Web Browsing With Safari

Here are the slides from the May, 2022 MacMAD meeting on browsing with Safari.

Web Browsers: Chrome, Edge, Safari, Firefox
Search Engines
Anatomy of a URL
Top Level Domain, e.g. .com
Domain Name
Subdomain
Your Internet Environment
ISP: Internet Service Provider
Email Provider
WiFi
Web Sites
Password Manager: Apple Keychain

I Want to be Notified

This post is part of the presentation for MacMAD’s meeting for Tuesday, March 15, 2022.

There are a number of Apps, web sites and cloud services that provide useful notifications. Of course, there are many, many Apps dying to notify you about trivial things. In this post, I’ll give you a few ways to be notified about interesting things in the real world that may be useful to you.

Heart Health Notifications

This is first, because it could be very important. If you have an Apple Watch, be sure to turn on the notifications for irregular rhythm in the Apple Watch App->Heart on your iPhone. These notifications have probably saved lives by prompting people to get prompt medical attention. You might want notifications for unusually high or low heart rates also.

Financial Institutions

Your bank, credit union or brokerage may support various notifications. These can range from conveniences to important security notifications. For example the Bank of America (BofA) App has notifications for various security alerts. Make sure the alerts you want are turned on in the App, and also check that your Settings allow notifications from that App. In this case, under Settings->Notifications->BofA.

BofA App Security Alerts Configuration Screen

Local Emergency Alerts

The web site Nixle.com is used by local governments to broadcast emergency and other information of local interest. You don’t need to sign in or anything. If you send your zip code by text message to 888777, that will subscribe you to text notifications for your local area. What that means depends on where you are. Not all locations in the U.S. use the Nixle service, but many do. Here in Brevard County, you’ll get texts notifying you of things like road closures, brush fires, hurricane information, and Rocket Launches. (The Brevard Emergency Operations Center (EOC) activates for each launch in case of a launch accident.)

Nixle Text Alerts for Controlled Burn and Atlas Launch

Roads and Traffic

Your local governments may provide notifications of traffic problems in your area.

Here in Florida, the site FL511.com provides very specific customizable alerts for traffic problems on Interstates. It is only for the Interstates and other major roads. Here in Brevard it applies to I-95, US-1, A1A, and maybe the major causeway roads. You have to create an account, and sign in, but then you can create favorite routes and set up alerts for those routes in case there are any “incidents”, etc. You can specify to be alerted only within certain hours, and certain days of the week or month. You can also specify to be alerted only when travel times are expected to exceed a certain percentage of normal. Notifications can be by text or email.

On the City of Melbourne’s web site you can subscribe to email notifications for traffic advisories, etc.

Rocket Launches

The Next Spaceflight App is great for those of us on the Space Coast who like to follow local rocket launches. Because the App covers rocket launches world wide, you will probably want to specify your favorite launch sites so that you are not bombarded with launch notifications from distant continents.

Favorite Launch Locations Selection

You can specify to be notified a day before each launch, an hour before the launch, or 10 minutes before the launch, or any combination of those.

Custom Searches

You can save a specific search on eBay. This can be helpful if you are looking for something that rarely comes up for sale. When your search term is matched, you will get an email. If you save a search for a common item, you will get eBay notification messages every day. The usefulness of this may depend on how carefully you choose your search terms. Remember, you can include a minus sign to exclude certain words from your search.

Of course, you must have an eBay account and be signed in to create saved searches. I use this to search for items that may be relevant to my family genealogy. I have found several interesting items by this method.

You can also use Google Alerts to perform similar searches on any web site or on the web in general. You can focus your search more exactly using hints from Google Advanced Search. Again, it might be helpful to exclude common but undesired words with the minus sign. You can limit your search to a particular site with the site: keyword. For example, searching for:

iPhone site:macmad.org

Will find the word iPhone, but only on macmad.org.

Other Notifications

  • Weather – The Dark Sky app, now owned by Apple, has timely, local notifications
  • Package Delivery – Amazon, and UPS can notify you of package deliveries
  • Mail – USPS Informed Delivery sends you a daily preview of your mail
  • Utilities – FPL can notify you of power outages and power restoration estimates
  • Security – Burglar Alarms, Security Cameras, Motion Sensors, your car, etc.

Customize your Notifications

You can customize notifications to your preference for iOS and iPadOS in:

Settings->Notifications

In the Notifications settings, you can adjust the settings individually for each app, specifying whether it is allowed to send you notifications, and what type (badges, alerts, sounds and or banners). For notifications sent by email, you can prioritize them by adding the sender to your contacts list and marking them as a VIP (with the star). Add contacts to your VIP list using:

Mail App->Mailboxes->VIP->ⓘ

Then you can allow VIP-sent emails to give you different notifications than your other routine emails:

Settings->Notifications->Mail->Customize Notifications->VIP

This can make important notification emails pop up an alert right away.

The Best of the App Store

This post is part of the MacMAD presentation meeting for Tuesday, March 15, 2022. See also iPhone Super Powers.

The Best of the App Store for iOS

Many iOS/iPadOS Apps are free. Most Apps that are not free are less than $3.00. Some are more expensive, or have in-App purchases or subscriptions.

Many people consider that one of the best decisions made by Apple was to allow 3rd party apps on the iPhone. It’s hard to believe that when the iPhone was introduced in 2007, Apple wasn’t initially sure Apps would be supported. The App Store was only introduced in 2008.

There are now about 2 million Apps in the iOS App store. Because it is so easy to buy and install Apps, even the most technophobic of iPhone users have typically installed several favorite Apps. Many iPhone users have so many Apps installed that they have trouble keeping track of them all.

You Must Setup a Credit Card

Because it is a store, and you might buy things, you need to setup a credit card under

Settings ->Apple ID

Once you have done this, you are ready to shop for Apps.

There are three categories of Apps with different information in the “Price” button.

Apps can have a price, or the word “GET”, or a cloud download symbol.

In the App Store, you will see some apps with the word GET instead of a price. Those apps are free. If you see In-App Purchases, then there are aspects of the App you will be asked to pay for later, while using the App.

If you see the cloud download symbol, that means that you already own that App, but it is not currently installed on your device. Maybe you bought or downloaded it on a different device, or maybe you previously had it installed but deleted it. In any case, you can click the icon to download it now for free.

In the figure above, you will see how to spot a reputable app. An App with the Editor’s Choice notation is highly recommended. An App that has hundreds of thousands or millions of downloads and four or five stars is also a very reputable App. Be a bit suspicious if an App only has a small number of downloads, or is “Too new to rate”, or has a low star rating.

Check the Developer/Seller’s Name

If you are expecting the App to be something specific, make sure that the Seller and Copyright fields are what you are expecting. Some Apps have similar names or icons to other, more popular Apps.

Popular App Categories

  • Social Media
  • Games
  • Shopping
  • Audio, Video and Books
  • Travel and Navigation
  • Office Apps – Microsoft ‘s Office, Apple’s Apps

Consider Getting Apps for…

  • Favorite Stores & Restaurants
  • Local News, Weather and Information
  • Your Car and Home

Some car brands have their own apps. For your home, some devices such as locks, cameras and energy monitors have their own Apps. Of course, there is also Apple’s own Home App for all your HomeKit devices.

Some Favorite Apps

  • Next Spaceflight – Always know the next rocket launch
  • Mactracker – Guide to the many versions of Apple hardware
  • AnyList – Handy Family Shopping Lists and Checklists. iOS and Mac

Password Managers

I recommend you use some sort of password manager. Apple’s built-in Keychain feature is improving, but if that isn’t good enough for you, try these. No particular order:

Books and Reading

  • Apple Books – Apple’s own, pre-installed Book reader and Store
  • Libby, by Overdrive – Free eBooks from Brevard Libraries
  • Audible – Purchased and Subscription Audio Books, High Quality

iPhone Super Powers

A day of acquaintance,
And then the longer span of custom.
But first —
The hour of astonishment.

– Bill Atkinson, c. 1987

This post is from MacMAD’s presentation meeting for Tuesday, March 15, 2022. See also The Best of the App Store.

These are some capabilities of the iPhone that typically make people’s jaw drop in amazement and say “It does what?” the first time they hear of them.

Your iPhone Receives Signals from Russian Satellites

It also receives signals from US military satellites, and those of the European Space Agency, and Japanese and Chinese governments. These are all part of the navigation features usually lumped together as “GPS”.

  • GPS – United States Global Positioning System, originally military only
  • GLONASS – Russian Navigation Satellites
  • Galileo – European Space Agency Global Navigation System
  • QZSS – Japanese Satellite Positioning System
  • BeiDou – Chinese Navigation Satellite System

iPhone uses all these systems as required to determine your position as quickly and precisely as possible.

What is that thing?

Your iPhone / iPad can often answer questions of the “What is that thing?” variety. Sometimes an App is required, and sometimes you already have what you need.

What is that Airplane?

“Hey Siri, What Airplanes are overhead?”

The response comes back in tabular form from Wolfram Alpha, listing nearby flights and their positions in the sky.

List of nearby aircraft in flight

Siri automatically invoked Wolfram Alpha in this instance, but Wolfram Alpha is a website which can answer many types of questions. It is primarily oriented towards mathematics and engineering, but can respond to a fantastic variety of queries about factual information. There is also the Wolfram Alpha App ($2.99 + extras), and the free Wolfram Alpha Viewer App.

What is that Song?

“Hey, Siri, What Song is Playing?”

Siri can identify a song playing on your device, or a song playing nearby from another source. For music in the room, Siri invokes Shazam. Or, you can Shazam a song from the control center. Or, you can use the dedicated Shazam App.

Shazam Icon in Control Center
Song identified as “You’re Still on My Mind” by The Byrds

What is That Plant or Animal?

You can identify plants and animals with the free Seek App. Seek is from iNaturalist. There is also an iNaturalist web site and iNaturalist App, where you can submit your observations to a crowd-sourced body of observations, where the species will be confirmed or identified by other human observers.

Seek uses artificial intelligence to quickly identify a plant or animal through your camera. You don’t even need to take a photo to get the ID — just viewing the specimen through Seek will produce a likely identification.

Seek App identifying Indian Hawthorne Shrub

What Bird is Making that Sound?

The free Merlin Bird ID app from Cornell Labs can identify many bird species from their songs or calls. You can record the bird call from right within the app. You can then select a part of the recording that is the bird you want, free of background sounds. The App will then suggest a species. This is basically Shazam for birds.

Merlin Bird ID identifying Yellow-Throated Warbler

Which iPhone Should I Buy?

Variations of this question are some of the most common questions we get here at MacMAD. “What Mac should I buy?”, “Which iPad is the best?”, etc.

There is a great new site for this called Apple Buying Advice. It’s one of those sites that does one thing and does it well. I hope it withstands the test of time and avoids the temptations of click-bait headlines and over-complicated analysis. Right now, it is very simple and straight forward. Try it!

Use iPhone as Web Cam with Detail

I have a MacMini which has no built-in camera. During the pandemic, I have been doing more on-line teleconferencing (mostly Zoom and Facetime meetings). I have used various cameras and various software to connect them to my computer.

I recently came across Detail, from Detail.co . This application allows you to use your iPhone or iPad as a web camera for your Mac. This is the best solution I have seen yet, and the iPhone has a good-quality camera, so my video looks good.

The Mac application does much more than that, which is both an advantage and disadvantage. It is a disadvantage in that it makes it harder to learn to use. There is a video tutorial on the site. The quick summary is to download the Detail app from the iOS or iPad OS App store on your iPhone or iPad, and also download the app for Macintosh from the web site. The app can work wirelessly, or via a USB cable (recommended).

You may want a tripod adapter for your phone. I bought this one and it seems like a good one. You might want to use that with a small desktop tripod like this, if you don’t have one.

Detail is not free, and they are kind of cagey about the price. I actually don’t know how much or how often they charge. There is a 14 day free trial period. I discovered and got access to Detail through my Setapp subscription, which is excellent for just-in-time discovery of useful, curated apps.

Self Help: How to Find a Lost File

You had an important file, but now you can’t find it anywhere. In this article, we’ll look at tips for finding that lost file. First, for MacOS, and then for iOS/iPadOS.

Finding a file on MacOS

Searching with Spotlight

You might be tempted to search with Spotlight (the magnifying glass icon in your menu bar). Spotlight might find your file, but by default, it returns a lot of results other than files and folders. You might not be able to see the tree for the forest in your Spotlight results. If you visit Spotlight in System Preferences, you will see that Spotlight returns results in up to 20 selectable categories, many of which are not relevant. For instance if you had a file related to a jacket in size 42 long, you might search with Spotlight for 42L. Spotlight will unhelpfully inform you that 42L = 1.48 cubic feet.

Finder Search

You can perform a search in any Finder window by clicking the magnifying glass icon in the upper right of the window, and typing your search term. This is different than Spotlight, and it searches only files.

Beginning a Finder Search for 42L

In the example above, you have typed “42L”. You will see that it has found two files, neither of which actually have 42L in the filename. However, there are two clickable options here that you should consider. If you click the dimmed word Filenames, the search is restricted to only filenames. Otherwise it will find any file that contains the search term. To start with, the search only includes the folder you happened to start in. In this case, that is the Documents folder. If you click “This Mac”, then it will expand the search to your entire computer.

Also, if you click the + to the right side, next to Save, you will get the option to further restrict your search by Kind, Last Opened Date, Last Modified Date, and a great many other attributes. For example, you could select documents whose Kind is Image. That would find only photographs or drawings.

Searching This Mac for all Image files.

By clicking the column headers in the Finder you can sort by Name, Size, Kind, Date Last Opened, etc. This can help bring likely files to the top. Consider searching by Kind, Date, Size, etc., without using a search term. You may have forgotten what the file was named exactly, or it may have been accidentally renamed. By doing this, you may find a file whose name was mangled somehow. If the file is fairly recent, it pays to look at the Recents icon in the Finder sidebar. Maybe you will recognize your file in that list. Again, you might want to sort the list.

Don’t forget to check the Trash. Files in Trash should show up when searching This Mac, but it’s worth a look.

Check the Desktop. Don’t just look at your desktop on the screen. MacOS has a feature called Stacks, which tends to hide things on your desktop. You either need to expand each of those stacks by clicking on them, or else open a Finder window, and visit your Desktop folder directly.

Plan B: Other Places to Search

Maybe the file isn’t actually on your computer, but it exists somewhere else. For example, a lot of Apps like to save files on Cloud Storage of some kind. Here are some ideas of places to look:

  • iCloud Drive
  • Microsoft OneDrive
  • Google Drive
  • Evernote
  • Dropbox
  • Network-Attached-Storage (NAS)
  • USB Stick/Flash Drive
  • Your other computer or phone or tablet
  • Camera Memory Cards
  • Virtual Machines (files in a Virtual Machine won’t be found when searching outside that machine.)

The cloud storage services are often mirrored to your local system, but not always. So, you may need to sign into their web interface and browse the files there.

Plan C: Files in Transit

Think about where your file originated in the first place. Most of the files on your computer, you didn’t create. They came from somewhere else. If someone sent you that file, it may still be available. If it’s not too embarrassing, you can always ask the sender to send it to you again. Otherwise, check your messaging apps and services:

  • e-Mail Inbox(es)
  • Apple Messages App
  • Facebook Messages
  • What’s App
  • Hangouts
  • We Chat
  • Signal

The file may still be in the message by which it originally arrived. If you originally downloaded the file from the internet, it’s probably easiest to just find it again with Google and re-download it.

If you created the file locally, did you ever send it to anyone else? If so, a copy of the file may exist in your outbox on one of the above services. Or, you can ask a recipient to send you back a copy.

Searching for a lost email is another topic in itself to be covered in a later post.

Plan D: Recover from Backup

Maybe the lost file used to be on your computer, but it was accidentally deleted. This is the scenario where backups come in handy, especially Time Machine backups. You have been performing regular backups, right?? Well, even if you haven’t, there is a good chance that Time Machine has saved your bacon. By default, Time Machine keeps some backup versions of files on your local computer even if you have never performed a Time Machine backup to an external drive (like you should!).

To recover files from Time Machine, it helps if you have some idea where in your file system the file was located. If you’re not sure, you can start with the usual suspects like the Documents folder, the Desktop or the Downloads folder. Open that folder now, in the Finder. Attach your Time Machine backup drive if you have one. Make sure that your folder of interest is the active Finder Window.

Click the Time Machine icon in the menu bar (it looks like a clock). Select Enter Time Machine. This will open sort of a time-tunnel view of that particular Finder window.

You can navigate back to some older version(s) of that folder and look for your file. If you haven’t backed up to an external drive, there may be very few snapshots available for viewing.

Finding a File on iOS or iPadOS

The key place to look for files on iOS is the Files App. It has a blue folder icon. Like MacOS, it has a Recents view which can be helpful. It can show files stored directly on your device as well as files stored on iCloud Drive. You may also have various other cloud services folders under Files. There are also the Shared, Recently Deleted (Trash), and Downloads folders. These are all worth checking.

In iOS or iPadOS, you can search for a file by swiping down from the center of the home screen. This will bring a search text box onto the screen as well as an on-screen keyboard. You can then search by typing or by voice.

I hope you were able to find your lost file, or at least to find some hints useful for next time.

Self Help: Web Site Issues

This article is part of a series on how to solve basic computer issues yourself.

Today’s article will help you with problems you may encounter on the web. A common problem is that some web site is misbehaving. Maybe you can’t logon, or maybe some feature or page of the site isn’t working properly.

In this scenario, you are probably thinking: I can’t believe that those idiots at major-fortune-500-company have a bug like this on their web site! If it’s this bad for everyone, no one can buy or use their product.

You’re probably right that if this problem was affecting everyone, it would already be fixed. So, there is probably something you can change on your computer to fix it.

After each step below, try accessing the problem site again, looking for any change or improvement.

Solution Steps

  • Keep Calm – computer problems don’t respond well to anger or curse words, but they can seldom resist an icy cool analysis.
  • Make sure you are visiting the correct site. Are you at goggle.com or giggle.com? Does the correct site name end in .com, .org, or something else?
  • Make sure your internet is working for other sites. Are you able to browse to other major web sites? Try Apple.com, for example.
  • Make sure your web browser is updated to the latest version:
    • Chrome: select Chrome/About Google Chrome
    • Safari: open the App Store and click Updates
    • Firefox: select Firefox/About Firefox
  • Open the affected site in a Private Browsing Window/ Incognito Window. This will disable extensions and ignore web history and fixes many issues:
    • Chrome: select File/New Incognito Window
    • Safari: select File/New Private Window
    • Firefox: select File/New Private Window
  • Clear your browsing history and cache. Sometimes outdated cache information breaks a site’s functionality. Note: This will log you out of all web sites, and you will have to re-login to all your favorite sites.
    • Chrome: select Chrome/Clear Browsing Data. Select All Time.
    • Safari: select Safari/Preferences. Click Privacy. Click Manage Website Data. You can choose to Remove All, or remove just the data for the affected site.
    • Firefox: select Firefox/Preferences. Click Privacy & Security. Scroll down to Cookies and Site Data. Click Clear Data.
  • Check your ad blockers and similar browser extensions. For example, if you have Ad Block+ installed, you may want to exempt your problem site to prevent accidental blockage of site features. You can try temporarily turning off extensions to troubleshoot. To see a list of your installed extensions:
    • In Chrome: visit chrome://extensions/
    • In Safari: select Safari/Preferences and click Extensions
    • In Firefox: select Tools/Add-ons and Themes
  • Resize or reorient your browser window. Maybe a button or other control you need is off-screen.
    • Try entering full-screen mode on the Mac (green button in window header).
    • Try a different screen resolution. System Preferences/Display
    • If you are on a mobile device, turn it sideways
    • If you are using the mobile version of the site, try requesting the desktop version, or vice versa (using a site-specific menu).
  • Try quitting and restarting your browser.
  • Try restarting your entire computer or device.

The steps above will solve a surprising number of strange web issues. Let us know what worked for you.

Read the Friendly Manual

Your Apple device didn’t come with a manual in the box, but they are available for free, and they are very nice.

Apple publishes manuals for all their hardware and software and makes them available in the Books App. The Books App is included on every Macintosh, iPad and iPhone.

Books Icon

There are very nice manuals for every model of Macintosh, iPhone and iPad, as well as Apple Watch, Home Pod and Apple TV.

There are users guides for iOS, Pages, Numbers, and Keynote.

Of course, there are many other books in the store about these subjects, by many different publishers, and most of them are not free.

Once you’ve opened the Books App, to find the free, Apple-published items, look for the Apple User Guides link on the right hand side of the Books App, under Quick Links. The guides are usually named either User Guide or Essentials, for example, iMac Essentials, or iPhone User Guide.

In the Quick Links Section of the Books App, Click Apple User Guides

You will definitely learn something from these. Amaze your friends and family with your expertise — Read the Manual!