Having a problem with Your Mac? Start it up in Safe Mode to attempt a Fix

imagesStarting up in “safe mode” may help you diagnose problems you’re having with your Mac. In safe mode, the operating system does not load any application or process other than the base system functions.

Safe Mode is a way to start up your Mac that performs certain checks and prevents certain software from automatically loading or opening.

Starting up in Safe Mode does several things:

  • It forces a check of the startup volume, just like the First Aid feature of Disk Utility. You may see a progress bar on the screen during this check, and the computer takes longer than usual to complete its startup.
  • It loads only required kernel extensions.
  • It disables all fonts installed by the user.
  • It moves font caches to the Trash that are stored in /Library/Caches/com.apple.ATS/(uid)/  – where (uid) is a user ID number such as 501 (Mac OS X v10.4 or later).
  • It disables all startup items and login items in Mac OS X v10.4 or later.
  • In Mac OS X v10.3.9 or earlier, Safe Mode opens only Apple-installed startup items (such items may be installed either in /Library/StartupItems or in /System/Library/StartupItems). These items are different from user-selected account login items.

Taken together, these changes can help resolve or isolate certain issues that exist on the startup volume.

Here’s how to do it.

1. Shut down your Mac and wait 10 seconds.
2. Press the power button.
3. Immediately after you hear the startup tone, hold down the Shift key.
You should press the Shift key as soon as possible after you hear the startup tone, but not before.
4. Release the Shift key when you see the gray Apple logo and progress indicator (spinning gear).
To leave safe mode, restart your Mac normally without holding down any keys during startup.

Safe mode will often allow you to delete or remove something that continues to restart every time you restart the computer. It also allows you to run diagnostics or look to see if an extension to the operating system could be causing your problem. It’s not something you do every day, but it certainly can be helpful.

1Password: Even more valuable in iOS 8

Screen Shot 2014-09-28 at 1.11.51 PMThe new world of the iPhone 6 and iOS 8 is beginning to show its head. And for my money, it’s a pretty sight to see. One of the first applications to take advantage of some of the new features in iOS 8 is 1Password. I’ve used 1Password for years to store passwords on my computer and my iOS devices. It is always been a trustworthy addition to my computing environment and has saved my bacon in remembering a password many times. But one of the things that made it difficult to use was the inability to be able to automatically enter passwords on an iOS device. iOS 8 has changed all of that with the addition of extensions. And 1Password immediately took advantage of it.

On the same day that iOS 8 was released, AgileBits released a free update to 1PasswordIMG_1273 that took advantage of the new extension capability and also the expansion of touch ID use. In the past I would need to enter my master password every time I needed to get  into 1Password. With the update you have the ability to set the settings to allow you to use your fingerprint on an iPhone 5s or 6 to enter your master password for you and take you directly in to the program. This is such a huge time saver that by  itself would’ve been a great update. But Agilebits did not stop there.

Also in the latest update was an extension for the Safari browser that allowed you with a few taps to enter a password from 1Password into a website in Safari. Before this update it would’ve required you to go back-and-forth between 1Password and Safari a number of times to get both the username and password and enter it. Now, after configuring it, a few simple taps enter the password and you’re off to the races in Safari.

To make all of this new functionality work well for you there are a few settings you might want to consider in the 1Password for iOS application. First, you should go into the settings for 1Password and turn on touch ID. With that turned on you should set the amount of time before having to reenter your master password to something greater than just a few minutes. Remember, your passwords will be protected with touch ID anyway. I set the setting to 48 hours initially but I’m considering changing it to 30 days. This setting is the amount of time that passes before being forced to type in your master password.  In between that time period, you’ll only be asked to use your fingerprint to get in to 1Password.

IMG_1274With that said, you need to open the Safari browser and Screen Shot 2014-09-28 at 1.19.56 PMtap on the small square with an up arrow icon in the menu bar. This is how you access the extensions in Safari. Be sure the one password extension is turned on so you’ll be able to use it from Safari.  You may have to tape More to add it in.  I also rearranged it by dragging the 1Password extension forward so that I can get to it without having to scroll after tapping that Icon.

Now, to use it in Safari all you have to do is go to a site that requires a password and tap on that same square with an arrow icon.  Then tap 1password. 1Password will now ask for your fingerprint to take you in to the program. Once you’ve entered it will bring up the passwords that fit the website that you’re on in Safari and you have the ability to touch one of those passwords and have it automatically entered in the browser.

The updates to 1Password prove that the extensions combined with touch ID that Apple has added and iOS 8 are going to be a huge addition for iPhone users. The ability to enter applications with only a touch and to extend Apple’s Safari browser will add many new functions and ease-of-use to the iPhone itself.

1Password is only the beginning. I look forward to all the other applications that will begin supporting these functions and features in the near future.

Posted in iOS

iOS 8 and iPhone 6 Impressions

Screen Shot 2014-09-21 at 6.33.38 PMApple has hit another home run with the new iPhone 6. I selected the smaller of the two devices because I felt like it better fit my lifestyle. The new iPhone 6 is dinner yet has a larger screen than my previous iPhone 5s. It also seems to be faster. But the real star of the show will be the new Apple pay when it becomes available in October. Apple pay will give us the ability to use our phone to make purchases securely. That’s the real killer feature of the new phone. So if you’re closing your contract or have a need or want to upgrade to a new phone, seriously consider the iPhone 6. It’s a very nice phone with a great screen and under contract still at a reasonable price.

Whether you purchase a new iPhone 6 or not if you have an iPhone, iOS 8 is a terrific upgrade. iOS 8 is compatible with iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPod touch 5th generation, iPad 2, iPad with Retina display, iPad Air, iPad mini, and iPad mini with Retina display. So it looks like the iPhone 4 is not going to make the cut. If you perform the upgrade directly from the phone it looks like it’s going to require about 5.5 GB of space for you on your phone. But if you connect your phone or iPad to iTunes, the free space on the phone requirements are dramatically reduced. I was able to update one device with as little as 2.5 GB free.
When you perform the update, there’s lots to like about the new OS. Unlike the last release, the look and feel of iOS 8 will not be dramatically different than iOS 7 was. Many people have a difficult time with the transition from iOS 6 to iOS 7 because the look and feel was a lot different. You won’t see that with iOS 8. The features in bedded in iOS 8 are a little more self. You have to take a look at the list of what’s available to find some of the new things. But it’s well worth looking at.
Some of the things to check out in the new update are:

  • Safari extensions
  • Updates to the Camera application
  • More extensive use of touch ID if you have an iPhone 5s or newer
  • Interactive notifications
  • Updates in the Messages app to allow you to send voice messages and video messages
  • Third-party keyboards
  • Easier ability to delete emails
  • Family sharing
  • Apple’s all new health kit

And those are just the highlights.Iowa State is an excellent update. And if you have a newer phone or a newer iPad it’s all free.

I always recommend making a back up of your device in iTunes before you start the update. And then allow yourself to to three hours for an average update. The larger the memory space on your phone the longer it will take.

And as always, if you feel uncomfortable with making the update yourself, or would like a little assistance, feel free to get a hold of me.

Posted in iOS

Links From My Recent Mac Class

Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 7.58.26 PMLast night I had the opportunity to teach a class on Macintosh applications. We covered the applications that are included in the Mac operating system. You can never have enough tips about any application, I found the sites on the Internet that provide some great tips for some of these included applications.

Feel free to check these out.

80 handy iPhoto tips and tricks | News | TechRadar
Get more out of Apple email – How to – Macworld UK
How to use the Calendar in OS X Mavericks – How to – Macworld UK
Tips for using Maps on a Mac – How to – Macworld UK
Tips for using Safari 7 in OS X Mavericks – How to – Macworld UK
iMovie (2013): Tips For iMovie ’11 Users
12 Cool Tips and Tricks for iMovie ’11 | Mac|Life
10 Tips for Getting More Out of iCal | Mac|Life
7 FaceTime for Mac Tips, Tricks, and Features | Mac|Life

 

Posted in Mac

Own Android but Tempted by the New iPhones?

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 10.21.37 AM

Apple just continues to innovate. Sometimes it’s actually amazing. But not everybody owns an iPhone right now. Many people choose android, and that’s a good solution also. But once in a while, people want to change platforms for their phone. Go from my android phone to an iPhone. And some vice versa. Apple has a new website it gives you information on how to get data over from android to an iPhone. Some of the suggestions are purely common sense but others are really good ideas for being able to get all the stuff that you have from your android phone over to a brand-new iPhone.

So if the new iPhones have you tempted, take a look at the site to see what it’ll take to get your phone information moved over to an iPhone.

Get Ready for iOS 8!

Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 11.32.00 AMWith Apple about ready to release iOS 8, it’s always good to go back through the list of things that you need to do to prepare before updating your phone with a major operating system update. If you follow these simple steps, the odds of your update going well are greatly increased. Over the years Apple has made installing new updates pretty simple. When the update is ready it will show you on the device by showing you a small red number on top of General icon in the Settings application.  But many times if you go into system updates and check for an update it will show you it’s available before the icon shows. If you’re in a hurry to update, you might give this a try.

1.) Check to see if your device is iOS 8 capable

The iOS 8 update is compatable with the iPhone 5S, iPhone 5, iPhone 5C, iPhone 4S, iPod touch fifth-gen, iPad 2, iPad Air, iPad mini with Retina Display, iPad mini, iPad 4, and iPad 3.  If Apple releases any new devices, iOS 8 will be standard on them.

Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 11.33.05 AM

2.) Make sure you have enough space for the update

iOS 7 required 700MB of space and while its unknown how much its successor will require, you can be sure its going to be similarly large amount. Apple will prompt you before downloading if you do not have enough space, so either way you will either have to get rid of some unnecessary apps, photos, music/TV shows/movies or other data you might not need right on your device .  One place that I see space often used on iOS device is in the camera roll. If you sync your photos over to your computer and delete them from your phone that will free up that space. You can always put photos back on the phone using iTunes at the time of sync.

You can check how much space you have by going into settings and then general.  Select about and then it will tell you in the list how much free space you have on your device. iOS updates often have additional applications updated too. Apple generally updates many of their apps at the time of the system update so you’ll need additional space for those. Don’t cut your space to close.

3.) Is your device running iOS 7.1.2?

To update to iOS 8, you’ll likely need to be up to date with the latest iOS 7 version, meaning you won’t be able to switch unless you’re running iOS 7.1.2.

4.) Do you have the latest version of your apps?

If you don’t want to lose your app or its data, make sure they are up to date. This will also ensure you get the most out your apps in iOS 8, as they will have been tinkered with for iOS 8 integration. Just check for updates, and apply all updated applications that you find prior to the operating system install.

5.) Back up your device!

This is the most important step you need to take before updating. While everything is done to ensure the transition to iOS 8 goes smoothly, major updates can go awry. To back up, simply follow these steps:

  • Connect your iPhone or iPad into your Mac or PC and open iTunes.
  • Select your device under Source and select “Summary.”
  • Under “Backups” select “This Computer” and then “Back Up Now.”

I also recommend encrypt in your back up. If you encrypt your back up, and give it a password that you have to enter when you restore it, all of your passwords that you stored on your device will remain. This keeps you from having to go back in and reenter passwords in applications, or mail, before you can use the new OS.

For most general users, it is often good to wait a few days after the new OS is available to make sure there are no issues with it.

That’s about yet. You’re ready to go. Enjoy the new OS. All the new features will be great fun to play with.

Posted in iOS

Get ready for your Trip to Yosemite

Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 11.06.37 AMOS X Yosemite is the newest major operating system release for Mac users, versioned as OS X 10.10, and it’s due to be released soon. This release includes many new feature enhancements and refinements. I have been working with the Beta release and it looks to be a great release of OS X and all users that can update their Macs should do so.  But before you run the updater to install it on your Mac, there are a few things you should do just to ensure that your upgrade goes well.

Yosemite is super easy to install, and it’s similar enough to Mavericks and Mountain Lion that it’s unlikely most users will encounter any trouble with the update regarding app compatibility or system support. But any major new operating system releases offer a good time to run through some simple maintenance  to insure compatibility of the Mac itself, your apps, and also to do some general clean up and, the most important thing of all, back up.

So here are a few things you might want to consider before upgrading your computer to Yosemite

1: Check Mac System Compatibility

At it’s core, updating to OS X Yosemite requires the following:

  • 64-bit Intel CPU
  • 8GB of free disk space
  • OS X Lion or OS X Mountain Lion, or Mavericks
  • Internet connection so that it can be downloaded from the Mac App Store

If some of that sounds like jargon gibberish, but basically, if your machine runs Mavericks, it will run Yosemite. Apple is not published a list of machines but Yosemite will run on, but here’s the list for Mavericks.

  • iMac (Mid-2007 or later)
  • MacBook (13-inch Aluminum, Late 2008), (13-inch, Early 2009 or later)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid-2009 or later), (15-inch, Mid/Late 2007 or later), (17-inch, Late 2007 or later)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2008 or later)
  • Mac Mini (Early 2009 or later)
  • Mac Pro (Early 2008 or later)
  • Xserve (Early 2009)

Perhaps the biggest requirement for many users will be having at least 8GB free on the Mac hard disk.  Don’t skimp here. Make sure you have enough free space for the updates before you start. Running the installer puts all of the new software on your computer and then removes the old. So additional free space is needed at the time of install to make it work well. Running out of space would not be a good thing.

2: Install General System Updates & Update Mac Apps

Keeping system updates and apps up to date is good policy for stability and security, but you’ll often get new features too. This can be particularly true when apps have been updated to support new major OS X releases, where a potential new feature built into the operating system may need to be independently included within the apps themselves.

Updating OS X and your apps through the Mac App Store is remarkably simple:

  • Launch the “App Store” from the Applications folder
  • Go to the “Updates” tab and choose “Update All”

3: Do Some General System Clean Up

Major OS X updates are a great time to perform some general system maintenance and clean up to help insure things are running well. Much of this is optional, but if you have the time it’s a good idea to perform some cleaning on the Mac:

  • Delete old apps you no longer use, usually tossing them into the Trash is enough but you can do a more thorough uninstall if desired
  • Trash useless old files from the ~/Downloads/ folder
  • Delete unnecessary caches from user folders and old apps
  • Clean up files from the desktop, either throw them all into a ‘cleanup’ folder or individually into their appropriate places in your home directory – this is an easy task that helps to speed up older Macs

Now go to the utilities folder inside the applications folder and run Disk Utility.  Select the Macintosh HD in the left pane and press the Repair Disk Permissions button.  Apple doesn’t say this is necessary, but I’ve seen far too many times but not doing this causes you problems down the line.

4: Back Up with Time Machine

Last but certainly not least, back up the Mac. Having back ups of your important data and files is very important, and Apple’s Time Machine makes it so easy to backup everything that there is little reason not to do it. Always, always, back up your Mac before installing a major system update. It’s unlikely something will go wrong, but if something does go haywire you can quickly recover if you have a fresh backup handy.

For most general users, it is often good to wait a few days after the new OS is available to make sure there are no issues with it.

That’s about it,  Now go ahead and download and enjoy OS X Yosemite, free is a great price for a great operating system update!

Once the install is complete I typically run the system updates again. This ensures that if Apple has patched the system beyond the release version you get those updates too. It also ensures that any Apple applications or vendor applications that have been updated for the new operating system get installed on your computer

 

“Wink” Provides and Integrated Approach to Home Control

Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 1.18.02 PMI’ve dreamed for years about having a home that I could control electronically. Turn lights on and off from my phone, change the temperature of the thermostat, and open and unlocked doors. Over the years I’ve tried a number of products and many have worked very well. The one thing they lack was an integrated approach to being able to handle the controls.

A new product called Wink provides the ability to be able to control many other vendors devices from a single application. Just released in July, this unit allows you to connect other devices into a single integrated approach. While every device I have does not connect today, the open API provided should allow other vendors to make their connections work. This is the same approach Apple has to their HomeKit integration. While I’m absolutely sure that Apple’s products will be terrific, there was one thing I really IMG_0191liked about the Wink system. Wink has a single home unit that includes multiple radios to be able to connect to nearly any type of device. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, zigbee, and Z-wave radios are all included in the device. These multiple radios allow many vendors devices to be able to connect and integrate together. The real beauty of this approach allows a best-of-breed solution for home control. You can purchase devices that do the best job of providing a particular home control service regardless of how they connect with each other or with other devices you already own. This approach gives you the best opportunity to find the perfect device that fits your needs.

I’m trying out the Wink system in my own home. I was able to purchase two Lutron light switches and get the Wink box for free through a special offer Wink has at the present time. These light switches were easy to connect to each other and to the app on your phone. So the Z- wave radio within the Wink device connects them to my wireless network at home. Then I can use the Wink app on my iPhone to be able to control the switches

IMG_0192Wink also provides the ability to script actions that can be put together. An example is a single button that can turn all the lights in the house that are connected to control switches off. It also has the ability to create what it calls robots. These robots are scripts that are basically if then situations. If a particular light turns on to 100%, then turn another light off. You get the idea.

Wink has committed to providing connectivity to as many devices from other vendors as possible. I’m anxious to see if I will be able to control my nest thermostat and my WeMo light switches through this same application. If Wink continues to develop the way it looks like they have, I look forward to a day where a single app on my phone may be able to control all my intelligent devices in my home.

But Apples HomeKit will be a contender also. So as I purchase new controllable devices, IMG_0190I’m keeping my eye open for support for HomeKit too. That way if HomeKit becomes the better solution, all the devices I purchased can be used with it. Since the Wink controller was provided at no cost with the purchase of the two switches I just bought, I had no investment to lose by giving this a try.

Wink devices are available through Home Depot at Amazon.com.

I’ll continue to give updates on how I’m doing with Wink and home control. Hopefully that control I’m looking for in my home is just around the corner.