iPhone X Series Basic Interaction

This screencast shows how to interact with the iPhone X series of devices now the home button has been removed. Covering the iPhone X, XS, XR, XS Max, and the new iPad Pros. Gestures shown include returning to home screen, accessing the notification center, accessing the command center and getting to the app switcher.

Sponsor - Keyboard Maestro, Conduct your Mac like a pro!

I’d like to thank my sponsor for this week, Keyboard Maestro from Stairways Software. Keyboard Maestro is a powerful piece of software that enables you to automate virtually every part of your Mac user experience.

Whether you are a power user or a just starting on your Mac journey, don’t waste your time on tasks that can be accomplished with a few simple keystrokes. Simply use Keyboard Maestro’s easy to learn interface to build a series of triggers and events (Macro) and the most tedious and time consuming of tasks can be done for you. Even the smallest things, like typing your email address, launching applications, or duplicating a line, all take time. Let Keyboard Maestro help make your Mac life more pleasant and efficient.

As well as Keyboard Maestro’s unrivalled automation features there are options that can make life a more comfortable experience for users with access difficulties, such as Clicking the Mouse (Move, click, double click and drag, any button, optionally with modifiers anywhere on the screen or in a window, and more.) and Menus and Buttons (Press a button, select a menu, and now you can show a menu leaving it open for you to select the desired item.) I even use Keyboard Maestro in conjunction with IFTTT to control some of my home automation devices while on my Mac, enabling more independence for a severely disabled user.

Some great features in Keyboard Maestro for everyone are:

  • Clipboard History (Keyboard Maestro keeps a complete history of your clipboards, so you’ll never lose your clipboard again. Copy three things, then paste them all into another application.)

  • Launch Applications (Launch any application at the touch of a key. Show applications, hide them, force quit them, bring them to the front, all at your command.)

  • Text Expansion (Insert any kind of text using a Typed String or Hot Key trigger. Type the text or paste in styled text or images. Expand text to insert your name, address, logo, signature, whatever.)

  • File Actions (Move, copy, rename, trash, delete files. Read and write images and styled text in a variety of formats.)

  • Manipulate Windows (Resize, reposition, bring to front, close, zoom, minimise and more. Position windows exactly where you want them.)

Please click here for a comprehensive list of Keyboard Maestro features.

I use Keyboard Maestro to make my Mac life a more pleasant and less tedious experience.

Please head over to Keyboard Maestro to find out more.

Fantastical 2 for Mac Giveaway

I have a great chance for you to get your hands on one of three licences for the macOS version of Fantastical 2, The calendar app you won’t be able to live without.

Fantastical 2 is possibly the best Calendar application for the Mac, a full Mac application with the benefit and and convenience of a menu bar window. You can easily add events and reminders using natural language, Fantastical 2 automatically recognises the location of your event and can even invite people from Contacts to your event. Fantastical 2 also lets you quickly toggle multiple calendars on or off with a single click, so you can focus on what’s more important in that moment. The days of going back and forth, clicking multiple times, just to hide and show your calendars are over. These calendar sets can also be shown atomically by your location eg different sets for work and home.

Other Features Include

* Full time zone support, including floating time zones

* The ability to set time and geofence alerts for your reminders

* View maps of the locations where your events occur

* Travel time and time to leave notifications

* Day, week, month, and year views

* Use multiple calendar accounts at once

Fantastical 2 for Mac is £48.99 and the team at Flexibits (the makers of Fantastical 2) have given me 3 licences, to give to my podcast listeners and blog readers.

In order to win one of these subscriptions just drop me an email at darren@themacquad.com with 'Fantastical 2 Giveaway' in the title and in the main body of the email add your full name and email address and I will select 3 lucky winners at random, you can also enter via the contact me form here on the Mac Quad website. Entries should be in by 12 midday GMT on Friday 23rd November and winners will be announced in the following episode of the Mac Quadcast and also posted on the Mac Quad website.

Thanks to all at Flexibits (makers of Fantastical 2) for this generous giveaway.

Bear Subscription Giveaway Winners

A blind draw was made on Thursday (8th November) with all of the entries that I received for the Bear Subscription Giveaway entered, the five winners were:

Neil T

Mieszko Ś

David S

Nash P

Karen A

Congratulations to the five winners, hope you enjoy the software and find it as useful as I do.

Thank you to everyone at Bear for generously providing the five subscriptions each for a year and also, thank you to everyone who took the time to enter.

Bear Subscription Giveaway

I have a great chance for you to get your hands on one of five subscriptions each valid for a year for Bear, one of the top note and writing apps on Mac and iOS.

Bear is perfect for everything from quick notes to in-depth essays. A focus mode helps you concentrate and advanced markup options are an online writer's best friend. Bear is also packed with beautiful themes and typography which makes your writing look great before and after publishing. The applications simple tools take the effort out of writing, whether you need to hit specific word counts and reading times, or you need to convert your writing into PDF and Word docs and with Bear's custom markup shortcuts, you can add style and links with just a tap or keystroke.

Features Include

* Advanced Markup Editor that supports and highlights over 20 programming languages.

* In-line support for images and photos.

* Cross-Note Links to build a body of work and quickly reference other notes.

* Hashtags to quickly find and organise notes.

* All your notes are stored in plain text for the ultimate in portability.

Bear Pro is $14.99 for a year and gives advanced features, including syncing between all your devices, application themes and exporting and the team at Bear have given me 5 subscriptions, each for a year to give to my podcast listeners and blog readers.

The Bear Subscription Giveaway Has Now Closed

Entries should be in by 12 midday GMT on Friday 2nd November and winners will be announced in the next episode of the Mac Quadcast and then posted on the Mac Quad website.

Thanks to all at Bear for this generous giveaway.

Apple Gather Round Event - iPhone Xr

Apple announced the iPhone Xr at the Gather Round Event yesterday (12th September 2018).

 iPhone Xr

iPhone Xr

Here’s briefly what you need to know:

Available in White, Black, Blue Yellow, Coral, Product Red

Aluminium Body

Edge to Edge Screen

LCD Display (Liquid Retina) 6.1" (1792 x 828 Pixels)

True Tone Display

Haptic Touch

Face ID via True Depth Camera

True Depth Camera front facing Camera

Single Lens rear Camera, 12MP Wide Angle Camera, Improved True Tone Flash, Portrait Mode Photos, New Smart HDR feature

Same Front True Depth Camera as iPhone Xs

Battery Life - iPhone Xr 90 mins more use that iPhone 8Plus

Capacity 64GB, 128GB, 256GB

Orders from 19th October & Available 26th October

Apple Gather Round Event - iPhone Xs & iPhone Xs Max

Apple announced the iPhone Xs & iPhone Xs Max at the Gather Round Event yesterday (12th September 2018).

 iPhone Xs & iPhone Xs Max

iPhone Xs & iPhone Xs Max

Here’s briefly what you need to know:

iPhone Xs

Available in Gold, Silver, Space Grey, Increased Water Resistance, Super Retina Display OLED 5.8" (2436 x 1125 Pixels), 60% Greater Dynamic Range than iPhone X, True Tone Display, Wider Stereo Field, Capacity 64GB, 256GB, 512GB, Order from September 14th & Available September 21st

iPhone Xs Max

Available in Gold, Silver, Space Grey, Increased Water Resistance, Super Retina Display OLED 6.5" (2688 x 1242 Pixels), 60% Greater Dynamic Range than iPhone X, True Tone Display, Wider Stereo Field, Capacity 64GB, 256GB, 512GB, Order from September 14th & Available September 21st

Both Models

Face ID - Improved True Depth Camera and A12 Bionic Chip increases Face ID response time

A12 Bionic Chip - 7 Nanometer Chip, 6 Core CPU, 4 Core GPU, Neural Engine - 8 Core, Apps Launch 30% Faster, Real Time Machine Learning, Core ML 9x Faster

Camera - 12MP Wide-Angle Camera, Improved True Tone Flash, 12 MP Telephoto Camera, Front True Depth Camera 7MP, ISP & Neural Engine now work together to enhance photos, New Smart HDR feature, New Depth Editing feature, Record Stereo Sound on Videos

Battery Life - iPhone Xs 30 mins more use that iPhone X, iPhone Xs Max 90 mins more use that iPhone X

Dual Sim Capability via eSim Technology

Apple Gather Round Event - Apple Watch Series 4

Apple announced the AppleWatch Series 4 at the Gather Round Event yesterday (12th September 2018).

 Apple Watch Series 4

Apple Watch Series 4

Here’s briefly what you need to know:

Edge to edge screen

Larger screens (40mm & 44mm)

New 8 Complication Watch Face

New Digital Crown includes haptic feedback

50% Louder Speaker

Dual Core 64-bit

Fall Detection - If immobile for 1 minute Apple Watch calls emergency services

Low heart rate alert

Irregular heart rhythm alert

ECG feature

All health & fitness data encrypted on device and in the cloud

18 hour all day battery life

Watch straps fit any generation of Apple Watch


Orders from 14th September & Available from 21st September


Watch OS 5 Available 17th September

Why I Ditched The HomePod

From my earlier review you will see I was quite impressed with the HomePod but the more I used it the less it seemed like a viable option for my use case of a smart speaker.

HomePod No.jpg

The primary issues I found was that audiobooks were not available, not even those purchased through the iTunes store and the only radio station available was Beats1 which while ok to listen to for a little while does not really cover my music tastes. I have a wide range of tastes including Jazz (1940s - Present), Rock (1950s - Present), Metal (1970s - Present), Classical and Folk, very little of this is included on Beats1 and it seems orientated to R&B, Rap and Pop which would be acceptable if the option of other radio stations were available such as Jazz FM, Planet Rock, BBC Stations and Classic FM. I use a smart speaker in my bedroom (being paralysed I use it as a voice controlled entertainment centre) and the lack of these options made made entertainment very limited.

The ability to play podcasts was extremely hit and miss, the HomePod very rarely was able to access the All Unplayed playlist I had set up in the native podcasts application and in order to play a specific podcast the pronunciation and name asked for had to be extremely precise in order for the desired podcast to play.

The inability to adjust the bass/treble proved to be an insurmountable problem. Why do Apple think they have the right to dictate how every piece of audio is delivered? There are several reasons why the ability to adjust the bass/treble (beyond that of pure audio taste) is required. If like myself you want to listen to something at a low level during the night reducing the bass level is a necessity in order to avoid disturbing others in the house, if you live in an apartment heavy bass tends to travel through walls and floors neighbours above and below will probably not appreciate this, many people with hearing problems find bass levels need to be reduced otherwise the audio just seems a muddy mess or even worse becomes very painful and listening to voice requires a totally different level to music. I found the active adjustment that was supposed to be on the HomePod just didn’t work, thus, over time the bass became more and more prominent while no matter how low the volume was Siri’s voice level was extremely loud.

The reviews all stated that the sound quality was outstanding but in my opinion I much prefer the audio produced by Sonos, a system which gives the user the ability to adjust bass/treble levels.  All of the above (plus the fact there is no sleep timer on the HomePod) made my decision to sell the HomePod (losing quite a bit of cash) and going back to an Amazon Echo which I can tell to play on my Sonos in my bedroom and therefore have the bast of both worlds, Audiobooks, Kindle Reading, Many Radio Stations etc. and the Sonos sound Quality and adjustability. I also now have a Sonos One in the office which I find much more responsive that the HomePod ever was.

My new setup give the entertainment system that I require, that audio adjustment I require and the other features (sleep timers etc.) that I require. In my view Apple really need to up the game on the HomePod to make it a rival to other smart speakers.

Major New Ulysses Release

As you probably know if you follow this blog, I am a massive fan of the writing application Ulysses (yes they are a sponsor but I was using it for several years before that). I think every post that has appeared on The Mac Quad has started in Ulysses.

Well, the best has just got better. A major new release hit the usual outlets on 28th May with some great new features. These new features include:

Daily Goals and Deadlines (img.1), users can now specify the number of characters or words they aim to write on a daily basis. A circular symbol visualises the progress in relation to this goal and is reset every morning. Daily goals are not the only upgrade to Ulysses’ existing goal feature. While users were always able to set the desired length or reading time of a text and track their progress towards its achievement, they can now also set a deadline. Ulysses will then calculate the number of words that need to be written per day in order to finish the project in time. I think the deadline feature will be a welcome addition for myself, being the only member of The Mac Quad and The Mac Quadcast team I could occasionally do with somebody else giving me a prod in the right direction.

 (img.1)

(img.1)

Coloured Keywords (img.2), keywords can be used to classify and filter texts stored in the Ulysses library — for example, I could assign the keyword “Homepod” to text I've written about Apple’s new device. In the new version, keywords can be assigned a dedicated colour, making them easier to spot and distinguish in the library. The available colour selection covers the seven colours of the spectrum and a light grey. 

 (img.2)

(img.2)

Revamped Code Blocks With Syntax Highlighting (img.3), for the coders out there. When writing manuals or documentation, technical writers often need to add code examples, and Ulysses has always featured a dedicated code block markup tag. In the new version, the addition and handling of code blocks are greatly improved, and they’re now easier to distinguish in the editor. Also, if a programming language is indicated, code blocks can now display syntax highlighting in the editor and when exported. These can import from, and export to GitHub style fenced code blocks. This is the feature that I possibly may not make use of, my coding attempts floundered back in the days when Basic was modern!

 (img.3)

(img.3)

There’s more which you can find out about in the New Features section of the Ulysses website. As I previously said I think the best just got better.


Change Audio Output & Input In The Menu Bar

If you have headphones, speakers and internal speakers set up on a Mac and also a headset, microphone, and internal microphone, you’ll want to easily switch between different inputs or outputs. There is a quick way without going to the System Preferences each time.

How To
Hold the Option key and click the volume icon in the menu bar this will show a list of audio inputs and outputs. You can now select what you want. 

This enables you to quickly switch between audio inputs and outputs.

Find Your Mac’s Cursor

Many times the best place to look for something you’ve lost is down the back of the sofa, however, this is not helpful if the item lost is the cursor on you Mac’s screen. A feature that has been available since the release of El Capitan in September 2015 is the ability to make your cursor reveal itself by simply moving your mouse quickly or running your finger rapidly back and forth across the trackpad, this makes the cursor increase in size. Once you’ve located the elusive cursor, stop and it will shrink back to its normal size.

How To
Open System Preferences and select Accessibility.

Once the Accessibility panel is open select Display on the left side and ensure the ‘Shake mouse pointer to locate’ checkbox is ticked (img.1).

 (img.1)

(img.1)

A quick way to find mislaid cursors. 

Change The Default Finder Folder

Do you wish you could see a different folder to “All My Files” when you open a new Finder window in macOS?

If like myself you prefer to have your Documents (or any other folder) show it is extremely easy to change the default behavior to one that suits your individual requirements.

How To
In the Finder menu (usually showing when you click on your Desktop) select Preferences or you can just hit the key combination Command ⌘ + , which will show the Finder Preferences.

Click on the selection box below “New Finder windows show” and select the folder you would like to display (if your folder is not there click on other and navigate to your desired location) (img.1).

 (img.1)

(img.1)

Each new Finder window will now open showing your selected folder.

macOS 32 bit Application Alert

Since the macOS update to 10.13.4, Apple have been showing alerts when old or un-updated applications are being launched (img.1).

 (img.1)

(img.1)

It is to warn that 32-bit applications will not run on any operating system after High Sierra, it was nearly a year ago that application developers were initially told of this, so there has been plenty of time for developers to address this issue. Since January any new applications or application updates submitted to the Mac App Store have been required to be 64-bit.

You can check which applications are 32-bit on your system by going to About This Mac in the Apple Menu and then clicking on System Report. Once this is done in the left column in Software click on Applications. When the results populate there is a 64-bit column in the top panel, I had to increase the size of the window to make this column visible. There will either be a yes or no here.

If there are applications that are not 64-bit they will not run on the next major macOS update (10.14). You may want to contact the developer to see if the application will be updated, find an alternative application or not upgrade to the next major version of macOS, usually released in the autumn.

It’s worth checking and preparing now.

Pin A Note To The Top Of Your Notes List

Many users make notes in the native macOS all of the time and would like to keep their most important note at the top of the list. Well there is an extremely easy way to do this.

How To
When in notes find the note you would like at the top of you list (img.1).

 (img.1)

(img.1)

Right click on the note you would like at the top of you list and then left click on 'Pin Note' (img2).

 (img.2)

(img.2)

Your note will now be pinned to the top of the notes list (img.3).

 (img.3)

(img.3)

An easy way to keep you most important note at the top of your list.

Jump To Right Most Tab In Safari

Last week saw the release of updates for all of Apple’s platforms including macOS High Sierra 10.13.4, as well as bringing improvements to performance and stability it also added a few new features.

Safari.jpg

This quick tip will show one of the little features added in this update. If you have several tabs open in Safari, something that happens to me on a regular basis when doing research, it can be a pain to tab across your tabs in order to get to the right most one.

With the release of macOS High Sierra 10.13.4 you can just hit the key combination Command ⌘ + 9 and you will be automatically taken to the right most tab.

A shortcut I will definitely be making use of.