mac support and consulting
... and here is a partial list of Mac services I can offer to you.
tutoring for Macs
• Intro to the Mac OS for new users
• How to navigate your Mac with ease and without fear
• Mac OS training for intermediate and advanced users
• Mac OS X best practices
• How to sync with iCloud
• How to sync with iOS devices
• Tutoring for iMovie, iPhoto, iTunes
• Tutoring for Pages and Word
• Using Time Machine
• OS X shortcuts for greater efficiency
• Advice on Set Up, Clean Up, Back Up
• Training on how to customize your own Mac workspace
• Advice on 3rd party free or cheap apps you can use to keep your Mac purring
general Mac support
• Transitioning from PC to Mac
• Migrating data from your older Mac
• Assess and repair Mac OS software issues
• Analysis and consultation regarding storage space
• Analysis and consultation regarding Back Up strategies
• Analysis and consultation regarding planned purchases
• Identify and solve workflow bottlenecks
• Analyze and optimize SOHO Networking issues
• Troubleshoot and repair and/or restore damaged iPhoto libraries
• Troubleshoot wireless device issues
• Incorporating third party time saving software and services that supercharge your workflow
• Install RAM, hard drives, wireless devices
At that time, independent Mac consultants were few and far between, and worse yet, their skill levels were often suspect. Frequently I would hire someone to help me get my computer back on track. They would come in, fiddle with my Mac for a couple of hours, charge me a couple of hundred bucks, and then when they left, I would find my Mac not only was NOT fixed, but was sometimes worse off than when they had arrived!
I quickly realized that this was an untenable long term solution, and what I really needed to do was remove my dependence on outside vendors by learning how to fix my own Macs by myself. I approached this complicated task with my usual zeal, and thus embarked on a 20 plus years journey of learning that continues to this day.
After about a decade into this learning path, I realized that I knew enough about the topic to start offering my knowledge to others as a paid consultant, which is a service I still offer today.
Should you let Apple’s App Store update your OS automatically?
I used to worry a lot more about automatic updates than I do today. OS X is so stable now that I don’t give it much thought anymore, however whenever Apple offers a full level upgrade (like “Lion” to “Mountain Lion”), I usually wait a couple of weeks after the release. Often there are bugs that didn’t get discovered in the code room but that show up right away in users computers. Apple usually works out fixes for these newly discovered bugs right away and issues a patch. I believe in being on the “cutting edge” by staying up to date with new software developments, but I am willing to let the earliest adopters to be on the “bleeding edge”...let them experience and deal with those bugs, I prefer to not to have to deal with the uncertaintity.
Here’s a way you can easily improve your Mac OS navigation.
Computers continue to amaze me by the way they provide us with an almost limitless way to store, access and use our information, whether we are writing letters, editing photos, making a movie, composing music, or doing any of the other thousands of things that computers put at our fingertips. They also allow us to create a custom workspace and workflow that can be modified to work for each individual in ways that make sense to them personally, as well as making their computing experience more enjoyable. And this is a good thing, because we are all very different from each other in the ways that we think and work.
Regardless of how you set up your Mac workspace appearance-wise, getting around to find the apps and files you want to use can be a little confusing at times. One of the best built in tools you can take advantage of in the Mac OS (and on PCs) is called “using keyboard shortcuts”. We all love using the mouse and we do so hundreds if not thousands of times a day. Keyboard shortcuts allow us to perform many of the same tasks that we have traditionally used the mouse for, but in a fraction of the time, making us more efficient and helping reduce the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome (assuming you are paying attention to the other good ergonomic guidelines in your office setup). The existing shortcuts are listed in the main menu screen of every app including the finder. You can also find them in the built in Mac OS Help system, using the search term “shortcuts”. You can even create your own using the system preferences panel for system specific tasks, and shortcut editing is allowed in many pro-level apps (like the Adobe Creative Suite apps).
To quickly experience the power of shortcuts, see the next two tips to learn how to identify some of the cryptic looking symbols which are representative of certain keys, and to learn of one of my favorite shortcuts which I use hundreds of times a day...
This is well worth learning!
Some keyboard shortcuts require that you press only one key, however many others require that you depress two or three (sometimes even four) keys at the same time to make them work. And some are used in conjunction with the mouse or a pressure sensitive tablet to extend the capability of the input devices. Many of the shortcuts are universal and work in all apps (for instance, “command-p” sends something to your printer, “command-c” copies something to your clipboard, “command-v” pastes your clipboard’s contents, “shift-command-3” takes a screen shot of your full screen, and so on...), but others vary between apps, and some even conflict with others. Fortunately you can edit the existing ones to eliminate the conflict or to create your own. All the existing ones are shown in the drop down menus (they can vary from one app to another), and sometimes people give up on learning them because some of the modifier key symbols seem obscure, so if you put some effort into discovering and using keyboard shortcuts, you will discover a new level of ease in many aspects of your computing experience.
Here’s a translation of the most commonly used modifier keys in the Mac OS to help you get started:
the Mac OS X App Switcher...
...is built in to the operating system of all modern Macs. Because the state of modern computing is powerful and relatively stable, we can have many applications and files open at the same time, as long as you have adequate RAM and processor power. With many apps and files open at once, getting to the next process they wish to use for most people usually involves grabbing the mouse, moving their cursor into the dock, finding the icon of the app they want and clicking on it, at which point that app moves to the foreground. The app switcher allows you to do the same process in a mere fraction of the time using two keys on your keyboard in a certain way.
Try the Mac OS X App Switcher, you may be amazed...
Most of the main modifier keys in use by applications that offer that advantage are located on the left side of the keyboard, so it makes sense to practice learning and using keyboard shortcuts using your left hand. For right handers, that leaves the right hand free to use the mouse...which is sometimes used in conjunction with modifier keys. For lefties, I have no advice except perhaps bon chance! I’m sure you will find a way.
To invoke the App Switcher, start by placing your left thumb on the left “command“ key (just to the left of the spacebar, and formerly identified as the Apple Key) and hold it down. Continue to hold it down and use your left index finger to tap repeatedly on the “tab” key, and you will see the application switcher pop up. It shows you an icon for each of the apps you have currently running. As long as you hold down the command key, the switcher will stay in view. Each time you tap on “tab” the selection changes, as indicated by a bold outline. When you get to the app you wish to switch too, simply release both the command and tab keys, and the application you selected will come to the foreground and be the newly active app. The App Switcher is smart too! As you work, it shuffles the most recently used apps towards the left, so next time you invoke it, the apps you were just using are only one to a few taps on “tab” away. So much easier than reaching for the mouse and seeking out the app’s icon in the dock!
In addition, the App Switcher has additional functions that can come into play. For instance, if you add the “shift” key to command-tab, App Switcher toggles through the open apps backwards. And in either direction, when you arrive at an open app and while still holding down the command key, use your left index finger to tap the “Q” key instead of the tab key, and the currently selected application will quit, (prompting you to save open docs if necessary). This can really speed up orderly shutdowns.
Lastly, an interesting extension of this concept can help you further. Let’s say you are working in Word and you have multiple Word docs open at the same time. If you hold down the command key and tap the “tilde” (also known as the “accent ague” key), which is located directly above the “tab” key, then you will find that the app will cycle through all the open docs in that foreground app.