Inside: I’m back! Protecting your backups. OS X.

The last newsletter I sent started with those same words. Back in 2012! My Mom and many other readers have asked numerous times when I would start publishing newsletters again. Many long-time readers like Jac may have thought I retired to a tropical island. In reality, life and working on other people’s projects kept me away, but now I’m back.

A lot has happened in those three years. My son went off to college, I met and married a wonderful woman (and honeymooned a couple weeks on tropical islands!), and Apple upgraded their operating system THREE times (more on that below). They introduced a lot of changes, both major and subtle, so there are many new features, tools, and tips to discuss in future newsletters, articles, and videos.

There’s so much in fact that I could use your help prioritizing. Your answers to my very quick “Let Me Know What You Want” survey will help me decide what topics to write and record videos about. You can click on that link now, take the survey, and be back here in a minute or less. Thanks! I’ll wait… Really… [click to continue…]


Mac Help For Mom readers obviously want to protect their computer files (photos, music, videos, documents) for the future. How can I tell? How to set up Time Machine backups to an external USB drive is the all-time most popular article on the website, has received the most comments, and is the most popular Mac Help For Mom video on YouTube with over 120,000 views!

A comment there from Darwin highlights one of the biggest weaknesses in backing up: What happens if the power goes out while files are being backed up?
[click to continue…]


One of my Mom’s biggest complaints with the recent Gmail “upgrades” is that most of the buttons no longer have words on them. For instance, when viewing an email, you’ll see this toolbar above your email.

Gmail icon buttons

Well, I just stumbled across a Gmail setting that let’s you put text labels back on those Gmail buttons. [click to continue…]


Inside: Smart Playlists, iTunes

Happy Mother’s Day!

Everyone just left our family Mother’s Day get-together and now I’m trying to write this newsletter while fighting off an impending food coma. Huge thanks go to my girlfriend, who not only prepared an amazing array of drinks, hors d’oeuvres, entrees, and dessert, but is also now cleaning up so that I can get out a Mother’s Day newsletter while it’s still Mother’s Day!

My minor contributions to the party included vacuuming, grilling, and making a song list for ambiance, which brings me to my new article and video… [click to continue…]


iTunes playlists are a great way of selecting songs for specific occasions/moods, burning a music CD “mixtape”, sharing on your home network, or syncing with your iPod / iPhone / iPad. “Smart Playlists” let you quickly create a list of songs based on rules you choose. These rules can be simple like “songs from the 1970s” or complex like “songs in the Rock, R&B, or Blues genres with ‘love’ in the title that are under five minutes and I’ve assigned a rating of 3 or more stars”.

I’ll go over those and a few other fun and useful examples below but first watch this quick video to learn how easy it is to make a Smart Playlist. [click to continue…]


Inside: Bookmarks, Safari Reading List, Links, Web Archives, tooltips

There’s not enough room in this newsletter for me to adequately apologize for going silent for so long. In January I had a good excuse as I spent most of the month with a sore throat that made my voice very unworthy of recording new videos. But February just got away from me with other work and was over before I knew it. The important thing is I’m back in the groove and have FOUR new articles and videos to announce.

I did have a brief scare when the hard drive in my MacBook Pro got corrupted recently. Fortunately I can’t use that as an excuse because I was able to swap in a bigger drive and then restore everything from backup. Time Machine worked just how it’s supposed to and I was back running in a few hours, with nothing missing. If you still aren’t backing up your Mac, please use me as a cautionary tale. Drives can fail at any time. Mine gave me no warning. They ALL ultimately fail. My October article on setting up Time Machine inspired a few readers to finally start backing up their Macs, so if you still aren’t backing up, hopefully you’ll be inspired by my quick recovery from what could have easily been a tragedy. [click to continue…]


How to use the Safari Reading List

March 14, 2012 Web Browsers

When you need to save a link to a web page so you can read it later, but don’t expect to need it after that, consider using Safari’s Reading List feature. It’s a simple list of saved links that’s geared just for this purpose. Watch this video to see the numerous ways to add a […]

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Safari bookmark tips – “Open in Tabs” & Auto-Click

March 14, 2012 Web Browsers

Sometimes you want to open a single bookmarked web page, but other times you need to open a bunch of related sites. Maybe you like to start your day with the same set of tabs like a news site, Facebook, and your web-based email site. You could open each one at a time, or you […]

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Safari Tour of Bookmarks

March 14, 2012 Web Browsers

When you expect to return to a web page regularly or you’ve found a great site that you don’t want to lose track of, it’s best to bookmark it. In this video I walk through adding bookmarks to the Bookmarks Menu and Bookmarks Bar, and using the Bookmarks List to organize your bookmarks. I demonstrate […]

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How to Save Web Pages – Four Different Ways

March 14, 2012 Mac OS X

All popular web browsers let you save your favorite web pages as “bookmarks” (or some browsers call them “favorites”), but there are other ways to save a web page that you might want to come back to later. Which method is best depends on how often you expect to return to the page, how you […]

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