What Is Outsourced IT Services and Why Is It Important for Your Business? Managed Services LA

You’ve chosen the devices to run your business. That’s great, but are you still dealing with each of those devices individually? If you hire a new employee, do you go to the Apple Store to buy a new Mac, bring it back to the office, spend a few hours installing the right software, and then sit down with the employee to get them started with email accounts and other logins?

That self-support approach can work when your company has only a few users, but as your business grows, how much of your time can you afford to spend on IT? You might enjoy it, but it distracts you from what you need to do to make your company thrive. Sure, you might think you’re saving money by doing this work yourself instead of hiring an IT professional, but that amount may pale in comparison to the amount you could make in your primary role. There’s a better way: Outsourced or Managed IT Services with device-management software.

In essence, with Managed IT Services, we become part of your team, creating systems that simplify and speed up the process of onboarding new devices, monitoring their usage, ensuring their security, and providing ongoing support. Here are some of the ways a Managed IT Services model can help your business.

Faster and More Accurate Setup

With Managed IT Services and properly configured device-management software, you can order a Mac or iOS device from Apple (through an Apple Business Manager account) and when it arrives, your employee can take it out of the box, log in, and have the entire device automatically configured over the network with required apps, server settings, security policies, and more.

If you’ve spent several hours configuring devices manually, it’s magical to watch a device pick up apps and settings automatically. And it’s not just for new devices. If an employee leaves or you need to repurpose a Mac or iOS device, device-management software can automatically wipe it and set it up for its new role with minimal effort.

Increased Security

An important aspect of switching to a Managed IT Services model that relies on device-management software is requiring security policies. If you’ve ever worried about an employee losing a company device containing confidential data, device-management software can eliminate those concerns by automatically enabling FileVault for Macs or enforcing non-trivial passcodes on iOS devices. Lost devices can even be locked or wiped remotely from a central management console.

Also, device-management software can restrict what apps users may install, so you don’t have to worry about apps that could leak confidential information or malware that could be stealing passwords.

Proactive Monitoring

A Managed IT Services support model lets your users focus on their work, rather than on their Macs. Monitoring software can report if Mac hard drives start to fail, when laptop batteries start to go, if RAM is faulty, and more. It’s better to know that a drive is dying before you lose data.

Monitoring software can also check on important events, making sure that backups are happening regularly, warning if a user has downloaded a potentially problematic operating system update, and making sure anti-malware software is up to date.

Proactive Maintenance

Monitoring helps identify issues early on, but perhaps the most important aspect of a Managed IT Services solution is how it combines proactive monitoring with proactive maintenance. It uses software and services that go beyond identifying problems to fixing them—blocking undesirable software upgrades, automatically deploying essential security updates, and removing malware—before they impact your workflow. This saves your users downtime and frustration, and lets you focus on your work rather than troubleshooting problems.

Improved Reporting

It may not be difficult to keep track of a handful of Macs and iPhones, but as your business grows, inventory can become daunting. A Managed IT Services solution helps you know exactly what devices you have, who is using them, and more. It can also report on installed software to make sure you’re in compliance with your software licenses.

Predictable Pricing

If your company pays for support on an hourly billing model, there’s no way to budget accurately for expenses, since no one can predict what will go wrong. Plus, it takes longer to investigate and resolve problems because of the time necessary to figure out the status of the device in question. Solving complex or recurring problems can get expensive in such a scenario.

With Managed IT Services, we instead charge a flat monthly fee based on how many devices you have. Thanks to proactive monitoring and device management, we can fix many problems before the user even notices. And if a user does need in-person support, it’s faster and easier to help them when we know exactly what device they’re using, what version of the operating system it’s using, what software they have installed, and more.

A Managed IT Services model isn’t for every situation, but if your business has more than a handful of Macs, iPhones, and iPads in use by your employees, it could reduce downtime, save you money, and increase security.


Apple Hid the Proxy Icon in Big Sur’s Finder. Here’s How to Reveal It | Apple Consulting Los Angeles

This is a twofer tip. You may not have known that every document window in macOS has long had a proxy icon in the title bar, next to the filename. The proxy icon is not just cosmetic. You can drag it to Mail to attach the document to a message, to a Web browser to upload it, or to any other location you can drag a document’s icon in the Finder (top screenshot, below, showing Preview in Catalina). You can also drag proxy icons from Finder windows to Open and Save dialogs to navigate to the location of the proxy icon and even pre-fill the filename when saving. Alas, in macOS 11 Big Sur, in at least the Finder and Preview, Apple chose to hide the proxy icon and the drop-down menu that lets you rename, tag, or move files using controls on the title bar (middle screenshot, below). Plus, the new title bar design tends to truncate file names. Happily, mousing over the filename expands the name and reveals both the proxy icon and the drop-down menu (bottom screenshot, below). Apple’s desire to reduce onscreen clutter makes usage more cumbersome than before, but all the functionality is still present.

(Featured image by Harrison Haines from Pexels)

Try iCloud Drive Folder Sharing Instead of Paying More for a File Sharing Service | Cloud Solutions Los Angeles

Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive all have their place, but as of March 2020, Apple users no longer have to venture outside the Apple ecosystem for online folder sharing. Before then, you could share a single file in iCloud with another iCloud user, but nothing more. With iCloud Drive Folder Sharing, you can share an entire folder, complete with permissions that control what your collaborators can do with the contents of the folder.

Pros and Cons

Why use iCloud Drive Folder Sharing instead of the more established services? Cost is the main one. Say you’re already paying Apple $9.99 for 2 TB of storage so you can use iCloud Photos with a large library. Why pay one of the other services another $9.99 per month—$240 per year—when you can get the same capabilities using iCloud? (Dropbox used to be entirely usable at its free level for those who didn’t need much shared storage, but users at that tier are also limited to just three devices, rendering it problematic for anyone with an iPhone, iPad, and desktop and laptop Macs.)

The main reason not to use iCloud Drive Folder Sharing is if the people with whom you want to share documents aren’t Apple users. Such people can get a free iCloud account if they create an Apple ID and then access iCloud Drive in a Web browser. Windows users can instead install iCloud for Windows to access it in Windows Explorer. But that may be too much effort for many.

iCloud Drive Folder Sharing on the Mac

First off, make sure iCloud Drive is selected in System Preferences > Apple ID > iCloud. If you have plenty of storage, leave Optimize Mac Storage unchecked. It’s worthwhile only if your Mac’s internal drive is nearly full.

On the Mac, iCloud Drive creates a special folder to hold all the data mirrored to iCloud. You can access it by choosing Go > iCloud Drive in the Finder. It’s usually available in the sidebar of Finder windows too. If not, open Finder > Preferences > Sidebar and select iCloud Drive.

You’ll likely see quite a few folders in iCloud Drive already, with names and icons matching apps that synchronize their data and files via iCloud. These folders exist purely for you and your apps—you can’t share them. However, you can create and share other folders within iCloud Drive.

To share a folder you’ve created, Control- or right-click it and choose Share > Share Folder to display a Share Folder dialog. You need to do three things here:

  • From the Who Can Access pop-up menu, choose between “Only people you invite” and “Anyone with the link.” With the latter, you’re opting for security only through obscurity, so avoid that option if the data in the folder is confidential or important.
  • From the Permission pop-up menu, choose between “Can make changes” and “View only.” Think carefully about this choice—view-only users can still copy files out of the folder and change them locally on their computers. However, they won’t be able to change your versions of shared files or add new files to the folder.
  • Despite its position at the top of the dialog, choose the manner of sending the invitation last. If you’re sharing only with people you invite, you can select a sharing method and enter their email addresses or phone numbers. For folders shared with anyone who has the link, you don’t need to enter information for specific users.

When the people with whom you’re sharing the folder receive the sharing invitation or link and open it, the shared folder is added to their iCloud Drive folder. Its icon will have silhouettes of multiple people to indicate it’s a shared folder.

What if you need to invite more people, change permissions, get the sharing link again, or stop sharing entirely? Control- or right-click and choose Share > Manage Shared Folder (there’s also a Copy Link option there). A new dialog appears.

Most of the controls here are self-explanatory, but note that you can revoke a person’s access and change their permission level by clicking the ••• button in the row next to their name.

iCloud Drive Folder Sharing in iOS/iPadOS

The process is similar in iOS and iPadOS. Follow these instructions in the Files app:

  1. Press and hold on the folder you want to share.
  2. In the sheet that appears, tap Share.
  3. In the Share sheet that appears, tap Share Folder in iCloud.
  4. On the Share Folder screen, first tap Share Options and set Who Can Access and Permission.
  5. Tap Back to return to the Share Folder screen, and tap the app through which you want to send your invitation (Messages below).
  6. Enter the name of your recipient or pick them from your contacts list.
  7. Enter a message to your recipient and send them the link to the shared folder.

Managing a shared folder in the Files app is similar. Once you press and hold on an already shared folder and tap Manage Shared Folder in the Share sheet, you can do the following:

  • Tap Share Options to change Who Can Access and Permissions options, or to copy the link to the shared folder.
  • Tap a person’s name to change their permissions or remove access entirely.
  • Tap Stop Sharing to stop sharing the folder.

One final tip. Although iCloud Drive generally works well, we’ve occasionally seen it get stuck syncing on the Mac. You may see files or folders fail to sync between devices or have a file or folder permanently display the little cloud icon in the Finder that indicates iCloud Drive is updating. To resolve such problems and reset the local state of iCloud Drive, first make a copy of any critical files to the desktop, just in case. Then open System Preferences > Apple ID > iCloud, deselect iCloud Drive, click Remove from Mac when prompted, and then select iCloud Drive again. Give it some time to resync with iCloud and download new copies of your files.

(Featured image by sendi gibran on Unsplash)


Work with iOS App Updates in Your Account in the App Store | Apple Consulting Los Angeles

If you’ve turned on automatic App Updates in Settings > App Store on your iPhone or iPad, you might wonder how you’d know if an app was updated or what changed. To find that information, open the App Store app and tap your avatar icon in the upper-right corner. Scroll down and you’ll see an Updated Recently list. If you pull down on the screen, that will force it to refresh, and you may see a list called Upcoming Automatic Updates at the top. For any downloaded update, you can tap Open to open it. If it hasn’t yet been downloaded, you can tap Update to update it right away rather than waiting for the automatic update. Tap More to see the full release notes. Finally, here’s a hidden tip: swipe left on any app to delete it.

(Featured image by Brett Jordan from Pexels)

Not a Fan of Big Sur’s Translucent Menu Bar? Here’s How to Disable It | IT Support in Los Angeles

In macOS 11 Big Sur, Apple went back to a design direction from the earliest days of Mac OS X: a translucent menu bar. Since its color changes depending on the desktop picture, many people aren’t enamored of it (left, below). Luckily, reverting to the traditional opaque menu bar is simple. Open System Preferences > Accessibility > Display and select Reduce Transparency. That will turn the menu bar gray again and make other windows and menus opaque, too (right, below). Simple gray might not be as whizzy as fancy transparency, but it’s more predictable and easier to see.

(Featured image by aung nyi on Unsplash)

How to Avoid Embarrassment During Online Presentations or Screen Sharing | IT Services in Los Angeles

Along with the now-ubiquitous videoconferencing, screen sharing and online presentations have become vastly more common during the pandemic. This isn’t yet another article about how to give a better presentation or feel more confident. (Although those might happen too.) The goal of this article is to help you avoid situations that could embarrass you in front of clients, colleagues, or bosses. Follow this advice and you could avoid an unfortunate happenstance that might even cause you to be fired.

Here’s the problem. Even more so than before the pandemic, our Macs feel like personal spaces. Just as you’d add a houseplant and a special photo to your desk at work, you’ve probably personalized your Mac in a variety of ways. Custom desktop wallpaper, for instance, or a screensaver that displays favorite photos. Plus, you may carry on personal conversations, possibly even intimate ones, if you catch our drift, using the same Mac that you use for communicating with those aforementioned clients, colleagues, and bosses.

We’re not here to admonish you or nag about inappropriate behavior. (Though we will encourage you to consider some sage advice from a friend’s mother, who noted drily that you should never put anything on the Internet that you don’t want to appear on the front page of the New York Times. And that was before Twitter.)

No, as we said, the goal here is to help you avoid the embarrassment caused by people who are viewing your screen seeing things they shouldn’t see, something that the New York Times has also covered. Some areas of concern include:

  • Desktop & Screen Saver: Jobs have been lost by inappropriate selections for desktop wallpaper and photo screen savers. Make sure, if you’re ever going to share your screen, that randomly chosen desktop pictures and folders of screen saver photos don’t contain anything that could be problematic. To be safe, choose an Apple-provided desktop picture and a pattern-based screen saver in System Preferences > Desktop & Screen Saver.
  • Icons on the Desktop: We all toss files on the desktop, but if preview icons or even filenames could cause trouble—you might not want your boss seeing ResumĂ©.doc—corral them in another folder before you share your screen. Also note that many videoconferencing apps can limit their screen sharing to particular windows rather than the entire screen, which prevents people from seeing your desktop.
  • Web browser tabs: Limiting screen sharing to a particular window won’t help if it’s a Web browser window with multiple tabs. Even if you avoid accidentally navigating to a tab with not safe for work content, its title alone might be problematic. For safety, always start a new browser window when sharing Web content.
  • Open apps and documents: As with icons on the desktop when sharing your entire screen, you may not want just anyone seeing what other apps and documents you have open. Again, stick to sharing a specific window. To avoid mistakes when selecting the window to share, we recommend hiding or quitting all unrelated apps before sharing your screen.
  • Document comments: When collaborating on a document, some people are less than politic with their in-document comments. If comments are visible when you’re sharing a document with people who wouldn’t otherwise see them, hard feelings could ensue. Make sure to hide or resolve such comments before sharing.
  • Notifications: Even if you have hidden or quit Calendar, Messages, Mail, and similar apps, their notifications could still appear at an inopportune time. You might not want colleagues to know about an ob-gyn appointment, meeting with a potential employer, or racy conversations with a coworker. The solution is Do Not Disturb, easily enabled from Control Center in macOS 11 Big Sur and by scrolling up in Today view in Notification Center in earlier versions of macOS. Also, although it won’t help with online screen sharing, it’s a good idea to enable the “When mirroring to TVs and projectors” option in System Preferences > Notifications > Do Not Disturb.

This may all sound a little overwhelming, but there is one trick that will help you avoid most of these problems at once. In System Preferences > Users & Groups, create a new user account dedicated to screen sharing and presentations. In that user account, you can be sure to have innocuous desktop pictures, screen savers, clean Web browser windows, and permanent Do Not Disturb. The hardest part will be figuring out the best way to share documents you use in presentations between your accounts (try the /Users/Shared folder or an online file sharing solution like Dropbox). Then, before you start a call when you’ll need to share your screen, choose your new account from the Fast User Switching menu from the right side of the menu bar (set up that menu in System Preferences > Users & Groups > Login Options).

One final piece of advice. When you’ve accomplished what you need to by sharing your screen, stop sharing it and switch back to video. That way, you can’t accidentally do something in the shared window that might be embarrassing. Similarly, when a meeting is over or you’re dropping off for a while, it’s best to leave the call. Stopping video and muting audio are good tools, but it’s easy to click in the wrong spot accidentally and think you’re safe when, in fact, your mic or camera is still live.

(Featured image by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels)


 

Archive Email to Avoid Mail Quotas, Improve Performance, and Reduce Clutter | Managed Services LA

Email is a major part of all our lives, both personally and professionally, and as such, it can add up. Before you know it, you have years of email stored away—potentially tens or even hundreds of thousands of messages. Most of the time, that’s fine. Email doesn’t take up any physical space and not even that much digital space in the scheme of things.

However, there are situations where you might want to archive email, by which we mean download it from the server and store it for posterity on your Mac, possibly outside your email app. Some of those reasons include:

  • Insufficient server space: Institutional email accounts sometimes have inflexible mail quotas, and although you can pay for more storage on many large email providers, you might prefer instead to clear out old mail that you don’t refer to anymore.
  • Reduce clutter: Even if you have sufficient server space, archiving mail—particularly mail from ancient completed projects—might reduce the mental load of having it in your email app.
  • Poor email client performance: Although good email apps should be able to handle hundreds of thousands of messages, it’s possible that reducing the amount of email in your account would help if you’re experiencing slowdowns.
  • Switching email providers: If you choose to stop using a particular email account, you might want to download all the mail in it first.
  • Leaving a job or graduating from school: If you have a work or school email account that will be shut down after you leave, you might want to archive all that email beforehand.
  • Preserving a former employee’s business communications: From the opposite perspective, if an employee of yours leaves, you might want to archive their work email account so you have an easily searched record of what they said to clients or suppliers.
  • Local backup: Although most email providers and businesses back up their servers (and probably better than most users), it’s not inconceivable that you could lose mail stored remotely. Archiving email locally—perhaps on an annual basis—ensures the long-term preservation of your email communications.

So how should you archive your email? There are two general approaches:

  • Store email in a local mailbox: The most straightforward approach is to store email in a local mailbox on your Mac using your existing email app. It’s free and keeps your mail together, but it makes switching to another email app more complicated, and it’s fussy to move local mailboxes to other Macs. Plus, it may require some effort to keep an archive up to date.
  • Archive email in a dedicated app: You’ll have to pay for an archiving app, but these apps work with multiple email apps, may provide more powerful searching capabilities, and often integrate email with other archived data. It’s also easier to move archived data between Macs or even keep it available on a server for access on multiple machines.

Store Email in a Local Mailbox

For simple archiving, it’s easy to create local copies of messages or mailboxes you want to preserve locally. The main thing to keep in mind here is the difference between moving and copying.

  • Move: When you move a message from the server to a local mailbox, you’re deleting it from the server. Move messages when you want to clear space on the server.
  • Copy: When you copy a message, the original message stays on the server, and a copy appears in the local mailbox. Copy messages if you want a local backup of important messages or mailboxes but also want to keep them available online.

How you do this varies slightly by app, but let’s look at Apple’s Mail—other apps will be similar. The first step is to create a local mailbox. Choose Mailbox > New Mailbox and then choose On My Mac from the Location pop-up menu when naming it.

Then, to move or copy mail:

  • Move messages locally: Select messages and, from the Message > Move To menu, choose the desired On My Mac mailbox. You can also Control-click a selection to access the Move To menu or drag the messages from a server-based mailbox to a mailbox under On My Mac.
  • Copy messages locally: Select messages and, from the Message > Copy To menu, choose the desired On My Mac mailbox. Alternatively, Control-click a selection to access the Copy To menu, or Option-drag the messages to an On My Mac mailbox. Also note that you can copy an entire mailbox by dragging it from an online account in Mail’s sidebar to the On My Mac section of the sidebar.

You can also select a mailbox and choose Mailbox > Export Mailbox to save all the data to a local file in .mbox format suitable for importing into other email and archiving apps.

Archive Email in a Dedicated App

When it comes to archiving email in an app dedicated to that purpose, the details vary, so let’s focus on giving you some choices for the leading Mac archiving apps. Once you know what you want, you can more easily pick among them:

  • DEVONthink Pro ($199): The most powerful (and expensive) of these apps is undoubtedly DEVONthink Pro. It can import directly from Apple’s Mail and Microsoft Outlook and supports importing .mbox files exported from other email apps. Its integration with Mail and Outlook lets you continually archive new messages without worrying about duplicates. DEVONthink is a general-purpose information management app that also lets you import, organize, and search for files of any kind, scan documents with optical character recognition, and much more. The $499 DEVONthink Server lets multiple people access the shared data over the Web.
  • EagleFiler ($49.99): Another general-purpose archiving app, EagleFiler supports direct imports from Mail and Outlook, and it can also import .mbox files exported from numerous other email apps. With Mail, EagleFiler can skip previously imported messages and includes an option to remove duplicate messages from mailboxes. It makes it easy to search archived email and lets you reply (using your standard email app) to archived messages. Beyond email, you can import, organize, search, and view any kind of file, and everything is stored in its original format in a standard Finder folder.
  • Mail Archiver X ($49.95): Mail Archiver X focuses on email, supporting major email clients like Mail, Outlook, Postbox, and Thunderbird along with .mbox files, and it can even archive email directly from your IMAP or Gmail account. You can set up Mail Archiver X to archive email on a schedule, automatically skipping previously archived messages. It lets you store messages in its internal database format, FileMaker (if you have a license), or PDF.
  • MailSteward ($24.95/$49.95/$99.95): All the basics are here—support for Mail and Postbox plus .mbox files, scheduling of imports, importing into a relational database, automatic skipping of duplicates (and later identification of them if necessary). The three editions of MailSteward let you pick how much power you need. The Lite edition may be all most people need, but the standard edition adds automatic scheduling, saved searches, and database exporting and merging. The Pro version is necessary only for very large archives over 250,000 messages—it trades MailSteward’s SQLite database for MySQL.

We realize there’s a lot to think about here, but no one solution fits all. If you’d like advice on which app would be best for your particular needs and help setting it up, don’t hesitate to contact us.

(Featured image by Gerhard G. from Pixabay)


Don’t Store Confidential Files in Online File Sharing Services – Cyber Security Los Angeles

Given their integration into the Mac’s Finder, it can be easy to forget that online file sharing services like Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive can be accessed using a Web browser by anyone with your username and password. Obviously, you should always have strong, unique passwords, but to be safe, it’s best not to use services designed for public file sharing to store unencrypted files containing sensitive information like credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, passport scans, privileged legal documents, financial data, and so on. Keep such data secure on your Mac—outside of any synced folders—where accessing it requires physical access to the machine.

(Featured image based on an original by Kenaz Nepomuceno from Pexels)

It’s Time to Consider Upgrading to macOS 11 Big Sur | Managed Services LA

We’re cautious when it comes to recommending upgrades to new versions of macOS. Apple makes the upgrade process easy—though it can be time-consuming—but upgrading can create workflow interruptions, render favorite apps inoperable, and have other consequences. At the same time, it’s important to stay in sight of the cutting edge for security reasons and to take advantage of advances from Apple and other developers. Upgrading is not an if question; it’s a when question.

We’re not saying that everyone needs to upgrade to macOS 11 Big Sur now, but if you want to, it should be safe now that Apple has released several bug-fix updates. However, there are still a few caveats, and preparation is essential.

Reasons Not to Upgrade

Some people should continue to delay upgrades to Big Sur due to software incompatibilities. Most software under steady development will have been updated for Big Sur by now, but some workflows rely on older versions of apps where an upgrade isn’t practical or possible (ancient versions of Adobe Creative Suite, for instance), or on obsolete apps that will never be updated. You may be able to learn more at RoaringApps, but those who haven’t yet upgraded past 10.14 Mojave may have to upgrade or replace 32-bit apps that ceased working starting with 10.15 Catalina.

The other app category that continues to have trouble with Big Sur are backup apps that make bootable duplicates. Catalina moved macOS to its own read-only volume, and Big Sur goes a step further by applying cryptographic signatures that make it even harder for an attacker to compromise the operating system. Unfortunately, that also makes creating a bootable duplicate difficult. Carbon Copy Cloner and ChronoSync have developed workarounds; SuperDuper remains incompatible at this point, although an older version can create data-only backups. If you rely on one of these apps for critical backups, make sure you know what you’re getting into before upgrading or reassess your backup strategy.

Before You Upgrade

Once you’ve decided to upgrade to Big Sur, you have three main tasks:

  • Update apps: Make sure all your apps are as up-to-date as possible. If you regularly put off updates, now’s the time to let them complete so you have Big Sur-compatible versions.
  • Clear space: Big Sur needs a minimum of 35.5 GB to upgrade, and as of macOS 11.2.1, the installer won’t proceed unless there’s enough space. Don’t cut this close—you should always have at least 10–20% free space for virtual memory, cache files, and breathing room.
  • Make a backup: Never, ever install a major upgrade to macOS without ensuring that you have at least one current backup first. In an ideal world, you’d have an updated Time Machine backup, a bootable duplicate, and an Internet backup. That way, if something goes wrong as thousands of files are moved around on your drive, you can easily restore.

After those tasks are complete, make sure you don’t need your Mac for a few hours. There’s no telling exactly how long the upgrade will take, especially if it has to convert your drive to APFS, so never start an upgrade if you need the Mac soon.

Initiating the upgrade is just a matter of opening System Preferences > Software Update, clicking the Upgrade Now button, and following the instructions.

After You Upgrade

Part of the reason to set aside plenty of time for your Big Sur upgrade is that there are always clean-up tasks afterward. We can’t predict precisely what you’ll run into, but here are a few situations we’ve noticed:

  • macOS will probably need to update its authentication situation by asking for your Apple ID password, your Mac’s password, and if you have another Mac, its password too. Don’t worry that this is a security breach—it’s fine.
  • Some apps may have to ask for permission to access your contacts and calendar even though you previously granted permission. Again, that’s fine.
  • If you use your Apple Watch to unlock your Mac and apps (and you should, it’s great!), you’ll need to re-enable that in System Preferences > Security & Privacy > General.
  • If you use Gmail or Google Calendar or other Google services, you may need to log in to your Google account again.
  • Websites that usually remember your login state will likely require that you log in again. If you’re using a password manager like 1Password, that’s easy.
  • You may have to re-enable text-message forwarding to your Mac on your iPhone in Settings > Messages > Text Message Forwarding.
  • Those who use Backblaze for Internet backups will find their backups have been “safety frozen.” Follow these instructions for thawing your account.

Finally, Time Machine in Big Sur now supports and prefers APFS-formatted drives, and all of Apple’s development is going in that direction now. You can keep using your existing Time Machine backup in Big Sur, but after you’re confident that everything is working well—and you have another backup—it’s worth removing your Time Machine backup drive in System Preferences > Time Machine > Select Disk, reformatting the drive as APFS in Disk Utility, and restarting the backup in the Time Machine preference pane.

With all that housekeeping done, it’s time to check out all the new features in Big Sur!

(Featured image based on originals by Apple)


Stop Apple Watch Timer Alerts with a Press of the Digital Crown | IT Support in Los Angeles

For those who cook, the Apple Watch provides a helpful Timer app that ensures we don’t forget whatever’s in the oven until it’s burnt to a crisp. Setting the timer is easy from the app’s interface, but even easier is using Siri: just hold the Digital Crown and say, “Set a timer for 8 minutes.” When the timer goes off, the watch makes a sound or vibrates and presents you with Stop and Repeat buttons. But often, when a timer goes off, you’re wearing oven mitts or moving quickly, making it hard to look at the watch and tap the Stop button. There’s a no-look alternative you may not have known about—just press the Digital Crown once (if the display is active) or twice (if the display is dimmed) to stop the timer.

(Featured image by Adam Engst)

Choose Your Preferred Default Web Browser and Email App in iOS and iPadOS 14 | Apple Consulting Los Angeles

Since the earliest days of the iPhone, Apple’s Safari and Mail have been the default Web and email apps for iOS and, later, iPadOS. There was no way to choose alternatives that would be used whenever an app wanted to open a Web page or create an email message. That has now changed with iOS 14 and iPadOS 14. To switch to a different Web browser (such as Brave, DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser, Firefox, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, or Opera Touch) or a different email app (such as Boomerang, Chuck, Hey, Gmail, Outlook, Polymail, or Spark), follow these directions. In Settings, tap the name of the browser or email app you want to set as the default. Then tap Default Browser App or Default Mail App and select the desired app.

(Featured image based on an original by Sotiris Gkolias from Pexels)