Get better battery life from your Mac

Got a MacBook Pro 13-inch 2018 2.7 MHz i7 with 16 gigabytes of ram. The battery dies crazy fast running programs like Ableton and Logic. Like in less than an hour.

I wish that were surprising, but activity like audio production is going to drain any computer’s battery a lot faster than typical use does. Also, as the Mac will scale down the performance of its processor when it’s on battery, you will find it to be a lesser experience in other ways as well.

With all that said, if you have to or just really want to do that work without being jacked into power, you’ll want to take steps to optimize the pull on your battery. Here are some good tips for that.

The suggestion of restarting is crucial. And in the special case of a focused production session, I uncheck the box to “reopen windows when logging back in,” so that I start with a very fresh system that has less stuff churning in the background. Then I only open up the apps I absolutely need to run to do that particular work.

I’ll also highlight turning off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Web browsing and email consume more juice than you’d think, so avoid even opening those apps at all if you can do that stuff on your phone or tablet.

Try that and let me know if you still run into issues. It’s not impossible, but real real unlikely your battery is bad, and we’d need to try these other things first before we hollered at Apple.

Maps needs WiFi?

Why does Maps on my iMac need WiFi? I’m plugged in to the router with Ethernet.


It seems goofy, right? Here’s the scoop: Your internet connection doesn’t give away your exact location. (Your ISP knows your address and could reveal it to the po-po, but it’s not public info.) So Apple uses wifi to triangulate the position of your computer based on the location of wifi networks that the Mac can detect.

They did the same thing on the iPhone before it had real GPS.

The new plague: Extortion emails

I really prefer writing about fun things, but I want to address this to a) allay your fears, but b) make you worried if you still use the same password for all your online accounts.

Here’s the latest scam. You get an email like this:

From: Jerky von Intertroll
To: You
Subject: I know your password
I’m aware that is your password.
You don’t know me and you’re thinking why you received this e mail, right? Well, I actually placed a malware on the porn website and guess what, you visited this web site to have fun (you know what I mean)…Send me money via BitCoin or I will lock your computer and release your browsing history to the world…

I have heard from a handful of people who have received these emails. The illustrious Brian Krebs and others have written well about the scam, but here’s the nut of it:

It’s a new plague and is almost totally bogus. “Almost” because if they’ve included a password that you know you still use, you need to take some actions.

With all of the information breaches in the last few years, many of the passwords that we — like, all the users of the Internet — have used on various websites have been leaked. As long as you are diligent about using good passwords, and different ones on every site, you can ignore these messages.

So let’s say this message reveals a password that you have indeed used at some point. If you see it and think, “Oh, I still use that one all over the place,” then that’s a good prompt to go around and set up new passwords wherever pertinent.

If any of y’all don’t already use a password manager, please allow me to introduce you to one. It can provide instant relief for any concern a message like this might engender.


XR or XS? And what size?

A friend writes:

XR or XS?

Sure! You should get one of those.  😉

All of the new ones are pretty kickass, and all have benefits. The XS (Apple pronounces it “ten-ess”) and its big brother are great, with two cameras on the back, but the one everyone is talking about is the XR. Comes in cool colors!

I’d look real hard at that one. The XS Max is nice but kind of enormous; I already have enough discomfort with the 8 Plus in a jeans pocket.

If you like two cameras (and I do, a lot) or a somewhat better display with richer blacks, get the XS. If you just want a kick-ass phone with amazing battery life at a good value, get the XR.

Does storage matter? 64 GB XS at $999 vs. 128 XR at $799

Fantastic question: I do like the 256 GB (gigabytes) in my 8 Plus. It’s a wee gluttonous, but I no longer have to worry a whit about my storage when I’m shooting video. Also, the 8 only came in 64 GB or 256 GB, and 64 was too small for me. So, it depends on your current usage, but I prefer at least 128.

How much iCloud storage do I need?

How do I figure out how much iCloud storage I need?

Nearly everyone with an iPhone or iPad should be using some features of iCloud, and the sine qua non of those features should be iCloud Backup. You can back up your iOS device to to your Mac via iTunes, but that means you have to remember to do so. iCloud Backup is automatic, so please: just do it.

Another feature of iCloud that too many people overlook is iCloud Photo Library. Turn it on, and all your photos—in their full-resolution glory—will be synchronized between and available on all of your devices, including your Mac. It’s the best thing going.

With all that stuff on the service, most people will need more than the 5 GB (gigabytes) of storage that Apple includes with every free iCloud account. The tiers are: 50 GB for $0.99/month, 200 GB for $2.99/month, and 2 TB (terabytes) for $9.99/month.

The amount of iCloud storage you need is a combo of:

  1. Size of your photo library (often the biggest component)
  2. Storage used on your iPhone and iPad.

For #1, from Apple: On the Mac, open Photos and choose Photos > Preferences > General. Click the Show in Finder button to go to your Photos Library. After Finder opens, select your Photos Library, then choose File > Get Info. The number you want is “x GB on disk.”

For #2: On each device, go to Settings > General > Storage. Add the number of GB used to your total for iCloud. Apple’s article.

Add ’em up, then pay for the appropriate tier, and revel in knowing your data is safe and synced!

Is there an alternative to Photoshop on the Mac?

Is there an affordable alternative to Photoshop for macOS? Something with deeper features than Photos, like layering.

I like and admire Pixelmator a lot, but its interface is way different from Photoshop, and with all the time I’ve spent mucking about with it, I haven’t gotten as fluid as I am in PS.

The closest I’ve gotten is Acorn. It’s like Photoshop 6, which appeals to my nostalgia, but even better to my desire for elegant software to stay that way. I always get what I need, in and out, in minutes, without thinking about how-to.

That said, if you need to get truly jiggy wid it, Affinity Photo is a go-to for pros.

GIMP (the GNU Image Manipulation Program) is worth mentioning, because free. But I haven’t used it in forever; whenever I have tried it, I run into the usual non-Mac-like behavior of ported open-source packages.


How should I upgrade to Mojave?

I have been reading about Mojave and was wondering which of the two ways to upgrade would be best: clean (wipe the computer and start over), or just drop it in the computer and go…

I’m real glad you asked! Almost always, I recommend simply upgrading your existing insulation. Apple’s upgrades have historically run pretty clean, and typically do some nice housekeeping in the process. The only conditions that make me go for a full erase-and-reinstall are a) someone is moving to a new computer and has a burning desire for a fresh start, or b) something is real obviously messed up and no other troubleshooting has been successful.

But there is an implied question here, namely, should you upgrade to Mojave yet?

Short answer: It would probably be fine to do so, but I’m still going to recommend that you hold off for a couple of months.

For iPhones and iPads, the big upgrades usually go smoothly, but on the Mac, unless you really need or want the new features and don’t mind some quirkiness as Apple squashes bugs, it’s best to wait a couple/few months for the new OS to reach its x.2 or x.3 update.

Mojave has been working fine for me, and there are no reports of big problems. I think it’s one of the nicest upgrades to the Mac in recent years, specifically because Apple gave Finder some long-overdue love. The new screenshot features that mirror what iOS got last year are also really helpful.

But as this article demonstrates, some folks have encountered minor issues. They have quick enough fixes, but if you count on your Mac to run smoothly without having to engage someone like me, might as well wait a bit!

Guess I’ve been consistent; this guidance dates back a while: 2007, 2011, 2013


Is HomeKit set to take off?

I don’t think Apple said squat about it last Wednesday. But something is clearly happening here. For all its prettiness, this page is pretty vague. Also interesting that it’s under /ios:

A bunch of great accessories here…

Yet Philips has only said:

We are working hard on integrating Philips Hue lighting system for the home with Apple HomeKit, in time for this Fall.

Whilst the details are being finalized we can confirm that existing Philips Hue lights will work with Apple HomeKit, and any necessary upgrade to the system will be fully supported… More details will follow from September 2015 onwards.

But I don’t get why Apple would highlight this company’s kind of silly products:

I’m just thinking, this space is gonna blow up this year.

Are domain registration, web site, and email hosting all connected?

A friend writes:

I had registered my domain with GoDaddy, with the domain registration (and private registration) paid up through 3/30/2019. Web hosting expires 3/30/2015. My understanding is that the expiration date for the hosting is irrelevant to me now, right? The site and email have been hosted on Gmail for years, so it doesn’t matter that they’re expiring on GoDaddy, right?

And then in 2019, do I just shop around for anybody who charges the least to re-register the domain?

I haven’t uploaded new files to my web site in a while, but I believe the FTP passwords and settings date back to when I signed up with GoDaddy. Do they change?

Confusion on this is common, but easily cleared up:

Domain registration, web site hosting, and email hosting are three distinct and separate services.

GoDaddy is your domain registrar, and also your web site host. Google is your email host.

Of course you want to keep your domain going, presumably forever. And email for as well. Whether you continue to want a web site, we can discuss.

Domain: Shopping around for a domain registrar in 2019: I still really like and frequently recommend GoDaddy, who keep their prices pretty low. is great and the cheapest I’ve found. Hover is just a bit pricier, but the most clean and considered approach. The price difference between any of these is perhaps $7/year, so I don’t choose strictly by price alone. I myself have domains at GoDaddy and Namecheap, and I’m happy with both, but prefer GoDaddy’s customer service, though Hover’s is better.

Email host: Google for Business (using their email et al. with your domain) is no longer free for new subscribers, but you are grandfathered into free. But if you did want to change email hosts, the other one I recommend is Microsoft Office 365 at $5/month or so, depending on the plan you choose. There are others, of course, but those are the two with the most moxy.

Web site: I assume you want to keep your web site live, in which case it’ll be easiest to renew with GoDaddy. (Passwords for your site wouldn’t have changed if you didn’t change ’em; this would be a good opportunity for me to recommend making sure your email and web site admin passwords are strong.) If you did want to change hosts, that’s doable but a longer discussion. If you didn’t want a web site, then just let it expire, but I’d recommend exporting and downloading your content first.

Modern email hosting

My current email service stinks. Three different people reported to me recently that they had emails kicked back from my address address. I spoke to my host, who said they were doing maintenance over the weekend.

I really can’t have an email address that is subject to occasional maintenance. Do you have a suggestion as to where I can host it? I was with Network Solutions but had problems with them as well. I’m seriously thinking about just going with my gmail address for business and everything.

Here’s the scoop: We now have two excellent and similarly priced options for hosted email: Microsoft Office 365 or Google for Business.

I’m a Google reseller, and I’ve used and loved their product for years now. All my email goes through Google, and I can use any email software or the super-powerful Gmail web site to get at it. Great collaborative calendar stuff, and a whole ecosystem of third-party apps to tie into it.

Microsoft has made a quite amazing turnaround in the last couple of years, and their Office 365 reflects that. People who want a true Exchange experience (in many ways still the best in the industry) no longer have to own and maintain their own server. And if you pay a bit more, it can include your license for Microsoft Office, in keeping with the new software-as-subscription model adopted by Adobe and many others.

Really, I can recommend either of those solutions. Let me know whenever you want to make the switch. You’ll never look back.