Stream Video to Your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch from Windows or OS X

Want to easily stream video from the collection on your computer to a portable Apple Device over Wi-Fi or Internet? Today we take a look at what might be the easiest way to stream video to your iPod Touch, iPhone, or iPad with Air Video.
Air Video is available for your Apple Device as a Free or Full version. The Free version limits the number of displayed folders, while the Full version doesn’t. The full version is only $2.99 which is a steal for all it can do. You will also need to download and install the free Air Video Server on your Windows or Mac OS X computer. It will let you stream video over a Wi-Fi network or Internet (including 3G) via Remote Access – this feature is still in Beta.


It will convert video formats that can’t be played on your device to an iPhone friendly format. It can convert the more widely used containers like mp4, MOV, AVI, MPEG, DIVX, FLV…etc. Keep in mind that DRM protected videos and Propriety codecs are not supported.
Note: We tested both the free and full versions of the app on an iPod Touch and iPad running iOS 4.0. The server was installed on a Windows 7 x64 Ultimate desktop.
Install Air Video Server
The first thing we need to do is download and install the free Air Video Server software to your computer (link below). Install as normal accepting the defaults.

When the server launches, under the Shared Folders tab click on Add Disk Folder…

Then browse to the location of the videos you want to stream.

You can add as many locations as you want. Notice here we added a shared folder from our Windows Home Server too…more on that below.

Another interesting thing you can do if you’re running iTunes is add an iTunes Playlist.

Then select from your Playlists what you want to add.

Then it will be added to the shared locations too.

Install Air Video Free
Now download and install the Air Video Free or Full App (link below) on your Apple device, either through iTunes…

Or directly from the App Store on your device.

Using Air Video
Here we take a look at the free version running on an iPod Touch. Once installed, click on the Air Video Free icon on your main menu.

Next click the “+” button to look for the Server(s) you have running.

On the Select Server screen pick the computer we just installed the server on.

Now select one of the folders you added to the Shared Folders tab on the Air Video Server.

The free version won’t display all the folders at once. However, we found if we kept refreshing the view we would eventually get to the folder we wanted.

If you click to display more items, you’ll be prompted to get the full version.

Click Yes and you’ll be taken to the App Store to purchase the full version which is only $2.99…not a bad price for such an awesome app!

Here is an example of the full version which shows all of your folders at once.

Stream & Convert Video
After you select the video you want to watch, the true awesomeness of this app is revealed. Tap on Play with Live Conversion, and you can watch the video while it’s being converted to an iPod friendly format. Very Cool!

It only takes a moment for your video to start. You will be able to watch it while it’s converting in the background and have basic video player controls.

Once you have the volume and screen size setup, tap on the screen again to hide the controls.

You can also select to just convert videos while you do something else. The videos will be added to a Queue and converted one at a time. While the videos are converting, you can view the Queue on your device.

Then go back to your folders and find other videos to convert.

If you’re converting several videos, you’ll get a message letting you know it has been added to the Conversion Queue.

You’ll be able to check out your Queue and see the progress of what’s converting.

You can also see what is converting from the Air Video Server under the Conversions tab.

Enable Remote Access
So far we’ve looked at streaming content over a Wi-Fi network. But you can also stream it over an Internet Connection including 3G which is great for iPhone and iPad users. The first thing we need to do is make sure to do before enabling Remote Access is make the Air Port Server secure. Click on Settings then check Require Password and set a strong password for it.

On the Air Video Server select the Remote tab and check Enable Access from Internet (beta). Then Check Automatically Map Port (requires a router with UPnP or NAT-PMP support). Then Test Connection. Make sure to take note of the Server PIN as you’ll need it when connecting your Device.

Provided you have the capabilities in your router, you should see a successful Connection Test. If the test fails, you might have to do some troubleshooting on your router, manually configure it’s settings, try flashing it with dd-wrt, or just buy a capable one.

Now on your Apple device, launch Air Video and when the Servers screen comes up click on the “+” button to get to the Select Server screen. This time select Enter Server PIN.

Since we password protected the server, we’ll need to enter that in first.

Then type in the server PIN that we took note of earlier and tap Save.

Now you will see the Server which you’re accessing online and will show the Server PIN under it.

Then continue to use it as you would on a local Wi-Fi network.

Supports Windows Home Server Shares
One cool thing we found is this will work with network folders from Windows Home Server. We have seen other methods where people install Air Video directly on WHS, but accessing the shared folders might be your best bet. Installing 3rd party software on WHS is not necessarily supported and the software may not be configured for its architecture. It might be nice to see an Add-In for WHS for Air Video though.

We had no noticeable slow downs while selecting Play with Live Conversion with videos from the Server on our Wi-Fi connection.

Air Video on iPad
As we mentioned before it can run on the iPad as well. Here are a couple shots of it running on that device.

Since there’s obviously more room on an iPad screen, you can navigate through your folders more easily. Especially with the full version as it shows more folders at once.

While there are other apps that will let you stream multimedia content to your Apple device, we had the best experience with either the Free or Full version of Air Video. If you’re looking for what is probably the easiest way to stream video to your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch Air Video is definitely the way to go. You can always start with the free version, and if you like it, get the full version for a few bucks and have easier access to all of your video folders.
Download the Free Air Video Server for OS X or Windows
Air Video Full Edition – iTunes Preview
Air Video Website

Too Much Clutter? Here’s 15 Minimalist Wallpapers for Your iPhone, iPad, Android, or Desktop

Busy wallpaper images don’t work very well on your iPhone, iPad, or any device where you need to have lots of icons on the screen. Here’s a set of minimalistic wallpaper images that won’t clutter up your desktop.
Since each device requires you enable the wallpapers differently, we won’t cover that here. For your iPhone or iPad, head into the Settings, and for Android you’ll want to long press on the desktop to access the Wallpaper settings.


15 Minimalist Wallpapers

Here you are—click on each of them to head to the full-size image download. Since many of them are actually wallpaper packs, you’ll possibly have to download and then extract them to get to the images. We recommend 7-Zip for .rar files.

Got some better ideas for wallpaper? Let us know in the comments.

How to Force Reboot and Quit Apps on iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch

Like all operating systems, sometimes iOS will slow down or applications will freeze. Today, we’ll be showing you what to do in those scenarios by explaining how to force quit applications and how to force reboot the OS.
If you do have an application freeze, your best bet will be to try and force quit the application first. It that doesn’t work, or your device is completely frozen, you can force reboot your device instead.


Force Quit Apps Using Task Switcher (iOS4 Only)

There are two ways to quit apps on iOS devices: the manual method, and the software method, which only works on newer devices able to run iOS4 with multi-tasking enabled.
Since multitasking is enabled on iOS 4, all we need to do to quit an app is open the task switcher by hitting the home button twice, and then hold down on the app we want to quit until it starts jiggling. A red “-” should appear on the corner of the app icon. If we press it, it will quit the app:

Manually Force Quit Apps

If you’re using an older device that doesn’t support multi-tasking, you can quit an application manually—though this also works as a force quit on the newer devices if you prefer. You’ll need to follow the following steps:

  • Hold down the Sleep/Wake Button on the top.
  • Wait for a red slider to appear. Don’t slide it.
  • Let go of the Sleep/Wake Button.
  • Hold down the home button and the app will force quit.

Once you’re back on the home screen the application should be closed, and you can re-open it normally again. Here’s a diagram to better illustrate how it works:

Reboot Your Device Normally

If your device is completely frozen, or you’re having other problems, you’ll want to reboot your device instead of just quitting an app. You can simply hold down the Sleep/Wake button until the red slider appears, and then slide it across.

Once the device is off, you can use the Sleep/Wake button to turn it back on again—just hold the button down.

Force Your Device to Reboot Manually

If the device is just completely frozen—which shouldn’t usually happen, but every so often it does—you can hold down both the Sleep/Wake button and the Home button at the same time until the device reboots itself.

Make sure you let go of the buttons once the device starts rebooting, otherwise you might end up in Recovery Mode, which you probably don’t want.

How to Track, Disable, and Wipe a Lost iPhone, iPad, or Mac

Apple’s phone, tablet, and computer-tracking tools are the best in the business. You can remotely locate your device, disable it with a lock and message that persists through factory resets — the so-called “kill switch” — and wipe it.
These features aren’t enabled by default, so you’ll need to ensure the tracking features are enabled ahead of time if you’d ever like to remotely track, lock, or wipe your iPhone, iPad, or Mac.


Enable Find My iPhone, Find My iPad, or Find My Mac

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The “Find My” features are part of Apple’s iCloud service. To enable this feature, open the Settings app, tap iCloud, and set the Find My iPhone or Find My iPad slider to On. You’ll need to enable this setting on each device you want to track.
If you haven’t set up iCloud on your device, you’ll be prompted to set up an iCloud account here.

On a Mac, open the System Preferences window (Apple menu > System Preferences), click the iCloud icon, and ensure the Find My Mac box is checked. You’ll be prompted to set up iCloud here if you haven’t already.

Ensure you set a strong password for your Apple ID. If you set a weak password, someone could log into your account on the iCloud website and remotely lock or wipe your device. This password is important! If you want to change your Apple ID password, you can change it on the My Apple ID website. You’ll have to enter the new password on all your devices afterward.

Track, Lock, and Erase Your Device

To track your device, you can either sign into the iCloud website or use the Find My iPhone app for iPhone or iPad. In spite of its name, the Find My iPhone app and Find My iPhone feature in iCloud can track iPads and Macs as well as iPhones.
We’ll assume you’re using the website here, as you can use the website from any device — whether it’s a Mac, iPad, Windows PC, Chromebook, or Android tablet. Feel free to use the app if you want to do this on an iPhone or iPad.
Sign into either the app or the website with your Apple ID. On the iCloud website, click the Find My iPhone icon.

The website will display all your devices on a map by default. iCloud still uses Google Maps for this instead of Apple Maps on the web — after all, there’s no web-based version of Apple Maps.
Click the All Devices menu if you’d like to select a specific device. iPads and Macs may be more difficult to track then iPhones. If the iPad or Mac is powered off or doesn’t have an Internet connection, you won’t be able to track its location — however, you can still send wipe or lock commands and iCloud will execute them the next time the device connects. iPhones should be easier to track in real-time, as most iPhones will have a mobile data connection.

Click a device’s dot on the map and you’ll be able to issue it commands:

  • Play Sound: The Play Sound button will play a two-minute sound on the device. This happens immediately — if the device is offline, the two-minute sound will start playing the next time it comes online. This is ideal if you’ve lost the device somewhere nearby — maybe you don’t know where you left it in your house or perhaps you dropped your iPhone somewhere.
  • Lost Mode (iPhones and iPads): Enable Lost Mode as soon as possible when your device is lost or stolen. Lost Mode allows you to set a new passcode to prevent the thief from using your device. You can also enter a custom message that will be displayed on the device’s lock screen — you could provide details of where you can be reached if someone finds the device. The message will persist even through factory resets on iOS 7. “Activation lock” will also prevent people from activating the device without your original iCloud ID and password, so thieves won’t be able to resell or keep using your device. Lost Mode also enables a location tracking history, so you can sign into the iCloud website and track the device’s movements over time. If the device is currently offline, Lost Mode will be activated the next time it connects.
  • Lock (Macs): Macs don’t have a “lost mode,” but you can remotely lock them. This doesn’t just set a user account password — when the Mac receives the lock command, it will shut down. When someone boots the Mac, it will enter the recovery screen, display a message you’ve entered, and force someone to provide a firmware passcode you remotely set. The Mac will be useless until the passcode is provided. People won’t even be able to boot Windows, Linux, or other operating system on it.
  • Erase: You can also remotely erase the device, removing any sensitive personal or business data. On iOS 7, you can set a phone number and message that will be displayed on the screen after the device is erased so someone can contact you if they find it. The Erase feature should be used as a last resort — in most cases, Lost Mode and Lock should allow you to secure your data and continue remotely tracking your device.

Whatever you think of Apple, their device-tracking and remote-locking solutions are the best integrated services in the industry. Google’s Android Device Manager doesn’t allow you to flip a “kill switch” that survives a factory reset or view a history of a lost device’s movements. Microsoft and Google don’t provide any integrated way to track and remotely lock Windows PCs or Chromebooks. There are third-party tracking applications available for Windows, but they won’t be able to lock down a PC at the firmware level like Apple’s Mac solution can.

How to Never Use iTunes With Your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch

iTunes isn’t an amazing program on Windows. There was a time when Apple device users had to plug their devices into their PCs or Macs and use iTunes for device activation, updates, and syncing, but iTunes is no longer necessary.
Apple still allows you to use iTunes for these things, but you don’t have to. Your iOS device can function independently from iTunes, so you should never be forced to plug it into a PC or Mac.


Device Activation

When the iPad first came out, it was touted as a device that could replace full PCs and Macs for people who only needed to perform light computing tasks. Yet, to set up a new iPad, users had to plug it into a PC or Mac running iTunes and use iTunes to activate the device.
This is no longer necessary. With new iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touches, you can simply go through the setup process after turning on your new device without ever having to plug it into iTunes. Just connect to a Wi-Fi or cellular data network and log in with your Apple ID when prompted. You’ll still see an option that allows you to activate the device via iTunes, but this should only be necessary if you don’t have a wireless Internet connection available for your device.

Operating System Updates

You no longer have to use Apple’s iTunes software to update to a new version of Apple’s iOS operating system, either. Just open the Settings app on your device, select the General category, and tap Software Update. You’ll be able to update right from your device without ever opening iTunes.

Purchased iTunes Media

Apple allows you to easily access content you’ve purchased from the iTunes Store on any device. You don’t have to connect your device to your computer and sync via iTunes.
For example, you can purchase a movie from the iTunes Store. Then, without any syncing, you can open the iTunes Store app on any of your iOS devices, tap the Purchased section, and see stuff you’ve downloaded. You can download the content right from the store to your device.
This also works for apps — apps you purchase from the App Store can be accessed in the Purchased section on the App Store on your device later. You don’t have to sync apps from iTunes to your device, although iTunes still allows you to.
You can even set up automatic downloads from the iTunes & App Store settings screen. This would allow you to purchase content on one device and have it automatically download to your other devices without any hassle.


Apple allows you to re-download purchased music from the iTunes Store in the same way. However, there’s a good chance you have your own music you didn’t purchase from iTunes. Maybe you spent time ripping it all from your old CDs and you’ve been syncing it to your devices via iTunes ever since.
Apple’s solution for this is named iTunes Match. This feature isn’t free, but it’s not a bad deal at all. For $25 per year, Apple allows you to upload all your music to your iCloud account. You can then access all your music from any iPhone, IPad, or iPod Touch. You can stream all your music — perfect if you have a huge library and little storage on your device — and choose which songs you want to download to your device for offline use.
When you add additional music to your computer, iTunes will notice it and upload it using iTunes Match, making it available for streaming and downloading directly from your iOS devices without any syncing.
This feature is named iTunes Match because it doesn’t just upload music — if Apple already has a song you upload, it will “match” your song with Apple’s copy. This means you may get higher-quality versions of your songs if you ripped them from CD at a lower bitrate.


You don’t have to use iTunes to subscribe to podcasts and sync them to your devices. Even if you have a lowly iPod Touch, you can install Apple’s Podcasts app from the app store. Use it to subscribe to podcasts and configure them to automatically download directly to your device. You can use other podcast apps for this, too.


You can continue backing up your device’s data through iTunes, generating local backups that are stored on your computer. However, new iOS devices are configured to automatically back up their data to iCloud. This happens automatically in the background without you even having to think about it, and you can restore such backups when setting up a device simply by logging in with your Apple ID.

Personal Data

In the days of PalmPilots, people would use desktop programs like iTunes to sync their email, contacts, and calendar events with their mobile devices.
You probably shouldn’t have to sync this data form your computer. Just sign into your email account — for example, a Gmail account — on your device and iOS will automatically pull your email, contacts, and calendar events from your associated account.


Rather than connecting your iOS device to your computer and syncing photos from it, you can use an app that automatically uploads your photos to a web service. Dropbox, Google+, and even Flickr all have this feature in their apps. You’ll be able to access your photos from any computer and have a backup copy without any syncing required.

You may still need to use iTunes if you want to sync local music without paying for iTunes Match or copy local video files to your device. Copying large local files over is the only real scenario where you’d need iTunes.
If you don’t need to copy such files over, you can go ahead and uninstall iTunes from your Windows PC if you like. You shouldn’t need it.

How to Get a Refund For an iPhone, iPad, or Mac App From Apple

If you’ve purchased an app from the iOS App Store or the Mac App Store and there’s a problem, you can contact Apple to get your money back. This isn’t automatic — you’ll have to provide a reason you want a refund and Apple will review your request.
This same process also works with other iTunes purchases, including music, books, movies, and TV shows. This isn’t integrated into the App Store on iOS — you’ll need to use iTunes on a computer or Apple’s website to initiate a refund request.


How This Works

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Apple only allows you to request a refund for purchases you’ve made in the last 90 days. Unlike Android’s Google Play Store, which offers a two-hour no-questions-asked refund period, Apple doesn’t offer automated refunds in the same way. This isn’t meant to be a feature that allows you to trial paid apps, although Android’s refund feature can be used in that way.
To request a refund, you’ll need to “report a problem” with your purchase to Apple, select a specific problem, and explain your request to Apple. Reasons include “I didn’t authorize this purchase,” “Item didn’t download or can’t be found,” “Item won’t install or downloads too slowly,” “Item opens but doesn’t function as expected,” and “Problem is not listed here” for explaining your own situation.
After you provide a reason, Apple’s customer service will review your request. This may take a day or two, and you may be contacted for more information.

Use Apple’s Website

iTunes just takes you to Apple’s website, so you can skip iTunes entirely and use Apple’s website itself. To do so, visit the Report a Problem page on Apple’s website. You could also access this website on your iPhone or iPad.
Sign in with your Apple ID, click “Apps” and click “Report a Problem” next to the app or other purchase you want a refund for. Choose the reason you want a refund and describe the situation to Apple.

Start From Your Email

The receipt Apple emails to you include quick “Report a Problem” links you can use to report problems and request refunds, so you could start from your email. Open your email on your computer, iPhone, or iPad and search for the name of the app. This should find an email receipt for that app, emailed to you from Apple.
Open that email and tap or click the “Report a Problem” link to go straight to Apple’s website to report a problem with the purchase and request a refund.

Start From iTunes

Apple also offers this feature in iTunes on Macs and Windows PCs. As usual, iTunes is the clunkiest, slowest way to do this. You’re better off starting on the web, as clicking through iTunes will ultimately take you to the web, anyway.
To do this in iTunes, open iTunes on your Mac or Windows PC and ensure you’re signed in with the same account you use on your iPhone or iPad. Click the profile picture at the top-right of the iTunes window and select “Account Info.” If you need to sign in with a different account, select “Sign Out” and then sign in with the correct account first. Enter your Apple ID password when iTunes requests it.

Scroll down to the Purchase History section and click “See All” to see a list of your purchases.

Locate the app you want a refund for. If it’s part of a multiple-app group of purchases, click the arrow button to the left of those purchases and then click “Report a Problem.” If it’s on its own line here, you can just click “Report a Problem.”
You’ll then see “Report a Problem” links appear to the right of the each app. Click the “Report a Problem” link for the app you want a refund for.

You’ll be taken to Apple’s website, where you’ll have to log in again. Choose the reason you want a refund and describe the problem to Apple.

Apple does have a system set up to handle refund requests, but they’re far from guaranteed. If you’re just experiencing a technical problem, there’s a good chance you’ll be told to contact the app developer for technical support.

How to Disable Game Center on Your iPhone, iPad, and Mac

Apple’s Game Center is included on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. It’s a social gaming service for games on Apple’s platforms. With Game Center, you might see friend invites, game invites, and other notifications — but you can disable all that and never see a Game Center notification again.
You can sign out of Game Center, although some games may require it. Either way, it’s possible to disable game invites, friend requests, and notifications — all the ways Game Center can pester you.


iPhone and iPad

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The Game Center app is part of the iOS operating system, and — like all Apple’s included apps — can’t be removed. Of course, you can hide it in a folder so you’ll never have to see it.
To actually modify Game Center settings, open the main Settings app. Scroll down and tap “Game Center” under iTunes U. To sign out of Game Center entirely, tap the “Apple ID:” field at the top of the screen and tap “Sign Out.”
You might want to stay logged into Game Center, however — some games you might want to play require it. But you might not want to see game invites, friend requests, and other notifications.
To disable invites, uncheck “Allow Invites” and “Nearby Players” on the Game Center settings screen. To disable friend recommendations using your contacts, disable the “Contacts” and “Facebook” options.
To disable all Game Center notifications, open the Settings app and tap “Notifications” near the top. Scroll down to the “Game Center” app in this list, tap it, and disable the “Allow Notifications” slider.

Mac OS X

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On a Mac, the Game Center app is included with Mac OS X. As of OS X 10.11 El Capitan, this app is protected with System Integrity Protection and can’t normally be deleted.
To launch it, click the “Launchpad” icon on your dock and click “Game Center,” or press Command+Space to open Spotlight search, type “Game Center,” and press Enter.
To sign out of Game Center, just click the Account menu and select “Sign Out.” Game Center won’t be signed in with your Apple ID anymore, so you won’t see notifications, invites, friend requests, and other Game Center things.

You could also customize what Game Center can do. From within the Game Center app, click the “Account” menu and select “Settings.” From here, you can disable game invites — uncheck “Allow Invites” and “Nearby Players.” You can also uncheck “Contacts” and “Facebook” to prevent Game Center from recommending other accounts you should be friends with based on your contacts.

You can also prevent the Game Center app from showing you notifications entirely. Click the Apple menu, select “System Preferences,” and click “notifications to access notification settings — or click the gear icon at the bottom-right corner of the Notification Center pane. Click “Game Center” in the list, select “None” for the type of notification you want to see, and disable all the options here so you won’t see any notifications.

You might want to leave Game Center enabled while hiding your activity from your contacts and preventing the from inviting you. To do this, you could sign out of Game Center — on iOS, Mac, or both — and sign in with a new Apple ID.
You could create a new Apple ID just for Game Center, as you can be logged into Game Center with an Apple ID separate from the one you use for other Apple apps on your device. That’s your choice.

Forget Bing: How to Use Google Everywhere on Your iPhone, iPad, and Mac

Apple has been frantically removing Google from their operating systems. Siri and Spotlight search with Bing by default, and there are rumors they’ll make Yahoo! or Bing the default search engine in Safari next.
For those of us who just think Google is the better search engine, all this deep integration of competing search engines is obnoxious. Here’s how to get Google back.


Siri on Your iPhone or iPad

Siri prefers searching the web with Microsoft’s Bing search engine, and just speaking a search aloud or saying “search” followed by your search will cause Siri to consult Bing.
But you can have Siri perform Google searches, too. When talking to Siri, just start with the word “Google” followed by what you want to search for. Siri will then perform your search with Google. So, instead of saying “vacation destinations” or “search for vacation destinations,” you’d say “Google vacation destinations.”
If Siri ever makes it to the Mac, this same trick should work on your Mac. This is possible because you can direct Siri to perform your search in specific places. For example, you could say “wolfram alpha” followed by a question for Wolfram Alpha, and Siri would ask Wolfram Alpha as you instructed. Siri normally attempts to automatically guess the best place to direct your search, and she always thinks Bing is better than Google.

Spotlight on Your Mac

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The web search feature introduced in Spotlight on Mac OS X Yosemite uses Bing, not Google. Apple hasn’t added an official plug-in system to Spotlight, so you’re limited to just the few services they provide.
Flashlight solves this, reverse-engineering Spotlight to add a plug-in system that lets you do anything you want. Install Flashlight and enable the Google plug-in. You’ll then be able to pull up Spotlight with Command+Space and type “g Search” to quickly perform a search on Google instead of just relying on Bing.

Spotlight on Your iPhone or iPad

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Spotlight on iOS — you know, the search feature that appears when you swipe your finger down on the home screen — also relies on Bing for web search results, in theory.
For now, you can type a search into Spotlight and then tap “Search Web” to perform a Google search for it in your web browser.
If Apple removes this option and forces it to use Bing like Spotlight on Mac OS X, you may just want to pull up your browser and use it to start web searches instead.

Safari on Your Mac

Apple hasn’t yet swapped out Google as its default search engine in the Safari web browser, although this feels like only a matter of time.
If they do — or if someone else has changed the default search engine on your browser — you can quickly change it back. Open Safari, click the Safari menu on the bar at the top of your screen, and click Preferences. Click the Search icon and select Google (or another search engine you prefer) in the drop-down box.

Safari on Your iPhone or iPad

The Safari browser on iPhones and iPads works similarly. Open the Settings app, scroll down, and tap the Safari category. Tap the Search Engine option and select Google (or your preferred search engine.)
If you use Chrome or another web browser, you’ll need to change that browser app’s settings to select your preferred search engine. The setting here only applies to Safari.

Google Apps on Your iPhone and iPad

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Apple has also frantically been stripping other Google services out of iOS, replacing Google Maps with its own Maps app. If you depend on Google services like Maps, Gmail, and others, you can install Google’s various apps from the App Store.
Apple doesn’t allow you to change your default apps in a system-wide way, but there are still ways to stick with the apps you prefer. For example, tapping a map link in the Gmail or Chrome apps will open that map in the Google Maps app, not Apple Maps. Follow our guide to working around the lack of system-wide default-app options on iOS if you prefer using Google’s services.

The Services Menu on Your Mac

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The little-known Services menu on Mac OS X allows you to search from Google anywhere, too.
Simply select some text in any application, right-click or Control-click it, point to Services, and select “Search with Google.” You can also just press the customizable keyboard shortcut to instantly perform a Google search for the selected text anywhere. If Services doesn’t appear in the context menu, you can click the application’s name on the menu bar at the top of your screen, point to Services, and click the “Search with Google” option here.
This is such a long-standing, little-known feature that Apple hasn’t even bothered adding “Search with Bing” here yet. Follow our guide to managing and using Services if you don’t see it — you may need to enable it.

No, this isn’t some paid advertisement for Google. If you prefer Bing, Yahoo!, DuckDuckGo, or another search engine, go ahead and keep using it. But these tricks can help those of us who prefer Google stay sane when using Apple products. You can even use many of the tricks above to select other search engines.

How to Access Shared Windows Folders on Android, iPad, and iPhone

Share a folder with Windows’ built-in sharing options and you can access it on an Android device, iPad, or iPhone. This is a convenient way to stream videos from your PC or access other files wirelessly.
You can access folders shared from Mac or Linux in the exact same ways. You’ll just need to share the folders so they’re accessible from Windows PCs. They’ll appear alongside your available Windows PCs.


How to Share the Folder

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As with accessing a shared Windows folder from Linux or Mac OS X, you can’t use a homegroup for this. You’ll need to make your folder available the old-fashioned way. Open the Control Panel, click Choose homegroup and sharing options under Network and Internet, and click Change advanced sharing settings. Enable the file and printer sharing feature.

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You may also want to configure the other advanced sharing settings here. For example, you could enable access to your files without a password if you trust all the devices on your local network.
Once file and printer sharing is enabled, you can open File Explorer or Windows Explorer, right-click a folder you want to share, and select Properties. Click the Share button and make the folder available on the network.
This feature makes files available on the local network, so your PC and mobile devices have to be on the same local network. You can’t access a shared Windows folder over the Internet or when your smartphone is connected to its mobile data — it has to be connected to Wi-Fi.

Access a Shared Folder on Android

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Android doesn’t have a built-in file manager app, so there’s no built-in way to access Windows shared folders just like there’s no built-in way to browse the files on an SD card.
There are many different file managers available for Android, and quite a few of them include this feature. We like the ES File Explorer app, which is free and allows you to access files on a wide variety of systems.
Install ES File Explorer, launch it, tap the menu button (it looks a bit like a phone in front of a globe), tap Network, and tap LAN.

Tap the Scan button and ES File Explorer will scan your network for Windows computers sharing files. It lists your computers by their local IP addresses, so tap the IP address of your Windows PC. You may need to enter a username and password, depending on how you set up file sharing.

Android is pretty flexible, so you can open files from your Windows share in other apps or easily copy them to your device’s local storage for later use. You can also stream videos directly from your network share, using your PC as a media server without requiring any special software.

Access a Shared Folder on iOS

You’ll need a third-party file management app to access and browse Windows shares or any other file systems. There are quite a few of these available on the App Store. We tested FileExplorer Free — it’s polished, free, and works well.
Launch the app, tap the + button, and tap Windows to add a Windows network share.

FileExplorer will scan your local network for Windows computers sharing files and display them in a list. Tap one of these computers to view its shared files. You’ll be asked to provide a username and password or attempt to log in as a guest.

iOS is less flexible when it comes to file management and file associations, so there’s less you can do with these files. However, you can still open a video file directly from your shared folder and play it on your device or access other media files in a similar way. You could also use the “Open In” feature to open a file in a specific app.

The Windows network file sharing protocol is known as CIFS, which is an implementation of the SMB protocol. if you’re looking for another Android or iOS app that can access these types of files, search Google Play or Apple’s App Store for “SMB” or “CIFS.”

How to Use a Physical Game Controller with an iPhone, iPad, or Android Device

“Mobile gaming” brings to mind swiping around on a touch screen, but you don’t have to use clunky touch controls. Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android both support physical game controllers, allowing you to use tactile controls with a smartphone or tablet.
Unfortunately, not every mobile game supports physical game controllers. But quite a few games do, thanks to the Apple TV’s support for MFi controllers. For Android, devices like the NVIDIA Shield have encouraged developers to have controller support to their games. So, while this won’t necessarily work for every game you own, it should work for a fair amount.


iPhone and iPad

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With the release of iOS 7 in 2013, Apple added standardized gamepad controller support for iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches. Controllers developed and certified with Apple’s MFi (Made For iPhone/iPad) certification will work with games that have implemented MFi controller support. This is just like how Apple certifies other iPhone/iPad accessories, like Lightning cables.
Some of these controllers include a mount that locks your iPhone in place, allowing you to use the iPhone like a portable game console, holding the controller in your hands. Some MFi controllers use a physical connection, so you’ll have to plug them into the Lightning port on your iPhone or iPad. However, most MFi controllers just pair wirelessly via Bluetooth, like a Bluetooth headset or keyboard. Just put the controller into pairing mode, open the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad, and select Bluetooth. Tap the controller to pair it with your device.

The new Apple TV also uses MFi controllers, so games that have updated to run on the Apple TV should also work with MFi controllers on your iPhone or iPad.
You can search for MFi game controllers on Amazon and elsewhere. Be sure you’re getting an MFi-certified controller if you plan to use it with an iPhone or iPad, as it’ll be guaranteed to work with any games that support Apple’s MFi standard. While Apple doesn’t maintain a list of MFi-controller-compatible games, third-party website Afterpad offers a list of games known to support MFi controllers.

If you’ve jailbroken it, you can also try installing the “Controllers for All” Cydia tweak. It will allow non-MFi controllers like Sony’s PlayStation 4 controller to function as MFi-enabled controllers.

Android Phones and Tablets

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Google hasn’t made a concerted push for physical gaming controllers on Android, but some developers have. NVIDIA’s Android-based SHIELD devices include physical gaming controllers, for example. Games that work with an NVIDIA Shield controller should work just fine with other types of controllers, too. Some games may advertise controller support on Google Play, but not all of them will, so it’s worth giving it a try with your favorite game either way.
Android supports several types of controllers. If you have a wireless Bluetooth controller, you can pair it with your Android device by putting the controller into pairing mode. Then, turn on your phone and visit the Bluetooth screen in the Settings app, enable Bluetooth, and you’ll see the controller. You can then pair it with your device, launch a game, and start playing.

You can buy Bluetooth controllers designed for mobile devices or use one you have lying around. If you have a PlayStation 4, the PlayStation 4’s standard controller–known as the DualShock 4–is actually a Bluetooth controller. You can put it into pairing mode and pair it with an Android smartphone or tablet, just like you could pair it with a PC.
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If you have a USB OTG cable–the OTG stands for “on-the-go”–you can use it to connect a standard wired Xbox 360 controller to an Android tablet, too. You can purchase these cables for just a few bucks on Amazon and elsewhere. This same type of cable will also allow you to use other USB devices, such as USB storage drives, with your smartphone or tablet.
Once plugged in, games that support controllers should just work. Some games may offer a way to configure the controller or choose between control schemes.
If a game doesn’t work with either type of controller, you can install Tincore Keymapper. This app allows you to convert button presses on the controller into simulated touch events on the screen. If a game has on-screen controls, this means you can set up the controller to press those on-screen controls, making the controller work for the game.

Game controllers could also be convenient if you want to play games with emulators on your smartphone or tablet. However, Apple bans emulators from the App Store, so Android users may have better luck here. However, with recent versions of iOS, it’s now possible to compile and install open-source emulators without Apple’s permission.
Image Credit: Sergey Galyonkin on Flickr, Maurizio Pesce on Flickr