At Home with Tech

It’s time to maximize the potential of all your gadgets.

Category: apple

How to Save your iPhone when It Runs out of Storage

Don’t panic! Take these steps when you see that your iPhone’s storage is almost full.

I once pondered why anyone would ever need an iPhone with 512GB of storage. Now, three years later, I know that answer. My 256GB iPhone is packed, and I want more space. Sure, my media files can (and do) live in any number of clouds or hard drives, but of course there’s a cost with maintaining that solution.

If you’re in the same situation and considering upgrading to a device with 512GB or a whopping terabyte of storage, you probably should look at the other side of the same equation and ask yourself why do you really need to carry around that much data on your smartphone.

Let me answer that one… You don’t.

I don’t. (That said, my next iPhone will have more storage. But honestly, that’s a band-aid solution.)

The real problem and solution has to do with media management.

This is not about having enough space to maintain your media library on your smartphone. It’s about not having enough time over the years to thin out the files you don’t need. You wake up one day to realize you’ve got tens of thousands of disorganized photos and hundreds of home videos dancing about.

They’re clogging up your phone, and the irony is many of them are throwaways, minor variants of better versions. You just never found the time to go back and delete them.

iPhone Storage Almost Full
You can ignore this reality for only so long. Eventually, your device will force you to respond. You have to go through all of your media files and hack away at them.

I’ll go out on a limb and say that nobody really needs tens of thousands of photos to represent their day-to-day lives. So it’s time to roll up your sleeves and put on your media management hat.

The Good News
In the process, you might come across some unexpected fast lanes to free up space.

To do that, first review your iPhone’s storage report:

  • Click on iPhone Storage in Settings.

You’ll see a graph illustrating what types of files are sucking up your phone’s memory. You might spot a category that can be easily cleaned up. I did…

Delete All of your Downloaded Podcasts!
I found that I had 40GB in old downloaded podcasts that I could quickly eliminate. (That was a huge surprise.) I hadn’t realized when I started ‘following’ certain podcasts a couple years back that all of the new episodes would continue to download, regardless whether I ever listened to another one.

40GB gone! Whoa!

So, if you’re a podcast listener, you should definitely check that category.

And don’t forget to change the settings to stop your iPhone from automatically downloading new podcast episodes.

  • Go to the Podcasts Settings on your iPhone
  • Turn off Automatic Downloads: Enable When Following

Your iPhone’s storage report also offers a few quick and easy methods to free up memory, such as offloading unused apps. So don’t miss those opportunities.

But sooner or later you’ll need to face all of those photos and videos. It’s time to do the hard work.

Reversing Course Takes Time
You’ve slowly brought yourself to this precipice. And it may feel like death from a thousand nicks. It’s overwhelming.

So give yourself some time to dig out. Five minutes a day can do wonders. As long as you’re deleting more media files each day than your creating, you’ve found the right path.

Take control. Your smartphone will thank you.

How to Hear Zoom Audio when Screen Mirroring to your TV

If you use a MacBook laptop and Apple TV, there’s one important setting to change if you want to hear your Zoom audio on your HDTV.

The Zoom app is mostly designed to be used on smartphones and computer screens as an interactive experience. But with Zoom having grown as a performance/presentation platform, sometimes it’s preferable to watch Zoom as a one-way experience. Then, it’s more enjoyable if you can experience it on your big-screen TV.

So how exactly do you get your Zoom feed to show up there? There are multiple ways to do it, but the gateway to my older (non-smart) HDTV is via my little (but mighty) Apple TV box.

Once I’m screen sharing in the Apple ecosystem to my Apple TV, it’s immediately available on my HDTV.

Apple makes screen mirroring (AirPlay) to its devices a snap. But getting Zoom’s audio to stream to your HDTV can be more tricky. Here are the ways to do it.

Use an iPhone and Zoom App
As long as you first activate screen mirroring from your iPhone to your Apple TV before joining your Zoom, you’ll be fine.

On your iPhone’s Control Center (open by swiping down from top-right corner of your screen), you’ll see the two layered rectangles icon for screen mirroring.

  • Tap it and select your Apple TV
  • Then join your Zoom presentation

Both video and audio will follow to your TV.

Use a MacBook’s Web Browser or Zoom App
Turn on Screen Mirroring via the Control Center icon on your laptop’s Menu Bar. Then choose the Apple TV.

Or a faster way to share your screen is just click on the Screen Mirroring icon on the Menu Bar. But you’ve first got to make sure that icon shows up on the top right. Here’s how to activate it.

  • Go to ‘System Preferences’
  • Click on ‘Screen Mirroring’ on the left panel
  • Click ‘Dock and Menu Bar’
  • Click Show in Menu Bar… ‘always’ (as opposed to ‘when active’)


Then proceed to your Zoom presentation.

What Happened to the Audio?
But I’ve found that one big problem can crop up when screen mirroring Zoom from my wife’s MacBook Air to our Apple TV…

The Zoom video projects fine onto the TV screen, but the audio doesn’t naturally follow. The Zoom audio remains tethered to the laptop’s speakers.

To fix that frustrating problem, there’s one additional step you’ve got to take.

Change your Zoom Audio Settings
By default, the Zoom audio output is the laptop’s speakers, even if you’re mirroring your screen. (Zoom doesn’t know that you’re practicing screen-mirroring magic.)

You’ve got to go into your Zoom settings and manually change the audio output to your Apple TV. Only then will the Zoom audio follow from your computer to your Apple TV.

In the Zoom app:

  • Click on ‘Home’
  • Click the Settings gear icon on the right
  • Click on ‘Audio’
  • Click on ‘Speaker’ drop down
  • Select ‘Apple TV’

And to be sure you’ve got it right, click on ‘Test Speaker’ and you should hear a happy melody coming from your TV’s speakers.

And voilà!

Turn Up the Volume
Zoom has proven to be a really powerful app over these past couple of years during the pandemic. But you’ve got to make sure the audio settings are right.

Once you do, you can finally sit back and enjoy the Zoom show on your TV!

The Best Way to Improve your Audio for your Next Zoom Meeting

As much as computers are designed today to handle many multimedia needs without added accessories, headsets aren’t really optional when you join a video conference.

When I coach people on how to improve their Zoom feeds, most of the time I focus on their webcam shots. I think by now most folks know the visual rules to create a good video-conference look, even if they still choose to ignore them.

And let’s face it, it’s a pain to set up your webcam properly with the right lighting and angle. I know that. And I get it when so many people choose to simply turn off their webcams. Why do all that work to create a professional-looking shot when you don’t have to?

Stop Hiding
Now, of course I feel you absolutely should turn on your webcam. If you’re not projecting your own visual, you’re not truly showing up. You’re just a disembodied voice. Granted, adding yourself to a sea of tiny faces in a stack of little boxes on the computer screen may not fit your definition of being ‘present.’ But it’s what the technology offers. Maybe in the future, we’ll be able to digitize our bodies into 3D holograms. (Then, you’ll really need to dress up again!)

The Importance of Clear Audio
Whether you choose to hide in the Zoom shadows or not, you do need to be heard. That much is not up for debate. And if you sound like you’re in an echo chamber or in a distant hallway, you’re simply not going to be an effective participant in your virtual meetings.

Ultimately, how you sound is more important than anything else. And that can be difficult to track on an ongoing basis. (You can always see your webcam shot, but unless you actively test your audio signal in your settings, you wouldn’t otherwise know.)

How to Improve your Sound
The simple rule you should follow to project clear audio is to always wear a headset or earbuds. Sure, you can rely on your onboard computer microphone, but that’s going to offer a more muffled and distant quality to your voice. So, wear your headset!

And you’ve got to make sure over time that your computer continues to recognize your headset and not default back to its own microphone. (Set-it-and-forget-it is a recipe for “I can’t hear you very well!”)

Headsets have become Invisible
And if you’ve taken the important step to turn on your webcam, you can’t then play the vanity card and leave your headsets behind. Sure, you can choose to wear wireless earbuds like AirPods, which minimize the hardware you’ve got attached to your head. But I think by now, everyone is used to seeing people wearing headsets on Zooms, even when formally presenting to an audience. Hey, TV sportscasters have been doing it for decades. It’s not dorky. It’s fine.

No, headsets aren’t really invisible, but they’re entirely expected under the circumstances.

Can You Hear Me?
If you don’t want to fully show up to your Zoom meetings by not turning on your webcam, that’s your choice. But if you’re projecting bad audio, you just can’t play in the Zoom sandbox with others.

So, please wear your computer headset!

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