Protect Your Hidden and Recently Deleted Albums in Photos

Private and Confidential

Photos has long provided a hidden album you could use to hold images you wanted to keep a little more private. Until this year, however, it was security through obscurity: anyone who knew to reveal the album in Settings > Photos on an iPhone or iPad or by choosing View > Show Hidden Album on the Mac could see its contents. Now you can protect it—and the Recently Deleted album—with Face ID or Touch ID on an iPhone or iPad, or Touch ID or your password on a Mac. You can enable this feature in iOS 16 or iPadOS 16 using Settings > Photos > Use Face ID/Touch ID; in macOS 13 Ventura, choose Photos > Settings > General and select “Use Touch ID or password.” From then on, opening those albums will require authentication.

(Featured image by iStock.com/Kenishirotie)

Master The Photos App On Your iPhone

Master The Photos App on Your iPhone

Do you use the Photos app on your iPhone? Would you like to feel more comfortable using it? If so, check out Mirja Heide’s four week class at Edmonds College. Thursdays February 16th — March 9th from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM. Cost is $99. Register with Edmonds College Continuing Education.

This is a hands-on course. You will have the opportunity to organize your digital photos using your iPhone during class as well as between classes via take-home assignments. Class handouts with step-by-step instructions will be provided.

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Apple Released New Mac mini and MacBook Pros With M2 Chips

M2 Mac mini

With a handful of press releases buttressed by a 19-minute video, Apple unveiled its new M2 Pro and M2 Max chips and announced updated Mac mini and MacBook Pro models that rely on the new chips. There are no significant design or feature changes with these updated models, just faster performance, enhanced external display support, and support for the latest wireless connectivity standards. The new Mac mini and MacBook Pro models are available to order now, with units in stores and orders starting to arrive on January 24th.

Then, in another surprise announcement, Apple announced the second-generation HomePod, which updates the full-size smart speaker with a few new features and likely makes it more cost-effective to produce.

New M2 Mac mini and M2 Pro Mac Broaden the Appeal

For many years, the Mac mini has been popular for its small size, low price, and decent performance, bolstered in 2020 by a move from Intel CPUs to Apple’s M1 chip. Apple has now increased the Mac mini’s power even more by letting users choose between the M2 and the new M2 Pro. How much more? It depends greatly on what you’re doing, and Apple offers some comparisons. The improvements will likely be noticeable with the M2 and obvious with the M2 Pro.

The M2 Mac mini starts at $599—$100 less than the starting price for the M1 Mac mini—and provides an 8-core CPU and 10-core GPU with unified memory configurations of 8 GB, 16 GB (add $200), or 24 GB ($400). In terms of storage, the base level is 256 GB, but you can increase that to 512 GB ($200), 1 TB ($400), or 2 TB ($800). It provides only two Thunderbolt 4 ports.

The M2 Pro Mac mini starts at $1299 for a 10-core CPU and 16-core GPU, but you can bump that up to an M2 Pro with a 12-core CPU and 19-core GPU for $300. You also get 16 GB of unified memory and 512 GB of storage for that base price. 32 GB of memory costs $400 more, and storage upgrades are 1 TB ($200), 2 TB ($600), 4 TB ($1200), and 8 TB ($2400). It offers more connectivity with four Thunderbolt 4 ports. Note that as you configure a powerful M2 Mac mini, you’ll be straying into Mac Studio territory in terms of both price and performance.

Both Mac mini models boast enhanced external display support. Read the tech specs for full details, but in essence, along with multiple monitor support over Thunderbolt, the HDMI port on an M2 Pro Mac mini supports either an 8K display or a 4K display running at a faster refresh rate, which might be a boon in video-focused fields. Other improvements that may be welcome in specific setups include the option to add 10 Gigabit Ethernet for $100, support for Wi-Fi 6E (which can improve throughput over short distances with a new router), and Bluetooth 5.3.

The updated Mac mini replaces both the M1 Mac mini and the Intel-based Mac mini that Apple had left in the lineup until now.

It probably won’t be long before Apple releases an M2 24-inch iMac, too. We know that some are pining for a 27-inch iMac with Apple silicon, and we’ll just have to wait to see if Apple returns to that form factor with either an iMac or iMac Pro. We can also expect M2 versions of the Mac Studio at some point, but we’ll have to wait for Apple to come out with an M2 Ultra chip if it’s to maintain the same lineup as today’s M1 family.

M2 Pro and M2 Max Speed Up 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro

Since their October 2021 release, Apple’s professional laptops, the 14-inch MacBook Pro and 16-inch MacBook Pro, have provided impressive processing power thanks to their M1 Pro and M1 Max chips. Apple has now switched to the new M2 Pro and M2 Max chips, and the company says that both offer 20% more CPU performance, 30% more GPU performance, and 40% more Neural Engine performance than their predecessors. As with the Mac mini, the updated MacBook Pro models also feature enhanced external display support (see the tech specs for full details), Wi-Fi 6E, and Bluetooth 5.3. Finally, Apple estimates they’ll have an hour more battery life.

The 14-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1999 for an M2 Pro with a 10-core CPU and 16-core GPU, 16 GB of memory, and 512 GB of storage. Chip upgrades include the 12/19-core (CPU/GPU) M2 Pro ($300), the 12/30 M2 Max ($500), and the 12/38 M2 Max ($700). With memory, the M2 Pro configurations can upgrade to 32 GB ($400), whereas the M2 Max configurations start at 32 GB and let you go to 64 GB ($400) or 96 GB ($800, with the 12/38 M2 Max only).

The 16-inch MacBook Pro costs $2499 for an M2 Pro with a 12-core CPU and 19-core GPU, 16 GB of memory, and 512 GB of storage. Chip upgrades include the 12/30 M2 Max ($200) and the 12/38 M2 Max ($400). Memory is the same as with the 14-inch MacBook Pro, so the M2 Pro configuration can upgrade to 32 GB ($400), and the M2 Max configurations start at 32 GB and let you go to 64 GB ($400) or 96 GB ($800, with the 12/38 M2 Max only).

Given that these new MacBook Pro models provide more performance and battery life for the same prices as before, their release is entirely positive. If you were waiting for an M2 Pro or M2 Max laptop, now’s the time to place an order.

Apple Brings Back the Full-Size HomePod

Apple released the original HomePod in 2018, but even after dropping the price from $349 to $299, sales weren’t strong enough thanks to competition from much cheaper smart speakers from Amazon and Google. Apple discontinued the HomePod in 2021 and focused on the $99 HomePod mini. Now Apple has brought the full-size HomePod back, introducing a second-generation HomePod with a few extra features and the same $299 price. You can order it now in white or midnight, which replaces space gray, and it ships on February 3rd.

The new HomePod supports spatial audio with Dolby Atmos for music and video, which should enhance the listening experience. For those getting into home automation, it includes a sensor for temperature and humidity, and you’ll be able to use the Home app to create automations to control blinds, fans, and thermostats. It also supports the new Matter home automation standard. Finally, Apple says that a software update in a few months will add Sound Recognition, which will let the HomePod alert you if it hears smoke or carbon monoxide alarms. Wouldn’t you like to know if an alarm is going off while you’re away from home?

One note. You can use two HomePods to create a stereo pair, but both HomePods must be the same model. So you can’t pair an original HomePod with a second-generation HomePod or mix an HomePod mini with either one.

The main question, which we won’t be able to answer until the second-generation HomePod ships, is if it sounds as good as the original HomePod and hears Siri commands as well. That’s a question because Apple redesigned the HomePod’s audio hardware to use fewer tweeters and microphones. Plus, it relies on the S7 chip that powers the Apple Watch Series 7, as opposed to the A8 that first appeared in the iPhone 6. In short, it seems that Apple has worked to cut costs to enable the necessary profit margins. Given that Amazon’s hardware division reportedly lost $10 billion in 2022 by selling Echo smart speakers at cost, Apple’s move seems sensible, at least as long as it doesn’t hurt the HomePod user experience.

(Featured image by Apple)

How 1Password Is Designed To Keep Your Data Safe, Even In The Event Of A Breach

In the wake of LastPass’ security incident in December 2022, clients have asked me how vulnerable their 1Password password vaults would be, if the vault were stolen. The short answer is that the vault would be very secure. For more details please check out 1Password’s recent blog post about how 1Password protects your data. Additionally, check out 1Password’s article about their security model.

Upgrade Past macOS 10.15 Catalina to Keep Getting Microsoft Office Updates

Microsoft Software Update

We aren’t quite ready to recommend that everyone upgrade to macOS 13 Ventura, but if you use Microsoft Office with macOS 10.15 Catalina, you should start planning for an upgrade. Microsoft has announced that current versions of its productivity suite—Office for Mac 2019, Office for Mac 2021, and Microsoft 365—will receive updates only if your Mac is running macOS 11 Big Sur, macOS 12 Monterey, or macOS 13 Ventura. If you keep using Catalina, your Office apps will continue to work, but they won’t receive enhancements, bug fixes, or security updates past October’s 16.66 updates. Contact us if you have questions about appropriate upgrade paths.

(Featured image based on an original by iStock.com/jewhyte)

LastPass Security Breach: Here’s What to Do

LastPass data breach

Do you use LastPass‘ password manager? If so, here’s what you need to know about the two recent data breaches. Password management company LastPass has announced that it suffered a security breach in which attackers stole both unencrypted customer account data (which is bad) and customer vaults containing encrypted usernames and passwords (which is much, much worse). On the positive side, the data of users who abided by LastPass’s defaults and created master passwords of at least 12 characters in length will likely resist cracking attempts. 

Although 1Password is the most popular password manager for Apple users, and it’s the one that we use and recommend, LastPass is an alternative. Here’s what happened and how LastPass users should react. For those who don’t use LastPass, we also discuss ways your organization can improve its online security by learning from LastPass’s mistakes and misfortunes.

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Organize Your Photos Class

Organize Your Photos Course

Are your digital photos a mess? Do you feel overwhelmed when you think about trying to organize them? Do you spend too much time looking for specific images? Do you wonder if your photos are backed up? If you answered “yes” to these questions, then consider this 4-week digital photo organizing class being taught by Mirja Heide at Edmonds College. The class costs $99. It is every Thursday from 6:00-8:00 PM from September 29th – October 20th.

In this hands-on class you’ll use the Photos application on your Mac computer. You’ll learn how to consolidate your photos and videos into one main photo collection, remove duplicates, utilize tools and methods for curating images, and keep your photo library organized. 

This class covers essential tools, tips and shortcuts you can apply immediately. You will have the opportunity to organize your digital photos using your Mac computer during class as well as between classes via take-home assignments. Class handouts with step-by-step instructions will be provided.

If you can’t make this in-person class don’t fret. Mirja periodically offers online photo organizing classes. For a list of her in-person and online classes, check out Mirja’s Classes and Workshops page.

Find Your Cursor Using Simple Mouse Locator

Simple Mouse Locator

Have you ever struggled to find your Mac’s cursor? Do you have a really large monitor or multiple monitors? If so, it’s easy to lose track of your cursor. Here are two ways to help you locate it.

Starting with OS X 10.11 El Capitan, in 2015, the Mac operating system (macOS) will temporarily increase the size of your cursor if you quickly wiggle your mouse back and forth. If your Mac has a trackpad, then wiggle your finger back and forth on the trackpad. The enlarged cursor should make it easier for your eyes to find it. This feature should be on by default on your Mac. If not, use the directions in one of the following two articles to turn it on. Use HowToGeek’s article if your Mac is using macOS 11 Big Sur or newer. Use OS X Daily’s article if your Mac is using macOS 10.15 Catalina or older.

Alternatively, consider buying Simple Mouse Locator. As of late 2022, the price was a few dollars. This application puts a colored ring around the cursor to help your eyes locate it. You can configure when the ring is displayed and for how long. You can also turn on the ring permanently.

Learn To Use The Photos App On Your Mac

Online Photo Organizing Classes via Zoom

Do you use the Photos app on your Mac? Would you like to feel more comfortable using it? If so, consider joining Mirja Heide, a professional photo organizer, for one of her hour-long Wednesday Workout classes this summer. Learn more about Mirja at Refresh Fotos. She is offering 4 Zoom classes on Wednesdays in June, July and August. Each class costs $35. Pre-registration is required. If you’re unable to attend the Zoom classes live, you should still register since class recordings can be watched for up to 10 days after the class.

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How To View Passwords Saved in Safari

View Safari Saved Passwords

Do you use Safari on your Mac? Do you let Safari save some of your web site passwords? Did you know that you can view a list of all saved passwords as well as the passwords themselves? Use these instructions to learn how to view web site login passwords saved by Safari in your Mac’s keychain.

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How To Show Battery Percentage On Your Mac

macOS Menu Bar

Have you upgraded your Mac to macOS 11 Big Sur or a newer version of the Mac operating system (macOS)? One of the many new features is that the Menu Bar can be customized more significantly than before. While I appreciate this capability, Apple actually made it harder to add the battery percentage to the menu bar.

In previous version of the Mac operating system (macOS), one could simply click on the battery icon in menu bar and select Show Percent from the menu that appears.

In Big Sur and newer versions of the Mac operating system (macOS), it’s more complicated. Here are instructions that let you re-add the battery’s charge percentage to the Menu Bar.

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How To Remove A Hard Drive From Time Machine

Remove Drive From Time Machine

Do you use Time Machine to backup your Mac? Is Time Machine configured to backup to one or more hard drives? Has one of your backup hard drives died? If so, you want to remove that drive from Time Machine’s configurations. If you don’t remove it then Time Machine will repeatedly remind you that you haven’t backed up to that particular drive in many days.

Here are instructions for removing a hard drive from Time Machine’s configuration.

  1. Click on the Apple Menu, select System Preferences.
  2. Click on the Time Machine icon.
  3. Hold down the Control key on your keyboard as you click on the icon for the drive that you want to remove from Time Machine. Use the image above as a guide.
  4. Select Stop using <hard drive’s name> for Backup
  5. Click the red dot in the upper left-hand corner to close the Time Machine window.

Here are some other, related Tech Tips.

Learn how to add a second hard drive to your Time Machine configuration.

Learn how to configure Time Machine to use a new hard drive.

Add Your COVID Vaccine Record To Your iPhone Wallet

COVD-19 vaccine

Would you like to be able to easily locate and display your COVID vaccine record? If you live in Washington state, you can visit this DOH (Department of Health) web page to download your COVID-19 vaccine record and store it in the Wallet app on your iPhone.

When you visit that DOH page, you’ll be asked to enter a few personal details. If the automated system can find your records, it will send you a text message containing a link to view a copy of your vaccine record. You then have three choices:

  • Save the record as a jpeg image in the Downloads folder of the Files app
  • Save it to the Wallet app on your iPhone
  • You could even print the record on paper!

Here’s some guidance on how to save it to the Wallet app. While viewing one’s vaccine record at the DOH website, tap on the button named “Works with Apple Health”. Then click the button named “Add to Wallet & Health”.

Save COVID-19 vaccine records to Apple Health

Once you’ve put your vaccine record in the Wallet you can easily access it on your iPhone. When your iPhone is asleep you can double press the button on the right side of your iPhone which opens the Wallet, then tap on your red Vaccination Card.

Trade-in Your Apple Devices For An Apple Gift Card

Apple Gift Card

Do you have some older Apple products, like an iPad, iPhone, Mac or Apple Watch that you no longer use? If so, you can send them to Apple and get either a credit towards a future purchase or an Apple Gift Card. When I learned this recently, it was news to me. For years, Apple has allowed you to trade-in your older Mac, or older iPad when you purchase a new Mac, iPhone or iPad, but I wasn’t aware that they had expanded this program.

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Upgrade Backblaze 7 to BackBlaze 8

Do you use Backblaze to backup your Mac? It’s a great way to create an off-site backup of your Mac’s data.

In September 2021, Backblaze version 8 was released. Backblaze tends to automatically upgrade itself, but for reasons I haven’t been able to identify, Backblaze version 7 doesn’t seem to always upgrade itself to version 8. Here are instructions on how to manually upgrade your Mac to Backblaze version 8. Version 8 requires OS X 10.9 Mavericks or higher, including macOS 11 Big Sur.

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Are You Prepared To Have Your iPad or iPhone Stolen?

Find My iPad lock and erase features

A client recently had his iPad stolen, but he was prepared because he had the Find My feature enabled and he was backing up his iPad to iCloud. Do you have these features enabled?  These features are useful whether you get your iPad back or not. If you don’t get your iPad back then the Find My feature can be used to lock and/or erase your iPad, and the iCloud backup can be used to restore your apps, data and accounts onto a new iPad. If you do get your iPad back the Find My feature might have helped you locate it and the iCloud Backup feature can be used to restore your apps, data and accounts if you erased your iPad as a precaution.

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