Use Canva For Your DIY Graphic Design Needs

Do you wish you had better design skills? Do you have occasional needs to design a flyer, Instagram post, video, logo, invitation, ticket, business card, or brochure? If so, check out Canva. I recently needed to make a flyer, and a friend recommended Canva since I have close to zero design skills. Canva offers both free and paid service plans. I was impressed by the wide variety of templates available. I could see it having great appeal for both individuals and small businesses who want to produce professional looking content without having to hire a graphic artist. If you’re interested in learning more, check out this review from BuildThis.io.

Make Sure You Enable “Find My” On Your iPhone Or iPad

This week’s Tech Tip is a cautionary tale. Please make sure you enable the Find My feature on your iPhone or iPad if you bought AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss protection. The Find My feature was originally called Find My iPhone, but Apple renamed it since it has been added to the Mac, Apple Watch, and other devices. I provide instructions below on how to enable this feature, but first, here’s why it’s important to enable this feature. Read More from “Make Sure You Enable “Find My” On Your iPhone Or iPad”

iCloud Backups Are Deleted After 180 Days

If you backup your iPhone or iPad to iCloud, this Tech Tip is for you. Backing up your iPhone or iPad is an important thing to do since it provides an easy way for you to transfer your information to a new iPhone if your current iPhone is lost, stolen, or dies. Thus, it’s important to know that Apple will delete old iPhone and iPad backups from the iCloud servers after 180 days if you disable or stop using iCloud backups.

Under most circumstances this 180 day limit won’t be an issue. As this Tidbits article points out, however, it could be a problem, and it’s disconcerting that Apple doesn’t alert or notify the user in any way. This is another reason why I recommend backing up your iPhone or iPad to both iCloud and your Mac. If you have a backup of your iPhone or iPad on your Mac, then you know that you control it. You can keep it as long as you need. I recommend automatic backups to iCloud and periodic backups to your Mac. Then, if you back up your Mac using Time Machine, those backups will contain periodic backups of the iPhone or iPad.

Update Your Zoom Application

Do you use Zoom? If so, you should be sure to update it regularly. Zoom’s popularity has skyrocketed due to all of the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. However, the Zoom application has a history of security and privacy issues. Thus, I strongly encourage you to regularly check for Zoom updates and install them if they’re available. If you care to read about the plethora of issues, please read this excellent Tidbits article which summarizes every Zoom security and privacy flaw as of April 2020.

Please follow these instructions to update the Zoom application on your Mac. Make sure to check for Zoom updates frequently. While the rate at which Zoom is updated may slow down in the future, Zoom was updated roughly 30 times between the middle of April 2020 and the end of June 2020.  Read More from “Update Your Zoom Application”

Extend Backblaze’s File Retention From 30 Days To 1 Year Or Forever

Do you use Backblaze to create an off-site backup of your Mac? If so, it’s important to know that by default, Backblaze only stores older versions of your files as well as recently deleted files for 30 days. A 30-day retention period may be sufficient for many, but some will want to extend this to either 1 year or forever. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about then please read Backblaze’s more detailed explanation about version history and file retention. If you’d like to increase your file retention then make sure you’re using version 7.0 or higher, login to your Backblaze account, and click the upgrade button that appears in the Overview section. Use the image below as a guide to locate the upgrade button. There you’ll see the costs for upgrading your file retention.

Backblaze Upgrade Version Retention
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COVID-19 Exposure Notification Apps For The iPhone

Are you familiar with COVID-19 exposure notifications apps for the iPhone? Many states and foreign countries are developing such applications. Here’s a brief introduction to what these apps are and how you can determine if your state or country has developed or is developing its own COVID-19 exposure notification app.

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Update Your AppleWatch Via Wi-Fi

Do you have an Apple Watch? Have you been inconvenienced by the fact that you need to use your iPhone to install watchOS updates onto your Apple Watch? Apple changed this with the introduction of watchOS 6 in the fall of 2019. You can now directly update software on the Apple Watch. You can use Apple’s support article to learn how to update your Apple Watch using your iPhone or directly.

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How To Set Up BackBlaze On Your Mac

Backblaze is an online backup application. I use it and recommend it for many residential clients. Some clients might prefer CrashPlan for Business, which is a competing online backup service I also use and recommend. In my experience Backblaze is a bit easier to setup and monitor. CrashPlan’s appeal is that it offers longer file retention capabilities, however it also costs more. This Cloudwards article provides a thorough comparison of Backblaze and CrashPlan.

To get started with Backblaze you can either buy a subscription using my referral link (so I get a free month of service) or try their 15-day free trial. A Personal subscription costs $60/year as of mid-2020 and provides unlimited storage space. Backblaze performs backups on a continuous basis.

Here are some brief instructions that’ll hopefully get you started.

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Reduce The Likelihood That Emails You Send Are Marked As Spam

Would you like to reduce the likelihood of having your emails marked as spam? Would you like to try to prevent others from being able to send emails using your email address? If so, you should add SPF and DKIM records to the DNS records for your domain name and consider enabling DMARC. It’s important to note that these suggestions only work if you use your own domain name such as SoundSupport.biz or YourCompanyName.com. My suggestions aren’t applicable if your email address ends with gmail.com, comcast.net, outlook.com, iCloud.com, etc.

This Tech Tip is the first in a series. Subsequent Tech Tips will talk about how to setup and validate your SPF, DKIM and DMARC records.

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Word For Mac Can Now Convert PDFs to Editable Word Documents

Do you use Microsoft Word on your Mac? Did you know that in October of 2019, Microsoft quietly enhanced Word so it can open PDF files, convert them to Word files, and edit them? Yes, that’s right, Word can now edit PDF files. This feature was added to Word 2019, specifically version 16.30. To determine which version of Word you’re using, please open Word, then click on the Word menu and select About Word. If you have an older version, consider upgrading.

Users have asked for the ability to edit PDFs for years. Previously, users could do some annotating of PDFs using Apple’s free Preview application, but to do serious editing one would need a more robust tool like PDFPen. So it’s pretty amazing that Microsoft quietly added this feature to Word. In my limited testing this feature works pretty well. Give it a try to see if it meets your needs. If not, please consider an application like PDFPen.

Granting BackBlaze Or CrashPlan Full Disk Access On Your Mac

Do you use either CrashPlan or Backblaze to backup your personal data files on your Mac? Starting with macOS Mojave (aka macOS 10.14), Apple implemented tighter privacy restrictions. Consequently, you now need to explicitly grant permissions to CrashPlan and Backblaze so these applications can access all of your files and folders on your Mac. Here are instructions on how to grant these permissions. Read More from “Granting BackBlaze Or CrashPlan Full Disk Access On Your Mac”

How To Add A Comcast IMAP Email Account To An iPhone

Here are instructions on how to add a Comcast account to an iPhone or iPad. Comcast, like most email providers offer a type of email account called IMAP. These instructions apply to any IMAP email accounts, not just Comcast. For simplicity, I’m going to write iPhone instead or iPhone or iPad, but the instructions are identical for an iPad.

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How To Add A Second Hard Drive to Time Machine

Do you use Time Machine to backup your Mac? There’s an adage that goes if it’s worth backing up once, it’s worth backing up twice. Thus, I backup my Mac to two different hard drives as well as backing up my data to the cloud using Backblaze. Here are instructions for configuring Time Machine to backup to two different hard drives. Read More from “How To Add A Second Hard Drive to Time Machine”

How To Add Exchange Email Account To Your Mac And iPhone

Do you have an Exchange email account? Many people think that they have to use Microsoft Outlook on their Mac to access an Exchange account. This is not true. Apple’s Mail application on both Macs and iPhones can be used instead. Here are setup instructions.

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Upgrade Backblaze 6 to Backblaze 7

Do you use Backblaze to backup your Mac? It’s a great way to create an off-site backup of your Mac’s data. When CrashPlan eliminated their backup service for home customers, I recommended that most of my residential customers switch to Backblaze.

In the fall of 2019, Backblaze version 7 was released. Backblaze tends to automatically upgrade itself, but for reasons I haven’t been able to identify Backblaze version 6 doesn’t seem to always upgrade itself to version 7. Here are instructions on how to manually upgrade your Mac to Backblaze version 7. Version 7 adds compatibility with macOS Catalina (aka macOS 10.15). For a little bit more money, it also adds the ability to increase the file retention feature from 30 days to unlimited. Read More from “Upgrade Backblaze 6 to Backblaze 7”

How To Disinfect Your Mac, iPhone or iPad

Years ago I wrote an article about cleaning your Mac or iPhone screen. Given concerns about COVID-19 and the flu, it’s useful to point out that Apple provides cleaning guidelines for all of your Apple products. In particular, Apple appears to have recently updated their article with guidance on how to disinfect your Apple products. If you’re the only person who uses and touches your device, you don’t need to disinfect it since you can’t catch a disease from yourself. But if you put your device onto unclean tables or other hard surfaces or you need to let others use your device(s), then Apple recommends using a Clorox Disinfecting Wipe or another wipe that contains at least 70 percent isopropyl alcohol. Be aware that these wipes can break down the oleophobic coating on iPhones and iPads. They could also negatively impact the coating on your Mac’s Retina display. Thus, you should only wipe the device gently. Also, be sure to avoid getting moisture in any of the openings in your device. To be extra safe, you should turn off your device while you’re cleaning it, then make sure the moisture has evaporated before you turn on the device. Apple points out that you should not use bleach on your Apple products.

How To Organize Screenshots & Reference Photos, Part 3

Part 1 & Part 2 of this photo organizing tutorial help you declutter your main photo library by neatly organizing valuable screenshots and reference photos into folders in the Notes app. When you separate informational images from precious photo memories, you begin streamlining your photo collection to what matters most. And as an added bonus, you find your saved reference material more easily.

Going forward, I recommend creating a new habit of saving all informational images directly to the Notes app. This will save you endless time and effort. In the future you won’t need to take time out to organize these types of photos and most importantly, you can quickly search for what you need.

Before I walk you through how to save new informational images directly to the Notes app, write down the total number of photos in your Photos app as well as the number of screenshots (hopefully, your screenshot count is zero). Then compare these numbers to when you began this photo organizing project — and celebrate your accomplishment!

This Tech Tip comes from Mirja Heide of RefreshFotos. Mirja specializes in digital photo management and training for Apple products and offers individual Q&A sessions and custom photo organizing programs. So whether you’re looking for training to organize your photos yourself, a guided program with coaching and training to help you accomplish your goals efficiently and in a timely manner, or a photo manager to complete the project for you, Mirja is delighted to help. She’s the founder of RefreshFotos, a tech consultant & instructor, an abstract photographer and a Certified Photo Manager with a serious passion for organizing and all things creative. Learn more at RefreshFotos.

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How To Organize Screenshots & Reference Photos, Part 2

In Part 1 of this 3-part tutorial, you began organizing your informational images by moving important screenshots to the Notes app and then deleting them from the Photos app. In Part 2, I’ll walk you through how to organize reference photos which include images of furniture, books, cars and clothing. Like with screenshots, remember to ask discerning questions to determine whether or not the reference photos are truly meaningful to you. Choose whether you’re going to work on your iPhone, iPad or Mac computer. Then move all valuable reference photos from the Photos app to the Notes app. Afterwards, delete the reference photos from the Photos app.

This Tech Tip comes from Mirja Heide of RefreshFotos. Mirja specializes in digital photo management and training for Apple products and offers individual Q&A sessions and custom photo organizing programs. So whether you’re looking for training to organize your photos yourself, a guided program with coaching and training to help you accomplish your goals efficiently and in a timely manner, or a photo manager to complete the project for you, Mirja is delighted to help. She’s the founder of RefreshFotos, a tech consultant & instructor, an abstract photographer and a Certified Photo Manager with a serious passion for organizing and all things creative. Learn more at RefreshFotos. Read More from “How To Organize Screenshots & Reference Photos, Part 2”

How To Organize Screenshots & Reference Photos, Part 1

In this three part series, I’d like to share a few methods for better managing screenshots and reference photos that don’t actually belong in your main photo library where you keep meaningful photos of family, friends, vacations, special events, artwork and creative projects.

Many photos and screenshots are informational…photos of books, recipes, products you like, things you want to remember and reference. There’s a better way to organize these types of images than mixing them in with your most precious photos. The key is to create a new habit of saving them to the Notes app on your iPhone/iPad. If you’re using iCloud, the notes will automatically sync to your Mac computer.

This new habit won’t require extra time — it will actually save you time and also help you find the information you need more easily.

I’ll begin with how to organize screenshots (Part 1) and reference photos (Part 2) already saved in your Photos app, then I’ll share how to save new informational images directly to the Notes app (Part 3).

This Tech Tip comes from Mirja Heide of RefreshFotos. Mirja specializes in digital photo management and training for Apple products and offers individual Q&A sessions and custom photo organizing programs. So whether you’re looking for training to organize your photos yourself, a guided program with coaching and training to help you accomplish your goals efficiently and in a timely manner, or a photo manager to complete the project for you, Mirja is delighted to help. She’s the founder of RefreshFotos, a tech consultant & instructor, an abstract photographer and a Certified Photo Manager with a serious passion for organizing and all things creative. Learn more at RefreshFotos.

Read More from “How To Organize Screenshots & Reference Photos, Part 1”