Tag Archives: Bluetooth

Five Tip Friday ~ Mac odds and ends

1/ Remove a connected Bluetooth device on your Mac — Click the Bluetooth menu at top right of your screen and choose Bluetooth Preferences or, if you can’t see that menu, open System Preferences and click the Bluetooth tab and tick ‘Show Bluetooth in menu bar. Either way, now you see your paired devices
within that pane. Right- or Control-click (hold down the Control or CTRL key on your keyboard and then click) on the connected Bluetooth device in question and pick Rename from the contextual menu. You’ll be asked for the new name you want. Type it in, click Rename and you will be able to identify your devices more easily.

2/ iCloud is online and you can access it this way — All your iCloud connected activity is available to you online., free, thanks to your iCloud account. This is a web page dedicated securely to you. In a web browser (on any device) go to http://www.icloud.com, sign in with the email address associated with your Apple ID and your Apple ID password (that for iTunes, app Store etc, not your Mac or device password or passcode) and you can see all your information, including Contacts, email if you have a free iCloud email address, and even documents you have shared from Pages, Notes, Reminders, Numbers etc. Just make sure you sign out before closing the browser if you’re doing this on someone else device.
Signing in online also lets you find your devices on a map, as below …

3/ Make sure Find My Mac is enabled — Nothing worse than losing your Mac, but have you really turned on this feature? Open System Preferences, click iCloud and scroll down to turn this on. But if it has an exclamation mark in a  yellow triangle, you have not enabled Location Services. You may have turned this off for greater security, but you can turn it on and only have the Find my Mac feature using it. In System Preferences, click Security & Privacy and under the Privacy tab, click Enable Location Services. You can then tick what apps on your Mac use it (or not).
Now you can visit http://www.iCloud.com to see if your Mac is showing up on the map of your devices. If you need more help with how to do that, here’s an Apple support article – just follow the instructions under the ‘Find your missing Mac’ section.

4/ Downloading iCloud Photo Library pictures — If you’re using iCloud Photo Library, Apple’s service for syncing all your pictures across your devices, you can choose to keep your images stored locally on your Mac, which is definitely the safe way to go. But how do you tell how your service is set up? Open Photos on your Mac and choose Preferences from the Photos menu, and chick the iCloud tab.
The topmost choice is iCloud Photo Library – this will be on if you’re syncing your library across your devices. If yours is currently turned off and you’re thinking about turning it on, be sure you’ve got a backup first! And it’d be good to read Apple’s support article on it too.
The two other options are Download Originals to this Mac and Optimize Mac Storage. The first keeps a copy of everything on your Mac; the second manages your library automatically, only storing as many pictures as you have space for.
If you have the space on your Mac (MacBooks and MacBook Airs have very small internal storage, so this may not be an option for you), most recommend the Download Originals to this Mac option. That way, you can do things like offline editing, and you can also back up your library through Time Machine (or what have you) so it’s protected in case a problem with iCloud that causes data loss crops up (rare, almost unheard of, but by no means impossible, and t’s also subject to good internet connectivity, of course). Never think of syncing services as a backup, and especially not as your ONLY backup.
If you’ve got Optimize Mac Storage on and you didn’t intend it to be, that may mean that some of your pictures are only living up in iCloud and aren’t on your Mac any more. If you’ve got the storage to accommodate all of your stuff, you can just toggle that particular setting to Download Originals to this Mac instead, and then that re-downloading will begin. Depending on the number of affected items you have, the process could take a while.

5/ Keep just a subset of your photos on your Mac — If you  just want to download a subset to your Mac, one way to do it is by configuring an album or smart album with the pictures you want to pull down. Start setting this up underneath the File menu inside Photos.
New Album and New Empty Album are both choices you can use. If you pick either of those, add items to them according to your preferences.
The New Smart Album option is pretty handy if the images you want to download meet criteria that you could configure using rules – for example, if all images you want were shot  between specific dates.
Once you’ve got your album or smart album set up, an easy way to download its contents is to first turn on Photos’ sidebar by choosing View>Show Sidebar or by pressing Option-Command-S; then you’ll right- or Control-click on your new album in the sidebar to pick the appropriate option from the contextual menu.
After the download is complete, you should have local copies of your pictures, and then you can back them up or do whatever you need to. And if you start having trouble, here’s another Apple support article on troubleshooting your iCloud Photo Library.

[These iCloud photo tips came from Mac Observer.]

Five Tip Friday ~ Settings and extras in Mac OS X

1/ You can turn the scroll bars back on — In System Preferences, which is probably in the Dock (grey cogwheels) and if it’s not, it’s always available from the Apple menu) on the General tab, you can turn ‘Show scroll bars’ to  ‘Always,’ and your scroll bars will always be visible. Then you’ll always know if a field is scrollable.

2/ Safari Favorites (sic) — OS X by default now hides the favourites bar in Safari. To turn them back on, just choose View>Show Favorites Bar.


3/ Change the Dock appearance — The so-called stacks that appear on the right-side of the Dock (or at the bottom if you have the Dock on the side, as I do, above) can be confusing. Folders in the Dock show their contents rather than a folder icon, which means the way they look changes when something new is added to the folder it’s linked to (this is in the area to the right or bottom, between the Trash and the vertical divider line, which is the area for files and folders rather than apps as in the rest go the Dock). To switch this, right- or Control-click on one of those Dock folder icons on the right or bottom, and choose ‘Display as…Folder’ from the popout menu.

4/ Add descriptive text to Mail’s toolbar — To make Mail’s icons more understandable, right- or Control-click on Mail’s toolbar (the grey strip across the top of the window) and choose ‘Icon and Text’ from the menu that’ll appear, and those icons will actually mean something.


5/ Bluetooth’s secret Debug menu — If you’re having issues with a connected peripheral device like a Bluetooth keyboard or mouse, there’s a special menu option buried beneath the Bluetooth symbol near the top-right of your screen. (If you’re missing that icon, open System Preferences, select the Bluetooth tab and check ‘Show Bluetooth in menu bar’.)
Once you can see it at top right of your screen, hold down the Shift and the Option keys on your keyboard at the same time, then click on the icon. A Debug menu appears. This contains a few very useful choices: Reset the Bluetooth module” completely wipes all of the hardware module’s settings. Enable Bluetooth logging creates a new log file (viewable within Applications > Utilities > Console) that you can check out if you’re great at parsing log-speak.
The fourth option, Remove all devices, would be great to know about if you were moving, say, a mouse and keyboard to a new workstation, as they’d then be easy to pair with the new Mac.
The third choice, Factory reset all connected Apple devices, forces your Apple stuff back to factory settings, which is an incredible troubleshooting step if you’ve already tried things like turning the devices off and on again, unpairing and re-pairing, deleting Bluetooth preferences, resetting the SMC, and so on. Your Mac will give you a somewhat ambiguous (but still scary!) warning if you attempt to do this:

Extra: there’s one more quick trick. If you hold down Shift-Option, click on the Bluetooth menu, and then select one of your connected devices, you can choose to do a factory reset on that device only.
(Be aware that if you choose to do a factory reset on anything, you’ll have to re-pair it to your Mac, so here are Apple’s instructions on how you do so. But hopefully, whatever big bad Bluetooth problems you were having will be resolved after that, and nothing will have to get thrown at the wall or set on fire or stomped into pieces out of anger! A girl can dream.)

(These Bluetooth tips via Mac Observer.)

Review: UE MegaBoom wireless speaker

UEBoomLogitech’s latest all-in-one wireless speaker unit is out, and it’s even louder than the last one. It’s under the UE (Ultimate Ears) brand of bespoke audio products which go up into the professional arena – earbuds and other audio equipment, including thousand-dollar earbuds that reproduce the frequency range 5Hz-22KHz.

Rugged, a little hefty and cylindrical, this latest unit is well named, as it’s even louder – startlingly so – and more bassy than its predecessor.

The MegaBoom is designed to be grabbed and taken with you, for instant parties anywhere. It’s the perfect companion to, say, TV On Demand or Netflix on iPad, not to mention adding a whole new spectrum of immersive enjoyment to games. Also, thanks to it’s 360° sound emanation, it doesn’t matter all that much where you place it, although you won’t get stereo of course.  Maximum Sound Level is 90dBA with a frequency range of 65Hz to 20kHz; there are speakers and even earbuds that go higher and lower, but that’s a decent enough range for a standalone accessory speaker and better than many. Midtones are clear and high tones crisp, and bass is surprisingly deep. The challenge with any kind of compact speaker is first, to get any real bass at all, and secondly to get any definition in that bass. The sound output is all thanks to two 2-inch drivers and two 2×4-inch passive radiators – these are typically like speakers without their own drivers – they bounce and radiate due to the sound from the other speakers that do have drivers.

The MegaBoom is tough, with a woven-fibre cover and rubberised top and bottom plus the side panel with the massive Plus and Minus volume controls. Since it’s waterproof; you can pretty much take it anywhere. It’s so waterproof, Logitech reckons, you can actually drop it in into water and it will survive. I wasn’t game to try it (besides, I had to send the unit back). Quite how sound can come out where water can get in, I don’t know.

On the underside is a D-ring – so you can hang the unit – and that’s removable to reveal a tripod mount. Also on the underside are ‘weather doors’ that open to reveal the charge port and the stereo minipin auxiliary-in port, to connect outputs via wire. It stands 22.6cm high, it’s 8.3cm in diameter and weighs 877g.

Charge it up for 20 hours music — it has Lithium rechargeables inside that reach peak charge in 2.5 hours via the supplied micro USB cable and, in the case of the dark grey unit anyway, this goes into a fluorescent green power brick for charging. Untypically, by the way, once these rechargeables lose their kick, they can be replaced.

I found it hard, at first, to pair with my Mac, but easy with the iPad and iPhone, where it appeared as discoverable immediately after holding in the top-mounted Bluetooth button for a couple of seconds. So the usual sound files I run to see what speakers/earphones/headphone can do had to be run from my iDevices. Do this via Settings/System Preferences>Bluetooth. Once it’s playing, the App equaliser settings make an immediate difference; I found I mostly preferred my custom setting that dropped the bass a little and boosted the very top end worked best for my music.

Sounds — Good. The amazing thing is how much sound this thing, a little shorter than my forearm, can pump out. I always use the same test songs: Tropical Hotdog Night by Captain Beefheart, is one of my all time faves with a great range of tones; it really pushes speakers and it’s a good test of how well they can define, and keep up with, a range of sounds across the spectrum.
Public Image Ltd by Public Image is a great test of bass thanks to Jah Wobble’s habit of leaning a four-speaker box up against a wall then putting pics on the wall, rather than to the speakers, to record. This can overwhelm the bass response of almost anything.
Finally, Alanis Morrisette’s You Oughta Know has a great speaker stress point just after three minutes when she’s done her wailing bit and the bass and everything else comes back in. If you can clearly hear the bassline bobbling along and then its higher-range riffs (really nice bass work, here) you are probably on to a good thing. Also, Morrisette’s voice is a good push in the vocal range, straining as it does sometimes to express her jilted anger.

Mostly, the UE kept up – and I’m talking flat-out full volume. It’s slightly muddied compared to a dedicated speaker setup, but remarkably good considering it’s not. I get awesome, taut mids on my Mission stereo speakers, and this is missing on the UE – and to be fair, it’s missing from most other things I’ve ever tested. But the Megaboom certainly has the volume you can have a good time to, and loud enough, if you have it outside, to annoy the neighbours a bit. In other words, it’s damned impressive.
Run it as-is, as a Mac speaker (if you can pair it – actually, I easily could once I updated the Boom’s firmware via the app) or as an iDevice sound system or use the free UE MegaBoom app (for iOS) to set audio profiles, use a 5-band EQ, run two MegaBooms at once, and to choose between the sound profiles ‘Stereo’ (if you have two) or ‘Double’.

Megaboom app
Under More you’ll find other options, for example you can give your Mega Boom a distinctive name, handy if there are more around, and you can turn the built-in audio alerts on or off.
These are actually pretty handy – there’s a start-up sound, an off sound when it decides to sleep (after a certain period of non-use), there’s a Bluetooth ‘discoverable’ melody, and if you hold the volume up and down buttons in together for a couple of seconds, a woman’s US-accent voice tells you how much charge you have: ‘Sixty percent charge.’ It also let me update the firmware – all this was under Settings.
You can also select one of nine languages (2 Asian, 7 European) to run in.

Colour option blue
Colour option blue

However, I utterly failed to find this app via the App Store on the iPad, but I did find it in iTunes on my Mac, and downloaded and syncced it that way to an iPhone and an iPad. If you do find the app, it can even set a musical alarm that will have you leaping out of bed to your favourite – or perhaps more effectively, to your least favourite – track.
The setup guide (you can run two Booms at once and pair any one Megaboom to two devices at once) is best read online, I found.

Mac NZ Buying Advice — For many situations most m=people can think of, this Bluetooth speaker has everything going for it.

Logitech Ultimate Ears MegaBoom, NZRRP $399.90. Available in dark grey, red, purple or blue.

More info at Logitech NZ.

Review Logitech Bluetooth Multi-device Keyboard k480

A single keyboard promises text entry for three your devices
A single keyboard promises text entry for three your devices

iPads and even iPhones are OK for banging out a few lines (aka ‘word processing’), sure, but if you seriously want to bash out some words, a real keyboard is the only answer. Unfortunately, it’s an expensive solution if you require one for each device – Mac, iPad, iPhone. That’s the issue the k480 tries to address, with its switchable Bluetooth pairings. It works for Mac, Windows, iOS and Android, so either device combo you have is catered to: press ‘PC’ at top right of the keyboard for Windows/Android and ‘i’ Mac/iOS. So it won’t work for you if your device menagerie of choice is a mixed platform one.

If you are using the k480 with a Mac, you’ll notice the Start, Alt and Ctrl keys have ‘opt’ and ‘cmd’ (Option and Command) under those words in grey. There are single-purpose Control and Function modifier keys, too (marked ‘ctrl’ and ‘fn’).

It might be a strange colour combo but somehow it looks pretty slick to me
Black and pale green might seem a strange colour combo but somehow it looks pretty slick to me

The keyboard is ’80s retro-futurist in white with rounded-edge keys, or in black with an almost flouro yellowy-green slot above the number keys. It looks like it should be on the set of UFO or Space 1999. It is relatively thick top to bottom (about 20mm at the thickest, top edge and 16mm on the spacebar side).

In the groove - you can probably fit two devices at once
In the groove – you can probably fit two devices at once

This thickness allows a mobile device to sit in a slot along the top as a kind of de facto laptop. You can fit in an iPad mini, portrait, along with the smaller iPhone 6 (even when it’s in an Apple case) alongside each other. I found the angle and space for comfortable typing about right, which explains the physical size of the keyboard. To pair it with a Mac, turn it on underneath (two AAA batteries are preinstalled under a panel on the underside) and hold in the ‘i’ key for three seconds so that the little blue LED to the right of the ‘i’ key blinks (three seconds) and then you can pair it the usual way via System Preferences>Bluetooth.

The keyboard appears in the Device list and click ‘Pair’. Whatever that number is on the number dial at top left, switching that to another changes the connection – in other words, it disconnects the Mac.

The three-position device selector works well
The three-position device selector works well

To connect it to something else, change the number on the three-position dial, open Settings on the iDevice, tap Bluetooth, hold that keyboard’s right-top button in for three seconds, it appears as ‘Keyboard’ in the Bluetooth list and choose it to pair. From then on, choose the right number and that device is connected, the others aren’t.

For the Mac, the keyboard feels feels a bit weird, kinda ‘buttony’, as if you are really pressing buttons instead of depressing keyboard keys. It’s funny that when you flip the switch to the iPhone pairing then type on the keyboard it feels totally different, because you are no longer typing on virtual keys on glass, you’re typing on real keys nice and far apart, which is quite liberating. So in an odd way, it feels better for iDevices than it does for a Mac.

Conclusion — What seems great for iDevices seems a bit clunky for a Mac, compared to an Apple keyboard anyway, but it will suit those more used to a Windows keyboard layout. However, the switchable aspect works a charm and it might be the device you’ve been craving for your digital life, since it’s not too pricey.

What’s great  — Easy to pair, easy to switch, liberating having a keyboard work with two or even three iDevices, so you could also get one keyboard and pair it with three people’s devices, assigning them each a number. Then let the fighting over who has the keyboard begin!

What’s not — Doesn’t actually feel that great to type on.At least it’s not expensive.

Logitech Bluetooth Multi-device Keyboard k480, NZ$79.70

System — Bluetooth wireless computers or mobile devices which support external keyboards (HID profile), including Mac OS X, PCs running Windows 7, 8 or later or Chrome OS; iPad/iPhone iOS 5 or later and Android devices with Android 3.2 or later. Internet connection (for optional software download).

Available from — Electronics retailers. More info from Logitech.