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by Tom Nelson

Selecting a UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply) or battery backup for your computer shouldn’t be a complex task. But it seems the simple tasks are rarely simple, and picking the perfect UPS to match your Mac or PC can be more difficult than you might expect. We’ll help you sort things out.

Image courtesy of CyberPower Systems

A UPS is an important aspect of safe computing. Just like backups protect the information stored on your computer, a UPS protects the computer hardware from events, such as power outages and surges, which can cause damage.

A UPS can also allow your computer to continue to operate, even when the power goes out.

In this guide, we’re going to take a look at how to pick the right size UPS for your Mac or PC, or for that matter, any electronic components you want to protect with a battery backup system.

Before we continue, a word about what type of devices you should consider for use with a UPS. Generally speaking, the UPS devices we’re talking about are designed for electronic devices with only small non-inductive motors. This means devices like computersstereosTVs, and most electronic peripherals are all candidates for being connected to a UPS. Devices with large inductive motors require specialized UPS devices, and different sizing methods than outlined in this article. If you’re not sure if your device should be connected to a UPS, check with the UPS manufacturer.

Read more on Lifewire: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

Leave your computer on all the time, or shut it off when it’s not in use; does it really make a difference? If you’ve been asking yourself this question, then you’ll be happy to hear that you can choose whichever way you want. You just need to understand the ramifications of your choice, and take a few precautions to ensure you get the longest life you can from your computer.

The most important precaution is to add a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply), no matter which method you choose.

A UPS can protect your computer from many of the dangers it’s likely to face.
The Things That Can Harm Your Computer

All of the parts that make up your computer have a limited lifetime. The processorRAM, and graphics cards all experience aging caused by, among other things, heat and temperature. Additional failure modes come from the stress of cycling a computer on and off.

But it’s not just your computer’s semiconductors that are affected. Mechanical components, such as the ones in hard drivesoptical drivesprinters, and scanners, are all affected by the power cycling they may undergo when your computer is turned off or on. In many cases, peripherals, such as printers and external drives, may have circuitry that senses when your computer is powered on or off, and initiates the same condition, turning the device on or off as needed.

There are other failure modes to consider that originate externally to your computer.

The one most often mentioned is a power surge and power drop, where there’s a sudden rise or fall in voltage on the electrical circuit that your computer is plugged into. We often associate these surges with transient events, such as nearby lightning strikes, or devices that use a lot of power at once (vacuum cleaner, hair dryer, etc).
All of these failure types need to be considered. Leaving a computer turned on can reduce exposure to some of the failure types, while turning your computer off can prevent most of the external vectors that can cause the failure of a computer’s components.

The question then becomes, which is best: on or off? Turns out, at least in my opinion, it’s a bit of both. If your goal is to maximize lifetime, there’s a time period when turning a new computer on and off makes sense; later, leaving it on 24/7 makes sense.

Read more on Lifewire: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

Target Disk Mode has been a feature of the Mac OS since the PowerBook 100 (pictured below) was released way back in 1991. This handy feature allows you to connect two Macs via FireWire ports, Thunderbolt ports, or USB-C ports, and then share the contents of the Target Disk Mode Mac’s internal drive.

Target Disk Mode can be used for quite a variety of purposes:

  • Copying files from one Mac to another without having to set up file sharing or create a local network.
  • Troubleshooting the drive of a Mac that can’t boot to the desktop.
  • Using an optical drive on the Target Disk Mode Mac as if it were attached to your Mac.
  • Using the Mac OS operating system on the Target Disk Mode Mac to boot a second Mac.

As you can see, Target Disk Mode can be pretty darned versatile, and may be able to solve a problem you’re having that relates to accessing or sharing data from one Mac to another.

What You Need
The list is short, but essential.

  • Two Macs. That may seem obvious, but it makes sense to point out that Target Disk Mode only works between two Macs; you can’t chain multiple Macs together. All of the connection types (FireWire, Thunderbolt, and USB-C) support hot connecting, meaning you can connect a cable between the two Macs while they are powered on. We recommend shutting down both Macs before proceeding, however.
  • An appropriate cable to make the connection. Ideally, you should connect similar ports; that is FireWire to FireWire, Thunderbolt to Thunderbolt, or USB-C to USB-C. There are, however, exceptions. Using adapters to connect Thunderbolt to FireWire will usually work, as will Thunderbolt to USB-C. But not all adapters are known to work correctly in Target Disk Mode, so if you can, connect directly to the same port type. If you need a specific cable or adapter, MacSales.com has a wide selection of FireWireThunderbolt and USB-C cables and adapters available.
  • AC power. While it’s possible to run a notebook Mac off of its battery while in Target Disk Mode, you forgo any monitoring of the battery power levels. This could lead to the Mac in Target Disk Mode shutting down unexpectedly. It’s best to always power portable Macs from an AC source when using Target Disk Mode.

Read more on Rocket Yard, The MacSales.com Blog

by Tom Nelson

Boot Camp and Boot Camp Assistant allow you to install Windows on your Mac. It’s a nice capability that lets you select – at boot time – which operating system you wish to use: Mac OS or Windows.

One of the downsides to Boot Camp and the Windows installer is that it restricts you to installing Windows on your Mac’s internal drive. While Boot Camp Assistant can partition your startup drive for you to make room for Windows, there are bound to be many of you who just don’t have room to spare on your startup drive to install Windows.

Installing Windows on an external drive would be a great solution to the problem of available space, but as we said, Boot Camp and Windows impose a restriction on installing to an external drive – or do they?

There are actually a few ways you can successfully install Windows on an external drive. They range from creating clones of an existing PC installation, or using Microsoft IT tools for installing Windows. But the method we’re going to outline here is a bit different. It allows you to install Windows on an external drive without first having Windows installed on a PC or in a virtual environment.

This is an advanced process with quite a few pitfalls that can trip you up. Be sure to read through the process before undertaking it. Also, make sure you have a current backup before beginning.

Read more on Rocket Yard, The MacSales.com Blog

by Tom Nelson

macOS Sierra saw the return of RAID support to Apple’s Disk Utility, a feature that was removed when OS X El Capitan first came on the scene. With the return of RAID support in Disk Utility, you no longer need to resort to using Terminal to create and administer your RAID systems.

Of course, Apple couldn’t just return RAID support to Disk Utility. It had to change the user interface just enough to ensure that your previous method of working with RAID arrays would be different enough to require learning a few new tricks.

That would be fine if Apple had upgraded the RAID utility to include new capabilities, but as far as I can tell, no updates, either to basic functions or to the RAID driver, are present in the latest version.

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

RAID 0, 1, 10, and JBOD

Disk Utility can still be used to create and manage the same four RAID versions it has always been capable of working with: RAID 0 (Striped)RAID 1 (Mirrored)RAID 10 (Mirrored set of Striped drives), and JBOD (Just a Bunch Of Disks).

In this guide, we’re going to look at using Disk Utility in macOS Sierra and later to create and manage these four popular RAID types. There are, of course, other RAID types you can create, and third-party RAID apps that can manage RAID arrays for you; in some cases, they can even do a better job.

If you need a more advanced RAID utility, I suggest either SoftRAID, or a dedicated hardware RAID system built into an external enclosure.

Read more on Lifewire: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

If you’ve been working with the Mac’s Photos app (or even the older iPhoto or Aperture apps) for any length of time, there’s a good chance you have multiple image libraries to help you organize your pictures.

In the past, I’ve used Aperture to store my business-related images, and iPhoto to keep my personal pictures organized. When Photos came along, I set it up to work with either library.

If you’ve done this, too, then you know you must hold down the option key when you launch Photos to choose which Photos Library you want to use, unless you’re lucky enough to have the target library open right off the bat (and that never happens).

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Performing a switcheroo every time gets old pretty quickly, so I decided the best thing to do would be to merge the two libraries into one.

Merge Using iCloud Photo Library
In this article, we’re going to look at the various methods available in the hope that at least one of them will meet your needs when it comes to merging image libraries, or even just moving a few images around from one library to another. We’ll start with the iCloud Photo Library.

Read more on Rocket Yard, The MacSales.com Blog

by Tom Nelson

Apple’s iCloud service links Macs and iOS devices for sharing, storing, and syncing the data created by some of Apple’s apps, such as Mail, Calendar, and Contacts. You can even use iCloud with Windows, although with a much more limited set of data. One thing that’s missing from iCloud is raw data storage; that is, the ability to save any file to iCloud, regardless of the app that was used to create it.

Update: With the advent of OS X Yosemite, Apple updated the iCloud service with a vastly improved iCloud drive. that now performs pretty much how you would expect from a cloud based storage service. If your using OS X Yosmite or later, you can jump to the end of this article to read about iCloud drive features specific to later versions of the Mac OS.

If on the other hand your using a pre OS X Yosemite version of the OS, then read on to discover some pretty niffty tricks that will make iCloud Drive more useful.​

iCloud is designed to be an application-centric service; it’s accessible through an application’s Save or Open dialog boxes. Each iCloud-enabled app can see the data files that it has created and that are stored in the cloud, but it can’t access data files created by other apps. This very limiting behavior may be a result of Apple’s desire to simplify the process of working with cloud-based documents.

Or perhaps Apple wanted iCloud to be iOS-centric in design, and prevent access to the underlying file system.

But the Mac isn’t an iOS device. Unlike iOS devices, which prevent users from accessing the underlying file system, OS Xlets us access all of the files on our system, using the Finder or Terminal.

So, why should we be limited to an app-centric iCloud service?

The answer, at least with OS X Mountain Lion through OS X Mavericks, is that we aren’t. Since the introduction of Mountain Lion, iCloud has stored all of the previously hidden data in a user’s Library folder. Once you navigate to this folder in the Finder, you can use any stored iCloud data with any app that supports the file type of the selected data, not just the app that created the data. For example, you can use Word, which currently isn’t iCloud-savvy, to read a TextEdit document that you have stored in iCloud. You can even move and organize documents, something you have no control over from the standard iCloud system.

Read more on Lifewire: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

You’ve no doubt heard the term cache and temp files, at least as it relates to your Mac. There are numerous times when removing a cache or temp file may be part of a troubleshooting tip to return an app or the system to a more robust condition. It’s also common to hear about removing these files to free up space on a Mac’s startup drive.

But before we head down the road to clearing out cache and temp files, let’s take a moment to find out what functions they serve, and whether it’s really a good idea to remove them willy-nilly.

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

What Are Cache Files and Temp Files?
Cache and temp files serve a similar function; they provide a place to temporarily store data in files on your Mac.

Cache files are much more dynamic. They’re being accessed and updated frequently, and they can remain after the app or system function that created them has closed or exited. They can also remain through shutdown or restart cycles.

Temp files tend to be more static, created by an app or system process to temporarily store data that is later used by the process that created the file. Unlike cache files, temp files are usually removed by the process that created them, usually when the process exits, or during a shutdown or restart cycle.

Examples of cache files include browser caches that save the information from a webpage. When you return to the same page, the browser can load the page data from the cache file, provided the page data hasn’t changed. This saves you the time it would take to access the web server and download the entire page again.

Another type of cache you use everyday on your Mac is the DNS cache. Like the browser cache, the DNS cache can let your Mac grab the IP address of a website it has visited recently without having to perform a DNS lookup, which can take a great deal of time.

Other caches are used by the system to store frequently used icons, images, and just about any type of information that is used over and over, where storing the data is faster than recreating the information every time.

Temp files, on the other hand, are transitory; they tend to be removed once the app or process that created them is terminated. An example of a temp file is an application that has many levels of undo. In the loosest of terms, the undo temp file holds the state of the app at each point a command was issued, letting you go back in time (undo) to previous states. When you quit the app, the undo temp file is deleted since it’s no longer needed.

Temp files can also hold static items, such as an image, or data that will be used frequently by an app but doesn’t need to be saved beyond the current app cycle.

Read more on Rocket Yard, The MacSales.com Blog

by Tom Nelson

What can I do with my old Mac? That’s a question we hear quite often, and it indicates a desire to do something more with a Mac than simply send it off to the landfill when it comes time to consider replacing it.

I’m old enough to vividly remember the first Earth Day in 1970. Organizer Denis Hayes said 20 million Americans participated in a demonstration of support for environmental protection. Back then, we spent the day picking up trash and attending seminars about alternative energy sources that we should be developing. Today, MacSales.com is using a wide variety of green energy sources, such as wind, solar, and geothermal. We’ve come a long way since those heady early days.

Image courtesy of MacSales.com

While I don’t remember any specific concern back then about electronic waste and the damage it could do by leaching toxins into the environment, it has become a major concern in subsequent years. And why not, considering all the electronics we see in use every day.

There’s always something we can do to help, no matter how small. In this article, we’re going to look at how you can extend the life of your Mac to help keep it out of the landfill. And when the time comes that it no longer serves a useful purpose, we’ll tell you what you can do to recycle its components.

Upgrade Your Mac
One way to keep your Mac out of the landfill is to consider upgrading it with improved components instead of retiring it and replacing it with something newer. This approach has quite a number of advantages for you, including an overall lower cost than replacing your Mac, and an impressive environmental effect, one that not only eliminates the impact of tossing your Mac out, but also reduces the impact of building new replacement Macs to fill the void.

I have to admit I’ve been using the upgrade process for years. I tend to hang on to my Macs for a long time, mostly by upgrading components and peripherals as needed, as well as finding a new use for the older Macs. You can find out more about the latter in a bit, but right now, let’s look at upgrading your Mac.

Read more on Rocket Yard, The MacSales.com Blog

by Tom Nelson

Safari is one of the most popular web browsers for the Mac. Some may argue that its popularity is dependent on its status as the default browser in the Mac OS. But having tried many of the alternative browsers, I find myself always returning to Safari.

That’s not to say Safari doesn’t have a few quirks, or features that seem to be hidden or underutilized. One of the most often overlooked features of Safari is the sidebar, a special space incorporated into Safari that can help you handle your favorite websites, and sites you would like to temporarily save to revisit later, either online or off-line. The sidebar also serves as a place to access your favorite social networks without having to leave Safari or the website you’re currently viewing.

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Where is the Safari Sidebar?
The Safari sidebar is located along the left edge of the Safari window and is usually hidden from view. There are a number of ways to access the sidebar, which will then cause the sidebar to slide into place while automatically resizing the open website to fit into the now slightly smaller display space.

You can access the Safari sidebar using any of the following methods. They’re all equally good at opening and closing the sidebar, so give each one a try and settle on the one that fits your style of working.

From the keyboard, you can use the keyboard combination of Shift + Command + L. When Safari is the front most window, press all three simultaneously to open or close the sidebar.

From the Safari menu, select View, Show Sidebar, or View, Hide Sidebar to make the sidebar appear or disappear.

From the Safari toolbar, click the sidebar icon, which looks like a picture of the Safari window divided into two parts. The sidebar icon is normally just after the navigation arrows, but it could be placed anywhere on the toolbar or even have been removed, if you’ve performed any Safari customization.

The last method is a special case that’s only available when operating Safari in full screen mode. Move your cursor to the far left of the Safari window. Hover just on the edge of the window and the sidebar will appear automatically. Move the cursor off the sidebar for the sidebar to disappear, or select an item in the sidebar to close the sidebar and display the related content.

Read more on Rocket Yard, The MacSales.com Blog