5 Resolutions to Improve Your Mac Experience


So, you were a very good boy or girl this year and Santa brought you a brand new Mac.

Maybe it was a sleek MacBook Air, perhaps a studly MacBook Pro or a bright and shiny iMac for your desktop. You say it was an old-school Mac Pro workstation? Well, bully for you!

Isn’t it time to make a few resolutions about how you’re going to love and care for your new machine so you can get the most out of it and keep it running in tip-top shape long after your Apple Care subscription runs out?

Here are five suggestions to help you do just that:

1. Have a back-up plan.

The number one mistake made by 99% of the people who wake up one day with an empty feeling in the pit of their stomach as they realize all their photographs, all their music, all their software and the outline for that Oscar-winning screenplay are just…gone — is having no backup.

Fortunately (or unfortunately), Apple has left you no excuse for not having your data backed up, at least since the introduction of Time Capsule and its integration with Time Machine, a built-in backup solution that’s been part of OX X since 2007.

A 1 terabyte Time Capsule is only $299 and unless you are one of those Pirate Bay or LimeWire scofflaws you’re probably never going to fill it up.

Don’t want to pay the Apple premium for seamless integration and “Designed in California” panache? Dozens of excellent third-party backup solutions await from the likes of LaCie and Seagate — there’s even an eco-friendly Green solution from Hitachi subsidiary SimpleTech, the USB 2.0 [Re]Drive, made from bamboo and recycled aluminum.

Regular backups for your computer system are like roughage in your diet: just do it and you’ll never never be sorry you did.

2. Go back often to your local Apple Store.

If you were indeed good this year and Santa’s elves were on the ball, you got a subscription to Apple’s One to One service, the “available at time of purchase only” setup, training and project assistance program that may be the very best value offered by Apple Retail.

One to One members get a full year of opportunities to schedule one hour uninterrupted sessions with Apple geniuses, plus a personalized One to One web page that provides access to hundreds of tutorials, scheduling and appointment tools, and allows users to explore projects created by other members. It’s a great way to learn tips and how-tos for making the most of your new computer system and to unleash the creative possibilities lurking in software programs like Garage Band, iMovie and iPhoto, among many others.

Even if you think you already know all there is to know about your new Mac and didn’t get signed up for One to One, every Apple Retail Store offers a constant and varied rotation of in-store workshops where you can learn more about the OS X operating system and other Apple software. In-store workshops are free and a great resource for maximizing your investment in Apple gear.

3. Keep your photo and music libraries organized.

Pictures and music end up gobbling most of the real estate on your hard drive. Inevitably, you also end up with duplicate copies of photos, songs and other files that eventually hamper the performance of your machine or just confuse you as to what, exactly, is what and where, exactly you put it.

Do yourself a favor and learn how built-in tools in both iTunes and iPhoto can help you stay organized, or invest in software such as Tune Up for iTunes (or the free TidySongs) and Tidy Up! for iPhoto early on — and use them regularly to cull duplicates and keep libraries organized.

Over time you’ll gain a sense of power and accomplishment at your ability to put your finger on just the right photo or cue up just the right tune at that crucial moment.

And you’ll keep more space available on your hard drive for new songs and new photo memories as the occasions arise.

4. Scan your drive for malware and viruses.

Conventional wisdom says Macs are immune to the nefarious designs of hackers and virus authors who have long plagued Windows users. But as Apple and its Mac OS continue to gain market share, as more and more documents, services and processes in our digital lives move to “the Cloud,” odds are Macs will not remain inviolate forever.

ClamXav is a free virus checker for Mac OS X. It uses the tried, tested and very popular ClamAV open source antivirus engine as a back end.

MacScan is a thorough, unobtrusive $30 program that detects, isolates and removes spyware, including over 8800 blacklisted tracking cookies.

Industry leader McAfee also offers paid protection for your Mac, with a free trial download.

Some will say this advice is hoo-hah; some will say virus protection hinders the performance of your machine. Do your research and decide for yourself — but don’t say you weren’t warned.

5. Pay no attention to Apple product announcements.

Don’t torture yourself by keeping abreast of the new wonderments and magical things coming out of Cupertino to change everything all over again three or four times a year.

You just got yourself one of the finest pieces of computer hardware available on the planet and if you follow the advice in #1 – #4 above you’ll be happy for years to come, especially if you upgrade your RAM to the machine’s limit early on.

Apple is going to keep making better, faster, slimmer and sexier devices and is going to keep announcing them to great fanfare in the press, keep plastering them on billboards and featuring them in TV ads to foment lust and envy and techno-desire in the hearts of gadget geeks everywhere. It’s what they do.


Enjoy your new Mac. For a year, at least.


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