How to Disable Apple’s Two-Step Verification and Enable Two-Factor Authentication

I signed up for the extra level of security Apple offered called Two-Step Verification. With the advent of iOS 9, Apple started offering Two-Factor Authentication.  If you want to read about the differences, I’ve listed the two Apple support articles about the offerings.  The main difference between the two is that Two-Step Verification relied on the code being sent via the less secure method of SMS, and the newer Two-Factor Authentication uses built-in funtionality in iOS 9 and above.

Two-step verification:

Two-factor authentication:

My goal  was to enable my Apple Watch to automatically unlock my Mac running macOS Sierra, which requires Two-Factor Authentication, so we’ll go through those steps as well.

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DropShadow App Made With Automator and ImageMagick

DropShadow shell scriptHave you ever had a favorite piece of software be abandoned by the developer? I’m not even talking about Apple or Google here, but maybe some nifty little utility that does exactly what you want. For years I have been adding a pretty little drop shadow to all images I post on the blog with a utility called Drop Shadow from Del Sol Software. As Tim Verpoorten used to say, “it does one thing and does it well.”

Del Sol’s Drop Shadow app let you change the angle and size and blur of the shadow and even add a little border to the image as well. The border was handy when I had a screenshot with a white background, otherwise it would wash out on the top and left against my white blog post.

A few weeks ago I thought to write to the developer to ask for an enhancement. I wanted a way to save the parameters of my drop shadows. It’s not hard to drag the little sliders, but I have to do it every time I edit an image. To my surprise, Del Sol Software is nowhere to be found. I searched on the web, on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and even LinkedIn, but it has vanished. Oddly you can still buy Drop Shadow from the Mac App Store so someone must be cashing the checks, but there’s no way to get updates ever again.

When software is abandoned, you can take one of two paths. You can keep using it and just hope each time a new OS comes out it will still work. Then when it stops working you can hold off on the update, or try to find hacks to keep it working (I’m looking at you, George.)

I choose a different path. As soon as I know something is abandoned, I find an alternative. I don’t want to be held hostage by an app. It was time to find an alternative for my beloved Drop Shadow.

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How to Upgrade Apple Airport Firmware

If you see an amber light blinking on your Airport Extreme, it may be an indication that there is a firmware update required.  These quick instructions show you how to find out if there is an update, and how to do the update.

I suspect the process is essentially the same on an Apple Time Capsule router but I don’t have one with which to verify these instructions.

The screens below show the upgrade from Firmware version 7.7.3 to 7.7.7 released in mid-2016. If you’re reading these instructions at a much later date (or are running a different version of the operating system) you may see different Firmware versions, but the instructions should be the same.

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How to Reduce the File Size of a PDF Using Preview

Ever created a PDF with images only to discover the file was huge?  Using Preview you can shrink the file easily but the quality fo the images will be dreadful.  Back in 2012, Josef Habr figured out a clever way to edit some System-level Library files to improve the quality of the images when using Preview to compress the files and posted them on He spent some time coming up with some options for good, better, and best image quality too.  After he posted this, someone else pointed out that instead of editing the System Library files, you could accomplish the same thing using the ColorSync utility.  While using the ColorSync Utility is great for creating the modified filters, many have reported that you still have to move the filters into the System level Library to make them take.

Basic outline of the steps will be:

  1. Show how the default Reduce File Size option is accessed in Preview
  2. Use ColorSync Utility to create good, better and best filters
  3. Copy the newly created filters into the System level Library
  4. Verify that the new filters are available in Preview

One caution – when you reinstall or upgrade your operating system, these filters will be removed, so keep a copy of this tutorial and a copy of your filters as well so you can put them back for later use.

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How to Create Address Labels from OSX Contacts

1. Introduction – Problem to be Solved

In this short tutorial we’ll work through how to use your Contacts application in OSX to print cute address labels for your holiday cards. Every time I go through this I make a lot of mistakes, so I’m actually going to show you how to do it wrong so you’ll remember how to do it right…because I assume you’re smarter than me!

Here’s an example of how your labels will look when we’re done

2. Create a Group

2.1 Contacts (Formerly Known as Address Book)

In our example I have 31 contacts, 30 fake friends and Apple. I want to print 30 labels on one page using Avery Labels 5160.

2.2 Create a New Group

In the bottom of the single card pane, there is  a + button where you can add a new group.

2.3 Name Your Group

I’ll call mine Holiday Cards.

2.4 Select All of the Cards You Want

You may do this one by one, or in this example I selected all, and deselected Apple.

2.5 Drag the Cards to Your New Group

You can see by the red number that I’m dragging 30 cards, and it also shows on the right pane that I have 30 selected.

2.6 Holiday Cards Group Showing 30 Cards

3. Setting Up Printing

3.1 File – Print to get to the Label Making

3.2 First View is of an Envelope

Click on Show Details to reveal a lot more options.

3.3 Now We Have More Control

Click on Style to Change from Envelopes…

3.4 Change Style to Mailing Labels

3.5 We Only Have One Address Label

That’s because we forgot to select all of the cards before printing.  Cancel.

3.6 Select All of the Cards This Time

And again Print.

3.7 Now We Have 32 Cards Instead of 30

This will happen if you forget to restrict the labels only to one address per person. In our example we only want home addresses. Click on Label.

3.8 Restrict labels to Home

3.9 Now We Only Have 29?

Every year I have to do a LOT of cleanup of my address book, and one of the problems is someone’s Home address being set to Work. Cancel again.

3.10 Flip Through Your Cards

Until you find the card(s) set to work instead of home, click on Edit and and set them to home.

3.11 Finally 30 Address Labels

Use the pulldown to choose the Avery label number to the labels you purchased already.  I like 5160 because it prints 30 labels on a single page.

3.12 Make Sure to Check Country

If some of your address labels will require the country printed on the label, be sure to click the check next to Country. You can use the Zoom slider to check your address labels to see if there’s something you missed.

At this point you could just print, but I promised your labels will be cute. In the bottom right you can change the font, and also add a graphic to your label. One caution on this part – do it last because if you cancel out or even switch back to Layout, you’ll lose what you’ve done.  Let’s click on Set… next to Image.

4. Adding Cute Artwork

4.1 Open Cute Clip Art You Found Earlier and Downloaded

4.2 Awe Look How Cute

5. Save to PDF to Check

I make about a half dozen test prints before I find every error in the labels.  Check names, make sure you grabbed the right address, check for names falling off the label area, and have someone ELSE check it for you too.  You’ll spend a fortune in ink labels if you skip this step.

6. Adding Word Wrap in Long Names (New!)

After you do the PDF to check, you’re going to find that some people have very long names.  This is particularly problematic with couples that dont’ share a last name. One of two things will happen as a result:

  1. Apple will make the font really really teeny to fit both names on one line
  2. Even with the small font, sometimes it still falls off the line

7. Example of a Long Name Contact

As you can see in the example below, Apple did its best to shrink the font but Alex’s last name still falls off the label

8. How to Word Wrap a Name in Contacts

It took a bit of experimenting to find this one.  Open the contact card, and click on Edit.  Place your cursor to the left of the & symbol, and hit control-shift-enter and it will add a hard line feed.  You may not see a change while in the edit mode but when you select Done, your card should look like the one below.  Look how nicely it prints now!  You can even get tricky and add a space or two before the & to give a nice indent.

9. Two Warnings

  1. Editing:  When you go back into the Edit mode, nothing will show where you put your line feed. If you click you’ll get the blue highlight as shown below.  If you need to edit that second name, click again in the blue to deselect, and hit function-delete to get rid of the line feed so you can see what you’re doing.
  2. Using contact for emailing: If you do this to a contact card, it REALLY confuses Apple Mail, and will not send to that contact.  I suggest that if you have combined names into one card, use that card for sending physical mail and create separate cards with the individuals’ phone and email addresses.  You’ve probably already done this so that you can send and receive mail and phone calls anyway but thought I should mention it here.

10. Adorable Address Labels!

I recommend making a black and white test print and holding it up to your labels before printing right on the labels themselves just to be triple sure that everything is just right.  

See? Cute address labels at home!

Create Cute Address Labels on the Mac – New and Improved

Cute address labelSome of my most popular tutorials over the years on have been the ones explaining how to make address labels during the holidays. Years ago it involved using Excel to organize the labels, exporting them to a csv file, and then using Word to do a mail merge to make the labels. I remember my friend Diane and me spending HOURS getting this to work each year.

A few years ago Apple simplified everything by making it possible to print labels right from the Contacts application.
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How to Check Bluetooth Headphone Battery Status Using iOS 9

Problem to be solved:

You’ve got your awesome Bluetooth headphones but you don’t remember how long it’s been since you charged them.  You hate to go out for a run or cycle and halfway through get that dreaded battery low alert.  In iOS 9 for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, you can quickly find the battery status of any Bluetooth connected device including the Apple Watch, Bluetooth headphones and speakers and even the phone itself.

Credit to Bart Busschots of for showing this to me.

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How to Enable iCloud Photo Library

This tutorial will show you how to have all photos in their original size you take on your iOS devices to be uploaded to the iCloud and downloaded to your Mac. It will also enable all photos in an optimized size to be moved onto your iOS devices.  With this scheme you won’t run out of space on your iOS devices ever again, hopefully.  I’ve tested this with a 300GB+ photo library!

First check the size of your Photos Library, (Get Info on Photos Library in your Pictures folder).  You will need ot know this to figure out how much storage you will need in the cloud.

This process will use a lot of data, so it is suggested you perform these steps while on an Internet connection that doesn’t cost you a lot for data transfer.

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How to Turn On Automatic Updates for OS X and Apps

One of the best ways to protect yourself on your Mac is to download and install patches as Apple and app developers release them. Rather than doing it yourself, here’s how to have it happen automatically in the background.  You might want to turn this feature off when you go on a limited data service and turn it back on when you get home, as an operating system update can use a lot of data.

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