It’s that time of year when the summer holidays are nearly upon us, and everyone is starting to think about winding down for the end of the year. During the Christmas period, many of our Mac Aid technicians will be enjoying a much-needed break from the rush and hustle of the year.

We’ll still be available to help if you need support; however, we won’t have a full team of technicians on board over the Christmas and New Year period. The Mac Aid office will be staffed by a partial team of technicians between 20thDecember 2019 and 5thJanuary 2020. If you know you’ll be needing support during this period, we encourage you to get in contact with us now, so that we can make sure you get the support you need during the holiday break. This helps greatly to enable us to manage all our client’s needs while we’re operating with a skeleton staff.

We will return to normal on Monday 6thJanuary 2020, with our technicians back on board, and feeling refreshed, rested and ready to go after the holiday!

Wishing all our valued clients a wonderful holiday! We hope you enjoy a happy, healthy and safe break.

Apple has recently launched the new 16-inch MacBook Pro, and this overhauled device offers some heavy-duty improvements over the previous model. As well as giving you a larger 16-inch screen, the new MacBook Pro offers more power, better internal cooling, a bigger battery, an improved keyboard, louder speakers plus the potential to add on massive amounts of extra storage if needed.

 

The specs

The new MacBook Pro delivers a range of specs that customers have been seeking. Being touted as the world’s best professional notebook, the MacBook Pro offers:

 

Features

The new MacBook Pro features the same unibody aluminium design that will be familiar to past users, as well as a Touch Bar and a spacious trackpad. Available in silver and space grey, the MacBook Pro features a resolution of 3072 x 1920, which is equal to a density of 226 pixels per inch (PPI). The microphone is “studio quality” with high signal-to-noise ratio, and provides amazing sound quality without the distortion and vibration that can be common in other laptops.

The massive 100Wh battery will give you up to 11 hours of wireless use and provides plenty of endurance. While it’s not considered a gaming laptop per se, it’s certainly powerful and fast enough to use for most gaming purposes.

The display is one of the brightest and most colourful around and offers slimmer borders to help users feel more immersed in the experience. The new Magic Keyboard offers more key travel, improved reliability and a more stable feel – meaning your typing experience will be much more comfortable. Plus, it includes a physical escape key. The keyboard alone represents such a vast improvement on previous versions that it is probably enough to push many users into upgrading.

While the 16-inch MacBook Pro is highly functional with the base level configuration, you can also choose custom build-to-order configs, including greater turbo boost, memory and storage.

While the new MacBook Pro is already widely considered to be one of the best Apple laptops in years, there are a few small negatives. In terms of size, it’s a bit heavier and thicker than the 15-inch MacBook Pro.

 

The upshot

Apple has clearly listened to its customers and provided them with a laptop that delivers on many fronts. If you’re looking for a decent amount of power and sheer storage volume, you can’t go past the new 16-inch MacBook Pro. Although it’s slightly larger, heavier and more expensive, the benefits far outweigh any slight drawbacks. Its great battery life means you can use it anywhere, and it’s very, very fast. It’s one of the best laptops around for power users.

We’ve all experienced the frustration of trying to work with a Mac that is running slow. When everything takes forever to load and you’re sick of spending half your time waiting for things to happen, it’s time to take action. Here are a few quick tips to try to speed up your Mac.

 

Clear up your hard drive

A full hard drive could be the main culprit to a slow-running Mac. When your hard drive is full of folders and files, it will take much longer to respond, to display objects and to load. It’s probably time to sort through those ancient folders that you’ve been meaning to delete for ages and get rid of what you no longer need. To make it easier, you can sort your folders by size or date, to find ones which are particularly large or old.

If you find that you want to keep all your old files, take the pressure off your hard drive by moving them to an external hard drive or using cloud storage. Or you could consider using an SSD (solid-state drive) to increase the speed.

 

Free up some RAM

When you run out of RAM, your system will have to use virtual memory instead, which relies on the hard drive to store information. This makes your Mac run super slow. Have a look at all the apps you are running, close the ones you don’t use and relaunch all the rest. Close out of your web browsers and reload them, and remember not to keep a heap of tabs open at once.

Remember to re-start your Mac using safe mode (or safe boot) to help prevent certain software from automatically opening, verify your startup disk, repair directory issues and delete system cache files. Start up in safe mode by taking the following steps:

  • Start or restart your Mac, then immediately press and hold down the Shift key until you see the login window
  • If your Mac is running FileVault, you might then have to login twice – to unlock the startup disk and to login to the Finder

 

To clear your browser cache in Safari:

  • Choose Safari from the top menu and select Preferences
  • Choose the Advanced tab
  • Enable Show Develop Menu in the menu bar
  • Go to Develop in the menu bar
  • Choose Empty Caches
  • Quit your browser and restart it after clearing the cache

 

 

Microsoft Office now comes in a few different flavours. For clients who aren’t in the know, Office is available for Mac as Office 2016, and Office 365.

What are the differences between Office 365 and 2016?

The main point of difference is that Office 365 is a cloud-based subscription service, requiring monthly or yearly payments. With Microsoft Office 2016, it is simply a one-off fee for a perpetual licence.

Given that Office 365 is a cloud-based service, it will also provide you with regular feature updates for all the Microsoft applications, which is not available in Office 2016. The good news is that the security updates will be maintained in Office 365 as well as Office 2016.
In terms of online storage, this is only provided for in Office 365, through OneDrive.

How much does it cost?

Microsoft 2016 (Home and Student) costs approx. $199 (AUD) for the outright license, and is a one-time purchase.

Microsoft 365 is a subscription-based fee, which you can choose to be billed annually or monthly. Depending on what you choose, they vary between $10 and $129 (per user).

If you are using Office 365 for Business purposes, you will need to get the Business subscription which has a slightly different structure.

When is it going to be released?

Articles by Microsoft have hinted at a release for the second half of 2018. Office 2019 will include Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and (in the business version), Skype. Previews of the new version will start shipping mid this year.

I still have an older version…

You can still continue to use these versions or opt to upgrade. It is worth noting that as the versions get older, you may begin to experience a slowing down of the applications when in use.

This can include taking longer to open and save documents.

In terms of support for previous versions, here is a quick breakdown of a few.
All versions of Microsoft 2011: Service Pack Support End date was 10/01/2012
Most versions of Microsoft 2013: Service Pack Support End date was 14/04/2015
Most versions of Microsoft 2016: Mainstream Support End date is 13/10/2020, with the Extended Pack Support End date being 14/10/2025.

To find out more about Microsoft Office lifecycles, click here.

10. Day One.

Buy a Mac that has everything that you will need for your tasks.

This means having not only enough space for your current data, but ensuring that there is plenty of space left for files, folders and apps in the future. Ask yourself these questions… What type of files do you have? What applications do you wish to use? Do you want to use Windows as well as macOS?

These factors can determine how long you can keep your Mac as it is or whether you will need to upgrade the storage or RAM.

9. Long Lasting Cables

Keep your cables (and adapters) intact and lasting longer by looking after them in the following ways: Don’t fold/bend the cable at either end of the connection points. This is how the plastic begins to fray and will expose the wire. If it is just starting to fray, then look at wrapping sticky tape to these areas or wrap spring coils (found in many pens) around them to avoid any further damage. If your MagSafe charger comes with the plastic hooks, don’t wrap the cables around tightly around the connector ends. This can loosen the cable and make the plastic fray at the charger end.

8. Carry with Care

Care must always be taken when carrying your MacBook around. If you don’t it can lead to damaging the hinge or the screen of your beloved machine, or risk forking out extra cash to fix it later on. This means picking up your machine by the body, and not holding the machine by the trackpad or screen itself.

7. Furry Friends

Dogs and cats are great companions for us, whether it is keeping us company at home or at work. But once you begin working on your MacBook, you may want to keep a closer eye on them, because their soft fur can cause your Mac to overheat. Plus, it means that there is a higher chance that all that loose fluff could land inside the machine vents, causing the fans to work overtime.

6. Take out the Trash

Deleting items from your MacBook doesn’t mean that it will be completely removed from your drive. The Trash bin still holds the file and gives you the chance to easily restore it if you made an error.  Once you know you will definitely not be needing those items, make it a habit to then empty it on a regular basis.

5. Let it Breathe

Don’t work on your MacBook on pillows or any other soft material that can trap the circulation of air. This can lead to overheating and shorten the life of your battery. Overheating MacBooks can result in slower processing times, unexpected shutdowns and noisier fans. We found a solution with this neat find on Amazon for $39.99.

4. Keep it Clean

Dust can accumulate in between the keys and around the screen. So depending what model your mac is, you may be able to use a small and soft brush to dust in between the keys, corners of your screen and vents to prevent your machine from overheating.

3. Run Updates

Some updates are features based and others are to improve the security. Either way, try and stay on top of these. Use it as an excuse to stretch your legs, go on your lunch break or do anything else that can get you away from your desk for that time. But if you do happen to forget, why not try setting this to go off at the end of the day?

1. Backup

Your most valuable asset is the data that is stored on the Mac, not necessarily the Mac itself. Backing up your data is something that you will hear a lot of from our techs when we set you up with a new Mac or provide you with support. It is important because no matter how well you look after your Mac, it can unexpectedly die or become unusable through no fault of your own. At least you will still be able to work on your files from your backup drive.