Stay connected with shared iCloud calendars

Keeping track of family members’ busy schedules can always be a challenge, but it can be easier by sharing calendars via Apple’s iCloud. Listed below are ways an iCloud-using family can stay connected.

Set up an iCloud Account

  1. First make sure your device is running the latest iOS version
  2. If you did not set up iCloud when you got your iPad, iPhone or iPod then select Settings –> iCloud and either enter your Apple ID or create a free Apple ID
  3. On a Mac go to System Preferences and select iCloud to configure
  4. Under iCloud Settings verify that calendar is selected On

Sharing calendars with multiple iCloud accounts

Sharing calendars requires users to share and subscribe to each others’ calendars.  These events may not be limited to just one family and can be shared with anyone who has an iCloud account.  Sharing all of the events that you add to a particular calendar can be accomplished by performing the following tasks:

  1. Create a New Calendar in iCal by selecting File –> New Calendar –> iCloud 
  2. Select the Calendar you created in iCal’s Calendar List View on the left and then select the Share Calendar option from the edit menu
  3. Type the invitee’s email address in the Name or email address area and press Done
  4. Click the pop-up menu with the invitee’s name and choose access privileges (View & Edit or View Only)
  5. For each person you want to share the calendar with, repeat steps 3 and 4


Invitation emails are then sent out from your iCloud account to the emails you entered in step 3. The recipient must click the join calendar button in the email for the shared calendar to appear in iCal.

Create calendar using a family iCloud account

Having a single family iCloud account is another way to have a shared family calendar.  Anyone can add any event at any time and everyone will see it instantly.  Once the initial set up and configuration is complete, this can be the easiest way to share a calendar.  Here is what you need to do to set up a shared iCloud account on your family’s devices:

  1. On the first or primary family member’s device you need to create a new AppleID at and set up an iCloud account associated with that AppleID. See above on how to set up iCloud
  2. In the Settings of each family member’s iOS device (iPad, iPhone, iPod), add a new account using the AppleID and password you just created.
  3. In the System Preferences of each family member’s Mac, add a new account using the AppleID and password you just created.
  4. On all devices, ensure that the Calendar option is turned on in each account’s respective mail settings.

Once all of the devices are configured, you just start creating calendars and adding events as if it was your own personal account.  You can also use this one iCloud account to share notes, reminders and contacts.  Basically it keeps all of your family’s events up to date under one account.

Upfront there might be a lot of events being added to the calendar, so there will be a lot of notifications that are sent to your device. To silence calendar alerts go to Settings –> Sounds –>  Calendar Alerts and select none.


With these options you should be able to manage your families busy calendar. You can select one of the options or use a combination of them based on your needs. Try one with your family to see what works best for you!

Free Online Sites that Help You Get Organized

Since everything is online and available through our phones, USB flash drives and pens may as well be obsolete.  There are hundreds of online services nowadays available for free to help you productively organize, access, and share aspects your life.  Here are just a few that you may find useful:

Mint: Organize your finances

I’ve been using Mint for over two years now and they have by far surpassed any other personal finance software I’ve ever used.  Once you create an account, you can log in and enter the information for all of your accounts, including checking, savings, credit card, loan, and RSP accounts for almost any bank or financial institution.

Mint securely accesses and retrieves your balances and spending activity on all of your added accounts to help you review, analyze, and plan your spending. It will also notify you of when you are charged fees, and when you have payments due. Organize your documents offers a service similar to Google Docs (and actually integrates with Google Apps as well) with some enhanced features such as mobile access, task management, data synchronization, and collaboration control.  While there are paid plans for businesses, it’s free for personal use.

Remember the Milk: Organize your to-do list

Forget something?  Try keeping your to-do list online with Remember the Milk, where you can create task lists and share them with others, sync them to your phone, or get IM or SMS reminders.

TripIt: Organize your travel plans

TripIt is known as an online virtual travel assistant.  When you book hotels, flights, or other travel accommodations online, simply forward your confirmation emails to TripIt and it will generate a master itinerary with everything you need for your trip. You can access the itinerary online or through your mobile device, and sent copies to others.

This mini-list is just the tip of the iceberg for the vast number of free services online that are available to help you organize your life.  Know of any more services you use in your day-to-day activities? Let us know in the comments section below (no rhyme intended)!

“Catch” the New Way to Organize Notes with Smartphones and Browsers

We’ve all done it; emailed yourself a note or reminder while at work or on the go, then weeding through your bursting inbox trying to find it. There is the option of a mailbox search with keywords, but it’s pretty much a bust if you can’t find something in 10 seconds.

Catch Notes

With the birth of the smartphone, this act of note-taking has become even worse, as using the inbox search option on your phone is more painful than admitting to liking a certain teen idol with a prepubescent voice and hippie hair.

Have no fear.  You can keep your idol obsession in the closet and manage to stay organized quickly, securely, and all in one place, no matter where you go.

Enter Catch Notes.

Catch Notes is the quintessential note keeper of the universe, and there are several ways to input a note (or an infinite number of ‘em). From basic browser to mobile input, and even an option to email notes to your Catch account for later, this application goes above and beyond the old fashion pen and paper method, syncing your notes and account to any device of your choosing and making it available 24/7.

Available for Android, iPhone and iPad, this free (yes, FREE!) application not only keeps notes, it gives you the option to share those notes (in text or link) through several different methods:  email, SMS, Facebook, Twitter or any application on Android that accepts shared content.

Catch Notes mobile app.

Don’t have a smartphone? Catch Notes also has browser extensions available for IE8, Firefox and Chrome, so now you can “bookmark” your favorite Techerator articles in Catch Notes and have them all in one place versus having to add them to your “Favorites” and sort it out from there.  And for added security, Catch Notes gives you the option to set a four-digit login PIN to keep your notes secret and safe in case anyone tries to light-finger your precious cargo.

There are other note taking applications out there, like Evernote and Springpad, but if you want something light, quick, and easy to use, Catch Notes is your best bet.  Of course, it’s all preference. As an aspiring novelist (but current spotty blogger) I use Catch Notes to “write down” my story ideas. Not only can I write it down, but I can also attach photos, just in case I find something that inspires a project or a piece. The downside is that it only allows one photo per note.

On the brighter side, though, if you have an existing Google or Facebook account you can simply use it to login to Catch Notes versus creating another account you may not use if you find Catch Notes isn’t for you.

Previous logo: 3banana

Lastly, I can’t help but be bummed out that Catch decided to change its name a few months ago (September to be exact). Formerly known as “3banana,” complete with a Chiquita label, the company decided on a name change to better fit its mission and embody the functions of the app. Its current icon?  A simple orange box with a white “C.” Simple and easy, just like Catch Notes.

For more information on Catch Notes, visit their website or their blog to see what progress this app is making. It’s a great way to stay in the loop on upgrades and new features.

How to Enable Windows 7′s “Aero Snap” Feature in Earlier Versions of Windows

One of my favorite features in Windows 7 is Aero Snap, which automatically resizes and snaps applications to the sides of your screen when you drag them near.  If you’ve got several windows open on one screen, this is a great way to manage your space (and I’ve learned it’s even more useful when working on large screens).

My favorite way to use Aero Snap is with the keyboard – simply press the Windows Key + the left or right arrow on your keyboard and the current application will snap to the side of your screen.

Check out the video below to see how it works:

When I use earlier versions of Windows like Windows XP and Vista, I often find myself missing this feature.  But good news: it can easily be added with AeroSnap BETA.

AeroSnap BETA

AeroSnap BETA is a free download for Windows XP and Vista, and instantly gives you the same Aero Snap functionality seen in Windows 7.  After downloading and installing AeroSnap BETA, a small icon will be present in your system tray.  Right clicking this icon gives you more options.

In the General tab, you can set AeroSnap BETA to start with your system so snapping is always available.  You can also enable hotkeys, which is the best way to use Aero Snap in my opinion.  Pressing WIN + Left Arrow and WIN + Right Arrow will shift the current window to different sections of the screen, going from Right Snapped to Center to Left Snapped.

In the Snapping tab, you can adjust the different types of window snapping and also the width of the regions that the snap is sensitive to.

Adding Aero Snap to your older version of Windows is a great way to add some new functionality to your aging system without buying an entirely new operating system.

Enjoy this tip?  Make sure to check out our other articles about Windows!

How to Manage Attachments in Gmail

gmail_logoSince Gmail offers nearly unlimited storage space, most people keep emails with attachments archived so they can access important files later. This works great when you need to dig up pictures sent from a relative or print a copy of the report you wrote last year.

Unfortunately, it’s pretty easy for messages to get lost in the labyrinthine depths of a mature Gmail inbox.  A few weeks after you’ve received those baby pictures of yourself from grandma, they could easily be lost amidst hundreds of Facebook notifications.

Managing Attachments with Search

One of the most useful (and the least mentioned) perks of Gmail is the built-in search.  Using the search box at the top of every Gmail page, you can easily locate any attachments with a few handy search strings.

To show all messages with attachments, use:


To specify the type of attachment, use:

has:attachment filetype (just replace ‘filetype’ with the type you’re looking for, like .doc or .jpg)

Example: has:attachment .xls only displays emails with Excel file attachments.

If you know who sent the specific attachment, use:

has:attachment from:user (just replace ‘user’ with the person you want to display)

Example: has:attachment from:grandma to show only show messages with attachments sent from grandma.

If you want to show messages with multiple filetypes, use:

has:attachment (filetype1 OR filetype2 OR filetype3)

Example:  has:attachment (.doc OR .xls OR .ppt) only displays files from Word, Excel, or PowerPoint.

Managing Attachments with Filters and Labels

For even more control, you can set Gmail to automatically label messages that have attachments.  You can use any of the filters shown in the previous section (or create your own).

To add a new filter, click the Create a filter link to the right of the search box.

gmail_multipleinboxes_createfilterCheck the Has attachment box and enter the attachments you would like to manage in the Has the words: field.  You can group and separate multiple extensions by using the syntax (filetype1 OR filetype2 OR filetype3).  You can test your search query with the Test Filter button, otherwise click Next Step.

gmail-manage-attachments-createIn the next screen, check Apply the label: and enter the label for your query.  Since I was searching for Office documents, I named mine attachment/office doc.  Before you create the filter you can select the option to apply the filter to all current emails matching your criteria.

gmail-manage-attachments-applyNow when you want to view a specific label you can just click the link on your sidebar.  (Note:  I’m using the Better Gmail 2 add-on for Firefox which has a great feature called Folders4Gmail.)

gmail-manage-attachments-labelsAdding Icons for Attachments

If you use Firefox, you can add icons for attachments using the Better Gmail 2 add-on.  In Better Gmail 2’s options, click the Messages tab and enable Attachment Icons or Attachment Icons (native).  The only difference between the two is that the (native) version uses your system’s built-in icons.

gmail-manage-attachments-iconsHave any tips for handling attachments in Gmail?  Share them with us in the comments!