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If you are using a Samsung phone, there is a Samsung Secure Folders feature that allows you to keep files privately. For example, there could be pictures from last Friday night’s party that you wouldn’t want anyone to see. If you keep them in your device’s gallery, there is a good chance they could fall into the wrong hands. To avoid anyone looking at the files, you can keep them in Samsung Secure Folders.

What Are Samsung Secure Folders?

A Samsung Secure Folder is an encrypted folder that is a component of the security platform Samsung Knox. These secure folders can save and hide files such as videos, images, sensitive files, contacts, etc. Content in these folders is protected from spiteful attacks.

These folders are pre-installed on devices such as the S9, S9+, and Note 9. But you can also use Secure Folders if your Android device runs on Android 7.0 Nougat or higher by downloading them from Google Play.

How to Open Samsung Secure Folders

To open a Secure Folder, go to Search on your device and type “secure folder.” (The option should appear after typing the first few letters.)

If the Secure Folder doesn’t show up on your Samsung device, you will need to enable it first. Go to Settings, followed by Lock screen and security. Select the Secure Folder option.

You will see info on how secure folders keep your information safe. Just press the next option at the bottom-right until you get to the Start option (located at the bottom-right). You will need to log into your Samsung account to use the secure folder so you can reset it if ever needed. If you don’t have a Samsung account, you’ll need to create one.

A Secure Folder wouldn’t be secure without a security measure to protect your files. You can choose between a pin, pattern, or password. For example, let’s say you decide to add a pattern.

You will be asked to enter the pattern twice before you also need to confirm your security pattern. To keep your Secure Folder even safer, it’s best that it doesn’t show up in your Apps screen. Once you’re in your secure folder, tap on the three dots at the top right and select Settings.

Once you’re in Secure Folder settings, make sure that the option that says “Show Secure Folder” is toggled off. If it’s on, anyone you hand your phone over to will see it.

How to Add Files to a Samsung Secure Folder

If you change your mind and don’t want to move the file to the secure folder, you can use the Cancel option until the last minute. As you can see in the image above, there is also an option to add apps to your secure folder.


Samsung Secure Folders are a great way to keep your files safe from intruders. Be sure no one sees you enter your pattern or password, or the folder won’t be secure anymore. What are your thoughts on the Secure Folders?

Fabio Buckell

Just a simple guy that can’t enough of Technology in general and is always surrounded by at least one Android and iOS device. I’m a Pizza addict as well.

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Samsung Galaxy Aod Problems And How To Solve Them

Samsung’s Always on Display feature launched along with the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge and is still present on the latest S10 devices.

The AOD feature is pretty useful and we’re seeing a few other manufacturers adopt the concept on their devices as well. There haven’t been any major issues with the Always on Display on Samsung devices; however, you might run into a few problems while using the feature.

Using the AOD is pretty easy and you shouldn’t run into any bugs or issues for the most part. Samsung has also updated the AOD and has added a few cool new features to enhance the user experience when using the AOD on their Galaxy device.

If you’ve noticed an issue or aren’t able to use the AOD feature, then you might want to check out the common issues and fixes we’ve mentioned below.

AOD isn’t always on

Several users have reported of this problem after installing the Android Pie update alongside One UI. Most users claim that the Always on Display isn’t always on even when AOD is turned on.

By default, the AOD display mode is set to Tap to show with the new Pie update. To fix the issue simply follow these steps:

Possible solution:

Go to Settings and tap on Lock screen.

Tap on Always on Display.

Next, tap on Display mode.

Select Show always.

Once you select show always you would be able to see the AOD at all times rather than having to tap the screen to bring up the Always on Display.

Prior to the Android 9 Pie update, users were able to add their contact information on the lock screen and the AOD display. Few users have been reporting that they are unable to set their contact information on the Always on Display after installing the Pie update on their Galaxy device.

Unfortunately, it seems Samsung has removed the option to set the contact information on the AOD. The contact information only shows up on the lock screen and there’s no option to set the contact information on the Always on Display.

We highly doubt Samsung would add back the ability to set the contact information on the AOD with a future update hence you might have to make do by simply adding the contact information to the lock screen itself.

Screen burn-in

There have been several reports from users claiming that they’ve noticed screen burn-ins after using the AOD for over a year. Screen burn-ins are fairly common with AMOLED displays; however, Samsung has taken a few measures to avoid screen burn-ins on their flagship devices.

If you’ve noticed a screen burn-in on your Galaxy device, then, unfortunately, there’s no quick fix available for this since this is a hardware related issue and you would have to have the screen replaced entirely.

Samsung does cover screen burn-in issues with the device warranty hence you need not fret if your device is still under warranty.

High battery drain

A  few users have claimed that while using the AOD, the battery drains out quite fast on their Galaxy device. This shouldn’t be the case since the Always on Display sips the battery and only uses around 1-2 percent every 2 hours.

If you’ve too have noticed battery drain issues while using the AOD on your Samsung device, then here are a few steps to help solve the problem.

Possible solutions:

See which app is responsible for the most battery usage.

If you spot an app which has been consuming a lot of battery, then we’d suggest uninstalling the app or disabling it.

Turn off Auto brightness.

Manually set the brightness on either the lowest or a step above.


Samsung Galaxy S9 And Galaxy S9 Plus Problems And How To Fix Them

Samsung upped its flagship game and kicked off 2023 with the S9 and S9 Plus, what many consider two of the best Android smartphones out there. The company’s latest high-end offerings further refine the already great features of their predecessors, taking elements like the design, display, performance, and photography to a whole new level. However, as good as these devices are, there are unfortunately still a few Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus problems users have to contend with.

Disclaimer: Not every Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus will have these issues. In fact, it is more than likely you won’t come across of any of these problems at all. 

Black crush issue

 Quite a few users have reported a problem where the display has difficulty revealing details in darker areas of videos, showing blocks of black or pixelated images instead. This issue is mostly seen with the larger Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus and at low brightness levels.

Potential solutions:

Luckily, a software fix should resolve this issue and will hopefully be rolled out soon.

Until then, a temporary fix is available by using an app called Screen Balance, which gives you complete control over features like white balance, tint, color filters, and brightness. You can download the app from the Google Play Store here.  

Screen brightness automatically adjusts and becomes too dim

Some users have reported that when they unlock the device at night or in a dark environment, the screen automatically becomes dimmer, even though settings like Auto Brightness and Blue Light mode (Night mode) are disabled.

Potential solutions:

This problem seems to happen to users who have restored the settings and apps from a previous device which had Night mode enabled. Unfortunately, the only way to fix this issue, for now, is to perform a Factory Reset (you can find the instructions on how to do so below). During the setup process, make sure to uncheck “Restore system settings.” You will still be able to restore your apps as you did before.

The display appears to have a yellow tint

A few users have reported seeing a yellow tint on the screen.

Potential solutions:

If that doesn’t help and the issue persists, the only option may be to pick up a replacement.

Dead zone on the screen

One of the more widely discussed Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 problems so far has been the dead zone on the screen that some users have found. An entire section of the display seems to be unresponsive.

Potential solutions:

First, check whether you do have a dead zone on the screen or not. Open the Dialer and call *#0*# to launch the hardware diagnostics page. Open the Touch option. Now, swipe your finger across all sections of the screen to check whether an area is unresponsive. If it is, this makes you eligible for a replacement from Samsung.

In case there isn’t a dead zone, the issue may be related to touch sensitivity, particularly if you have a screen protector in place. Go to the Settings menu and open Advanced Features. Scroll down, find Touch Sensitivity, and enable it.

Read Next: Best Samsung Galaxy S9 Screen protectors

Potential solutions:

Many assume this could be because of the dead zone problem mentioned above. The solution is actually a lot simpler and basically involves enabling a setting that should have been activated by default.

This permission is required even if you install a third-party keyboard.

Potential solutions:

This stutter could be because of a slow microSD card. Make sure the microSD card you have allows for a minimum write speed of 30MBps to ensure the recording quality doesn’t suffer.

Some users have found that disabling electronic image stabilization (EIS) seems to solve the problem. Go to the Camera app and open the Settings menu, where you can disable EIS. You should also enable HEVC (High-Efficiency Video Coding). Since the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus optical image stabilization (OIS), disabling EIS shouldn’t have too much of a negative impact. That said, a software fix should hopefully be available in an upcoming update.

Potential solutions:

As far as other apps are concerned, you may have to use a third-party app like Light Flow until a permanent fix is available from Samsung. The Pro version of the app can be found here, but some users have suggested Light Flow Legacy seems to work better with Samsung devices. You can find this version of the app here.

Potential solutions:

Some users have found enabling “pop up notifications” for apps like Whatsapp and Snapchat results in Edge lighting working when the screen is off as well.

For some, the problem seems to be because they have turned off Animation Duration Scale in the Developer Options section in the Settings menu, which is done to improve performance. All you have to do is set this to 0.5x, and Edge lighting works.

You can try downloading the Edge Lighting app from the Google Play Store here. This app lets you set customized colors for different apps and makes the edge lighting feature work even when the screen is off. However, the results have been mixed. The app has worked perfectly for some users. Others have had issues. Since this is a paid app, that is something to keep in mind before you decide to download it.

Wi-Fi issues

Turn the device and the router off for at least ten seconds, then turn them back and retry the connection.

Use the Wi-Fi Analyzer to check how crowded your channel is, and switch to a better option.

Make sure the router firmware is up to date.

Make sure the applications and software on the device are up to date.

Some users have found disabling the Hotspot 2.0 feature seems to fix a lot of issues with Wi-Fi.

Bluetooth issues

Check the manufacturer’s manual for the device and the car and reset your connections.

Ensure you are not missing a vital part of the connection process.

Potential solutions:

Potential solutions:

You can first check and confirm that the issue isn’t hardware related. Dial *#0*# to open the hardware test menu. Look for the “speaker” option and run the test. If this is a hardware problem, you’re only option will be to pick up a replacement. If the code mentioned doesn’t work, you can also try dialing *#7353#.

Notification volume too low: Many users have found the volume of notification alerts are extremely low. This is likely a software issue and will hopefully be fixed in a future update.

Call drops: One of the seemingly major Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus problems is with regards to call drops or silent patches when on a call. Quite a few users have come across this issue and it doesn’t seem to be a problem with the SIM card or cellular network connectivity. Samsung has included call stability improvements with the last couple of updates. While things have improved for some users with every update, it hasn’t completely gone away yet.

NFC issues: Some users have found that NFC automatically turns off and cannot be enabled again when the device battery drops to below 70%.

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus guides – soft reset, hard reset, boot into Safe Mode, wipe cache partition

Soft Reset

Press and hold the power button and volume down key simultaneously for about 10 seconds until the device powers off. This works when the screen is unresponsive.

Hard Reset

With the device turned off, press and hold the volume up key, Bixby button, and power button simultaneously.

When the Samsung logo appears, release the power button, but continue to hold the volume up and Bixby buttons.

When the Android system recovery screen appears, release all buttons.

Use the volume down button to toggle the selection to “wipe data/factory reset,” then press the power button to accept it.

Use the volume down button to toggle the selection to “Yes — delete all user data,” then press the power button.

Wait for the reset to finish. You will eventually be prompted to “Reboot system now.” Press the power button to continue.

Wipe cache partition

With the device turned off, press and hold the volume up key, Bixby button, and power button simultaneously.

When the Samsung logo appears, release the power button, but continue to hold the volume up and home buttons.

When the Android system recovery screen appears, release all buttons.

Use the volume down button to toggle the selection to “wipe cache partition,” then press the power button to accept it.

When the previous menu returns, go up and select “Reboot system now.”

Boot in Safe Mode

When the device is turned off, turn the device on again and press and hold the volume down button until a “Safe Mode” button shows up. Tap that button to boot your device in Safe Mode.

How To Share Icloud Folders On Iphone Mac And Pc

How To Share iCloud Folders on iPhone Mac and PC

Note: To share an iCloud folder, you need to have version 13 for iPhone and iPad and Mac OS X 10.15 for Mac. In case you have older versions, it is recommended to upgrade the iOS. With iCloud drive you can easily share files and folders, add files to the iCloud, edit added participants as well as manage the permissions.

How to Share iCloud Folders on iPhone/iPad:

As stated above, you need to have iOS 13.4 or later to be able to share folders with iCloud. Let’s see how you can do it:

On your iPad or iPhone, navigate to the Files app.

Once you have selected the folder, choose Share located on the bottom-left corner of the screen.

Once you have selected the mode of an invite, the recipient will get a link which they need to open in order to access the shared iCloud folders.

You can also change the permissions while sharing iCloud folders. You can let people access, read and, even edit the folders you have shared.

How To Share iCloud Folders on A Mac:

You need to have mac OS X 10.15 to be able to share folders with iCloud. Let’s see how you can do it:

Launch Finder on your Mac.

Post this, choose the iCloud folder you wish to share.

Once you have selected the mode of invite, the recipient will get a link which they need to open in order to access the shared iCloud folders.

You can also change the permissions while sharing iCloud folders. You can let people access, read and, even edit the folders you have shared.

How To Share iCloud Folders on A Windows PC:

In order to share folders on iCloud Drive on a Windows PC, please make sure you have the version 11.1 or later of iCloud for Windows.

Please follow the steps below to share iCloud Folders on Windows PC:

Open File Explorer on your Windows PC and then open the iCloud Drive from the left panel.

Now, enter the email id of the concerned person in the People field you wish to share iCloud Folder

You can also change the permissions while sharing iCloud folders. You can let people access, read and even edit the folders you have shared.

So guys, if you are worried about losing your data and want to keep it secure, using Cloud Storage service is a good option. Not only does it save your data but also keeps it secure from hackers. We hope the article on how to share iCloud Folders was of help.

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How To Password Protect Files And Folders In Windows 11

There are many encryption software for Windows 11 that lets you safeguard volumes and drives. But what if you want to password protect files and folders in Windows 11 with iron-clad encryption? Well, in this article, we bring you six easy methods to protect your sensitive files, documents, and folders with a custom password. So without any delay, let’s go ahead and learn how to add password protection to files and folders in Windows 11.

Password Protect Files and Folders in Windows 11 (2023)

We have included six different ways to password-protect files and folders in Windows 11. You can password-protect documents like Word, PowerPoint, and PDF as well. Expand the table below and find all the solutions right here.

Password Protect Files and Folders in Windows 11 with 7-Zip

You may be familiar with 7-Zip as one of the best WinZIP and WinRAR alternatives, however, it’s much more than that. You can use 7-Zip to password-protect files and folders in Windows 11. Not just that. The tool also supports state-of-the-art AES-256 bit encryption to secure the files and folders in Windows 11 so no one can break the password and access your files. The only con is that encrypted files are visible to all users, which means anyone can delete them.

Nevertheless, even if you transfer the encrypted file to another computer and use another archiving software like WinRAR to open the file, you will still need to enter the password to decrypt it. Basically, the encryption is cross-compatible with other software and platforms as well. Having said that, let’s go through the steps.

5. Instantly, a file with .7z extension will be created in the same folder. This particular file is password-protected and no one can access the content within the file. If you try to open the file, it will ask for the password to decrypt it. Even if you open it using another archiving program on another computer or platform, you will still require the password to open it.

7. Here, enable the “Hidden” checkbox, and you are done.

Password Protect Files and Folders in Windows 11 with OneDrive

If you wish to password-protect files and folders both locally and on the cloud, I would strongly recommend using OneDrive. It supports a useful feature called “Personal Vault”, where you can store your important files, folders, and documents. Even if you don’t have a Microsoft 365 subscription, you still get the Personal Vault feature but it’s restricted to only 3 files. For paying users, there are no limitations.

What I like about OneDrive’s Personal Vault is that whenever you try to access it, you will need to enter a 2FA code, which is sent to your email ID. Only after entering the code, you can access the files within Personal Vault. Not just that, it also uses Bitlocker to encrypt the files stored under Personal Vault and they are never cached. And after 20 minutes of inactivity, Personal Vault is automatically locked. All in all, OneDrive’s Personal Vault is an excellent feature to store sensitive files and folders in Windows 11 with a 2FA code.

4. After it’s done, open OneDrive from your user profile, and you will find “Personal Vault” here. Open it.

5. Now, enter the two-factor authentication (2FA) code sent to your email account, and you will be allowed to access the Vault.

Password Protect Microsoft Office Documents in Windows 11

If you wish to password-protect your Office Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, and Excel sheets in Windows 11, you don’t need to install a third-party application. The security feature is built right into Microsoft Office, and you can set a password for each document with ease. Here is how to go about it.

4. Now, when you open the Office document, you will have to enter the password. The password protection works even on other platforms.

How to Password Protect PDF Files in Windows 11

You can also password-protect your PDF files in Windows 11 using Smallpdf, which is one of the best PDF editors we listed in our roundup recently. This app allows you to quickly encrypt your PDF files with a password, and here’s how it works:

1. Download Smallpdf from the link here and install it on your Windows 11 PC.

2. Next, choose “Protect PDF” from the left menu.

4. Now, open the PDF file, and it will ask you to enter the password. This is how you can password-protect PDF files in Windows 11.

Password Protect Drives in Windows 11 with BitLocker Encryption

Microsoft offers Bitlocker encryption for drives on some editions of Windows 11, including Windows 11 Pro, Enterprise, and Education. It’s a good security feature meant to prevent data theft through recovery in case your laptop or hard drive gets stolen. Since your drives will be encrypted with a password, no one can access data from any environment. Here is how you can password protect drives in Windows 11 with BitLocker encryption.

1. Press the Windows key and type “bitlocker”in the search bar. Now, open “Manage BitLocker“. This will take you to the Control Panel in Windows 11.

4. Finally, restart your computer, and Windows 11 will start encrypting the C drive. Once the process is complete, no one can access the C drive without having the password or encryption key. I suggest you follow the same step for other drives as well.

Password Protect Files and Folders From Other Users on Same PC

If you have multiple users on your PC and want to restrict access of some files and folders from other users, you can do so with a built-in Encryption option in Windows 11. Whenever another user would try to access the file or folder, Windows 11 will ask the user to enter the password of that particular user account. Then only, the files will be decrypted. Here is how you can password-protect files and folders in Windows 11 from other users.

5. A lock sign will appear on the file, which indicates that it’s encrypted and can’t be accessed from another user account. You can repeat this process for as many files and folders as you want.

Secure Your Files and Folders on Windows 11 With a Password

Urban Forests Are Dying. Baltimore Shows Us How To Bring Them Back.

Urban canopies help our air, health, and electric, bills, but they’re shrinking. Tobias Hutzler / Trunk Archive

Walk through Baltimore’s neighborhoods, and look up. The fan-shaped ginkgo leaves and ­ruby-red pearls dangling from cherry branches are the literal fruits of how Gene DeSantis has spent the predominant part of his life. On Saturdays, the slight, cap-wearing 57-year-old plants trees. By his count, 15,223 of them over the past 40 years.

For DeSantis, an MVP to local ­greening outfits, the routine began as a form of therapy. The Baltimore native spent some of his childhood in Los Angeles, with an alcoholic stepfather and drug-addicted mother. On the nights his stepfather’s drunkenness turned violent, the young DeSantis climbed trees in the yard to find peace. “Trees became my friends,” he says. “You could say I kind of grew up there.”

One night in 1976, his stepfather shot and killed his mother and then himself. The following year, the 17-year-old moved in with his grandmother in the blue-collar corner of southeast Baltimore where he had been born. That was also the year he would plant his first tree, and discover the act was a way to cope. “I was angry inside because I thought the world was so unfair,” he says. “The picking and shoveling helped me ­reduce a lot of the anger that I had.”

The relief DeSantis sought among the branches might be unique to him, but trees’ restorative effects are not. Research shows that stress levels, heart rate, muscle tension, asthma rates, and blood pressure all decrease in their presence.

The benefits of urban woods go beyond helping residents take the edge off. They trap pollution, absorb auto emissions, and cool scorching sidewalks. Baltimore’s cumulative 14,000 acres of canopy, for instance, ensnares in excess of 550,000 tons of carbon per year—offsetting 54 days’ worth of emissions from the city’s more than 600,000 residents.

Trees shade row homes in Baltimore’s Bolton Hill neighborhood. Jon Bilous / Alamy Stock Photo

Few amenities better reveal the overall vigor of a city than its canopy: the mix of trees that line streets, envelop parks, and shade homes. “They’re doing so much more to instill true health and wellness to a community,” says Dan Lambe, president of the Arbor Day Foundation, the country’s largest tree-planting nonprofit.

Yet despite those benefits, America’s metropolitan cover is shrinking. Data from the United States Forest Service shows a decrease of 36 million urban trees between 2009 and 2014, or 175,000 acres each year. Trunks are losing actual ground to the constructed infrastructure of cities—sidewalks, buildings, and parking lots—which is rising by more than 167,000 acres per year. “If ever there was a time to be planting trees, now is that time,” Lambe says.

Baltimore, despite its reputation as a gritty port town, runs counter to the trend. Its forest is growing by upwards of 5,000 new trees per year, largely in the dilapidated eastern and western neighborhoods that have become an icon of the bayside burg. Over the past four decades, by enlisting data and an active cadre of volunteers like DeSantis, community groups, and nonprofits, Charm City has become a standard-bearer for urban reforestation, and a model for what’s possible across the nation.

The teenage DeSantis hadn’t been back in Baltimore long when, one day in spring 1977, he spotted a group of four city workers turning soil beside a sidewalk to plant a tree. He offered to help. The crew said they couldn’t pay him, but he didn’t care: He just wanted to put a tree in the ground. DeSantis quickly learned the process bears little resemblance to the folk tale in which Johnny Appleseed sowed seeds as he strode through America’s countryside. “A lot of people think that trees are little seedlings,” DeSantis says. To ensure that their work will survive on the street, urban foresters plant adolescent specimens. Up to a couple of inches thick and rising from tangled balls of roots and dirt a foot or more in diameter, the saplings require holes at least twice the width and depth of their root ball.

Regardless, DeSantis found the undertaking soothing, and quickly fell into a routine. He’d call the parks department to find out when it would be planting, then walk or ride a bus to get there.

It turned out to be an early but important step into a life of service. The same day he planted his first tree, he’d also spent the morning delivering PB&Js to homeless people near the harbor. Today, he’s a live-in health aide for a 106-year-old woman, serves hot meals at a church-­sponsored employment center called Our Daily Bread, and bakes cookies for folks at the Karis Home shelter (his oatmeal raisin are especially good). He cites his Christian faith as his main motivation, but good works are also an attempt to ease his childhood traumas. “I try to get past that,” he says. “I mean, you can’t ever forget it.”

In his early years volunteering with the parks department, DeSantis often found himself trading dead elms for Japanese zelkovas. The late ’70s had marked the final years of a midcentury blight that killed more than 70 million elms, once the nation’s most abundant tree. Dutch elm disease, a beetle-borne fungal infection, had marched across the country over three decades. In Baltimore, withering greenery haunted formerly lush neighborhoods. “It was a massive loss,” recalls Gary Letteron, a veteran city forester.

The nation began to reckon with the idea that dead trees might mean more than just uglier cities. Congress allocated about $2 million to establish four urban forestry research bases, which opened in 1978 in Georgia, California, ­Illinois, and New York. “Dutch elm was one of the big things that awakened people,” says David Nowak, a leading USFS ­researcher who joined the service in the ’80s. If science could identify tree-dependent upsides for people and the towns they live in, arborists could make a clear case for protecting them against pests, disease, and development.

The effort springboarded a field of study quantifying the benefits of canopies. One report by the Environmental Protection Agency in the late ’70s definitively determined that greenspaces trap auto emissions. A look at mobile homes in central Pennsylvania by USFS researchers in the early ’80s showed that shade reduced summertime cooling energy needs by as much as 75 percent. An often-cited 1984 study found that hospital patients recovering from gallbladder surgery who could see trees out their windows healed faster and requested fewer pain medications than those left staring at brick walls. And, in ’89, Nowak, then a USFS scrub, did the first-ever citywide canopy assessment: Using sample data and a computer program he coded, he calculated that Oakland, California’s cover stored more than 160,700 tons of carbon.

Regardless of this evidence, most cities remained more concerned with economic development than trees. Average municipal spending on urban forestry fell steadily throughout the 1980s and 1990s, while high-rise skylines rose to support flourishing white-collar industries. Portland’s canopy coverage dropped from 42 percent to 27 percent in the 1990s. Between 1984 and 2002, 9,000 acres of vegetation disappeared in New York City. Baltimore was largely alone on a different trajectory.

In the early ’90s, DeSantis began digging holes for a new nonprofit, the Parks & People Foundation, which greened both Baltimore’s streets and its vacant lots. Founded in the mid-1980s by the late Sally Michel, an active civic volunteer, the organization was “part of a collective push to increase the tree canopy,” according to current president Lisa Schroeder.

We’re lost an average of 175,000 acres of urban trees each year from 2009 to 2014. Tobias Hutzler / Trunk Archive

This type of grassroots effort drew federal attention. In 1993, the Forest Service awarded the city $2.5 million for a program called Revitalizing Baltimore, tasked with planting more than 17,000 trees over 10 years. But even well-funded greening, Baltimore would quickly learn, requires a combined effort from city hall, nonprofits, and local businesses. Municipalities themselves manage only about 20 percent of canopied land.

Their realization would influence the landscape beyond Baltimore: It would also help map the support structures, resources, and collaborators necessary for other towns to expand and maintain urban canopies. “The mission was to develop a transferable model for community forestry,” city forester Letteron recalls.

As Revitalizing Baltimore learned to coordinate with multiple stakeholders, a separate initiative focused on getting the data Letteron and others needed to defend investment in trees. In 1998, the National Science Foundation bankrolled the Baltimore Ecosystem Study, the first long-term ecological-research survey in an urban area. The endeavor measured the city’s entire canopy and placed a value on its effect on factors including pollution removal and energy usage. The hard numbers that folks like Nowak gathered over the following decade helped prove why planting thousands of trunks is more than just an expensive beautification scheme. Baltimore’s trees, for instance, save city dwellers $3.3 million in climate-control costs each year.

These parallel efforts led to the creation, in 2006, of TreeBaltimore, the city’s official planting agency, dedicated to expanding the urban forest by working with communities and residents. “That was very likely a turning point,” says city arborist Erik Dihle.

The programs in Baltimore helped spur other innovations. Nowak and his forest-service colleagues used data from the mid-Atlantic city and other towns to develop software that would enable any burg to measure the effects of its tree canopy. Called i-Tree, the application, which debuted in 2006, uses a sampling method to count trunks, and attaches dollar values to demonstrate their worth in removing pollution and trapping carbon, as well as in reducing energy usage.

The data helps more municipalities make stronger cases for building out their own canopies. Atlanta used an early-stage precursor of the software to ink a policy requiring property owners to replace trees they cut down with same-size specimens. Starting in 2007, New York City tapped i-Tree data to undergird a $400 million, decade-long effort to plant 1 million trees; today, some 7 million trunks in the Big Apple absorb 1.2 million tons of carbon every year. In Philadelphia, which the EPA ordered to reduce its sewer overflows by 85 percent, the software showed planners that a $2.4 billion investment in new green infrastructure will absorb rainwater; the alternative is spending roughly $10 billion in updated subterranean pipes. “It takes time to get the information to people so they become educated,” Nowak says. “We’re into that trend now.”

In Baltimore’s Mount Vernon neighborhood, shade blankets a stretch of public parkland. Jon Bilous / Alamy Stock Photo

Despite his planting bona fides, DeSantis’ count is only a small piece of TreeBaltimore’s overall goal: to increase the city’s total canopy from 28 percent to 40 percent by 2037. They based their aim on a recommendation set in the late ’90s by national conservation nonprofit American Forests as the optimal tree cover for towns in forested states. (In grassy and desert climates, the targets are, respectively, 20 percent and 15 percent.)

Today, the Baltimore agency has even more incentive to meet that mark. The city is subject to a federal directive to reduce pollution runoff into the Chesapeake Bay. New trees can absorb stormwater that would otherwise flow along surfaces like asphalt and concrete, gathering contaminants before ending up in the iconic estuary. A single mature stalk, according to the USFS, can store more than 36,000 gallons of water a year.

These thirsty trunks, however, can’t just plunk down anywhere, so TreeBaltimore collaborates with some 60 local organizations to create a map that pinpoints where new roots can do the most good. A group interested in protecting the bay, for instance, can use the chart to see where impervious surfaces cause frequent flooding, and then target surrounding land for new trees. “You’re tying trees to the actual benefit that they’re providing,” says Charles Murphy, the office’s operations lead.

The chart also helps the group identify spots where more shade might benefit people. The traditionally redlined, segregated swaths of east and west Baltimore, for example, are severely lacking in greenspace, according to USFS data. Others, such as the luxuriant Roland Park in the north end, need only pruning and maintenance. “We don’t turn away people who want a tree,” Murphy explains, “but if we are targeting neighborhoods for ­larger-​scale planting, then we go to the map.”

Their ongoing efforts have tapped residents, especially DeSantis, for more and more help over the decades. Just before his next fall planting season gets underway, he’ll turn 58, marking 41 years since his first tree took root. In 2023, TreeBaltimore will put 2,000 new root balls into the ground, and its crew of community and nonprofit collaborators will add thousands more. Organizations will be looking for volunteers to dig those big holes. And, as always, DeSantis will be there, pick in hand, breathing in the fresh air.

This article was originally published in the Summer 2023 Make It Last issue of Popular Science.

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