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by Tom Nelson

iCloud, Apple’s solution to cloud-based storage and syncing, includes a free web-based email account that you can access from any Mac, Windows, or iOS device via the iCloud web site.

While it’s nice to have web-based email access when out and about, to tell you the truth, I’d much rather access the iCloud mail system from a standard desktop application than the web. I already have a couple of email accounts set up in Apple Mail; why would I want to open a web browser and log in to iCloud just to check one more email account?

iCloudMail

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

The answer is, I wouldn’t. I want Apple Mail to check iCloud when I check the rest of my email accounts.

Fortunately, Apple thought this was a good idea, too, so you don’t have to jump through a bunch of hoops to get it working. You just have to do things in the correct order; otherwise, you’ll probably be left scratching your head and directing under-your-breath oaths in the direction of Cupertino.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

Macs are in good supply at the Mac refurb store. It’s a bit unusual to go this long without one Mac model or another disappearing from the shelves. I guess we should be thankful, but don’t be surprised if the store starts getting low on some stock; it happens every summer.

imac-retina5K

Image courtesy of Apple

Deals of the Week

This week, let’s kick off the deals with a 2014 model of the 27-inch iMac. This iMac is equipped with top-of-the-line 4.0 GHz i7 processors, a beautiful Retina display, a 1 TB Fusion drive, and 8 GB of RAM, all at a price below $2,000.

Our second deal is for the mobile Mac user looking for a powerful computing platform at a discount price. A 2014 15.4-inch MacBook Pro fits that bill, especially when it’s equipped with a 2.5 GHz i7 processor, 16 GB RAM, and 512 GB PCIe flash storage. Just like our first deal, it comes in near the $2,000 mark; this time, just slightly on the high side.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

Hazel from Noodlesoft brings Finder automation to the Mac. Think of Hazel as the incarnation of Apple’s Mail rules, but for working with files and folders on your Mac.

HazelFolders

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Hazel can rename files, move them about, change tags, archive or unarchive files; the list goes on. What’s important to know is that if you would like to automate a workflow involving the Finder or the trash, Hazel can probably do it.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

Google Drive is a cloud-based storage system that is currently available for Macs, PCs, iOS, and Android devices. Google Drive allows you to store and share data using Google’s cloud storage system.

GoogleDriveFolder

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Once you install it on your Mac, Google Drive appears to be just another folder. You can copy data to it, organize it with subfolders, and delete items from it. Any item you place in the Goggle Drive folder is copied to Google’s cloud storage system, allowing you to access the data from any supported device.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

Apple routinely releases updates to OS X that are available through the Software Update process or the Mac App store, depending on the version of OS X you are using. These software updates, available from the Apple menu, usually provide the simplest method for ensuring your Mac’s operating system is kept up to date. They can also cause problems, particularly if your Mac should freeze, lose power, or otherwise prevent the update from completing.

OSXElCapitanDock

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

When this occurs, you end up with a corrupt system update, which may manifest itself as simple instability: occasional freezes or the system or applications locking up. In the worst-case scenario, you may have problems booting, forcing you to consider reinstalling the OS.

Another problem is related to OS X’s incremental approach to updates.

Since Software Update only downloads and installs system files that need to be updated, you can end up with some files being out of date with respect to other system files. This can result in infrequent system or application freezes, or the inability of an application to launch.

Although the Software Update problem is infrequent, and most Mac users will never see it, if you’re having some unexplained issues with your Mac, the Software Update problem could be the culprit. Eliminating it as a possibility is very easy to do.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

If you use email to share images (and let’s face it, who doesn’t), then you probably drag an image from the Finder, or from within the Photos or iPhoto app, to the email message you’re writing. And while the drag-and-drop method works fine, especially if the image you want to share is just stored loosely in the Finder, there’s a better way.

PhotoBrowser

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Apple’s Mail app includes a built-in Photo Browser that you can use to look through your Aperture, Photos, or iPhoto libraries.

You can then easily select the image you wish to share, and add it to your message with just a click.

Using the Mail Photo Browser is a lot easier than opening Aperture, Photos, or iPhoto, and then dragging an image to the Mail app. It also has the added advantage of not taking up system resources just to launch one of the photo applications.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

You’ve spent a long time building up your Contacts list, so why aren’t you backing it up? Sure, Apple’s Time Machine will back up your Contacts list, but it’s not easy to restore just your Contacts data from a Time Machine backup.

AddressBook

Image courtesy of Apple

Thankfully, there’s a simple solution, although the method and nomenclature changed a bit with the different versions of OS X. The method I’m going to describe will allow you to copy the Contacts list into a single file that you can easily move to another Mac or use as a backup.

There are other methods for keeping current Contacts data on multiple Macs or in multiple locations that involve syncing the contacts list with various services, such as Apple’s iCloud. Syncing will work fine, but this method can work for everyone, even those who have no services or devices with which to sync data.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

If you use Apple’s iCal or Calendar application, then you probably have a multitude of calendars and events to track. Do you maintain a backup of this important data? Time Machine doesn’t count. Sure, Apple’s Time Machine will back up your calendars, but restoring just your Calendar data from a Time Machine backup is not a simple process.

iCalLion

Image courtesy of Apple

Luckily, Apple provides a simple solution to save your iCal or Calendar, which you can then use as backups, or as an easy way to move your calendar data to another Mac, perhaps the new iMac you just purchased.

The method I will describe allows you to save all of your Calendar data into a single archive file. By using this method, you can back up or move all of your iCal or Calendar data, regardless of how many calendars you have set up or are subscribed to, into one single file. Now that’s the easy way to back up!

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

The ability to grab it and go is one of the main attractions of the Mac portable lineup, which includes the MacBookMacBook Pro, and MacBook Air.

We routinely take our MacBook Pro with us on trips. We also use it around the house and in our home office for various tasks. Sitting on a sun-dappled deck with a laptop is a nice change from working in an office environment.

Getting the most out of a portable Mac is a bit different than getting the most out of a desktop Mac. The OS is the same, but with a portable, you must learn to manage battery performance.

This series of guides explains the various ways to manage energy usage on a MacBook, MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air. By using the right energy management settings, and keeping a keen eye on your Mac’s battery gauge, you can extend the battery runtime so you don’t have to recharge or shut down your Mac before you’re finished working (or playing).

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

The Mac refurb store is nicely stocked this week, with good prices on current generation Macs. With the store fully stocked, it took a bit longer than usual to find our deals this week; there was just so much from which to choose.

iMac27Retina2015

Image courtesy of Apple

Deals of the Week

Let’s start with a low-cost 2014 Mac mini deal, coming in at $849.00. I like this mini configuration because it comes with a 1 TB Fusion drive, for much better drive performance than the standard hard drives in the less-expensive offerings, as well as 8 GB of RAM, which I consider the minimum for a Mac nowadays.

Stepping up in price is a 2015 27-inch Retina iMac at only $1,669.00. You can find them a bit less expensive in the refurb store, but not with these features. Once again, I like to see either Fusion drives or an SSD as a baseline configuration for all Macs. There’s also the minimum 8 GB of RAM, but if you need more, this iMac has user-replaceable RAM, so you can upgrade the memory anytime you like.

Our final deal is for a 2015 15.4-inch MacBook Pro for $2,119.00. While certainly not the least expensive MacBook Pro available, it justifies the price with dual graphics and a 512 GB SSD for storage. This MacBook Pro has plenty of oomph behind it.

Read more on About: Macs.

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