Did You Know Apple Hid Huge Reference Books in Your Mac?

You’re probably used to Mac apps using red underlines to mark misspelled words, but did you know that macOS has long included a fully featured Dictionary app as well? It provides quick access to definitions and synonyms in the New Oxford American Dictionary and the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus, along with definitions of Apple-specific words like AppleCare and MacTCP. But that’s far from all it can do.

First, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page. Launch the Dictionary app from your Applications folder and then type a word or phrase into the Search field. As you type, Dictionary starts looking up words that match what you’ve typed so far—you don’t even have to press Return. If more than one word matches what you’ve typed, click the desired word in the sidebar.

Notice the lozenges below the toolbar, representing the references that Dictionary can consult, and no, your eyes aren’t deceiving you—Dictionary can look things up in Wikipedia if your Mac has an Internet connection. In short, Dictionary gives you instant access to a dictionary, a thesaurus, and an encyclopedia containing over 5.4 million articles in English alone! You can click a reference’s lozenge to limit your search, or select All to scan all of them.

If you want to look up words in another language, or even just British English, Dictionary has you covered, with a long list of other reference works. Choose Dictionary > Preferences and select those you’d like to use. You can drag the selected entries into the order you want their lozenges to appear below the toolbar.

Once you’re in a definition, note that you can copy text for use in other apps—always helpful when wading into grammar and usage arguments on the Internet. More generally, you can click any word in Dictionary’s main pane to look it up instantly. If dictionaries had been this much fun in school, we’d have larger vocabularies! Use the Back and Forward arrow buttons to navigate among your recently looked-up words.

As helpful as the Dictionary app is, you probably don’t want to leave it running all the time. Happily, Apple has provided quite a few shortcut methods for looking up words:

  • Press Command-Space to invoke Spotlight, and enter your search term.

     
  • Select a word, and then choose AppName > Services > Look Up in Dictionary to launch Dictionary and search for that word. This trick should work in most apps, but won’t work in all. If the Look Up in Dictionary command doesn’t appear, make sure it’s enabled in System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts > Services, in the Searching category.

     
  • Last but best, hover over a word or phrase with the mouse pointer and either press Command-Control-D or Control-click the word and choose Look Up “word.” If the app supports it, macOS displays a popover with the definition or Wikipedia article. If you have a trackpad, you can also do a force-click or three-finger tap on the selected word—make sure the “Look up & data detectors” checkbox is selected in System Preferences > Trackpad > Point & Click.


Now that you know how to take full advantage of the reference works that Apple has built into macOS, it’s time to get in touch with your inner logophile (feel free to look that one up).

 

Try This Quick Shortcut for Turning Off iPhone Alarms

If you’re like us, your iPhone has replaced that old digital alarm clock by your bedside. But one way that the iPhone doesn’t match up is the ease of thwacking a big Off button to stop the annoying wake-up noise. Happily, you don’t have to open your eyes and find the Stop button to silence the alarm—instead, just reach out and press the Home button.

Clear Your Mac Desktop by Removing Unnecessary Menu Bar Icons

You know all those status icons on the right side of your Mac’s menu bar? Many of them are useful, but if your menu bar is cluttered with icons you don’t need, you can make your Mac easier to use by removing the extras. Just hold down the Command key and drag an offending icon off the menu bar; you’ll see an X below the dragged icon to indicate that it will disappear when you let up on the mouse button. If you later decide you want it back, look for a “Show icon-name in menu bar” checkbox in an associated pane of System Preferences.

How to Recover from “No Service” on Your iPhone

Have you ever found your iPhone showing “No Service” in the upper-left corner instead cell service bubbles, even when you know there should be cellular reception in your location? It doesn’t happen often, but the iPhone has been known to lose connectivity when it shouldn’t. To fix this problem, open Control Center by swiping up from the bottom of the screen and tap the airplane icon to enable airplane mode. Wait a few seconds, and tap the same icon again to turn airplane mode off and reset the iPhone’s radios. If that doesn’t work, hold the Sleep/Wake button until you see the Power Off slider. Slide it to turn the iPhone off, then press Sleep/Wake again to start it up.

How to Take Awesome Fireworks Photos with Your iPhone

It’s the time of year when fireworks fill the sky above celebrations of all sorts. As the crowds ooh and aah at glittering chrysanthemum and willow effects, you may be wishing you could capture some of those moments with your iPhone. With these tips, you won’t need a fancy DSLR camera!

1: Pick a Good Location

Consider your position before it gets dark. If you’re too close, you might not be able to capture the full glory of a massive burst. Too far away, and the fireworks will be little spots of light. Make sure there aren’t any power lines or lamp posts between you and the fireworks. If there’s nearby water, you might be able to take some interesting reflection shots.

2: Turn Off the Flash

The iPhone’s flash works only at short distances, so turn it off to avoid annoying people around you. In the Camera app, tap the lightning bolt and then Off.

3: Disable HDR or Enable Keep Normal Photo

You probably want to disable HDR by tapping HDR on the Camera screen and then tapping Off. HDR, or High Dynamic Range, combines three exposures into one photo, which works well when some parts of a scene are dark and others are light.

The problem with HDR is that fireworks will move slightly between the exposures, which may introduce blur. That could be an interesting effect in its own right, so if you want to try leaving HDR on, be sure to enable Keep Normal Photo in Settings > Photos & Camera. That way, you can see whether you prefer the normal image or the HDR version.

4: Hold Still or Use a Tripod or Monopod

To reduce the chance of your fireworks photos coming out blurry, keep the iPhone as still as possible—try holding it with both hands and pressing your elbows into your sides.

Alternatively, use a tripod, although a monopod or selfie stick can offer stability while letting you more easily move the iPhone around to frame different portions of the sky.

5. Try the iPhone’s Special Modes

With fireworks, it’s nearly impossible to predict the exact moment when a blast of color will be at its most impressive. So don’t! Instead, use one of the iPhone’s special modes:

  • Burst Mode: Press and hold the shutter button or one of the volume buttons to take ten shots per second. You’ll have to sort through the burst afterward to find the best pictures, but you’re almost certain to get good ones.
  • Live Photos: Fireworks are all about motion: the slow climb, the pregnant pause, and then the explosion of light and sound. If you enable Live Photos by tapping its bullseye icon in the Camera app (it turns yellow), tapping the shutter button will take a mini-movie of the action.

  • Slo-Mo Video: If you plan to share your photos on social media, why not share a video instead? A regular video works, but try Slo-Mo mode in the Camera app to slow down the frenetic pace of a grand finale. Hold still while recording!
  • Time-Lapse Video: Or, go in the other direction, and record the entire show as a time-lapse video, which compresses everything into a much shorter video. Just flip to Time-Lapse in the Camera app. You need a tripod for a time-lapse video.

6: Use an App for Longer Exposures

Apple’s built-in Camera app doesn’t let you increase the length of exposures, which can provide striking light trails of fireworks. Lots of independent apps do offer that capability, including LongExpo (free), Shutter (free), Slow Shutter Cam ($0.99), and Manual ($5.49). Regardless of which you try, play with different exposure times to get the effect you want.

One last thing. As much fun as it can be to photograph fireworks, don’t let the iPhone get in the way of enjoying the show with family and friends!

Get Two-Factor Authentication Working in Older Apple Systems

Apple is increasingly encouraging us all to turn on two-factor authentication for our Apple IDs because it adds an extra layer of security on top of the password. With two-factor authentication, when you log in to iCloud or iTunes for the first time on a new device, it prompts you for both your password and a 6-digit verification code that’s displayed on another of your Apple devices. However, those two-factor authentication dialogs appear only on Apple gear running iOS 9 or later or OS X 10.11 El Capitan or later. What if you also have an older Mac or iPad that can’t be upgraded that far? Here’s the trick: when you’re prompted for your password, type it and press Return to trigger the authentication request. Wait for the 6-digit code to appear on one of your other devices. Next, if your password isn’t still in place, rekey it, and append the code. So if your password is Pa55w0rD (it shouldn’t be—that’s way too weak!) and your code is 039602, you’d type Pa55w0rD039602 all at once in the password field.

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