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Archive for October, 2016

by Tom Nelson

The new MacBook Pro models Apple introduced last week did have an effect on refurb pricing. A few models of the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pros saw a price drop, although not a substantial one.

As you can imagine, the two MacBook Pro models with new, lower prices are our deals of the week.

2014macbookprofamily

Image courtesy of Apple

Deals of the Week

Let’s start with the 13.3-inch MacBook Pro equipped with a 2.9 GHz i5 processor and 512 GB PCIe flash storage. Last week, this Mac was offered at $1,529.00; this week it can be had for $1,439.00.

Our second deal is for the 15-inch MacBook Pro complete with a 2.8 GHz Quad-Core i7 processor, 16 GB RAM, and 1 TB PCIe flash storage. It also comes equipped with dual graphics cards. Last week, this Mac model sold for $2,719.00; this week, the price dropped to $2,629.00.

You can find more details about the deals of the week further on in the Mac model listings.

Don’t forget that for any Mac you buy, you should consider an external drive for backup and additional storage, if you need it.

Read more on Lifewire: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

You’ve just dashed off a reply to an important email message. When you hit the ‘Send’ button, you discover that it’s dimmed, which means you can’t send your message. Mail was working fine yesterday; what went wrong?

smtpsettings

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

A dimmed ‘Send’ button in Apple Mail means there isn’t a correctly configured outgoing mail server (SMTP) associated with the Mail account. This can happen for a number of reasons but the two most likely are that the mail service you use made changes to its settings and you need to update your settings, or your Mail preference file is outdated, corrupt, or has the wrong file permissions associated with it.

Read more on Lifewire: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

October is typically an important month in Mac history. It marked the first release of the Mac PowerBook models in 1991 and this October it marked a fundamental change in the portable Mac lineup: the introduction of the new MacBook Pro in 13-inch and 15-inch models, sporting the new Touch Bar and Touch ID.

macbookprotouchbar

Image courtesy of Apple

The new MacBook Pros have some amazing new features, but they’re also shaking up the entire MacBook product line.

Gone is the 11-inch MacBook Air, leaving the 12-inch MacBook as the smallest of the MacBooks when measured by screen size. The MacBook Air 13-inch remains in the lineup, but only as a low-cost entry point into the portable Mac family.

Read more on Lifewire: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

When you turn on your Mac, it should display a gray screen as it searches for your startup drive. Once the drive is detected, you will see a blue screen as your Mac loads the boot information from your startup drive and then displays the desktop.

Some Mac users won’t actually see a blue or gray screen. With the advent of Retina displays and extended color spaces that the Mac now supports, the old blue and gray screens can appear much darker, almost black on Macs that have built-in displays, making it harder to discern which color the screen is.

If you’re using an external display, you should still be able to notice the difference between the gray and blue screens. We’re going to call the screen colors by their old, classic names, although for some Mac users, the difference will be very difficult to detect as the screens will just look either nearly black or black.

Regardless of the display type your Mac is using, that’s the normal chain of events, gray then blue, and something most of us don’t even think about. When I start my Mac each morning, I push the power button, then head to the kitchen to make coffee, fully expecting everything to work as it should. When I get back to my Mac, the desktop is waiting for me; I hardly ever see the gray screen or the blue screen. If either screen is waiting for me, then I know something is wrong. The Mac should always be ready before the coffee.

In this tip, we look at why a Mac may get stuck at the blue screen, and how to fix the problem.

Read more on Lifewire: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

Question: When I turn my Mac on, it displays a flashing question mark for quite a while, sometimes as long as a minute or so, before booting. Is this anything I should worry about?

startupdisk

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

The flashing question mark is your Mac’s way of telling you that it’s having trouble finding a bootable operating system. Normally, your Mac will start the boot process fast enough that you’ll never notice the flashing question mark on the display.

 While the question mark is flashing, your Mac is checking all available disks for an operating system it can use. If it finds one, your Mac will finish booting. From the information in your question, it sounds like your Mac does eventually find a disk it can use as the startup drive, and finishes the boot process. You can shorten, well, actually eliminate, the search process by selecting a startup disk in System Preferences.

Read more on Lifewire: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

Does your Mac seem possessed at times? When it’s running an app, does it seem less like a fleet-footed bunny and more like a stumbling zombie?

If you think you just heard your Mac mutter “brains!” and you haven’t installed any Halloween-based themes, it’s time to get your hands dirty and clean out your Mac to speed up its performance.

Why Is My Mac Slowing Down?

Setting aside Halloween ghosts as possible culprits, there can be quite a few reasons why your Mac is acting like a zombie.

halloweendesktop

Desktop wallpaper courtesy of vladstudio

Happily, most of the causes for a drop in Mac performance can be easily fixed, sometimes with just a change or two in how a few apps or utilities are used, perhaps by performing a bit of housekeeping and cleaning up your Mac’s storage, or by giving your Mac’s OS a hand, and clearing out some of the accumulated grunge that has collected over time to free up drive space.

Read more on Rocket Yard, The MacSales.com Blog

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by Tom Nelson

It seems embarrassingly obvious, but one of the easiest ways to keep your email under control is to organize it in folders, or as the Mail app in the Mac OS calls them, mailboxes. Instead of keeping everything in your Inbox, or piled into one or two mailboxes, you can organize your email the same way you organize documents in a file cabinet.

macmailboxes

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Mail’s Sidebar

Mailboxes are listed in the Mail sidebar, which makes them easily accessible with just a click.

Depending on the version of Mail that you’re using, the sidebar and its Mailboxes may not be visible. If you’re not seeing the sidebar, you can easily enable this helpful feature:

  1. From Mail’s View menu, select Show Mailbox List.
  2. You can also toggle the sidebar on or off using the Mailboxes button in the Favorites bar (the Favorites bar is the small button bar just below Mail’s toolbar).
  3. By the way, if you’re not seeing the toolbar or the Favorites bar, you’ll find the View menu contains options for turning them on or off.

Read more on Lifewire: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

The Mac refurb store is nicely stocked this week, with every Mac model well represented. Even so, you may want to wait a bit before committing to a refurb purchase because Apple will be making Mac-related announcements on October 27th. I’m expecting 15-inch MacBook Pro updates; there could also be changes in store for the MacBook and MacBook Air lineup.

Less likely are any changes to the desktop Macs, even though on the whole, it’s the Mac Pro, Mac mini, and even the iMac that have the longest times between updates. If you’re thinking, “is that true?” just look at the Mac Pro, which was updated in 2013, then left to languish. The Mac mini isn’t much better, seeing its last update in 2014. The iMacs are faring slightly better, but they’re at risk of falling into the “we’ll get around to them someday” status at Apple.

Thankfully, I do think Apple will get around to the desktop Macs soon, with rumored updates for them sometime in early 2017. That means October will be for the portable Macs.

If you’re considering buying a refurb portable Mac, you should think about waiting until early November; chances are we’ll see some price drops in the current MacBook models in the refurb store.

mydigitalssdonthego

Image courtesy of CaDiget

Deals of the Week

The deals this week are for Mac peripherals. First up, a 512 GB SSD in a small portable external enclosure that connects to a Mac via USB 3. This fast SSD is powered via the USB 3 port on a Mac, making this an easy tote-and-go storage solution.

The second deal is for a CalDigit Thunderbolt docking station. This docking station is a great way to provide additional connectivity to a Mac. With USB 3, eSATA, audio, Ethernet, and 4K HDMI you’ll be able to connect your Mac to just about anything, all through a single Thunderbolt 2 port.

Don’t forget that for any Mac you buy, you should consider an external drive for backup and additional storage, if you need it.

Read more on Lifewire: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

Question: I’m a Windows user who recently made the change to Apple and the Macintosh. I’m used to routinely defragmenting my hard drive in order to ensure top performance by my computer. I don’t see any way to defragment my Mac’s hard drive. Do I need to be concerned about this?

drivegenius4defrag

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Answer: Apple supplies a handy application for working with hard drives called Disk Utility.

If you open up Disk Utility, you’ll notice that it doesn’t include a tool for defragmenting any of the drives connected to your Mac. The reason for this perceived oversight is that a Mac running any version of OS X later than 10.2 does not need to be defragmented. OS X as well as macOS have their own built-in safeguards that prevent files from becoming fragmented in the first place.

  • The Mac’s HFS+ file system tries not to use recently freed file space on a disk. Instead, it looks for larger free areas already present on the drive, thereby avoiding fragmenting files just to fit them into available space.
  • The Mac OS dynamically gathers groups of small files and combines them into larger areas on your disk automatically. The process of writing the files to a new larger location defragments all of the files in the group.
  • OS X and MacOS implement Hot File Adaptive Clustering, which monitors frequently-accessed files that do not get changed (read only), and then moves these often-accessed files to a special hot zone on the startup drive. In the process of moving these files, OS X defragments them, and then stores them in the area of the drive that has the fastest access.
  • When you open a file, the Mac checks to see if it is highly fragmented (more than 8 fragments). If it is, the operating system will automatically defragment the file.

The result of all these safeguards is that the Mac rarely, if ever, needs to have its disk space defragmented. The only real exception to this is when your hard drive has less than 10 percent free space.

At that point, the Mac operating system is unable to perform its automatic defragmentation routines, and you should consider either removing files or expanding your disk storage size.

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by Tom Nelson

With each new release of the Mac operating system, there are always a few secret features, services, and tips hidden away, just waiting to be uncovered. macOS Sierra is no different, so the Rocket Yard has gathered a list of tips and tricks that can make you more productive, or at the very least, amuse you and make you wonder why Apple thought this needed to be squirrelled away from the general public.

Window Snapping

OS X El Capitan included a new Split View feature that allowed two apps to share a display, much like the older Full Screen viewing option allowed a single app to take over your entire monitor. The Split View feature allowed two apps to share the entire display.

windowsnapping1280

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

With macOS Sierra, the ability to manage windows received a new feature: Window Snapping. While the older Split View was designed for use with two different apps, Window Snapping is more about aligning one window to another one, just to help you keep your window arrangement looking neat, or to help you easily set up multiple windows for non-overlapping access.

Read more on Rocket Yard, The MacSales.com Blog

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