Photo Op

Phishing attacks—

--that’s an email, text or call claiming to be from a trusted entity (like Apple or the IRS) that lures you into revealing personal information and/or logins--are rising rapidly, experts say, especially for Mac users. Some of the cleverest ones can use the REAL login pages of safe sites to steal your info. Your best defense is to learn how to spot them (and use an email provider like Gmail that flags most of them).

New Apple Stuff

On Tuesday, Apple announced new phones, watches, etc. Here’s our quick take.

Last week we warned you that Apple's major new Mac software update, MacOS Catalina, will kill off some older apps. We now know that it will launch sometime in October, so you have time to prepare. Major updates are coming sooner for your iPhone (iOS 13, 9/19) and newly separate iPad operating system (9/30).


The three new iPhones (11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, available 9/20) feature small improvements, especially for photography (improved low-light photos, wide shots, optical zoom). The Pro line even sports a third camera for ultrawide shots. They come in a bunch of new colors (mint green?!) so people can tell you bought a new phone.

Buying an iPhone? Three options:

  1. Not price sensitive and want the latest and greatest? Decide if the differences between the 11 and 11 Pro are worth an extra $300. If you go Pro, then choose which of the two sizes you prefer.

  2. Need a new phone but don’t want to break the bank? The excellent iPhone X is $100 cheaper than the 11 after a price drop, and even less if you buy refurbished.

  3. On a budget or not ready to give up the Home button? You can still buy an iPhone 8.

And before you trade in your old phone, weigh convenience vs cost: Apple makes it easy but typically gives you less value than some of the alternatives.

Need help? Drop us a line.

Apple Watch 5

Picture a darkened theater dotted with faintly glowing wrists. Performers everywhere must be appalled by the Apple Watch 5, because the display no longer turns off automatically—it just dims. But if you’ve ever struggled to see your progress during a workout or discreetly check a text message at dinner, you’ll love the new version. And they're getting cheaper. Available 9/20.

Mac Alert!

Things Will Be Different
Next Week

On Tuesday, Apple holds their annual dog-and-pony show to announce new stuff. (It’s entertaining, if you’re interested). In past years, we sent you the highlights shortly afterward, with a reminder not to rush into updates, to back up first, etc. . . . just in case. But---

This year will be differentfor two important reasons:

Apple is killing off old software
(Zap! Pow!)

You may have seen popup windows that say “[Some app] is not optimized for your Mac,” without much explanation. That’s because those older (“32-bit”) apps slow down your computer. (In-depth articlehere).

Apple’s been warning about this for quite a while, and the new Mac operating system,Catalina, will kill off those apps completely—not just Apple’s own apps, but the 2011 versions of Word, Excel, etc., some older Adobe apps, even some printer and scanner apps.

Let me repeat, to be crystal clear:Catalina may disable apps and devices that you use every day, so it’s essential to check and see what may affected BEFORE you do any updating. Here’s how.

Automatic Updates Might Be On

With Mojave, the operating system (the software that runs the whole computer) that came out last year, Apple changed the way updates happen on Macs; updates to Apps stayed in the App Store, but updates to the operating system itself got their own separate controls.

Those updates may be set to happen automatically. While it’s unlikely that your Mac will update from Mojave (the 2018 system) to Catalina (2019) without asking you,BE SAFE: turn off automatic updates, just for a couple weeks or so, until the bugs are worked out of Catalina and you have a chance to make sure you won’t lose any essential apps (see #1!). Here’s how.

And >>>set a reminder on your calendar to turn them back on,because you don’t want to avoid updates forever! While they may occasionally cause some disruption, updates overall make you safer and bring fun new features. The one I’m most looking forward to is the ability to use an iPad as a secondary monitor for your Mac; that’s a HUGE help, especially if your primary computer has a cute little screen.

That Syncing Feeling


Shoppers, start your engines

The retail juggernaut known as Amazon Prime Day is July 15 and 16. Tom’s Guide has some good advice here on making the most of it.


How to Save a Web Page PROPERLY (because you’re doing it wrong)

Because we keep seeing these messes on people’s computers, and it’s easy to do it the right way.

Firefox tutorial here, Chrome and Safari coming soon.

That syncing feeling

Are you using iCloud or OneDrive for your Documents and Desktop? There’s a small but real risk you should be aware of.

Cloud services like iCloud, Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox and the like are kind of miraculous; they allow us to automatically sync our data to the cloud, and access it on all our devices. And if your computer is short of disk space, they let you keep those things ONLY in the cloud. As fast-but-small SSD drives have become common on today’s computers, more people are relying on the cloud as PRIMARY storage for their stuff. And the big tech companies want you locked in to their services, so cloud sync is often turned on by default—you never chose it, but it’s on anyway. (If you see a little cloud symbol next to a file, it’s not actually present on your computer).

But what if something goes wrong? If you lose access to the account that has the sole copy of your documents, or years of family photos? It’s the data equivalent of a hurricane: a low probability, high-impact catastrophe. Even being diligent about backup won’t help, because your backup can’t make copies of stuff that isn’t “local” (on your computer).

There are various ways to address this, but if at all possible, try to keep a local copy of ALL your data on at least one computer or device, and make sure to back it up. Backblaze has a writeup on how to properly back up your data (for Mac or PC).

News You Might Have Missed

Microsoft is moving towards a world without passwords. . .Apple updated its laptop options, dropping some prices and eliminating the Macbook. If you’re shopping, AppleInsider has a useful price comparison page for Apple products here . . . Millions of Android devices were infected with malware. . .Zoom on Macs had a scary security flaw . . . As did the Walkie-Talkie app on Apple Watches.