Tops Tips 6 – Apple’s control centre

So which of you iPad and iPhone owners are using their Control Centre?

We thought so.

So, with a bit of downtime coming up later this month, we thought it would be useful to give you some top tips on how to use it.

The Control Centre is one of iOS7’s best features. It’s like the right click of your computer mouse: one swipe (even from a locked screen) and you are presented with a menu of everything you need most often.

Whatever screen you are in, you get to it the same way: just place your finger at the bottom middle of the screen – directly above the home button if your device is upright – and swipe upwards to reveal a screen that looks like this:photo-5

The Control Centre saves searching through endless menus to find what you need – here are a few of our favourite functions:

Airplane mode – turns off access to the outside world – including wi-fi and Bluetooth. Top tip: if your network is struggling, you can reset it by tapping the airplane mode to off and then on again.

Wi-fi – useful for saving battery life if you’re not in a wi-fi zone.

Bluetooth – connect to your car stereo or Bluetooth speakers. Switch off to save battery life.

Music controls – so you can pause, skip or simply see which track is playing without going to your music app.

iPhone control centre2AirPlay – the AirPlay icon appears when you have access to another AirPlay device – like an Apple TV or an AirPlay accessible speaker – switch it on and you can stream music or send photos or movies to your TV or speakers.

Timer – set it for anything up to 24 hours – use it to remind you to baste the turkey.

Camera – the one we use most often, this opens the camera straight away, so you can grab that action shot before it’s too late.

There are other functions you can access from the Control Centre which you may find useful – why not test the Do Not Disturb switch after your Christmas lunch?

 

Top Tips 5 : Getting started with Windows 8.1

Window Start

Those of you who read Top Tips 4 will know we were getting quite grumpy with Microsoft. Two weeks on and our laptop has a new hard drive, we’ve installed Windows 8.1 and we’re almost back on speaking terms with Microsoft. We’ve had 3 days with their new OS.

Here’s what we like:

The Start button – This is the “click here for everything” button in the bottom left corner of your screen. Windows 8 didn’t have one, which was a bit like driving without brakes. With 8.1, the Admin menu is back when you right click – including all the old start button options such as “Control Panel” that you need to stay in control of your computer. In a face-saving move by Microsoft, the left click is reserved for alternating your desktop between the Start screen (see above – the big, brightly coloured square tiles preferred by Microsoft executives and children) and the Windows desktop (see below – the way you expect a computer to look, preferred by grown-ups).Desktop

Start screen – OK, maybe we’re showing our middle-agedness a bit with that last comment. Now that the traditional desktop is just a click away, we quite like the tiled Start Windows 8 App PiningScreen. It is very easy to set up with shortcuts to all our favourite apps (that’s a “programme” for the traditionalists amongst us)  and websites, including a big coloured square that takes us to our preferred desktop.

Here’s how:

click the down arrow (at the bottom left of the Start screen) to bring up the apps screen, click on the app you want and at the bottom of the window choose ‘Pin to Start’ to put a coloured tile on the Start screen and ‘Pin to taskbar’ to put an icon in the taskbar that runs along the bottom of your regular desktop.

Boot to desktop – If you’re not as down with the kids as we are and you just want things to be back to normal, then you can set your computer to skip the big coloured squares altogether and start up with the more familiar desktop:

right click the taskbar (the strip along the bottom of the desktop)

choose Properties then Navigation.

under ‘Start screen’ select

‘When I sign in or close all applications on a screen, go to the desktop instead of Start’.

Apps charmsCharms  these are a selection of useful shortcuts. When you are in an app such as Word, either move your mouse up to the top right corner (no click needed) or press the Windows key and the letter C at the same time. Take a minute in each app to familiarise yourself with its Charms – once you start using them, they can save a lot of time.

Keyboard shortcuts  There are 4 other short-cuts that we think are worth learning:

Windows + S (press the Windows button and the letter S at the same time) – this opens a search box: just type in what you are looking for and the computer does all the hard work of finding and remembering where you put something 

Windows + X – this opens the Admin menu – the traditional Start menu mentioned earlier

Windows + I – this opens the Settings menu for the app you are working in, as well as volume, brightness and power 

Windows + H – this is the shortcut to the Share menu, which allows you to instantly send an email with the thing you are working on or post it on a social network 

One to avoid: Windows + Enter – this starts the Narrator reading everything on your screen. To stop it, use Caps+Esc key

That should be enough to get started.

Don’t download that update yet – Top Tips 4

mavericksThe operating system (or OS) on your computer is the main programme that controls the way your computer works, looks and interacts with the world. So you’d think it makes sense to keep your OS right up to date. But that’s not always the case.

This week Apple launched a new OS called Mavericks. Like every Apple update, it is evolutionary and everything looks familiar – so it feels just like the old system and nobody gets stressed. Mavericks promises to make your computer more secure, easier to use, faster and more energy efficient. Best of all it’s free, so it’s a no-brainer to download and install it. It works with every Apple made after early 2009 and some older computers too.

Apple store queuesBut a word of advice – wait a while. Pretty much every piece of new technology is launched with bugs. These are uncovered by the early adopters (the people who queue outside Apple shops) and ironed out in the first few weeks. We loaded Mavericks yesterday (OK, sometimes we’re in that queue) and we’ve already had a few issues with a scanner and the music in the office. Nothing serious, but unless you need to discuss the new OS on day 2 in the playground, it’s worth waiting a month.

With Microsoft, it’s sometimes worth waiting much longer.

Windows 8.1Windows 8 launched a year ago and most people who moved to it (us included) wish they hadn’t. It’s a lemon. Many have reversed the move and gone back to Windows 7.

Windows 7 is still used by half the world’s computers (as opposed to the 8% that run on Windows 8) because it is more straightforward and reliable. If you’ve got Windows 7, cherish it. Say “Yes” to all the updates that will keep your computer safe and running smoothly, and wait to see what Microsoft launch next year.

Similarly, if you’re running an older Windows OS (Vista, XP or 2000) then don’t stress yourself or your computer with a change – wait until you buy your next computer.

If you’re stuck with Windows 8, then this month’s 8.1 update comes with a health warning. We ignored our own advice and tried to install it in week 1. The result is a dead laptop (properly dead; fully bereft of life; an ex-laptop). We’re working on a resurrection, but with no help from Microsoft, who have hung up on us twice. If you hold stock, sell.

www.atyourfingertips-uk.com | 020 8994 7773

Top Tips 3: how to give your iPad 125 times more memory

In last week’s Top Tips 2, we mentioned that we watch movies on our iPad from a separate hard drive and some of you have asked “How?”

Here’s how: It’s called a Kingston Mobilelite and it costs about £40. You load your films, music, photos, home movies and files onto a hard drive (or onto a USB stick or memory card).

MobileLite

You plug the hard drive into the MobileLite and it uses WiFi to talk with your tablet or phone. That’s it. The hard drive in the picture has a huge capacity (2TB) so it holds every photo, album, movie and file that we have. If Apple sold an iPad with that much memory, then – at their current rates for extra memory – it would cost £7,000.

Top Tips 1: iPhone Dysfunction

So you’ve had iOS 7 for a fortnight and the honeymoon is over – you’re enjoying the new design, but it’s draining your battery at an alarming rate. Here’s some ways to give your phone a bit more stamina – keeping some battery power for things you really need.
iOS 7
1. Turn off location services for all but those apps that really need it – do you really want  the Angry Bird to know where you are?
Go to Settings – Privacy – Locations Services  then choose the apps that you really need location services for (like Maps and Camera) and switch off the rest.
2. Switch off Parallax – it’s the 3D effect for your app buttons. Cool for 2 minutes – a complete waste of battery.  Settings – General – Accessibility  and turn on  Reduce Motion.
3. Change your email settings so that you emails are ‘pushed’ to your account less often. Settings – Mail, Contacts, Calendar – Fetch New Data You can switch off Push altogether, or, if you have less important email accounts on your phone,  you can choose which of your email accounts to fetch or push.
4. Lower the brightness of your screen – sounds obvious, but this is a big battery drain. Settings – Wallpapers & Brightness; use Auto-Brightness or to be really frugal, manually set it low.
5. Turn off the system diagnostics and usage function – this is a setting for Apple to gather data about how you use your phone – enough said. Settings – General – About  scroll right down to the bottom to Diagnostics & Usage then select Don’t Send.
6. Stop notifications that you don’t need: Settings – Notification Center and then work out which apps you’d like to send you news and which you don’t need to hear from.
7. This isn’t new to iOS 7, but only have Bluetooth and WiFi on when you need them. It’s much easier to switch them on and off with iOS7. Just slide up the  Control Centre menu from the bottom of the home screen and switch them on and off.
Follow these 7 simple rules and your iPhone should last all day.