IN THIS CHAPTER
Using Notification Center
Navigating with Maps
As I’ve said many times before in my books, “If it works in one place, it’s likely to show up in another.” In this case, four popular time-saving (and headache-preventing) apps crossed over from the world of Apple’s devices — the iPhone and iPad — and have securely landed on your Big Sur Desktop. These apps are Reminders, Notes, Notification Center, and Maps, all taken from the iOS world.
That’s not the only good news, though: These four Mac applications work seamlessly with an iCloud account. So if you also use an iOS device (with the same Apple ID), much of the data you store — such as the notes you take and the reminders you make — is automatically synchronized among all your Apple computers and devices.
Because all four of these new applications have a similar goal — keeping you in touch with the information, daily tasks, locations, and digital events that matter to you — I decided to cover them in one shiny chapter. Consider this chapter to be a guide that demonstrates how you can remind, note, notify, and map like a mobile power user.
In its simplest form, a reminder is just a short phrase or sentence. You don’t need to look far to find the Reminders application on your Mac. Just click the Reminders icon on the Dock to display the main window, shown in Figure 7-1.
These are the highlights of the Reminders window:
Reminders Sidebar: You can add as many separate reminder lists as you like in the application (one for work, for example, and another for your Mac user group). In the Sidebar, you can switch quickly between your lists.
You can hide or show the Reminders Sidebar at any time using the View menu or by pressing ⌘ +Control+S. You save a significant amount of screen real estate when the display is hidden.
Adding a reminder is straightforward. First, click an entry in the My Lists display or click the Today or Scheduled group and then click the Add Reminder button. Type a few words, and press Esc to create a basic reminder.
Naturally, you’re not limited to a simple text message! When you create a reminder, the application allows you to add notes, link a location, or add a date to display a message. You can also hover your cursor over any existing reminder to display an Info button (the lowercase i-in-a-circle icon that appears at the right side of the window). Click the Info button to display the Edit sheet, shown in Figure 7-2.
These fields are on the Edit sheet:
Click anywhere outside the Edit sheet when you’ve finished making changes. You can edit a reminder as often as you like. I sometimes need to change the date on a reminder multiple times as my schedule changes, for example.
iCloud connectivity allows the Reminders application to share information with other Macs and iOS devices, as well as Microsoft Outlook on both PCs and macOS. To share reminders, click the System Preferences icon on the Dock, click the Internet Accounts icon, and then click one of the accounts on the left side of the pane. If an account allows you to share data from the Reminders application — such as the iCloud account — you’ll see a Reminders check box on the right side of the pane.
Imagine a notepad of unlimited pages that’s always available whenever you’re around your Mac, iPhone or iPad. That’s the idea behind Notes, and it’s superbly simple. To open the Mac version of the application, click the Notes icon on the Dock. The window shown in Figure 7-3 appears.
The salient stuff in the Notes window includes these items:
To edit a note, click it to select it in the Notes list and then simply make your changes or additions on the note page. You can format the text from the Format menu, choosing everything from fonts and colors to bulleted and numbered lists. Toolbar buttons make it simple to add a checklist (complete with fancy controls that you can click to mark something completed) or lock specific notes with a password.
To delete a note you no longer need, right-click it in the Notes list and choose Delete from the shortcut menu. The application moves the note to the Recently Deleted folder, where it can be retrieved for up to 30 days.
A note can include tables to help organize your data, much like the Pages application! Click the Table button on the Notes toolbar to create a default table (two columns and two rows); then click the first field and begin typing. Press Tab to continue to the next field in the table. To create a custom table, click within a cell (or select the table as a whole) and use the row and column controls that appear to specify the number of rows and columns.
Like Reminders, the Notes application can share information with Macs and iOS devices, as well as with Microsoft Outlook on both Macs and PCs. The process is the same: Open System Preferences and click the Internet Accounts icon; then click the desired account on the left side of the pane. Accounts that support sharing data from Notes display a Notes check box on the right side of the pane.
Unlike Reminders and Notes, Notification Center isn’t an application that you launch. Instead, Notification Center appears at the far-right end of the Big Sur Desktop. It’s always running, and you can display or hide Notification Center at will.
Click the clock display icon (or, if you’re using the trackpad, swipe with two fingers from the right edge to the left) to display your notifications. These notifications can be generated by a host of Big Sur applications and functions, including Calendar, Mail, FaceTime, Reminders, Game Center, Photos, Messages, Safari, Facebook, and even the Mac App Store. Third-party applications can also generate notifications.
Notification Center displays all sorts of information that specifically applies to today’s date (as shown in Figure 7-4), including Calendar events, Reminders, the current weather, and the latest stock figures. (In fact, Notification Center actually scrolls vertically to show you more content.) You can specify what information is displayed by clicking the Edit Widgets button at the bottom of the Notification Center (not shown in Figure 7-4). To switch back to Notifications view, click the Done button that appears at the bottom of the Edit Widgets view.
I love how Notification Center doesn’t interfere with open applications; it simply moves the entire desktop to the left so you can see the Center. You can close Notification Center at any time by clicking anywhere on the Desktop to the left, clicking the clock display on the Finder menu bar again, or swiping two fingers across the trackpad in the opposite direction.
Notification entries that appear in Notification view are grouped below the application that created them. You can delete many entries from Notification Center by clicking the Delete button that appears next to the application heading (which bears an X symbol). Other entries, such as Calendar alerts, remain in Notification Center until the event has passed.
But wait — there’s more to Notification Center than a strip of widgets! Depending on the settings you choose, notifications can also appear without Notification Center’s being open at all. These notifications are displayed as pop-up banners (which disappear in a few seconds) and alerts (which you must dismiss by clicking a button).
Big Sur can also allow actions in notifications. Depending on the application or function that generates the notification, you may see buttons on a banner or an alert that allow you to take care of business (without requiring the application to be running). If a new email message is received in Apple Mail, for example, you can choose to reply to or delete the message. Websites can display updates as notifications, and you can answer a FaceTime or an iPhone call directly from the notification.
If you own an iPad or iPhone, prepare yourself for a joyful state: Your beloved iOS Maps application also resides on your Dock! As long as you have a connection to the Internet, Maps is ready to display locations, provide directions, and even supply informal views of important sites worldwide. (Recognize the grand dame in Figure 7-5?)
Displaying an overhead view of an address is one of the simplest chores in all of macOS. In the Maps window, just click the search box at the top of the window, type the address, and press Return. Maps displays the address with a red pushpin to help you locate it.
Ah, but why stop with a simple address? You can also enter the following types of information:
A traditional printed map offers you only one view, which may be perfectly fine for determining a route but provides no visual interest. (The word banal comes to mind.) Maps, on the other hand, offers three types of views, each of which offers certain advantages:
To select your view, click the Map Mode Menu button in the toolbar (it resembles a folded map) or press ⌘ +1 for Default Map, ⌘ +2 for Transit, or ⌘ +3 for Satellite. Figure 7-5, shown earlier in this chapter, illustrates Satellite view, whereas Figure 7-7 shows off Default view.
My primary use for a map is to get directions from one point to another, and Maps doesn’t disappoint when it comes to navigation. Click the Directions button in the toolbar (which looks like an arrow in a circle) to display the panel you see in Figure 7-8, and you’re ready to plot your course.
Follow these steps to get directions between two addresses:
In the Start box, type the starting address.
As you type, Maps provides a pop-up list of suggestions taken from your recent locations, as well as addresses from your Contacts database and matching streets from around the globe. To choose one of these suggestions, just click it. To clear the contents of the field, click the X button that appears on the right side of the box.
Press Tab to move to the End box, and type the destination address.
Note that your destination doesn’t have to be a specific address. Memphis, TN, for example, works just fine.
Maps usually offers more than one route for your trip. The first route provided is typically the fastest or shortest, and it appears in bright blue. To view one of the other routes, click a light-blue line, which turns bright blue to indicate that now it’s the selected route. (You can see the approximate mileage and time for the selected route in the Directions panel.) Click the arrow next to the option you prefer and you’ll see a turn-by-turn list that provides the approximate mileage for each leg of the journey.
You can easily print the route map and directions by choosing File ⇒ Print (or pressing ⌘ +P) and then clicking the Show Details button at the bottom of the Print sheet to display all the options.
Finally, Maps allows you to share your maps and directions by using Mail, Messages, Notes, Reminders, or AirDrop, as well as to send the information directly to your iOS devices. Click the Share button at the far right side of the Maps toolbar and then choose the desired sharing method.
How many times has a friend or member of your family asked you for an informal “itinerary” to a city or tourist attraction that you know well? Or perhaps you’ve arrived as a stranger to a big city, wondering where to go and what to do? With the Guides feature in Maps, you have an expert travel resource handy whenever your MacBook is near — and you can even create your own Guides for others to use!
As an example, say that you’ve just arrived in New York City and can’t wait to explore the Big Apple. Sure, everyone is familiar with Times Square, the Empire State Building, and the Statue of Liberty, but what else should you see? With Maps, just enter New in the search box and click New York, NY in the list of results. Maps displays New York City and its surroundings, along with the Info panel. Scroll down just a bit in the Info panel and you’ll see some of the top Guides for New York City — in this case, A Local’s Guide to Brooklyn from the Washington Post and 24 hours of suggested sightseeing from Louis Vuitton, as shown in Figure 7-9. To view all the Guides available for a location, click the See More link parked next to the Guides section on the Info panel. After you’ve found the Guide that catches your interest, click the thumbnail to display it.
Creating your own Guide is just as easy! You’ll notice a heading in the Maps sidebar named My Guides, with an entry underneath called Add Guide. Click the Add Guide entry to display the New Guide panel. Here, you can enter a name for your Guide and select an image (or key photo) to appear with the Guide. Press Return to add the Guide to the Sidebar.
Now comes the fun part: Use the search box to locate a specific location that you want to add to your Guide, whether it be a restaurant, hotel, or landmark. On the Directions panel for that location, click the ellipsis icon (the three dots at the upper right of the panel), choose Save to Guide, and click the name of the Guide you just created. Note that the entry for your Guide now indicates that the Guide includes one place, and Maps will keep track of how many places you include.