You’ve long had text messages forwarding from your iPhone to your Mac and iPad, but after you get a new device, it might be a while before you realize that it’s not receiving texts sent to your iPhone. It turns out that, when you get a new Apple device, you must manually enable it to receive forwarded texts from your iPhone—the setting is off by default. On your iPhone, go to Settings > Messages > Text Message Forwarding, and flip the switches for the new devices.
In its “Time Flies” special event on September 15th, Apple cleared the decks of some secondary releases to make room for the anticipated unveiling of the iPhone 12 in a few weeks. Secondary though these products may be compared to the iPhone, the new Apple Watch Series 6, Apple Watch SE, fourth-generation iPad Air, and eighth-generation iPad are nothing to sneeze at.
Apple also announced a new subscription service, Apple Fitness+, and three discounted Apple One bundles of its subscription services.
Lastly, Apple said that iOS 14, iPadOS 14, watchOS 7, and tvOS 14 would ship on September 16th, and they did indeed. We’ll have more about those releases soon, but we recommend that you wait at least a few weeks before updating devices you rely on. Although the betas have been pretty stable, nasty bugs may surface as millions of users start using the new operating systems.
Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE
With the Apple Watch, Apple usually makes incremental enhancements that improve each successive generation, and the Apple Watch Series 6 is no exception. Most notably, it includes a Blood Oxygen sensor and app that report on the oxygen saturation of the wearer’s blood. Low readings can indicate problems with health and fitness, and research suggests that blood oxygen numbers may help identify COVID-19 or flu infections. Low blood oxygen levels could also encourage those who are infected to seek additional medical attention.
The Apple Watch Series 6 also features a new S6 chip, a next-generation always-on altimeter, and an enhanced Always-On Retina display that is up to 2.5 times brighter than the Series 5 display outdoors when the user’s wrist is down, so it’s easier to view in bright sunlight.
Prices for the Apple Watch Series 6 start at $399 for a 40mm GPS-only aluminum model, with cellular capabilities adding $100. The larger 44mm model costs $30 more, and you can spend more on stainless steel (+$300) and titanium (+$400) cases and various watch bands. The aluminum model comes in silver, space gray, and gold, plus (PRODUCT)RED and a new blue color. The stainless steel model comes in graphite or gold, and the titanium case in natural and space black.
If $399 is too high of a starting point for you, consider Apple’s other new model, the Apple Watch SE. Based on the S5 chip used in last year’s Apple Watch Series 5, the Apple Watch SE includes some of the sensors in the Series 6, such as the always-on altimeter, and it supports fall detection, but it lacks the Series 6’s ECG and Blood Oxygen capabilities. Nor does it have the Always-On Retina display—its display goes black when the user’s wrist is down.
Those tradeoffs drop the Apple Watch SE’s starting price to $279 for a 40mm GPS-only model. A larger 44mm watch bumps the price up by $30, and cellular capabilities add another $100. You’re limited to aluminum cases in silver, gold, and space gray, but any of the Apple Watch bands will work with it. Is $279 still too expensive? The Apple Watch Series 3 remains available in a GPS-only model starting at $199.
The Apple Watch SE might be particularly attractive to families or those caring for seniors, thanks to Apple’s new Family Setup, which lets you manage cellular Apple Watches (Series 4 and later) for others from your iPhone instead of each person having to manage their Apple Watch from their own iPhone.
Apple also introduced two new bands: the Solo Loop and the Braided Solo Loop. Both have no buckles or clasps and come in nine available lengths—they expand to fit over your hand and contract to fit snugly on your wrist. The Solo Loop is made of soft silicone, and the Braided Solo Loop combines 16,000 polyester yarn filaments with ultrathin silicone threads—it costs an extra $50.
New iPad and iPad Air
On the iPad side of things, Apple’s first announcement was the simplest. The new eighth-generation iPad replaces the previous seventh-generation model and sports only a single change. Instead of the 4-core A10 Fusion processor in last year’s model, the new iPad relies on the 6-core A12 Bionic processor. It promises up to 40% faster CPU performance and twice the graphics performance of the seventh-generation iPad. Otherwise, it retains the 10.2-inch Retina display, capable cameras, and support for the first-generation Apple Pencil ($99) and Smart Keyboard ($159). Its price also remains the same, starting at $329, with education pricing for a broadly defined set of individuals at $309 and education pricing for institutions at $299.
More interesting is the new fourth-generation iPad Air. The third-generation iPad Air was essentially a stripped-down version of the older 10.5-inch iPad Pro, and the fourth-generation model continues that trend with the current 11-inch iPad Pro. The new iPad Air features the same squared-off design, full-screen display, and 12-megapixel rear camera, and it has an almost identical form factor. It’s compatible with the second-generation Apple Pencil ($129) and both the Magic Keyboard ($299) and Smart Keyboard Folio ($179). Finally, it swaps the traditional Lightning port for the USB-C port also used by the iPad Pro.
However, the new iPad Air also features Apple’s newest chip—the A14 Bionic—and eliminates the need for a Home button by building a Touch ID sensor into the top button. That clever approach lets Apple reduce the size of the bezels around the screen while avoiding the cost of the TrueDepth camera necessary for Face ID and simultaneously making the iPad Air easier to use for those wearing masks.
The new iPad Air with 64 GB of storage starts at $599 for Wi-Fi–only models and $729 for cellular-capable models. Bumping the storage to 256 GB adds $150 to the price. It’s available in five colors: space gray, silver, rose gold, green, and sky blue.
Apple Fitness+ and Apple One Bundles
Finally, Apple unveiled its latest subscription service: Apple Fitness+. It’s a “workout experience” that combines metrics from an Apple Watch Series 3 or later with studio-style workouts that you view on an iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV. World-class trainers present classes across a variety of disciplines, including cycling, treadmill, rowing, HIIT, strength, yoga, dance, core, and mindful cooldown. For novices, there’s an Absolute Beginner program.
When you start a workout on an iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV, the correct workout type automatically starts on your Apple Watch. While you’re exercising, heart rate and workout times are shown on the screen. When Apple Fitness+ launches, sometime before the end of the year, it will cost $9.99 per month or $79.99 per year, and you’ll be able to try it free for a month.
If you’ve found yourself subscribing to multiple Apple services and paying for additional iCloud storage, you may be able to save money with the new Apple One bundles:
- Apple One Individual: For $14.95 per month, you get Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and 50 GB of iCloud storage, a savings of $6.01 per month.
- Apple One Family: For $19.95 per month for up to six family members, you get Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and 200 GB of iCloud storage, a savings of $8.01 per month.
- Apple One Premier: For $29.95 per month, you get everything: Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, Apple News+, Apple Fitness+, and 2 TB of iCloud storage, all of which can be shared among six family members. That adds up to a savings of $24.95 per month.
Of course, these bundles are worthwhile only if you’re interested in all the included services, but for those who are already paying for a collection of Apple services, they provide a nice discount.
(Featured image by Apple)
Social Media: Looking for a new Apple Watch or iPad? The new Apple Watch Series 6 tracks blood oxygen saturation, and the Apple Watch SE cuts the price by 30%. The new iPad Air has great performance without the iPad Pro price, and the new iPad remains cheap at $329.
Every year at its Worldwide Developer Conference, Apple lays out its roadmap for the next releases of each of its operating systems. The COVID-19 pandemic forced Apple to record its keynote presentation ahead of time rather than having it live, but the company doesn’t seem to have tempered its ambitions for macOS 11.0 Big Sur, iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and watchOS 7.
Apple never promises ship dates this early in the process, but it’s a good bet that we’ll see these operating system updates in September or October, given past release dates.
Here’s what to look forward to!
macOS 11.0 Big Sur
Yes, you read that right—the macOS version number finally goes to 11, and it’s named after the Big Sur region of California. Its changes fall into three main categories: design, updates to essential apps, and support for Apple silicon (see our other article about that).
Apple says that macOS 11.0 Big Sur embodies the biggest change in design since the release of Mac OS X in 2001. It still looks familiar but changes nearly every aspect of the visual interface. Window frames are gone, title bars have shrunk and been joined by icon-focused toolbars, and visual complexity has been reduced. Windows and icons are both more rounded than before, and the Dock now sits slightly above the bottom of the screen, much like in iPadOS.
Big Sur also gains a Control Center along the lines of the one in iOS and watchOS, with the twist that you can pin your most-used controls to the top of the menu bar. Apple also revamped Notification Center with features from iOS, making notifications more interactive, grouping them by thread or app, and letting you do more with widgets.
Apple rewrote all its apps to ensure that they’d run natively on Macs with Apple silicon, but some received more substantial changes as well. Messages allows threading in group conversations, lets you @mention people like in Slack or Twitter, and allows you to pin conversations to the top of your list.
Safari exposes more of its privacy-protecting features, allowing you to view a privacy report that shows trackers blocked in the last 30 days, warns you if your account passwords may have been compromised in a data breach, and can translate pages from a number of languages.
Maps provides cycling directions, can include charging stations when routing electric car owners, and provides Apple Guides with travel suggestions. Many other apps, including Photos, Music, Podcasts, Reminders, and Voice Memos receive smaller enhancements.
Remember that new Macs with Apple silicon will require Big Sur, both to support the new Apple processors and for its Rosetta 2 translation environment that makes it possible to run existing Intel-based apps on Macs that lack Intel processors.
macOS 11.0 Big Sur officially supports the following Macs. A few Catalina-capable models from 2012 and 2013 have been dropped.
- MacBook (early 2015 and later)
- MacBook Air (mid 2013 and later)
- MacBook Pro (mid 2013 and later)
- Mac mini (2014 and later)
- iMac (2014 and later)
- iMac Pro (2017 and later)
- Mac Pro (2013 and later)
Just as macOS Big Sur is the most significant design refresh since Mac OS X, iOS 14 brings a huge change to the look and feel of iOS, thanks to a revamped Home screen. Apple has finally acknowledged that most people know what’s on the first Home screen page and maybe the second, and everything after that is a jumbled mess.
To address that problem, iOS 14 introduces the App Library, which is the rightmost Home screen page. It collects all your apps (below left). It groups apps by Suggestions, Recently Added, and curated categories like Creativity, Entertainment, and Social. Inside each group, all your apps appear alphabetically for easy access. With the App Library, it’s easy to add apps to the Home screen and remove Home screen pages you don’t need anymore.
Even more radical is how iOS 14 lets you break widgets out of Today view and embed them on the Home screen in a variety of sizes (above right). No more opening a weather app just to see the temperature—a widget can give you a quick overview of the conditions and forecast. Or a stock widget can show you just how much AAPL has gone up since the announcement.
You’ll also notice instantly that Siri no longer takes over the entire screen, instead showing you an icon that indicates it’s listening and putting the results in panels on top of whatever app you’re using (below left). Similarly, call notifications will be presented as a standard notification banner rather than obscuring the app you were using (below right). Voice dictation now happens on the device, which should improve responsiveness and privacy. Siri can do translations now, and a new Translate app makes it possible to have a conversation with someone in an unfamiliar language.
Needless to say, there are many other smaller changes. Both Messages and Maps gain the features mentioned previously for macOS. New “App Clips” let you use a tiny bit of an app without installing the whole thing, which is ideal for renting a scooter without having its app, for instance. For those who watch video on an iPhone, iOS 14 now supports picture-in-picture. And for some people, the most welcome change will be the option to specify your own default Web and email apps.
iOS 14 works with the iPhone 6s and first-generation iPhone SE and later, and with the seventh-generation iPod touch.
As you’d expect, iPadOS 14 gains all the iOS 14 changes. But Apple has also spent some time making iPadOS work more like macOS, redesigning and adding sidebars to many apps, putting toolbars at the top of the screen, and adding pull-down menus to apps like Files. Apple also overhauled the iPadOS search experience, trading the previous full screen look for a simple gray bar that—you guessed it—looks a lot like the macOS Spotlight search interface.
The other massive change for iPadOS is Scribble, Apple’s marketing name for its new handwriting recognition feature. Anywhere you can enter text, you’ll be able to write with your Apple Pencil and have your writing converted to typed text (in English or Chinese, at least). All transcription happens on the device for performance and privacy reasons. You can also select handwritten words by circling them, scratch words to delete them, touch and hold between words to add a space, and more.
In Notes and other apps that support handwriting, you’ll be able to select words or sentences with double and triple taps. A shortcut palette lets you perform common actions without using the onscreen keyboard, including Copy As Text, which lets you copy handwritten text and paste as typed text. Other Apple Pencil gestures include dragging to select and adding or deleting space between sentences or paragraphs. Finally, shape recognition lets you sketch a rough shape and have it automatically converted to a perfectly drawn version.
iPadOS 14 works with the fifth-generation iPad and later, the iPad Air 2 and later, the iPad mini 4 and later, and all models of the iPad Pro.
Unsurprisingly, watchOS 7 doesn’t deliver as major changes as in Apple’s other operating systems—there simply isn’t room to do as much. Nonetheless, it offers some nice enhancements, starting with new watch faces. For instance, Chronograph Pro has a tachymeter with room for customization, and X‑Large lets you show a single rich complication. You can also add multiple complications from the same app to a face. Once you’ve created the perfect face, you can share it with friends by texting it, emailing it, or posting a link online.
The most notable change in watchOS 7, though, is sleep tracking. Wear your Apple Watch while you sleep, and it will automatically go into sleep mode, turning on Do Not Disturb and preventing the screen from lighting up (but a tap shows a dim time display). watchOS 7 then uses the Apple Watch’s accelerometer to detect sleep states and reports on them when it wakes you up in the morning, either with gentle sounds or taps on your wrist. It will even ask you to charge your Apple Watch before bed if it needs more juice to get through the night, and prompts you to put it on the charger when you wake up so it can get through the day.
The most timely addition to watchOS is handwashing detection and encouragement. When the Apple Watch’s motion sensors and microphone detect that you’re washing your hands, it starts a 20-second timer and encourages you to keep washing through to the end. Plus, when you arrive home after being out, the Apple Watch reminds you to wash your hands. Stay safe out there!
To acknowledge the level that people use the Apple Watch for fitness, Apple has renamed the Activity app to Fitness and added additional workouts for core training, functional strength training, and dance. Plus, you can now use Maps to get on-wrist cycling directions. Siri can translate into ten languages, and watchOS 7 now does on-device dictation for faster and more reliable requests.
watchOS 7 requires at least an iPhone 6s running iOS 14 and an Apple Watch Series 3 or later.
(Featured image by Apple)
Social Media: At its Worldwide Developer Conference, Apple showed off the next versions of its major operating systems: macOS 11.0 Big Sur, iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and watchOS 7. Here’s what you can expect this fall.
If you’re plugging your iPhone in regularly but getting low-battery warnings when you shouldn’t, consider the possibility that something is preventing your iPhone from charging successfully while plugged in. If there’s no lightning bolt badge on the battery icon when the iPhone is plugged in, that’s a sure sign that no power is reaching the device. Another hint that failures could be happening intermittently would be a lack of charging in the Last Charge Level graph in Settings > Battery when you know the iPhone was plugged in. Luckily, the solution is often easy. Take a wooden (not metal) toothpick and gently poke around inside the iPhone’s Lightning port for pocket fuzz. You’d be amazed how much crud can end up in there. If cleaning doesn’t solve the problem and you use only a single Lightning cable to charge, try another one.
(Featured image by Adam Engst)
Four years after the release of the original iPhone SE, Apple has introduced a second-generation iPhone SE with aggressive pricing that starts at just $399. Whereas the original model used the svelte, easy-to-hold iPhone 5s case design with a 4-inch screen, this new iPhone SE repurposes the larger iPhone 8 design with its 4.7-inch screen. But Apple didn’t just rebrand the iPhone 8. The new iPhone SE sports several important updates that make it a compelling purchase for the price, including a new processor and eSIM capability.
Most notably, Apple upgraded the iPhone 8’s A11 Bionic chip to the faster, more capable A13 Bionic chip that powers the latest iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro models. Apart from pure speed, the A13 Bionic provides additional computational photography capabilities. Even though the iPhone SE has only a single rear-facing camera, unlike the multiple cameras on the backs of the iPhone 11 models, it still supports iOS 13’s Portrait mode and all six Portrait Lighting effects. The A13 Bionic will also likely increase the quality of iPhone SE photos beyond what the iPhone 8 could do with the same physical camera.
There are two additional changes of note from the iPhone 8, one good, one less so. On the positive side, Apple added eSIM capability, which makes it possible for an iPhone SE to support two cell numbers, each with its own carrier and plan. That’s primarily helpful for those who frequently travel overseas. Less welcome is the switch from the pressure-sensitive 3D Touch to Haptic Touch, which simply registers long presses with haptic feedback. But all of Apple’s 2019 iPhone models moved to Haptic Touch, and iOS 13 supports Haptic Touch well, so it’s not much of a loss.
Other important specs from the iPhone 8 that remain unchanged include:
- Touch ID: The new iPhone SE continues to rely on the classic Touch ID sensor embedded in the Home button for unlocking and authenticating. In a time when we may be wearing masks a lot, Touch ID may be more welcome than Face ID.
- 4.7-inch display: The iPhone SE’s screen is smaller than the 6.1-inch and 5.8-inch screens in the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro. But it’s still a Retina HD screen with True Tone—few people will notice much of a difference in quality.
- Cameras: The iPhone SE’s rear-facing camera has a 12-megapixel sensor with optical image stabilization, and it can record 4K video at up to 60 frames per second. The front-facing camera is 7 megapixels and supports 1080p video at 30 fps.
- Battery life and charging: Battery life should be similar to that of the iPhone 8, so you should be able to go all day on a charge. If you do need to top up, the iPhone SE supports fast charging, and it’s also compatible with Qi wireless charging pads.
What makes this second-generation iPhone SE compelling is its pricing. For a 64 GB model, the price is $399. 128 GB costs $449, and 256 GB is $549. In comparison, you’d pay $200 more for 2018’s iPhone XR, $300 more for the current iPhone 11, and $600 more for today’s iPhone 11 Pro. Those phones may have Face ID and take better photos, but it’s great that Apple is finally offering a budget-friendly iPhone once again.
Some people will be disappointed with the size of the new iPhone SE. Yes, it’s a lot smaller than the iPhone 11, and a bit more pocket-friendly than the iPhone 11 Pro, but it’s significantly beefier than the original iPhone SE. If you were hoping that Apple would bring back an iPhone for those with smaller hands and smaller pockets, sorry.
The new iPhone SE will be available for pre-order starting on Friday, April 17th, with deliveries and store availability starting a week later on April 24th. For the body color, you can choose black or white, or you can go for the bright red PRODUCT(RED) version, the proceeds from which will go to help the Global Fund’s COVID-19 Response through September 30th.
(Featured image by Apple)
Social Media: Looking for a new iPhone that won’t break your budget? The new iPhone SE is basically a souped-up iPhone 8 for $300 less than the iPhone 11. Read more at:
In a widely expected update, Apple has introduced a new MacBook Air that replaces the much-maligned butterfly keyboard with the new Magic Keyboard. The MacBook Air also gains faster processors, enhanced graphics, and more storage options, all for $200 less than before.
Apple also threw back the curtains on an updated iPad Pro that will be compatible with a new iPad Pro-specific Magic Keyboard that includes a trackpad. The iPad Pro is available now, but the Magic Keyboard won’t ship until May.
MacBook Air Gains Magic Keyboard, Faster Performance, and Other Enhancements
In an effort to eliminate the hated butterfly keyboard from the Mac line, Apple has released an updated MacBook Air that features the scissor-key Magic Keyboard introduced last year in the 16-inch MacBook Pro. That keyboard has received highly positive reviews, and we’re happy to see it appear in the MacBook Air. (Look for a new model to replace the current 13-inch MacBook Pro soon as well.) The Magic Keyboard includes 12 function keys as well as a Touch ID sensor, but no Touch Bar.
Apple significantly improved the MacBook Air’s performance by providing a choice of 10th-generation Intel Core processors, including the model’s first quad-core processor option. The base level 1.1 GHz dual-core Intel Core i3 is probably pretty slow, but upgrading to a 1.1 GHz quad-core i5 is only $100 and a 1.2 GHz quad-core i7 is just $250.
Graphics should be noticeably speedier as well, thanks to the switch to Intel Iris Plus Graphics. The MacBook Air can now drive a 6K display too, if you have a Pro Display XDR.
Apple also doubled the base level of storage to 256 GB, and you can increase that to 512 GB ($200), 1 TB ($400), or 2 TB ($800).
Minor enhancements include True Tone technology for more natural images on the 13-inch Retina display, “wide stereo sound” for the speakers, and support for Bluetooth 5.0.
As welcome as all these changes are, the best news is that Apple simultaneously dropped the MacBook Air’s price. The entry-level model now starts at $999, and it’s available to the education market for just $899.
We were waiting for the Magic Keyboard to come to the MacBook Air, but we had no inkling that Apple was going to add a trackpad option to the iPad Pro. It will come in the form of the new Magic Keyboard, due in May, and will require iPadOS 13.4, slated for late March. Apple says it will be easy to use, with the pointer transforming to highlight user elements appropriately as the user moves their finger across the trackpad. What it won’t be is cheap, at $299 for the 11-inch model and $349 for the 12.9-inch model. (The second-generation Apple Pencil and an updated Smart Keyboard Folio remain available.)
The other unexpected change in the new iPad Pro is the addition of the new LiDAR Scanner. LiDAR (light detection and ranging) is a way of measuring distance with reflected laser light. It’s commonly used in self-driving cars, but Apple is instead using it to beef up the iPad Pro’s augmented reality (AR) capabilities. It offers existing ARKit apps instant AR placement, improved motion capture, and people occlusion. Apple also uses it to improve the Measure app. We can’t help but think Apple is testing the technology for future AR goggles.
Less surprising improvements include a new processor—Apple’s custom A12Z Bionic chip—and a dual-camera system that combines a 12-megapixel wide camera and a 10-megapixel ultra-wide camera that zooms out two times to capture a much wider field of view. The iPad Pro also now boasts five microphones for capturing audio and four speakers that automatically adjust to any orientation.
Pricing for the iPad Pro itself hasn’t changed. The 11-inch model starts at $799, with the 12.9-inch model at $999. Both come with 128 GB of flash storage, up from 64 GB in the previous models, and you can buy more storage: 256 GB (add $100), 512 GB ($300), or 1 TB ($500). Cellular connectivity costs an extra $150.
Last and indeed least, Apple announced that the standard configurations of the Mac mini now have twice as much storage as before. That means the $799 configuration comes with 256 GB and the $1099 configuration comes with 512 GB. 1 TB and 2TB configurations remain available, and there are no other changes.
(Featured image by Apple)
Social Media: Here’s some good news! Apple has introduced a new MacBook Air with a better keyboard and faster processor for $200 less. And there’s a new iPad Pro with trackpad support. Seriously! Check out the news at:
We’ve all had it happen. “Can I use your Mac for a minute to check my email?” The answer can be “Yes,” but to keep people from poking around on your Mac, have your visitor log in as Guest. To enable the Guest account, go to System Preferences > Users & Groups. If the lock at the bottom left is closed, click it and enter your admin credentials. Then click Guest User in the list, and select “Allow guests to log in to this computer.” To switch to the Guest account, go to the Apple menu and choose Log Out YourAccountName to access the login screen. Your guest can then click the Guest User icon, at which point they’ll have a clean account to work in. When they log out, the account—including any files they created or downloaded—will be deleted, thus protecting their privacy as well.
(Featured image by Apple)
Heads up! If you’re using an older 15-inch MacBook Pro—the version with lots of ports that predates the current Thunderbolt 3 models—Apple has started a recall program to replace batteries that could explode and catch on fire. (We’re not kidding.) The affected MacBook Pro models were sold primarily between September 2015 and February 2017. To find out if your 15-inch MacBook Pro is affected, enter its serial number into Apple’s recall page. If it is included in the recall, shut it down and stop using it immediately! Contact Apple for a free battery replacement, and if you need any assistance, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.
(Image courtesy of Apple)
I’ve heard one too many stories of people bagging up their old family photos and albums and tossing them to the curb. It hurts my heart to see the years of family history and knowledge that these photos provide in the mix with old coffee grounds, rotting roses or last week’s tuna casserole.
The myth that future generations won’t care about these old photos prompted the mass disposal of truly invaluable family photo albums. However, in the ever-evolving digital age, old printed photos of our ancestors or relatives have become a prized treasure in the lives of young people. Photographs tell us where we came from and help give many a sense of identity. To best preserve your family’s history, here are eight ways to take care of those images and keep them out of the trash.
1. Store Safely. To start, I highly recommend simply placing your photo albums in archival-safe plastic bags so that the natural elements, most commonly dust and sunlight, don’t get to your photos. (More on the further organization of your photo albums later.)
If your photos already rest inside photo-safe plastic sleeves or are stuck to acid-free scrapbook paper, you don’t need to worry about taking them out of these albums. They are safe, and these plastic bags provide additional protection to your albums when they’re stored.
2. Beware of old albums. If your photos are in so-called magnetic albums, take them out as soon as possible! The chemicals used in these albums are highly detrimental to photos. These albums, in fact, are not magnetic but instead use an adhesive on a page in which you sandwich a photo between a sticky coating and a plastic sheet. The culprit of destruction is the highly acidic glue, which causes photos to yellow and makes them very difficult to remove.
3. Remove stuck photos (if you can). So how do you get these photos out of the dreaded magnetic album? First, I don’t recommend using anything resembling a knife. This practice risks further damage since just one slip could slice through an entire photo.
Instead, use dental floss. Just lift one corner of your photo and gently saw the dental floss back and forth underneath until it becomes unglued. If a photo is especially difficult to peel off the sticky paper, you can use a hair dryer to heat up the glue and melt it into compliance.
Keep in mind that if the photos in these albums are more than 60 years old, the damage has likely already been done and taking them out could cause even more irreparable harm. Consider the magnetic album to be the final resting place for antique photos.
4. Jot down details. Preserving the written knowledge is just as important as preserving the actual photos. Make sure to note dates and corresponding info as you peel photos out of albums. It’s important to know the timeline of these photos as well as who or what the subjects are.
You can use index cards to record this information until you can provide a new home for your photos, or use an archival pencil to write information on the back of the photos themselves. If you find additional documents that are crucial to the story behind a photo, like notes, birth certificates or newspaper clippings, keep them with the photo so that you can place them side by side in the new album.
5. Create a digital backup. Before putting your photos in a new nonmagnetic photo album, consider scanning them. Doing so will guarantee access to your history should an accident or the natural progression of time destroy the original prints. Once they’re scanned, you have the option to create digital scrapbooks that you can share with family and friends.
6. Compile your photos in a safe album. Today you have many choices for photo albums. You can still purchase traditional styles that allow you to place the actual photo in a photo-safe sleeve or a scrapbook album. If you have digitized, you photos you can easily create a digital photobook.
7. Make albums accessible. If you’re someone who prefers to flip through photo albums often, you can always display them around the house. Consider making a digital photo album with the scans and storing the original photos in a safe place. Bookshelves are common places to store your albums. If they’re in sight, I can guarantee that family members will find them and crowd around the photos to laugh and revel in a shared history.
8. Frame a few. Don’t forget to display some of your favorite photos! You can them hang in frames around the house, and they will undoubtedly become a favorite conversation starter. I recommend printing out the scanned version of these photos and then keeping the originals stored safely in a photo album. Poisonous UV rays are likely to creep through windows and shine upon the photos you have on display, so keep the originals safe.
If you take the steps necessary to properly preserve your family history today, future generations will also be able to take part in the joy and revelation that comes with untangling the mysteries of the past. Not only is it amusing to look back on the ludicrous trends and hairstyles, but these photos also provide a sense of connection to our past and our future. Our personal family histories connect us to the people who came before us and make sense of the world we are living in now.
Bio: Cathi Nelson, author of Photo Organizing Made Easy; Going from Overwhelmed to Overjoyed, is the founder of APPO (Association of Personal Photo Organizers), a membership organization dedicated to helping thousands of entrepreneurs from around the globe build successful photo preservation and organizing businesses.