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There’s power in information | Mac Specs

Your Mac is your gateway to knowledge, productivity, and connecting to others. You may use it daily, or more sparsely if you prefer the likes of your iPhone and/or iPad. Regardless of your usage, there’s something all Mac users need to know how to get to:

The system’s information.

Finding this info is as easy as clicking the Apple logo in your upper-left-hand corner and choosing “About This Mac.”

The Apple menu's drop-down.
This is the Apple logo’s drop-down menu.

You will then be greeted with one of two windows, depending on the age of your system. Those running OS X 10.9 or 10.10, commonly known as “Mavericks” and “Yosemite,” will see the window below, whereas those on OS X 10.8 or earlier will see the second window.

"About This Mac" on newer Macs.
This will show for newer Mac users.
"About This Mac" for older Macs.
This will show for older Mac users.

This may seem like a topic that “the average user” need not entertain the thought of reading into. But, if you want to squeeze the most out of your investment, as well as decrease frustrations with slowness and unresponsiveness, seeing the system info is square one.

Both of the previous windows show the amount of memory your Mac has installed, which indicates it’s multi-tasking capabilities. If you’re running a Mac at 4GB of memory or less and are on (or want to be on) the newest operating system, “Yosemite,” we strongly recommend upgrading your system to at least 8 GB. To find out if your Mac qualifies, click here to fill out our memory upgrade form.

For newer systems, all the necessary information for the form will be in the “About This Mac” window. If you’re on OS X 10.8 or earlier, press the “More Info” button to open the “System Information” app and grab the model identifier.

Model identified and technical info!
There’s a lot of other technical info here as well.

If you’re on a newer Mac and want to get to the “System Information” app, press the “Apple” button, hold down the “Option” key on your keyboard, and choose “System Information.”

Option+click!
The alternate options while holding “Option.”

Use your “About This Mac” window to also see how much space is left on your hard drive.

The author's Mac showing low space.
Yikes! My Mac is running out of space!

Armed with this information, you know where to look to free up space. If you bog down your system’s storage too much, you may one day see the message below:

Something's not right...
Oh no! What did I break?!

By this point, your system is crawling, certain apps aren’t functioning the way they should, and some things just flat out won’t save. Why? Simply put, you’ve got too many files on your Mac. You resolve this by moving files to an external storage device- but, in most cases, the culprits are large files you didn’t even realize are there. Simply deleting them will free up space. To see how large a document, photo, song, video, or folder is, select it and press “Command+I” on your keyboard.

(To become a wiz with keyboard shortcuts, check out our blog post on them!)

I wonder if this is a problem...
Wow: half my drive is music.

So take the tools you’ve learned in this post and go explore your Mac’s info! You’ll be surprised by what you learn. If you’re thirsty for more knowledge about your Apple devices, click here to purchase training time with me. I am the resident Apple trainer here at Start On Technology.

We look forward to boosting your Mac’s speeds, and I look forward to enhancing your understanding of your computer!

Apple, Apple Store, and Macintosh are registered trademarks of Apple, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Keyboard Shortcuts

Have you ever seen someone use a computer with such speed that you wonder, “What the heck are they doing?” Things just seem to happen magically, as the windows open and close, text automatically appears, and text becomes formatted. All without using the mouse or trackpad, for your MacBook wielders.

Today’s blog post is here to pull back the veil and reveal the truth: keyboard shortcuts.

Example A:

CommandDoes the above symbol look familiar? If you’re a Mac user, you can see the “Command” key, along with its clover-like emblem, on either side of the space bar. Most keyboard shortcuts start by pressing this key and then pressing — while continuing to hold “Command” — another key. For those of you coming from the world of Microsoft’s Windows platform, “Control” was the key that performed this function.

Think you might of seen this symbol somewhere else? If you’ve ever clicked any section in your Mac’s menu bar, which is hard not to do, it’s been hiding in plain sight in one of the drop down menus.

Example B:

Screenshot 2015-04-02 11.25.21

Each one of the options shown in this screenshot is supplemented by keyboard shortcut, shown to the right. Once your done looking at the “File” section, move on to the “Edit” section to see its shortcuts as well. There are some additional symbols that you likely won’t recognize, as they aren’t given an overt description, nor do they have their symbols printed on the keys.

Example C:

SYM

 

Some of the keyboard shortcuts are universal, meaning that they can be used and relied upon no matter which app you’re doing. The app-specific keyboard shortcuts is where the convenience of CheatSheet really comes into play. Here’s a quick list of universal shortcuts:

  • Command Q = quit app (only exception is the Finder)
  • Command W = close window
  • Command A = select all
  • Command S = save current document/page
  • Command Z = undo (Shift Command Z = redo)
  • Command X = cut
  • Command C = copy
  • Command V = paste
  • Command P = print
  • Command B = bold
  • Command I = italics
  • Command U = underline

Try some of them out for yourself! We recommend compiling a best-of list and keeping it close at hand for reference. After some time of use, you may be surprised to see that you need to reference your cheat sheet less and less as muscle memory takes over.

You can customize and see what shortcuts are available by navigating to System Preferences and looking under the Keyboard section.

If after reading this you’re pumped up about really optimizing your workflow but still need some assistance, we offer Personal Mac Training. We can train remotely, as well as onsite (if you’re located in South Florida).

Now take those keyboard shortcuts and start on streamlining your workflow!

Apple, Apple Store, and Macintosh are registered trademarks of Apple, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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Mac Spring Cleaning

mac-spring-cleaning

Spring is here! Celebrate the vernal equinox with us by taking some time to clean up your Mac. Our guide will provide some places to start your Mac spring cleaning along with some great, free and paid tools. Typically the Mac handles optimization on-the-fly and most maintenance is done in the background. You have probably noticed during installation of new software a point where it is “Optimizing” during the end of the installation. Still from time to time Applications can not operate as expected, so try some quick solutions first.

Have you tried turning it off and on again?

The ol’ trusty restart can in some cases be a good place to start when an application isn’t performing up-to-par. Sometimes it’s as easy as quitting and re-opening the problem application. It’s always a good idea to do a backup and save work before trying any troubleshooting. Rarely but in some circumstances, shutting down or restarting can make matters worse, especially if you’re not prepared with a backup. Typically this only emerges when your Mac is running slow as molasses signaling a possible drive failure or file system problem.

My friend said permission repairs fix everything.

Another great thing about your Mac is it comes with tools built-in called Utilities to help you out. Seasoned Mac users know about these tools found under the Go menu in Finder. One gem application in particular is Disk Utility.

It gives you details about the health and space of your hard drives and allows you to fix application access issues and check your file structure. Sometimes an application doesn’t work correctly because it’s trying to access something that the operating system (OS) is prohibiting due to access issues. That’s what choosing your boot drive, typically named “Macintosh HD,” on the left side and choosing Repair Permissions can do. It only really helps when your apps aren’t working as expected. It’s far from a magic fix-all, but it can help troubleshoot an issue. Don’t be surprised if running the permission repair multiple times yields the same messages. It’s almost never something to be alarmed about, but informative to developers to update their app. Verification of the Disk can warn you about a more serious issue, and it will take a chunk of time suspending use of the Mac.

Some others worth checking out in the utility folder are Console, Activity Monitor, and Keychain. Activity Monitor and Console can give you insight into what is happening in the moment. Sometimes you can see what app is messing up, but often it’s hard for even professionals to decode. The Keychain can help with password issues, but be warned you could end up resetting a ton of passwords if you mess up the keychain. It’s better to check it’s health in preferences and make a backup before touching the individual items listed.

I’ll try a PRAM reset after I clear Cache. That always seems to fix it.

Cache lives on your Mac to help speed things up. Sometimes an application is reading the cache instead of what you want it to do. Clearing this forces everything from the application down to the kernel (lowest-level) to stop relying on bad information found in the cache. Clearing your cache folder found in ~/Library/ and /Library/ can help ( The “~” means your home folder in which the hidden Library lives). The system folder also has it’s own version, but wiping any of  these out can cause problems (This is why it’s hidden). There are programs that can help out which you can read about in the next section.

Another classic recommendation is resetting the PRAM. Typically this does nothing more than make your Mac chime twice during boot, but even seasoned professionals try this one almost immediately out of habit. However, newer Macs don’t rely on this as heavily as before. You could lose important log files and make unintended changes by doing this action and clearing your NVRAM (non-volatile RAM). This only seems to help with booting issues and devices plugged into your post, so please learn more about this on Apple’s support site before jumping the gun: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204063

Automate it with the __________ application.

These days most home users and professionals have an endless amount of Mac apps available via the App Store or online, which is where the uneducated user can fubar everything with only a few clicks and a password. Anytime you give your password while installing or running an application you better either know what the app is or why it needs that password. Otherwise you could be willingly installing malware (bad stuff that can spy on you and/or infect your Mac). You may be thinking your saving yourself a trip to the Apple Store or to your local Apple Consultant or Apple Service Provider, but you could end up shooting yourself in the foot. That’s why when my tooth hurts I don’t get a hammer, screwdriver, and pliers to fix it myself, but instead I call my Dental Professional. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying some floss in this example couldn’t save me a trip, but I need to exhaust what I know to do before getting help. Below are some great free applications to help give you ideas, but use with caution and understand these programs can wreck everything and ruin your day if not used properly (like using a knife incorrectly):

  • Time Machine (built-in) can help create a backup for you beforehand. If you proceed in life without a backup, you will loose data at some point in life I promise. Alternatively you can pay us for a great inexpensive, easy solution called Backblaze.  Not bad to have two backups running just in case.
  • Disk Inventory X can give you a nice graph showing how much data you filled up on your Mac. Always good to keep at a minimum 10% of your total space free and available.
  • Onyx can help force maintenance and automate some of the items we discussed. It’s important to get the correct version and use a beta version with caution.
  • Hazel can help you manage your downloads folder if it’s out of control.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment your own suggestions or contact us for help.

Apple, Apple Store, and Macintosh are registered trademarks of Apple, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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OS X Training: $20 off for a limited time

os-x-training

“I just shelled out thousands of dollars on my new Mac and it’s supposed to be so easy to use OS X!  Why am I finding myself struggling with some of the most basic things?  I always have to contact a friend or family member to help me along, but they have no patience with the speed it takes me to learn things. What do I do?”

Fear not- we’re here for you!  As of November, we are now offering courses on OS X Training for Yosemite, Mavericks, and more. Whether you need a visit to your home or office*, or training via a remote connection to your computer, we’re on it.  In addition, we can create digital presentations to teach to a larger group, whether in a seminar or webinar.

Needless to say, knowledge and a basic understanding of the technology you interface with on a daily basis is crucial.  Without it, your efficiency decreases, sometimes severely.  In fact, we think it’s so important that up until the end of 2014, our current hourly rate is $100 for training- a $20 discount off of our normal rate!

Give us a buzz today and see what exercising your technological brain can do to your productivity.  You may be surprised!

 *Onsite service is available within a 50 mile radius of Miami at no additional charge. Travel outside that area will incur travel charges.
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Daylite 4 Review

daylite 4 review

When Marketcircle announced, Daylite 4 a thorough redesign of Daylite, its popular Mac and iOS CRM solution software, it promised to address a number of issues users encountered in previous incarnations. That is not to say Daylite 3 was a faulty tool; in fact, it was a powerful one that I would personally recommend to clients. What Marketcircle has achieved is a more user-friendly interface that promises to enlarge its circle of users by requiring less training to use properly. Here is our Daylite 4 Review.

daylite 4 review

The learning curves for previous versions of Daylite have always been high, which turned off some potential users and prevented others from being able to use the software to its fullest extent. Daylite 4 has successfully made things easier. Its new interface is more synonymous with the Mac brand, known for being streamlined, clean, and attractive. Right when you log on, you’ll be able to see notes, memos, and information regarding upcoming appointments or deadlines. By scrolling over these homescreen icons, you’ll be awarded more detailed information, eliminating the need to open multiple tabs just to make a few changes.

daylite 4 review

Another of the enhanced features Daylite 4 offers is an updated version of its calendar system. Now, users can import and control their personal and family calendars within the system. This makes it easier to schedule appointments without double booking due to a wedding or birthday, or some other event unrelated to your business. Calendars are also now able to link with more information and, as I can’t stress enough, in a more user-friendly fashion.

daylite 4 review

Speaking of linking, longtime Daylite users will know the advantages this system has always offered. Daylite 4 takes the idea a step further, allowing for a more intuitive use of the linking system and including additional types of information that can be linked to one another. These include accounts, appointments, notes, contact information, etc.

daylite 4 review

Daylite 4 has just as many enhancements under the hood as it does in its interface. Included CalDAV and CardDAV servers allow Daylite accounts to link to portable and handheld devices like the iPhone. That means you can have our loveable Siri book or update appointments straight into Daylite. This is just another example of how useful linking a piece of software to the iCloud can be.

Marketcircle has come up with an excellent package in this latest software version. If you’re running a business on your own or have up to about 50 employees, Daylite 4 will keep you organized and on track. Though this is a more user-friendly version, there is still a learning curve, so don’t expect to get it all down right away. If you have any questions on how to operate Daylite 4 – from installation to advanced usage – feel free to contact us at Start On Technology. We’re happy to help.