How to disable built-in Trackpad on your MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro

There are times when you might want to disable the built-in Trackpad on your MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. For example, you’re more used to using a mouse as an input device, you’re using an external trackpad device, or the trackpad is having issues and behave erratically.

To disable the trackpad, go to System Preferences > Accessibility. Select “Mouse & Trackpad” and check the box “Ignore built-in trackpad when mouse or wireless trackpad is present”.

How to disable built-in Trackpad on your MacBook MacBook Air and MacBook Pro

You will notice that there is no way to permanently disable the Trackpad. You will need an external mouse or input device in order to make the built-in Trackpad non-functional.

You can take photos while filming a video on iPhone

You can take photos while filming a video

When you’re recording a video on iPhone, you might notice a white color shuttle button on the screen. The button is located at right bottom corner if you’re shooting in horizontal position, or at left bottom corner when in portrait. Tapping on the button will capture what you’re filming into photo. A very convenient feature indeed.

Uber is tracking your location even if you’re not using the app

Uber recently changed the way the app collects your location data. Previously Uber app was tracking your location “While Using the App”, which means iOS only reveal your location to Uber when you’re using the app.

When you run the latest update, Uber app will prompt you to accept their new policy with an explanation.

Uber is tracking your location even if you are not using the app

On iOS, an app has three location tracking options. The first is “Never”, the second is “While Using the App” and the third is “Always”. Thus in order to track your location five minutes after your trip ends, the app has to change to “Always” track your location.

So it is up to you to have good faith in Uber that they’re not tracking your location after the said five minutes. It is strange that Uber has to circumvent the basic iOS privacy protection to implement its app feature. As one of the largest app on iOS, Uber is in good position to discuss with Apple on how to properly get the additional five minutes tracking.  

You can prevent location tracking by going to Settings > Privacy > Location Services > Uber and select “Never”. Or remove the app if you’re uncomfortable about the changes.

How to reveal hidden files in macOS Finder

There are many hidden files and folders in macOS. Hidden files are used by the operating system and applications for their inner working. These files by default are not shown in Finder to keep things simple and to prevent casual users from messing with them. 

However it is occasionally useful to access hidden files especially for troubleshooting purpose. To reveal hidden files in Finder, open the Terminal app and enter the following commands:

$ defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles YES
$ killall Finder

The first command set the Finder default attribute AppleShowAllFiles to boolean YES in order to show files. The second command relaunch the Finder.

If you take a look at your desktop or Finder now, you can see that there are some new files that were previously hidden. A word of caution, hidden files are hidden for a reason. You can do serious damage to macOS if you don’t know what you’re doing making changes to hidden files.

To hide these system files in Finder again, repeat the same commands by changing the Finder default attribute AppleShowAllFiles to boolean NO, like so:

$ defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles NO
$ killall Finder

You can hide the macOS Sierra upgrade banner in Mac App Store

You can hide the macOS Sierra upgrade banner in Mac App Store

If you’re still running an old version of macOS, you’re likely be annoyed by the big macOS Sierra banner that appears on the top of the “Updates” tab of the Mac App Store app. This is especially true for those with older Mac which technically is not able to upgrade to macOS Sierra. Fortunately you can easily get rid of the banner. Just right click on the banner and select the menu option “Hide Update”. The big banner will disappear.

You can send handwritten text in iMessage for iOS 10

Messages app for iOS 10 comes with a neat tool that allows you to scribble and send handwritten message. This feature is build right within and there is no need to install additional plugin or app.

The handwriting ability for Messages app is a little hidden though. To activate it, start by tapping into the text entry box. Then rotate iPhone into the horizontal position.

You can send handwritten text in iMessage for iOS 10

You should now see a full screen blank panel that you can scribble text on it. There is an even a handy “Undo” button on left-top corner. Once you’ve scribbled enough, tap the “Done” button on right-top corner. This will bring you back to the familiar chat screen. Simply hit the up arrow button as usual to send the handwritten message.

send handwritten text in iMessage for iOS 10

If you can not see the handwriting input panel while on horizontal position, tap the cursive loop icon button on right bottom corner of the keyboard.

Instantly add Finder item to macOS dock with a keyboard shortcut

Instantly add Finder item to macOS dock with a keyboard shortcut

Just about all macOS users are aware that you can add items to the dock by dragging the item from Finder into the dock. There is a quicker way by using a handy keyboard shortcut.

First select the item in Finder, be it an app in the Applications folder, a file or document, or even a folder. Enter Command+Control+Shift+T. The selected item will now be in the dock. Applications will be added to the left/top side of the dock, whereas documents or folder will be at the right/bottom end of the dock.

Use + in your Gmail address for easy label and search

When you send an email to a Gmail address, Google’s email system will disregard anything you put after a “+”. For example, emails send to davidwest+tips@gmail.com will be sent to davidwest@gmail.com. There is no need to create another email account.

This feature is handy for labelling and tagging purpose. For example you can use the email address davidwest+mailing@gmail.com for subscribing to newsletters. You can then label “davidwest+mailing” to easily group and find newsletter emails.

In addition to “+” plus symbol, Gmail also ignore any period in an email address. Thus emails send to “david.west@gmail.com” and “d.a.v.i.d.w.e.s.t@gmail.com” will all be sent to “davidwest@gmail.com”.

Instapaper Premium is now free

Instapaper Premium is now free

Instapaper has killed off its $29.99 per year Premium subscription service, making all the Premium features free for everyone. This put Instapaper well ahead of its competitor Pocket.

Instapaper Premium includes an ad-free Instapaper website, full-text search, unlimited notes, text-to-speech playlists, unlimited speed reading, send to Kindle and Kindle Digests of up to 50 articles.

To migrate from Pocket, run the export tool at https://getpocket.com/export. Then at Instapaper go to Settings > Import

You might wonder how can Instapaper be an on-going concern with no subscription income and ads revenue. These are the replies from Instapaper:

There’s no catch. Our operational overhead is low, and now that we’re owned by Pinterest we can focus on just delivering the best product to our users.

The value that Pinterest gets from Instapaper are improvements to our text parser and aggregate information about links on the web. We have no plans to serve ads.