Tips, Tricks & News Articles

Background Apps Menu – The Extras

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

So there are a couple of extra things that are useful in the Background Apps menu, i.e. the row of apps that appear across the bottom of the screen when you double-click the home button on your iDevice.  Swipe almost all the way to the left of these icons and you will find the iPod controls.

This hidden extra gives you quick access to a few different things.  Firstly, you have the Rotation Lock which is covered in a separate blog post, but very briefly this allows you to lock the screen rotation so that it does not rotate automatically when you rotate your iDevice.  This is the first icon that you see.

The next three icons are the "quick access" buttons to rewind, play/pause and fast-forward your iPod.  The last icon is a quick link to get to your Music.  These icons are all permanent and can not be removed or "closed" as this is a special utility menu added for your convenience.

If you are looking at the iPod Controls and you swipe one more time to the left, you will get to the Volume control for your iDevice.  Again, this is a quick access function so that you don't have to use the Settings app to access the volume.  This feature may not be available on all devices, it will depend on which version of iOS you are using.

Closing Apps Running in the Background

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

Following on from the post on Background Apps the other day, I wanted to share with you all how to actually close the apps that you don't want running in the background.  But first, let's ask the question - Why would I want to close them anyway?

When apps continue to run in the background, they are taking up RAM and processor time (albeit a small amount of each in some cases).  This can cause your device to slow down while you're using it, especially if you have every app you own all open at the same time!  Also, some apps, like Skype for example, actually stay connected in the background when the app is running and this might not be what you want.  If you thought you had closed Skype, but it's still running the background, people will see you are "Online" when actually you thought you were "Offline".  These are a few examples of why you would want to close apps that are running in the background.

So - how to close them?  Well, it's pretty simple really.  Double-click the home button to show the row of icons across the bottom of the screen - these are the apps that are currently open and running.  Hold your finger on one of these icons, it doesn't matter which one, and all of them will start to "wiggle".  You will notice that a red "minus sign" appears in the top left corner of each icon.  Just press it and that app will be closed immediately.  You can close as many as you want, even all of them.  It's a good idea to check this regularly and close most of the apps that you're not using.  It's good housekeeping 🙂

The Hard Reset

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

Occasionally, I have found that my iPhone or iTouch will not "wake up".  It's in sleep mode but doesn't respond to any of the buttons or touching the screen.  It does also happen, on rare occasions, that the device will just freeze completely while in use.  So what to do in this situation?  If it was an iMac, we'd just pull the plug.  If it was some other device we might remove the batteries and replace them.  In this case, we have no access to the battery and there is no "plug" to pull.

What you need to do is perform a hard reset of the device.  What this does is effectively disconnect the electrical supply internally for a few seconds, causing the device to switch off completely.

To perform a hard reset, you simply hold down the Power button and the Home button at the same time for 10 seconds.  Then wait a few seconds and press the Power button to start the device up again.  You should see the familiar Apple logo appear.  If you don't, try another hard reset.  If you still get nothing on the screen, either you battery is completely flat or you have a more serious problem with your device.

If you need help diagnosing or resolving iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch or Mac problems, why not click on over to our main site MacHelpline.net and see what we can do to help!

Apps Running In The Background?

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

Now here's something that everyone should know but far too many people don't.

Every time you open an App on your iPhone, iPad or iTouch, the App launches and it keeps on running until you tell it close.  Telling it close is not the same thing as pressing the Home button and this is where people get confused, or more commonly they are blissfully unaware.

When you press the Home button, your iDevice does what you asked it to do.  It goes home.  In other words, it shows you the home screen where you can choose other apps to open etc.  Most people assume that this automatically infers that the app that you were using is now closed.  That is not the case at all.  It is, in fact, still running in the background taking up valuable memory and processor time.  Enter the hidden menu which gives you access to these apps and much more besides!

To see which apps are actually open and running at any given time, you double-click the Home button.  You will notice that the screen slides upwards and a new row of icons appears at the bottom.  These icons represent the apps that are currently open and running on your iDevice.  Try swiping left and right on them - you'll probably be horrified to find that every single app you own is actually open and running!  One huge advantage of this feature is that you can easily switch from one open app to another by double-clicking the Home button, swiping through the row of apps until you find the one you want, then clicking on it once to switch directly to that app.

Try it when you have an app open. Without going back to the Home screen, you can quickly switch from one app to another (provided they are already open).  This can be really handy if you need to flip to another app to grab a piece of text (using Copy & Paste - which I'll cover in another post) for example.  You can then flip back to the original app and paste it in.

So in my next post, I'll cover the other features of this new menu, including how to close apps that you don't want open, why you would want to close them anyway and also the other options available in this cool new feature......

Mac OS X Mountain Lion Downloads Exceed 3 Million

Posted by on in News Articles.

Apple® today announced that downloads of OS X® Mountain Lion have exceeded three million in four days, making it the most successful OS X release in Apple’s history. With more than 200 innovative new features, Mountain Lion is the ninth major release of the world’s most advanced desktop operating system and is available through the Mac® App Store™ as an upgrade to Lion or Snow Leopard users for only €15.99!

iPhone 5 Release Anticipated For September 12th

Posted by on in News Articles.

According to reports from various news sources and blog sites, Apple may be looking at September 12th as the date to unveil the new and eagerly awaited iPhone 5.  It is suggested that they will actually start shipping the devices 9 days later on September 21st.  Many auction and resale sites are experiencing a significant increase in the trade-in and sale of 2nd hand iPhones in the run up to the release date.

There is also a lot of speculation that Apple may be looking at releasing an iPad Mini, perhaps in 7" size, on the same date or possibly a month or so later.   It is rumoured that the price could be between $249 and $299.  The iPad Mini may be as thin, or thinner, than the iPad 2 and benefit from increased endurance due to a 33% reduction in energy consumption.

Finding Your Mac’s Serial Number

Posted by on in Mac Tips.

There are times when you need to locate your Mac's serial number, for example if you call Apple for support.  With a laptop, that's usually pretty easy.  You turn it over and it's usually right there on a sticker.  Sometimes it's hidden in the battery compartment, but it's generally easy to find.  On the iMac, it's sometimes less obvious, like on the bottom side of the silver leg that supports the iMac.  On a MacPro or other tower, it's usually on the back. The thing is, often your MacPro or other tower will be located below your desk with a jumble of wires attached, or it may be difficult for you to lift your iMac to find the serial number.  Well, there are a couple of much easier ways.

Your first option is to simply ask your Mac!  Go directly to the Apple Menu (the small apple in the very top left corner of your screen) and select About This Mac... You will see a small window that tells you which version of Mac OS X you are using, how much RAM you have installed etc.  Now here's the trick - click once on the version of Mac OS X and it will change to show you the build version.  Click again and it will show you the serial number!

Mac Serial Number

In the same window, if you now click on the More Info... button at the bottom, the System Information window will open.  This gives you much more detail about your Mac, everything from memory and hard disk stats to network and device configuration and even software information.  On earlier versions of Mac OS X, this was called System Profiler and it showed a list of items on the left hand side which you could click to get more information.  The newer version opens directly with the Overview tab selected and you can immediately see the serial number.

So without even having to get down on your hands and knees, you now have access to your Mac Serial Number whenever you need it.

The Secret Camera – Part II

Posted by on in iPad Tips, iPhone Tips.

Continuing on from that lovely screenshot feature that we've seen on the Mac OS X operating system, we have the same feature available on the iPhone and iPad.

To take a screenshot of the current display on your screen, position your hands so that you can press both the Power button and the Home button at the same time.  Now hold down the Power button and press the Home button once.  You should hear the old familiar camera click sound and you'll now find a screenshot located in Photos.  You'll find it in your camera roll, as if you'd just taken a photo with the camera.

Why is this useful?  Well, for one thing, my 6 year old son uses it to take snapshots of things that he likes in various apps that he's got.  Pictures of trains for example.  So he uses this feature to "extract" the image from the app, then happily uses the HP ePrint app to print himself off a copy.  Now that's what I call using your head!

Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion – First Impressions

Posted by on in Mac Tips, News Articles.

Well, I decided to update my MacBook Pro 13" from Lion to Mountain Lion a few days ago, to get a first-hand feel for the new features that are being touted.  My initial reaction is, well, mixed.

I haven't had time to look at everything in detail as yet, but there were a couple of features that I was really looking forward to.  One was the Messages app.  I have to say, from what I've seen of it so far, it's a bit of a let down.  The interface is not very easy to use and its integration with "Buddies" or "Contacts" just doesn't seem to be ideal.  It was suggesting that I send messages via iMessage to people that don't even use it.

I was also really looking forward to the location-based Reminders.  What a complete disappointment that was.  I was expecting to be able to drop a pin on the location and set a reminder for when I arrived/left that location.  Instead, you are limited to having to specify an address, which most often I would not know - and even if I did, it doesn't seem to find them well!  It's a feature that I don't think I can use.  Not yet at least.

I was further disappointed to discover that my MacBook Pro, not even that old, considering it's AppleCare Extension has not yet run out, is not supported for the use of Airplay Mirroring.  In short: I can't transmit my Mac screen to the TV using AppleTV.  That sucks, just because it's a pre-2010 model.

The notification centre at least seems to be a welcome addition, as well as the App Store update which now handles OS software updates within the app.

One thing that has really impressed me though is the Dictation feature.  I've just tried it using the Mail app, with a very normally spoken sentence that included words I didn't think it would pick up on, and it wrote it almost 100% correctly.  Now that's a feature I'm going to play with a bit more....

MacBook Pro 13″ Retina On The Way?

Posted by on in Mac Tips.

Rumours are abounding that Apple are developing a 13" version of the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display.  It is suggested that they will be released with 8gb of RAM and a 2.7Ghz Intel Corei7 just like it's big brother the 15".  References have been unearthed inside configuration files on the new Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion Operating System that refer to a new MP60 model which has not yet been released.  Let's hope it's true, I'm in need of an upgrade myself try our!