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Easily Check the Battery Level of Bluetooth Devices Connected to a Mac

Most Bluetooth accessories don't have battery indicators located on the device itself, and that includes the Apple Wireless Keyboard, Magic Mouse, and Magic Trackpad. Rather than waiting for the devices connection to weaken, stop registering movements, clicks, or certain behavior, you can periodically check the battery level of most devices connected to a Mac by looking in OS X.

Checking Device Battery Levels with the Bluetooth Menu

This is by far the easiest method, but you will need to have the Bluetooth menu enabled to be able to do it.

  • Pull down the Bluetooth menu bar, locate the accessory under the "Devices" list and open it's submenu to see the battery level

Bluetooth device battery level as shown in the menu bar item

If you don't have the Bluetooth menu visible, you need to enable it through checking the box at System Preferences > Bluetooth > "Show Bluetooth status in the menu bar".

All connected accessories will show a Battery Level here as a percentage, though it won't provide a time estimate like the standard battery indicator for portable Macs would.

Seeing Device Battery Levels with System Preferences

The battery level of connected Bluetooth devices can also be checked in System Preferences, but there's a catch: most devices are going to be found in different places. For example, you'll have to look at "Keyboard" panel to see a Bluetooth keyboards battery level:

Bluetooth keyboard battery level, shown in the System Preference panel

And then if you wanted to find another devices, like a trackpad, you'd need to visit the Trackpad system preference panel. If you use multiple Bluetooth devices this isn't preferable, and you'll be better off enabling the Bluetooth menu bar item and using that to check things instead.

Most Bluetooth devices are very power efficient and don't have many demands, though things like headsets will drain faster than a keyboard. Regardless, it's a good idea to have a set of good rechargeable batteries handy that work with whatever accessories you use frequently, because it's never fun to have a device run out on you, and very low battery life can also be a reason why Bluetooth connection strength suffers. If you're trying to figure out if that is an issue, check the battery life and monitor the signal to see if it improves with new batteries in place, oftentimes it will.

Thanks to Tim for the question and tip idea.

Get a New IP Address on iPhone or iPad by Renewing DHCP Lease

Renew a DHCP lease in iOS

If you need to get a new IP address from a router that any iPhone, iPad, or other iOS device is connected to, you can either set a manual IP address or, what's likely more relevant to most people, you'll want to renew the DHCP lease directly from the wi-fi router itself. Renewing the lease this way should alleviate any potential conflicts with other devices on the network, and it also fills in everything from subnet mask, router, DNS settings, in addition to the new IP. Here's how to do this in iOS:

  • Open Settings and choose "Wi-Fi"
  • Find the wireless network the device is connected to and tap on the (>) blue arrow – not the name of the router
  • Under the DHCP tab (the default), scroll down to reveal "Renew Lease" and tap on it, confirm to renew the lease when asked
  • All network fields will clear out and go blank for a moment, then refill with a new IP address and the other standard DHCP networking info
  • Close out of Settings

Renew a DHCP lease and get a new IP address in iOS

Typically people need new IP addresses to get around network conflicts with other devices on the same network, though most modern wi-fi routers are much better at handing out IP's and theoretically should never assign the same address to multiple devices. Nevertheless, it does happen from time to time even with the newest hardware and newest routers, especially if there is a lot of activity on a network. For those who repeatedly encounter the conflicts, assigning a manual address higher in the IP range than what is typically assigned can resolve that problem completely as well, you'll probably want to check the current IP before taking a wild guess though.

Renewing a DHCP lease is also standard protocol for troubleshooting a lot of network connection issues with routers and even broadband service providers, but don't be surprised if you're on the tech support line with a big cable or DSL provider and the only thing they know how to troubleshoot is a Windows device. Fortunately, DHCP is extremely easy to manage in iOS and after you do this once it should be easy to memorize.

As usual, this same process applies to all iOS devices, including the iPad and iPod touch as well, even though the screenshots are from an iPhone.

(Note: this is not the same as getting a new WAN IP address for a cellular device)

Apple Blocks Java 7 on OS X to Address Widespread Security Threat

As noted by ZDNet, a major security vulnerability in Java 7 has been discovered, with the vulnerability currently being exploited in the wild by malicious parties. In response to threat, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has recommended that users disable Java 7 entirely until a patch is made available by Oracle.
Hackers have discovered a weakness in Java 7 security that could allow the installation of malicious software and malware on machines that could increase the chance of identity theft, or the unauthorized participation in a botnet that could bring down networks or be used to carry out denial-of-service attacks against Web sites.

"We are currently unaware of a practical solution to this problem," said the DHS' Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) in a post on its Web site on Thursday evening. "This vulnerability is being attacked in the wild, and is reported to be incorporated into exploit kits. Exploit code for this vulnerability is also publicly available."
Apple has, however, apparently already moved quickly to address the issue, disabling Java 7 on Macs where it is already installed. Apple has achieved this by updating its "Xprotect.plist" blacklist to require a minimum of an as-yet unreleased 1.7.0_10-b19 version of Java 7. With the current publicly-available version of Java 7 being 1.7.0_10-b18, all systems running Java 7 are failing to pass the check initiated through the anti-malware system built into OS X.

Apple's updated plugin blacklist requiring an unreleased version of Java 7

Apple historically provided its own support for Java on OS X, but in October 2010 began pushing support for Java back to Oracle, with Steve Jobs noting that the previous arrangement resulted in Apple's Java always being a version behind that available to other platforms through Oracle. Consequently, Jobs acknowledged that having Apple responsible for Java "may not be the best way to do it."

It wasn't until last August that the transition was essentially complete, with Oracle officially launching Java 7 for OS X. Java 7 does not ship by default on Mac systems, meaning that many users are not affected this latest issue or other recent ones, but those users who have manually installed Java 7 may be experiencing issues with their systems.

There is no word yet on when an updated version of Java addressing the issue will be made available by Oracle.