Tag Archives: Tech Tip

Simple First Shortcut automation for ios

I follow The Loop and a recent post caught my eye. It is a simple Shortcut automation that almost everyone can try and use. This automation detects when your iOS device is connected to a charger and speaks “Charging”. While this is a trivial automation I can see where it will be useful.

Sometimes when I place my iPhone on my W-18 Thunder Plus Qi charging pad it isn’t aligned correctly. This will give a good audio feedback that I have positioned it for charging.

  • Open Shortcuts app on your iPhone
  • Tap the Automation tab in the center of the bottom of the screen
  • Tap the + in the top right corner of the screen
  • Tap “Create Personal Automation”
  • Scroll to the bottom and tap “Charger”
  • Make sure “Is Connected” is selected
  • Tap “Next”
  • In the search field that appears (bottom of screen), type “Speak”. The action “Speak Text” should appear. Tap on it.
  • Tap the “Text” area and type some text to speak, like “Charging”
  • Tap “Next”
  • Tap to turn off “Ask Before Running”.
  • Tap “Done”

I followed these easy instructions and created the Shortcut on my iPhone8. I placed it on my charging pad and after a moment I heard my phone say “Charging”. If you want to start exploring Shortcuts, this is a great first project.

You will find the original article at https://www.loopinsight.com/2021/01/13/a-simple-shortcuts-project/

See my other iOS related posts

Use a Shortcut to Automatically Connect your AirPods


(See my other Tech Tips posts) – I have AirPods and use them every day. Being stuck at home ‘sheltering-in-place’ I have been using them on my iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

The problem is that after using them with my Mac, it takes a while to get them reconfigured for my iPhone. Then I saw the article “AirPods: Automatically and instantly switch between iPhone, Mac & iPad” on the Mac Kung Fu Blog. I thought it might have solved that problem.

The described solution is to create a ‘Shortcut’ on your iPhone. When you open one of the designated Apps on your iPhone the Shortcut is triggered. The Shortcut will then connect your AirPods. I won’t repeat the detailed steps listed in the article. It is well written and easy to follow.

I have created that Shortcut (my first) and it seems to work well. You do have to have at least one of your AirPods in your ear. Wait until you hear the tone, then you can open the App on your iPhone.


Further Reading

  1. AirPods: Automatically and instantly switch between iPhone, Mac & iPad

Get More from the Textedit App

(See my other Tech Tip related posts) – We have all used the Textedit App on our Macs. But do you know all that it can do for you? The article “10 Things You May Not Know You Can Do With TextEdit On a Mac” helps to fill in some of the gaps in our Textedit knowledge.

I like this short (11:30) video from MacMost which explains some of the features of Textedit. MacMost uploaded the video to YouTube in April of 2020.

I have used Textedit for years, but I learned a few new things from watching this video. Their tagline for the video is:

TextEdit seems like a simple text editing tool, but it actually has some pretty rich features. You can do things like set document properties, edit code, define and use styles, insert images, audio, and video, and even export HTML documents.

See my other Mac and macOS related posts


Lost an AirPod? Here is how to find it

UnknownA few days ago I headed to the grocery store to top off our supplies for the week. Following local recommendations, I put on a facemask when I left the car. As I usually do when shopping, I had an AirPod in one ear and was listening to podcasts.

My grocery shopping completed I returned to my car and pulled off the face mask. Twang! The rubber bands holding the facemask on caught on the AirPod and it went flying. I looked around but I didn’t see it anywhere. After taking the groceries into the house, I went back out and searched the vehicle. Nothing!

I remembered that I had seen an article on finding missing AirPods. After a quick search, I found it. I returned to my vehicle and followed the outlined procedure. I was able to locate the missing AirPod by following the sound it was emitting. The sound was discernable at least 4-5 feet from the missing AirPod.

This was very useful as the AirPod wasn’t in the car. I found it along the sidewalk leading into the house. I doubt I would have easily found it had it not been for this procedure.

So how do you find a missing AirPod? (This was done on an iPhone 8 running 13.3.1)

  1. On my iPhone, I opened the ‘Find My’ App
  2. I scrolled down the list of devices and clicked on my AirPods
  3. I then clicked on the ‘Play Sound’ button
  4. In my case, I had lost only one of my AirPods so I was able to refine the search by selecting only the left AirPod to play the sound
  5. Now walk around the area and listen for the emitted sound

Screen Shot 2020-04-07 at 9.46.59 AM

iCloud is used to do a device search. When I logged into my Mac I found an email notifying me that a search had been performed.

I hope that this will come in handy for some of you. Far better than replacing an AirPod or buying a new pair.


Further Reading

  1. How to Use AirPods: Tips, Tricks and General Instructions

Improve Your Productivity by Remapping that Windows Keyboard


(See my other Tech Tip related posts) – I recently traveled again to Henderson, NV to visit family. I knew that I would be here for a while, so I brought my Mac Mini. Its size and solid-state drive make it easy to travel with.

I have a monitor available at the location I was headed to but I will need a keyboard and mouse. I chose not to bring the keyboard and mouse from my desk at home. I had secured the cables for those under my desk. I brought along instead a generic keyboard. This Windows keyboard works well, but the key layout isn’t the same as my Apple keyboard at home.

The video above is from the suggested Further Reading

There turns out to be a simple solution for this. Remap the keys to the more familiar Mac layout. I followed the procedure outlined in the video. Now the keyboard layout is Mac-friendly and much easier for me to use.

The desire is to remap the Modifier Keys. On a Windows keyboard those keys on the left-hand side are in the order:

Control Command  Option

On an Apple keyboard the order is:

Control Option  Command

I have been using the Apple keyboard for a decade. It is difficult to change typing behavior. By remapping the Modifier keys my typing becomes more efficient. This also means that I become a fraction more productive.

Further Reading

  1. How-To: Remap Windows keyboards to match the Mac keyboard layout

See my other Mac and macOS related posts


Save Email as a PDF with three simultaneous keystrokes


(See my other Tech Tips ) – I am always looking for ways to improve my productivity on the Mac. I wanted a method to save an email as a PDF in the easiest way.

If you are in the Mail App you can do this by clicking on File => Export as PDF… I wanted to shorten this process. I set up a keyboard shortcut as described by David Sparks above.

Now when I am reading through my emails, I can save any as a PDF by hitting the Option-Command-P keys. Later I will come back and apply  Tags to those files to organize them.

See my other Mac and macOS related posts


Customizing your Mac Mail Signature

I thought that this short video (06:06) from MacMost was a good start to customizing your mail signatures under macOS.

You can actually do far more than that. The Mail signature files for macOS Catalina are found in /Users/[your user ID]/Library/Mail/V7/MailData/Signatures/. This is an HTML file, so you can take advantage of that to further customize your signature. 
Select a signature file to customize. Apple’s naming convention for signature files is not intuitive. I recommend that you create a new signature file.
  • Open Mail then go to Preferences > Signatures > enter “+” to add a new signature
  • Type in the text you want to appear
  • Close Preferences
  • Quit Mail
Now in your Finder go to /Users/[your user ID]/Library/Mail/V7/MailData/Signatures/. Select the file with today’s date and open it for editing.  I use BBEdit for this.
The file is larger than you might expect. Insert the HTML you want for customizing the signature. I added a table with one row and two data fields. The field on the left has artwork, the field on the right now has my text. Save the file. 
In Finder select the updated file and Right-Click (or Control-Click) on it. Select “Get Info”. Now click on the “Locked” box. If you do not do this, Mail will overwrite the changes you made to the Signature file. 
Now open Mail and you will find the updated signature is ready for use. One of my signatures now looks like the image below. It now identifies the topics I most often post about on my Blog – Mac & iOS, WWII, and Books. Those interests are also reflected in a simple image.

Screen Shot 2020-03-15 at 3.46.14 PM

See my other macOS posts


Preview has many hidden capabilities for PDF files

(See my other macOS related posts) – I have posted about MacMost before. Today I watched this video “12 Things you may not know you can do with Preview”. I had been familiar with some of the abilities of Preview, but I learned a few new things from this video.

For me, I particularly like the ability to merge PDF files and annotate them with highlights and notes. As I write various articles, this is very handy.

Preview has so many abilities that few people are aware of. Instead of buying Apps, Preview often will give you what you need directly from Apple. You just have to take some time to familiarize yourself with the App. MacMost does a good job of that in this video.

See my new macOS Software Directory and find what software is available for the Mac!

Is Your Mac Ready for macOS Catalina?

go64-mac-icon-100801664-large(See my other Tech Tips posts) – Every time a new version of macOS is released we have to consider “Is my Mac ready for the update?”.

Before you begin your upgrade make sure you have a full backup. Run Timemachine to capture any recent changes in your system. If you have the extra disk (and you really should do this), make a clone of your boot drive with an App like Carbon Copy Cloner. These steps will make it far easier to revert back to your current version of macOS if you run into problems after upgrading to Catalina.

This would also be a good time to ‘Tune-Up‘ up your Mac before you perform the upgrade. In particular, remove unneeded Apps and files.

This year there are two factors to consider. The first is whether or not your Mac hardware is capable of running Catalina. Generally speaking the 2012 or newer Macs are compatible. To find out for sure if your Mac can be upgraded refer to “macOS Catalina is compatible with these computers” from Apple.

The second thing to check is if all of your Apps are 64-bit. With Catalina the older 32-bit Apps will no longer run.

You can check your Apps two ways.

  1. The first way is to check in About My Mac. I wrote about how to do this in April of 2018 in “ARE YOUR MAC APPS ALL 64-BIT?“. I will let you check out that article for the details, but the essence is to go to “Overview:System Report:Software: Applications”. A column there indicates whether each App is or is not 64-bit compatible.
  2. A somewhat easier way to check your system is by using the Go64 App. This App is free (though donations are accepted) and can be downloaded from the vendor’s website. This App is recommended by:
    1. Macworld
    2. MacSparky (David Sparks of Mac Power Users podcast
    3. The Mac Observer
    4. Christian Boyce (Christian will be the featured speaker at the October 8th CapMac meeting in Austin)

Screen Shot 2019-10-05 at 3.28.35 PM.pngIf you download the App, then run it. You will get a report (see example above) of all Apps you currently have installed that are not 64-bit. Clicking on those software packages will provide further information. Links are also supplied for the vendors to facilitate getting the latest version of the software. As you can see I still have several 32-bit Apps on my Mac.

Once you have a list of your non-64-bit Apps you have a few choices:

  1. upgrade all the Apps you regularly use to a 64-bit version
  2. find 64-bit Apps that will replace your current 32-bit Apps
  3. delay migrating to Catalina until you do 1 or 2 above

See my other Mac posts


A Look Back at ‘John’s Notes’ for June 2019

I have been seeing other Bloggers post a monthly review of what they have posted. I thought that I would give that a try. This is my first monthly summary and I will see how you, my readers react to it. You may see some posts listed more than once when they fit into multiple categories. 

If you have an opinion one way or the other about my monthly summary, please give me your feedback.

What I’ve read and reviewed:

Believe it or not, publishing book reviews was how I started Blogging. My first review appeared in Spring 2014. Since then I have been able to complete more than 100 books each year and write a review of each. 

  1. Book Review: “Fighting the People’s War: The British and Commonwealth Armies and the Second World War”
  2. Book Review: “The Atlantis Deception”
  3. Book Review: “Conspiracy of Lies”
  4. Book Review: “The Oppressed”
  5. Book Review: “The Darkest Year: The American Home Front 1941-1942”
  6. Book Review: “Darkness” 

The Mac and iOS

The second area I began posting about was Mac and iOS devices. I have posted a number of articles over the years. I also began a couple of years ago to publish a few Mac related Product Announcements. I have always felt that many simply don’t realize the breadth of the OS X software library. 

macOS/iOS Apps, Reviews and Tech Tips:

  1. Do you need a better clipboard?
  2. FREE iOS, tvOS AND macOS SOFTWARE for 04/2019

Product Announcements:

  1. macOS New app Release – GraphicConverter 11
  2. macOS New App Release – MacDraft 7
  3. macOS New App Release – fmESignature Link
  4. Mac and iPad Accessories – Developer’s Gear Case
  5. macOS New app Releaser – Machines at War 3 v3.1
  6. macOS New App Release – IconMenu 1.0
  7. macOS New App Release – TopXNotes 1.8.8
  8. macOS New app Release – ChronoSync 4.9.3
  9. macOS New app Release – UI Browser 2.8.1
  10. macOS New App Release – Mirror for Hisense TV
  11. macOS New App Release – Path Finder 8.5
  12. macOS New app Release – SessionRestore
  13. macOS New app Release – Lyttony 1.0
  14. macOS Software Sale – Xwavesoft Products
  15. macOS New App Release – Sparkle 2.8
  16. macOS New app Release – Cisdem Video Converter for Mac 4.0.0
  17. macOS New app Release – Default Folder X 5.3.7
  18. macOS New App Release – PDFpen and PDFpenPro 11
  19. macOS New app Release – Pixelmator Pro 1.3.4
  20. macOS New App Release – BatchOutput PDF 2.2.37

Related to WWII:

I have always been interested in the WWII period of history. In the past year or so I have “raised the bar” so to speak and have begun to read, watch and visit WWII related sites. 

If you are interested in the WWII era of history, you may find these three pages of interest. 

The  World War II Sources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 320 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and other sources with information on the World War II era in history.

The “World War II Timeline” page expands almost daily and shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.

The “About WWII” page is a collection of links to posts that I have made over the years that are relevant to WWII.

  1. Book Review: “Fighting the People’s War: The British and Commonwealth Armies and the Second World War”Friday WWII Flix: “World War II in Colour”
  2. Music of WWII: “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”
  3. Friday WWII Flix: “D-Day 6.6.1944”
  4. Some Interesting Facts about “The Longest Day”
  5. Music from WWII – “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition”
  6. A Relic of WWII is Returned
  7. Book Review: “The Darkest Year: The American Home Front 1941-1942”
  8. A Podcast about Kristallnacht
  9. Friday WWII Flix: “36 Hours of Hell”
  10. 3D Comparison of WWII German Armor
  11. WWII German POW returns to say Thanks – Intermission Story (27)
  12. Friday WWII Flix: “La Dernière Section”
  13. D-Day  from a different view
  14. The Numbers for D-Day
  15. 75th Anniversary of D-Day


  1. Music of WWII: “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”
  2. Instrumental Music on YouTube: “Ya Bassa” by Clanadonia
  3. Music from WWII – “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition”
  4. Instrumental Music on YouTube: “Dancing on the Moon”
  5. Instrumental Music on YouTube: “Of Gods and Men”

Automation, Robots, and Drones – Oh My!:

  1. Uber Eats Planning Delivery by Drone

Space and Rockets:

  1. Nuclear Rockets, the Future of Space Propulsion?
  2. Sailing in Space on Light

Health and Coffee:

  1. Are 8 Glasses of Water Per Day Needed?
  2. 2B-Alert Web 2.0 Better Predicts When to Take Caffeine
  3. Want a Perfect Cup of Coffee?



  1. Mixer last night at the Texas Military Forces Museum
  2. Flag Day
  3. Wednesday SciFi Flix: “Rim of the World”
  4. Hurricane Season 2019 has Begun