Mary’s X Files, February 2019

Is There a Way to Block Certain Incoming Texts in iOS?
~Macworld Magazine
A Macworld reader wants to know if there’s a way in iOS to block texts from everyone who isn’t in the Contacts list. Her elderly mother is receiving harassing texts from someone who obtains a new number and continues the attack every time they are stymied using iOS’s option to block texts (along with FaceTime requests and calls).

There isn’t such a feature, although you’d think this would be a much-desired one. Apple has continued to add anti-spam and contact- blocking features across the latest releases of iOS, and allows third-party app makers to tap into calls and texts to help, too.

Apple does offer a feature to sort iMessages – texts sent from people with registered iCloud accounts – into a separate area. Visit Settings/ Messages/Unknown & Spam, and enable Filter Unknown Senders. (On a Mac, using Messages/Preferences, and uncheck the Notify me about Messages from Unknown Contact box.)

This doesn’t act on text messages (SMS), which are always delivered and is more likely the problem faced.

The only option at present is to change one’s phone number and keep it private.

Essential monthly maintenance tasks
~iCreate
1. Check the drives- Sometimes the file system has minor errors, so repair them before they become major. Open Disk Utility, select each internal and external drive and click ‘First Aid’.

2. Update everything – If automatic updates are disabled, check by opening Software Update in System Preferences. Select ‘Updates’ in the App Store. Check non-store apps for updates too.

3. Make backups – Time Machine is simple and convenient, but tools like SuperDuper (shirt-pocket.com) clone the Mac’s drive to a USB drive and makes it bootable.

4. Tidy up Mail – Open the Mail app and cancel subscriptions to newsletters you never read with the link. Search for emails with attachments and delete any you don’t need.

5. Uninstall unused apps- Are there apps you never use? Show the Applications folder in List view, Ctrl+click a header and select ‘Date Last Opened’. Delete apps you have not used for a long time.

6. Run system scripts- Open Terminal. Enter ‘ls -al /var/log/*. out’ to see when macOS last ran cleanup and maintenance scripts. Run them now by entering ‘sudo periodic daily weekly monthly’.

Applying lists and sub-lists
~iCreate
Lists of items are easy to create in TextEdit, and there is a toolbar button to turn a line of text into a bullet point using several different symbols or a numbered or alphabetical list. Just type something and then click the last button in the TextEdit toolbar. How do you create a sub-list within a list or a sub-list of a sub-list? There is no obvious way to do it – no menu or toolbar, but it can be done.

1. Create a sub-list – Create lists by entering text. Click the last button in the toolbar to select the list design. To turn a list item into a sub-list place the cursor at the start and press Option/Alt+Tab.

2. Customise sub-lists – While in the sub-list, click the list button. Select ‘Show More’, select Bullet>Number style and insert prefix and suffix text. Use Prepend to add the parent list marker.

Always show Scrollbars on MacOS
~iCreate
Scrollbars in windows and apps should be easy to use, but somehow macOS has turned them into a game of hide-and-seek. If you find them awkward to use then head to System Preferences>General and select the ‘Always’ option under ‘Show Scrollbars’.

Reduce motion/transparency on MacOS
~iCreate
Some elements of the macOS interface are semi-transparent – the menu bar is one example. Some people like it, others don’t. The effect can be turned on and off in System Preferences>Accessibility>Display. You might also want to enable ‘Reduce motion’, which stops some animation effects.