Mary’s X Files, September 2016

Saving power with Face-down detection for iPhone
~iLounge Tips
If you get a lot of notifications during the day, you can actually save a bit of battery life by leaving your iPhone face down on a table or other surface. Face-down detection is a subtle feature that Apple snuck into iOS 9 last fall to save a bit of power on modern iPhones by not lighting up the screen whenever text message notifications come in — after all, the screen is one of the biggest power consumers on the iPhone, and since you can’t see the screen anyway when the iPhone is face down, what’s the point in turning it on?

To enable the feature, simply place your iPhone face down on a table when you’re not using it — notifications will still sound or vibrate, according to your settings, but the screen will remain dark unless you pick up the iPhone within a few seconds of receiving the notification. Since the feature uses the M7/M8/M9 motion coprocessors, you’ll need an iPhone 5s or later to take advantage of it, and you’ll need to make sure you haven’t disabled Fitness Tracking under Privacy, Motion & Fitness in the iOS Settings app.

Shake to undo on iPhone
~Macworld
This one can be a little awkward at times but it can be a bit of a life saver. If you’ve just typed a long sentence and accidentally deleted it, or made some other catastrophic error, you can give your iPhone a shake to bring up the undo/redo dialogue box. Just make sure you’re holding on to your iPhone tightly before you shake it!

Since implementing this feature Apple has added an undo button to the system keyboard, thankfully, but this only appears when the iPhone is in landscape mode. If you can’t be bothered to type like that, get shaking.

Mute Noisy Conversations in Messages on Mac
~MacFormat
If a conversation in Messages distracts you with a swarm of notifications at the corner of the desktop, rather than turning on the Do Not Disturb feature of Notification Centre, which mutes all notifications, open the conversation, click Details at its top-right corner, and put a check mark next to Do Not Disturb here to mute only this conversation.

Startup Key Combinations for El Capitan
~MacFormat
The most commonly useful startup key combos are: “Shift Key” to enter Safe Mode; “Option Key” to select an alternative startup disk; “D” to start a hardware diagnostics test, if available, or hold “Option Key” as well to start it over the internet; “Command Key”+r to enter OS X Recovery, or hold “Option Key” too for the online version; “Command+Option+p+r” to reset NVRAM (see bit.ly/ mf-nvram); “Command+s” or “Command+v” for single-user or verbose mode (bit.ly/mfsuverb); and “t” for target disk mode.

“Gatekeeper” Security on Mac in System Preferences
~MacFormat
This feature restricts what apps can run according to their source, to reduce the likelihood of installing malware. It offers three options in the Security & Privacy pane, under General: “Anywhere” gives total freedom, essentially turning off Gatekeeper; “Mac App Store only” lets apps from there run; and the middle item also allows apps from other places that are signed by identified developers.

Silent Updates on Mac
~MacFormat
Yosemite and El Capitan now undergo silent updates to security files, which may have odd effects. An update to the XProtect security blacklist, say, might disable an old version of Flash or Java. Updates which affect SIP can disable hardware such as network ports when your Mac is next started up. If you think a silent update has altered your Mac, check /Library/Receipts/InstallHistory. plist to see what has occurred.

Speedy Access to System Preferences on Mac
~MacFormat
Rather than clicking a pane’s icon in System Preferences, try opening the pane using Spotlight. Type the first few characters of a pane’s name and it’ll likely be the top result. Alternatively, if you keep System Preferences in the Dock, you can control+click its icon there and then select the pane you want it to show immediately upon opening from an alphabetically ordered list.