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by Tom Nelson

The Apple refurb store posted a couple of price drops this week, mostly for the various models in the iPad lineup. But there were a few other price drops scattered around the store as well. So, if you’ve been monitoring a favorite product looking for a price drop, this may be the time to check it.

2014MacMini

Image courtesy of Apple

Deals of the Week

Our deals this week include two different desktop Macs, and in the Mac Accessories category, USB flash drives.

Our first deal is for a 2014 Mac mini with a 2.8 GHz Dual-Core i5, 8 GB of RAM, and a 1 TB Fusion drive. This is a nice configuration for a Mac mini, balancing cost and performance.

Up next is a 27-inch iMac with Retina Display. With a 3.2 GHz Quad-Core i5, 8 GB of user expandable RAM, and a 1 TB flash drive, this iMac is ready to perform for you out of the box, but you can also easily add more RAM to give it an extra performance boost.

Our last deal is for 32 GB USB 3 flash drives. You can never have too many flash drives kicking around, and these USB 3-based models provide a good deal more performance than the older USB 2 variety usually seen at discount prices.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

Enpass is a cross-platform password manager that works for Macs, Windows, Android, iOS, Blackberry, and Linux. Its strength is its ability to make your login information available to you no matter where you are or what type of device you’re using.

enpassitems

Image courtesy of Sinew Software Systems

Pro

  • Desktop versions of Enpass are free.
  • Browser extension allows Enpass to capture login data, as well as complete login data fields for you.
  • Uses Open Source SQLCipher 256-bit AES encryption engine.
  • Supports TOTP (Time-based One Time Password)
  • Doesn’t store your data on any Enpass servers.

Con

  • Mobile pro versions require a one-time fee.
  • Enpass for Mac comes in two different confusing versions.

Enpass from Sinew Software is a mostly free password manager for the Mac. I say mostly free because while the desktop version of the Enpass app is free, the mobile version is offered in a limited-use format for free, or in a pro version for a one-time fee of $9.99 per mobile platform.

We’re going to concentrate on the Mac desktop version, though I’ve been told that all of the desktop versions of Enpass have almost the same features.

Read more on About: Macs.

 Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

Since the release of macOS Sierra, Apple has included the ever-popular Siri digital assistant from iOS devices. Now Siri is waiting in the wings to be the assistant for us Mac users as well.

While Siri is included with macOS, it isn’t enabled by default, and requires you to make a small effort to turn the Siri service on. This makes sense for many reasons, including privacy and security.

siripreferencepane

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Security and Privacy With Siri

From a security perspective, Siri uses Apple’s cloud-based services to perform many of its basic functions. Many companies have explicit policies about the use of cloud-based services, specifically to prevent corporate secrets from ending up in the cloud, where the company has no control over them. Even if you don’t work for a company that’s concerned about secrets, you should be aware that Siri will be uploading data to the cloud to help it answer questions you may ask.

When you use Siri, the things you say are recorded and sent to Apple’s cloud platform, which then processes the request.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

The Mac has long had the ability to capture screenshots by pressing the command + shift + 3 keys (that’s the command key, plus the shift key, plus the number 3 from the top keyboard row, pressed together at the same time). This simple keyboard command captures an image of your entire screen.

mapsscreencaptureelement

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

The other commonly used keyboard combination for screenshots is command + shift + 4. This keyboard combination lets you draw a rectangle over the area you wish to capture.

There’s a third screenshot keyboard combo that’s often overlooked, yet it’s by far the most powerful. This keyboard combo lets you capture a screenshot of a particular window element. When you use this keyboard combo, each window element will be highlighted as you move your cursor over it. Click the mouse and you can capture just that element. The beauty of this method is that the captured image requires little or no cleanup.

As long as the window element is present when you press this keyboard combo, you can grab an image of it.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

We have quite a few Terminal tricks we like to share with Mac users. Most provide clearly functional improvements to using the Mac. But sometimes, it’s just time for a bit of fun; with that in mind, we give you the Say command.

“Say” is a Terminal command that will speak anything you type after the command. You can try it out by launching Terminal, located at /Applications/Utilities, and then typing or copy/pasting the examples given here.

terminal500x500

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

A simple example:

say hello

Will cause your Mac to speak the word hello.

You can also specify which voice your Mac should use when it speaks the say command by using the -v attribute. An example:

say -v fred hello

In this case, the voice named Fred will be used to speak the word hello.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

Some stock in the Mac App store is showing signs of running low. This is particularly true of the 2015 MacBook lineup, which is showing only the base model as available in all colors, and no stock at all of the high-end configuration.

Mac minis, as usual, are having stocking problems, and there are holes in the MacBook Air lineup, particularly the larger 13.3-inch models.

We’re expecting some new Mac models to be announced sometime in the fall, most likely a new MacBook Pro, but that rarely causes turmoil in the Mac refurb store. Perhaps we’re just seeing Mac models being pulled from the store to be provisioned with the brand new macOS Sierra, which will be released on the 20th of September.

2015macbookair

Image courtesy of Apple

Deals of the Week

Deals this week are for two of the popular portable Mac models, a MacBook Air and a MacBook Pro.

Let’s start with the 13.3-inch 2016 MacBook Air. This Mac is equipped with a 1.6 GHz i5 processor, 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB PCIe flash storage. As configurations go, this is pretty run of the mill, but it’s far from shabby and it has a great price associated with it, so scan down to the MacBook Air section for further details.

Up next is a 2015 13.3-inch MacBook Pro. The smaller of the MacBook Pro models still sports a Retina display and a fast 2.7 GHz i5 processor. You will find 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB PCIe-based flash storage system, all at a very nice price. You can find more details in the MacBook Pro section, below.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

App Tamer from St. Clair Software can take control of a wayward app that’s hogging CPU utilization and stop it in its tracks. Unlike Apple’s App Nap, which puts an app to sleep when its active window becomes covered by one or more windows, App Tamer can work to control both active foreground apps and apps that work in the background, such as Spotlight or Time Machine.

apptamer

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

App Tamer is an easy-to-use utility to help you control how your Mac utilizes its CPU resources and assigns them to the various running apps and services. Although App Tamer is a very easy app to use, it is by its nature an app for advanced Mac users, who have a good understanding of how apps interact to use processing resources, and how that affects other variables, such as battery runtime.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

Messages, as well as the earlier iChat messaging client that Messages replaced, has a unique feature that allows you to share your Mac desktop with a Messages or iChat friend. Screen sharing lets you show off your desktop or ask your friend for help with a problem you may be having. If you allow it, you can also let your friend take control of your Mac, which can very helpful if your friend is showing you how to use an app, a feature of OS X, or simply helping you troubleshoot a problem.

messagesscreensharing

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

This co-operative screen sharing is a great way to troubleshoot issues with a friend. It also provides a unique way for you to teach others how to use a Mac application. When you’re sharing someone’s screen, it’s just like you’re sitting down at his or her computer. You can take control and work with files, folders, and applications, anything that is available on the shared Mac’s system. You can also allow someone to share your screen.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

macOS Sierra will see its first public beta release in July of 2016, followed by a full release September 20, 2016. Along with giving the operating system a new name, Apple is adding a lot of new features to macOS Sierra. This isn’t just a simple update, or a bunch of security and bug fixes.

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Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Instead, macOS Sierra will add brand new features to the operating system, including the incorporation of Siri, expansion of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi based connectivity features, and a whole new file system that will replace the venerable but quite outdated HFS+ system that Macs have been using for the last 30 years.

When an operating system encompasses such a wide range of new features and capabilities there’s bound to be a few gotcha’s; in this case, the list of Macs that will support macOS Sierra will be trimmed back by quite a bit. This is the first time in five years that Apple has removed Mac models from the list of supported devices for a Mac OS.

The last time Apple dropped Mac models from the supported list was when OS X Lion was introduced. It required Macs to have a 64-bit processor, which left the original Intel Macs off the list.

Read more on About: Macs.

 It required Macs to have a 64-bit processor, which left the original Intel Macs off the list.

by Tom Nelson

Have you been wondering how to change the font size or icon size in the Apple Mail sidebar? How about the Finder sidebar; are its icons too small or too large?

If you find the font and icon size in the Mail or Finder sidebars a little too large, as it is for me, it’s easy to change it to one that’s a better fit for you.

sidebarsize

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Apple consolidated the size controls for the Mail and Finder sidebars in OS X Lion and later into a single location. This makes it easier to change the size, but it means you’re limited to a single choice for multiple applications.

While changing the size is simple, you now need to have both the Mail and Finder windows open, so you can see the effect of the changes you make. There’s a good chance that when the Finder sidebar’s text is big enough, the Mail sidebar’s text is too big. This may seem odd at first, since the two apps are using the same text and icon sizes, but the difference comes in the number of items you have in each app’s sidebar.

Read more on About: Macs.