Bad battery life on iPhone XS and XS Max? Here's a fix

Saturday October 6, 2018

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People have been complaining that the battery life on the new iPhone XS and the XS Max is bad, and certainly not what they were expecting.

It turns out a solution might be pretty simple. Just turn off the new Screen Time feature. Introduced with iOS 12, this is intended to record the amount of time, and activities, that users use their phone for, so it can be moderated. But it seems it’s been programmed in an inefficient way that requires not insignificant battery juice to make it work—certainly more than we might anticipate from a background service. Lots of people on Reddit have been reporting improvements turning it off.

Turning off Screen Time is easy. Just open the Settings app, and scroll down to the Screen Time heading. Then scroll down to the bottom of the listing that follows and select Turn Off Screen Time.

Of course, the old tricks for saving battery life still apply: Ensure you keep screen brightness as low as it needs to be, and be aware that certain apps like games chew through battery life in any event.

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Dark mode on MacOS Mojave—how to make it better

Sunday September 30, 2018

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For better or worse I’ve a lot of faith in Apple’s engineers and if they introduce a new feature that I immediately don’t like, I know better than to abandon it and never look at it again.

Initially, I didn’t like the new Dark Mode. I’m still not 100% committed, but I’ve experimented with it, and here’s a handful of tips that you can try to make it better.

  1. Remember Night Shift, the feature introduced back in High Sierra to shift the whites away from pure/blue white as the sun goes down? This can make a huge difference to the white glare seen within application windows like browsers when using Dark Mode. In fact, in my opinion, Night Shift can make more Dark Mode much more tolerable. So play around with Night Shift. Turn it on 24 hours a day and adjust the slider perhaps towards Less Warm to see what effect you can achieve. On newer MacBook Pros you might also enable True Tone if you’ve previously disabled it. You’ll find both Night Shift and True Tone settings in the System Preferences app—click the Displays icon, and you’ll then find Night Shift has its own tab, while the True Tone setting can be found under the Display tab.
  2. If you’ve created your own display colour calibration then this will likely affect Dark Mode a lot. Try switching to macOS’ default colour profile for your display, or try recalibrating with Dark Mode enabled. You can switch colour profiles by selecting System Preferences, selecting Displays, and selecting the Colour tab.
  3. More and more apps have Dark Mode features to work with Mojave, so ensure you update all your apps. Note that there’s been reports that the “Sparkle” system used by many non-App Store apps to autoupdate isn’t working properly at the moment under Mojave, so you might need to go to the developer’s website and download a new version there.
  4. Quite a few websites have their own Dark Mode settings for desktop browsers, although sometimes they refer to this as Night Mode instead (or something similar). Here’s a few to try:
    • Twitter: Click your profile icon at the top right and then select Night Mode at the bottom of the menu that appears.
    • YouTube: This only works on the new site design, but again click your profile image at the top right and select the Dark Theme menu option.
    • Reddit: Again, this is limited to the somewhat derided new visual style of Reddit, but select your profile icon at the top right and select the Night Mode switch.
    • Duck Duck Go: Click the menu icon at the top right, and then select the right-most theme option from the four colour circle choices.
    • Gmail: Click the cog icon near the top right, select Themes from the menu that appears, then scroll down to beneath the image-based themes (around a third of the way). To the right of the default theme will be a black square, and if you hover over it you’ll see this reads “Dark”. Select it.
    Know of any other website dark mode settings? Share in the comments below. (If you’re wondering when Mac Kung Fu will get an option for Dark Mode, the answer is never because I barely understand the site CSS as it stands… Although if somebody wants to hack the CSS for dark mode then please do let me know.)
  5. There are actually two versions of Dark Mode. The first is seen if the accent colour in System Preferences > General is set to anything but grey. Set it to grey, however, and you get a harder black tone. Play with it and see which you like.
  6. There’s a variety of website style sheet hacks around, including Dark Mode for Safari and Dark Reader for both Google Chrome and Firefox. These force the page to switch the white background for a dark colour, even though it isn’t designed for this. However, in my opinion these rarely work correctly and make sites both look ugly and make them hard to use—things can become invisible. Really, it requires the site’s UI designer to specifically create a dark theme for things to look right.
  7. Pending Microsoft Word getting a Dark Mode, you can switch the page to black or a darker colour by selecting the Design ribbon, and then the Page Color icon. If you then select to hide the ribbon, it doesn’t look too incongruous in Dark Mode.


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Speed-up macOS Mojave boot time

Saturday September 29, 2018

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Some people have been reporting slow boot times after upgrading to macOS Mojave.

Here are some steps to try and alleviate this issue—please do try all of these in the sequence given, and don’t cherry pick ones that seem easiest. My guess is that you’ve ended-up here after trying other basic solutions such as pruning your account’s startup apps list:

  1. Reset the SMC.
  2. Reset the NVRAM/PRAM.
  3. Reboot to safe mode, and then reboot again to see if the problem has been fixed.
  4. Run the Maintenance app (although (a) be careful because this is a powerful app that can delete data if used wrongly and (b) at the time of writing (Sept 2018) it isn’t yet available for Mojave, although will be soon.)
  5. Try uninstalling software that utilises kernel modules. This might sound complicated but typical examples include antimalware apps/virus scanners, firewall apps, virtualisation software, screen sharing tools, and some NAS apps.
  6. Try examining and removing startup services using the excellent KnockKnock app.


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Some nice macOS Mojave tricks

Tuesday September 25, 2018

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Now that we’ve all got our hands on Mojave, let’s take a quick look at some nice little tricks new to this version of Mojave.

  1. Get a Start menu list of apps: Just right-click/Ctrl+click the Launchpad icon in the Dock and you’ll see a Windows Start-menu-like list of your apps.
  2. Create instant photos: Continuity Camera isn’t just limited to inserting pics into docs or notes. You can right-click/ctrl+click anywhere in a Finder window, or on the desktop, and select Import From Phone to instantly take a snapshot with your phone or iPad and save it as a file or PDF. It literally takes seconds. Bearing in mind you can also create “scans” of documents this way, this is a nice way of “scanning” your daily mail before destroying it for a truly paper-free office!
  3. Keep folders “on top” on the desktop: Look at the Advanced tab of Finder’s Preferences dialog box and you’ll see a new option to keep folders on top on just the desktop, leaving Finder windows with the traditional unsorted look. This will mean that folders will always be shown at the top right of the desktop, before any other icon or stack.
  4. Go dark in Safari: The whiteness of a webpage can be very bright if you’re using the new dark mode. You can fix this using the Dark Mode for Safari extension. It costs $1.99.
  5. No need for USB: As usual with the release of a new macOS, there are a million articles explaining how to turn macOS into a USB-stick installer. Who said blogging was just the same old recycled crap?! Well, there’s actually no need for a USB stick. Simply hold down Cmd+Option+R (or Cmd+Alt+R on some keyboards) when booting and before the Apple logo appears, to start an internet-based installation. Note that this will wipe your existing installation of macOS, and this will only work if you’re already running High Sierra on a modern Mac.
  6. Auto-time dark mode: This nice little app will let you switch to dark mode at night, and light mode during the daytime (or indeed, you can switch at any time). It’s free but the developer suggests a donation if you like the app. And why not?!
  7. Get the old dark mode: Want the old dark mode, where only the menu and Dock went dark and everything else stayed light? Here you go.
  8. Turn off News notifications: By default the new News app will flash-up notifications about all headlines it thinks are interesting—everything from celebrity gossip, to trivial news stories. I doubt very much you will need or want this. You can turn off notifications in the usual way using the Notifications icon within the System Preferences app—just select News in the list of apps at the left and then click the None icon at the right.
  9. Search the News app: It’s not obvious how to search for new channels or specific news stories within the new News app. The solution is simple—just click either the date or the Apple News text in the top left of the window. A search field will slide into view.
  10. View trending apps: Want to view a list of apps that are trending in popularity within the new App Store? Just click in the Search field. A list will appear beneath.

You got any more tips? Post them in the comments below.


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