Blog — Tips and Tricks from the Mac Zen Team

Photo Library Paradise, for $1.30 a month

Over the past few years, iPods and iPhones have begun to rival high-end cameras for photo quality, letting you take amazing snaps anywhere you go. This is unquestionably awesome — but there is a catch. Treating your phone’s storage as your digital camera card, along with all the other things it’s responsible for, often leaves people frustrated by a lack of space for apps and the dreaded warning message, “Your iCloud storage is full.”

That specific problem is a question for another newsletter, but suffice to say those folks feeling cagey about "the cloud” can manage this problem manually by plugging their device into their home computer. Choosing “delete after import” in Photos makes sure all your shots are safely stored before being wiped from your mobile device, so you can do a fresh backup and free up your clogged iCloud account. 

If this sounds daunting or in my case, simply too annoying to bother with, you might want to consider investing as little as $1.30 a month in Apple’s tailor-made solution to this problem: iCloud Photo Library.

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Apple's Remote App — Music from your Mac, with your phone!

There's certainly a lot of awesome options for playing music remotely, between Bluetooth speakers, Sonos equipment, the Airport Express, and even stereo receivers getting in on the game.

There is a certain group of us, however, with unique setups in our homes. Back in university for example, I had one set of computer speakers on my desk that was easily loud enough to fill my dorm room. And on the other end, you might be enough of a movie buff to have an Apple TV, or even a dedicated Mac mini serving up your favourite movies to your HDTV and surround sound setup.

In these cases you often end up with either a fantastically complex remote that has to be manually programmed by wizards from Mars, or, you have to undergo the painful torture of getting up and walking over to your Mac to change the song. And you don't even get the hipster credit you would from flipping an LP.

There's a little-known, free and official Apple app that solves this problem, turning your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch into a de facto remote you're probably already carrying around. Take a look on the App Store for the Remote app.

This nifty tool gives you two options. First, you can use it to replace the Apple Remote that comes with your Apple TV. I vastly prefer this if I ever need to enter something like my Netflix email and password, since the app gives you a full keyboard instead of the hunt-and-peck interface of the physical remote. In the other mode, it allows you to connect to iTunes libraries that have Home Sharing enabled, like one on a Mac that's connected to speakers.

There used to be an even cooler feature where you could vote on the next song to play from a friend's iTunes library while at a party, sadly defunct now, but I digress. The Remote app is well worth checking out regardless, and if you have any questions or curiosity about your home audio setup, drop us a line anytime!

The Document Status Dot

The red “close”dot in the top left hand corner of the window, will have a dot if there are unsaved changes to the document.

When you save the document, the dot disappears.

Take Control of Your Kids' iPhone and iPad Usage

Some kids have their own, some use their parent's. Whichever the case, and regardless of their age, they are quite adept at using an iPhone, iPad or iPad touch. It is quite humbling to watch a 4 year old child making his way through a particular game, but it is horrifying to be witness to your child deleting apps and data inadvertently.

For those parents who are willing to entrust the safety of their Apple devices to their children, here are a few tips to make sure that their curious minds and your sanity remain intact.

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Use Screenshots to Get Better, Faster Technical Support for Your Mac

"I promise it was misbehaving before…"

Everyone's experienced this before. You come up against some bizarre issue that has you stymied, and lo and behold as soon as you try and explain the problem, it disappears. Often you get someone in to help (even if it's a smart nephew or niece), and it's not reproducible. The best action you can take straight away is to capture the moment. This is where screenshots come in, and we're going to learn the keyboard shortcuts to do so.

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Changing Your Display Settings on the Mac to Suit your Viewing Needs

Every Mac Display and External Monitor has what's referred to as a "Native Resolution". This is a screen resolution where each pixel that the computer outputs is equal to a pixel that the LCD panel displays. My particular 15" Macbook Pro has a Native Resolution of 1680 x 1050.

This setup can sometimes be a bit to fine to work in for some, and it's fairly straightforward to increase the apparent size of the display so that everything looks larger.

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