At Home with Tech

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

Category: apple

Pair a Bluetooth Keyboard to your Smartphone for your Next Zoom Meeting

If you need to take copious notes on your smartphone during a Zoom meeting, here’s why you may want to add a physical keyboard to the equation.

It’s easy to forget the power and flexibility of our smartphones; often the only limiting factor is the compact size. Yes, the smaller screen is sometimes difficult to work with compared to a laptop. But for me, it’s the miniature keyboard that can be infuriating. It’s simply really hard to type fast.

Recently, I flew to the West Coast on a business trip, and for an hour on one evening, I needed to step away and jump on a personal Zoom call and take notes for the community group.

My first thought was to pack my personal laptop or iPad for the task. But then I looked at my iPhone and wondered if it could actually handle the exercise.

Of course, the Zoom meeting part was easy. It was the simultaneous note taking that would be the challenge. So I tested it out…

Working with Zoom and Microsoft OneNote Simultaneously
I used the Microsoft OneNote app on my iPhone for the note-taking part, and it interfaced just fine with the Zoom app. I simply swiped out of the Zoom meeting and then worked in OneNote. (The Zoom meeting still shows up in a small window.)

Yes, I could tap…tap…tap my notes. But it was not nearly as fast as I knew I would need.

I required a real keyboard. And then it came to me… What about a Bluetooth keyboard?

A Multiversal Solution?
Using a Bluetooth keyboard with an iPad is common, but trying the same trick with a tiny iPhone feels somewhat absurd. Who have you ever seen do that???

Though you might have spotted it while traveling through some other part of the multiverse, some crazy old-school blogger in this reality was now going to give it a try.

Logitech Keys-to-Go Bluetooth Keyboard
While there are a few choices out there, I ended up going with the Logitech Keys-to-Go Bluetooth Keyboard… mostly because it’s featured on Apple’s website. I figured it must work properly if Apple is pushing it, right? (Spoiler alert: The two devices pair just fine, though you do have to push a little harder on the Logitech’s keys.)

At the time of this post, this keyboard was on sale
at Logitech’s website for $49.99.

It’s also on Amazon for the same price.

Click.

A Few Optional Accessories
When it was time to do my Zoom meeting in the field with my new keyboard, I must admit, I had also brought along a little more gear to facilitate a smoother experience.

  • I had my small Joby tripod with smartphone grip to mount my iPhone a little higher up. ( I didn’t want the shot pointing up my nose.) The taller positioning also made it easier to read the screen as I typed away.
  • To ensure I wouldn’t run out of juice, I plugged my iPhone into a little portable power (my Anker battery), as a wall plug wasn’t nearby.
  • And of course, I wore my Apple AirPods.
  • My multitasking iPhone stunt went off without a hitch, but if you strip away the optional tech, just the iPhone and Bluetooth keyboard will certainly get the job done.

Add this Technological Distinctiveness to your Own
Not having to pack an extra computer when flying is a game changer. A slim Bluetooth keyboard is hardly a noticeable add to your carry-on luggage, and it’s not an expensive piece of tech you have to worry about being stolen.

It may not be an intuitive pairing, and the tech form factor certainly looks clunky and somewhat absurd (“Star Trek” Borg-like).

That said, adding a physical keyboard to the much smaller iPhone does facilitate much faster typing speeds. So give your thumbs a rest!

I have now happily assimilated this technological distinctiveness.

Borg Barrett transmission ends now.

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!

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