April 2018 Newsletter
macOS 10.13 High Sierra continues to underwhelm us with its reliability, something that's left us severely disappointed. Reports from other consultants who've made the switch speak of kernel panics and random restarts being not uncommon, and that's hardly an environment we can recommend. We were hoping that the 10.13.4 release would change this, but alas. For now, if your Mac is running macOS 10.12.6 Sierra—like we are on our machines—we think you should continue to do so.
As we've said before, if your Mac is running macOS 10.10.5 Yosemite or earlier, you should upgrade to High Sierra, warts and all. Better, in our view, to have a slightly unreliable system than one that's not secure.
If macOS 10.11 El Capitan is your system, we'd stay there for now (unless you've previously downloaded Sierra and can do that upgrade or want us to get your Mac there). Note that there are bunch of Macs that top out at 10.11 El Capitan and if this is one of yours, you should be a budgeting for a replacement. If history is a guide, Apple will release a new operating system this fall and El Capitan (and your Mac if that's your system) will no longer be secure.
On a brighter note, iOS 11.3 is a very good upgrade for iPhones and iPads. It's not perfect, but given that Apple does not secure previous versions of iOS, it's not like we have a choice. Your iPhone or iPad should be running iOS 11—not the most stable of systems to this point—whether we like it or not.
Fortunately, in 11.3, we do like it. We've seen noticeable improvements in battery life on all devices for starters, and there are a few nifty features like Business Chat, improved Safari, and a whole bunch of bug fixes. Recommended for all devices capable of running it.
The latest WatchOS is terrific. Vastly improved battery life. Get it.
Splashtop on the way
For a number of years we've used TeamViewer to provide remote support for clients. That will be changing soon. TeamViewer dramatically increased their price to us last fall, leaving us a choice between raising prices (boo!) or finding another solution. We found another solution. (Yay!)
The new program we will be using is called Splashtop. You can download it at www.macatoz.com/downloads/splashtop.dmg.
For now, if you prefer to keep using TeamViewer you may. We're fully licensed on version 11 in perpetuity, but version 11 will not run on High Sierra, so even though there's no rush, eventually we'll be phasing out TeamViewer.
Importantly, Splashtop uses strong encryption to secure our remote connections and you remain in full control of when those remote sessions are both started and stopped. We believe this will be a good, money-saving transition.
New MacAtoZ blog feature: Ask a Tech
We get questions! And we love getting questions, because who doesn't enjoy talking about stuff they're interested in? Now, I don't know if you've visited our blog recently (www.macatoz.com/news) but it's not the barren wasteland of days of yore. We've populated it with a lot of useful content, if I do say so myself.
And while we've covered topics ranging from Notes to Photos to iPhones to Calendar, it occurred to us that one way we could really add value is to answer people's questions. So if you've got a question, please email us. We'd love to help!
Apple Pay: Faster, easier, safer than credit cards
I've been unabashed in my love for Apple Pay, Apple's contactless payment solution. If you have an iPhone or AppleWatch, you should absolutely try it. It's one of those living-in-the future Apple technologies that feels like science fiction every time you use it. Simply put your iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch within an inch or so of a compatible payment terminal (look for an Apple Pay or contactless payment logo), put your finger on the Home button to use Touch ID (or double-press the iPhone X’s side button and authenticate via Face ID, or double-press the Apple Watch’s side button), and you’re done. The entire transaction takes less time than opening your wallet, although you may still need to sign a receipt.
Behind the scenes Apple Pay is significantly more secure than a magnetic-strip credit card and has advantages over chip-embedded cards too. First, theft prevention is baked in. A typical thief can’t use Apple Pay from your device because they can’t get past Touch ID or Face ID, or provide your Apple Watch passcode.
Also, the store where you shop gets no data about you—they don’t know who you are, where you live, what your card number is, or anything else unless you showed a rewards card or provided your phone number. Most importantly, you don’t have to worry about your credit card number being jotted down, scanned, or skimmed.
How It Works
When you set up Apple Pay, the Wallet app sends your encrypted credit card details to Apple, after which they’re passed along to your card’s payment network. What comes back is an encrypted Device Account Number—a long number that’s stored in the Secure Enclave chip on your device. That chip is protected by a digital moat, keeping it isolated from nearly all activity on your device. The Device Account Number is unique to your device and card, so nobody else can use it.
When you pay with Apple Pay, the Secure Enclave chip transmits the Device Account Number, along with a few other details, including a one-time transaction code. Everything is encrypted, so even if an attacker were listening to the traffic, no transaction details would be revealed. The information remains encrypted until it reaches the appropriate party, at which point, if all goes well, your transaction is approved and processed.
Millions of payment terminals in the United States accept Apple Pay, including those found in most major national chains, so you shouldn’t have to look far to find one. You can also use Apple Pay in some iOS apps and some Web-based shopping carts when checking out in Safari.
To set up Apple Pay, on your iPhone or iPad, tap Settings > Wallet & Apple Pay > Add Credit or Debit Card and follow the easy instructions—it’s fine to let the device scan your card so that you don’t have to type your credit card number; the image is discarded immediately after setup.
After adding a card, find it in the Wallet app and tap the card’s info button at the lower right to explore the Info and Transactions screens. Notice that four digits from the card’s Digital Account Number appear on the Info screen—if you want to return an Apple Pay purchase, you’ll give these digits to the merchant instead of sharing your credit card number.
Finally, starting in iOS 11.2, Apple introduced Apple Pay Cash, which lets you make person-to-person payments within the Messages app. It’s great for splitting restaurant checks!
The bottom line is that Apple Pay is easy to use, preserves your privacy, and enhances your financial security. And you get to feel like you’re living in the future!
Tip of the day: Modifier Keys
Dragging files and folders around is core to the Mac experience—drag a file from one folder to another to move it, drag a folder from one drive to another to copy it.
But did you know that if you hold down the Option key while dragging a file in the Finder, you’ll get a green + pointer and it will make a copy in the destination? That’s easier than duplicating, moving, and renaming the file.
Similarly, if you want to move a large folder from one drive to another, hold down the Command key during the drag to do in one step what would otherwise require copying, trashing, and emptying the Trash.
Finally, if you want an alias, hold down the Command and Option keys while dragging, and presto, the original stays put and an alias appears in the destination.