Category: Techie Tips

4 Simple Apple Computer Maintenance Tips

Did you know that your computer needs some regular maintenance, just like your car?

Just like your car, your computer is a substantial financial investment and causes major inconvenience when it doesn’t run properly so it’s important to keep it in good shape. In both cases, you can learn how to do the maintenance yourself, or you can pay someone to take care of it for you.

If you don’t want to deal with it, I’ll be happy to take care of it for you…one time or on a monthly basis via remote connection.

I hope you find this information helpful and that you will forward to others so they can more fully enjoy the benefits of computer technology.

There are four simple maintenance tips that will help you keep your computer in tip-top shape and running at its best.:

Run Apple Disk Utility1) Run Disk Utility

Running Disk Utility every month or two is a good for: repairing permissions, and more importantly, verifying and repairing the hard drive.

Disk Utility is included on all Macs and found in the /Applications/Utilities folder, under the “First Aid” tab and can be run one after another.

Repairing permissions is a good procedure to run, especially after installing or uninstalling a lot of applications.

Repair Disk s probably the most important thing to do with Disk Utility. Be sure to run Verify Disk not only on the drive itself (physical drive name), but also the boot partition (Macintosh HD). If any errors are found, they’ll appear in red, and thankfully Disk Utility is usually more than capable of handling such repairs on it’s own.

The best way to repair the boot disk is to boot from the recovery partition by holding down Command+R and running Disk Utility from there. This will be necessary if bad blocks are found or if the drive is corrupt.

Mac Software Update2) Keep your Mac Software Updated

Keeping your software up to date is vital. Periodically run Software Update from the Apple menu, and periodically check the Mac App Store for updates of your apps too.

Updates contain bug fixes, feature enhancements, and security fixes. and it’s so easy to do there is no excuse not to.

Software Update will check for updates once a week by default, but the Mac App Store has to be manually checked for updates in OS X Lion.

With OS X Mountain Lion and newer, Software Update moves to the Mac App Store so this whole process will be automated for modern OS X users, including El Capitan, Yosemite, and Mavericks.

Mac Desktop Clutter3) Clean Off the Desktop

Having a lot of files on the desktop will actually slow down your computer because each file and its icon preview take up RAM and resources.

The less RAM you have the more you’ll notice the sluggishness resulting from a cluttered desktop.

It is more efficient to get in the habit of filing things into appropriate folders instead of on the desktop; but if you can’t be bothered to do that, just grab all the files and move them into the appropriate folders from time to time.

If you can’t remember to do it yourself, there are apps that will automatically clean it for you by moving files and folders to a designated place at a regular interval.

Set Up Time Machine4) Regularly Back Up Your Computer

Performing regular backups is essential for you to be able to quickly recover from potential disasters.

The simplest back up solution for Macs is Time Machine. You’ll need an external hard drive, but once you set up Time Machine, automatic backups occur without any effort.

If you haven’t set up Time Machine yet you really need to do so. Get a large external hard drive and configure Time Machine through System Preferences.  I’t’s easy to do and you’ll be very thankful you have a back up in the event of a hard drive failure.

You should also do a manual back up before allowing system software updates. I’t’s rare, but things can go wrong, and it’s best to be prepared.

“Listen to your Mother” and do your maintenance so you won’t have regrets later ; )

Enjoy!

To Sleep or Shut Down, That is the Question

When your computer is not in use, do you shut it down, put it to sleep, or just keep it turned on?

In working with clients, it’s come to my attention that many people don’t completely shut down their computers from time to time.  Letting your computer just go to sleep night after night can cause problems.  For the average user, I recommend shutting it down completely, at least once a week.  The same applies to mobile gadgets like tablets and phones.  (See below for more details.)

If any of your techie tools are acting a little weird and slowing down, they may just need a reboot (shutdown and restart).  Try rebooting and then call me if that doesn’t work.

I hope you have found this tip useful and that you will forward it to others so they too, can more fully enjoy the benefits of computer technology.

Pros and Cons

Putting It To Sleep   Computer in sleep mode

The advantage to putting it to sleep is that it provides the easiest and fastest way to resume work while minimizing wear and tear on the hardware. The computer goes to sleep instantly and when it wakes up, all of your open apps, documents, window arrangements, and web pages, are exactly where you left off with almost no delay. For average users who want to quickly get back to what they were doing, sleeping is perfect.

  • Pros: Quickly resume exactly where you left off; sleep and wake can be scheduled or even done remotely
  • Cons: Minor power consumption; system temp fluctuations, swap, and cache files don’t get cleared out during as during a reboot process; system updates requiring reboots don’t install automatically and need a manual reboot; performance is best for computers with 4GB RAM or more

If you use your computer every day, simply putting it to sleep when it’s not in use or overnight is probably the best choice. Just be sure to reboot every once in awhile to allow system software updates to install. Waiting for an operating system Update or Security Update is generally a sufficient time between reboots.

shutting down computer for updatesShutting It Down

Shutting it down isn’t necessary unless it’s going into a longer term state of inactivity or storage. Shutting down is slower because all the open applications and documents have to quit; and when you turn the machine back on, everything has to re-open again to get back to where you were prior to shutdown.

  • Pros: Saves power, doesn’t strain hardware; system temp, memory, swap, and cache files get cleared out during boot; allows for major system updates to install
  • Cons: Takes a while to boot up and resume previous activity

For the power conscious or for those trying to squeeze the absolute longest lifespan out of hardware and hard disks, shutting down when not in use is the best choice. This is also necessary if you’re going to put your computer in long term storage, won’t be using it for a longer than a few days, or you’re going to be traveling and not using it during the travel period.

Computer as a serverKeeping It Always Turned On

Leaving a computer constantly turned on is best reserved for computers that function as servers. On the plus side, you don’t have to bother resuming anything since it’s already on, you can schedule all maintenance and backup tasks to occur in the wee hours of system inactivity, and it allows for a server or media center to be running on the machine. The downside is the constant power consumption and the constantly active hardware, which can limit overall lifespans of the computer components.

  • Pros: No waiting for use; instantly resume all apps and tasks exactly where you left off; allows for servers to run with constant accessibility; backup and system maintenance tasks can be scheduled for off hours
  • Cons: Constant power consumption; more wear and tear on hard drives, fans, and physical hardware due to possible heat

For the casual user, it’s best to put it to sleep when it’s not in use.  It gives hard drives and fans a rest, and will generally lead to a longer lifespan of the computer.

See Your Computer on “The Big Screen”

Have you ever wished you could see your computer screen on a TV?  Would you like to see emails, web pages, photos slideshows, YouTube videos and movies on a big screen or display presentations for your business?

Well you can….and it can be pretty simple and inexpensive to set up.

The simplest method is Chromecast because you don’t have to know about ports and screen resolution settings.

chromeCast

A $35 Chromecast plugs into the TV and connects it to your Wi-Fi network. Then you can see video, images and pages from the Chrome web browser from any computer, smartphone or tablet that’s also on the network.  This is a very inexpensive solution and very easy to set up.  You can use Chromecast with a Mac too.  You will just need to use the chrome browser instead of Safari when connected to the TV.

If you want to see everything on your computer rather than just what’s shown in Google Chrome, you can do a direct connection.

DIRECT CONNECTION

There are four kinds of ports for direct connections.  HDMI, DisplayPort, DVI and VGA.

All newer TVs have HDMI, and that’s the one you ideally want to use because it supports HD (high definition).

Unfortunately, many computers don’t support HDMI

Computers that don’t have HDMI, will have either DVI or DisplayPort. If your computer has one of these, you can get an adapter to connect it to the HDMI port on your TV.

Inexpensive computers might have only VGA and it cannot do HD (high definition) images so you might want to use a better computer if you plan to stream movies online.

GETTING THE RESOLUTION RIGHT

Modern computers should be smart enough to figure out the right resolution, when you plug into a TV, especially if you’re using the HDMI port.

However, if you’re using an adapter or an older version of Windows, it might have to adjust the resolution.

Right-click on the computer desktop and select “Screen Resolution.” Select the TV and change the Resolution to 1920×1080 (unless you’re using a smaller or older TV, in which case it might be 1280×720).

You might be tempted to push the resolution higher, but don’t. Not only will it look terrible but a higher resolution actually makes everything on the screen look smaller.

video calls

PICKING A TV SIZE 

If you’re going to use a TV in a larger room, you want to make sure it’s easy to see. This handy chart will give you an idea of the size you’ll want based on the room length.

Distance Minimum size Maximum size
6 feet 24-inch screen 36-inch screen
8 feet 32-inch screen 48-inch screen
10 feet 40-inch screen 60-inch screen
12 feet 48-inch screen 72-inch screen

Even with a large TV, you might still have a hard time seeing smaller computer text from a distance. You can use CTRL + + (plus sign) in most programs to zoom in text and images. CTRL + – (minus sign) zooms back out, and CTRL + 0 (zero) resets the zoom. This is a great trick for watching on your regular computer monitor as well.

CONTROLLING THE COMPUTER

You can use a wired mouse and keyboard, but it’s more convenient to use a wireless mouse and keyboard so you can pass it around or give it to whomever is running a meeting in your office.

Be sure everyone knows how to turn off the mouse when it isn’t in use so you don’t waste the batteries. For business use, you might keep several on hand so you don’t have to interrupt a meeting to change batteries.

If you need help doing any of this, just call me for an appointment.  760-348-8867

If you have found this information helpful, please share it with others and encourage them to contact me to receive my Techie Tips on a regular basis.

Enjoy!

Mardi

Wait Until The Bugs Are Out!

With new technology, it’s best to wait until the bugs have been worked out…to wait until the “early adopters” have found the major problems and the company has had a chance to fix them.  We’ve seen this recently with the release of the iPhone 6 and the Apple watch. Now, Microsoft is offering PC users the opportunity to upgrade their operating system (OS) to Windows 10 for free and people may be wondering if that is a good idea. It’s not!

Microsoft’s wants it’s Windows 10 operating system to be installed on 1 billion devices within three years so it’s giving it away for free.  I doubt that this is going to be enough of an incentive for people to change. Even though Windows 10 will look very similar to Windows 8.1, people who use Windows 8.1 vividly remember how traumatic that change was, and will be hesitant to trust the new one. Windows 7 users are determined to avoid going through that.

People running Windows 7 or Windows 8, should already have had an invitation to “reserve” a copy of Windows 10.

If not, they can run Windows Update to see if any updates are available for their PC.  The one to they want is KB3035583.  This puts a small white Windows logo – the GWX, “Get Windows 10” app – in the system tray on the right hand side of the Taskbar.

Alternatively, they should be able to find the invitation by going to Windows Update in the Control Panel (via System and Security)

The point of “reserving” the upgrade

The point of reserving the upgrade is to allow Microsoft to download Windows 10 – probably 4GB or more – to PCs in the background over a period of time. It doesn’t want to download the code to 400 million PCs on the same day.   Even if someone reserves Windows 10 now, they may not be invited to install it for days or weeks after the official launch on July 29.

To cancel a reservation

Right-click on GWX, the white Windows icon on the Taskbar, select “Check your upgrade status” and then “Cancel reservation”.

How can People avoid Windows 10?

Nobody is forcing people to get Windows 10. If they don’t want it, they don’t have to reserve it or install it.

To remove the reminder, right-click on Start and select Properties. Next, go to the Taskbar tab, click the button that says “Customize …”, and find GWX, the Get Windows 10 app. The drop-down menu offers the option to “Hide icon and notifications”.

To go further, run Windows Update and click “View update history” to see all the updates installed. Look for KB3035583, select it, and then click to uninstall or change it. Windows will ask “Are you sure?” Just click “Yes”. It will never bother you again … unless you reinstall KB3035583.

Can they downgrade later if they don’t like it?

Microsoft aims to enable people to “roll back” to their old operating system, if required. However, I wouldn’t rely on this.  In any case, it would be wise to backup the old system before installing a new and use the option to create “recovery media” with the old system, so that they’re not totally dependent on the “roll back” working.  Remember, you, and you alone, are responsible for preserving your own data.

More details

The software which will begin rolling out July 29, will be offered as a free upgrade for all Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 PC and Tablet users.  (Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 operate 74.1 percent of all devices, according to NetMarketShare.)

Unlike Apple, who offers OS upgrades for free, the Windows free upgrade will only be available for one year…until July 29, 2016.

For those eligible for the free upgrade, the process will only grant you a comparable version of the software. If you had Windows 7 Home, you get Windows 10 Home. If you had Windows 8.1 Pro, you get Windows 10 Pro. For those who wish to upgrade from the Home edition to the Pro edition, a Windows 10 Pro Pack will cost $99.

Windows 10 will cost the same as its predecessor, Windows 8.  A copy of Windows 10 Home will run $119, while Windows 10 Pro will cost $199.  Copies of the software will be available online and in stores.  This option will be used by the minority of users who don’t have an eligible machine or wish to build their own computer and install Windows themselves.

Are you wondering if you should upgrade your OS?

There are major changes happening with computer and mobile gadget operating systems and it’s my mission to make it easy for you to keep up and enjoy the many benefits.

One of my clients received an email from Microsoft offering a free upgrade to Windows 10 and she wanted to know if I thought it would be better or worse than her Windows 8.1.
windows 10

I told her, that it’s too soon to tell.  I recommend that people wait until it has been on the market for at least a year to give them a chance to correct any problems.  There are always bugs and fixes that need to be done with any new software.

There are many improvements and some neat new features, but we’ll shall see….

If you are interested in knowing about the new features of Windows 10, Click here.

 Yosemite

Apple also has a new operating system for it’s computers. It’s been available for quite some time and Apple has issued several important updates.  It’s called OS X Yosemite and it has a lot of cool new features.  If you want to learn more about it click here.

Chromebook

I’m still really enjoying my Chromebook.  A Chromebook is a laptop of a different breed. Instead of Windows or Mac OS, Chromebooks run Google’s Chrome OS. These machines are designed to be used primarily while connected to the Internet, with most applications and documents living in the cloud and they are much less expensive than other computers.

If you are thinking about buying a new computer, smart phone or tablet, you might want to consult with me first. In my tutoring, I have the opportunity to play with many kinds of devices so I can give you some good information about their advantages and disadvantages.  I’m proud to say that many of my clients have saved a lot of money and avoided a lot of frustration by consulting with me before they purchased.
If you buy a new device, have me give you an orientation so you can get up and running quickly and easily. I read the owners manuals and take online classes so you don’t have to.  (“It’s a tough job but somebody has to do it.”  LOL)

If you found this information helpful, please share it.  

 

Enjoy!

Mardi

Now Offering – Remote Tutoring!

Now Offering – Remote Tutoring!

join.meI’m now offering remote tutoring on your computer or tablet for $50 hr.  

I had hoped to do smart phones and iPods too, but there isn’t an app for that yet.  For now, we can do your computers and tablets and there’s lots of fun things to learn on those.

It’s really easy!  You go to join.me, enter my code and join me for our meeting on your device.  I will be able to use your curser and show you how to do things. Then you can take “the Presenter role” and show me.  I will watch and coach as needed.  I think you will really enjoy it.  Call for an appointment today and try it.

Protect Your Printer Ink From Drying Up

Have you had issues with your printer ink dying up while you were on vacation or just because it’s so hot?

Recently, several of my clients have had issues with their printers not printing clearly because the ink has dried up so I thought it would be helpful to give you some tips on how to prevent this.

Storing and Handling Ink Cartridges

  • TrioKeep ink cartridges sealed in the original package until they are installed. Store at temperatures between -15 and 35 degrees Celsius (5 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit).

If you don’t print very often, run a test page or print a page of coloured print once in a while to keep the print head clear and the ink running.  

To keep cartridges from drying out while you are on vacation, always turn the printer off using the power button, and wait until the power light goes out before you pull the plug or turn off a power strip. This allows the printer to move the cartridges to a capped position.

If you remove a cartridge from the printer for any reason, try to replace it again as soon as possible. Outside of the printer, if unprotected, cartridges begin to dry out. If the printer uses separate ink cartridges and printhead, the printhead can be damaged if cartridges are not installed.

If you must store opened cartridges for any reason:

  • place them (nozzles up) in a plastic tub with an airtight lid.

    Image: Plastic tub with an airtight lid
  • Some cartridges have an orange cap that is twisted off to open. If these supplies have been opened, replace the orange cap before it is stored.

  • Place a damp cloth or paper in the tub.  Do not use plastic bags. Do not allow anything to touch the cartridge nozzles.

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