Tips, Tricks & News Articles

Apple Airport – Wifi on Mac OS X

Posted by on in Uncategorized.

In Mac OS X, we have a simple way to enable and disable the wifi, as well as to connect to a wifi network.  If you look in the menu bar on your Mac, that's the bar that runs along the top of the screen with the various menus which relate to the currently active application, you will see the Airport symbol.

airport_offThe symbol looks like this is Airport is turned off.

airport_onThis is what the symbol looks like if it's on and connected to a network.

airport_openClicking on this icon gives you various options, such as to turn wifi on and off, to select an available network and some other options.

Where you see the padlock, you can tell that the wireless network has a security key (i.e. a password) that you must enter in order to be able to connect to this network.  In older versions of Mac OS X, the padlock was not shown in this menu.  If you select a wireless network and it asks you to enter the password or security key, then you know that it is locked.

Generally, you will want to connect to your own wifi network at your home or workplace.  To do this, simply click the Airport icon in the menubar and look for the name of the network that you wish to join.

Click the name of the network and wait.  If it is secured with a password, which most networks nowadays are, then you will be presented with a window which asks for the password for that network.  Enter the password and click the Join button.

airport_enter_passwordYou have a couple of other options on this window.  Firstly, you can click the Show Password button which will show you what you are typing, instead of the default which is to show bullets, so that someone looking over your shoulder can't just copy your password.  Secondly, the Remember This Network option (which is selected by default) will remember the password you enter, so that the next time your Mac will be able to automatically connect to this network without asking you for the password.  Usually, you will want to do this.  If not, just uncheck that box.

Once you have clicked the Join button, you will notice that the bars of the airport icon start to move, as it searches for the network and attempts to connect.  When a successful connection is made, the icon will change to the icon shown above (Airport On), with some or all of the bars in black.  The number of bars that display in black on the icon indicate how strong the signal is.  If you have all 4 bars in black, the signal is excellent.  This will change from time to time as the signal strength increases or decreases.

You can disable wifi on your Mac completely by simply clicking on the Airport icon in the menu bar and choosing the Turn Wifi Off option.  This will disable your airport card until you choose to re-enable it.  To switch it back on, just do the same thing - but this time the option will say Turn Wifi On.

There is one more very important thing to know, which many people have problems with and don't know how to solve.  What happens if you have connected to a network and it all works fine and the password is saved for future connections to that network - and then someone changes the password for the network?  One indication that this has happened can be that the Airport icon shows an exclamation mark (!).  This basically means that you are connected to the network, but you have no IP address.  Without an IP address, you can't really do anything on the network.  There are other reasons why this can occur, but most commonly it's because your Mac has the wrong password saved.  This can be because you entered it incorrectly (yes, sometimes it will accept a bad password, but you won't be able to go online), or because someone has actually changed the password for the network you are trying to access.

In order to be able to re-enter the password, you need to remove the saved password that the Mac has on file for that network.  This is relatively simple to do.  First, go to the Airport icon in the menu bar and select the option Open Network Preferences. This will take you to the Network pane of the System Preferences window as shown below:

system_prefs_networkMake sure you have clicked on Wifi in the list on the left, then you need to press the Advanced button towards the bottom of the screen. You will then see this window:

airport_networksThis window list the networks that are saved on your Mac.  To remove the password for any network, simply click the network name in the list and click the "-" symbol below.  This will remove the saved password for that network.  Click OK and then reconnect to the network as you would to any network for the first time.  You should be asked for the password again and provided you enter the correct password, you should be connected!


Changing the language on your Mac

Posted by on in Mac Tips.

Unlike Windows, it is very easy to change the language on your Mac.  If you prefer to use your Mac in a language other than English, you should go to the Apple Menu, select System Preferences and then locate the Language & Text  panel.

languagesIn the first tab, which is marked "Languages", you will see a list of the available languages on your system.  Simply drag the languages into the order that you prefer, putting the language that you want to be the main language for your system at the top of the list.

You can also use the "Region" tab to set your region, so for example if you wanted the language to be Spanish but the Region to be UK, using the standard UK layout for times, decimal points and currencies, you would select United Kingdom from the Region tab.

Now all you have to do is logout of your account and log back in again, or restart your Mac if you prefer, and the language will have changed just like that!  The beautiful thing about Mac apps is that the majority of them also change language according to the system language that you've set, so you most likely will now find all your apps in that language too!

Sync Gmail Contacts with your iDevice

Posted by on in iPad Tips, iPhone Tips, iPod Tips.

add_gmailMost people can probably work out for themselves how to set up their Gmail account on their iPhone, iPad or iTouch.  It's fairly straight-forward and to be honest the iOS does most of the work for you.  Going about it the easy way will allow you to sync you Mail, Calendars and Notes.  That's great!

However, something is missing from this picture.  Did you notice that you don't have any option here to sync your Gmail contacts?  So what do you do?  The answer is, you go about it a different way.

When you go to Settings and choose Mail, Contacts & Calendars, you get an option to add a new account.  Immediately you are presented with a list of possible options, one of which is Gmail.  It would seem logical to select Gmail, as you are trying to add a Gmail account.  And yes, that would be the normal procedure.  However, Gmail can also be added an a Microsoft Exchange account - and that's where you get the extra features.

add_exchangeSo, by selecting Microsoft Exchange as shown in this image, you can add your Gmail account as an Exchange account and get access to contact syncing.  The thing is, you need to know a couple of extra settings to do that and that's a bit tricky if you don't know where to look.  So here they are:

Email: put in your gmail address
Domain: you can leave this blank
Username: put in your email address again
Password: enter your gmail password
Description: enter something like "Gmail"

Now here's the trick.  When you press the Next button, a new field will appear called Server.  In this field, you need to enter "" (without the quotation marks).  Then press the Next button.

Voila!  You can now enable contact syncing on the as well as Mail and Calendars.  If you now go to your Contacts app you will see your contacts starting to appear.  They will continuing appearing until the sync is complete and you have all your contacts!


Multiple Keyboard & Languages including Emoticons

Posted by on in iPad Tips, iPhone Tips, iPod Tips.

ios_keyboardsUsing multiple keyboards and languages on your iDevice is actually very easy.  First, you need to set up the keyboard that you want to use.  For example, if you regularly write in both English and Spanish on your iDevice, you would be well advised to set up both keyboards and the use the quick access tip below to use the relevant keyboard and language whenever you need to.

To set up your keyboards, go to Settings -> General -> International -> Keyboards.   To add a new keyboard layout, press the Add New Keyboard... button and select the language you want, for example Spanish.  There is also a special keyboard layout in there called Emoji.  This special keyboard layout allows you to use emoticons in your messages (like smiley faces and so on).  You might as well enable that one too!

Once you have your new keyboards enabled, all you have to do is use them!  So, go to any app that allows you to type.  Messages for example, or Whatsapp, Mail or even Notes.  Tap in the text field where you want to type and your keyboard will appear.  Now here's the tip:

ios_keyboardLook at the bottom of the keyboard, where the spacebar is.  Usually, when using the English keyboard, this has the word "space" written on it, in English of course.  To the left of this, you will see another icon that looks like a little globe.  This is the keyboard selector icon.  Press this once to toggle to the next keyboard, or hold your finger on it to choose the keyboard you want.

If you choose Spanish for example, the space bar will now have the word "espacio" written on it.  This is a great indicator as to which keyboard you currently have selected.  Now, the important thing to know is that having a different keyboard does more than just give you access to symbols that relate to that language.  It also enables the Dictionary for that language.  So, when you are typing with the Spanish keyboard enabled, the spell checker will actually be looking for Spanish, not English.  As soon as you change back to the English keyboard, your spell checker will automatically be looking for English!  Very, very cool.

emojiFinally, to use emoticons in your messages, you simply change to the Emoji Keyboard when you want to insert an emoticon.  Press and hold your finger on the globe icon, choose Emoji and you will straight away see a load of emoticons that you can choose from.  There are more options for emoticons available by clicking the different icons at the bottom of the screen.  Have fun!

Quick Access Shortcut from Lock Screen

Posted by on in iPad Tips, iPhone Tips, iPod Tips.

notification-center-lockscreenWhen your iDevice is locked and you receive a call, text message, Whatsapp, Facebook update or most other kinds of updates, you will usually receive a notification on your lock screen (depending on your Notification settings of course).

There's a super little shortcut to allow you to go directly to the item you want, instead of having to slide to unlock, then enter your passcode (if relevant), then find the app you need in order to view the message.

Simply swipe the item itself, i.e. swipe on the message instead of the "swipe here to unlock" bar at the bottom.  Swiping the message or item you want will have the same effect as swiping on the bar at the bottom, but it will take you directly to that message or item once the phone is unlocked!


Saving photos from the Web on your iDevice

Posted by on in iPad Tips, iPhone Tips, iPod Tips.

Now here's a really cool tip that many people don't know about and almost all of you will surely have wanted to do!

You're surfing the net, doing some research for a new sofa, or some nice house designs.  Maybe even just looking through some friends photos or an interesting news article or blog post!  You see a photo that you really, really like and you want to save it to show someone later, or just for yourself.  So can you do it and if so, how?

In fact you can.  It's very simple.  Hold your finger on the image for a second or two, then lift your finger and a context menu will appear.  In that menu, you will see an option to Save Image  or Copy.  Just hit the Save Image button.

"Ah yes!" you say, but it doesn't work!  Oh yes it does.  Have a look in your Camera Roll in the Photos app.  It saves the photo or image there for easy access later on, like as if you had taken it yourself 🙂  Clever or what?

Problems with Mac Mail 6.2 in Mountain Lion

Posted by on in Mac Tips.

Ever since I've updated to the latest Mac Mail program, I'm having nothing but problems with sending mail.  In the outgoing server list, when you disable SSL it simply re-selects itself.  You can't turn it off.  This creates significant problems as there are no SSL certificates installed for the mail server.

Has anyone else experienced this?  Any solutions?  I've tried pretty much everything and still the same.  Others I know are starting to have similar problems.  There have been Mac OS X updates since and no fix for this problem as yet.  It's not cool.

Selecting A Startup Volume in Mac OS X

Posted by on in Mac Tips.

Sometimes you will want to start up your Mac from a volume (hard disk, CD/DVD, pen drive etc.) which is different to the one you usually use.  The Mac is configured to start from the internal hard disk by default, so how do you tell it to start from somewhere else?

startup-diskThere are a couple of ways to do it.  If your Mac is starting normally, you can simply go to the Apple Menu and select System Preferences.  Then, look for the Startup Disk panel.  This panel will show you all the disks that you have available to startup from.  Select the disk you want, then click the Restart button.  The Mac will restart and it will attempt to boot up from the disk you've selected.

If your Mac is not able to start normally and you therefore can't get to the Startup Disk panel, you can use the other method.  First, switch off the Mac.  Then, make sure you have connected the disk you want to start up from.  (If it's a DVD, you will have to quickly slip the DVD into the drive immediately after pressing the power button.)

bootNext, you need to hold down the Option Key on the keyboard.  Sometimes it's labelled as Alt.  Keep holding down this key while you switch on the Mac and keep holding it until you see the Boot Volume Selection Screen.  This screen will show you all the available volumes that you can use to boot, much like the Startup Disk panel.  Use the arrow keys on your keyboard to select which volume to boot from, then press the Enter key or click the arrow to start booting!

This is the same procedure that you should use if you need to boot from the hidden Recovery Partition on your Mac.  Booting from the Recovery Partition will allow you to run tests on your disk and perform other disk related actions, as well as providing the facility to completely re-install your copy of Mac OS X if that's what you need to do.

Live Streaming In Your Home – AppleTV & More

Posted by on in Coolest Apps, iPad Tips, iPhone Tips, iPod Tips, Mac Tips.

It was quite a while before I actually got to try an AppleTV and I hadn't had much time to even look at what it was.  One day a friend gave me one that he was having trouble with and told me to hang on to it and have a play if I wanted.  Well, as a matter of fact, I did want.  Unfortunately, I forgot about it for a whole year before I finally took it out of the box! I was glad I did. apple_tvAside from anything that you might hear about the jailbroken versions, the AppleTV itself is actually an amazing device, if you use it right.  You've got YouTube and NetFlix right there, as well as the Apple Store where you can rent movies and the lot.  That's all wonderful stuff, but then you've got Airplay.  Playing what's on your iPhone, iPod or iPad, even your laptop, directly to the AppleTV and onto your lovely plasma TV.  That too is wonderful, but you have to have the content on your device to be able to play it to the TV.  Getting it on there can sometimes be a time-consuming task and you usually have to convert the content to a specific format like .mp4 before you can put it on there anyway!  That's not so wonderful. servetome-largeEnter ServeToMe and its fantastic counterpart StreamToMe.  Download ServeToMe for your Mac (or PC), in my case I have a Mac Mini in my home office with lots of storage space.  So I installed ServeToMe and in a couple of seconds I had a folder shared for streaming.  I threw a few of my movies in there in various formats from .avi to .mp4 and .mkv. streamtomeNext, straight over to the iPad.  Now I didn't need to convert anything to any specific format, nor download it to the iPad.  All I needed to do was download StreamToMe from the App Store and bam!  Straight away I see my shared folder on my Mac Mini.  Select any movie, any format and it plays on the iPad immediately!  But that's not the best part -- it even supports AirPlay so I can send it straight to the AppleTV and onto the plasma!  So now, all my media is stored on and streamed from the Mac Mini.  It doesn't matter if my iPad is 16gb or 64gb, I never download the media to it anyway.  And I get to watch it all on my lovely plasma TV in the comfort of my own sofa. Just for the fun of it, I thought I'd open a port on the router and see if I could stream the movies over the net straight from my Mac.  From another country, I was able to stream my media straight to my iPhone and iPad.  It's amazing stuff, it works really well and ServeToMe is absolutely free!  You only have to pay for the StreamToMe app on the iDevice of your choice.  It costs less than €3.  Best €3 I ever spent, by a mile !

How To Restore Your iPhone/iPad/iTouch

Posted by on in iPad Tips, iPhone Tips, iPod Tips.

Sometimes you'll need to restore your iDevice.  There's no two ways about it.  There are many reasons why and many situations that have no other solution.  For example, in my previous post I discussed a situation where you could find your iDevice disabled but with such a long wait time until your next try at entering the passcode that you would possibly be dead before it would give you that chance!

So without going into all the possible reasons why you might need to restore your device, here are the ways to actually do it.  Please be aware that restoring your iDevice will remove ALL your data including contacts, calendars, photos etc. So make sure you have a backup before doing so, if you can.

itunes_restoreThe first option (and the most straight forward) is to restore directly from iTunes.  Simply open iTunes and connect your iDevice so that it appears in iTunes. Click the iDevice to select it.  You will see options to Update if there is a new version of software available, or to Restore to completely restore it to factory settings.  Restoring your device through iTunes will remove all your data and will also update the device to the latest version of the iOS software.  Just click the Restore button and follow the instructions.  If there is a new version of the iOS software available, iTunes will download it before restoring.  Once the restore completes, you will be left with, for all intents and purposes, a new iDevice.  This is perfect if you are selling your iDevice and want it to be like brand new for the new user.

So what happens if you can't get access to your device in iTunes?  For example, if you have the aforementioned problem where the iPhone is disabled, or perhaps it is locked with a passcode that you don't remember?  There is a solution for that and it's pretty straight forward too.

connect_to_itunesFirst, switch off your iDevice.  If you can't switch it off for some reason, hold the Power button and the Home button at the same time for 10 seconds.  This will force the device to reset itself.  The important thing at this stage is that the device must not be connected to the computer using the USB cable.  You must start with the device switched off and not connected to anything.

Once you have the device switched off, simply hold the Home Button (the round button at the bottom of the screen) and at the same time connect the USB-Dock cable to connect the device to the computer.  Don't let go of the home button! You need to continue holding the home button until the Connect To iTunes logo appears on the screen.   At this stage, when you open iTunes, you will see a message saying that iTunes has detected a device in Recovery Mode.  The only option you will have is the Restore option, which is exactly what you want.

Once again, clicking the Restore button will remove all your data and will update the device to the latest version of the iOS software.  If you had a backup of the device, you will be able to use that to Restore From Backup in iTunes once the restore process completes.  Restore from Backup in iTunes is a different process, which restores your own data from an iTunes backup and is not to be confused with the Restore option which restores the actual software of the iDevice.

If your iDevice is disabled for 22 million minutes, you need to use this method instead.