GarageBand 10.3 update

GarageBand 10.3 update

Yesterday, Apple released a new GarageBand update. GarageBand is an application which comes bundled with every Mac, iPhone and iPad.
If you’re not familiar with GarageBand, it’s a pretty full-featured application that allows you to create music, podcasts, or background music for your videos.
This update introduces some new sounds, loops, and a few other new features. But probably the most interesting thing is that you can now download artists lessons for free that used to cost $4.99 a piece. To be honest, these are the same short lessons which came out years ago, and they are really basic. But it’ll be interesting to see whether Apple starts creating new content if they find that people are using and enjoying these lessons.

GarageBand is a pretty powerful app that can be used to make professional songs if you know how to use it properly. I can see GarageBand being far more attractive in schools if they include more educational music lessons than what is available now. And the fact that you could potentially work on a song on your Mac, iPhone and iPad is pretty appealing. And if you master GarageBand, you can then move up to Logic Pro X which is far more powerful, but also has a much more steep learning curve. But starting off with GarageBand gives you a great stepping-stone to learning Logic.

So, I’m hoping that Apple will devote a little bit of their vast resources towards improving the educational possibilities of GarageBand over the coming years.
The new update can be downloaded directly from the Mac App Store.

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in Apple news, Mac, Software, 0 comments
Using Messages in iCloud

Using Messages in iCloud

Last week, Apple released updates for the Mac, iPhone and iPad which finally introduced the ability to start using  Messages in iCloud.
Messages in iCloud is a new feature that Apple announced last fall, but didn’t become available to the public until now for some reason. If you enable Messages in iCloud on your devices, it will store all your messages to the cloud, and then sync across all the devices almost instantaneously.

Obviously, this has a couple of big advantages. First, once this is turned on, if you delete a message from one device, it will delete from your other devices on which you have Messages in iCloud enabled. So, you’ll no longer need to delete the same message from 3 different devices for example. And secondly, it clears those messages from your iPhone / iPad so that you can reclaim storage space on your various devices. This is very similar to using the iCloud Photo Library option on your devices.

Personally, I think this is a great feature. But, if you’ve not turned this on yet, there’s one thing you should be aware of that could decide whether you want to turn this on or not:

And that is that if you move your messages to iCloud, it will count against your storage quota on iCloud. If you’re on the iCloud free plan, or 50 GB plan, your messages could end up eating up quite a bit of the space you have available. I often work with people to help them figure out why they are running out of space on their phone, and quite often, Messages is the biggest culprit. People who send a lot of photos and videos to friends and family can easily rack up a few gigabytes of Messages being stored on their phones and iPads. I’ve had a few clients with 30 Gigabytes worth of messages on their iPhone. It can happen very quickly if you send a lot of videos back and forth. If you don’t keep a lot of messages on your phone, or delete them often, then you shouldn’t have to worry about this.

Also, please note that this service does need to be turned on before you can take advantage of it. It doesn’t turn on automatically when you do the update.
So, first, you need to update to macOS 10.13.5 and iOS 11.4. Then you turn on Messages in iCloud in your settings.

Here’s a good article and video from Appleinsider that shows you exactly how to do that.

Alright, well hopefully, that sheds a little light on how this new feature works, and you can now decide whether or not it’s something you want to use yourself.

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in Apple news, iCloud, iPhone, Mac, Tips & Tricks, 0 comments
Best new Mesh WiFi routers for Mac

Best new Mesh WiFi routers for Mac

Apple recently announced that they are discontinuing the complete line of Airport products. So now is a good time to look at the best options available if you’re looking for a new WiFi system for your home or office. I’ll be covering Mesh WiFi systems specifically in this article.

Airport Wifi systems

The Airport line of products from Apple, which debuted in 1999,  includes the Airport Extreme, Airport Time Capsule, and Airport Express. These great products have been very popular with consumers who own Apple computers over the years. But unfortunately, Apple stopped putting much effort into these devices over the last 5 years. And so, it seemed it was only a matter of time before they would announce that they would no longer keep making them.

It is widely believed that has Apple stopped developing Airport devices mainly because there’s an awful lot of really good routers coming from various companies the last couple of years. It’s very likely that Apple felt that they didn’t really have anything superior to offer compared to what other companies are selling. And so they have decided to bow out gracefully. Whatever the reason, there’s no denying that there’s been some major advances in the wireless router market over the last 2-3 years.

Why it might be time for an upgrade
With the rise in popularity of smart home devices and countless streaming media services such as Sonos, Spotify , Netflix, and Amazon Video, whole-house WiFi coverage has become a must for many households. But if you live in a larger home with dense or brick walls, multiple floors, metal and concrete substructures, you may have a hard time filling the house with a strong signal. In the past, you could buy a variety of range extenders to help your router reach further, but often with mixed results.
Internet providers have been slowly introducing the option for much faster speeds the last few years. But if you’re using an old router in your home that’s over 6-7 years old, there’s a good chance that your router is just not capable of providing you with the speeds you’re paying for. In other words, even though you may have signed up for the fastest plan your provider offers, with speeds of 100 Mbps or more, your router from 8 years ago might have been manufactured with a top speed of only 40 Mbps. And so, you could be losing out big there simply because of that.

Mesh WiFi routers have become widely available
The biggest change of the last couple of years has been the arrival of mesh WiFi routers becoming available to consumers. Before 2016, mesh network routers were mostly found on military bases and big businesses, but they are now widely available to home consumers. To be clear, not everyone needs a mesh network in their home. If you live in an apartment or small home, the traditional router which your internet company provides should be just fine. But if you live in a home that’s bigger than 3000 square feet, these systems will help you eradicate areas with poor Wi-Fi coverage. Also, Mesh systems are still fairly expensive, even though the prices are dropping pretty rapidly.
I’m not going to get too in-depth with the technical aspects of Mesh routers systems in this article, but I’ll explain a couple of the main benefits. On a very basic level, mesh networks are set up in such a way that each unit is capable of sending out as strong a signal as the main unit that’s plugged in the modem. So, even if you’re on the completely opposite side of the house to where the internet connection is setup, the signal will be just as strong, or very close to it. Mesh Wifi networks are also much smarter about how to allocate the internet traffic in your home. These routers basically have a little computer inside, and they can analyze which area in your home is using the most bandwidth , and will divert traffic accordingly.
Another big advantage to these modern systems is that they are very easy to set up yourself compared to older systems. All of the ones I’ve set up so far require you to download and install a smart phone application which guides you through the installation process to make it as easy as possible. You also gain access to some cool features such as the ability to see which devices are using your network, the ability to restrict internet access to kids, and much more.

Mesh Wifi routers

My Mesh Wi-Fi systems recommendations
I’m only going to recommend the systems which I have first-hand knowledge of. And by that I mean systems I’ve set-up for clients in the past 18 months. But if you do a Google search, or search for Mesh routers on Amazon, you’ll find plenty of reviews for a wide variety of products.
I’m also only going to mention products by companies which I feel will most likely be around for the next 5 years or more. There’s a lot of new startups who’ve started making Mesh routers, and it’s a little hard to say who’s still going to be around and still provide support a few years from now.

eero Home WiFi System: I really like this system a lot. eero is an American company, and they were one of the first companies to release Mesh routers for home consumers in 2016. Their units are quite small, really easy to set-up with the eero app you install on your phone. I’ve seen fantastic results from this system in some really difficult larger homes, where the internet speed was 10 times faster once the eero system had replaced the router from the internet company. They’re still fairly expensive though, and you can expect to spend somewhere between $250 to $500 depending on your needs. They do have a very informative website at

Netgear Orbi: This is probably the system that gets the best reviews overall, and I do think it is an excellent product. This one is also very easy to set-up with their phone app, and it guides you through the process seamlessly. The units are larger than the eero and they have a fairly bright light on top of the unit that can change color to let you know if there’s an issue, or if it’s updating. Also, Netgear have been making great routers for a very long time, so that’s definitely a plus. Once again, I’ve seen great results from this system and I highly recommend it.
You can get more info about these routers at

Lynksys Velop Tri-band: This system is the only Mesh system currently sold by Apple on their website, and they look very much like the Airport extreme in their design. I have very limited experience with this system, but the only one I’ve set-up worked flawlessly. It has great specs, looks good, and it also getting great reviews all around at the moment. It is also fairly expensive, and you should expect to spend somewhere between $200 to $500 depending on your needs. You can more info at

There is of course far more options that the three I’ve just listed. But these are the ones I have personal experience with, and would not hesitate to recommend to anyone.
Let me know if there’s another product that you would recommend highly yourself.

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in Apple news, Mac, Recommendations, 0 comments
iMac celebrates 20th anniversary

iMac celebrates 20th anniversary

The computer that saved Apple.
20 years ago today, Steve Jobs introduced the new iMac to the world. The new iMac was a colorful and all-in-one design Mac which looked and worked vastly different than any other computers at the time. The translucent shell and very bright colors immediately made this Mac stand out visually. But the friendly design, combined with the fact that this was a pretty powerful computer for its price, made it an immediate hit with the public.

The original iMac is widely credited with saving Apple from the brink of bankruptcy, since the company was not doing well at all when the iMac was announced. This was the first Apple product to use to “i” prefix which became so common in future Apple products. The “i” in the iMac name stands for “Internet” because the computer was originally designed to make it easy for customers to get on the Internet right out of the box.

Picture of first and latest iMac

The iMac is still going strong.
Apple is a much larger and more successful company in 2018 than it was in 1998. And not surprisingly, the current iMacs are capable of doing so many things that would have nearly imaginable in 1998. But that little candy colored iMac from 1998 is what helped kick-start many of the good things to come from Apple over the next 20 years. And for that, we can be grateful.

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in Apple news, iMac, Mac, 0 comments
The best To Do apps for Mac

The best To Do apps for Mac

There are some great options available on the Mac to help you organize your to-do list and manage your tasks efficiently. Given the fact that many Mac users are also using an iPhones and iPads, I will focus on to-do apps that work on both macOS and iOS.

There is some excellent free to-do apps currently available, as well as some really top notch paid apps available on the market.

Things 3: This is one of the most popular task management application available for the Mac and iPhone. This application has been around for 10 years, and they’ve won many awards over the years as one the best productivity tools for Apple users. It’s a very elegant looking application with a very minimal interface, yet still manages to pack in a lot of features. Things 3 has won a lot of praise recently and has a large user-base, and continues to receive regular improvements and new features. With a price of $49.99 for the Mac version, $19.99 for the iPad version, and $9.99 for the iPhone version, it can be pretty costly to have it installed on all your devices. Also keep in mind that you have to buy these all over again apps again when they introduce a new version, such as the upgrade from version 2 to version 3.
So, while I think it’s a great app from a great company, just be aware that it’s also one of the most expensive tool you can buy for task management.
You can find more information about Things 3 on their website here

2Do: This is my personal favorite at the moment, and the one I use on a daily basis. This one is also a paid application which usually costs $49.99, but is occasionally on sale for $24.99. But unlike Things, the iPhone and iPad versions of 2Do are free, which is a great little added bonus. It’s a very powerful application loaded with features and many ways to customize it the way you like to work. It is always one of the most highly rated productivity app on the Mac App store with a 5 star rating, and for good reason. I highly recommend that you check it out.

You can find more information about 2Do on their website here

Wunderlist: Wunderlist is a wonderful to-do list app which works well on your Mac, as well as on mobile devices. It’s also cross-platform, meaning that it also works for Android, Windows and Kindle devices. It’s completely free to use, with an option to sign-up for some premium features which are mainly useful for teams. And while I used to really recommend Wunderlist, the company that created it was bought by Microsoft in 2017, and it now looks like they will eventually kill off Wunderlist for their own to-do app. So, for that reason, I wouldn’t get too invested in Wunderlist, as I think it’s eventually going away.

Get more information about Wunderlist on their website.

These 3 apps are the most useful for anyone using Apple products at the moment in my opinion. Leave me a comment below if you think there’s something else better out there.

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in iPhone, Mac, Productivity, Recommendations, Software, 0 comments
New Apple updates

New Apple updates

This week, Apple has released updates across multiple devices. The iOS 11.2.6 update fixes some issues on iPhones and iPads. While on other devices, be sure to download macOS 10.13.3 supplemental update, watchOS 4.2.3, and tvOS 11.2.6.

These updates fix security issues and various other bugs which could hamper your devices. Better safe than sorry !

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in Apple news, iPhone, Mac, Mac Security, 0 comments
Choosing a MacBook stand

Choosing a MacBook stand

If you’re currently using a MacBook or MacBook Pro, you’ve probably noticed that they can get hot pretty quickly. That may force the fans to turn on quite often, which can get pretty noisy. And more importantly, I believe that letting your Mac regularly run hot reduces its life span.
One of the easiest ways you can stop your Mac from getting hot is by elevating it from whatever surface it’s sitting on. You have a number of options available to you when it comes to laptop stands for Mac.

The first option is to purchase one of the many MacBook cases that come little flip stands attached at the bottom. This is a great solution because you’re getting a protective case, and gaining the ability to elevate the Mac using just one accessory. And these types of cases tend to be quite affordable.
Here’s a good example one of these cases that you can purchase on Amazon:
Beatunes 2-in-1 Ultra Slim Hard Shell Case with Foldable Stand and Free Keyboard Cover for Apple MacBook Air

Your other option is to purchase a separate, stand-alone stand whose whole purpose is to elevate your Mac completely off the surface beneath it. You can find many options for these stands. It really just depends on how stylish you want to be, and how much you want to spend. And one the big advantages with some of these stands is that they will raise your Mac much higher, which might help reduce neck strain noticeably.
Here are some good examples of some cases you might want to consider for your Mac:

Twelve South ParcSlope for MacBook and iPad Pro

Bestand Aluminum Cooling Macbook Stand

Vogek Adjustable Foldable Portable Laptop Stand for Macbook Pro / Air , iPad Pro


There are plenty of great options out there if you spend a little time looking online. It really just depends on your personal taste and specific needs.
This article also recommends a few good ones. So, do a little research and find something that you like. And most importantly, use the stand.
It’s a small thing, but you’ll be doing yourself a favor and will most likely extend the life of your Mac by a noticeable amount.




Posted by Ian Van Slyke in Mac, Productivity, Recommendations, Tips & Tricks, 0 comments
Which Mac is right for you ?

Which Mac is right for you ?

In this article, I’ll be going over the current options available from Apple if you’re looking to purchase a new Mac, or helping someone else make that decision.
When it comes to Macs, you essentially have a choice to make between buying a laptop computer versus buying a desktop computer. Obviously, with a Mac laptop, there is the massive advantage of having a mobile computer that you can carry around with you wherever you like. You can then get work done from wherever you please, whether it’s for work, school or personal use. The trade-off is that you will be probably be working with a smaller screen, and maybe a little bit less powerful machine than with a desktop Mac. The desktop Macs are designed to give you a little better performance, more connections for external hard drives and other devices, and generally speaking, a much bigger screen to work with.

As far as laptops, the MacBook line of computers includes the MacBook Air, the MacBook, and the MacBook Pro. Here’s a summary of what you can expect with each:

MacBook Air: This is the cheapest laptop offered by Apple. It has a 13.3 inch screen and weighs right around 3 pounds. It’s great for anyone who travels a lot and mainly just needs a computer for web-browsing, email and other light tasks. Ranging between $1000 to $1200 for a new MacBook Air, you’re getting a great little computer for a very reasonable price compared to some other Macs. The downside is that it is a little bit under-powered and there is no way to upgrade the hard drive or RAM later on. So, the computer that you buy initially is what you’re stuck with for the life of the machine.

MacBook: This is the middle of the road option and the lightest available Mac laptop. It  has a 12 inch screen and weighs only 2 pounds. You also get a higher quality Retina display, as well as a very decent processor and more options than the MacBook Air. You can end up spending anywhere between $1300 to $1750 for a new MacBook depending on which configuration you choose. It is very much geared for people who want the very lightest Mac available while still having reasonably good power under the hood. But, it only has one USB-C connection, which can be very limiting. So, if you need to connect to external devices, be prepared to carry adapters with you.

–  MacBook Pro: This is the most powerful laptop Mac made by Apple, and the most versatile in terms of all the ways you can configure your machine. As the Pro designation implies, these are capable of handling most anything you’ll throw at it. Such as intricate presentations, photo and movie editing, music production or any other computer intensive tasks you might need to work on. You can choose between 4 different 13 inch screen models, or 2 different 15 inch screen models. And these weigh anywhere between 3 to 4.5 pounds. So, in truth, these are still very light computers and very easy to carry around with you. On top of the ability to get a larger screen, you also get 2 or 4 USB-C ports depending on which model you get. Which means you’ll probably still need some adapters for some external devices. The prices can vary wildly on the MacBook Pro, depending on which configuration you purchase, ranging anywhere from $1300 for the cheapest model, all the way to $4200 if you decide to go all out. The MacBook Pro line are the best portable Macs available, and really don’t have to cost you that much for a great computer. But of course, someone with professional needs can easily end up spending quite a bit of money.

Next, we’ll look at the desktop computers available from Apple.

Mac mini: The Mac mini is an interesting option for some Mac users. It’s a tiny little computer (weighing just about 2.5 pounds) that easily fits just about anywhere in a home or office. But it does not come with its own display, keyboard or mouse. You need to purchase those separately. You can spend anywhere from $500 to $200o depending on how you choose to configure the Mac mini. You should be aware that the Mac mini currently available are the same one that have been shipping since 2014. So, technologically speaking, these are definitely not the most advanced Macs you’ll find. But, they perform just fine for most tasks. One of the big advantage of the Mac mini, is that they come with plenty of connection and expansion options. Such as an HDMI port, 2 Thunderbolt 2 ports, 4 USB 3 ports, an Ethernet port, and an SDXC card slot. So, you can easily hook up tons of devices to the Mac mini without any need for adapters or hubs. The Mac mini can be a really good option if you don’t need to fastest Mac to do your work, but want something nice and small that can fit pretty much anywhere on a desk.

iMac: In many ways, the iMac is the flagship computer made by Apple in 2018. It’s an all-in-one computer that is a very well-built and attractive, with fast performance and lots of expansion capabilities. There are 3 flavors of the iMac currently made; Standard, Retina Display and iMac Pro. The iMacs have 2 available screen sizes to choose from, either 21.5-inch or 27-inch screens. You can spend anywhere from $1100 for the entry level iMac, all the way up to $12,000 for the very top of the line iMac Pro loaded with all the most expensive configurations installed. You also get an SDXC card slot, 2 Thunderbolt 2 ports, 4 USB 3 ports, and an Ethernet port. Overall, the iMac range is quite broad in terms of both pricing and capability. But, in all my years of working and servicing Macs for clients over the last 20 years, I have found iMacs to be the most reliable and long-lasting Macs made by Apple. The large screens are a pleasure to work on, and if you’re doing anything that requires quite a bit of horsepower, the iMac is the computer you should be looking at.

Mac Pro: This is Apple’s workstation computer, but unfortunately, it hasn’t really been updated since 2013. If you need a serious professional Mac, this should be your choice, but sadly, this is not a computer you should be buying. At this point, the iMac Pro is a more powerful computer than this outdated Mac Pro for most tasks. Apple has already announced that they are currently working on a new Mac Pro, and more information should be available in the first half of 2018. But for now, no one should really be buying this computer.

So, personally, I think if you’re looking for a new Mac, the MacBook Pro and the iMac are the two most attractive options currently available. You can get a very reasonably priced MacBook Pro that is clearly a much better machine than what you get with the MacBook Air or MacBook. In my experience, the MacBook Pros are very solidly built and tend to last longer than other MacBooks.
And if you need a powerful computer with a large screen, you have some great options with iMac line. You can get a really nice entry level iMac for as little as $1100 that should satisfy all your needs and last you for years. Or you can spend extra and build to order a very powerful iMac that can handle any professional application requirements with ease. I’m a very big fan of iMacs in general.

If you want to see another breakdown of the current Mac lineup, Macworld has this article describing each model in detail.

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in Learning, Mac, Recommendations, 0 comments
Photo management for the Mac in 2018

Photo management for the Mac in 2018

Taking a lot of pictures is wonderfully easy and affordable nowadays. But once you have taken all those pictures, you need a good way to organize those photos.
In this post, I will cover what I think are the best tools currently available to help you manage your photos on the Mac in 2018.

When it comes to photography software, applications are usually split in two different categories: Photo management software, and photo editing software.
Photo management software allows you to import all your pictures and organize them in various ways so that you can easily find them, and also share them with others. Typically, you can also do some light editing inside of those apps as well, so that you can improve your pictures and make them look better, or get creative with them.
Photo editing software allows you to get far more creative and do powerful photo editing, graphic design, and even blend images and graphics together.

Well known examples of photo management apps for Mac are iPhoto (now discontinued), Photos, Lightroom and Picassa (also discontinued).
Well known examples of photo editing apps include Photoshop, Pixelmator, and Affinity Photo.
In this article, I’ll be focusing on the best photo management apps for the Mac. I’m also taking into consideration that ideally, you’ll want something that not only works well on the Mac, but also syncs well with your mobile devices.

Photos : The first and most obvious option is the application which comes pre-installed on every recent Mac, iPhone, and iPad since 2015. Photos replaces Apple’s older photo management app called iPhoto, which was used and loved by millions of people before before discontinued by Apple in favor of Photos. Photos was introduced to replace iPhoto presumably because they couldn’t really make iPhoto work on mobile devices, and they needed something that would work well on both the Mac and iPhone / iPad.
For most users, Photos can do everything necessary, and is probably the only program you’ll need. While the original version of Photos that came out in 2015 was overly simplistic and lacked many features of its predecessor, the current version built into macOS High Sierra is very nice indeed.
It features a simple interface that let’s you easily organize and group your pictures by year, places, media type, people, and much more. But the biggest improvement in the latest version of Photos is how much better the editing options have become. You can now radically adjust and improve your pictures using some of the new and improved editing tools which were previously only available in programs such as Photoshop and Aperture. There are powerful adjustments available such as light, Color, white balance, levels, curves, definition and more. That’s on top of your standard Black & white, retouch, cropping and red-eye tools. You also have some pretty nice filters available right in Photos. And finally, Photos also allows you to use 3rd party extensions that extend your editing capabilities even more.
So, Photos really is becoming a very full-fledged and powerful program that will satisfy the needs of most Mac users, and it really is worth taking the time to learn how to get the most out of it. And it is completely free. But in case you want something a little different, or more powerful, I’ll be looking at a couple of alternatives to consider next.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom: Lightroom has been around since 2007, and has become a massively popular program amongst hobbyist and professional photographers alike. At core, it is a very powerful tool that lets you organize your pictures in a multitude of ways, and also offers some very powerful editing and sharing tools. Adobe has recently split Lightroom into 2 different programs: Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic CC. The Classic version is the version that’s been around since the start, while the new CC version is a somewhat simplified application that is very much geared towards photographers who are looking to keep all their pictures in the cloud. It is also focused on people who want the ability to work on multiple devices easily and have everyting sync seamlessly.
And even though you can still buy Lightroom Classic for a one-time fee of $150. But Adobe is really pushing for customers to sign-up for one of their Creative Cloud plans. For $10 a month, you can sign-up for the Photography plan, which includes Lightroom, Photoshop, and Adobe Bridge and is frequently updated with new features. It is a really good deal if you’ll be using any of these applications frequently, and want access to frequent updates and new features. But this subscription model is pretty unappealing to many people who would rather just pay once for their software and own it outright. So, in conclusion, Lightroom is an excellent program used by millions worldwide. But it does have a steeper learning curve, and you have to comfortable with their monthly or yearly subscription model. If you’ve never used it before and you’re pretty serious about your photography, it’s worth checking out all the features it offers and giving it a try.

ON1 Photo Raw: If you’re looking for an excellent photo management and editing program that does not require a monthly subcription payment, this may be the best option currently available. This is an excellent photography application which has been around for a few years, and they have consistently improved this program over time. It is created by a small company in Oregon, and I’ve been very impressed the care and attention they’ve put into this product. For $120 one-time fee, you’re getting an incredibly powerful photography application that will satisfy the needs of just about anyone. You can also use some its features within Photos, and they also offer tons of free training videos on the support section of their site, which is really awesome. As you can probably tell, I’m very impressed by ON1 Photo Raw and I think it’s an excellent alternative to both Photos and Lightroom, or it can be used alongside both of those programs in order to enhance your pictures in new and innovative ways. I encourage you to look on their website to see what you think for yourself.

The other options I’ll talk about briefly are programs worth checking out but are not as versatile as the top three listed above:

Google Photos: This can be used predominently to back-up your photos to your Google account. Any photos stored on your Mac or mobile devices can be backed up, and you can then organize them and do some light editing through a web browser. Like most Google services, this is completly free. If you’re not currently backing up your photos to any cloud services, and you don’t want to pay for such a service, you’ll probably not find anything better than Google Photos. Much like Apple made the switch from iPhoto to Photos, Google has made the switch from Picassa to Google Photos. It’s a cloud friendly service that works well on all your devices.

Adobe Photoshop elements: This is sort of a mix between what you get with Photos while adding some of the more basic Photoshop features. If you want to get creative with your pictures without having to learn some of the more complex and difficult aspects of Photohsop, this might be a good option for you. For $80, you get a very sturdy photo management app, with some pretty powerful editing features. Some users complain that the Photoshop elements interface is not very intuitive, but overall I think this is a very solid program sold at a very reasonable price.

Capture One: This software is very much geared towards serious or professional photographers who mainly shoot RAW images. It allows you to organize your images much the same way as Lightroom or ON1 Photo Raw, but has some very powerful editing features. This application is mainly used by serious photography professionals for good reason. The editing features are nothing short of phenomenal, which is why it’s also the most expensive program covered in this article. At $20 a month, or for a $300 license, it’s obvious that this software is aimed at serious hobbyists or professionals. Check out the website, and download the free trial version if the software interests you.

I’ll try to update this article if I find something else worth mentioning, or if someone brings something else to my attention. But hopefully, this can help you make a decision that helps you organize your photos and make them look their best.


Posted by Ian Van Slyke in Mac, Photography, Recommendations, Software, 0 comments
Backing up your Mac

Backing up your Mac

Backing up your Mac regularly is quite possibly the most important task you should get in the habit of doing as a Mac user. Your Mac’s hard drive will most likely fail at some point. It may take a couple of years, or quite a few years. And in some rare cases it can happen after just a few months. Sometimes, just a small drop of your laptop, or an electrical surge can damage the drive and eventually cause hard drive failure. Which is why it’s extremely important that you backup your computer on a regular basis. That way,  you can recover all of  your data from that backup if something goes wrong.
I do a fair amount tech support and data recovery work. And for me, one of the worst situation is diagnosing a failed hard drive, and finding out that the client does not have a recent back-up. That could mean thousands of photos and videos gone all of the sudden. Or important work and business documents that are no longer accessible. Sometimes the data can be recovered, but in some cases the drive is so damaged that the data cannot be recovered. Or it can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars to get the data recovered. So, this is really important stuff !

In this article, I want to cover the 2 basic ways you can backup your Mac. Personally, I think the easiest and quickest option is to backup to an external drive plugged into your Mac. You can then use the built-in Apple application called Time Machine to completely backup your Mac on a daily basis, or just once in a while. You can use pretty much any external drive, as long as it’s big enough in size to hold your data. This kind of external drive from Western Digital, or something similar, should be good enough for most people: Western Digital 2TB drive
Time Machine is not your only option, but it’s definitely the easiest. Here’s a good article that shows you how to use Time Machine.

time machine image
If you’d like something a little more powerful, and with more flexibility, here are some other good options:

Carbon Copy Cloner 
Super Duper
Mac Backup Guru

Another way you can backup your data is by doing it through the cloud, and you have many services you can choose from.
Basically, there is two varieties of cloud solutions:
1) Companies that specialize exclusively in offering backup solutions such as Dropbox, Backblaze or Carbonite.
2) Cloud services offered by large companies as an added feature to their other services, such as Apple’s iCloud, Google Drive, and Microsoft’s OneDrive.

Each service has its own pros and cons, and you’ll want to do a little research before you pick any one service. You can of course combine some of these services together for different purposes. You could for example, use iCloud for photos, Dropbox for business documents, and OneDrive for various other files. It’s completely up to you to decide what works best for you, and it will probably also depend on what services your family and co-workers use.
But most importantly, pick a system that works for you , and make sure use it. If you’re looking for something fast and easy, your best option is to use an external hard drive with Time Machine. If you are constantly traveling and would rather not have to lug around an external drive with you, then a cloud solution will be best. And if sharing files or collaborating with others is essential to your workflow, a cloud solution will be most useful.

As far as I’m concerned, you cannot overdo it with backups. I highly recommend that you at least have a Time Machine backup, and that you also backup your most important files the cloud as well. Take the time to set up your backup strategy correctly, and you could end up saving yourself  a lot of frustration and money in the long run.

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in iCloud, Mac, Productivity, Recommendations, Tips & Tricks, 0 comments