At Home with Tech

Figure out which consumer tech you need, the right gear to buy and how to use your new gadgets.

How to Add a Missing Person to a Group Text from your iPhone

Feeling left out because of that group text you weren’t on? Don’t worry. There’s an easy way to get you back into the chat. Here’s how.

Have you ever sent out a group text from your iPhone, only to realize moments later that you’ve forgotten somebody? Or how about receiving a group iMessage and noticing that a friend has been unintentionally left off. Is it possible to correct the error and add in the missing person to your ongoing chat?

It certainly is.

For those who may be rolling your eyes right now, please feel free to stretch your own boundaries and compose your next multi-dimensional group text to a parallel universe. However, if you tend to face more earthly-based technical conundrums, and you’re currently jostling your head to shake loose the answer just outside your consciousness, I certainly understand. (It’s how I spend a fair amount of time.)

So, I’ve got a refresher for you. At first glance, it may not seem that obvious, because the ‘Add Contact’ button is hidden.

Here’s how to uncover it:

It’s Buried in the Info Icon
In your iPhone’s Messages app, tap on the text that requires more people in your reply.

  • Then, tap on the face circles representing the existing group. Your action will open three more options to tap on: ‘audio,’ ‘FaceTime’ and ‘info.’
  • Tap ‘info’ on the top right.
  • You’ll then see the current list of people. On the bottom of the list, locate ‘+ Add Contact’ in an inviting blue color.
  • Tap ‘+Add Contact.’
  • Then, simply type the new name and tap ‘Done’ on the top right.

The Answer is Also in the Details
If you’re instead using the Messages app on a Mac computer to respond to a group text, it’s even easier to make the fix:

  • Select the message.
  • Click on the blue ‘Details’ on the top right.
  • Click on the blue ‘Add Member’ under the list of member names.
  • Then type in the new name to add into the chat.

Voilà!

Whoops
Group chats have become such a common part of our texting and email experience. It’s certainly an effective communications tool as long as ‘replying to all’ continues to convey relevant information to all.

And of course, you’ve got to make sure that ‘All’ is actually a complete list of the intended recipients. Replying to ‘Almost All’ can tend to create future problems.

As texting is often done on the fly, it’s always a good idea to double check your list of names.

Then, all will thank you.

How to Stop your Email from Suggesting an Old Address

Across the years, your library of email addresses inevitably changes. Take a second to help your computer’s email program clear out the past. Here’s how.

Wouldn’t it be nice if everybody had one email address assigned at birth, and that was it for life? How simple would that be? Then, you could easily keep track of all your contacts. No more old email addresses that don’t work. Of course, I know that’s an unrealistic suggestion (or at least a plot device for a science fiction story).

In reality, we need to pay attention to the never-ending task of updating our digital address books. It’s not like we never had to take a pen to the Rolodex when a friend moved to a different city in the analog days. But that felt less frequent than the seemingly constant tweaks required to maintain your data in today’s email-first society.

Many of us change email addresses periodically for any number of reasons (new job, new internet provider, new device, new name).

That’s life. We’ve all got to keep up across the years.

The Risks When Using Auto-Complete Email Suggestions
But even if you’ve been diligent and kept your Contacts app current, you may still have to contend with your email program’s flawless memory and the pesky problem of an old email-address suggestion.

That’s when you type a name into the “To” field of an email and sixteen address options drop down for you to choose from. (I exaggerate only slightly.)

Then, if you’re not careful, you can send off your email to a long-dead address.

Over time, this potential mistake can become a larger risk as you review an ever-growing list of auto-complete choices.

It makes sense to do a little digital spring cleaning.

Clear Out Old Email Addresses
I use Microsoft Outlook for Mac on my iMac. Removing an email suggestion takes just a few seconds.

  • Simply click on the little circled ‘x’ next to the bad email address. And then it simply disappears, ‘poof!’ That’s it.

If you’re working with a PC version of Outlook, you can also clear all entries from your ‘Auto-Complete List’ should you want to start fresh.

Whichever email program you use, it will be advantageous to perform a similar data review.

Help your Computer Let Go of your Past
This may fall under the category of obvious, but if you don’t take the moment to teach your computer where keep up, you’ll eventually feel the weight of old email suggestions slowing you down.

Make sure the email suggestions you’re offered are current. If not, it’s time to clear out the past. That will go a long way to help you stay present!

Why Zoom Meetings will be a Permanent Part of Home Life

It’s probably time to give your imperfect Zoom background another look, because you’re probably going to be using it… forever.

During one of my recent Zoom meetings, I received a comment about the old iMac in my home office. The white computer was sitting sidelined in the background on top of a short bookcase. I retired this 2004 iMac long ago.

But like some of my old tech, I never threw it away. Now, it sits like a museum piece, available for anyone to appreciate (or question) whose wandering eye might be checking out the details of my home office.

What’s That?
Don’t think for a moment that your Zoom-fatigued viewers aren’t looking around your Zoom box. They crave any opportunity to thaw their pandemic-frozen eyes, locked to their computer screen all day.

Anything of interest is an immediate target. And so was my ancient iMac.

It’s actually hard for people not to notice the details of the space you’re in. It’s natural.

Virtual isn’t Real
So, if you feel your room isn’t ready for prime time, should you simply activate a virtual background?

Easy, right?

That’s what many people have been doing during their Zoom meetings. But even though the functionality is there for that exact reason, I think it’s a bad trade-off.

The Value of Authenticity
Sure, it’s a one-click solution to hide your environment that could otherwise use a little more art direction. But it also erases any opportunity for your authentic living space to support your personal brand.

You can only work with what you’ve got. And I think your viewers will understand that. In fact, they’ll appreciate it.

Yes, you should remove any unnecessary clutter in your background. But if there’s an unusual object like an old Mac perched on a shelf, so be it. If you’re lucky, it may become a conversation piece during your next Zoom.

And that can really help to provide some context to your identity, especially when you’re meeting someone for the first time on a two-dimensional computer screen.

It’s Time to Build an Official Zoom Zone
Yes, thanks to Covid-19, our lives have become televised (well… streamed).

And when we eventually return to a post-pandemic existence, I think that new normal will still contain a healthy dose of Zoom meetings. Sorry to break it to you, but that’s not going away… ever.

Sure, you may be free to move about the cabin of life again, but video conferencing from home is an established norm that has taken off.

And this will bring up proactive decorating opportunities for spaces that you’ve designated as your Zoom zones. Perhaps you’ll consider a new framed print or painting on the wall behind you. A different piece of furniture? An arrangement of fresh flowers? A total redesign?

The same way that the family room became the next generation of the living room, I feel it’s inevitable that a Zoom zone or even a ‘Zoom Room’ will become a natural addition to our future homes.

Yes, people can always use a virtual background. But eventually, they’ll move out of their temporary Zoom mindset.

Sharing a more permanent reality is usually a much better long-term solution.

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