The Boyce Blog

Mac, iPhone, & iPad tips to help YOU get more from your Apple stuff.
If you're looking for answers you've come to the right place.

I'm Mac, iPhone, and iPad consultant Christian Boyce. Helping people with their Apple stuff is what I do.

My goal for the blog: make it

The best site for Mac, iPhone, and iPad tips, period.


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Turn Your iPhone Sideways

Phone white with blank screen2small

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Many apps rotate to match the iPhone's orientation, so if you happen to hold it sideways, those apps will still be right-side-up. But some apps do more than simply rotate. For some apps, turning the iPhone sideways gives a completely different view. Here are three such apps.

1. Calculator

Here's how the Calculator app looks vertically:

Calculator, vertical orientation

And here's how the Calculator looks sideways. It's a whole new thing! Sideways, the Calculator has enough functions to satisfy a math major.

Calculator, sideways

Bonus Tip: launch the Calculator quickly with a swipe up from the very bottom of the iPhone. Start with your finger on the plastic below the screen and drag up. You'll see the Calculator and a bunch of other handy stuff too. This method is available no matter what else you're doing on your iPhone.

2. Stocks

Here's how the Stocks app looks vertically:

Stocks app, vertically

And here's how the Stocks app looks sideways. Totally different. Wow!

Stocks app, sideways

Bonus Tip: if you put your finger on the graph and drag, you'll see the exact value and precise time for the point you're touching.

Bonus Tip #2: if you touch somewhere else, and drag left or right, you'll bring up the chart for the next stock in your portfolio.

3. Calendar

Here's how the Calendar app looks vertically:

Calendar, vertically

And here's how the Calendar app looks sideways. Really different, and really handy.

Calendar, sideways

Bonus Tip: it's easy to change the day or time of an event when the iPhone is sideways. Just put your finger on the event, hold it for a moment, then drag to the new time slot. Drag the white knobs (they appear when you tap and hold on an event) to make the appointment longer or shorter. Tap somewhere else when you're done.


Not all apps will be this different when rotated sideways. All you can do is try. For apps that involve text input, turning the iPhone sideways gives you a bigger keyboard, with larger buttons to tap. Cheaper and faster than buying glasses.

Keyboard, vertically:
Keyboard, vertically

Keyboard, sideways:
Keyboard, sideways

Cool stuff. Try it!

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Track Your Steps for Free with Pedometer++

Pedometer++icon

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A lot of people wear sleek, high-tech bracelets on their wrists these days. A smaller group of people wear less sleek, high-tech, non-removable bracelets on their ankles. Either way, they're tracking their steps.

Here are some of the bracelets that you might see being worn today:

Scaledfitbit Scaledfuelband

Fitbit ($129)

Fuelband ($99)
Scaledjawbone Scaledanklebracelet nobg

Jawbone ($79)

Ankle monitor (free, sort of)

Turns out you don't have to buy a bracelet (or have a judge award you one) to know how many steps you take in a day. All you need is an iPhone 5s or newer, and the right app.

(Note: Older iPhones can sense motion too, but not like the newer ones. The newer ones use a special data-gathering, motion-sensing chip called the M7, and it's on all the time because it uses almost no power. The older iPhones don't have it.)

For me, "the right app" is Pedometer++. It's easy to use and it's free. Here's what it looks like:

Pedometer1

From the chart it's easy to see that I walked a lot on Sunday, but not a lot since. Oopsy.

At the top you have two buttons: one on the left for settings, and one on the right for sharing. The Preferences include an option to remove the little ads from the bottom of the screen for a "Generous Tip" of 99¢, a "Massive Tip" of $1.99, or an "Amazing Tip" of $4.99. You can also set your daily step goal, and whether you want to see the current step count on the icon, the same way Mail shows you how many unread messages you have.

The Sharing button works as it does in most other apps: tap it to share with others via instant message, email, or tweet. (You can export your chart to a comma-separated values file (CSV), which you can email to yourself and open with Numbers or Excel, but that option is in the Preferences panel. I wouldn't have guessed that Export would be under Preferences, but it works, and now you know.)

When you hit your step goal for the day you get a confetti celebration, like so:

Pedometer2

(It's animated, but I was not able to capture this momentous occasion on video. You'll have to see it for yourself on your own iPhone.)

UPDATE January 18th, 2015: I had to work at it, but I got the celebration on video. Tap or click on the picture below to see it.

reached_goal

Pedometer++, on first launch, will display step data from today, yesterday, and maybe the day before yesterday. That's because the iPhone's M7 chip has been recording data all along. You weren't using that data, but the M7 was recording it. Pedometer++ reads the data that's already there and displays it.

The fact that the data is being gathered whether you choose to view it or not is sort of spooky, at least at first. The good news is, since the data's being gathered anyway, apps like Pedometer++ don't have a battery-draining effect.

So how about that? You think you bought a phone but hidden inside is a fitness monitor. Sure, the Fitbit, Fuelband, and Jawbone do a lot more than count steps, but you can't beat "free" and you already have the phone. As my friend Sondra would say: "It's a no-brainer!"

Get Pedometer++, put your iPhone in your pocket, and start tracking your activity today (or yesterday, or even the day before). Hint: mowing the lawn is a great way to get your steps in. Anyone who wants some extra lawn to mow, please contact me. We have openings twice a week in the summer.

Check out my other posts-- there are more than 400. Need more help?

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Season's Greetings, and a Present for You

Color cboyce santa hat

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It's been a super year for me and my blog. I published my 400th article, doubled the blog's readership, and connected with readers from around the world. With your help-- comments, suggestions, and encouragement-- I turned The Boyce Blog into a forum for helping a whole lot of Mac, iPhone, and iPad users in a really big way. I couldn't have done it without you. Thank you for your support.

With Christmas just barely behind us I'd like to offer Season's Greetings, and a late gift: a consolidated list of my favorite tips and recommended apps for Macs, iPhones and iPads, plus some money-saving websites and a couple of Google tips. The tips are free, as are some of the apps; the apps that cost something are worth their prices or they wouldn't be on this list.

Shortcuts

Command tab only Best shortcut (Macs): Command-Tab. Use it to switch from app to app. Press the Command key by itself and nothing happens, but if you hold it down and then tap the Tab key (upper left on your keyboard) you'll see an overlay on the screen with all of the apps that are running.

Command tab

Keep the Command key down and tap the Tab key until you've highlighted the app you want to bring to the front. That app will pop to the front when you let go of the Command key. Don't hold the Tab key down-- just tap it. (Command key stays down, but the Tab key gets tapped.)

This technique lets you quickly and easily switch between apps, even if they are completely covering the screen. No more dragging windows around to make some other app visible. Just do Command-Tab until the app you want is highlighted. Then let go.

Bonus: if Command-Tab goes forward, would you expect Command-Shift-Tab to go backward? Of course you would. Turns out that Command-` (near upper left on your keyboard) will also go backward. Finally, with an app highlighted, keep the Command key down, and type a Q to quit it. There's no quicker way.

Ios8 keyboard only128 Best shortcut (iPhone and iPad): Dictation. Use it instead of typing. Look for the microphone to the left of the spacebar and tap it any time you're typing. Incredible time-saver. "Any time you're typing" includes in an email, a text message, when doing a Google search, and more. If you see the microphone the app knows how to listen. So try it.


Apps

Textwrangler icon Best free text editor (Mac): TextWrangler. TextWrangler makes short work of text-processing jobs that Word and Pages can't do at all. For example, suppose you're given a list of names, like this:

George Washington
Thomas Jefferson
Abraham Lincoln
Theodore Roosevelt

Now suppose you want the list to look like this:

WASHINGTON, George
JEFFERSON, Thomas
LINCOLN, Abraham
ROOSEVELT, Theodore

And now suppose the list is a lot longer, and copying/pasting and selecting/formatting each name isn't practical. This is a job for TextWrangler, as it can do the job for you, in an instant, no matter how long the list is.

Another example: TextWrangler can take phone numbers formatted like "xxxxxxxxxx" and change them to "(xxx) xxx-xxxx" with ease. One more example: TextWrangler can find all of the URLs in a document and convert them to clickable links.

If part of your job involves cleaning up text files (perhaps to get them ready for a mail merge, or for importing into a database, or for publishing to the web) TextWrangler will be a lot of help. A LOT.

Pixelmator icon Best inexpensive Photoshop replacement (Mac): Pixelmator. $29.99 gets you Pixelmator, a very powerful image editing app, much like Photoshop. Adobe wants $9.99 per month for Photoshop so Pixelmator soon becomes the better deal. Yes, there are things that Photoshop does that Pixelmator can't, but you might not need them. Get the 30-day free trial and decide for yourself.

1Password icon Best password management app (Mac, iPhone, iPad): 1Password. Keeps track of all your passwords in a secure software vault. Supplies passwords when you need them. Syncs with 1Password on your iPhone and iPad. Uses TouchID on your iPhone and iPad to unlock the vault. Indispensable.

Alfred icon Best free time-saving app (Mac): Alfred. Sort of a special-purpose Spotlight. Made for speed, and driven by the keyboard. Great for launching apps, looking up phone numbers and addresses, and doing a quick Google search. Gets smarter over time by remembering how you use it.

Typinator iconpng Best text-expansion utility (Mac): Typinator. "Text-expansion" means you type a little, and it magically turns into a lot, saving you time and typos. For example:
  • I type ";em" and as soon as I type the "m", Typinator expands it to "macman@christianboyce.com."

  • I type ";ds" and as soon as I type the "s" Typinator changes it to "Monday, December 29th, 2014" or whatever the current date is.

  • I type ";blog" and as soon as I type the "g" Typinator changes it to "christianboyce.blogspot.com."

It works just about everywhere-- in emails, in forms on web pages, in word processing documents, in instant messages. Easy to set up, but super-powerful. You just type, using shortcuts and abbreviations, and Typinator expands what you type, as if you typed it yourself-- only faster, and without mistakes. Free trial available here. Introductory movie available here.

Watch espn icon Best free app for watching college football games (iPhone and iPad): Watch ESPN. Actually, it's more than the best free app for watching college football games, as it includes (in addition to college football games) live streaming access to ESPN, ESPNU, ESPN2, ESPN3, the SEC Network, the Longhorn Network, the NBA, golf, World Cup Soccer, and a ton of other stuff. Also available on your Apple TV (you lucky duck) and as a website, at http://espn.go.com/watchespn/.


Websites

Forecast io image Best weather website: Forecast.io. Forget about trying to figure out what "40% chance of rain" means. Instead, use Forecast.io and see when it will rain.

Forecast io

Dealnews logo

Retailmenot logo
Best money-saving website (tie): DealNews.com and RetailMeNot.com
DealNews
searches the web for the best deals in electronics, clothing, airfare, home & garden, computers, office supplies, health & beauty-- and a lot more. They'll alert you when things you're looking for go on sale. Clean and fast website, updated continually.

RetailMeNot is the place to find discount codes and coupons. Make it a habit to visit RetailMeNot before making an online purchase to see if they have a discount code you can use.

Macrumors logo Best Apple rumors website: MacRumors.com. Whether it's a Mac rumor, an iPhone rumor, an iPad rumor, or some other kind of Apple-related rumor, MacRumors.com is likely to report it. I read it daily.

Google logo Best Google tip (tie): the minus sign, and "site:domain."

The minus sign tells Google to hide what you don't want to see. For example, a Google search for "Mac stores los angeles" returns a mix of Apple stores and MAC Cosmetics stores. Add "-cosmetics" to the end of the search string (that is, search for "Mac stores los angeles -cosmetics" and you don't get any results about cosmetics.

Now suppose you're searching for something that you remember reading online. You remember the website so you go to that site and use its search facility (for example, let's say you're looking for an article about cheeseburgers that you remember reading on www.latimes.com). If you use the "Search" box on the LA Times website and search for "cheeseburger" you will get 278 articles that match-- but maybe not the article you're looking for. If you go to Google and search for "cheeseburger" you'll find 16.5 million articles and only some of them will be from the latimes.com website, so that's not a lot of help. But if you go to Google and search for "cheeseburger site:latimes.com" you will get 1,960 results, all from the latimes.com site-- 7 times as many articles as the LA Times search engine provided. I don't know how Google can index the LA Times' website better than the LA Times can itself, but it does.

Notice the syntax for restricting a search to a particular website: after you type what you're looking for, you type a space, and then the word "site" and then a colon and then the name of the site. No spaces before or after the colon. Really handy.


And there you have it: a collection of tips and suggested software, each item being something I use all the time. Speaking of time, the time you spend checking these things out will be paid back 100-fold once you give them a try. Also speaking of time, this blog post was years in the making-- it's based on my own experience with Apple products, which started in 1985. The way I see it, reading this article saves you almost 30 years.

Check out my other posts-- there are more than 400. Need more help?

Email me.

But first:

People on the mailing list go to the front of the line.