instantly to the Desktop. In fact, nearly all the keyboard shortcuts listed in the Finder’s Go menu work in the Save dialog too.


  • Make new folders. In its expanded form, the Save dialog gains a New Folder button you can click to make a new folder in the currently shown location. Or just press Command-Shift-N. Once you make the new folder, you can save your file into it. 
  • Pre-fill the file name. For some new files, you want the same name as a previous file, but with a version number or month appended. To pre-fill an existing file name in the Save As field, simply click the file in the listing. Then click in the Save As field to edit as necessary. 
  • Pre-fill the file name and destination. For our final trick, bring up the Save dialog, switch to the Finder, and drag a file from the Finder into anywhere in the Save dialog apart from the sidebar. Presto—the Save dialog pre-fills the file’s name and jumps to its location; you can now edit the file name in the Save As field as desired. If you drag just a folder, only the location changes. (The item that you dragged doesn’t move anywhere.)

So the next time you save a new document, think about all you can do in the Save dialog to spend less time fussing with file names and destinations.

Did You Know the iPhone Has a Button for Ignoring Telemarketers?

Telemarketers are a scourge on society, but if you’re getting too many telemarketing calls, you can at least reduce how much time you spend on them. When a call comes in, you can always tap the red Decline button, but it’s even faster to press the Sleep/Wake button on the side (iPhone 6 or 7) or top (iPhone SE, plus the iPhone 5 and earlier). Pressing it once just silences the ringing on your end; press it twice to decline the call and send it directly to voicemail.

Don’t Get Burned by Bad Cables… Literally!

It can be hard to ante up for a quality Lightning or USB-C cable when just a little searching reveals cables that cost only a couple of bucks each. “Surely,” you might think, “the cheap cables might not be as good, but so what if they wear out sooner?”

Points for frugality, but this is one place you don’t want to skimp too far. With some types of cables, the worst that could happen is that the cable would stop working. But with any cable that carries power, like Lightning cables for iOS devices, a short could cause sparks, smoke, and even a fire. This isn’t a crazy concern: there have been numerous reports over the years of fires started by charging smartphones, both iPhones and models from other manufacturers. Apple even has a page that helps you identify counterfeit or uncertified Lightning cables.

If you have a MacBook or MacBook Pro with USB-C ports, fire hasn’t been an issue, but bad cables have been. In 2015 and 2016, Benson Leung, an engineer at Google, made it his mission to identify out-of-spec USB-C cables after a bad USB-C cable fried his Chromebook Pixel laptop. To summarize his findings, stick with cables sold by name-brand manufacturers like Apple, Anker, and Belkin—others may be fine, but you’ll need to do research to be certain.

With Lightning cables, the same advice applies—buy cables only from well-known manufacturers like the ones mentioned above. You’ll pay a little more, but the cables will not only likely last longer, they’ll be less likely to damage your iPhone or iPad, or burn down your house.

Of course, any cable, if sufficiently mistreated, can short out and cause problems. Follow this advice to protect your devices from cable-related issues:

  • When coiling your cables, avoid wrapping them tightly around something. A tight wrap can cause kinks that will degrade the wires inside.
  • Don’t create sharp bends in the cable, especially near the connector. Sharp bends can eventually break the insulation and reveal the wires inside.
  • When unplugging your device, pull from the plug instead of the cord. That avoids stress near the connector.
     
  • Keep the Lightning connector’s pins clean and away from liquids; crud or a drop of water on the pins could cause a short circuit. USB-C cables are less susceptible to such problems because of their metal jackets, but still be careful.
  • If a cable’s insulation ever breaks such that you can see the wires inside, wrap it with electrical tape right away, and replace it as soon as you can.

Don’t freak out about cable safety—although there have been problems, hundreds of millions of people have never experienced any trouble at all. But it’s still worth buying quality cables and taking good care of them.

Trash Files Instantly from the Keyboard

Every Mac user knows that you drag files or folders you want to delete to the Trash icon in the Dock. And you probably even know that you can select multiple items by Shift-clicking (for a sequential range of items in a list view) or Command-clicking (for an arbitrary set of items) and then drag them to the Trash. But you’ll save yourself mousing time if you learn the quick shortcut that trashes selected files and folders: Command-Delete.

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