How to Automate Your Mac with Smart Folders

Smart Folders in macOS are a tool to help you organize and find your files. They’re not folders, as they don’t contain anything. They’re saved searches, and can save you a lot of time for searches you perform often.

For example, if you often open your downloads folder and sort by Date Added to find your recent downloads, you could instead make a Smart Folder called “Recent Downloads” which only contains files in your Downloads folder added there today, saving you a couple clicks each time.

You make them by defining the search criteria (i.e., all audio files on your drive) and them saving them as a smart folder you can put on your desktop or in Finder’s sidebar. They make use of Finder’s powerful search features that often go overlooked in favor of typing the name into Spotlight.

Making a Smart Folder

You’ll find the option for making Smart Folders under the “File” menu in Finder. You can get Finder to appear in the top menu bar by quickly clicking on your desktop.

This will bring up a familiar search dialog. You can click the + button on the right to add new search criteria.

You can add as many Smart Folders as you want, and by default, Finder will only pull out files that match all of the options you defined. If you want to change this behavior, you can hold down Option and click on the + button, which will change to three dots. This will group together a list of criteria, and you can choose from Any, All, and None.

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What is Doxxing, and Why Is It Bad?

Doxxing concept with personal data
Teguh Jati Prasetyo/Shutterstock.com.

Doxxing is the collection and publishing of someone’s private information online, usually done with the intent of inciting harassment in real life. While not technically illegal, it’s considered harassment by most people, and there have been bills proposed to make it a crime.

Do I Have to Worry About It?

Probably not. Doxxing is generally a targeted abuse, similar to harassment in real life, and unless you’ve got a target on your back, you’re probably safe. It normally affects famous people—particularly Internet famous people, such as live streamers, YouTubers, and social media celebrities. Since many of them go by an online alias, revealing their real name is a major violation of privacy. Having your name, phone number, and address posted online leaves you vulnerable to real crimes, like swatting, physical harassment, and stalking.

While you might not have to worry as much if you have a small Internet presence, these days you can very quickly go viral for all the wrong reasons. Political debates, in particular, are a hot topic on sites like Twitter and Facebook (where your personal information likely already resides), and one wrong word can trigger a wave of hate from whoever disagrees with you.

Occasionally, people dox for other reasons, like in 2013 when Reddit accidentally accused the wrong person of being the Boston Bomber. He wasn’t the bomber; he was a victim who had died in the incident, but his family had to deal with droves of angry people until the real suspect was found. This form of Internet vigilantism seems justifiable to the people doing it, which makes it spread much quicker and arguably makes it more dangerous.

How To Protect Yourself

The large majority of doxxing incidents are just people collecting your personal information from social media sites, not any actual computer hacking. It’s hard to stop it from happening because people generally share way too much info freely online, and even relatively private people could fall victim to it.

For example, even if you’ve got your birthday hidden on your Facebook profile, people can find it out just by scrolling down your timeline and looking for “Happy birthday! Finally able to hit the bars!” posts. Once they know exactly when you were born, they can more easily access data on other sites. But, while hiding your birthday publicly won’t stop Internet Sherlock Holmes from finding your info, it will stop lots of nosy people, so it’s best to keep it private.

RELATED: Why It’s Dangerous to Share Your Birthday Online

Realistically though, hiding all of your personal information and becoming anonymous goes against the point of social media. Sure, it makes sense never to post your address, phone number, or birthday online, but people can infer a lot about you based on seemingly innocuous posts—even little details like where you work.

Deleting old posts and making sure to be careful in the future is an option, or you could go nuclear and delete your social media accounts altogether, but most people won’t be bothered to do so. And remember, most people don’t have to worry much about this in the first place. Just please don’t post your debit card online.

What is Motion Smoothing on a TV, and Why Do People Hate It?

Blurred people in street
Willy Barton/Shutterstock.com

If you’ve just bought a new TV, you might be wondering why everything you watch feels eerily sped up and smooth, like you’re watching a live broadcast all the time. You’re not imagining things: Your TV might be suffering from Motion Smoothing.

What is Motion Smoothing, and How Does it Work?

Every TV manufacturer calls their specific tech by a different name, for marketing reasons of course. Action Smoothing, TruMotion, Motionflow—these are all names for the same function: making your TV’s picture feel smoother. And that’s motion smoothing. It’s also known as the “soap opera effect” because low-budget soap operas used to have cheap video cameras that produced a higher frame rate, smoother-looking video.

Most TV shows, movies, and broadcasts are filmed at 24 or 30 frames per second (fps, also called “hertz” or “Hz”), which is fast enough for the eye to perceive them as smooth video and not a choppy slideshow. However, the standard most TVs and monitors are capable of is 60 Hz and some more expensive displays clock in at 120 Hz and even 240 Hz.

But, movies and TV shows are still 30fps, which presents a problem: what’s the point of 60hz displays if the content you watch only updates at half of that? The refresh rate of film isn’t changing anytime soon, so this is where “Motion Smoothing” comes in. Motion smoothing tries to fix this issue by taking a guess at the 30 frames missing from each second, usually by comparing a before and after shot and attempting to find the middle ground between the two of them.

RELATED: Why Does My New HDTV’s Picture Look Sped Up and “Smooth”?

Why Is It Such a Problem?

Most people have trouble with motion smoothing. After all, we’ve spent years training our brains to enjoy movies and TV shows filmed at 24 or 30fps, and our brains have come to think of that as how a movie or TV show should look.

TV manufacturers, on the other hand, are just trying to advertise bigger numbers to consumers. 240 Hz must be better than 120 Hz and much better than 60 Hz, right? Well, sometimes it is, yes—especially when the content is designed for it.

But most consumers don’t enjoy the higher frame rates on most of the content they watch. Viewing content filmed at 24 or 30fps looks especially weird on TVs that run at 120 Hz and above. The insanely smooth motion makes the video almost seem real, which breaks the immersion of cinema completely. Honestly, it often feels more like you’re watching a behind-the-scenes documentary about the movie than the movie itself.

For some things, motion smoothing makes sense. Live action sports and video games, for example, have fast-moving content that could use a bit more clarity. Unfortunately, two other problems associated with motion smoothing break these two use cases as well.

  • For sports, things sometimes move so fast that the smoothing algorithm doesn’t know what to do, and ends up producing a strange, often blurry image instead of a clear “in between” frame. This defect, which results in incorrect or glitch pictures, is called artifacting.
  • For video games, the extra input lag required to add motion smoothing completely ruins being able to play the game effectively. The controls feel sluggish and unresponsive, which is why most TVs offer a “Game Mode” that disable motion smoothing and other advanced picture effects.

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How to Disable Motion Smoothing on a Roku TV

TCL Roku TV interface

Roku TVs sometimes use a technology they call “Action Smoothing” to artificially speed up the framerate of video, but it often ends up looking fake and ruins the cinematic look of movies.

What Is “Action Smoothing” Anyway?

Action Smoothing is Roku’s implementation of motion smoothing, a common feature on high-end TVs. Motion smoothing works by increasing the framerate of the video on the TV. More frames make motion feel smoother, but there’s a problem: since there’s no way to create new frames out of nowhere, it has to take two frames and attempt to figure out what the “in between frame” is. This leads to a lot of motion-blurred frames and a fair number of artifacts.

Roku says “Action Smoothing” reduces “motion blur,” which is true as far as it goes. It can help you to see fast moving objects easier, but it adds a bit of motion blur to the in between images to make them smoother. That can be good for fast-action live events like sports, but it can make movies and TV shows look weird

This feature isn’t included on all Roku TVs. We couldn’t find it on any of our TCL Roku TVs, but some manufacturers do include it.

RELATED: Why Does My New HDTV’s Picture Look Sped Up and “Smooth”?

How to Turn Off Action Smoothing

Luckily, you can disable this feature on your Roku TV. Roku hides the option under “Advanced Picture Settings” in the menu, which you can open by pressing the “*” button below the direction pad on the remote. Note that how this button press works changes depending on what’s on your screen. It doesn’t work on the Roku home page or on the home pages of streaming video apps, which all use the “*” button for other things. You must be playing a video in a streaming app to access the menu. You can also access the menu by simply pressing “*” when you’ve selected a specific HDMI or other input on your TV—no need for a video to be playing then.

If your Roku has motion smoothing, you’ll see “Action Smoothing” options under Advanced Picture Settings. There are four different levels of Action Smoothing you can select: High, Medium, Low, and Off. If you just want to get rid of the motion smoothing effect, select “Off”. The other levels will use less motion smoothing, but will still interpolate the content. (If you don’t see the Action Smoothing options, your Roku TV doesn’t have motion smoothing.)

Your Roku TV will save your settings, but it has different settings for different types of content. Here’s what Roku says:

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How to Disable Motion Smoothing on an LG TV

An LG TV
LG

If you’ve got a new LG TV, you might have noticed that the picture feels eerily smooth. This effect, which LG calls “TruMotion,” tries to make your TV’s picture feel smoother but often ends up looking strange.

What Is “TruMotion” Anyway?

TruMotion is LG’s implementation of motion smoothing. Motion smoothing works by increasing the framerate (the speed at which your TV shows a new picture) of the video by inserting extra “fake” frames between each real frame. Most movies and TV shows are shot at 24 frames-per-second (FPS), and by guessing what the in-between frames would look like, your TV can bump the framerate up to 48 or 60 FPS. This can make certain fast-paced content (like sports) look a lot better, but ruins the cinematic quality of movies and TV shows for some people.

While high refresh rate video is weird looking enough on its own, the other issue with motion smoothing is that it’s a fake effect, and often makes the “fake” frames look very blurry. Because it has to guess, it ends up being slightly off a lot of the time, which can make it look even worse.

RELATED: Why Does My New HDTV’s Picture Look Sped Up and “Smooth”?

How to Turn Off TruMotion

TruMotion motion smoothing settings on an LG TV
LG

You can disable the TruMotion feature in your TV’s settings. LG’s settings are a bit abnormal though. Their TruMotion tech also manages synced backlight scanning, which syncs the refresh rate with the backlight. They say you can’t turn this off on any TVs, but you can adjust the motion interpolation, which is the thing that makes TruMotion look weird.

LG hides the option under Picture Menu > Picture Mode Settings > Picture Options. From there, you can set different levels for TruMotion:

  • Off: probably what you want
  • Smooth: uses motion blur
  • Clear: doesn’t use motion blur
  • Clear Plus: uses backlight scanning in addition to interpolation

If you have a problem finding the option, it could be under a different section, so it’s best to consult your TV’s manual, which you can find online. Just enter your TV’s model number and, when the page loads, use Ctrl+F (or Command+F on Mac) to search for “TruMotion.”

It’s possible some older TVs might not even have an option to turn it off, in which case you’ll have to buy a new TV if you want to disable it.

Photo Credits: Shutterstock