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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Enabling FileVault On Your Mac

One of the best ways to protect the files on your Mac is to enable FileVault. It is a feature of the Mac operating system (macOS) which performs on-the-fly encryption and decryption of all of your personal files when you save them and open them again. The beauty of FileVault is that this encryption and decryption occurs behind the scenes. All you have to do is enable it. Your interaction with your Mac won’t change. You’ll have the added protection without having to do anything differently. In the event that your Mac is stolen, a thief won’t be able to access your files. FileVault provides much more protection than merely using a password on your user account. Read More from “Enabling FileVault On Your Mac”

Determining Your Hard Drive’s Fullness

Since a very full hard drive can produce unwanted and erratic behaviors on a Mac, I typically recommend keeping at least 10% of your hard drive’s capacity available. In other words, you want your internal storage to be less than 90% full.

Determining the fullness of your Mac’s hard drive is not as easy as it used to be. For many years, one could click on the Apple menu, select About This Mac, click the Storage button and see a summary of their Mac’s hard drive fullness. This summary no longer provides the full picture since it doesn’t mention purgeable space. Instead, it’s better to use the Get Info command to determine the fullness of one’s hard drive.

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Meaning Of Weak Security Warning On iPhone Or iPad

Apple added a new alert in iOS 14. Your iPhone or iPad will alert you if your wireless (Wi-Fi) network is using weak security. To elaborate, this alert means that your Wi-Fi router is using an older encryption technology to protect the information flowing to and from all of the devices connected to your Wi-Fi network. The warning looks like the one shown below.

Wifi weak security warning







More specifically, your iPhone or iPad will display this alert if your Wi-Fi router is using any of the following outdated encryption technologies: WEP, WPA, or WPA2 (TKIP). Currently, only WPA2 (AES) and WPA3 are considered secure.  Read More from “Meaning Of Weak Security Warning On iPhone Or iPad”

Recycling Appliances In Seattle

Do you live in the greater Seattle area and have any large or small appliances that you’d like to recycle? Check out Friendly Earth. Previously, I’ve written a half dozen or more articles about how to recycle various items in the Seattle area. To the best of my knowledge, none of the groups that I’ve mentioned recycle large and small appliances. I recently had a need for this. Fortunately, a client pointed me towards Friendly Earth. Here’s a full list of what they do and don’t accept. I was very interested to learn that they recycle all of the following:

Appliances (Large & Small)
Calculators and Adding Machines
Dishwashers/Trash Compactors
Washing Machines