About a year ago, Fujitsu informed owners of older models of the company’s ScanSnap scanners that it wouldn’t be updating the necessary ScanSnap Manager app to be 64-bit, effectively preventing those people from using their scanners in macOS 10.15 Catalina. Unexpectedly, Fujitsu has now reversed course, releasing ScanSnap Manager V7 with support for the previously orphaned ScanSnap S1500, S1500M, S1300, and S1100 models. Even though they’re not listed as being compatible, ScanSnap Manager V7 also reportedly works with the S300M and S510M, so if you have any older ScanSnap scanner, it’s worth trying the S1500M download.
Here’s the solution to a problem that clients have run into on occasion. In a workgroup that relies on Adobe Creative Cloud apps, one person might upgrade to the latest versions of Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator, whereas others don’t. Suddenly, if that person opens and re-saves a file in the new version, those using the old version may not be able to open it, or certain aspects of the file may disappear.
Upgrading isn’t always possible—some people may have too-old Macs or not be running a new enough version of macOS. More commonly, however, the rest of the group is deep in a major project and quite reasonably doesn’t want to introduce potential problems by changing their software in mid-stream. What to do?
Luckily, Adobe makes it easy to download previous versions of all the Creative Cloud apps, allowing the person who upgraded to rejoin the rest of the team on the older version.
Open the Creative Cloud app, click the ••• button to the right of the desired app, and choose Other Versions from the pop-up menu.
In the list that appears, find the older version you want to install—likely the version that the rest of the team is using—and click Install. Creative Cloud warns you that the app will have its auto-update setting disabled so the newly installed old version won’t be overwritten during a future update.
You can ensure that you don’t lose access to older versions during updates by disabling a Creative Cloud setting that automatically removes previous versions of apps when you update. In the Creative Cloud app, choose Creative Cloud > Preferences > Apps. Then click Advanced Options to the right of the desired app’s name, and in the dialog that appears, deselect Remove Older Versions. When you’re finished, click Done.
That’s it—a potentially project-stopping problem eliminated quickly and easily. Just don’t let your Creative Cloud apps get too far out of date, since you can go back only so far when downloading previous versions.
On the Mac, scroll bars are essential for both orienting yourself and navigating within a Web page or document window. But they may not appear unless you hover the pointer over the right spot or start scrolling with a gesture on a trackpad or a turn of a mouse scroll wheel. If that bothers you, go to System Preferences > General and under Show Scroll Bars, select Always. That way, scroll bars will always be visible without you having to guess where they are or perform some incantation to reveal them.
Sure, you know that the Space bar in the iOS virtual keyboard types a space character. But did you realize that if you tap it twice, it inserts a period? (Probably, but if not, now you do.) That’s to make it easier to provide proper punctuation, which will have the added benefit of irritating your kids when you text them. Even better, if you touch and hold the Space bar in iOS 12 or later, that invokes the trackpad mode that lets you move the insertion point around in your text. It’s way easier than previous methods of navigating in text and makes it so you can more easily edit what you write. Which, as a bonus, will also bug your kids.
Apple’s workhorse desktop Mac, the 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display, hasn’t seen an update since March 2019—nearly a year and a half ago. Happily, the company has finally released a new version of the popular iMac, outfitting it with 10th-generation Intel processors, increasing its RAM and storage capacities, and improving its audio and video capabilities. Prices haven’t changed, with the low-end model starting at $1799, the mid-range model at $1999, and the high-end configuration at $2299.
Separately, although Apple didn’t update either the 21.5-inch iMac or the iMac Pro, it tweaked both of their configurations. The company finally stopped selling the small, inexpensive 21.5-inch iMac with a performance-robbing hard drive. It now comes with SSDs standard across the line, with a 1 TB Fusion Drive as an alternative. For the iMac Pro, Apple dropped the 8-core Intel Xeon W processor configuration, making the base model a 10-core processor configuration.
There are no industrial design changes this time around, unsurprisingly, but the rest of the enhancements will be extremely welcome to anyone who has been holding out for a new iMac.
For those who are concerned about performance but don’t want to spend thousands more on an iMac Pro or Mac Pro, Apple increased the 27-inch iMac’s specs in noteworthy ways. You have choices of four of the latest 10th-generation Intel Core processors: a 3.1 GHz 6-core i5, a 3.3 GHz 6-core i5, a 3.8 GHz 8-core i7, and a 3.6 GHz 10-core i9. Performance and cost both rise through that list.
Higher Performance Graphics Chips
Apple also moved to the next-generation AMD Radeon Pro graphics chips, with the Radeon Pro 5300 with 4 GB of memory in the low-end and mid-range models. The high-end model starts with a Radeon Pro 5500 XT with 8 GB of memory, and you can upgrade to a Radeon Pro 5700 with 8 GB for $300 or a Radeon Pro 5700 XT with 16 GB for $500. The more expensive options would be useful for graphics-intensive workflows, complex video editing, or developing 3D content.
Higher RAM Ceiling
All configurations of the 27-inch iMac start with 8 GB, but you can expand that to 16 GB ($200), 32 GB ($600), 64 GB ($1000) or, for the first time in the iMac line, 128 GB ($2600). Unlike on most other Macs, RAM is user-accessible through a panel on the back, so you’d be smart to buy RAM separately, where it will be far cheaper—perhaps as much as two-thirds less.
Increased SSD Storage
Storage is locked at 256 GB for the low-end model, whereas the mid-range model starts at 512 GB and lets you upgrade to 1 TB ($200) or 2 TB ($600). The high-end model also starts at 512 GB, offering the same 1 TB and 2 TB upgrades and adding 4 TB ($1200) and 8 TB ($2400) options. The Fusion Drive is no longer an option for the 27-inch iMac.
Stronger Security and Processing with the T2 Security Chip
New to the 27-inch iMac is Apple’s T2 security chip. Along with encrypting all data on the SSD and ensuring that macOS hasn’t been tampered with at boot, the T2 chip includes custom processors that provide computational improvements for both audio and video. On the downside, the T2 chip’s added security makes certain kinds of troubleshooting and hardware repair difficult or impossible, so it’s extra important to have reliable backups.
Improved Glare and Ambient Light Handling
For those who have problems with screen glare, the 27-inch iMac now offers a $500 option for “nano-texture glass,” which Apple says provides “better viewing under various lighting conditions, such as a bright room or indirect sunlight.” Previously, nano-texture glass was available only for Apple’s Pro Display XDR screen. The iMac’s Retina display also now supports True Tone, enabling it to adjust its color temperature automatically for ambient light conditions.
Better Video and Audio for Videoconferencing
Those who spend their days on video calls will appreciate the new 1080p FaceTime HD camera, a notable improvement on the previous 720p camera. Apple also says the 27-inch iMac now features higher-fidelity speakers and a studio-quality three-mic array for better audio output and input.
Finally, if you need the ultimate networking performance, a $100 option gets you 10 Gigabit Ethernet.
Overall, if you need a powerful desktop Mac with a gorgeous display, you can’t go wrong with the new 27-inch iMac. It’s significantly cheaper than the iMac Pro and more powerful than both the Mac mini and the 21.5-inch iMac. Just remember that some of the options are available only if you start with the high-end configuration.
With so many people working from home, lots of attention has been dedicated to making sure everyone has a functional computer, a reasonably ergonomic workspace, and a decent videoconferencing setup. One thing that many have overlooked, however, is the need for a reliable uninterruptible power supply (UPS). Particularly for those using desktop Macs or external hard drives, a UPS is essential because it protects your work—and your devices—against surges, brownouts, and outright power failures. That’s especially helpful as we head into the summer thunderstorm and fall hurricane season.
What is a UPS?
Put simply, a UPS is a big battery into which you plug your Mac and other peripherals. It then plugs into a wall outlet and monitors the incoming power. If the normal power fails, or surges or falls below a certain threshold, the UPS notices and switches the power source to its internal battery. This happens so quickly that your Mac never even notices.
How does a UPS help?
For desktop Macs, a power failure means an immediate and ungraceful shutdown. You’ll lose all unsaved work and, depending on what was happening when the power went out, your drive might be corrupted. Smaller power surges and brownouts may not cause the Mac to shut down, but they put stress on electronic components that can cause a shorter overall lifespan.
When your gear is plugged into a UPS, you get some time to save your work and shut down gracefully, ensuring that you don’t lose data or flirt with drive corruption. And by having the UPS filter out power spikes and drops, your Mac and peripherals will last longer.
What sort of UPS should I look for?
There are three types of UPS: standby, line interactive, and double conversion. The names that different manufacturers use vary slightly, but here are the differences:
Standby UPS: This simple type of UPS, also called an offline UPS, monitors the incoming power, and if it rises or falls beyond predetermined levels, it switches to using battery power. That happens within 5–12 milliseconds, but the computer still sees some power fluctuations. The incoming power isn’t conditioned as long as it remains within the predetermined levels. A standby UPS is most appropriate in environments where the power is clean—you don’t notice lights flickering—and goes off infrequently.
Line Interactive UPS: This type of UPS goes a bit further, using automatic voltage regulation to correct abnormal voltages without switching to battery. In the event of an outage, it still switches to battery, but more quickly, within 2–4 milliseconds. If you lose power more often, are near industrial machinery, or notice occasional brownouts when it’s hot out, go for a line interactive UPS. They’re the most popular.
Double Conversion UPS: The most advanced form of UPS, a double conversion or online UPS, always runs connected devices from the battery, and the incoming power serves only to keep the battery charged. It has no transfer time in the event of an outage and provides the cleanest power. If you’re considering a backup generator or Tesla Powerwall to deal with frequent power outages or it’s clear that you have really dirty power, you should probably get a double conversion UPS.
As you would expect, standby models are the cheapest, and double conversion models are the most expensive.
How big of a UPS do I need?
You’ll need to do some research and math to determine the capacity of your ideal UPS. The first step is to find the size of the load you’re going to connect to it. To do that, look on the back of devices or in their technical specs for a rating in watts (W) or volt-amps (VA). Theoretically, the two are equivalent—watts equals volts multiplied by amps. In reality, you also have to take into account something called power factor along with runtime—how long you want the UPS to power your system before its battery dies.
Apple publishes power consumption numbers for most recent models of the Mac mini, iMac, iMac Pro, and Mac Pro. For the MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro, look at tech specs to find the wattage rating of the charger, which will be between 30W and 96W. Then add in any peripherals you’re planning to plug into the UPS, such as an external hard drive, Wi-Fi router, and the like. You may need to read the tiny print on power adapters and multiply volts by amps to get the wattage rating.
For instance, for a system comprising a 27-inch iMac from 2019, a 27-inch Thunderbolt Display, and an external hard drive, you’d add up the following numbers:
Hard Drive: 36W (look on the power adapter to see that it’s rated for 12V and 3A)
That gives you a total of 402W maximum, although it’s likely to be lower in normal usage. Nonetheless, to convert watts to volt-amps and account for the power factor, we divide the maximum wattage rating by power factor—a safe power factor is 0.8. So 402W / 0.8 = 503VA. So at a bare minimum, you’d want a UPS rated for 500VA. For some wiggle room on adding devices, it’s worth increasing the capacity by 50–100%, bringing us up to 750VA to 1000VA.
Here’s where things get fuzzy. The next step is to take that number and plug it into a UPS selector. Major manufacturers like APC (shown below), CyberPower, and Tripp Lite provide tools along these lines.
They’ll probably recommend a UPS with a higher capacity than is necessary—they are trying to upsell you, and the calculations will be based on the maximum loads you entered. If your Mac is running flat out, you’re likely sitting there and can shut it down quickly, so a long runtime isn’t necessary. If you’re not at the Mac, it should be sleeping, leading to a much longer runtime. CyberPower provides a nice runtime calculator that lets you see how long different models will last based on the actual load.
Are there other UPS features to look for?
Although many UPS features are fairly standard, it’s worth making sure you’re getting the ones you want. They include:
Form factor: Some smaller UPS models look like oversized surge protectors; most larger ones are mini-towers. You’ll probably want it under your desk, so make sure it’s a form factor that works for you.
Power outlets: Most UPS devices have a mix of outlet types. Some are backed by the battery, whereas others merely protect against surges. You’ll want to plug most electronic gear into battery-backed outlets—make sure the UPS has enough, and in an orientation that works with wall-wart power adapters—but if you have a laser printer or a lamp that you need to plug in as well, those should go in the surge-protected outlets.
Display: Many UPS models have an LCD display and buttons that you can use to cycle through screens of available runtime, current load, incoming voltage, and more. We like such displays.
Alarm control: When the power goes out, it’s common for a UPS to activate an audible alarm to alert you of the problem. Those alarms are usually loud and piercing, so if you need to keep working briefly or leave a low-load device (like a Wi-Fi router) running during an outage, you’ll want the option of turning the alarm off.
Replaceable batteries: UPS batteries don’t last forever, and it usually makes sense to buy a model whose batteries you can replace after a few years when its effective runtime has dropped significantly. You can always test runtime by pulling the UPS plug from the wall. Make sure to save all your work first!
Software: Many UPS models can connect to your Mac via a USB cable and use either included software or the Mac’s built-in power management software to shut the Mac down gracefully if you’re not present. When the UPS is connected, look in System Preferences > Energy Saver > UPS > Shutdown Options.
Phew! There’s a lot to consider when purchasing a UPS, but feel free to ask us for help or our current manufacturer recommendations.
It’s inevitable—your Time Machine backup drive is going to fill up. Time Machine is smart about backing up only files that have changed, but after months or years of usage, the drive will run out of space. What happens then?
Before we explain, some background. On its first backup, Time Machine copies everything on your startup drive to the backup drive. After that, Time Machine keeps hourly backups for the past 24 hours, daily backups for the past month, and weekly backups for all previous months. If you modify the same file multiple times per day, every day, you’ll have numerous versions of it in your backup set so that you can go back to any particular version.
So the first thing that Time Machine does when your backup drive fills up is start deleting those older versions, beginning with the oldest ones. It warns you when this starts happening and tells you what your oldest remaining backup is. In general, this approach works well, since you probably don’t need all the older versions of changed files as long as Time Machine always retains the most recent version in the backup.
Eventually, however, even this technique runs into the wall of hard drives having only so much capacity. When that happens, backups will start failing, and this notification will appear after every backup attempt.
Click the Details button in that notification to open the Time Machine pane of System Preferences, and you’ll learn more.
You have four options at this point, but two of them may not be all that helpful.
Delete Old Backups
One possible solution—albeit likely a short term one—is to delete old backups. You might be tempted to look in the Backups.backupdb folder on your Time Machine drive and delete some of the dated folders inside. Don’t. You have no idea what you’ll be deleting, and you’ll likely corrupt the entire Time Machine backup, rendering it useless.
Instead, use a utility like GrandPerspective or OmniDiskSweeper to identify folders or files that are both large and unnecessary. Navigate to one of those items in the Finder, select it, and then choose Enter Time Machine from the Time Machine menu bar icon. Once in Time Machine, click the Action menu (the gear icon) in the toolbar and choose Delete All Backups of Item.
Alas, this approach may not have much of an effect, since it’s difficult to know how many backups Time Machine has stored.
Exclude Large Folders from the Backup
Another approach that Apple mentions is excluding items from the Time Machine backup. To do this, open System Preferences > Time Machine and click the Options button. Then drag the desired file or folder into the “Exclude these items from backups” list and click Save.
The only problem with this advice is that it’s helpful only before your backup drive fills up. Time Machine won’t reclaim space used by newly excluded items that already exist in your backup.
Start Over, Either on a New Drive or after Erasing Your Existing Backup Drive
One of the great features of Time Machine is that it stores previous versions of files, as we’ve discussed. But you probably know if you’re the sort of person who needs to go back to such previous versions, or if you just use Time Machine so you can restore all your data in the event of a drive failure. If the latter is true and you don’t much care about previous versions of files, a good solution is just to start over, either on a new drive or after erasing your current drive.
Obviously, erasing your current drive means that you won’t have any Time Machine backup at all until a new one completes, which is a risk. And, of course, if that drive filled up once, it will do so again, potentially fairly quickly unless you exclude some large folders. But, if you want to go down that path, open Disk Utility, select your Time Machine drive in the sidebar, and click Erase. Then go into the Time Machine preferences again, click Select Disk, and pick your newly erased drive. You may have to select it under Backup Disks and click Remove Disk first.
Getting a new, larger backup drive and starting over with it is easier and more sensible, though more expensive. Once you’ve connected the new drive, just open the Time Machine preferences, click Select Disk, and select the new drive.
Or, rather, in an ideal world that would be true. You need to make sure that the new backup drive is formatted properly for Time Machine. Choose About This Mac from the Apple menu, and then click System Report to open the System Information app. In its sidebar, click Storage, select the drive at the top, and make sure File System is Journaled HFS+ and Partition Map Type is GPT (GUID Partition Table).
If the drive isn’t formatted correctly for Time Machine, open Disk Utility, select the drive in the sidebar, click Erase, and choose Mac OS Extended (Journaled) from the Format pop-up menu and GUID Partition Map from the Scheme pop-up menu. Then click Erase to ready it for Time Machine use. (This will, of course, delete all the data on the drive, so make sure that’s OK first!)
Finally, make sure the permissions on the new drive are set correctly. Select the drive icon in the Finder, choose File > Get Info, click the triangle next to Sharing & Permissions, and make sure the “Ignore ownership on this volume” checkbox is unselected. You may need to click the lock icon and enter an administrator username and password.
Copy Your Existing Backup to a New, Larger Drive
What if you want to retain all those old backups? That’s entirely possible, though it will take a long time to copy. Follow these steps:
Connect both the old and the new backup drive to your Mac via Thunderbolt, USB, or Firewire.
Make sure the drive is formatted properly for Time Machine, and if it’s not, reformat it in Disk Utility as noted above. Also, verify that the permissions are set correctly, as above.
Turn off Time Machine so it doesn’t try to back up while you’re copying its data. In the Time Machine preference pane, deselect Back Up Automatically, or click the Off/On switch, depending on what version of macOS you’re running.
Drag the Backups.backupdb folder from the old drive to the new one to copy it. You may be prompted for your administrator name and password.
When it finishes, a day or two later, follow the instructions above to select the new drive in the Time Machine preferences and make sure to turn Time Machine back on.
One final note. It may be tempting to use an alternative method of copying the Backups.backupdb folder, but resist the urge. Time Machine uses special drive structures to work its magic, and only the Finder is guaranteed to copy them correctly.
If you have lots of apps on your iPhone or iPad, rearranging their icons on your Home screens by dragging from page to page is tedious. Although the new App Library promised for iOS 14 later this year will help you find apps, rearranging them will still be a manual process. To make organizing your Home screens easier, try using the Dock as a temporary shelf. Touch and hold on any icon and then tap Edit Home Screen (or just start dragging) to start all the icons wiggling. Then, navigate to your rightmost Home screen and drag one icon off the Dock temporarily. Now, for other icons you want to move between screens, drag the icon to the Dock, swipe quickly to view the desired screen, and then drag the icon off the Dock into the position you want. When you’re done, put your original Dock icon back and swipe up (on Face ID devices) or press the Home button (on Touch ID devices) to stop the icons from wiggling.
Whenever you view a document that’s longer than will fit onscreen, a scroll bar appears (often only if you’re actively scrolling). That’s true whether you’re using an iPhone, iPad, or Mac. Inside the scroll bar is a control called a scroller that you can drag to scroll more quickly than by swiping or using keyboard keys. But did you know its size and position are useful for orienting yourself within the page? First, the scroller position within the scroll bar reflects how far down the page you are. Second, the size of the scroller indicates what percentage of the page appears onscreen. When you see a large scroller, most of the page is showing. With a small scroller, what you see is only a portion of a longer page. Combine the size and position of the scroller, and you can tell at a glance where in a page you are, and how much is left to read.
Have you ever set up a group meeting, whether in person or via videoconferencing, but found it cumbersome to find a time that works for everyone? Or maybe you want to solicit volunteers for an event? There’s a neat online tool that makes such logistics easy: Doodle. You can use it for free (with ads)—even without setting up an account. Or, if you want to eliminate the ads and get support for calendar syncing, deadlines, reminders, multiple users, and more, there are paid Premium plans. You can use Doodle in a Web browser or download the Doodle iOS app.
Determine Your Poll Type
Setting up a Doodle poll is easy. The first step is to figure out what sort of poll you want—a time poll or a text poll. A time poll is best if you want to let your respondents vote for specific dates and times. Use it when you’re trying to determine if the club Zoom call should be Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, and at 11 AM, 3 PM, or 5 PM on one of those days.
In contrast, a text poll lets your respondents vote on anything. For example, you could use a text poll to see where a large group would like to have a party (your house, the park, a favorite restaurant), or what sort of food people want for lunch (Thai, Mexican, Ethiopian). You could even use a Doodle text poll to see who among a large group of volunteers can help at a series of 5K races.
Set the Poll Options
After you click the big red Create a Doodle button at the top of the Doodle Web page, you work your way through a four-step wizard. The first step merely asks for the title of your poll and an optional location and note.
The second step is where all the magic happens. You have three choices here: Month, Week, and Text. In Month view, you get a calendar from which you can pick days and optionally add times. Month view is best for picking the best day for a picnic, for instance, and the time would be the same regardless of which day is chosen.
Week view is the most common way that people use Doodle, because it’s how you choose times for a meeting. Just drag a box out for each proposed time period. If you make the box too big or small, you can resize it from the bottom, and you can also drag boxes to different times. To delete a box, hover over it and click the X that appears in its upper-right corner. Note that if you’re creating a poll for an event you need to attend, it’s not worth including dates or times when you can’t make it.
With a text poll, you can enter anything you want for the poll options. In the screenshot, we’re using Doodle as a volunteer signup sheet.
Once you click Continue, you move on to the Poll Settings screen, which provides four useful settings:
Yes, no, if need be: Select this option if you want to allow your participants to have a “maybe” or “if it’s absolutely necessary” or “you can twist my arm” option. We’re fond of this option because many scheduling questions don’t have a simple Yes/No answer.
Limit the number of votes per option: An example of where this option is helpful is if you want only so many people to bring a main course, salad, or dessert to a picnic—otherwise, the menu can get out of balance.
Limit participants to a single vote: Employ this option to prevent people from signing up for multiple options.
Hidden poll: By default, the results of Doodle polls are visible to everyone who has the link, which is usually good. Select this option to keep people from seeing each other’s votes.
The final step just asks for your name and email address, after which Doodle displays your poll so you can share it and vote in it. Before you do anything else, click the Copy button in the Invite Participants box and paste it somewhere for later reference. If you have a Doodle account—free or paid—you can also have it send email, but we recommend sending the email yourself instead so you have complete control over the message.
Now it’s your turn to vote. For each option, click once for Yes (a green checkmark) or twice for Maybe (a yellow checkmark). Leave a box blank to vote No. If you need to edit your votes afterward, you can do so (click the blue pencil icon that appears next to your name) if you were logged in to an account when you voted or if the Web page remembers you.
Remember that link you copied a minute ago? Now’s the time to send it out. The beauty of Doodle is that you can send it to as few or as many people as you want, in any way you want. You could message it to a group of friends, send it to the office email exploder, post it in your company’s Slack, publish it to a public mailing list, or even post it on Facebook or Twitter. Other people can share it as well, if you’re trying to cast a wide net.
Doodle polls don’t have any security beyond the obscurity of their URLs, so if your poll is at all confidential, make sure to tell people not to share it further.
Pick a Winner
If you’ve set up an account, you’ll receive a notification whenever anyone votes in your poll. You can also load the link you shared at any time to see how the votes are progressing. In our Month poll, three people have voted, and you can see that June 13th and June 27th are the most popular choice, so you get to choose.
In the Week poll, it’s obvious that there’s only one option that works well for everyone, June 12th at 9 AM. However, you can see that June 12th at 2 PM is possible, in case something changes and you need a backup time.
Finally, in our text poll looking for volunteers, there’s no “winning.” The poll results merely tell you who can work at which races, and if you only need three volunteers for each race, you’re all set. However, you can also see that you may need to line up another person in case Rashid Cookie ends up bailing on you.
Although the results are usually perfectly obvious, you can click a red Choose Final Option button if you’re the poll creator and are logged in or remembered. That identifies the best choice, although you can override it with a click, and close the poll so no one else can vote. If you’re logged in and have connected your calendar, you can add it directly from the results page. We usually announce the final choice however we shared the poll link, and anyone who wants to see the voting results can load the poll again.
As you can imagine, Doodle’s Premium plans add quite a few more features, and they may be worthwhile if you end up using it regularly. However, for quick scheduling of group meetings or lightweight polling, you can stick with either the free account or use it without even logging in. Give it a try next time you need to poll a group!