Categories
MAC

Mac Keyboard Not Working? Here’s How to Fix It

Apple makes great keyboards: they work well, look really nice, and are designed to work perfectly with your Mac. But every once in a while, something goes wrong.

Maybe you plug your keyboard in and nothing happens. Perhaps your computer won’t pick up the Bluetooth signal from the board. Or maybe pressing the keys doesn’t do anything. Here’s what to do when your Apple keyboard is not working.

If Your Magic or Wireless Keyboard Is Not Working

We’ll start with wireless keyboards, as there are a few more issues these can run into compared to their wired counterparts. No matter what’s happening with your keyboard, try these steps first:

1. Make Sure Bluetooth Is Enabled and Working

Don’t overlook the most obvious solutions when trying to fix problems. First, go to System Preferences > Bluetooth and make sure that you’ve got Bluetooth turned on.

The System Preferences panel will tell you if devices are connected, if they’re low on battery, or if there are any other errors.

If the preferences panel or your menu bar show a Bluetooth icon with a jagged line through it (see the image below), that means Bluetooth is offline. Restart your Mac and see if that helps. If not, unplug all USB devices and restart again.

See our guide to fixing Bluetooth on your Mac if this still doesn’t resolve the issue.

 7 Fixes When Bluetooth Is Not Available on Your MacIs Bluetooth not available on your Mac? Here’s how to troubleshoot Mac Bluetooth problems and get your devices working again.Read More

2. Make Sure Your Keyboard Is On

If your Wireless or Magic Keyboard is not connecting, you should first check that it’s actually turned on:

  • On the latest Magic Keyboards, slide the switch on the back edge of the device so that the green color becomes visible.
  • For older Apple Wireless Keyboards, press the Power button on the right edge and you should see the green LED light up on the top.

After your device is on, go back to the Bluetooth preferences panel and see if it’s connected. If your keyboard is searching for your computer but not connecting, right-click on your keyboard in the list of devices and select Connect (if your device isn’t listed, skip ahead to step five below).

3. Check the Battery Level of Your Keyboard

If the batteries on your keyboard are getting low, you may have some performance problems. Go to System Preferences > Bluetooth and you can see a small battery indicator below the listed—and connected—keyboard.

You can also see the battery level of any of your connected devices by clicking on the Bluetooth icon in the menu bar and hovering over the device you’re interested in. If the battery is low, you should replace it.

4. Make Sure Mouse Keys and Slow Keys Are Turned Off

Some macOS accessibility features can interfere with normal keyboard operation. To check this, go to System Preferences > Accessibility and select Mouse & Trackpad from the menu on the left.

Here, make sure that Enable Mouse Keys is unchecked. This option allows you to control the mouse using keyboard keys, resulting in a number of keys possibly not working.

Next, click on Keyboard in the left sidebar and make sure that Enable Slow Keys in unchecked. This requires you to hold keys for longer to register as a press.

5. Re-Pair Your Keyboard With Your Computer

In the Bluetooth preferences panel, make sure that Bluetooth is enabled. Mouse over your keyboard in the list of devices, and click on the X at the right side of the entry.

A warning will appear, telling you that you may need to re-pair your device next time you use it. Click Remove.

Now turn off your keyboard and turn it back on again. The indicator light should start blinking. Open the Keyboard options in System Preferences and click on Set up Bluetooth keyboard. Follow the instructions to pair your keyboard.

If Your Mac USB Keyboard Is Not Working

If your Mac Mini or iMac keyboard is not working, and it’s connected via USB, take the following steps to diagnose and solve the problem.

1. Try a Different USB Port

Unplug your keyboard from the current USB port and try another one. If it works, you can try it in the original port again.

If it only works in one USB port, you may need to fix your computer’s USB ports.

 USB Ports Not Working? Here’s How to Diagnose and Fix ItUSB ports not working? This article explains how to quickly identify the problem and fix it as fast as possible.Read More

2. Check the System Report

From the Apple menu (found at the top-left of the screen), click About This Mac. Then click the System Report button. Once the system report window has opened, click on USB in the Hardware section of the left sidebar.

From here, you can see what your computer detects from your USB ports.

If your computer has detected the keyboard, you’ll see Apple Keyboard listed under one of the USB ports. If it’s not listed, try restarting your computer and resetting the SMC and PRAM.

 How to Do an SMC and PRAM/NVRAM Reset on Your MacA reset of the SMC and PRAM/NVRAM can help any Mac, including MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, run smoothly again.Read More

3. Turn Bluetooth Off

Go to System Preferences > Bluetooth and make sure that Bluetooth is off. If this solves the problem, it’s possible that your computer is recognizing a Bluetooth keyboard and prioritizing it over your USB keyboard.

If you need to keep Bluetooth on, you can remove the keyboard from the list by clicking on the X on the right side of the entry in your System Preferences > Bluetooth device list to remove it.

4. Make Sure Mouse Keys and Slow Keys Are Turned Off

The same accessibility features we mentioned earlier can affect wired keyboards too. Go to System Preferences > Accessibility and select Mouse & Trackpad from the menu on the left. Make sure that Enable Mouse Keys is unchecked.

Click on Keyboard in the left sidebar and make sure that Enable Slow Keys is unchecked too.

5. Connect Your Keyboard Through an Extension Cord or USB Hub

Apple’s USB keyboards come with a USB extension cord that increases the reach of the included USB cable. Try plugging your keyboard into one end of this cord and the other into your computer. If you don’t have a USB extension cord, you can also use a USB hub.

No one seems to know why this is so effective, but it often works!

Keyboard Still Not Working? Know When to Admit Defeat

As with any troubleshooting attempt, it’s good to know when to admit defeat. If you try the solutions above and none of them work, it might be time to consult staff at your local Apple store (particularly if the device is under warranty).

You can also try searching for your specific problem online to find others who have solved that issue. If your Macbook keyboard isn’t working, for example, refer to our troubleshooting guide for MacBook Butterfly keyboards. You might also want to consider a solid alternative to the Mac keyboard.

Categories
MAC

6 Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Mac

While Apple’s computer hardware lasts a long time, you’ll still have to say goodbye to your Mac at some point. If you’ve had trouble with your machine, you might wonder when to get a new MacBook or if you should stay with your current one a bit longer.

Let’s look at some of the major signs that your Mac is out of date. We’ll look at ways you can work around these issues, plus consider whether it’s time to purchase a new computer.

How Long Do Macs Last?

Whether you’re taking stock of your old machine or thinking about the value of a new purchase, you might wonder how long MacBooks and other Mac models last.

There isn’t an exact answer for this, as it depends on a variety of factors. Someone who only uses their Mac for web browsing can get away with using the same machine for longer than someone who runs dozens of apps and does high-intensity tasks like video editing.

The definitions from Apple’s Vintage and Obsolete products page give an idea of device longevity. Vintage products are devices that stopped being manufactured between five and seven years ago. A product is considered obsolete if it was discontinued more than seven years ago.

Taking a look at macOS compatibility (discussed below), we can see that generally, Macs are eligible for the latest macOS version for about seven years. Apple generally supports each macOS version for three years.

Third-party apps are a bit more generous. As of this writing, popular apps like Chrome, Dropbox, and Spotify all require OS X 10.10 Yosemite (released in 2014) or above.

Taking all this together, say you bought a brand-new Mac in 2019. It would likely receive macOS updates until 2026. The OS released in 2026 would receive support from Apple until 2029, and most third-party tools until at least 2031.

This means that in general, you can expect about 10 years of life from a Mac, barring any unforeseen hardware issues. Now let’s look at some signs your Mac is at the end of its life.

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1. You Can’t Run the Latest Version of macOS

Each year around September/October, Apple releases a new version of macOS. Mac models from the past several years are capable of running it. This means if your computer won’t upgrade to the latest edition of macOS, it’s becoming obsolete.

At the time of writing, the release of macOS 10.15 Catalina is imminent. The following Mac models will receive the update:

  • MacBook (2015 and later)
  • MacBook Air (2012 and later)
  • MacBook Pro (2012 and later)
  • iMac (2012 and later)
  • iMac Pro (2017 and later)
  • Mac Pro (2013 and later)
  • Mac mini (2012 and later)

If your computer isn’t on that list, it’s likely entered Obsolete status. As mentioned earlier, while you won’t get any new macOS features, you’ll still be able to use your computer as-is for a while.

But after a year or two, you won’t receive security updates and third-party software might stop working. This means you’ll need to think about upgrading soon.

2. A Constant Lack of Free Space

As technology advances, apps and files continue to take up more space. This results in a constant struggle for free space for anyone who has an older machine with a paltry amount of storage.

If you have a 128GB or even 256GB SSD in your MacBook, you probably have to juggle files to free up space constantly. This might mean freeing up space on your Mac whenever possible, or possibly adding more storage to your Mac with an external hard drive or other methods.

 How to Free Up Space on Mac: 8 Tips and Tricks You Need to KnowRunning out of storage space on your Mac? Here are several ways to free up space on Mac and reclaim your drive space!Read More

You can use these workarounds to survive with a small amount of space for a while. But once you get sick of them, it’s time to upgrade to a new Mac with plenty of storage space.

3. Your Machine’s Components Aren’t Powerful Enough

Your storage disk is just one computer component that declines with age. A lack of RAM will prevent you from running many applications at once, and an old CPU means tasks like editing 4K video are extremely slow or impossible. You’ll also notice overall system performance suffers.

Another components that takes a hit over the years is the battery in MacBooks. Rechargeable batteries only have a certain number of cycles before they’re “spent” and don’t hold a charge for long. macOS will warn you when your battery is getting to the end of its life.

If you’ve used the battery extensively, it might only last an hour before you need to charge it. You can get around this by always using your laptop on the charger, but that sacrifices the portability, of course.

If you have an older Mac, you might be able to upgrade or mitigate these issues somewhat by adding more RAM, swapping the HDD for an SSD, or replacing the battery. However, this is basically impossible on newer Mac models, as most components are soldered to the motherboard.

 How to Upgrade the RAM on Your MacLearn how to check if you can replace your Mac’s RAM, where to buy RAM, and how to upgrade it in this Mac RAM upgrade guide.Read More

The money you would spend on a professional hardware upgrade or battery replacement is almost certainly better put towards a new machine. Apple’s service page states that it costs between $129 and $199 for a Mac battery replacement, which isn’t cheap.

4. Hardware Damages

Image credit: AlexMF/Wikimedia Commons

An obvious reason you need to replace your MacBook is when it suffers serious physical damage. Maybe you dropped it and damaged the hard drive, or slammed the screen down on some debris and cracked it.

In these cases, your computer is unusable until you get it fixed or replace it. And as discussed above, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to pour hundreds of dollars into an obsolete machine when you can get a new one that will last longer.

Barring a major hardware catastrophe, a long list of small issues can quickly become a big problem too. An old computer is often a lot like an old car. You can live with a few odd issues if they don’t impact your ability to use it properly, but eventually something big will go wrong and you’ll have to decide whether to fix it or upgrade.

Little problems, like your charger not working unless it’s in just the right spot, dead pixels on the display, stuck keys, and crackling speakers aren’t necessarily cause for a replacement. But when your computer has so many small quirks that it’s barely usable, you should cut your losses and look into a replacement machine that will perform much better.

5. Frequent Software Issues

An outdated Mac can also manifest itself through software issues. You might experience frequent OS freezes, where everything becomes unresponsive. Other common issues include visual glitches and random shutdowns.

When you experience these, you should make sure you have enough space free as discussed earlier. If an SMC and PRAM reset don’t fix the problem, you should try reinstalling macOS and see if your problems persist.

 How to Do an SMC and PRAM/NVRAM Reset on Your MacA reset of the SMC and PRAM/NVRAM can help any Mac, including MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, run smoothly again.Read More

Hopefully they disappear after this troubleshooting. But if not, you likely have hardware issues and should considering upgrading your Mac.

6. The Timing Is Right

Maybe you’re ready to upgrade your Mac, but you can live with whatever issues it has and don’t need to buy one right away. In that case, you should wait for the right time to get a new Mac.

Apple releases new models for most Mac machines yearly. You shouldn’t buy one right before the new models release, as you can wait a bit longer to get a brand-new machine that will last longer for the same price.

Before you buy, check out the MacRumors Buyer’s Guide. This keeps track of Apple hardware releases so you don’t get caught spending full price on an old model.

If you can’t afford the latest model or want to save some money, you can opt for an older or refurbished model. Just keep in mind that the older the computer you buy, the sooner it will become obsolete.

Categories
Windows

External Drive Not Showing Up or Recognized? 5 Potential Fixes to Try

Removable disk drives—either USB flash drives or external hard drives—should be easy to use. But in some cases, you may connect your drive to a Windows PC or another device with a USB port and find the external hard drive isn’t showing up.

This problem has several possible causes: partition issues on the external drive, using the wrong file system, dead USB ports, or driver issues in Windows. In a worst-case scenario, the drive itself may be dead.

Let’s take a look at how to diagnose undetected external drives in Windows. Note that this guide is also available as a video:

Make Sure Your Drive Powers On

This is a preliminary step, but one worth checking. Nearly every flash drive and many external hard drives don’t require a separate power source—they receive power over USB. However, some desktop external drives do have dedicated power cables, or at least a physical power switch.

If this is the case for you and your external hard drive is not showing up, you could have an issue with the power cable. Try plugging it into another power outlet, or swap the cable if possible. Check for flashing lights on the unit that indicate activity before moving on.

External Hard Drive Still Not Showing Up?

When your hard drive is not showing up, try these points in order. First, we’ll check whether Windows detects the hard disk when you plug it in. Plug your removable drive into your computer if it isn’t already.

1. Check the Drive in Disk Management

Open the Disk Management tool. To do so, press Windows Key + X (or right-click the Start button) to open the Power User menu and select Disk Management from the list. You can also open the Run dialog with Windows + R and enter diskmgmt.msc to open this utility.

As the name suggests, Disk Management lets you see all the hard disks connected to your computer. You can review sizes, partitions, and other disk information.

 How to Manage Hard Drive Partitions and Volumes in Windows 10Is Windows slow and running out of storage space? Or do you want to re-allocate space? We’ll show you how to use Windows 10’s partition manager.Read More

You should see your external drive listed in the Disk Management window, likely below your primary and any secondary disks. Even if it doesn’t appear in the This PC window because it doesn’t contain any partitions, it should show up here as Removable.

If you do see the drive here, jump down to section four, “Create a New Volume and Assign a Drive Letter.” There, you’ll partition and/or format it properly so Windows and other devices can access it.

If your external drive is still not showing up, continue on. You’ll need to determine why your drive isn’t recognized. It’s possible you have a hardware issue, driver problem, or a dead drive.

2. Try Another USB Port and Computer

The problem may not lie with your device, but the port you’re using to connect it to your computer.

Unplug the drive from its current USB port and try plugging it into another port on your computer. If it works in one USB port but not another, you may have a dead USB port.

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If you’ve plugged the drive into a USB hub, try connecting it directly to the computer instead. Some USB hubs don’t provide enough power for your external drive to function.

What if the drive doesn’t show up in Disk Management even after trying both of these steps? It’s tough to know for certain whether the drive is bad or your computer is having a problem. If you have another computer nearby, try plugging the hard disk into it to check whether it’s detected.

If the drive doesn’t work on any computer you plug it into, the drive itself is likely dead and you’ll need to replace it. When you try another machine, be sure to check whether it appears in the computer’s Disk Management window, not just This PC, as discussed above.

3. Troubleshoot Driver Issues

If the drive does show up on other computers—or you don’t have another computer around to check—Windows may have a driver problem with your device. You can check for this using the Device Manager.

You’ll find a shortcut to the Device Manager under the same Windows + X menu mentioned earlier. You can also enter devmgmt.msc into the Run dialog to open it.

Expand the Disk drives category and check for any devices with a yellow exclamation point next to them. If you see a this symbol, that device has a driver problem.

Right-click the device with the issue, select Properties, and look at the error message. This error message can help you fix the problem; you may want to perform a Google search for the error message you find.

Driver problems are often tricky to fix. If the problem started recently, try running System Restore to roll back the changes.

 How to Factory Reset Windows 10 or Use System RestoreLearn how System Restore and Factory Reset can help you survive any Windows 10 disasters and recover your system.Read More

If this doesn’t work, you can try the Update Driver button to install an updated driver. However, this rarely finds a new driver for generic devices like flash drives. Instead, you may want to check the manufacturer’s website for a specific driver for your external hard drive.

The Driver menu for your drive in the Device Manager has a few other options. Roll Back Driver button will revert any recent driver updates, which probably won’t have an effect if System Restore didn’t work.

As a final resort, use the Uninstall button to remove the device from your system. Hopefully, upon rebooting, Windows will reinstall the driver and configure it correctly when you reconnect the drive.

4. Create a New Drive Volume

If your device showed up in Disk Management in Step 1 or one of the above troubleshooting steps made it show up, you’re ready to initialize the drive so it’s usable. Aside from showing you basic information, the Disk Management tool can fix partition and file system issues with your drive.

If your removable drive shows only Unallocated space, you’ll need to create a new partition on it. This allows Windows and other operating systems to use it. To do so, right-click anywhere on the Unallocated space, select New Simple Volume, and go through the wizard to create a new partition.

If your drive is partitioned (meaning it doesn’t have Unallocated space) and you still can’t see it, ensure it has a drive letter set. This should happen automatically, but if you’ve manually removed the drive letter, the drive may not be accessible in Windows.

To change the drive letter, right-click the removable drive’s partition and select Change Drive Letter and Paths. If the device doesn’t already have a letter, click Add and choose one. If it does, click Change and try another one.

Something later in the alphabet, like G or J, is standard for removable drives and will work fine.

5. Format the Drive

If the drive appears partitioned, but you still can’t access it, it’s probably partitioned with a different file system.

For instance, you may have formatted the drive with the XFS file system from Linux or APFS on a Mac. Windows can’t read these file systems. You’ll thus need to reformat the drive with the newer NTFS or older FAT32 file system so Windows will be able to recognize it.

To reformat a partition in the Disk Management utility, right-click it and select Format.

Note that formatting will erase all files on your drive, so you should copy any important files on it to another device before continuing. If you formatted the drive on a Linux or Mac machine, take it to a computer running that OS and back up the files before you format it.

When you format, you can give the drive a new name if you like. Leave Allocation unit size as Default; leaving Perform a quick format checked is fine too. More importantly, you’ll need to select a file system. Which one you should choose depends on the type of drive and what you use it for.

If you have a small flash drive, it likely came formatted as FAT32. In most cases, this is the best choice. While FAT32 can’t save files over 4GB and only supports volumes up to 2TB, it’s unlikely you’ll run into either of these issues using a flash drive. More importantly, FAT32 is compatible with all sorts of devices, such as cameras, media players, game consoles, and more.

NTFS is the modern standard for Windows, but there’s really nothing to gain by using it on a flash drive. Many older devices aren’t compatible with NTFS. Thus, we recommend formatting as FAT32 for flash drives and SD cards, and NTFS for large external hard drives.

You do have two other file system options. exFAT is a Microsoft file system that supports larger files that FAT32, but isn’t as widely compatible. We’ve compared FAT32 and exFAT if you’re interested. FAT is ancient, so you can ignore that one.

 FAT32 vs. exFAT: What’s the Difference and Which One Is Better?A file system is the tool that lets an operating system read data on any hard drive. Many systems use FAT32, but is that the right one, and is there a better option?Read More

Your External Drive, Fixed and Recognized Again

Following this process when external hard drives don’t show up should solve most of the disk recognition issues you’ll encounter. If you’ve tried the drive with multiple computers and it never shows up in the Disk Management window after these steps, the drive is probably dead.

Categories
Windows

8 Ways to Free Up RAM on Your Windows Computer

Need to learn how to free up RAM after seeing messages that your Windows PC is low on memory? Don’t fear—we’re here to help.

Let’s take a look at some practical steps to clear RAM and keep your computer running smoothly.

What Is RAM?

Before we dive into tips on how to clear RAM, we’ll briefly describe what RAM does in case you’re not familiar.

RAM stands for Random Access Memory. It’s a short term storage medium that holds programs and processes currently running on your computer.

The more RAM that’s in your machine, the more programs you can run at once without negatively affecting performance. When your computer runs low on RAM, it uses a part of the storage drive called the page file that acts as pretend RAM. This is much slower than actual RAM, which is why you notice slowdowns when Windows uses it.

Because RAM is volatile, you’ll lose its contents when your computer shuts off. Anything you want to keep must save to permanent storage, like a hard drive or solid-state drive.

Check out our quick guide to RAM for more background info.

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How to Free Up Memory on Your PC: 8 Methods

Let’s look at the ways to reduce the amount of RAM you’re using. You shouldn’t need to do this most of the time, but they come in handy when you notice a problem.

1. Restart Your PC

This is a tip you’re probably familiar with, but it’s popular for a reason.

Restarting your PC will also completely clear the RAM and restart all running processes. While this obviously won’t increase the maximum RAM available, it will clean up processes running in the background that could be eating up your memory.

You should restart your computer regularly to keep it from getting bogged down, especially if you use it all the time.

2. Check RAM Usage With Windows Tools

You don’t have to guess what’s using your RAM; Windows provides tools to show you. To get started, open the Task Manager by searching for it in the Start menu, or use the Ctrl + Shift + Esc shortcut.

Click More details to expand to the full utility if needed. Then on the Processes tab, click the Memory header to sort from most to least RAM usage. Keep the apps you see here in mind, as we’ll discuss more on them later.

For more information, switch to the Performance tab. In the Memory section, you’ll see a chart of your RAM usage over time. Click Open Resource Monitor at the bottom and you can get further details on its Memory tab.

The chart at the bottom will show you how much RAM you have free. Sort by Commit (KB) on the top list to see which programs use the most RAM. If you suspect you have a deep problem based on what you see here, see the complete guide to troubleshooting memory leaks.

3. Uninstall or Disable Software

Now that you’ve seen what apps use the most RAM on your system, think about whether you really use them. An easy way to free up RAM is to keep programs you never use anyway from consuming it

Apps you haven’t opened in months are just wasting resources on your computer, so you should remove them. Do so by navigating to Settings > Apps and clicking Uninstall on any app you want to remove.

If you don’t want to uninstall an app because you use it sometimes, you can instead prevent it from running at startup. Many apps set themselves to automatically run every time you log in, which is overkill if you rarely use them.

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4. Use Lighter Apps and Manage Programs

What if you really need to cut down on RAM usage, but the apps hogging RAM are necessary to your workflow? You can handle this in two ways.

First, try using lighter app alternatives when you can. If your computer struggles when you have Photoshop open, try using a smaller app like Paint.NET or GIMP for minor edits. Only use Photoshop when you’re fully dedicated to working on a project.

Second, pay closer attention to the programs you have open. Close any software that you’re not actively working with. Bookmark open browser tabs that you want to read later, then close them to free up RAM. Keeping a tighter leash on what’s open will help free up RAM.

Google Chrome is in its own category here, as it’s notorious for gobbling RAM. See how to control Chrome’s memory usage for tips.

 How to Reduce Google Chrome’s Memory Usage and Free Up RAMIs Chrome using too much memory? Our tips will limit and reduce Chrome’s memory usage to free up RAM.Read More

5. Scan for Malware

It’s worth checking for malware on your PC. Rogue software stealing resources will obviously suck up your available RAM.

We recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes. Hopefully, it won’t find anything, but at least you can rule out the possibility.

6. Adjust Virtual Memory

Earlier, we mentioned the paging file. If you see error messages that your system is low on virtual memory, you can increase this and hopefully keep performance stable.

 Is Your Virtual Memory Too Low? Here’s How to Fix It!Computer memory issues can slow down your computer over time. Here’s how to set the virtual memory size and boost performance.Read More

To do so, search for the Control Panel on the Start menu to open it. Switch the Category view in the top-right to Small icons (if needed) and choose System. On the left side, click Advanced system settings, which will open a new window.

Here, on the Advanced tab, click the Settings button under Performance. Switch to the Advanced tab once again and click the Change button in the Virtual memory section.

Now you’ll see the paging file size for your main drive. In most cases, you can leave the Automatically manage box checked and let Windows take care of it. However, if you’re running low on virtual memory, you may need to uncheck this and set the Initial size and Maximum size to higher values.

7. Try ReadyBoost

If your computer still has an older mechanical hard disk drive (HDD) inside, you can try a lesser-known Windows feature called ReadyBoost to increase RAM. This allows you to plug in a flash drive or SD card that Windows effectively treats as extra RAM.

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While it sounds great, this feature offers limited use today. If your computer has an SSD, ReadyBoost won’t do anything. This is because an SSD is faster than a flash drive.

Plus, since computers have more RAM installed by default now, you won’t see as much gain from ReadyBoost as you would on an anemic system from many years ago. The “pretend RAM” from ReadyBoost doesn’t offer the same performance gains as actually adding more RAM.

8. Install More RAM

If you’re always running low on RAM or want to run more programs at once, there’s really no way around it: you need to add some more RAM to your machine. While it’s not cheap, adding RAM will grant much-improved performance if your computer hasn’t had much until now.

If you’re wondering how to get more RAM, know that it’s only possible to increase your RAM by adding physical sticks into your machine. Claims online about “downloading more RAM” are jokes; it’s impossible to add memory this way.

On a desktop, increasing your RAM is a pretty simple upgrade. But due to the confined space on a laptop, it may be difficult or even impossible on portable machines. You’ll also need to make sure you buy RAM that’s compatible with your system.

Take a look at your PC manufacturer’s documentation to learn what kind of RAM works with your system and whether the upgrade is easy. Online forums will also help with this. For more info, we’ve compared whether faster RAM or the overall amount of RAM is more important.

 Which Is More Important: Faster RAM or More RAM?You’ve narrowed the source of your PC’s sluggishness to RAM. What do you do? Increase the amount of RAM? Or would you be better off with faster RAM? It isn’t that straightforward.Read More

What About RAM Cleaners?

You’ve likely seen RAM cleaning utilities that promise to help you boost your RAM in various ways. While these sound great, we recommend avoiding them.

Have a look at our coverage of CleanMem, one such app, for the reasons why. In summary, RAM boosters are placebos at best, as they “free up” RAM by taking it from programs that probably need it.

 CleanMem – A Windows Memory Cleaner That Works?CleanMem claims to reduce your computer’s RAM usage. Even if it succeeds, you don’t need it. Here’s why, and what to do instead.Read More

Memory management is a complex computing issue. The developers of Windows, who are experts in their field, have a much better grasp on how to do this than some random developer who publishes a RAM cleaner.

RAM Is Just One Important Upgrade

We’ve taken a look at several ways to free up RAM on Windows 10. Ultimately, adding more physical RAM to your machine is the best solution for RAM-related issues. Walking through the above steps will help you decide if this is necessary, though.

With all this talk of RAM, don’t forget that other PC components are important too. Find out

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IPHONE/IPAD

iPhone or iPad Getting Hot? Here’s Why and How to Fix It

Your iPhone or iPad is a hard-working computer, even though it’s small enough to fit in your pocket or a bag. But unlike desktop or laptop computers, it doesn’t have a heat sink or a fan to regulate its temperature and keep everything cool. When you put any device under stress, it will generate heat.

But there’s a difference between a device that’s warm to the touch and overheating. We’ll discuss why your iPhone or iPad is getting hot, along with how to diagnose and fix the problem.

Why Your iPhone or iPad Gets Hot

When you use a device for any length of time, it’ll get warm. That’s perfectly normal and should not concern you.

There are many reasons why your device might feel warm at times:

  • Charging and using your device at the same time.
  • Streaming a high-quality video for an extended period.
  • Using GPS and real-time navigation controls in older devices.
  • Setting up your device for the first time or restoring it from a backup.
  • Using processor-intensive apps like a synthesizer, digital audio workstation, or video editor.
  • While using graphic-intensive or augmented reality apps.

How Does Your Device Expel Heat?

The two main hardware components that produce heat are the system on a chip (SoC) and battery. The metal housing on your phone acts like one giant heatsink. When your device feels warm to the touch, it’s trying to dissipate the heat to keep it cool.

Apple uses ARM processors for powering mobile and tablet devices. They’re based on reduced instruction set computing (RISC) architecture that typically requires fewer transistors than x86 processors. Because of this design, they need less power and produce less heat. Also, they don’t need big heat sinks and fans to cool the device

With the continuous advancement in chip technology, every iteration increases the clock speed with powerful yet energy-efficient cores. The powerful cores come in handy for performance-intensive tasks, while the energy-efficient cores can handle simple work like web browsing and email.

When Your iPhone Gets Too Hot

There’s a difference between warm and hot, which is even more significant when you compare noticeable heat and too hot to hold. Your iPhone or iPad works best when used between 32 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit (0 to 35 degrees Celsius). Low or high-temperature conditions can result in specific behavioral changes.

You may notice shorter battery life—or worse, reduced battery health. Certain activities that expose your device to a lot of heat will affect performance and behavior. They include:

  • Leaving the device in a car on a hot day.
  • Keeping your device in direct sunlight for an extended period.
  • Using certain features in hot conditions, such as GPS tracking or navigation in your car.

Symptoms

How do you know when your phone has reached the point of being too hot? These are some of the common signs:

  • Charging slows or stops.
  • The display dims or goes black intermittently.
  • Cellular radios enter a low-power state. The call quality may become poor during this time.
  • The camera flash gets temporarily disabled.
  • Graphic-intensive apps stop working properly, or even crash repeatedly.
  • If your device exceeds a certain temperature threshold, you’ll see a temperature warning message saying “iPhone needs to cool down before you can use it.”

Fixing the Problem

When your iPhone gets too hot, you should take action to prevent damage to it. This includes:

  • Stop charging your device.
  • Turn it off and allow the heat to dissipate.
  • Remove the case from your device, if applicable.
  • Take the device out of direct sunlight, into the shade.

The lithium-ion batteries in today’s devices go through rigorous testing and are thus relatively safe. But when you expose them to extreme heat for extended periods, there’s a chance that your battery could explode or otherwise cause harm.

 Why Smartphone Batteries Explode and How to Prevent ItYour smartphone battery isn’t likely to explode, but it could happen in extreme situations. Avoid these dangerous battery conditions to stay safe.Read More

To quickly reduce overheating, many people recommend putting your iPhone in the fridge. But you should never do this.

Sudden changes in temperature like this can cause condensation, which could cause water damage to your iPhone’s internal components. Let your device cool off gradually, and avoid direct airflow from air conditioners on hot days.

If Your iPhone or iPad Gets Hot All the Time

If your device stays hot most or all the time, it may indicate a problem with either iOS or third-party apps. Try these troubleshooting steps to solve the problem.

Turn Off Background App Refresh

Background app refresh allows your apps to check for new information all the time. It happens automatically, consuming battery and CPU without you thinking about it. Your device may eventually stay hot if it’s constantly updating in the background. However, completely turning off this feature is overkill.

To figure out which app is the culprit, open the Settings app. Tap Battery and examine the battery usage of your apps. Look at the overall percentage, as well as total time onscreen and in the background of individual apps. This should help you figure out what apps consume battery when you’re not using them.

Then, tap General > Background App Refresh. Toggle off apps that consume significant resources in the background.

Unstable Apps

Apps installed on your device can crash in the background while they work. Although it may not be visible, your iPhone will stay warm or overheat from this in some cases.

If you have this problem, open the Settings app. Tap Privacy > Analytics > Analytics Data. Check the analytics data of apps you’ve used recently. Once you find the rogue app, quit it and check for any updates. You may also want to send an email to the developer for further investigation.

Reduce the Brightness

If your screen brightness is above 50 percent or so, your device has a greater chance of staying warm all the time. You should reduce this to decrease heat.

On an iPhone X or later, or iPad, swipe down from the top-right corner of the screen to bring up Control Center. If you have an iPhone 8 or earlier, swipe up from the bottom of the screen instead. Then drag the slider with the sun icon to decrease the brightness.

Network Connection

Sometimes, a bad network reception can heat up your device while it’s searching for a signal. This most often happens in areas with poor network connectivity.

Until you leave the area, you should switch to airplane mode to prevent battery drain and unnecessary heat generation. You’ll find a shortcut in Control Center, as detailed above.

In Case Your Heat Problem Still Persists

If the heating issue won’t go away after trying these fixes, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Is your wall adapter working properly?
  • Has your charging cable been damaged?
  • Have you recently purchased the charged you’re using from an online retailer?

Try charging your device with a different cable, preferably the one that came with your iPhone. Third-party chargers purchased from non-certified sources can cause problems.

If you don’t have an official charger made by Apple, use a quality third-party Lightning cable that comes with the “Made for iPhone (MFi)” badge. Uncertified and fraying chargers can damage your device and create other problems.

 The 7 Best Lightning Cables to Charge Your iPhone or iPadLooking for the best iPhone charger cable for your iPhone or iPad? Check out these options that blow Apple’s out of the water.Read More

Assuming that you’ve checked the charger and all the troubleshooting steps, we recommend making an appointment with the Genius Bar to let them investigate your device. If you have an AppleCare+ warranty, you likely won’t owe anything for the visit.

More iPhone Troubleshooting Tips

Your device will feel warm to touch after prolonged use, which is normal. If your iPhone is getting excessively hot, try to refrain yourself from using intensive features or exposing your device to extreme temperature conditions. With these tips discussed above, you’ll know when and how to take steps to keep your iPhone at an acceptable temperature.

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IPHONE/IPAD

The 7 Best Note-Taking Apps for iPad and iPad Pro

Having a reliable note-taking app installed on your iPad is an essential part of staying productive when you’re on-the-go. The best iPad note-taking apps will sync your notes across all your devices and come with a host of useful features.

So if you’re looking for the best note-taking app for your iPad or iPad Pro, keep reading to find out more.

1. GoodNotes

If you prefer to take your notes using handwriting rather than the on-screen keyboard, GoodNotes is a great place to begin. It’s arguably the best note-taking app for an Apple Pencil.

Using a stylus to take notes on your iPad has some notable benefits, especially for certain types of content. For example, if you need to jot down complex equations, formulas, and other scientific characters, using a keyboard is at best arduous and at worst impossible.

Important features in GoodNotes include the ability to annotate PDFs, a way to convert handwritten content into text, and note syncing with the major cloud storage providers.

Download: GoodNotes ($8)

2. Apple Notes

Sometimes the most obvious solution is the best solution. That’s arguably the case with Apple Notes.

The app comes pre-installed on iOS devices and is entirely free to use. A redesign to coincide with the release of iOS 11 in late 2017 brought several improvements; it’s now one of the best note-taking apps for iPads and iPad Pros, especially thanks to multitasking and text editing gestures.

 How to Use Multitasking and Text Editing Gestures on iPadOSFamiliarize yourself with the new multitasking and text editing gestures in iPadOS to work more efficiently on your iPad.Read More

Apple Notes has an impressive array of tools that’ll work with an Apple Pencil. It offers extensive style options, and uses iCloud to sync with all your other Apple devices seamlessly.

We’ve written about how to use Apple Notes if you would like to learn more.

Download: Apple Notes (Free)

3. Notability

Notability is the best note-taking app for iPad if the ability to annotate PDFs is important to you. Since it facilitates note-taking with the Apple Pencil or a stylus, Notability makes a great app for creating beautiful bullet journal spreads.

Some of the app’s most noteworthy features include:

  • Convert handwritten notes into text
  • Multi-note support so you can work on two notes side-by-side
  • PDF annotation
  • A search function that can scan both text and handwritten notes
  • A powerful sketching tool that lets you use custom colors and draw shapes
  • Drag-and-drop support for files, text, photos, GIFs, and web pages

As with the other apps here, Notability is compatible with iCloud so you can sync your notes across all your other iOS and macOS devices.

Finally, Notability also supports audio files. The app will sync your notes with the recording, allowing you to listen to what was said at the time you made the note. The feature is perfect for presentations and lectures.

Download: Notability ($10, in-app purchases available)

4. Notepad+ Pro

Notepad+ Pro is the most expensive app on this list—it’ll set you back $20. But it’s the best option for anyone who wants that traditional pen-and-paper feel on their iPad or iPad Pro. There are several ink pens, highlighters, and color tools, all of which aim to replicate the paper approach to note-taking.

The app is primarily geared towards people who own an Apple Pencil (or another iOS-compatible stylus), though it does support keyboard input as well.

 The 5 Best Apple Pencil Alternatives Compatible With Your iPad and iPhoneLooking for an Apple Pencil alternative with iPad and iPhone compatibility? These styluses offer a choice for every budget.Read More

If you need to annotate files in a variety of formats, the app is definitely worth checking out. It lets you add notes to PDF files as well as files in the Excel, Keynote, and Numbers formats.

Another of the app’s cool features is its blur tool. You can hide sensitive data on your documents with a single tap before you share it with other users.

Download: Notepad+ Pro ($20)

5. Evernote

Another iPad note-taking app worth considering is Evernote. The app needs no introduction; it’s been one of the best note-taking apps on all major platforms for several years.

Evernote does have a free tier. You can use it to take notes, format them as you desire, record audio, and create to-do lists. More powerful features, such as version history, PDF annotation, integration with cloud providers, and multi-person collaboration require a subscription, however. The free tier is also restricted to two devices.

Two paid subscription plans are available. Premium is $8 per month, while Business costs $15 per month.

Download: Evernote (Free, subscription available)

6. Simplenote

 

The best note-taking apps on your iPad or iPad Pro don’t necessarily need to be the most complex. Sometimes, simple is better.

And that’s where Simplenote really shines. As the name suggests, this isn’t an app loaded with endless bells and whistles that you’ll rarely use. Instead, it focuses on letting you take great notes in a clean and straightforward way, while giving you a few nifty features to sweeten your note-taking experience.

The app doesn’t support styluses, PDF annotation, or other power-user features found in other apps. Quite simply, your list of notes shows in the left-hand panel and your content appears in the right-hand panel.

Simplenote does include note searching so you can easily recall your earlier jottings. It also supports tags.

Download: Simplenote (Free)

7. Bear

 

If an app’s design is important to you, have a look at Bear. It’s one of the most beautiful note-taking apps you’ll find for iPad and iPad Pro.

But Bear is far from an app that’s all style and no substance. Some of its best features include hashtags (so you can easily find connected content), support for the Apple Watch (allowing you to dictate audio notes when you’re on-the-go), and the ability to take notes and make drawings using an Apple Pencil.

Impressively, Bear is also compatible with Siri. You can create notes from any Siri-enabled device using nothing more than your voice. Finally, Bear offers a solid selection of export formats, including HTML, PDF, DOCX, MD, JPG, and EPUB.

Bear is free to download and use, but if you want to sync your notes between devices, you will need to buy a subscription. A plan costs $1.49 per month or $15 per year.

Download: Bear (Free, subscription available)

Other Ways to Stay Productive on an iPad

Using one of the best note-taking apps for your iPad or iPad Pro is only half the battle. You’ll need lots of other apps if you want to stay productive on your iOS device.

To learn more, check out some must-have professional apps for iPad. You should also know how to cancel app subscriptions on iOS so you don’t get charged for something you never use.

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IPHONE/IPAD

The 6 Best Free Video Editing Apps for iPhone and iPad

There’s no need to head to a Mac or PC to create a custom movie using photos, music, and video. As iOS hardware continues to become more powerful and get closer to a true computer, there are a plethora of video editing apps that allow you to edit and create a video from different media files.

Below we highlight six mostly free video editing app choices for your iPhone or iPad.

1. iMovie

 

Any list of free iOS video editing apps wouldn’t be complete without Apple’s iMovie. The app should be your first choice for editing on an iPhone or iPad. While the interface might look overwhelming at first, it offers a number of powerful features and is as close to a desktop-class video editor you can find on an iOS device.

There are two major features to take advantage of. The surprisingly powerful editor allows you to select from eight themes complete with matching titles, transitions, and music. Additionally, the app offers 10 different filters to select from. You can compose a movie’s soundtrack from built-in music and sound effects, music from your library, or even your own narration.

If you’re looking for something different, iMovie has a great feature to help you make Hollywood-style movie trailers with the included graphics and scores.

You can save or share both types of movies in 4K or 1080p at 60FPS. Make sure to take a look at our great guide to editing videos on iPhone that includes a number of iMovie tips.

Download: iMovie (Free)

2. Splice

GoPro’s Splice lets you import files stored in other services like Facebook or Dropbox.

The app then lets you choose a soundtrack or add a track from your iTunes library. It has a vast selection of tunes neatly arranged in 13 genres (including pop, rock, and reggae). On the following screen, you can change your background color, transition, photo duration, and more.

When it comes to editing the video, you can select from a number of tools to trim the file, add filters, change playback speed, place text, and change the volume.

The audio editor tab has options to trim your music, download effects, or add aarration. You can then save the video to your device or share it via social media.

DownloadSplice (Free)

3. Videorama Video Editor

Videorama is another solid video editor. After opening the app, you can pick from three different video orientations: landscape, portrait, or square. The square size is perfect for Instagram.

Easily the app’s best feature is the ability to download free videos and photos from Pixabay. It also allows you to download video effects, sound effects, and copyright-free music.

On the editing timeline, you’ll see the usual array of editing tools at the bottom including adding text, photos, music, and filters. Tapping the video slider at the top reveals four more tools. These include options to edit the clip, remove it, duplicate it, and add different transition effects.

The free version of the app allows you to create short 720p videos with a Videorama watermark. You can pay for a monthly subscription, or unlock all the features of the app. That will remove the watermark, provide access to premium content and features, allow you to create 1080p 60FPS video, and the ability to share content longer than three minutes.

DownloadVideorama Video Editor (Free, in-app purchases available)

4. Quik

Another great app from GoPro, Quik is a solid choice if you want to create a video montage with just a few taps. Instead of a being a true editor like Splice, the app focuses on bringing together different media files for a customizable result.

After importing media files, you’ll then select a theme and its own soundtrack. You can also select the music icon on the bottom of the screen to change the music or add your own track.

If you prefer, you can instead select a number of different built-in templates, each with their own graphics and music. Before saving to your iPhone or iPad or sharing on social media, you can convert the video into a 16:9, square, or portrait format.

Download: Quik (Free)

5. Adobe Premiere Clip

 

You’ll need an Adobe account to use this app, but creating one is free and provides 2GB of storage. Premiere Clip lets you select media files stored on your device, in a Dropbox account, or within Adobe’s own Creative Cloud accounts. An automatic tool will create a video montage.

But the manual option allows much more control over the final video. You can choose the video’s exposure, highlight, and shadows. It’s also possible to change the playback speed and make duplicate clips on the timeline.

There’s not a wide variety of included music, but it’s easy to add your own. In the Settings section of the app, you’ll find a number of different filters and video effects.

Download: Adobe Premiere Clip (Free)

6. Magisto Video Editor & Maker

With a focus on social media, Magisto takes all the difficulty out of creating a perfect video. Just like Quik, the app handles all the editing itself. Using AI, the editor combines video, photos, music, text, effects, and filters.

After selecting a specific editing style like caring momentsmemories, or travel, it’s time to import all the needed media files. Next, there are a number of different songs to select from, including everything from rock to cinematic. You can also choose a specific tune from a music library. Then share the results with just a single tap to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and many other social networks.

The free version will create movies as long as two minutes and 30 seconds. There are two subscription types—Professional and Premium—that bring a number of additional features like longer movies, more editing styles, unlimited movie downloads, and more.

Download: Magisto Video Editor & Maker (Free, subscription available)

Ready, Set, Create With These Video Editing Apps

It’s so simple and quick to capture a photo or video with an iPhone or iPad. But most of us probably have a huge number of media files sitting on our device that we’ll never watch again. Using one of these free video editing apps, you can create a film to help enjoy those memories over and over.

Looking to specifically create a video for YouTube, Instagram, or other social outlets? Take a look at these great video editing apps for social media. And if your video is for TikTok, take a look at these tips just for TikTok beginners.

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IPHONE/IPAD

The 12 Best Apps for the Apple Pencil

The Apple Pencil transforms the iPad from a touchscreen tablet to a computer with a precise pointing instrument. Add an Apple Pencil to your iPad or iPad Pro and you’ll watch the device spread its wings

Tasks like editing photos, taking notes in class, drawing, and graphic design become more intuitive, faster, and easier. Check out our list of the best Apple Pencil apps for iPad and iPad Pro.

1. Apple Notes

Before you jump into the abyss of amazing third-party apps, don’t forget everything Apple Notes can do. The built-in Notes app comes with support for the Apple Pencil.

 10 Hidden Apple Notes Features You Should Know AboutThink you know Apple Notes? These tricks will help you supercharge your note-taking with Notes on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac.Read More

Make a new note, then just start writing with the Apple Pencil. You can scribble, draw, or do whatever else you want. Tap on the Pencil icon at the bottom to reveal the toolbar. From here, you can switch to a pen or a marker tip and pick any color you want.

Tap on the lasso tool icon to make a section. With it, simply draw over part of the note and you’ll be able to pick it up and move it around.

The best reason to use Apple Notes as a quick note-taking app on iPad is its integration with iOS/iPadOS. Tap on the Lock screen with your Apple Pencil and you’ll instantly open the Notes app with either a blank note or the last note you accessed (you can specify this in the app’s settings).

2. Notability

Notability is designed as a multipurpose note-taking app, especially for students. When you open a note, you can choose to write with your Apple Pencil or type with the keyboard (and easily alternate between them).

Plus, you can record the audio in the background. This makes Notability the best tool for taking lecture notes. You can change the background to show graph paper and write as much as you need, thanks to the infinite scrolling feature. Notability also marks page breaks, which makes it easy to export notes as PDFs or print them later.

DownloadNotability ($8.99, in-app purchases available)

3. Adobe Photoshop

As the iPad continues to become more powerful, desktop-class apps are making their move to the tablet, including Adobe Photoshop. Adobe designed the app to take advantage of the iPad’s touchscreen and include support for the Apple Pencil.

With the app, you can create full PSDs with layers and use features you know from the desktop version, like spot healing and blending. There are other familiar tools like the Layer stack and Toolbar. To better help you while working, the app’s UI is context-aware, so it will only show tools that you really need.

You can try the app out with a 30-day free trial. Anyone with a current Adobe Photoshop monthly membership can use the app at no additional cost.

DownloadAdobe Photoshop (Free trial, subscription required)

4. Linea Sketch

Linea Sketch sits somewhere between a simple doodling app and more professional drawing tools like Procreate. It gives you the simplicity of doodling whatever you want, with power user tools like unlimited layers, transform tools, automatic ruler, grids, and more.

Like every other drawing app, Linea takes a canvas-based approach. Unlike Notability, you won’t find an endlessly scrolling page here. However, you can create multiple canvases and organize them in projects.

The grid tool gives you backgrounds for note-taking, drawing, and user interface design. Linea Sketch’s genius lies in its simple design. The tools are arranged in two panels on either side of the screen, letting you ignore features you don’t need.

But this is a double-edged sword, as many of Linea’s interesting features are hidden behind buttons. Once you get comfortable with the app, you should create a blank page and try all the tools at least once.

DownloadLinea Sketch ($4.99)

5. GoodNotes 5

GoodNotes 5 is the modernized version of the original versatile note-taking iPad app. The first app’s premise was simple: it replicated a physical writing environment on the iPad. If you liked writing on a yellow legal pad, you could essentially get the same feeling on your iPad.

But this also meant that GoodNotes was limited in functionality. For example, it didn’t have the endless vertical scrolling we’re used to in apps like Notes and Notability. Instead, you had to flip pages every time.

GoodNotes 5 takes care of these annoyances. The continuous vertical scrolling makes note-taking much easier. And this version improves on all the aspects that make GoodNotes such a robust note-taking app. You can now nest as many folders as you want and organize them easily.

Plus, the handwriting recognition works even if your handwriting is poor.

DownloadGoodNotes 5 ($7.99)

6. Pixelmator

Pixelmator is known as an intuitive and simple image editor. While you can use Pixelmator to quickly edit photos, it does a lot more than that. You can create an empty canvas, add and arrange photos, create shapes, add text, and more. Each lives on its own independent layer.

The Apple Pencil adds an extra layer of creativity. Using the selection tool, you can accurately single out parts of images that you want to edit. You can also write over images freehand, or draw any shape you want. Pixelmator comes with a variety of brushes, from calligraphy to crayons.

DownloadPixelmator ($4.99)

7. Procreate

Procreate is the ultimate Apple Pencil app. If you can dream it, and you have the skills, you can probably make it using Procreate on iPad. If you don’t want to use Photoshop, Procreate is rightly championed as an Adobe suite replacement and one of the best professional iPad apps.

 10 Must-Have Professional Apps for Your iPad ProWant to get real work done on your iPad Pro? Here are the best professional-grade apps for creators of all kinds.Read More

However, Procreate is best suitable for drawing and painting. It’s not really designed for graphic design and vector work.

DownloadProcreate ($9.99)

8. Nebo

Nebo is a full-featured note-taking app that’s made even better with the Apple Pencil. With it, you can edit and format text and do tasks like add or remove content and space, plus decorate and apply different styles.

One of its headlining features is converting handwriting from the Apple Pencil into text that you can edit and add to different notes. The app recognizes more than 65 languages and will also convert handwritten symbols. You can also enter text using a keyboard if you prefer. When looking for specific information, both typed and handwritten text are searchable.

When you finish a note, it can be converted into Word, PDF, HTML, or text. While the app is free to download, the majority of features require an in-app purchase to unlock the Pro version.

Download: Nebo (Free, premium version available)

9. Sketch Club

Sketch Club combines a great drawing and painting app with a vibrant community of artists looking to improve their craft.

When creating with an Apple Pencil, there are a wide variety of different tools at your disposal allowing you to create different layers with configurable blending, naming, and color tagging. You can create a canvas up to 16K resolution with a number of exportable sizes, including the standard 300 DPI. To help craft a perfect creation, there are many built-in tools to choose from, and you can even import others from the community.

Along with the drawing features, you can follow other artists and even gain followers while sharing creations. A new challenge arrives each day and a fresh competition comes each week, giving you a chance to improve. You can also live stream and chat for feedback while drawing.

Download: Sketch Club ($2.99)

10. Affinity Designer

Affinity Designer is the only great fully featured vector design app on iPad. It brings almost all the features from the Mac app to your iPad, and does so in an intuitive manner.

At first glance, you might feel like there’s a lot going on as the app covers three edges of the screen with toolbars. But don’t be overwhelmed; tap on each button and you’ll see detailed options appear.

To make working easier, Affinity has three different modes: VectorPixel, and Export. The Vector mode is for drawing, while Pixel mode is similar to using a raster app like Photoshop. If you’re using Designer to design graphics or user interfaces, Export mode makes it easy to export individual assets.

The app is fast and slick. Start creating points and paths, and you’re on your way to creating an illustration. The features you expect from a good vector design app (pen tool, node tool, fill tool, live shapes) are all here, and they’ve been made more intuitive for a touchscreen.

DownloadAffinity Designer ($19.99)

11. Flow by Moleskine

Flow by Moleskine takes the iconic notebook to your iPad. Just like with a real Moleskine, if you can dream it, it’s possible to create using the app and an Apple Pencil.

One of the most unique features of the app is that documents are an infinite width, so you can simply pan and continue the drawing. And with a virtual toolset, you can create custom tools available with just a single tap.

The app is free to download. A subscription unlocks cloud storage and backup for all documents and tools so you can start on one iPad and then pick up work on another.

Download: Flow by Moleskine (Free, subscription available)

12. Pigment

Coloring has been known to reduce stress and anxiety. The mere act of taking time out of your busy life and focusing on coloring can be meditative. And you don’t need to buy an adult coloring book or colored pencils to get started. All you need is an iPad coloring app.

Pigment has a collection of more than 4,000 coloring pages. You’ll certainly find something that strikes your fancy , as it has everything from simple nature drawings to complex mandalas that you can really take your time with.

Pigment has two coloring modes. If you want, you can tap on a shape to only color inside it. No matter how inaccurate you are, the color won’t bleed outside the selection. If you want a more realistic drawing experience, don’t tap on the shape before you start coloring.

DownloadPigment (Free, subscription available)

Get More From Your Apple Pencil

As we’ve seen, the Apple Pencil is truly a remarkable tool when paired with iPad apps designed for it. Grab some of the best apps for Apple Pencil and see what you can create.

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IPHONE/IPAD

How to Use Your iPhone as a Webcam: A Step-by-Step Guide

Did you know it’s possible to use your iPhone as a webcam? Of course, it’s can’t quite mimic a webcam in the traditional sense. You can’t plug your iPhone into a computer’s USB port and expect it to work right away. But you can use apps to recreate the webcam experience.

Our favorite app for this purpose is EpocCam. Let’s look at how to use EpocCam to make your iPhone act like a webcam. We’ll also introduce you to a couple of EpocCam alternatives.

What Is EpocCam?

EpocCam can turn your iOS device (iPhone or iPad) into a webcam for both Windows and Mac computers. There’s also an Android version that offers the same functionality. The developer claims the app can completely replace traditional USB webcams and integrated webcams.

The app supports both video and audio and is compatible with many of the leading video player apps, including Skype, Streamlabs OBS, and YouTube. It doesn’t matter whether you want to chat with your family, stream games to your followers, or engage in video conference calls with your colleagues—EpocCam is up to the task.

EpocCam Free vs. EpocCam Pro

EpocCam offers a free and a paid version. The free version provides 640×480 video resolution, USB support (if used with macOS), the ability to use your device’s front and rear cameras as the webcam input, and Wi-Fi connectivity. When using the free edition, you must accept watermarks on your videos as well as in-app ads.

The Pro version removes ads and the watermark. However, it’s only worth considering if you have a Mac. Many of the pro features are only available to users of Apple’s desktop operating system. Pro features include pinch-to-zoom, manual focus, flashlight support, HDR video, dual-camera, and dim-screen (also called “spycam”).

The other major benefit of using the paid version is the increased video resolution. It jumps from 640×480 to 1920×1080.

Download: EpocCam for iOS (Free)
Download: EpocCam Pro for iOS ($7.99)

How to Use Your iPhone as a Webcam With EpocCam

Let’s take a quick look at how to set up EpocCam on your iOS and macOS or Windows devices.

Install EpocCam on macOS or Windows

The EpocCam software comes in two parts—an app for your mobile device and the drivers for your computer.

Although you can view your iPhone’s camera output on your Mac using nothing more than the EpocCam Webcam Viewer (available for free in the Mac App Store), we recommend installing the drivers. They allow EpocCam to integrate with Skype, Zoom, and any other video chat tool you use. The Webcam Viewer only allows you to see your phone’s video output; it offers no integration with other services.

The EpocCam Mac drivers (as well as drivers for Windows) are available for free on the developer’s website, kinoni.com. Download and install them on your computer before moving on.

(Note: It’s a good idea to restart your machine after installing any new drivers.)

Set Up EpocCam on iPhone or iPad

Once you’ve downloaded and installed the mobile version of EpocCam on your iOS device, it’s easy to connect it to a Mac. Just make sure your iOS and macOS devices are on the same Wi-Fi network, then open the EpocCam app on your phone. You’ll see a black screen with a phone icon.

Now head back to your Mac and open an app that EpocCam supports. If you only want to test the connection, open the EpocCam Webcam Viewer app mentioned earlier. As soon as the phone app detects a supported app running on your Mac, it will make an instant connection and display a broadcasting image.

Make sure you set the video input method to EpocCam on the chat app you’re using the webcam with.

EpocCam Alternatives

If you’re not satisfied with EpocCam, there are a few other apps that allow you to use your iPhone as a webcam.

1. iCam

iCam is a paid app that can turn an iPhone into a webcam. The mobile app is just one part of the equation; like EpocCam, you’ll also need the iCamSource component on your computer. Once you have both apps installed, you can stream live video and audio from any iOS device.

iCam also works as a security camera; it can send you instant alerts if it detects motion or sound. All motion events are automatically backed up to the cloud. In addition to the original iCam, the company also offers iCam Pro with some additional features. Check out the iCam Feature Comparison to learn more.

Download: iCam for iOS ($4.99, in-app purchases available)
Download: iCam Pro for iOS (Free, in-app purchases available)
Download: iCamSource for Windows | macOS (Free)

2. iVCam

iVCam is specifically designed for iPhone owners who have a Windows PC—you cannot use iVCam to stream your iPhone’s video output to a Mac.

The app works via WLAN or USB and allows you to connect multiple phones to one computer at the same time. You can stream video in 1080p, 720p, 480p, or 360p resolution. This multi-connection aspect means the software is ideal for anyone who wants to use their old iPhone as a CCTV device, a baby monitor, or a pet cam.

Download: iVCam (Free, premium version available)

3. AtHome Camera

AtHome Camera is unique. In addition to letting a a computer remotely view your iPhone’s camera feed, the iPhone app can also remotely view your computer’s webcam feed. It supports both Windows and Mac.

Some of the app’s key features include:

  • Two-way talk: Whether you’re using the streamer app or the viewer app, you can talk to any connected device and hear the audio from that device.
  • Motion detection: You’ll get an instant notification if there is movement on your camera.
  • Scheduled recording: If you want to monitor your camera at certain times of the day—perhaps while you’re at work—you can pre-program the app to do this.

The app is ad-supported and comes with options to upgrade for a premium fee. As with the others, try before you buy to see if it works for you.

Download: AtHome Camera (Free, in-app purchases available)

Other Ways to Use Your iPhone Camera

It’s fairly easy to use your iPhone as a webcam. But that’s not the only way get can more out of your iPhone’s camera hardware.

Categories
Android

This Smart Home Camera Detects Everything

Our verdict of the SimCam 1S Home Security Camera:
Easy to set up and with a wealth of AI features, the SimCam 1S also offers a nice trio of mounting options. If you’re looking for am affordable smart home-integrated internal security camera, this is a good place to start.
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Whether you’re looking for a cam to keep your premises secure or want to keep an eye on pets, a smart home camera can help.

They can be installed in almost any position, feature wireless internet, and send updates to your phone. Smart cameras are the ideal domestic security and monitoring solution—they’re even perfect as baby monitors.

Sometimes, though, smart home security cameras are a little too keen to inform. This is where the SimCam 1S AI Home Camera can change things, thanks to AI-managed recognition.

SimCam AI 1080 HD Home Security Camera 1S—Local Storage, Privacy-Protective, No Cloud Storage & 0 Subscription Fee, No lag, 2-Way Audio, Accurate Facial RECOG, Instant Alarm,Compatible with AlexaSimCam AI 1080 HD Home Security Camera 1S—Local Storage, Privacy-Protective, No Cloud Storage & 0 Subscription Fee, No lag, 2-Way Audio, Accurate Facial RECOG, Instant Alarm,Compatible with Alexa BUY NOW ON AMAZON$129.99

SimCam 1S AI Home Camera Key Features

Rather than sharing every single detail with you, this device features facial recognition, person detection, and auto tracking.

It also makes some key boasts:

  • No false alerts
  • No detection miss-out
  • No storage subscription fee
  • No privacy compromise

Some of these are pretty brave. The lack of a subscription fee is welcome, for example. Avoiding false alerts seems difficult, however, while the privacy declaration seems to tempt fate rather than impress.

 

To avoid false alerts, the SimCam 1S AI is designed to recognize and learn body shape data. Shapes might be people, pets, or vehicles. The AI can recognize faces and distinguish between babies, pets, and strangers, and push alerts to your phone. Recognition—limited to 200 faces—is cited as 99 percent accurate. People can be recognized to 60 feet (18m), faces to 18 feet (5.5m). Meanwhile, a car can be detected at 20 feet (6m) and pets at 10 feet (3m).

Facial detection and recognition is measured at 30ms, although distance and light can slow this down. No training is required as SIMCAM has already trained the AI with millions of images.

Local AI processing ensures that the SimCam 1S maintains your privacy. Image data cannot be accessed by outside viewers. Further, the mobile app establishes a secured P2P (peer-to-peer) network with your phone.

100 Percent Privacy?

Manufacturers SIMCAM make a huge boast with the SimCam 1S: 100 percent privacy protection without data leak or reverse invasion of the camera. At the heart of the camera is an Ambarella CV25 SoC processor, managing image sensor, recognition, AI accelerator, and 1080p HD recording at 30FPS. Night vision is also included, for complete monitoring day and night.

 

The camera’s field of view is 120 degrees, but it is equipped with a motor for 360-degree coverage. It can also tilt to 22 degrees and has 4x digital zoom.

Mobile apps for Android and iOS are provided for control and observation on the move. Meanwhile, Alexa and Google Assistant integration is also supported.

Recorded data can be analyzed in the app, which means there is no need to upload it to the cloud server. Subscription fees can therefore be avoided. Local recording meanwhile reduces the need for a Wi-Fi connection, so the camera can keep observing even when offline. The SimCam 1S can connect to 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks, maximizing your connection options.

SIMCAM also offers a 12-month warranty with this product.

In short, it’s a feature-packed bundle of home security magic. But does the SimCam 1S live up to expectations?

What’s In the Box?

Weighing 245 grams, the SimCam 1S measures 4.7 x 2.8 x 2.8 inches (121mm X 72mm X 72mm).

The light brown box holding the SimCam 1S is wrapped in a smart white sleeve detailing the contents. Protected by gray foam, inside you’ll find the AI camera and a mains power supply adapter.

 

For standard positioning on a cabinet or table, this is all you’ll need. However, the box also contains a wall mount, wall mount disc, and suitable 3M adhesive pad to secure it.

The SimCam 1S is IP54 rated which means that while it’s not weatherproof it can be used outside under an overhang.

For permanent placement, screws and securing anchors are also provided, along with a reset pin and Allen (hex) key. You’ve basically got everything you need to mount the SimCam 1S. Before proceeding with any sort of installation, it’s smarter to get any such device connected to your network.

Easy/Tricky Setup

Setting up the SimCam 1S is straightforward, if a little frustrating.

The process is straightforward, requiring you to boot the camera, run the app, follow the instructions to add a camera, connect to your network, then flash a generated QR code at the SimCam 1S.

So far, so good. However, it seemed the device isn’t at home on 2.4Ghz networks, failing to correctly connect. To use this smart cam successfully, you’ll need to connect it to a 5Ghz Wi-Fi network instead.

Where Should You Mount an AI Security Camera?

Getting the placement right is vital with any smart security camera. Sometimes it’s a trade-off between Wi-Fi coverage and power supply, for instance with external solar-powered cameras. At other times, the camera needs to be within reach of a power supply.

The SimCam 1S ships with three-meter long cable. Positioning is made easier with this length, and that’s where the mounts come in useful.

 

Rather than standing the camera on a shelf, you can fix it to a brick or partition wall with the included anchors. Then there’s the adhesive mount, for plastic, glass, and metal surfaces.

I tested the SimCam 1S on both a shelf, as well as mounting with the adhesive mount. Using the single 3M adhesive disc, the mount was reliable, and took some careful scraping to remove it without damage.

Using the SimCam 1S’s AI Settings

To help to avoid false positives and optimize your use of the SimCam 1S, some AI settings are available. Monitored areas can be set for person, pet, and vehicle detection, with a specific zone in the camera’s view set for identification. So, when the selected shape (body, pet, etc.) enters the zone, you receive a notification via the app.

 

Face recognition works in a similar way. You might use this to remotely alert you when someone comes home, or to highlight the presence of a specific individual in your property. All it requires is a photo of the person, snapped or uploaded via the app.

With face recognition enabled, the SimCam 1S alerts you when the face is spotted. This can prove a little annoying at times, however, so use only when you need to know who is in a specific area. Otherwise you’ll get notifications every time you walk in front of the camera.

Integrate the With Alexa, Google Assistant, and IFTTT

Smart home integration is a useful feature for security cameras. While the SimCam 1S already has plenty of intelligent options, this can be further enhanced with Alexa, Google Home, and IFTTT.

However, it is a bit unclear how these integrate. For example, while we set up the SimCam 1S with the corresponding Alexa skill, it didn’t actually do anything when summoned.

Google Home sets up with similar ease and thankfully works. The camera can be streamed to a Chromecast device on your network (the mobile Google Home app doesn’t support streaming).

IFTTT was more successful, however. Although it requires the IFTTT app to be installed (available for Android and iOS), the integration enables you to switch the camera mode upon entrance and departure into the area. This allows, for example, the camera to be switched off when you come home, switching on again when you head out.

Using the App to View the Camera Stream

As companion apps go for smart cameras, the SimCam app is up there among the best. It is functional, features a collection of easy to understand menu options and icons, and multiple cams can be added.

The app can also control the orientation of the camera if you choose to mount it on a ceiling. A swipe on the camera preview lets you swivel through 360 degrees, while pinch zoom can help you focus on specific objects.

Video recording settings, triggers, a gallery, and alerts can all be easily viewed in the app, along with the feed. The app also features a customer feedback form as well as a built-in guided mode to get you started.

While the app is useful and vital to the SimCam 1S, it can get a little disorientating. Some of the options seem repetitive, but this due more to the labeling than what they do. Another complaint about the app is that the while live footage can be observed in portrait mode, specific options cannot. You’ll need to flip the phone into landscape view to access the snapshot and video options. The same goes for the microphone, area and body detection, and alarm functions.

A Smart Home Security Camera to Consider

Among the best home security cameras we’ve reviewed, the SimCam 1S is functional yet anonymous.

SimCam AI 1080 HD Home Security Camera 1S—Local Storage, Privacy-Protective, No Cloud Storage & 0 Subscription Fee, No lag, 2-Way Audio, Accurate Facial RECOG, Instant Alarm,Compatible with AlexaSimCam AI 1080 HD Home Security Camera 1S—Local Storage, Privacy-Protective, No Cloud Storage & 0 Subscription Fee, No lag, 2-Way Audio, Accurate Facial RECOG, Instant Alarm,Compatible with Alexa BUY NOW ON AMAZON$129.99

After all, there is little point in a camera that everyone can see. Its compact dimensions and unassuming appearance convey a device that is clearly a camera, but one that is ignored.

Smart home integration is satisfactory; the IFTTT integration more so. The mobile app is perfect for controlling the security camera, and zone detection and the facial recognition are superb. Better cameras are available at a higher price—for an affordable smart home integrated security camera, the SimCam 1S should be near the top of your list.