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Archive for July, 2016

by Tom Nelson

It’s the summer of miracles as the Mac refurb store remains well stocked with plenty of quality Mac products to choose from. This week, I’ve selected two deals for those looking for mid-tier performance, one of the better performance levels to shop for, as the overall value for this type of Mac is one of the best going.

2014MacMini

Image courtesy of Apple

Deals of the Week

Our first deal is for the ever-popular 15-inch MacBook Pro. This 2015 model comes equipped with 16 GB of RAM and a speedy 256 GB PCIe flash drive.

I like this MacBook Pro not only because of the larger 15-inch Retina display, but also because of the more than adequate RAM, and the very desirable flash-based storage system that gives the Mac a nice kick in the bandwidth when booting up or launching and using apps.

The second deal this week is for a 2014 Mac mini. This mini is outfitted with 8 GB of RAM and a 1 TB Fusion drive. Though not as fast as the MacBook Pro’s flash drive, the Fusion drive does offer considerably more storage space. And it offers this nice level of performance at almost half the cost of our first deal.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

Zen Pinball 2 is an advanced pinball game engine that turns a Mac into an old-time pinball machine. No quarters are required to play, but subtle wrist action and quick fingers will be helpful. Through the use of very realistic ball physics, gameplay seems very natural, without the usual hiccups and delays often seen as complex interactions and events are calculated. Instead, Zen Pinball 2 produces smooth, natural gameplay that will keep you engrossed for hours.

ZenPinball2

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Zen Pinball 2 is listed in the Mac App Store as free. Like many free apps, Zen Pinball 2 can be expanded through in-game purchases, but it takes the high road; the Sorcerer’s Lair table doesn’t require any additional purchases to complete it. This upfront method is refreshing, unlike those that try to hide in-app purchases needed to advance in or finish a so-called “free” game.

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by Tom Nelson & Mary F. O’Connor

Bookmarks are an easy way to both keep track of your favorite sites and mark interesting sites for later, when you might have more time to spend exploring them.

The problem with bookmarks is that they can easily get out of hand. One way to get and keep them under control is to store them in folders. Of course, the process is easier if you set up folders before you start saving bookmarks, but it’s never too late to get organized.

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Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

The Safari Sidebar

The easiest way to manage your bookmarks is through the Safari sidebar (sometimes referred to as the bookmarks editor). To access the Safari sidebar:

  • Click the Bookmarks menu and select Show Bookmarks. If you’re using an older version of Safari, the menu item may say Show All Bookmarks.
  • An alternative method to reveal the Safari sidebar is to use the Sidebar button in the Safari toolbar. It looks a little like an open book.

With the Safari Sidebar open, you can add, edit, and delete bookmarks, as well as add or delete folders or subfolders.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

Moving your Apple Mail to a new Mac, or to a new, clean install of the OS, may seem like a difficult task but it actually only requires saving three items and moving them to the new destination.

There are a few ways to perform the move. By far the easiest, and the most often suggested method is to use Apple’s Migration Assistant. This method works well in most cases, but there’s one drawback to the Migration Assistant.

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Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Its approach is mostly all-or-nothing when it comes to moving data. You can select some basic categories, such as applications or user data, or just support files, and most of the time it works fine.

Where you can run into problems is when there’s something wrong with your Mac. You’re not sure what it is, maybe a corrupt preference file or a system component that’s a little whacky, and causes problems now and then. The last thing you want to do is copy a bad file to your new Mac or new install of OS X. But starting over completely doesn’t make sense, either. You may have years of data stored on your Mac. While some of it may be fluff, other pieces of information are important enough to keep on hand.

While it may be easy to recreate your mail accounts on a new system, it’s not easy to start off fresh, with none of your older email available, your Mail rules gone, and Mail always asking for passwords that you may have long since forgotten.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

Mac startup problems can take many forms, but stalling at the gray screen can be one of the most troublesome, because there are so many possible causes. In addition, there are many Mac issues that get mistaken for the gray screen startup problem.

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Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

It’s not always a gray screen, as strange as that may sound. The “gray screen” problem can also manifest itself as a black screen; actually, a screen so dark you may mistake the display as being powered off. This is especially true of Macs with built-in Retina displays, such as the Retina iMac models that don’t have a power on indicator.

We call the startup issue the gray screen problem because historically, the display would turn gray during the startup phase when the problem struck. Nowadays, with the more recent Retina iMacs, you’re more likely to see just a black or very dark display instead. Even so, we’ll continue to call this the gray screen problem, as that is the name that is most well known.

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by Tom Nelson

Safari, Apple’s popular web browser, has a lot going for it. It’s easy to use, fast, and versatile, and it adheres to web standards. It does, however, have one slightly annoying feature, or should I say it lacks a feature: a convenient way to import and export bookmarks.

safaribookmarksmenu_281x246

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Yes, there are ‘Import Bookmarks’ and ‘Export Bookmarks’ options in the Safari File menu. But if you have ever used these Import or Export options, you probably didn’t get what you expected. The Import option brings your bookmarks into Safari as a folder full of bookmarks that can’t actually be accessed from the Bookmarks menu or from the Bookmarks Bar. Instead, you have to open the Bookmarks manager, sort though the imported bookmarks, and manually put them where you want them.

If you want to avoid this tedium, and be able to back up and restore your Safari bookmarks without the import/export and sorting hassle, you can. Likewise, this method of directly manipulating Safari’s bookmark file will allow you to move your Safari bookmarks to a new Mac, or take your Safari bookmarks with you wherever you go and use them on an available Mac.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

I found a few favorites in the Mac refurb store this week, and needless to say, they will make up our deals this week. We’ll get to the deals in a moment, but first, a few observations about the store.

Stock has been on an uptick, with quite a lot to choose from. This seems like the opposite of what I usually see in the refurb store during the summer. Instead of the cupboards being bare, the store is overflowing with stock.

This means the refurb store is going to be a great place to pick up a new Mac, especially for those heading off to school in the late summer. Pay particular attention to MacBook Pros this summer. At some point, it’s expected that Apple will introduce a new 2016 model, which could cause a slight price cut in the 2015 MacBook Pros in stock. So, be sure to watch this space for any info on new models and price reductions. If new models appear before students head back to school, I expect there will be a run in the store, so be prepared to act fast.

2015macbookair

Image courtesy of Apple

Deals of the Week

This week’s deals start with the smaller of the MacBook Air models. Equipped with 8 GB of RAM and a fast SSD, it’s a good choice for those who need good performance, but won’t be filling up the smallish PCIe flash drive.

Up next is a current generation MacBook Pro, nicely configured with 16 GB of RAM and a decent size PCIe flash drive. You also get the wonderful Retina display with this model.

Our next deal is for a Mac mini with a 1 TB Fusion drive and 8 GB of RAM. This is a pretty nice configuration that’s quite versatile and would work as a home or small office Mac, or even for a student who would like a desktop Mac instead of a portable model.

The last deal this week is for a slightly older 2014 27-inch Retina iMac. I like this iMac configuration because of the Quad-Core i7 processor running at 4.0 GHz, and the versatile 1 TB Fusion drive. Of course, I also like the fact that you can pick up one of the fastest Macs available for under $2,000.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

Wunderlist is a to-do list and task manager that can easily keep track of all the tasks and chores you have before you in your busy life. With Wunderlist apps available for just about any device, including MacsiOS devicesAndroid, Windows, Kindle Fire, and of course, directly on the web, you can keep track of your tasks, as well as edit and update them from just about anywhere.

Wunderlist

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Wunderlist was just recently acquired by Microsoft, which can be a good or bad thing, depending on your point of view. And no, I don’t mean to say that being bought up by Microsoft is bad, only that when any large company buys a smaller one, there’s a chance that the smaller company was purchased for specific technology or patents, and that its current products won’t live on.

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by Tom Nelson

In all the operating systems running on all of the computers in the world, there is likely nothing easier than performing an upgrade install of macOS Sierra on a Mac. While not quite push-a-button-and-go, it comes close.

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Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

So, you may be wondering why there’s a need for a step-by-step guide to performing an upgrade install of macOS Sierra. The answer is a simple one. Readers like to know in advance what to expect from the macOS Sierra install process, and, since the name for the Mac operating system has changed, whether that also means there are any new requirements for the install.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

The Apple iMac is a superb desktop computer that combines the power of the latest Intel i5 or i7 core processor with your choice of a 21.5-inch or 27-inch display, plus a large helping of Apple’s well-deserved reputation for style. The result is a gorgeous, all-in-one desktop Mac that has been setting industry trends since its debut in 1998.

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Image courtesy of Apple

Every all-in-one computer requires at least a few tradeoffs. Before you decide that an iMac would look stunning on your desk, let’s take a closer look at some of the tradeoffs and see whether an iMac is a good fit for your needs.

Read more on About: Macs.

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