Category Archives: How-to

Is iCloud up, or not?

iCloud icon

Apple has a web page showing the status of iCloud services such as iCloud Backups, iCloud Contacts synching, iCloud Calendar synching, and so on. If something “cloudy” isn’t working for you, maybe it’s not you! Maybe iCloud is down. See the current iCloud services status by clicking here.

Bonus: you’ll see a lot more than iCloud status on that page.

Apple Services Status Page

Apple Services Status Page

You’ll also see the status of various iTunes services (iTunes Match, the iTunes Store, iTunes in the Cloud, Apple Music), and the status of the Mac App Store, and the status of FaceTime, Find My Friends, and many, many more. Apple historically has a great track record of keeping their services running, but every so often something goes down. If you’re having problems with something that needs to tap into one of Apple’s services, click the link to see the Apple Services Status page. You won’t know until you click.

How to show the Emoji and Symbols Palette

— How to show the Emoji and Symbols Palette —

You want to type things like this…

Smiley Emoji

Smiley Emoji

… but you don’t know how to do it. Until now!

Since Mac OS 10.9 (Mavericks) there’s been an Emoji & Symbols menu item at the bottom of the Edit menu in many Mac programs. Choose that and you get this:

Emoji & Symbols palette

Emoji & Symbols palette

Choose a category on the left, and then choose a symbol/picture on the right. Double-click the picture to insert it into your document (Mail, Pages document, Messages).

BONUS: keyboard shortcut is Control-Command-Spacebar.

How to find your email server settings

— How to find your email server settings —

You need to know your incoming and outgoing mail server settings when you’re setting up an email program. Apple provides a look-up website that will tell you what the settings are for your particular email address.

Mail Settings Lookup web page on

Mail Settings Lookup web page on–

They do not save your email address (and you could use a phony one anyway– if your real email address is “” you could enter “” and get the same server settings. Obviously you would use your own username when setting up your mail program).

Here’s what you get if you put in

Mail Settings Lookup server settings for

Mail Settings Lookup server settings for

Note: newer versions of Apple’s Mac Mail program use the same information so when you’re setting up Mail, it often can figure out the settings for you. Apple’s mail settings lookup page is especially useful when setting up some other program.

How to use the Mac’s Calculator from the Keyboard

— Use the Calculator from the Keyboard —

Picture of the Calculator app

The Calculator

It’s MUCH faster to operate the calculator from the keyboard than by clicking on it with the mouse. If you have a keyboard with a numeric keypad it’s super-quick to enter numbers, but you can use the number keys in the top row of your keyboard too.

Plus and Minus are easy to find on the keyboard, but Multiply and Divide are a little harder. Programmer-types will know that the asterisk (*) is used to multiply, and the slash (/) is used to divide. Now you know too.

Find the Calculator in the Applications folder, or use the Launch Pad. Click for more information on the Calculator.

How to delete a file without having to empty the trash

— How to delete a file without having to empty the trash —

You know that things you put into the trash aren’t really gone until you empty the trash, right? Turns out that in 10.11.x (El Capitan) you can throw something way and have it be deleted immediately if you want. Just click on the item you want to delete, then go to File/Move to Trash… except hold the Option key down while you do it, and you’ll see “Delete Immediately…”

Delete Immediately with the Option Key

Delete Immediately with the Option Key

You’ll still have to deal with a dialog box:
Are you sure you want to delete immediately?

Are you sure you want to delete immediately?

Keyboard Junkies: you know that Command-Delete (or Command-Backspace) sends the selected item to the Trash. So, if you hold the Option key while you do it (Command-Option-Delete) the items will be “Immediately Deleted.” Very fast– but then you have to deal with the “Are you sure” dialog box. Bonus Hint: use Command-D to click the “Delete” button in that box from the keyboard. Command-Option-Delete, then Command-D, takes care of everything.