How to Lock Down Your Facebook the Best You Can.

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Facebook has dominated the news headlines of late and not for good reasons. As you know, there were the 50 million Facebook profiles gathered for Cambridge Analytica and used in the 2016 presidential election. 

Because of this, many may have thought about deleting their accounts but let's get real, it's probably not the first time you've thought about that. If you’re done with Facebook, you’re welcome to deactivate or even delete your account. Facebook provides instructions for both actions. Deactivating your account will only make your account invisible on Facebook, whereas deleting your account may eventually result in most of the data being removed (up to 3 months later).

The problem is that Facebook is useful. Right? It may be the only connection you have with certain friends or family members, and many informal groups use Facebook for meetup logistics. You may also have a business page established on Facebook, which will require a personal account for Administrative privileges. So, for many of us, losing access to Facebook could or would hurt our real-world relationships and activities. What to do?

If you’re a business, it may make sense to keep your Facebook page but avoid relying on it. Remember, Facebook is not your friend. Earlier in 2018, Facebook announced that it would be prioritizing posts from friends and family over public content, which is a nice way of saying that Facebook is depreciating business-related posts. So make sure you have a Web site that you control and make sure that customers can easily find it and contact you through it. 

On a personal level, there are two ways to think about privacy on Facebook:
Limiting the information you share with other people on Facebook
Limiting the information that you’re willing to provide to Facebook at all.

If Facebook doesn’t have certain data about you, they can’t sell it to the highest bidder, let it be harvested by hackers, or use it in ways you might find creepy.

To control who on Facebook can see what you share, click the ? button on the Facebook Web site on your Mac, or tap the button in the bottom right corner of the Facebook iOS app and then tap Privacy Shortcuts. Then click or tap Privacy Checkup and run through the steps to make sure you’re sharing the right info with the right people. Be sure to lock down or remove any apps that you don’t need, since they can leak all sorts of data!

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Also, go to Facebook’s Privacy Settings & Tools page. Click the Edit button next to each item, and make it as specific as you can. You also might want to review the posts you’re tagged in and remove those that you don’t want on your timeline.

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But what if you don’t want to give information to Facebook for it to use? Go to Facebook’s page for Uploading and Managing Your Contacts, and delete them all. You’re just giving away your contacts’ personal information without their permission otherwise. Of course, this will require us to depend on others to be smart with their data and your information as well!! Be smart, everyone!

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To ensure that contact uploading doesn’t happen again, in the Facebook iOS app, tap Settings & Privacy > Account Settings > General > Upload Contacts and make sure the switch is off. (Some versions of the Facebook app just have Settings, not Settings & Privacy, and show a popover for Account Settings.)

Also, in the iPhone Facebook app, go to Settings & Privacy > Account Settings > Location > Location, and make sure it’s set to Never. And whatever you do, keep Location History off—Facebook doesn’t need to know everywhere you’ve ever been. Unless you love checking-in or tagging locations on photos...& in that case, you are doing exactly what they want and designed you to do. 

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If you’re perturbed by the way Facebook’s iOS app is trying to capture your contacts and locations, you could delete it from your iOS devices and rely instead on the Facebook Web site, which can’t access nearly as much information about you. To make it easier to open, in Safari, visit facebook.com, tap the Share button, and then tap the Add to Home Screen button in the bottom row of the share sheet.

Here is an important thought. Lets always assume that anything you post to Facebook or allow Facebook to have access to could end up on the front page of your local newspaper… or the New York Times. Nothing on Facebook is ever completely private—Facebook has shown it currently isn’t trustworthy or reliable—and the best way to ensure confidential information doesn’t leak inadvertently is to avoid posting it to Facebook in the first place. Sorry.

Apple Pay Is Easier, More Secure, and More Private Than Using Credit Cards!

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You’ve probably heard of Apple Pay, but have you set it up so you can use it to pay for purchases at checkout? If not, why not?! These days, most people would say that they are worried about the security of technology but Apple Pay is about as secure as you can get. Give it a try!

It’s one of those living-in-the future Apple technologies that feels really cool every time you use it. To this day, people stare with a combination of amazement and envy when I use it to pay. Still! And don't get me started on the convenience of using the Wallet App to store my boarding passes when I travel. I will touch on that later.

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How does Apple Pay work? Simply put your iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch within an inch or so of a compatible payment terminal (look for an Apple Pay or contactless payment logo). I like using my Apple Watch but all the devices work with ease. Using the iPhone, place your finger on the Home button to use Touch ID (or double-press the iPhone X’s side button and authenticate via Face ID, or double-press the Apple Watch’s side button), and you’re done. The entire transaction will take much less time than opening your wallet, although you may still need to sign a receipt.

What happens behind the scenes when you use Apple Pay? How does this work? The good news is that Apple Pay is significantly more secure than a magnetic-strip credit card and has advantages over chip-embedded cards too. First, theft prevention is baked in. A typical thief can’t use Apple Pay from your device because they can’t get past Touch ID or Face ID, or provide your Apple Watch passcode. Yep. They really can't.

Also, the store where you shop gets no data about you - they don’t know who you are, where you live, what your card number is, or anything else unless you showed a rewards card or provided your phone number. Most importantly, you never have to worry about your credit card number being jotted down, scanned, or skimmed.

How does this magical process work? When you set up Apple Pay, the Wallet app sends your encrypted credit card details to Apple, after which they’re passed along to your card’s payment network. What comes back is an encrypted Device Account Number—a long number that’s stored in the Secure Enclave chip on your device. That chip is protected by a digital moat, keeping it isolated from nearly all activity on your device. The Device Account Number is unique to your device and card, so nobody else can use it. Encryption and security, that's Apple.

When you pay with Apple Pay, the Secure Enclave chip transmits the Device Account Number, along with a few other details, including a one-time transaction code. Everything is encrypted, so even if an attacker were listening to the traffic, no transaction details would be revealed. The information remains encrypted until it reaches the appropriate party, at which point, if all goes well, your transaction is approved and processed.

Millions of payment terminals in the United States accept Apple Pay, including those found in most major national chains, so you shouldn’t have to look far to find one. You can also use Apple Pay in some iOS apps and some Web-based shopping carts when checking out in Safari.

To set up Apple Pay, on your iPhone or iPad, tap Settings > Wallet & Apple Pay > Add Credit or Debit Card and follow the easy instructions—it’s fine to let the device scan your card so that you don’t have to type your credit card number; the image is discarded immediately after setup.

After adding a card, find it in the Wallet app and tap the card’s info button at the lower right to explore the Info and Transactions screens. Notice that four digits from the card’s Digital Account Number appear on the Info screen—if you want to return an Apple Pay purchase, you’ll give these digits to the merchant instead of sharing your credit card number.

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Don't forget, starting in iOS 11.2, Apple introduced Apple Pay Cash, which lets you make person-to-person payments within the Messages app. It’s great for splitting restaurant checks! We told you how to use that fun party trick in a previous blog here: Split Restaurant Checks with Apple Pay Cash!

The bottom line is that Apple Pay is easy to use, preserves your privacy, and enhances your financial security. And it is really COOL! Maybe next, we'll review how Apple Wallet App is fun at the airport too - think boarding pass. 

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Apple’s Family Sharing Simplifies Sharing Purchases & Managing Kid Capabilities

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Family life is all about togetherness, but trying to keep track of who’s doing what when can be tough. Apple’s Family Sharing service makes it super easy to share apps, media, and more within a family of up to six members, and it provides a few helpful digital housekeeping capabilities such as locating your kid’s misplaced iPad. How can Family Sharing enhance your family's everyday life both online and in the real world? Here's an overview:

Manage Your Kids’ Purchases

Every Family Sharing group will have an organizer. That person (maybe you) sets up the family on a Mac in System Preferences > iCloud and connects a credit card to the account to pay for all App Store, iTunes Store, and iBooks Store purchases of apps, music, TV shows, videos, and ebooks.

For any child under the age of 18 in the group, you can turn on "Ask to Buy". This feature lets your kid shop for apps or media, but will only complete a purchase if you approve it. Ask to Buy also applies to free downloads so you can maintain control over free games. You can also give other adults in your family the ability to approve Ask to Buy requests.

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Share Apps, Media, and More

To help you keep costs down, once someone in the family has purchased an app or media file, anyone else in the family can download it. No duplicating purchases! However, some apps don’t allow such sharing and in-app purchases can’t be shared. You can hide some or all purchases from other family members. 

You can also buy a family subscription to Apple Music, Apple’s streaming music service. At $14.99 per month for a family instead of $9.99 per person, it’s a good deal. Our family loves this!

Plus, family Sharing creates a few items that all group members can access on their Apple devices:

  • A shared Family album appears in the Photos app, making it easy to build a common set of photos. You can designate the Family album as a screensaver on your Mac or Apple TV.
  • A shared Family calendar in the Calendar app helps track those basketball games and piano recitals that everyone needs to know about.
  • A shared Family list in the Reminders app has many possible uses, such as a grocery list with location-based alerts or a chore list with timed alerts.

Find Your Children (and Their Devices)

Family Sharing simplifies the setup and usage of two key Apple services related to finding things.

All family members automatically become “friends” in Apple’s Find My Friends app. This bundled app shows where everyone is on a map (more specifically, it shows where their primary device is). If you need privacy briefly, you can temporarily stop sharing your location. 

You won’t need the Find My iPhone app—which shows the location of all your family’s Apple devices, including the tiny AirPods—on a daily basis. But when your tween isn’t sure whether he left his iPhone on the bus or in his locker, it’s a godsend. You can also use Find My iPhone to play a sound on a missing device (in case it’s in the couch), put a message on it, or even erase the device entirely if it lost or stolen.

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Family Sharing may not do everything you’d want, like share entire Photos libraries or contact lists, but do you really want that anyway? It is a fantastic tool for families whose members use a variety of Apple devices.

Make Life Easier: Reminder Lists w/ Siri

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"Hey Siri, add Chardonnay to my grocery list."  Try it! And If you don't have a "Grocery List ", Siri will ask you if you'd like her to create one. Do it! 

There's a couple different ways to use reminders with the iPhone. Lets discuss. If you tell Siri to randomly remind of of something, those reminders are automatically added to your default list. You can find this in Settings > Reminders > Default List. That is generally used for thing like —“Hey Siri, remind me to fill the dog's water bowl at 10pm tonight” — which is awesome, but not as good when you want to maintain different shopping lists.

For instance, like I mentioned above, you can create a list called “Grocery,” and then you can tell Siri, “Put chocolate-covered bacon on my Grocery list.” Want to be even more organized? Make a list called “House Projects” (you can do this manually OR just say "Hey Siri, make a reminder list called "House Projects") and then tell Siri, “Add blue paint to my House Projects list, and remind me when I arrive at Home Depot.” She will not only do it, she will also verify which Home Depot works best for you first! Then you’ll receive an alert reminding you to buy blue paint when you pull into the parking lot. To look at any list via Siri, just say something like "Hey Siri,"... “show my House Projects list” or "show my Grocery List". You can make any Reminder List(s) you want!

Let the technology in your hand help you! It is really great when you're busy cooking and realize you need more butter but your hands are dirty and you can summons Siri to add it to your grocery list. Or better yet, when you are relaxing and suddenly remember something you need but do not want to get up...or forget later...or especially when you're driving.

You can also share these lists with others, for instance, when I add something to the grocery list, my husband knows to check the list we share when he is at the store and vice versa. Try it out, don't be scared to use Siri, she gets better at communicating with you the more you communicate with her (or him).

Call 911 or Emergency SOS with an iPhone or Apple Watch.

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And while we are discussing this - please go to your Health App and complete your Medical ID card! Medical Professionals and first-responders are starting to use it.

Lets say you needed to call emergency services from your or someone else’s iPhone? These kind of calls take place at stressful times, it can be hard to remember what to do. For example, if you’ve been in an accident, it might be difficult to think or impossible to navigate the iPhone if you can even find it. In iOS 10.2 and watchOS 3 and later, Apple added the Emergency SOS feature to help

What does it do and how do I use it?

Emergency SOS does three very important things:

  • First, it calls emergency services, using whatever number is appropriate for your location, which could be particularly helpful when you’re traveling abroad.
  • After your emergency call ends, Emergency SOS sends a text message with your location to emergency contacts that you’ve set up previously in the Health app.
  • Finally, it displays your Medical ID for first responders so they can be aware of things like medication allergies. You create your Medical ID in the Health app as well.

How you invoke Emergency SOS varies slightly depending on which Apple device you have:

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  • On the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X, press and hold the side button and either of the Volume buttons until the Emergency SOS slider appears. Either drag the Emergency SOS slider to call emergency services right away, or just keep holding the side and Volume buttons. If you continue holding the buttons down, a countdown begins and an alert sounds; at the end of the countdown, the iPhone automatically places the call, a feature that Apple calls Auto Call.
     
  • On the iPhone 7 and earlier, rapidly press the side button five times to bring up the Emergency SOS slider. Drag the slider to call emergency services. (The quintuple-click can work on the new iPhones too; it’s an option in Settings > Emergency SOS.)
     
  • The Apple Watch acts like the newer iPhones. Press and hold the side button to bring up the Emergency SOS slider, or keep holding the side button to start a countdown after which the Apple Watch will call emergency services automatically via Auto Call. The Apple Watch must be connected to your iPhone, be on a known Wi-Fi network and have Wi-Fi Calling enabled, or be an Apple Watch Series 3 with a cellular plan.
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You can test this in a non-emergency situation, without actually placing the call. On both the iPhone and the Apple Watch, there will be a red hangup button you can tap, followed by an End Call or Stop Calling button. Similarly, you can cancel notifications of your emergency contacts.

You’ll also want to stop calls if they’re placed accidentally—I have personally and accidentally activated this once and after cancelling the call, 911 immediately called me back to make sure I didn't need help. It was slightly embarrassing but also very reassuring and cool to know that it worked!

To add emergency contacts—the people who you’d want notified if you were in an accident, for instance—follow these steps on your iPhone:

  1. Open the Health app, and tap the Medical ID button at the lower right.
  2. Tap Edit, and then scroll down to Emergency Contacts.
  3. Tap the green + button to add a contact.
  4. Select the desired person, and when prompted, pick their relationship to you.
  5. Tap Done to save your changes.

A couple things. First, if you’re concerned about activating the Auto Call feature inadvertently, you can turn it off in Settings > Emergency SOS on the iPhone, and for the Apple Watch in the Watch app, in My Watch > General > Emergency SOS. 

Second, bringing up the screen with the Emergency SOS slider also automatically disables Touch ID and Face ID, such that you must enter your passcode to re-enable them. 

Clearly, lets hope that you never have to use Emergency SOS, but if you do, it is a fast and  effective way of contacting emergency services that everyone should know about.

HomePod Smart Speaker Arrives This Friday

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Yes, it was first announced back in June of 2017 and soon Apple’s long-awaited HomePod will ship in the US, UK, and Australia on February 9th for $349. You can get it in space gray or white. We ordered one of each. Watch out Amazon Echo and Google Home, there’s a new smart speaker coming soon. Why is the HomePod any different...or dare we say, better? 

Amazon and Google focused mostly on how you could interact with their smart speakers. Apple, however, is placing emphasis on audio quality that HomePod users and music lovers can enjoy. The HomePod has seven beam-forming tweeters for high-frequency acoustics, coupled with a large woofer for deep, clean bass, in a cylindrical package just under 7 inches tall. The sound will be unmatched.

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An A8 chip is what makes the HomePod much smarter than regular speakers. The HomePod has processing power equivalent to an iPhone 6. The software running on the HomePod gives it spatial awareness. What does this mean? It can sense its location in the room and adjust the audio automatically for the best listening experience. What?!

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Want to know something else that is pretty cool? With a free software update due later this year, you’ll be able to control multiple HomePods throughout your home. You can control each one independently or playing the same music on all of them, perfectly in sync. Also, if you put two HomePods in the same room, you’ll be able to set them up as a stereo pair. Sounds pretty awesome, right?

Order your HomePod now at Apple.com ➚

Keep in mind, the HomePod can do more than play music. It uses Apple’s Siri voice assistant to listen for your commands with an array of six microphones, so you can ask Siri to send messages, set timers, play podcasts, read the news, get the weather, check sports scores, and more. Apple has even expanded Siri’s knowledge of music for the HomePod. You can also transfer a phone call from your iPhone to your HomePod for a hands-free conversation - Awesome when you are cooking!

What if you don’t want to talk to your HomePod? You can tap its top to play/pause (single tap), move to the next track (double tap), or go back to the previous track (triple tap). Touching and holding invokes Siri without saying “Hey Siri,” and you can tap or hold the + and – buttons to adjust volume.

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Home automation/Smart Home enthusiasts will be excited to know that they can control HomeKit accessories via Siri on the HomePod as well. The HomePod can act as a HomeKit hub that can trigger automations and let you control HomeKit accessories while you’re away from home.

But what most people will use the HomePod for, most of the time, is music. For full music functionality, the HomePod would work best with an Apple Music subscription. We love ours! However, those who don’t subscribe to the $9.99 per month Apple Music will still be able to play music purchased from iTunes, stream Beats 1 Radio, and listen to podcasts.

Setting up a HomePod is simple—just plug it in, and your iPhone or iPad will detect it automatically, just like a pair of AirPods. The HomePod will require an iOS device. It must be relatively recent (iPhone 5s or later, iPad Air or later, iPad mini 2 or later, or sixth-generation iPod touch), and it must be running at least iOS 11.2.5—you’ll want to install the latest available version to keep up with tweaks as Apple rolls them out.

It will be a couple weeks before the HomePod can be fully tested against the various other smart speakers. Undoubtedly, we think the HomePod will sound much better than the more-established products from Amazon and Google. Along with adding multi-room audio and stereo capabilities, Apple will also be one to introduce new capabilities on the HomePod over time.

Order your HomePod now at Apple.com ➚

 

Watch Amazon Prime Originals on Your Apple TV

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First, you need an Amazon Prime membership? How is it different from your regular Amazon account? Well, if you're not familiar with Amazon Prime, it is basically an upgrade to the standard Amazon account and we like ours a lot! It costs $99-per-year, which amounts to $8.25 per-month and is well worth it. An Amazon Prime membership provides a number of perks, including FREE 2-day shipping (you can't beat that) from the Amazon online store and FREE streaming access to Amazon’s media libraries.

Until now, accessing Prime Video content for Apple TV users has been a tiny bit frustrating, because there was no Amazon app for the Apple TV. That has all changed now. If you have an Amazon Prime membership and an Apple TV, it’s time to download the new Amazon Prime Video app. It gives you a ton of awesome additional video content, including Amazon’s original programming. Seriously, google "Amazon Prime Original Series" and see what you are missing. Especially if you have run out of Netflix Originals...it is time. 

You can find the app on your fourth-generation Apple TV or Apple TV 4K in the App Store app. If you are still using a third-generation Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video should appear automatically on your Apple TV Home screen. Get the blankets and snacks, it's binge-worthy.

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What's your favorite Amazon Prime Original series? 

Adjust Web Site Behavior with Safari’s Site-Specific Settings

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So it seems that macOS 10.13 High Sierra was a little light on new features. However, it did bring one welcome addition to Safari...site-specific settings. What's that mean? If you regularly visit a blog that you prefer to read using Safari’s Reader view. Rather than invoke it each time you visit, you can now set Safari to use Reader automatically on that site. Just the same, if there’s a site whose text is too small, Safari can remember your page zoom setting for that site. Simple and convenient!

Want to know how to make the most of Safari’s site-specific settings? 

First, load a site whose settings you’d like to customize. Then choose Safari > Preferences and click Websites in the toolbar. You will see a list of general settings in the sidebar at the left, followed by any plug-ins you’ve installed. For each setting or plug-in, you can set what happens when you visit the site you just loaded. Or if you have a bunch of sites open in different tabs, you can customize the behavior for any open site. Here are some options.

Reader

Reader view displays an article as a single page that’s formatted for easy reading, without ads, navigation, or other distractions. It’s such a significant change that it’s off by default. You enable it by clicking the Reader button to the left of the URL in the address bar. To turn it on for all of a site’s articles, in Safari’s Websites preferences, select Reader and choose On from the pop-up menu next to the site name.

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Content Blockers

You can also see fewer Web ads by installing a Safari content blocker. Choose Safari > Safari Extensions to open Safari’s Extension Gallery, and then scroll down slightly to find the page’s Search field, where you can search for blocker. There are many - you can look for one like Adguard AdBlocker that supports Safari’s content blocking API. Once you’ve installed one, select Content Blockers in the Websites preferences. By default, Safari blocks ads on all sites, so choose Off from the pop-up menus for sites whose ad content you want to see.

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Auto-Play

How much do we dislike sites that play a video when a page loads, scaring everyone including yourself at the office and distracting you from the text you want to read. Even worse are those sites like Macworld, we’re looking at you, that auto-play videos that aren’t even related to the page. Safari squelches auto-playing videos by default, but for sites like YouTube, you might want to allow videos to play. You can also choose to stop only videos that have sound!

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Page Zoom

Most of us know how to hit Command-Plus to zoom in on a page, increasing the text and graphics  but who wants to do that every time you visit a page sporting tiny words? With the Page Zoom setting, Safari will use your preferred zoom every time you visit a particular site. You don’t have to do anything other than set a zoom level with Command-Plus when you’re viewing a site because Safari remembers it automatically, as you can see in the Configured Websites section for Page Zoom. To tweak it manually, choose a zoom level from the site’s pop-up menu.

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Camera & Microphone

You’re unlikely to run across many sites that want to access your Mac’s camera and microphone, maybe but for Web conferencing services. That’s why the Camera and Microphone settings default to asking you whenever a site wants permission to record you. If you find it irritating to be asked constantly by a site you use often, you can change this and choose Allow from the pop-up menu for that site. And if a site asks repeatedly but you never want to allow it, choose Deny to stop the prompts.

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Location

Most Web sites that ask for your location want to determine how close you are to particular stores - they want to help! If that’s information you’re interested in sharing, let them see where you are, by all means. And if you’re using a mapping service that wants your location, it’s entirely reasonable to set its pop-up menu to Allow. But if a site keeps asking and it feels creepy, set it to Deny.

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Notifications

Are there sites whose new posts you’d like to know about right away? If they support Web notifications and you give them permission, they can post push notifications that appear on-screen and in Notification Center, just your other notifications. Same goes for ones you don't want to see - make em' stop!

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The Notifications preferences look different from the others because they show only sites that have asked for permission in the past. Safari remembers your choice, and if the site gets annoying later, you can always take back permission by changing the Allow pop-up menu to Deny. And if you never want to be prompted for push notifications—they can be distracting—uncheck the “Allow websites to ask for permission to send push notifications” checkbox at the bottom of the pane.

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Plug-ins

It’s impossible to know what plug-ins you’ve installed, but Safari is configured to make sites ask for permission to use a plug-in each time you visit. That’s the safest setting, but for any given site and plug-in, you can use the pop-up menu to give the site access (choose On) or not (choose Off). And if you can’t even remember what a plug-in does, you can deselect its checkbox to disable it.

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And there you have it! Some of Safari’s site-specific settings work without any interaction from you, such as your page zoom and notification preferences. Others require a tiny bit of configuration, but that’s a small price to pay for the Web working more the way you want.