Are you still using an Apple AirPort wireless router to create your home’s Wi-Fi network? If so, you are overdue for a replacement. Apple last’s major upgrade to their AirPort products was around 2012 when they introduced products that supported the fourth generation Wi-Fi protocols. Apple discontinued all AirPort products in April 2018. Not surprisingly, lots of improvements have occurred in Wi-Fi technologies since 2012, so you’d be much better served by replacing your aging AirPort Express, AirPort Extreme or AirPort Time Capsule. I suppose it could be a testament to the quality of Apple’s products that so many AirPort devices are still functioning and that they continue to receive the occasional firmware update from Apple.
In many circumstances, I tend to recommend replacing your AirPort Express or Extreme devices with Eero Pro devices, very often an Eero Pro 3-pack. Check out these other Tech Tips if you’re replacing an Airport Time Capsule or replacing an Airport Express.
I know you subscribe to my Tech Tips to get pearls of wisdom and nuggets of knowledge. Not this week. Here’s a fun and possibly educational video from Apple. Apple posts some interesting content on their Apple YouTube channel and on the Apple Support YouTube channel. In mid-November they released a cool video named Everyday Experiments. Get creative at home. At a minimum, I think you’d enjoying watching this 4 minute long video. Perhaps you’ll be inspired to try to replicate some of the photos or movies, or maybe you’ll just learn a some features of the iPhone’s camera that you weren’t aware of. Check it out.
Is your Mac’s hard drive getting full? Have you ever noticed that Apple designates some of your storage space as purgeable space? What is purgeable space? Apple introduced the concept of purgeable space in macOS 10.12 Sierra. If your Mac is using macOS Sierra or newer, you can easily see if it has so-called purgeable space. Click once on the Macintosh HD icon to select it. Click on the File menu, then select Get Info. Use the image below as a guide.
Did you know that you can bypass using your Mac’s Trash and simply delete a file immediately? Somehow I failed to learn that Apple added this feature in 2015 with OS X El Capitan (aka OS X 10.11).
Deleting a file is usually a two step process. First, move the file to the Trash, then empty the Trash. This two step process adds some safety. If deleting a file were a one-step process, this could increase the chance of accidentally deleting the wrong file. Now that Apple has provided a one-step process, please use it carefully. Read More from “Delete A File Immediately On Your Mac–Bypass Trash”
On November 30th Governor Inslee of Washington State announced the availability of WA Notify, a COVID exposure notification system. I encourage you to enable this feature on your iPhone using the instructions below. (If you or your friends have an Android-based phone then get the free WA Notify app from the Google Play Store.)
If you’re not familiar with COVID exposure notification apps, check out my previous Tech Tip about COVID exposure apps. If you have concerns about your privacy and how these apps work, you can read 9to5Mac’s detailed explanation about how privacy is maintained by these apps. Or, for a quick overview read Washington State’s page about how WA Notify works and maintains privacy.
Here’s how to enable COVID exposure notifications on your iPhone:
- Tap on Settings
- Scroll down to and tap on Exposure Notifications (This feature was added in iOS 13.5. If your iPhone doesn’t list this feature, consider upgrading.)
- Tap “Turn On Exposure Notifications”
- Select United States
- Select Washington
Once you’ve enabled this feature, if you change your mind you can tap on Turn Off Exposure Notifications. Or, if you test positive for COVID then you can tap Share a COVID-19 Diagnosis.
If you haven’t already removed Adobe Flash Player from your Mac, now is a great time to do this. Adobe Flash was once the primary format for animations and video clips on the Web, but Apple never permitted Flash on their iPhones and iPads. I believe this marked the start of the shift away from Adobe Flash player about 10 years ago.
Three years ago, in July 2017, Adobe announced that it would retire Flash Player. Flash’s retirement has arrived. Adobe will stop distributing and updating Adobe Flash as of December 31, 2020. Thus, since the middle of 2017, the writing has been on the wall for any web site developers who hadn’t already removed Flash from their website to do so now.
I removed Flash Player from my Mac about a year ago and I haven’t encountered any web sites that have required it since. Here’s a bit of guidance on how to remove Adobe Flash Player from your Mac. Read More from “It’s Time To Remove Adobe Flash From Your Mac”
On November 12, 2020, Apple released the next version of the Mac operating system (macOS). It’s name is macOS Big Sur. Like all major operating system upgrades, it’s prone to have some significant bugs and/or will make some of your older applications incompatible, so please hold off on installing this major upgrade for a while. If you’re a customer and you subscribe to my remote monitoring, maintenance and support service (RMMS), you don’t need to worry about accidentally installing macOS Big Sur since I’m able to remotely block this major upgrade from being installed on your Mac.
[Update May 2021: If you’re one of my RMMS clients, you’re now able to upgrade to macOS 11 Big Sur if you’d like. I have removed my blocking mechanism. Before you upgrade, please be aware of the significant changes Apple made to the user-interface and follow my suggestions in this article to try to proceed cautiously. ]
Do you use CrashPlan to backup your Mac? After migrating to a new Mac have you experienced CrashPlan giving the following error message?
Logged Out By Authority. Invalid Application State.
If so, here are general instructions on how to fix this problem.
Sign in to your account at CrashPlan’s web site.
Download the most current installer for CrashPlan.
Use the uninstaller application that’s provided with the installer to uninstall CrashPlan from your Mac.
Remove the CrashPlan folder and its contents, if they exist, from the two following locations: /Library/Application Support/ and ~/Library/Application Support/
Use the CrashPlan installer application to install CrashPlan.
Open CrashPlan. You should be prompted to go through the process of setting up the Mac as a new device or transferring from an existing device. Most likely, you want to transfer from an existing device. Follow the prompts to complete the process. You’ll likely be prompted to sign-in a couple of times as well.
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.
You could also check out Unsplash.com, a source of freely-usable images.
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”
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.
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”
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.
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.
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.
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. (Note: As of mid-2022 the price has increased to $70/year)
Here are some brief instructions that’ll hopefully get you started.
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.
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.
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”