How to solve a tricky “can’t log in” problem in Safari

If you can’t sign into web pages using Safari it might be because your cookie preferences are set incorrectly. Some website sign-in pages won’t work unless cookies are enabled, so go to Safari/Preferences…, click on the Privacy button, and make sure you are NOT blocking all cookies.

(People tend to think that turning cookies off is “better” but this is not necessarily the case. The best option for you is to allow cookies from sites you visit.)

Here’s how the Privacy settings should look in macOS Mojave’s Safari.

Safari Privacy Settings
Safari Privacy Settings (Mojave)

And here’s how the Privacy settings should look in macOS El Capitan’s Safari.

Safari Privacy Settings (El Capitan)
Safari Privacy Settings (El Capitan)


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How to activate Microsoft Office 2011 for the Mac

Activating Microsoft Office 2011 for the Mac using the built-in online activation wizard no longer works. You enter your Product Key, you click the “Activate” button… and you get a message about the activation server being unavailable and a recommendation to try again later. You try again later and it still doesn’t work. (It will never work.)

There was an error

So you try the “Activate by Phone” option. Activating by phone sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. If it doesn’t work for you, try calling Microsoft Sales & Support and telling them you’re trying to activate Office 2011 for the Mac. The Microsoft Sales & Support person will give you a very, very long number, which you can type into the boxes in the Microsoft Office 2011 for the Mac activation wizard, and that should take care of it.
Office 2011 for Mac, Activated

Here’s the number that’s worked for me.

Microsoft Office Sales & Support phone number

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Three tips for Messages on the Mac

The Messages app on the Mac is awesome. Use these tips and make it even better.

Tip #1: on your Mac, double-click a conversation in Messages’ left-hand pane. That opens the conversation in its own window. That way, you can keep key conversations in view.

Tip #2: on your Mac, try dragging a picture from one conversation into another. Just click and hold on the picture, then drag onto the other conversation.

Tip #3: on your Mac, try dragging a picture (or other document) from your desktop right into the area where you’d ordinarily be typing a message. Or just drag it onto the conversation– anywhere on it! So easy.

(Not getting your text messages on your Mac? Set that up with my complete how-to article.)

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iCal (Calendar) World Cup 2018 knockout stage schedule

Add the knock-out stage FIFA World Cup 2018 schedule to your Mac’s Calendar by visiting this link. Choose the “Subscribe” option and the calendar will update as the tournament progresses, and add the calendar to “Location: iCloud” (rather than “Location: On My Mac”) if you want the calendar to also show up on your iPhone and iPad. Of course you can simply add the calendar to your iPhone or iPad directly, using the link. Note: I made this calendar myself and will update it as soon as I get the results of the matches.

World Cup Knockout Round calendar recommended settings
World Cup Knockout Round calendar recommended settings

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How to check your MacBook’s, MacBook Pro’s or MacBook Air’s battery condition

Normally, when you click on the battery menu you get basic information about your laptop’s battery, like this:

Apple laptop battery menu
Apple laptop battery menu

Turns out you can get more information. Press and hold the Option key, then go to the battery menu again. You get this:

Apple laptop battery menu, Option key held down
Apple laptop battery menu, Option key held down

If the condition says “Replace soon” it’s probably time for a visit to the Apple Store. You can get a battery from Amazon and do it yourself, for certain models– otherwise, go to Apple. Figure about $129 for a battery at Apple, installed. Batteries do eventually wear out so if yours says something other than “Condition: Normal” that’s just the way it goes.

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How to quickly access an app’s Help

Command Shift ?
Command Shift ?

There are certain conventions that all Mac apps are supposed to adhere to. One is “put the cursor in the Help menu’s Search field when the user types Command-Shift-?”.

Help menu
Help menu

Try it– it will probably work.

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Better way to resize windows

You know about holding the Option key down when you click on the green “zoom” button in a window’s title bar. There’s something better than that. It’s “Moom.”

When you hover over the green zoom button with Moom installed you see this:

Moom
Moom

With Moom, when you want to make a window full-screen (ANY window— Safari, Mail, Word, Pages, whatever), you hover over the green button, let Moom’s menu slide down, and then click on the first button. If you want a window to take exactly the left half of the screen, you click the second button. Right half: third button. Top half: fourth button. Bottom half: fifth button. Plenty of options and keyboard shortcuts for those who want them.

Moom makes resizing and relocating windows a one-click move (or a keyboard shortcut– I make a window full-screen with Control-Option-F). Can’t get faster than that.

Get it at the App Store.
Get Moom at the App Store

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Is iCloud up, or not?

Apple has a web page showing the status of iCloud services such as iCloud Backups, iCloud Contacts synching, iCloud Calendar synching, and so on. If something “cloudy” isn’t working for you, maybe it’s not you! Maybe iCloud is down. See the current iCloud services status by clicking here.

Bonus: you’ll see a lot more than iCloud status on that page.

Apple Services Status Page
Apple Services Status Page

You’ll also see the status of various iTunes services (iTunes Match, the iTunes Store, iTunes in the Cloud, Apple Music), and the status of the Mac App Store, and the status of FaceTime, Find My Friends, and many, many more. Apple historically has a great track record of keeping their services running, but every so often something goes down. If you’re having problems with something that needs to tap into one of Apple’s services, click the link to see the Apple Services Status page. You won’t know until you click.

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How to use the Mac’s Calculator from the Keyboard

It’s MUCH faster to operate the calculator from the keyboard than by clicking on it with the mouse. If you have a keyboard with a numeric keypad it’s super-quick to enter numbers, but you can use the number keys in the top row of your keyboard too.

Plus and Minus are easy to find on the keyboard, but Multiply and Divide are a little harder. Programmer-types will know that the asterisk (*) is used to multiply, and the slash (/) is used to divide. Now you know too.

Find the Calculator in the Applications folder, or use the Launch Pad. Click for more information on the Calculator.

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