You’re probably familiar with using Siri to make calls on your iPhone, as well as toopen apps on your iOS device, get information, and set up appointments. But you may be less familiar with iOS’s other dictation feature, the one that lets you talk to your iOS device while it converts your words into text.
I’ve long used dictation on my iPhone, because I have fat thumbs and find the keyboard too slow to use. As long as I’m in a not-too-noisy environment, it works quite well. I have to make corrections at times, but I can dictate long emails, short text messages, and even use dictation to enter search terms in Safari or to enter text in text fields on webpages. Better still, in my early tests, dictation in iOS 7 seems much more accurate. Here’s how you can use dictation on an iOS device and save a lot of time typing.
Do you minimize your windows with abandon, crowding your Dock with miniature documents? Do you rarely minimize anything, crowding your screen with multiple windows? Knowing the big and small options for this basic window-wrangling feature can save you both time and space.
1. Minimize windows with a double-click in the title bar
If you don’t write all the time, then you probably don’t need a full-featured word processor, such as Microsoft Word () or Apple Pages (). But you still may want a flexible tool for handling text that lets you compose résumés and recipes, letters and flyers. You know what? You already have one: Apple’s TextEdit.
This text app comes as part of OS X, and can meet many of your writing needs. It doesn’t offer advanced page layout features such as columns and image wrap, but it does provide most of the fundamentals. Simplicity comes with benefits, too. TextEdit is sleek and fast. It takes a half-second to launch, and it doesn’t lag even if you have a document containing hundreds of pages. On top of that, TextEdit can save documents to Apple’s iCloud, so if you have a desktop Mac and a laptop, you can work on your documents at home and know they’ll still be at hand when you’re on the road.
Still need convincing? Here are six TextEdit tips that show off what this free, easy-to-use program can do.
When you turn on your Mac, various apps, add-ons (such as menu extras), and invisible background processes open by themselves. Usually these automated actions are exactly what you want, but you may sometimes see items running—either visibly or according to a listing in Activity Monitor (located in /Applications/Utilities)—that you don’t recall adding yourself. Where do they come from? Because such items can increase your Mac’s startup time (and may decrease its performance), you’ll want your machine to load only items that are useful to you. Here’s a quick primer on the various kinds of startup and login items and how to manage them.
Open the Users & Groups pane of System Preferences and click the Login Items tab, and you’ll see a list of apps (and even files and folders) that open every time you log in. (This list is different for each user account on your Mac.) More often than not, items appear in this list because apps added them to it. Most apps that do so ask you for permission first or offer an ‘Open at Login’ checkbox for you to check, but not all are so well behaved. In any case, you can add an item to the list manually by clicking the plus sign (+) button, or remove an item by selecting it and clicking the minus sign (-) button.
Chris has covered technology and media since the latter days of the Reagan Administration. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, he's a professional musician in the San Francisco Bay Area. More by Christopher Breen
Like all good Automator workflows, this one is hatched from something I find to be an annoyance. I download a lot of files—disk images, songs, pictures, and books. All of them go into the Downloads folder within my user folder. After downloading them I don’t always retrieve these files, but rather let them molder away for days or weeks. When I finally get around to using them, I rummage around in this folder, which now contains hundreds of files. Wouldn’t it be easier if all the disk-image files were in one place, pictures in another, and so on? With Automator you can make that so. Here’s how.
Create the workflow
In the Finder, create two folders on the Desktop. Name the first Disk Images and the second My Pictures.
No matter how proficient you are with OS X and the apps you use, there will still be moments when you need a helping hand. The quickest way to find out how to accomplish a task is to get help; the kind that’s included with OS X. Using OS X Help is easy, but there are some tricks that will help you use it more efficiently.
You’ve certainly noticed the Help menu everywhere in OS X: it’s the rightmost menu in every app. The menu that displays when you click on Help may vary from a simple menu with a search field and a menu item to provide help for the current app, to a menu with links to a developer’s website, support page, user forums, manual and much more.
If you have an Apple ID, then you have an iCloud email account. This free account gives you up to 5GB storage for your emails, minus what you use for documents and other data you store in the cloud. It’s easy to work with your iCloud email from Apple’s Mail, on the Mac, or on an iOS device. Still, you may not know about the many extra options and features available if you log into iCloud on the Web.
Before you can take advantage of any of the following tips, you need to turn on iCloud. If you already have an Apple ID, which you use on the iTunes store, you may never have set up iCloud. Read this article to get it up and running. Once you've done that, you can use your email account and these five tricks.