Get more from Mac apps
1. Souped-up Notes
Notes has been reinvented in El Capitan, enabling you to incorporate data from other apps into your notes, from selected text and photos to maps and web page links. When you’ve found something you want to note, look for a Share button in its app; if it exists, click it and choose Notes to transfer that content to a note. If you want to add a specific object or passage of text to a note, select it, then ≈- click and choose Share > Notes (again, not all apps have this). From the Share sheet that pops up, you can add the selection to a new note, or you can tack it onto the end of an existing note (you can then change its position by editing the note). Notes can store PDFs, movies and audio recordings, and its Attachments Browser lets you view by type all objects you’ve added: photos & videos, sketches, maps, website links, audio, and documents.
2. Grouped conversations
In El Capitan, you may find that conversations in Mail are no longer grouped. Many mail apps automatically ad ‘Re:’ to the beginning of the subject line when replying. If it’s missing, Mail doesn’t recognise the connection between messages, even if their subjects match.
3. Multi-edit in Photos
The latest version of Photos makes it easier to work on multiple pictures at the same time, allowing you to perform the same edits (such as adding a common location) on them. To do this, hold ç and click each photo in turn, then press ç+I to access the Info dialog to apply your changes.
4. Events from email
If Mail detects references to events and previously unknown contact details in a message, it alerts you to them at the top of that message. So, if people include enough pertinent detail in invitations, you can quickly add it to Calendar or Contacts.
5. Power up Photos
El Capitan adds support for third-party extensions in Photos – these allow you to access selected image-editing tools from supported applications from within Photos itself. Early adopters include Pixelmator (various Distort tools), Tonality (for black and white effects), Noiseless (noise reduction), Snapheal (cloning and other healing tools), and BeFunky Express. The latter is the cheapest way to add additional editing capabilities to Photos – it costs £3.99 and provides you with six extra tools for improving your snaps, including a highlights and shadows adjustment tool and various tweaks for brightening skin, teeth and eyes.
Once you’ve installed an app that plugs in to Photos, go to System Preferences > Extensions > Photos and turn on its extension; then access its tools by clicking the Extensions button when editing an image in Photos.
Discover some neat tips and tricks that help you get more from Apple’s free apps
6. Make iPhone ringtones
Why pay for ringtones when you can easily convert any song in your iTunes library into a ringtone? One rule: ringtones can be no longer than 30 seconds in length. Open iTunes, then locate the track you want to use for your ringtone. click it and choose Get Info. Switch to the Options tab and set the Start and Stop times to encompass the snippet you wish to use – remember, no longer than 30 seconds. Click OK, right-click the song again and this time choose ‘Create AAC version’.
You’ll see a new version of the song appear in iTunes, its length 30 seconds or shorter. click it and choose ‘Show in Finder’. Change its file extension to .m4r. Return to iTunes, right-click the song again, but this time choose Delete (don’t send it to the Trash when prompted). Return to Finder, and simply drag the .m4r file back into the iTunes window – it won’t be added to your music library, but you’ll find it under Tones, ready to sync to your iPhone.
7. Casual playlists
iTunes’ Up Next feature lets you queue up tracks for one-off playback. It’s easy to manage too: put the pointer over the status area at the top of the app, then click the bulleted list icon at its top-right corner. Drag items up or down the list to tweak their order, or click the clock icon to reveal recent tracks played; listen again by putting the pointer over a track, clicking the ‘…’ button next to it, and then choosing ‘Add to Up Next’ or ‘Play Next’. To turn your set into a playlist, select File > New Playlist. Name it, then open Up Next. Select all of the tracks in it (or its history view) and drag them onto the new playlist.