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Customizing and Protecting Your Mac (Vol #3)

Inside: Your Mac’s birthday, the Dock, switching between users, Mac Defender alert

Mac Help For Mom readers have been submitting lots of great questions lately. Some have problems that need fixing while others just want to learn how to use their Mac better. Whatever your situation, please feel free to send me your questions (instructions how are near the bottom of this newsletter). I enjoy helping and the questions often inspire new Mac Help For Mom videos, including all three new videos this week. If you’re eager to watch them, here they are:

How to find your Mac serial number and build date
How to move the Dock to the side
How to easily switch between user accounts

Your Mac’s birthday
Reader Patti (who spells her name just like my Mom) asked me how she could find when her iMac was built. In this video you’ll see how Patti found her serial number, how I showed her to use it to find when her Mac was built, and also how to find out if your Mac is still under warranty.

How to find your Mac serial number and build date

Word of the Week

The word is “Dock”.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, the Dock is that part of your Mac screen that has
Finder Icon on Dock on one end and Trash Icon on Dock on the other. (Those are known as the Finder and the Trash.)

You may think of the Dock as that place where you launch some common applications like Safari, iPhoto or iTunes, but the Dock has many more uses. You can look for its little white dots to see at a glance which applications are currently running. You can drag files to its Trash icon to delete them. Or drag CD, DVD, or external drive icons to the Trash to eject them. The Dock also gives you quick access to the contents of your Documents and Downloads folders.

Notice that there are two sides of the Dock, separated by a dashed line. The Finder side is for applications only, whereas the other side (near the Trash) is for everything else (folders or files). This is important because you can add things to the Dock to give you easy access to them. Learn more by watching my videos on:

How to add the Applications folder to your Dock
How to add icons to your Dock

Moving your Dock

Besides adding things to my Dock, one of the first things I do to a new Mac is move the Dock to the side. To me it’s a better use of screen space and lets me stretch my windows taller for better reading. See how to move it in this video:
How to move the Dock to the side

Switching users

You should set up a separate account for each person that uses your Mac. Fortunately you don’t need to log out of one account to log into another. This video shows how turning on one easily overlooked setting will let you quickly switch between accounts, while your Mac remembers exactly what each person was doing.

How to easily switch between user accounts

Mac Defender warning

One reader was plagued by a fake anti-virus application that is a new scam affecting Mac users. It’s a piece of malware (as in “MALicious softWARE”) called Mac Defender (or sometimes Mac Protector) that tricks you into installing it, then tries to fool you into thinking that you have numerous viruses on your Mac, and finally claims that it can solve all your problems if only you’d give it your credit card. If you resist the pressure to pay its fake ransom, then it reportedly won’t cause your Mac any harm. But, still, you should get rid of it if you’ve got it.

My friend, Gary, over at MacMost has many more details about Mac Defender, how to protect against it, and how to remove it if you’ve accidentally installed it. Read his report here:


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