Learn How to Examine Your iPhone’s Battery Usage | IT Support in Los Angeles

A common question we hear is, “Why is my iPhone/iPad battery draining so fast?” Luckily, Apple provides tools that help you see exactly how your iPhone uses its battery over the last 24 hours and—with less detail—over each of the last 10 days. Plus, you can tweak settings that will improve battery life, both in the here-and-now and for as long as you have your iPhone. To access these tools, go to Settings > Battery.

Useful Battery-Related Options

Before we get into what you can learn from the Battery screen, there are two options worth noting:

  • First, on the main screen, you’ll find the Low Power Mode switch. If you’re worried about running out of power before you can recharge on a particular day, enable Low Power Mode. iOS automatically offers to enable it if your battery drops to 20%, and that’s a good idea unless you can plug in soon. Low Power Mode mostly disables background activity like mail fetching and photo syncing. (If you want to enable Low Power Mode regularly, make that easy by adding it to Control Center via Settings > Control Center > Customize Controls.)
  • Second, tap Battery Health, and in that screen, enable Optimized Battery Charging. It lets iOS 13 learn from your schedule to ensure that your iPhone spends less time fully charged unnecessarily, which can cause the battery to age more quickly. Leave this option off if you don’t charge on a regular schedule.

About That Maximum Capacity Percentage

Whenever we hear complaints about iPhone batteries, the first place we look is in the Battery Health screen to make sure the battery is healthy. Apple says that iPhone batteries are designed to retain up to 80% of its original capacity after 500 charges. The higher the Maximum Capacity number, the better. Usually, anything above 90% is OK, although we start to hear of problems when the Maximum Capacity is in the upper 80s, and numbers below 85% are fairly likely to cause problems. The only solution to a battery with a low Maximum Capacity is replacement; contact us for our advice on the best way to do that.

Identifying Battery Hogs

Assuming the battery’s Maximum Capacity is high enough, the next place to look for what might be causing excessive battery drain is in the Battery Usage By App section of the Battery screen; look below the graphs, and tap Show Activity for more details.

Scrutinize the entries at the top because they’ve used the lion’s share of your power. In the screenshot above, No Cell Coverage (which causes the iPhone to waste power searching for cell towers) was the worst offender. You can’t do anything about that (unless it’s indicative of putting the iPhone somewhere it can’t receive a signal or a failing cellular radio).

For the apps underneath, make sure they’re not working too much in the background unnecessarily. “Unnecessarily” is key—if you see Photos at the top of your list and Show Activity reveals a lot of background activity, it’s probably related to it uploading or downloading a lot of images from iCloud Photos. But if you can’t imagine why a particular app is sucking down precious power, it’s time to force quit the app or power cycle the iPhone. And if the problem continues, it might be time to reset the iPhone and restore from backup, just to clean things up.

Analyzing Battery Usage

For figuring out which app might be causing unusual battery drain, it’s usually best to keep the time frame in the Last 24 Hours, but if you’re trying to track down a pattern of app behavior, it can be useful to switch to the Last 10 Days using the toggle above the graphs.

Most people don’t realize these graphs aren’t just pretty pictures. You can tap in the graphs to select 1-hour chunks of time in the Last 24 Hours graphs, or 1-day chunks in the Last 10 Days graphs. When you do that, the Battery Usage By App list changes to focus on just the apps used in the selected time period. That’s helpful for tracking down exactly what was happening when the battery drain took place.

We’d like to say that you can use these tools to figure out nearly anything that’s causing your battery to drop precipitously, but there are issues that the Battery screen doesn’t expose. For instance, after you upgrade to a new version of iOS or switch to a new iPhone, background tasks will likely work hard for a while indexing all the content on the device. Most issues like that should go away quickly, though.

Regardless, it’s worth looking in the Battery screen whenever you feel that your battery life isn’t what it should be. Whether it’s a rogue app or the revelation that you need a new battery, it will provide some guidance. And if you’re still in the dark, let us know, and we’ll see what we can do to help.

(Featured image by Tyler Lastovich from Pexels)


Make Your Mac More Useful by Managing Menu Bar Icons | IT Services in Los Angeles

If your Mac is anything like ours, it’s suffering from an infestation of menu bar icons. Sure, the Wi-Fi menu is essential, and many others can be helpful. But if you have too many, or they’re in random order, finding one when you need it can be frustrating. You can employ two techniques to increase the accessibility of your menu bar icons:

  • Delete any Apple-provided status icon you don’t use by holding down the Command key and dragging it off the menu bar. (To put it back, select the “Show icon-name status in menu bar” checkbox in the associated System Preference pane.) Command-dragging to delete won’t work for most apps with a menu bar icon; for them, look for a preference in the app itself.
  • Rearrange the menu bar icons in an order that makes sense to you by Command-dragging them around. You can’t move the Notification Center icon or put anything to its right, but every other icon is movable.

(Featured image based on an original by Patrick Ward on Unsplash)

What Is Outsourced IT Services and Why Is It Important for Your Business? Managed Services LA

You’ve chosen the devices to run your business. That’s great, but are you still dealing with each of those devices individually? If you hire a new employee, do you go to the Apple Store to buy a new Mac, bring it back to the office, spend a few hours installing the right software, and then sit down with the employee to get them started with email accounts and other logins?

That self-support approach can work when your company has only a few users, but as your business grows, how much of your time can you afford to spend on IT? You might enjoy it, but it distracts you from what you need to do to make your company thrive. Sure, you might think you’re saving money by doing this work yourself instead of hiring an IT professional, but that amount may pale in comparison to the amount you could make in your primary role. There’s a better way: Outsourced or Managed IT Services with device-management software.

In essence, with Managed IT Services, we become part of your team, creating systems that simplify and speed up the process of onboarding new devices, monitoring their usage, ensuring their security, and providing ongoing support. Here are some of the ways a Managed IT Services model can help your business.

Faster and More Accurate Setup

With Managed IT Services and properly configured device-management software, you can order a Mac or iOS device from Apple (through an Apple Business Manager account) and when it arrives, your employee can take it out of the box, log in, and have the entire device automatically configured over the network with required apps, server settings, security policies, and more.

If you’ve spent several hours configuring devices manually, it’s magical to watch a device pick up apps and settings automatically. And it’s not just for new devices. If an employee leaves or you need to repurpose a Mac or iOS device, device-management software can automatically wipe it and set it up for its new role with minimal effort.

Increased Security

An important aspect of switching to a Managed IT Services model that relies on device-management software is requiring security policies. If you’ve ever worried about an employee losing a company device containing confidential data, device-management software can eliminate those concerns by automatically enabling FileVault for Macs or enforcing non-trivial passcodes on iOS devices. Lost devices can even be locked or wiped remotely from a central management console.

Also, device-management software can restrict what apps users may install, so you don’t have to worry about apps that could leak confidential information or malware that could be stealing passwords.

Proactive Monitoring

A Managed IT Services support model lets your users focus on their work, rather than on their Macs. Monitoring software can report if Mac hard drives start to fail, when laptop batteries start to go, if RAM is faulty, and more. It’s better to know that a drive is dying before you lose data.

Monitoring software can also check on important events, making sure that backups are happening regularly, warning if a user has downloaded a potentially problematic operating system update, and making sure anti-malware software is up to date.

Proactive Maintenance

Monitoring helps identify issues early on, but perhaps the most important aspect of a Managed IT Services solution is how it combines proactive monitoring with proactive maintenance. It uses software and services that go beyond identifying problems to fixing them—blocking undesirable software upgrades, automatically deploying essential security updates, and removing malware—before they impact your workflow. This saves your users downtime and frustration, and lets you focus on your work rather than troubleshooting problems.

Improved Reporting

It may not be difficult to keep track of a handful of Macs and iPhones, but as your business grows, inventory can become daunting. A Managed IT Services solution helps you know exactly what devices you have, who is using them, and more. It can also report on installed software to make sure you’re in compliance with your software licenses.

Predictable Pricing

If your company pays for support on an hourly billing model, there’s no way to budget accurately for expenses, since no one can predict what will go wrong. Plus, it takes longer to investigate and resolve problems because of the time necessary to figure out the status of the device in question. Solving complex or recurring problems can get expensive in such a scenario.

With Managed IT Services, we instead charge a flat monthly fee based on how many devices you have. Thanks to proactive monitoring and device management, we can fix many problems before the user even notices. And if a user does need in-person support, it’s faster and easier to help them when we know exactly what device they’re using, what version of the operating system it’s using, what software they have installed, and more.

A Managed IT Services model isn’t for every situation, but if your business has more than a handful of Macs, iPhones, and iPads in use by your employees, it could reduce downtime, save you money, and increase security.


Is Your iPhone Reporting “No Service” When You Know There’s a Signal? Apple Consulting Los Angeles

Have you ever seen the dreaded “No Service” label at the top of your iPhone’s screen, even when you’re pretty sure there should be cellular reception? It’s not common, but the iPhone’s cellular radio can occasionally get confused. Luckily, you can easily fix the problem. Open Control Center (swipe down from the upper-right corner on an iPhone X or later or an iPad; or up from the bottom on an earlier iPhone) and tap the airplane icon to put the iPhone in airplane mode. That turns off the cellular radio. Wait a few seconds and tap the airplane icon again to re-enable the cellular radio. If that doesn’t work, power-cycle your iPhone by holding the side or Sleep/Wake button until you see the Power Off slider. Slide it to turn the iPhone off, then press and hold the side or Sleep/Wake button again until the iPhone restarts.

(Featured image based on an original by Pexels from Pixabay)

To Prevent Spear Phishing, Set a PIN or Passcode on Your Cell Phone Account | Cyber Security Los Angeles

Spear phishing. It’s no longer just a tropical ocean sport that could provide seafood for dinner. In today’s tech world, spear phishing is when someone targets you specifically, usually with the goal of taking over your online accounts. Once that’s done, the attacker will try to siphon money from your bank account, impersonate you in an attempt to deceive family or colleagues into sending money, or attempt to ruin your reputation.

You’re probably thinking, “No one would ever target me. I’m not interesting enough.” It is true that the people who should worry the most about spear phishing attacks are high profile or have a high net worth, but modern online criminals aren’t that fussy. In particular, they’re more likely to go after older people. Why older people? Older people tend to be relatively well off and less likely to notice the symptoms of a spear phishing attempt. You should also be concerned if you’re a politician or journalist, have ever been involved in an ugly divorce or legal battle, or can easily think of people who have it in for you.

As we’ve said many times, it’s imperative that you use a secure password manager like 1Password or LastPass to create, store, and enter a strong, unique password for each of your online accounts. Plus, we strongly recommend using two-factor authentication—where you have to enter a one-time code in addition to your password—on all accounts that support it, particularly important ones like your email and banking accounts. But even if you do all that, you may be vulnerable to another tactic favored by spear phishers—the cell phone SIM takeover.

Here’s how it works. Every cell phone, including every iPhone, has inside it a SIM card that gives it a phone number. Swap that SIM into a different phone and it will adopt the SIM card’s number. The problem is that support reps at cellular carriers like AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon can also move your phone number from one SIM card to another. That makes it possible for you to lose your iPhone, buy a new one, and have your phone number associated with the new one. It also lets you port the phone number to a different carrier, if you wish to switch.

All an attacker has to do is call your cellular provider, pretend to be you, say that they’ve lost their iPhone, and ask to have the number ported to a new device (one they control). It’s likely that the support person will ask a few simple questions to verify your identity, but a clever attacker will likely know your address and be able to learn details like your mother’s maiden name, first-grade teacher’s name, and favorite color, all thanks to Facebook. Criminals can acquire even information like your Social Security number through other data breaches.

Once the attacker controls your cell phone number, they can try to reset the password on various accounts, receiving any verification codes that would normally have been texted to your phone. They’ll probably focus on your email account first because, with control over it, they can reset passwords elsewhere even more easily. And once the attacker has access to your accounts, it’s game over, and you’ll be faced with the difficult and complex task of retaking control and mitigating damage.

How can you protect yourself from such an attack? Whenever possible, it’s better to generate authentication codes with an app such as 1Password, Authy, or LastPass. That removes some of your exposure, but for better or worse, your cell phone number is still the most basic form of identity for many things.

The most important thing to do, then, is to set up an additional PIN or passcode that the carrier will ask for before making any changes to your account. You’ll also have to provide it when logging in to your cellular account online. Such a PIN or passcode is different from a two-factor authentication code that changes continuously—you set your PIN or passcode just like you do for your iPhone or ATM card. And, of course, make sure to store that PIN or passcode in your password manager alongside your other credentials so you don’t forget it.

Learn more about how each of the major carriers supports PINs and passcodes at the links below, and if your carrier isn’t listed, call the company’s support line:

Don’t put this off—if you don’t already have a PIN or passcode on your cellular account, set it up right away.

(Featured image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay)


What to Put at the End of Your Email Messages | Cloud Solutions Los Angeles

Email has been around for decades, but there are no hard-and-fast rules for how you should close a message with either the signoff or the signature block. If you’ve always wondered about the best ways to finish off a message or are uncomfortable with what you’ve been doing, here’s our advice.

Use the form of your name that you want the recipient to use. If your given name is Mohammed, but everyone calls you Mo, use that for signing most of your messages. Otherwise, they’ll have no idea you prefer the shorter version. (The reverse is true too; if you’re not sure how to address someone, look at their signoff for a hint.)

However, for formal correspondence with people or organizations who would usually refer to you as Ms. So-and-so, stick with Elizabeth instead of Betty.

Match the formality of your closing to that of your recipient. When writing business email to someone you don’t know, it’s best to stay formal at first with closings like “Sincerely” or “Yours truly.” Once you know the person a little better, you could move on to “Kind regards” or “Best wishes.”

With friends, family, and people you know well, try “Cheers,” “Talk soon” (if you mean it), or even a quick “Later.” Finally, it’s never inappropriate to use “Thanks!” if you truly are thanking them for something.

Create context-specific signature blocks. We all wear many different hats in today’s world. Your email signature should match the role you’re in for the particular email message. For instance:

  1. Work email should probably include at least your title, department, and formal organization name. If you work for a large organization, you may have been provided with a template for your signature. If much of your communication takes place outside of email, include your phone number and postal address.
  2. If you serve on a nonprofit board or have a side gig—like as an author or musician—messages you send in those contexts need their own focused signatures with appropriate links.
  3. For email to friends and family, there’s no need for a signature at all.

Avoid clever sayings and inspirational quotes. Although it’s tempting to instill some personality into your signature with a quote, don’t do it. The quote might be entertaining the first time someone sees it, but after that, it’s just one more thing to ignore. Part of combatting email overload is to keep messages short and to the point, so you want your signature to have less text than the message itself.

No fancy formatting or pictures. Along the same lines of avoiding quotes, keep your signature simple. Stick to plain text and links, and don’t insert your company’s logo or a picture of your pony just because you can. Just imagine how awkward it would be if someone were to look at a long email thread and see your signature repeated ad infinitum, taking up more space than your actual messages.

Don’t assume anyone will read your signature. Keep in mind that some email apps automatically hide signatures so your recipients may not see it at all. There’s usually a way to view a hidden signature, but never assume that everyone will see it.

Consider automation tools for inserting signoffs and signatures. Many email programs, including Mail on the Mac, let you create multiple signatures and attach them to messages you send from specific email addresses. For even more flexibility, think about using a macro utility like Keyboard Maestro or a text expansion tool like TextExpander to insert custom signoff and signature combinations. Such options are commonplace on the Mac but much less so in iOS or iPadOS.

(Featured image by John-Mark Smith from Pexels)


AirDrop Reception Not Working? Here’s the Likely Fix | Managed Services LA

AirDrop has become a fast and reliable way to transfer data from one iPhone to another that’s nearby. Just tap the share icon and in iOS 14’s activity view, either tap an AirDrop shortcut in the top row or tap AirDrop in the second row and select choose a person or device in the subsequent AirDrop screen. But what if your iPhone doesn’t appear for the person who wants to share with you? Assuming Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are both on, the fix is generally to go to Settings > General > AirDrop and select Everyone. If you’re concerned about unwanted transfers, switch to Contacts Only afterward.

(Featured image by GĂĽnther Schneider from Pixabay)

Make Sure to Test Your Backup System with Occasional Restores | IT Services in Los Angeles

Be sure to take a few minutes to make sure you can restore files from a Time Machine backup or whichever backup software you are using, see if you can boot from your bootable duplicate, and generally verify that your data really is being backed up successfully. If you haven’t done so recently, today is a fine day to make up for it with a quick test.

(Featured image by Adam Engst)

The iPhone 11 Camera App’s Shutter Button Works Differently—Here’s How | IT Support in Los Angeles

With the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max, Apple changed the way the Camera app’s shutter button works in ways that could cause confusion. Tapping it once still takes a single still photo, but if you press and hold on the shutter button, it now captures a quick video. (Previously, pressing and holding on the button took photos in burst mode; to do that on the iPhone 11 models, slide the shutter button to the left.) Once you’ve started taking a quick video, slide your finger to the right to lock recording, so you don’t have to keep holding the button down. Tap the white shutter button to take a still image while recording; tap the red record button to stop recording. For even easier quick video recording, press and hold either of the volume buttons; a single press still takes a photo. Note that quick videos always record with mono sound and at a resolution of 1920-by-1440; for stereo sound and the resolution set in Settings > Camera, use the Camera app’s Video mode.

(Featured image by AgĂŞ Barros on Unsplash)