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The Many New Lock Screen Customizations in iOS 16

iOS 16 has been out for a bit now, and it’s likely safe to upgrade as long as you don’t rely on obsolete apps that might not be compatible. When you take the plunge, the first new feature to check out is the capability to create, customize, and switch among multiple Lock Screens, each with its own wallpaper, clock font, and widgets. It’s reminiscent of how you customize Apple Watch faces. Plus, you can now link a Lock Screen to a Focus so you know when that Focus is active.

To get started, touch and hold the Lock Screen until the Lock Screen switcher appears. (Your iPhone must be unlocked at this point, which can be a bit tricky with a Touch ID-based iPhone—gently touch the Home button to authenticate, but don’t press it or you’ll open the Home Screen.)

Tap the blue plus button to create a new Lock Screen—see below for how to configure it. Once you have several Lock Screens, swipe left and right to pick one, and tap it to make it active. You can customize aspects of a Lock Screen after creating it by tapping the Customize button, and if you don’t like what you’ve done, delete it by swiping up and tapping the trash button.

Wallpapers

iOS 16 offers seven types of wallpapers, which you select while creating a Lock Screen by tapping buttons at the top or samples in a visual gallery below.

  • Photos: Most people will choose a photo for their wallpaper. iOS 16 uses machine learning to identify images that are likely to work well, separating them with image-selection filters into four categories: People, Pets, Nature, and Cities. You can also scroll through all your photos or particular albums and search for photos. Some people and pets will float above the clock (unless you add widgets), but you can toggle that with the Depth Effect option accessible in the ••• button.
  • Photo Shuffle: Having trouble deciding which photo you prefer? The Photo Shuffle wallpaper automatically selects and switches between photos for you, letting you specify which categories to use, which people to include, and even which individual photos to show or hide (tap the ••• button to remove a suggested photo from the rotation). You can set the photo to rotate with a tap on the Lock Screen, whenever you lock your iPhone, hourly, or daily.
  • Emoji: This wallpaper tiles up to six emoji in several different grid sizes and layouts, and you can change the background color by tapping the ••• button. Thanks to Apple’s quality emoji art, the Emoji wallpaper is surprisingly attractive.
  • Weather: Those who work in windowless offices might particularly appreciate the Weather wallpaper, which changes to reflect the current weather conditions (and time of day) in your location.
  • Astronomy: For a broader perspective, the Astronomy wallpaper lets you look at the Earth, Moon, or solar system whenever you pick up your iPhone. Swipe to pick your preferred celestial body and zoom level.
  • Color: Want something simpler? The Color wallpaper lets you choose a background color gradient from the color picker. Swipe to apply different effects.
  • Collections: This category, which appears only in the gallery, provides Apple-designed graphics such as Unity, Pride, and the clownfish wallpaper from the original iPhone.

Take some time to explore all the wallpaper types and their options—the combinations are nearly endless. There’s no downside to creating and switching among different Lock Screens as the mood strikes you.

Clock font and color

Once you decide on a wallpaper for a Lock Screen, you can customize the clock font and color by tapping the clock. There are only eight font options, but you should be able to find one you like. With color, Apple provides some suggestions below the font choices, but if you scroll all the way to the right and tap the color wheel, you can use iOS 16’s color pickers to select any color. The goal is to make sure it’s readable against the background image you’ve chosen.

Widgets

Beyond the eye candy of wallpapers and the customizable clock, widgets make the iOS 16 Lock Screen more useful than ever. Some iPhone users are accustomed to having flashlight and camera buttons on the Lock screen—everyone can now add widgets to two distinct zones on the Lock Screen, above and below the clock. The widget zone above the clock holds only a single line of text or other controls, and it always displays alongside the date, which shrinks if necessary. The zone below the clock is taller and can hold two sizes of widgets: small ones that occupy a single slot and large ones that take over two slots. You can mix and match small and large widgets to fill—or not—the four available slots.

To add widgets, tap the desired zone and tap widgets in the panel that appears. Suggestions appear at the top, but if you scroll down, you can see a list of all the apps that offer widgets. Tap an app to see its widgets—swipe to see the full set it offers. Once you’ve added a widget, you may be able to tap it again to configure it—such as by specifying tickers for the Stocks widget. To rearrange widgets, drag them but be aware that this works poorly at the moment; it may be easier to delete the widgets (tap the ⊖ button) and add them again in the desired order.

Focus

Focus subsumed Do Not Disturb in iOS 15. Although Focus is far more flexible and customizable than Do Not Disturb, that power also makes it hard to predict when notifications will be blocked, since it can be difficult to know when a Focus is active. With iOS 16, Apple has made Focus more obvious by letting you link a Focus to a Lock Screen.

When you’re in the Lock Screen switcher, a Focus button appears toward the bottom of each Lock Screen. Tap it and select a Focus to link them.

Two things become true once you’ve linked a Focus to a Lock Screen:

  • When you activate that Focus in Control Center, or its settings cause it to activate automatically, iOS 16 switches to the linked Lock Screen. That’s handy if you have a manually triggered Focus for family time, for instance, or an automatically activated Focus for Driving.
  • When you switch to a particular Lock Screen, its linked Focus activates and starts blocking notifications. It’s probably easier to activate a Focus in Control Center, but switching Lock Screens has the same effect.

It may take a few weeks to figure out what Lock Screens you prefer and customize them to your liking, but we think you’ll enjoy this new feature.

(Featured image by Adam Engst)


Social Media: iOS 16’s marquee feature is customizable Lock Screens—read on to learn how to make multiple Lock Screens, each with its own wallpaper, clock font and color, and interactive widgets.

Apple’s 2022 Harvest: Four iPhones, Three Apple Watches, and New AirPods Pro

Apple’s September crop has ripened, and the company has once again picked a basket of new and updated hardware for us. At its Far Out event on September 7th, Apple unveiled four iPhone 14 models, three new or updated Apple Watch models, and the second-generation AirPods Pro.

After the announcement, Apple said that iOS 16 and watchOS 9 would become available on September 12th, with iPadOS 16.1 and macOS 13 Ventura to arrive in October. As we’ve said before, wait a week or two before installing iOS 16 and watchOS 9 on essential devices to avoid any last-minute bugs. Regardless of when you upgrade, make a backup right before, in case something goes wrong and you need to erase and restore.

Let’s look at each of the new products.

iPhone 14 Models Show Both Evolution and Innovation

With the new iPhones, Apple made a clean split between the regular and Pro models. On the lower end, Apple has the 6.1-inch iPhone 14 and the 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Plus—there is no iPhone 14 mini. On the high end, Apple pulled out all the stops for the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max, again in those 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch sizes. Design-wise, the models are extremely similar to the iPhone 13, with squared-off sides and only very slight size changes.

For the most part, the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus aren’t meant to be technologically exciting, relying on the same A15 Bionic chip as last year’s iPhone 13 models. As it usually does, Apple put more attention into the cameras, switching to a new rear-facing 12-megapixel main camera with a larger aperture for better low-light performance and a new front-facing TrueDepth camera that boasts autofocus for the first time. Apple also introduced a new Photonic Engine that leverages hardware and software to improve mid- and low-light performance for all its cameras. On the video side, a new Action mode provides advanced stabilization for smoother action videos, and Cinematic mode now supports 4K video at 24 fps and 30 fps.

More innovative—and present in both the regular and Pro models—are a pair of technologies we sincerely hope you never have to use. Crash detection relies on a variety of sensors in the iPhone to detect the changes in acceleration, air pressure, and sound that accompany car crashes. In the event of a crash, the iPhone’s Emergency SOS feature offers to call emergency services and notify your emergency contacts.

Even more technologically impressive is Emergency SOS via satellite, which enables very low bandwidth text message communication with emergency services using satellites when there’s no cellular coverage. The feature will help you point your iPhone at fast-moving satellites overhead, and it asks vital questions to distill key facts for emergency responders because even short messages may take over a minute to get through. More commonly, you’ll be able to manually share your location via satellite using Apple’s Find My system when you’re without cellular or Wi-Fi connectivity. All this is coming in November 2022 and will be available only in the US and Canada at first.

Apple’s final change to both the regular and Pro models—at least in the US—is a switch to eSIM. None of the iPhone 14 models sold in the US will have SIM slots. Most carriers support eSIM at this point, and when traveling to other countries, US iPhone 14 users will need to find roaming plans that support eSIM instead of buying and installing a local SIM card.

The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max boast more exciting changes. The most obvious change is the switch to an Always-On display, much like recent models of the Apple Watch. You’ll be able to view the new Lock screen imagery and widgets at all times without even touching your iPhone. Thanks to a 1 Hz display refresh rate and intelligent dimming of wallpaper, it won’t hurt battery life. And when you’re actively using the iPhone 14 Pro, the screen will be brighter than ever for easier reading in direct sunlight.

Apple also shrunk the Face ID and TrueDepth camera sensor package that occupies a notch on the regular iPhone 14 models and older iPhones. On the iPhone 14 Pro, it’s now a small black lozenge at the top of the screen that can’t display anything but is integrated into a new feature called the Dynamic Island. Alerts and notifications, and a new dynamic notification type called Live Activities, appear to zoom out of and back into the black lozenge, and Live Activities appear on either side. It’s a clever design trick to make you think that portion of the screen is being used.

The Dynamic Island and Always-On display are made possible in part by Apple’s new A16 Bionic chip, which offers more performance and better efficiency than any other smartphone processor. The A16 Bionic handles the most demanding workflows and graphics-intensive games, and it also powers the iPhone 14 Pro’s computational photography features, performing up to 4 trillion operations per photo.

On that topic, the iPhone 14 Pro introduces even more powerful cameras. The main rear-facing camera is now a 48-megapixel camera with a quad-pixel sensor that combines four pixels into one for most photos, improving low-light capture and reducing file size to the equivalent of a 12-megapixel camera. However, the iPhone 14 Pro can also shoot ProRAW photos with the full 48 megapixels to capture unprecedented detail for later processing. The quad-pixel sensor also enables a 2x optical zoom in addition to the improved telephoto camera’s 3x optical zoom. The new 12-megapixel ultra wide camera provides sharper macro shots, and the new front-facing TrueDepth camera offers better low-light performance and autofocus for improved selfies. Apple also enhanced the Adaptive True Tone flash to change its pattern based on the focal length, distributing the light where it’s most needed. Finally, the iPhone 14 Pro gains the same Action mode and Cinematic mode video improvements found in the other iPhone 14 models.

All four iPhone 14 models start at 128 GB of storage, and the Pro models offer a 1 TB tier for those shooting a lot of ProRAW photos or video. Here are the 128 GB prices—add $100 for 256 GB, $300 for 512 GB, and $500 for 1 TB:

  • iPhone 14: $799
  • iPhone 14 Plus: $899
  • iPhone 14 Pro: $999
  • iPhone 14 Pro Max: $1099

You can pre-order starting at 5 AM PDT on September 9th, with delivery and in-store availability on September 16th, except for the iPhone 14 Plus, which ships on October 7th. The iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus come in five colors: midnight, blue, starlight, purple, and (PRODUCT)RED. The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max come in deep purple, silver, gold, and space black. The third-generation iPhone SE ($429), iPhone 12 ($599), iPhone 13 mini ($599), and iPhone 13 ($699) remain for sale as well.

Generally speaking, we wouldn’t recommend upgrading from an iPhone 13 that’s serving you well unless you’re switching to the iPhone 14 Plus to get a larger form factor or to one of the Pro models for the ultimate in camera capabilities. It’s easier to recommend an upgrade from an iPhone 12 model or earlier, given the improved camera capabilities.

Apple Watch Line Expands with Apple Watch Ultra

This year, Apple introduced not just one new Apple Watch, but three! The second-generation Apple Watch SE provides a better entry-level option, the Apple Watch Series 8 takes over as the flagship model, and the Apple Watch Ultra brings new capabilities to extreme athletes, adventurers, and the rest of ​​us wannabes.

The second-generation Apple Watch SE doesn’t change much from the first-generation model. It has a 30% larger screen in the same 40mm and 45mm case sizes, it boasts the same S8 chip that powers this year’s Apple Watch Series 8, and it has new motion sensors that enable it to detect car crashes, just like the iPhone 14. But it still lacks the more-capable models’ Always-On display, blood oxygen sensor, ECG capability, and fast charging. It costs $249 for a GPS-only model or $299 for the GPS+Cellular model. The case is aluminum, and you can choose from midnight, starlight, and silver colors. You can order now for delivery on September 16th.

The Apple Watch Series 8 doesn’t change physically from the Series 7, but it gains a temperature sensor that Apple leverages for cycle tracking capabilities. We’re hoping Apple can get FDA approval to use the temperature sensor for other health-related options in the future—wouldn’t it be great if your Apple Watch could warn you that you might be getting sick? The Series 8 also gets the new motion sensors to detect car crashes, and travelers will be able to add a cellular Series 8 to an iPhone’s international roaming plan—likely for an additional fee—if the carrier in question supports it. The aluminum case comes in four colors—midnight, starlight, silver, and Product(RED)—and starts at $399 for GPS-only and $499 for GPS+Cellular. The stainless steel case comes in silver, gold, and graphite and starts at $699. Again, order now for delivery on September 16th.

Most interesting is the new Apple Watch Ultra. It’s a completely new design with a 49mm titanium case and a flat sapphire front crystal embedded in the case to protect against side impacts. At 14.4 millimeters, it’s thicker than the other two models, which are only 10.7 millimeters, so it may look ungainly on people with smaller wrists. It features a new Action button that apps can use for their own purposes, along with a larger Digital Crown and side button to make it easier to control with gloves. The Always-On screen is brighter than ever, making it readable in direct sunlight. The larger size also gives it better battery life, with 36 hours in normal usage and up to 60 hours with an extended battery optimization mode Apple says is still coming.

Apple beefed up other specs in the Apple Watch Ultra as well. A new dual-frequency GPS works better in conditions that can block GPS signals. It includes dual speakers and a three-mic array for better audio output and input, even in windy conditions. If you need help being found in the wilderness, it boasts an 86-decibel siren that can be heard up to 180 meters away. It’s IP6X dust resistant and meets the US military standard MIL-STD 810H for environmental conditions. You can even take it diving down to 100 meters, and with the Oceanic+ app coming in a few months, the Apple Watch Ultra can act as a full dive computer.

On the software side, the Apple Watch Ultra includes a new Wayfinder watch face that displays a compass and has a Night mode that switches to red on black for easier reading in the dark. A redesigned Compass app provides multiple views, a backtrack capability to retrace your steps, and waypoints for easier navigation.

The Apple Watch Ultra offers a choice of three bands: Alpine (nylon with a G-hook clasp), Ocean (a stretch elastomer with extensions to fit over wetsuits), and Trail (a nylon sport loop with a tab for easier adjusting). You can order now for $799, and it will ship on September 23rd.

Second-Generation AirPods Pro Improves on Previous Generation

Finally, Apple announced the second-generation AirPods Pro. Both the earbuds and the charging case look essentially the same, with the main subtle external change being that you can now adjust the volume with light swipes up and down on the stems of the AirPods Pro. A new extra small ear tip should make the AirPods Pro fit more people’s ears.

Instead, Apple focused its efforts on the internals of the AirPods Pro. A new H2 chip, coupled with a new low-distortion driver and custom amplifier, promises a better audio experience. The H2 chip also improves the Active Noise Cancellation feature, cutting out up to twice as much ambient noise, and the new Adaptive Transparency mode lets you hear what’s happening around you while simultaneously reducing noise from harsh sounds in the environment. When used with iOS 16, you’ll also be able to use Personalize Spatial Audio to customize what you hear based on the size and shape of your head and ears.

Perhaps most welcome is the additional 1.5 hours of listening time with Active Noise Cancellation that the new AirPods Pro offer. The charging case provides four additional charges for a combined total of 30 hours of listening time, 6 hours more than the previous model. You can now charge the case from an Apple Watch charger, a MagSafe charger, a Qi charger, or a regular Lightning cable. The new case is sweat- and water-resistant, includes a lanyard loop, and can be found when lost more easily thanks to a built-in speaker and support for Precision Finding in the Find My app when used with a compatible iPhone.

Pricing for the second-generation AirPods Pro remains the same at $249. You can order starting September 9th, and they’ll arrive starting September 23rd.

(Featured image by Apple)


Social Media: At its Far Out event, Apple introduced the iPhone 14 lineup, three new Apple Watches—including the Apple Watch Ultra—and the second-generation AirPods Pro. All are worth a look for Apple users; read on for details:

When Should You Upgrade to macOS 13 Ventura, iOS 16, iPadOS 16, watchOS 9, and tvOS 16?

September is here, which means that Apple will soon start releasing major upgrades for all its operating systems. Note that we say “start.” Apple will release iOS 16 and watchOS 9 alongside new iPhones and Apple Watch models in September. However, Apple has now acknowledged that iPadOS 16 will ship later in the fall—perhaps in October—as version 16.1, likely in conjunction with iOS 16.1 and possibly alongside macOS 13 Ventura. tvOS 16 isn’t interesting enough to worry about much either way.

Apple previewed these releases at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June, and many people have been testing the public betas since. Once Apple judges each of its operating systems to be ready for public consumption, the question arises—when should you upgrade?

Note that we say when and not if. There’s no harm in delaying a major operating system upgrade until Apple has sanded off rough edges that slipped through testing. But waiting too long puts you at risk from security vulnerabilities, increases compatibility annoyances, and prevents you from taking advantage of new features. Plus, when you buy a new Mac, iPhone, or iPad after these operating systems have shipped, you’ll get the latest version, which could pose problems for your existing apps or compatibility with older hardware or workflows. It’s best to be prepared if you have to replace a device unexpectedly.

Given that we don’t know precisely when each operating system will come out, here’s our recommendation for the general upgrade order that we anticipate and how long we suggest waiting after the release appears. Remember, always make a backup before upgrading a Mac, iPhone, or iPad so you can revert if necessary.

iOS 16

It’s usually safe to upgrade iOS fairly quickly because Apple puts significant effort into ensuring that the new iOS version is a good experience for those who buy the new iPhones that come with it. However, because iPhones are so crucial to our everyday lives, it’s worth delaying the upgrade to iOS 16 for a few weeks, just in case. After that, you can install it and enjoy the new features.

You’ll likely enjoy iOS 16’s customizable Lock screen, which lets you specify the font, color, and placement of various options, all of which appear with photos that can shuffle throughout the day. Widgets can now appear on the Lock screen too, providing at-a-glance weather and other info even without unlocking your iPhone. The new dictation capabilities that let you talk, select, and type without switching modes may also be game-changing for some, and dictation will even add punctuation automatically and let you enter emojis with voice commands.

However, some features may not be fully available at the start due to Apple’s tight integration of operating systems. Messages will finally let you edit messages after sending, undo sending, and mark messages as unread—but editing and unsending won’t work for messages sent to people running anything earlier than iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and Ventura. We’re unsure if Apple will enable iCloud Shared Photo Library, which lets you automatically share an entire library of photos with family members or friends, until iPadOS 16 and Ventura are out as well. Similarly, the Continuity Camera feature of iOS 16, which lets you use your iPhone as a webcam for your Mac’s videoconferencing apps, won’t be available until Ventura ships.

watchOS 9

Once you upgrade your iPhone to iOS 16, there’s no reason to delay upgrading your Apple Watch to watchOS 9. You may not even notice the difference since none of the changes are likely to force changes in your usage patterns.

New features include new views and more metrics in the Workout app, including a display of heart rate zones and pace feedback. You can customize workout and recovery intervals, race against previous routes, get running form metrics, and see your running power. Also new is a Medications app that helps you remember to take medications and log them from reminders. And, of course, there are more watch faces.

tvOS 16

We don’t know when Apple will release tvOS 16, but the changes are so minimal that it doesn’t matter much. tvOS 16 will support more Bluetooth gaming controllers, provide full support of the Matter smart home standard, and offer more integration with your other Apple devices, such as with workouts in Apple Fitness+.

Unless something in that list encourages you to upgrade as soon as it’s out, we suggest letting your Apple TV (the fourth-generation model and later) upgrade itself when it gets around to it, assuming you have automatic updates turned on in Settings > Software Updates.

iPadOS 16

iPadOS 16 may not be available until October, but once it ships, our general advice is that it’s fine to update. For the most part, iPadOS is a superset of iOS, so if anything, Apple should have had some time to fix any early bugs that cropped up in iOS 16 before releasing iPadOS 16.

The big new feature in iPadOS 16—if you have an M1-equipped iPad like the latest iPad Air or iPad Pro—is Stage Manager, which brings a structured windowing system to the iPad and Mac. Stage Manager lets you stack up to four apps in an overlapping view, providing additional sets of apps off to the side in a sort of secondary Dock. If you connect your iPad to an external display (along with a keyboard and pointing device), it offers another separate workspace, so you can work more fluidly in multiple apps at once.

If you want to see more on screen, a new display scaling mode shrinks interface elements and content. It may make Stage Manager and Split View more helpful. You’ll also likely enjoy a better search in Mail, plus options to undo sending, schedule sending, follow up on sent messages, and add rich links. (These Mail features are shared with iOS 16 and Ventura.) Last but not least, the iPad finally gets its own Weather app.

macOS 13 Ventura

The hardest upgrade decision revolves around upgrading your Mac to macOS 13 Ventura, and that assumes you can upgrade at all, given that Apple has dropped support for all Macs released before 2017. The main new feature that you might find compelling is Stage Manager, although most longtime Mac users probably already feel comfortable with their window management skills. If you spend a lot of time in video calls, the new Continuity Camera feature that lets you use your iPhone (running iOS 16, natch) as a high-quality webcam with support for Center Stage—which enables the camera to follow you as you move around—may also be attractive. And, of course, you’ll get the new Messages, Mail, and iCloud Shared Photo Library features that Apple added to iOS 16 and iPadOS 16.

We always encourage caution when upgrading to a new version of macOS. Wait at least a few months before upgrading your primary Mac to Ventura. App compatibility isn’t usually a long-term problem with iOS and iPadOS, but many people rely on older Mac apps that may not work in the latest version of macOS. Even once you’re confident that your apps will work properly in Ventura, there may be workflow or intra-office compatibility concerns if some people upgrade and others don’t. And, of course, unanticipated bugs could crop up at inconvenient times—important work takes place on Macs! Please, do not upgrade to Ventura without checking with us first. With luck, the start of the new year will have brought both the bug fixes and app updates necessary to give the green light.

(Featured image by Apple)


Social Media: Apple is gearing up to release macOS 13 Ventura, iOS 16, iPadOS 16, watchOS 9, and tvOS 16. We take a brief look at the features worth upgrading for and suggest when to upgrade each of your Apple devices.

Choosing the Best Mac for a College-Bound Student in 2022

Do you have a child starting college soon? It’s likely that your kid has been relying heavily on a computer throughout high school, but if it was a school-provided laptop or shared family computer, now’s the time to get them something of their own. And even if they had their own laptop throughout high school, if it’s old or unreliable, college is a good excuse to bring them up to date. If you haven’t been paying close attention to Apple’s Mac lineup, you might wonder which model makes the most sense.

First, don’t buy anything without first checking with the college. Many college departments have specific requirements based on the software students use in their classes. Generally, these revolve around processor type, amount of RAM, and storage space. Luckily, current Macs should meet the requirements. Second, see if the college provides access to education pricing—most will—to save a few hundred dollars.

Colleges often specify—and students usually prefer—laptops instead of desktop machines. Although the 24-inch iMac is an excellent machine with a gorgeous screen, it’s too big and unwieldy for the transient lifestyle of the typical college student. The same applies to a Mac mini or Mac Studio with an external display. A laptop is much easier to pack during moves, and it can travel to class every day. A student who’s accustomed to taking notes on an iPad with a Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil might be able to use that along with a desktop Mac, but most students should focus on Apple’s laptops.

In the past, it was harder to decide which model was best for a given student, but with Apple’s move to the M1 and M2 chips, which significantly outperform the Intel processors used in previous models, the decision is easier. We see three primary scenarios:

  • Most students: Buy Apple’s MacBook Air. It’s Apple’s smallest, lightest, and least expensive laptop, but thanks to its M1 or M2 processor, it has fabulous performance for everyday tasks. Although the M1 MacBook Air from 2020 remains available for those who need the most cost-effective option (starting at $999), the new M2 MacBook Air is a better choice for most people, thanks to its bigger-brighter-better 13.6-inch screen, faster performance, 24 GB memory ceiling, and higher-resolution webcam. It starts at $1199.
  • Better specs: If performance is more important than cost—particularly if your student will be working with processor-intensive tasks like video editing—look to the 14-inch MacBook Pro. It features an M1 Pro chip that’s more powerful than the base-level M2 and is configurable with an even faster M1 Max chip. Its screen is bigger, and it can take up to 32 GB of memory. Its price starts at $1999.
  • Windows compatibility: The only downside of the transition to Apple silicon is that it’s no longer easy to run Windows using virtualization software like VMware Fusion (free for students) or Parallels Desktop. On M1 and M2 Macs, it is possible to run Parallels Desktop and Windows for ARM Insider Preview, but we can’t recommend that anyone rely on that combination yet. If Windows compatibility is paramount, your choices are a used Intel-based MacBook Pro or—much as we hate to say it—a PC laptop that runs Windows natively.

Regardless of which laptop you decide on, you’ll have to pick a processor, an amount of RAM, and storage capacity:

  • Processor: With the M1 MacBook Air, you’re limited to the M1 chip with an 8-core CPU and 7-core GPU, so there is no choice to make. However, with the M2 MacBook Air, the M2 chip always has an 8-core CPU, but you can pay $100 to upgrade from an 8-core GPU to a 10-core GPU. The performance difference isn’t likely to be noticeable with everyday apps, but for $100, it might be worth it, just in case. The 14-inch MacBook Pro has three M1 Pro options and two more M1 Max options, and choosing among them is probably best done by weighing likely performance needs against the increased cost.
  • Memory: The M1 MacBook Air offers the choice of 8 GB or 16 GB. 8 GB is acceptable for most college students, but we’d encourage 16 GB to reduce the chance that memory becomes a limiting factor in performance. The M2 MacBook Air lets you choose from 8 GB, 16 GB, or 24 GB, and again, we’d default to 16 GB unless there’s some particularly memory-hungry software in play. With the 14-inch MacBook Pro, 16 GB is standard and fine for most tasks, but 32 GB is available if you think it will be necessary, and for seriously intensive work, the M1 Max chip in the 14-inch MacBook Pro offers a 64 GB option.
  • Storage: For both MacBook Air models, 256 GB is the lowest storage level, and you can upgrade to 2 TB. The 14-inch MacBook Pro starts at 512 GB and offers upgrades up to a whopping 8 TB. Choose the amount of storage based on budget—it gets expensive fast—and anticipated usage—audio and especially video can consume a lot of space, as can large numbers of photos, but most other uses don’t. Remember that it’s easy to connect an external Thunderbolt SSD or hard drive to offload large files that don’t have to be kept available at all times.

To our thinking, the most obvious choice for a Mac that’s likely to last for four years of college would be the new M2 MacBook Air with a 10-core GPU, 16 GB of memory, and 512 GB of storage. Be sure to budget for AppleCare+, too; it’s almost guaranteed that some mishap will befall a student laptop, and AppleCare+ covers up to two incidents of accidental damage every year.

You’ll need to have some conversations with your child to find out what they think they’ll need—and be sure to double-check that against the college’s recommendations—but if you have any questions after that, don’t hesitate to contact us.

(Featured image by Apple)


Social Media: Which Mac is best for a new college student? Short answer: the new M2 MacBook Air. Read on for the longer explanation and how we recommend configuring it.

The Hardware You’ll Need to Run Apple’s 2022 Operating Systems

At Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference in June, the company threw back the curtains on macOS 13 Ventura, iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and watchOS 9. These operating systems won’t be available until September or October of 2022, and we usually recommend waiting some time to upgrade—particularly for macOS.

Even so, it’s not too early to think about how these operating systems might impact your plans to buy new hardware in the next six months. Any Apple device you buy now—or have bought in the last few years—will be able to run the new operating systems. But some devices that can run the current macOS 12 Monterey, iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and watchOS 8 won’t be able to upgrade to their replacements later this year. And some older devices that can upgrade won’t support all the new features.

Here’s what you’ll need and compatibility gotchas to keep in mind.

macOS 13 Ventura

For macOS 13 Ventura, Apple has dropped support for every Mac model released before 2017. That’s in contrast to macOS 12 Monterey, which supported previous generation Macs that came out as early as 2013. If your Mac predates 2017 and you want to run Ventura, think about when it would make sense to buy a new Mac, perhaps in early 2023.

  • iMac: 2017 and later (late 2015 supported by Monterey)
  • iMac Pro: 2017 and later
  • MacBook: 2017 and later (early 2016 supported by Monterey)
  • MacBook Air: 2018 and later (early 2015 supported by Monterey)
  • MacBook Pro: 2017 and later (early 2015 supported by Monterey)
  • Mac mini: 2018 and later (late 2014 supported by Monterey)
  • Mac Pro: 2019 and later (2013 supported by Monterey)
  • Mac Studio: 2022

If you’re unsure which Mac you have, choose About This Mac from the Apple menu and look in the first line under the macOS version.

iOS 16

With iOS 16, Apple has maintained the same basic timeframe, supporting all iPhone models released in 2017 and later but dropping everything earlier, along with all iPod touch models. That means you’ll be able to run iOS 16 on these iPhones:

  • iPhone 13/mini/Pro/Pro Max: A15 Bionic
  • iPhone 12/mini/Pro/Pro Max: A14 Bionic
  • iPhone 11/mini/Pro/Pro Max: A13 Bionic
  • iPhone SE (2nd generation or later): A13 Bionic
  • iPhone XR/XS/XS Max: A12 Bionic
  • iPhone X: A11 Bionic
  • iPhone 8/8 Plus: A11 Bionic

We included each model’s chip family in the list above because that becomes important for particular features we’ll discuss later.

Practically speaking, these iOS 15-compatible devices won’t be able to upgrade to iOS 16:

    • iPod touch (all models)
    • iPhone SE (1st generation)
    • iPhone 6s/6s Plus
    • iPhone 7/7 Plus

iPadOS 16

Things get more complicated with iPadOS 16 due to there being four different iPad model types with varying capabilities. As with the iPhone models, we’ve included the chip families for reference.

  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (1st–5th generation): A9X, A10X Fusion, A12X Bionic, A12Z Bionic, M1
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (1st–3rd generation): A12X Bionic, A12Z Bionic, M1
  • iPad Pro 10.5-inch: A10X Fusion
  • iPad Pro 9.7-inch: A9X
  • iPad Air (3rd–5th generation): A12 Bionic, A14 Bionic, M1
  • iPad (5th–8th generation): A9, A10 Fusion, A10 Fusion, A12 Bionic, A13 Bionic
  • iPad mini (5th and 6th generation): A12 Bionic, A15 Bionic

While that’s a long list, a simpler way to look at it is that only two iPad models that can run iOS 15 now won’t be able to upgrade to iOS 16:

  • iPad mini (4th generation)
  • iPad Air (2nd generation)

If you’re unsure which iPad model you have (this goes for the iPhone, too), look in Settings > General > About > Model Name.

watchOS 9

The upcoming watchOS 9 has a simple upgrade story. It supports the Apple Watch Series 4 through the Apple Watch Series 7, including the unnumbered Apple Watch SE. (Look in the Watch app on your iPhone if you can’t remember which model you have.) The only current model that won’t be able to upgrade is the Apple Watch Series 3. Although that model is quite old, dropping support for it is somewhat awkward since Apple continues to sell it even today as a low-cost option. If you’re planning to buy an Apple Watch soon, avoid the Series 3.

Feature-Based System Requirements

For some new features in iOS 16 and iPadOS 16, Apple has drawn a line in the sand at the A12 Bionic chip. These features will work on an iPhone or iPad with an A12 Bionic or later, but not on older devices that can still run iOS 16 and iPadOS 16. Some will also work on the Mac. These features include:

  • Lifting the subject of a photo from its background (also works on all Ventura-compatible Macs)
  • Live Text support in videos (also works on all Ventura-compatible Macs)
  • Spotlight search for images by location, people, scenes, text, and contents
  • Using dictation alongside the onscreen keyboard
  • Inserting emojis using dictation (in Ventura, requires a Mac with Apple silicon)
  • Enhanced Siri support for asking an app what voice commands it supports, hanging up calls, inserting emojis in texts, and working offline (these features won’t be available on the Mac in Ventura)
  • Recognition of birds, insects, and statues in Visual Lookup (also works on all Ventura-compatible Macs)

Some additional features have idiosyncratic system requirements:

  • Live Captions that automatically generate text for any audio require an iPhone 11 or later, an iPad with A12 Bionic or later, or a Mac with Apple silicon.
  • Detection Mode in the Magnifier app, which can identify objects like doors, requires an iPhone 12 Pro or iPhone 13 Pro, an iPad Pro 12.9-inch (4th and 5th generation), or an iPad Pro 11-inch (2nd and 3rd generation).
  • The Camera app will let you blur the foreground in Portrait photos and improves the quality of Cinematic mode videos, but only for the iPhone 13 lineup.
  • The capability to use an iPhone as a webcam requires an iPhone XR or later.
  • When using an iPhone as a webcam, the Center Stage and Desk View features (the latter lets you show the other party what’s in front of you on your desk) require an iPhone 11 or later.
  • The new Studio Light feature that dims the background and lights up your face to simulate external lighting needs an iPhone 12 or later.
  • The Health app’s capability to scan medicine labels requires an iPhone XR or later.
  • Dictation can add punctuation automatically if you’re using an iPhone 11 or later, an iPad with an A12 Bionic or later, or a Mac with Apple silicon.
  • You can shrink iPad user interface elements to be smaller to fit more onto the screen with M1 iPads.
  • iPadOS 16 supports virtual memory swapping to provide up to 16 GB of memory to demanding apps, but only on M1 iPads.
  • The new Stage Manager windowing feature requires an M1 iPad in iPadOS 16 but will work with all Ventura-compatible Macs.

It can be disappointing when your fully functional Mac, iPhone, or iPad doesn’t support some snazzy new feature, but it’s better that Apple lets that device upgrade to the latest operating system rather than kicking it off the upgrade train just because it doesn’t have enough processor power for everything.

(Featured image by Apple)


Social Media: Later this year, Apple will release macOS 13 Ventura, iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and watchOS 9. Here’s the hardware you’ll need to run these operating systems—and to support some of the whizzier features.

Apple Previews M2-Based MacBook Air and Updated 13-Inch MacBook Pro

During its Worldwide Developer Conference keynote on June 6th, Apple took a brief break from showing off new features in upcoming operating systems to throw back the curtains on its new M2 chip and a pair of laptops that use it: an all-new MacBook Air and an updated 13-inch MacBook Pro. Apple said that both laptops will be available in July.

Next Generation M2 Chip Boosts Performance, Offers More Memory

Although we’re still wrapping our heads around the insane performance offered by a Mac Studio with the M1 Ultra chip, Apple is already introducing the next generation of chips to power the Mac line, beginning with the M2. It includes an 8-core CPU and 10-core GPU, and builds on the capabilities of the M1, increasing CPU performance by 18%, GPU performance by 35%, and Neural Engine performance by 40%. It also offers up to 24 GB of unified memory (16 GB max in the M1) and expands memory bandwidth by 50%. Impressive numbers, but still well under the capabilities of the M1 Pro. We expect Apple to release an M2 Pro, M2 Max, and M2 Ultra within the next year or so.

New MacBook Air Brings Complete Redesign

Apple claims the MacBook Air is the world’s best-selling laptop, which isn’t surprising, given the model’s svelte size, zippy performance, and reasonable price point. For this revision, Apple changed the previous wedge-shaped design to a squared-off look that echoes recent Apple products like the 24-inch iMac and iPhone 13. It’s otherwise similar in size to the previous model, though just a touch thinner and lighter. It’s the same width and a bit deeper, likely because it boasts a 13.6-inch screen and a full-height function key row with Touch ID. Happily, it now charges using Apple’s MagSafe 3 technology. You can get the new MacBook Air in four finishes: silver, space gray, starlight, and midnight.

The new MacBook Air’s screen isn’t just bigger, it’s also better. It has a slightly higher resolution of 2560×1664, it’s brighter, and it supports up to 1 billion colors. In other words, it’s gorgeous, and you can supplement it with an external display up to 6K in resolution. Embedded at the top of the screen is a better webcam with a 1080p resolution instead of the previous 720p resolution. Apple also enhanced its audio capabilities with a four-speaker sound system and a three-mic array with directional beamforming.

The price of the M2-based MacBook Air starts at $1199, but additional processing power, memory, and storage are available:

  • Chip: Choose from either an M2 with an 8-core CPU and 8-core GPU or one with an 8-core CPU and 10-core GPU ($100).
  • Memory: 8 GB of unified memory is standard, but you can opt for 16 GB ($200) or 24 GB ($400).
  • Storage: The base level of SSD storage is 256 GB, with upgrades to 512 GB ($200), 1 TB ($400), or 2 TB ($800).

Like the previous M1-based MacBook Air, the new model sports two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports on the left side (next to the MagSafe port) and a 3.5 mm headphone jack on the right side. It also supports Wi-Fi 6 wireless networking and Bluetooth 5.0.

It comes with a 30-watt USB-C power adapter, or you can pay $20 more for either a 35-watt power adapter with two USB-C ports or a 67-watt USB-C power adapter that supports the M2-based MacBook Air’s fast charging capabilities. If you opt for the higher-end M2 chip and at least 512 GB of storage, you get one of the more-capable power adapters for free.

Although the new MacBook Air is a little more expensive than a comparably configured M1-based MacBook Air, it sports better performance, more memory, a bigger and better screen, a better webcam, a larger function key row, better speakers, and MagSafe 3. Nevertheless, if you’re working on a tight budget, the least expensive M1-based MacBook Air remains available for $999, and it’s still a fine machine.

In the end, it’s hard to go wrong with the new M2-based MacBook Air when upgrading from an Intel-based Mac laptop or supplementing your desktop Mac with a laptop. It’s small, light, powerful, and cost-effective, if not a significant enough jump to warrant upgrading from an M1-based MacBook Air.

Updated 13-inch MacBook Pro Gains M2 Chip

While the new MacBook Air is a complete redesign, the updated 13-inch MacBook Pro is unchanged from its M1-based predecessor, apart from the move to the M2 chip. Since that’s the same chip that’s in the MacBook Air and the price is identical for comparable configurations, the question becomes why you’d buy the 13-inch MacBook Pro instead of the new MacBook Air.

On the plus side, the 13-inch MacBook Pro has cooling fans that enable it to maintain peak performance for sustained loads—the fanless MacBook Air will throttle itself to avoid overheating if you push it for too long. The MacBook Pro’s battery life is likely a little longer, given that it has a large battery. Finally, it has a Touch Bar instead of a function key row, which some may like.

However, the new MacBook Air’s slightly larger screen supports more colors (1 billion versus millions), and the MacBook Air has a better webcam and potentially better speakers. It’s also a little thinner and lighter.

In balance, we recommend the MacBook Air unless you love the MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar, which seems to be on the way out. The 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1299 for an 8-core CPU, 10-core GPU M2-based model with 8 GB of unified memory and 256 GB of SSD storage. The build-to-order options are the same as for the MacBook Air.

(Featured image by Apple)


Social Media: At its WWDC22 keynote, Apple unveiled a completely redesigned MacBook Air and an updated 13-inch MacBook Pro, both powered by the next-generation M2 chip. Read on for details:

11 Features to Look Forward to in Apple’s 2022 Operating Systems

It’s that time of year again. Apple CEO Tim Cook and numerous Apple employees took the virtual stage again at the company’s Worldwide Developer Conference keynote on June 6th to share what we can expect to see later this year in macOS 13 Ventura, iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and watchOS 9. (Almost no mention was made of tvOS or the HomePod, but Apple will undoubtedly move them forward in small ways as well.)

The announcements came thick and fast, and like last year, many of the technologies cut across several of Apple’s operating systems. Before we dive in, however, remember that some older devices won’t be able to upgrade. Here are the basic system requirements, though certain features won’t be available on all devices:

  • macOS 13 Ventura: iMac, iMac Pro, MacBook, and MacBook Pro from 2017 and later. MacBook Air and Mac mini from 2018 and later. Mac Pro from 2019 and later. Mac Studio from 2022.
  • iOS 16: Second-generation iPhone SE, iPhone 8, and later
  • iPadOS 16: Fifth-generation iPad and later, fifth-generation iPad mini and later, third-generation iPad Air and later, and all iPad Pro models
  • watchOS 9: Apple Watch Series 4 and newer, including the Apple Watch SE

Here are the promised new features we think will have the most impact on your Apple experience. Assume that these features are available on the Mac, iPhone, and iPad unless otherwise specified.

Customizable iPhone Lock Screen

We’ve been able to put a photo on the iPhone’s Lock screen for years, but that’s it. With iOS 16, Apple is opening up lots of customization options along the lines of what you can do to Apple Watch faces. To start, you can customize the font, color, and placement of various options, just like a watch face. Photos dynamically display in front of the time, and you can have a set of photos shuffle throughout the day. Widgets from Apple and third-party developers provide at-a-glance information so you can check the weather, say, without even unlocking your iPhone. Notifications now scroll up from the bottom, and Live Activities help you stay up on the music that’s currently playing or the latest score in the big game.

Messages Gains Editing, Undo Send, and Mark as Unread

At long last, Messages will let us edit messages after sending, undo sending to call a message back, and mark messages as unread. The first two features are essential for clear communication, especially when you’re fixing auto-correct failures, and being able to mark messages as unread ensures that you won’t forget to respond to something that you read when you’re not in a position to reply.

Mail Adds Undo Send, Scheduled Send, Follow-up, and Remind Me

It’s surprising that Apple hasn’t spent more time on Mail in recent years, but that’s changing in 2022, when it will gain some welcome features that are commonplace in other email apps. You’ll be able to undo sending, which is helpful when you remember something to add to a message within 10 seconds after clicking the Send button. For more specific timing, scheduled send lets you specify when a message should go out. This is helpful when you are working on the weekend or late at night but don’t want your co-workers to feel that they need to reply right away.  Mail will also move sent messages that haven’t received replies to the top of your inbox so you can follow up, and you can set a reminder to come back to messages that you’ve opened but not dealt with (many of us just mark those as unread).

Multi-Stop Routing in Maps

No longer are you limited to a single destination when creating a route in Maps. You’ll be able to specify up to 15 stops on a route, making it easy to build a trip that includes a swing by your favorite diner, a quick visit with an old friend, and a pilgrimage to the World’s Largest Bull in Iowa.

iCloud Shared Photo Library Improves Family Photo Sharing

Apple’s latest attempt to help families share photos looks like the best yet—certainly better than the shared Family album that’s created for Family Sharing groups now. It will be a completely separate iCloud photo library shared with up to five other people. You’ll be able to populate it with all your existing photos or a subset based on start date or who’s in them. Everyone will have equal permission to add, edit, favorite, caption, and delete photos, so maintaining and improving it becomes a group activity. Sharing new photos will be easy with a switch in the Camera app, automatic sharing based on proximity to family members, and sharing suggestions in Photos.

Passkeys Aims to Replace Passwords… Eventually

Apple’s new Passkeys technology, which is associated with the work of an industry consortium called the FIDO Alliance to ensure cross-platform support, aims to replace passwords for websites and apps with private passkeys that are stored only on your device and accessed by Touch ID or Face ID. Passkeys are easier to use than passwords and significantly safer because they can’t be stolen from websites and each one is specific to the site for which you create it. They’ll be available on all your Apple devices, syncing end-to-end encrypted through iCloud Keychain.

Use Your iPhone as a Webcam for Your Mac

Mac webcams are nowhere near as good as the rear-facing cameras in your iPhone, so Apple is helping us improve our videoconferencing by using an iPhone as a webcam and microphone. The feature, called Continuity Camera, works wired or wirelessly and can automatically switch to using your iPhone as a webcam when you bring it close to your Mac. It provides Portrait mode to blur the background, Center Stage so you can move around, Studio Light to dim the background and illuminate your face, and even Desk View to show what’s on your desk in front of your Mac. Apple says Belkin will be making clips to attach your iPhone to your Mac.

Stage Manager Offers New Window Management Approach

We’re not yet sure what to make of Stage Manager, which is Apple’s new approach to window management on the iPad and Mac. It puts one app in the center of the screen while keeping other apps off to the side, making it easy to flip between apps or show multiple apps at once. It doesn’t replace traditional window management—you have to turn it on in Control Center—so you won’t be forced to change, but it might be welcome, especially on the iPad, where it also enables the use of an external display.

Simultaneous Dictation, Touch Selection, and Keyboard Editing

On the iPhone and iPad, you’ve been able to tap a microphone button to invoke Dictation, a huge boon when you want to send a message without typing. In iOS 16 and iPadOS 16, Apple has radically improved Dictation, so you can now simultaneously talk, type, edit on the keyboard, select text via touch, and use the Apple Pencil (on an iPad). Dictation will also automatically add commas, periods, and question marks as you dictate, and you can insert emojis with voice commands. Sadly, it seems that the Mac gets only the punctuation and emoji capabilities.

Medications App on the Apple Watch

Many of us have to take medications, vitamins, and supplements regularly. To help us better manage our health, Apple is adding the Medications app to watchOS 9. You’ll be able to enter your meds in the Health app on the iPhone, be alerted to any critical interactions between drugs, and have your Apple Watch notify you to take the right pills at the right times.

Weather App Appears on the iPad and Mac

Finally, because our list goes to 11, Apple says it’s bringing the Weather app to the iPad and the Mac. Since Weather has been on the iPhone since the beginning, it’s hard to fathom what took Apple so long. If you haven’t already jumped ship for one of the 17,000 other weather apps out there, you’ll be able to enjoy using Apple’s built-in app in iPadOS 16 and macOS 13 Ventura.

Apple’s upcoming operating system releases boast many other new features, and we plan to explore more of them once everything ships in a few months. We’ll let you know when it’s time to update!

(Featured image by Apple)


Social Media: At its Worldwide Developer Conference keynote, Apple announced oodles of new features that we’ll see in macOS 13 Ventura, iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and watchOS 9 later this year. Here are the ten—no, eleven!—features we think you’ll most like:

The Best Characters to Use When Naming Files and Folders

Back in the early 1980s, DOS filenames couldn’t be more than 8 characters long with a period and a 3-character extension. That was limiting, so when Apple developed the Mac operating system in 1984, it allowed longer names and eliminated the need for an extension, although Mac OS X’s Unix roots meant a return of the filename extension in 2001. Since then, filename restrictions have loosened to the point where it’s easy to think that they no longer exist.

If only that were true! In some ways, the situation has become even cloudier, thanks to additional limitations from file-sharing services like Dropbox, OneDrive, and Box. (Google Drive’s native Web interface reportedly has no naming limitations, but files whose names contain Windows or macOS forbidden characters may not sync via Google Drive’s desktop software.) Plus, people tend to move files between operating systems more than ever before—if you’re sending a file from your Mac to a Windows user through Dropbox, you need to make sure that all three can deal with the filename.

At least length isn’t something that you generally have to think about these days, since both macOS and Windows—and the cloud services—accept filenames up to 255 characters in length. Technically speaking, Windows limits directory paths (the enclosing folder names along with the filename) to 255 characters, but even still, that shouldn’t be difficult to avoid.

What could go wrong if you run afoul of a naming restriction? macOS and Windows may simply not let you type the character—for example, you can’t put a colon in a Mac filename. Putting a period at the start of a Mac or Unix filename will hide the file. Cloud sharing services might rename the file, or you might encounter syncing issues where files don’t appear where they should. Certain characters can also cause trouble when files are used at the command line.

Here are the characters to avoid and the operating systems and services that prohibit them:

  • : (colon): macOS, Windows, Dropbox, OneDrive, Box
  • . (period): macOS (at the start of a name), Dropbox
  • / (forward slash): macOS, Windows, Dropbox, OneDrive, Box
  • (backslash): Windows, Dropbox, OneDrive, Box
  • < (less than): Windows, Dropbox, OneDrive, Box
  • > (greater than): Windows, Dropbox, OneDrive, Box
  • ” (double quote): Windows, Dropbox, OneDrive, Box
  • | (vertical bar or pipe): Windows, Dropbox, OneDrive, Box
  • ? (question mark): Windows, Dropbox, OneDrive, Box
  • * (asterisk): Windows, Dropbox, OneDrive, Box
  • ^ (caret): Windows (using FAT-formatted drives)

In addition, avoid using special characters like the © (copyright) symbol or emoji 🤷🏽‍♂️  in filenames. They might work locally, but all bets are off if you share the files in any way.

A few other recommendations:

  • Avoid unusual punctuation; in particular, note that OneDrive renames filenames containing:
    • , (comma) to ^J
    • # (number sign) to ^N
    • & (ampersand) to ^O
    • ~ (tilde) to ^F
  • Never start or end file or folder names with a space, and avoid spaces in filenames that will be uploaded to a Web or SFTP server.
  • Avoid putting more than one period in a filename, and don’t put a period after a filename extension.
  • Never assume that names are case sensitive—always make sure that similarly named items differ by more than just case.

If all that seems like a lot to keep in mind, here’s the simple rule that will ensure your filenames will work everywhere:

Name files only with uppercase (A-Z) and lowercase (a-z) letters, digits (0-9), and the hyphen (-) and underscore (_), plus a single period (.) and extension.

(Featured image by iStock.com/cosmin4000 and smartstock)


Social Media: You might think that you can name a file or folder any way you want, but macOS and Windows have restrictions on which characters you can use, and the prevalence of cloud sharing services makes it all the more important to avoid prohibited characters.

Understanding What “Vintage” and “Obsolete” Mean for Apple Products

Macs—and Apple products in general—tend to last a long time. It’s not unusual to see someone happily using an 8-year-old MacBook Pro. As much as it’s environmentally responsible to use electronics as long as possible, doing so may reduce your productivity or leave your business in a precarious situation if a hardware failure forces an upgrade at an inconvenient time.

Another factor to consider is whether or not you can get service and parts for your older device. It’s easy to assume that Apple will fix whatever you bring in, but unfortunately, that’s not the case. Apple has policies surrounding how long it guarantees to provide service and parts, which is reasonable. No one would expect Apple to repair a 128K Mac from 1984—many repair techs hadn’t even been born then.

All Apple products fall into one of three categories: current, vintage, and obsolete. Current products, which Apple defines as those that were sold within the last 5 years, are eligible for service and parts from Apple, Apple Authorized Service Providers, and Independent Repair Providers. In other words, if you bought your Mac new within the last 5 years, you won’t have any problem getting Apple to fix it.

(Independent Repair Providers are firms that have signed up for Apple’s Independent Repair Provider Program to provide out-of-warranty iPhone and Mac repairs using Apple-provided parts, tools, service guides, and diagnostics. Other repair shops can repair Apple products but may lack Apple certifications and have to source parts from other suppliers.)

Things get trickier with the other two categories:

  • Vintage: Apple considers a product to be vintage when the company stopped selling it more than 5 and less than 7 years ago. During this 2-year window, Apple says that service and parts may be obtained, subject to parts availability.
  • Obsolete: As you’d expect, a product is considered obsolete when Apple hasn’t sold it for more than 7 years. Apple will not service obsolete products, and service providers cannot order parts for them.

There is one exception to these policies. Mac laptops may be eligible for an extended battery-only repair period for up to 10 years from when the product was last distributed for sale, subject to parts availability. That makes sense since a new battery may be all an old MacBook needs to keep working.

Apple maintains a page listing all vintage and obsolete products. To determine which Mac model you have, choose About This Mac from the Apple menu. For iPhones, iPads, and iPods, Apple provides pages explaining how to identify your model.

Apple’s policies surrounding vintage and obsolete products shouldn’t make a huge difference to most users. That’s because once a Mac hits 5 years old, it’s likely that upgrading to a new model will provide significant benefits. Many businesses prefer a 3-year replacement cycle because they’ve determined that’s the sweet spot where increasing support costs and lower performance make it worth selling the old Mac and buying a new one that’s faster and more reliable.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with keeping a Mac longer if it meets your needs and you don’t mind spending more on support. At some point, though, products in the vintage and obsolete categories are living on borrowed time.

(Featured image by iStock.com/Soulmemoria)


Social Media: It might be easier to repair vintage jeans than a vintage Mac. Read on if you want to understand Apple’s definitions of vintage and obsolete hardware and what they mean for support and repair.

Universal Control Arrives in macOS 12.3 and iPadOS 15.4

With the recent release of macOS 12.3 Monterey and iPadOS 15.4, Apple shipped Universal Control, the last major technology promised in its 2021 operating system upgrades. Universal Control enables you to use the keyboard and mouse or trackpad attached to one Mac to control up to three other Macs or iPads—you can even copy and paste or drag items between devices. It’s a great way to make more of your Apple devices while staying on task—no longer do you need to stop using your Mac to accomplish something on your iPad, and if you have both an iMac and a MacBook Air, it becomes trivially easy to use them simultaneously.

Universal Control can simplify grabbing a file from your MacBook Air while using your iMac, or it might make it easy to check something in an iPad-only app without switching from your familiar Mac keyboard and trackpad. For those who would benefit from more screen space, Universal Control simplifies keeping a Web browser window open on one Mac while you’re writing about it on another.

First, make sure all the Macs and iPads you want to use with Universal Control meet its system requirements. macOS 12.3 and iPadOS 15.4 are essential, and most (but not all) Macs and iPads that can run those versions are compatible. All the devices must be signed in to the same iCloud account, that account’s Apple ID must have two-factor authentication enabled, and no device can be sharing its Internet or cellular connection. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi must be turned on, and Handoff must be ​​enabled in System Preferences > General on the Mac and in Settings > General > AirPlay & Handoff on the iPad. That may sound like a lot, but most of those are defaults.

Apple says everything must be within 30 feet (10 meters), but in nearly all cases, you’ll want the devices to sit next to one another so you can easily see what you are doing on all the screens.

The only trick with setting up Universal Control is that it must be initiated from a Mac. Open System Preferences > Displays, click the Universal Control button, and in the dialog that appears, enable all three switches. Only the first one is necessary; the other two make connecting in the future easier.

After you click Done, you’ll return to the Displays preference pane, where any available Macs and iPads should appear, much like they were external monitors. If they don’t show up, click the Add Display pop-up menu and select the device you want to control under “Link Keyboard and Mouse.” You can also select them in Control Center, after clicking Displays. As long as you’ve selected “Automatically reconnect to any nearby Mac or iPad,” you shouldn’t have to repeat this step.

(The “Mirror or Extend to” section of the Add Display pop-up menu is where you select devices to use as external displays for your Mac. Macs running Monterey appear here courtesy of AirPlay, as do Apple TVs; iPads appear thanks to Apple’s Sidecar technology.)

Drag the device screen icons to match where they sit on your desk. The screenshot above indicates that you’d move the pointer from the double-screen iMac to the right to control the MacBook Air and down from the middle of the iMac screens to control the iPad.

When your pointer moves to another device’s screen, everything you do from then on will affect apps on that Mac or iPad, with one caveat. After the pointer moves to another device, you usually need to click once to create “focus,” which means specifying which window should receive subsequent clicks and keystrokes. If you forget to do this (it will become second nature quickly) and start typing, keystrokes will go to the previous device.

To help you move data between your devices, Universal Control offers two additional features beyond clicking and typing:

  • Copy and paste: As you might expect, you can copy data on one device with Command-C, move the pointer to another device, and paste it into an app on the second device with Command-V.
  • Drag and drop: Alternatively, you can drag files and other types of data from one device to another. This works well between Macs, and you can also move data between Macs and iPads in many situations, such as dragging an Apple Pencil sketch from an iPad and dropping it in a graphics app on the Mac. If a drag doesn’t work, try copy and paste or fall back on sharing the data via AirDrop or iCloud Drive.

Keep in mind that once you’ve turned it on, Universal Control has no concept of primary and secondary devices. In practice, you’ll probably use one keyboard and pointing device to control everything, but that’s not necessary. You can use a trackpad and keyboard connected to any device to control any other device, switching whenever you’d like.

Since Apple labels Universal Control as a beta, you may experience occasional dropouts or rough edges. If it loses track of a device, try putting the device to sleep and waking it again, and if that doesn’t work, open the Displays preference pane and select the device from Add Displays again.

Controlling one Mac from another is extremely fluid because the pointer and keyboard act exactly as expected. However, if you haven’t previously used a trackpad and hardware keyboard with an iPad, you may find its approach somewhat surprising. It’s a hybrid between a traditional pointer and a touchscreen, so the pointer is attracted to Home screen icons and many other controls, transforming it into a selection highlight. Either way, Universal Control just works. Give it a try!

(Featured image by Apple)


Social Media: With macOS 12.3 Monterey and iPadOS 15.4, you can now use your Mac’s keyboard and pointing device to control up to three other Macs or iPads with Apple’s new Universal Control. Learn more at: