In this issue: Why you need a VPN; Latest system update recommendations; May SMUG presentation: Numbers; Tip of the Day: 4 ways to Force-quit a frozen Mac app.
May 2017 Newsletter

Why you need a VPN

As a company, MacAtoZ tends to be studiously apolitical. We happily serve clients across the political spectrum because we believe pluralism is a large part of what makes America great. We don't have to agree with someone's  politics to serve him or her to the best of our ability. 

The one political stand that we have taken ties into this: We believe that everyone has a right to their own data. In other words, your financial records, photos, communications, and so forth all belong to you and no one else and you alone should decide who gets to see your materials.

Apple believes this as well, and many of their products incorporate features designed to keep others' from peering at your information. That's why FaceTime and Messages both feature end-to-end encryption: Apple wants your stuff to be secure. 

Unfortunately, the federal government has passed a law that allows Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to capture and use all your data. We consider this an egregious civil rights violation. Your ISP should NOT be able to sell your sensitive information like browsing history or app usage to advertisers, insurance companies, and more without your consent. We've advocated for personal privacy for computer users for years, and make no mistake: We lost a very important battle here.

But we're not done. 

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a software program that creates a private, encrypted tunnel from your Mac to the internet so that you can send email or browse the web without your ISP spying on you. Given the new law signed by President Trump, we recommend that every Mac, iPhone, and iPad user start using a VPN.

The VPN we recommend is Private Internet Access (PIA), a link to which is available at (We receive a small commission for any sales through this link.) The cost is $40 a year which supports up to 5 devices simultaneously. If you need help setting up the PIA VPN and you're willing to use our affiliate link above, you may contact us and we will help you at no charge.

Latest system update recommendations

Apple keeps churning these things out almost faster than we can test them. Here's the latest:

iOS 10.3.1 for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch: We've had a good experience with this on iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, 6S, 6, and SE. We'd expect OK performance on iPhone 5 and 5S. Recommended for these iPhones, but back up first.

If you have an earlier iPhone (4S or older), we recommend a newer iPhone. The iPhone 4S can run iOS 9.3.5 at best which is not a secure as we'd prefer, but probably "secure enough" for the average home user. Users of iPhone 4 and earlier should buy a new iPhone. They are not capable of running a secure version of iOS. 

WatchOS 3.2: Works great on both Series 1 and Series 2 Apple Watches. Highly recommended. 

tvOS 10.2: Works great in our testing. Highly recommended. 

macOS 10.12.4 Sierra: We're there. We've tested 10.12.4 on multiple Macs and are satisfied that it is stable enough that we can recommend that users of 10.10 Yosemite and 10.11 El Capitan upgrade. Sierra's got some new stuff which you can read about on Apple's Sierra page. You should be able to upgrade through the Mac App Store (for free!) as long as your Mac is running 10.7.5 or later. 

You probably don't need our help, but if you'd like an Apple-certified Support Professional to handle the system upgrade give us a call. If you do decide to DIY (do it yourself), make sure you have a current backup of your data and go to Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility and run First Aid to make sure that your hard drive or SSD is in good shape prior to installing Sierra. 

After installing macOS 10.12.4 Sierra or iOS 10.3.1 Apple will strongly encourage you to turn on Two Factor Authentication. This is an excellent security mechanism but it can be confusing for some people. If you're not sure how to use it, you can keep it turned off for the moment. We will be publishing a free "how to" shortly. 

May SMUG Presentation: Numbers

MacAtoZ Apple Technician Dynée Medlock will be presenting at the Salem Macintosh Users Group (SMUG) general meeting on Tuesday, May 9 at 6:45 PM. (That's tonight!) The meeting is held at Comfort Suites in Salem.  

The topic for the evening will be Apple's Numbers spreadsheet software, which is their version of Microsoft Excel. 

SMUG costs just $25 per year per family, so it's highly affordable, but all visitors are welcome if you just want to come and check things out. 

Tip of the Day: 4 ways to Force-quit a frozen Mac app

Freezes, crashes, hangs… they happen, even with the best Mac apps. Here are four ways you can force-quit an app that’s not responding:

  1. Click the Apple menu and choose Force Quit (or press Command-Option-Escape), select the offending app, and click Force Quit.
  2. Option-right-click (or Control-Option-click) the frozen app’s Dock icon and choose Force Quit.
  3. To force-quit the frontmost app immediately, press Command-Shift-Option-Escape.
  4. Open Activity Monitor, select the process in the list, click the X button on the toolbar, and click Force Quit.

If one method doesn’t work, try it a second time, and if that doesn’t work, try another. If nothing works, restart your Mac. Remember that you may lose unsaved changes when force-quitting an app.


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Apple Consultants Network
MacAtoZ LLC provides technical support, upgrade, installation, networking, training and tutoring, web design and hosting, and remote support services for Apple products like Macintosh computers, iPhones, iPods, and iPads.

Ty Davison and Dyneé Medlock, our Apple technicians, are the only Apple-certified, Apple Consultants Network members serving both residential and small business clients in Oregon's mid-Willamette Valley.

MacAtoZ has been providing computer services for clients in the Salem area since 2006 (and since 1999 as Our technicians are certified by Apple and carry $1 million in business liability insurance. We frequently present and are well-known at the Salem Macintosh Users Group (SMUG). You can count on us.

Our Sentinel and Sentinel+ services offer home users 24/7 Macintosh monitoring, maintenance, and security. Join today!

Quick Links

MacAtoZ LLC: The main company web site. You can find information about products and services as well as advice here.

Amazon via MacAtoZ: Shop at Amazon via our referral link. Help us to help you. 

Offsite Backup: You should have one, and we recommend Backblaze. Only $5 a month for unlimited data. Get your 15-day free trial here. 

Salem Mac Users Group: Salem, Oregon-area Macintosh and Apple gear enthusiasts. Meets monthly. Visitors welcome!

Apple Consultants Network: If you need help, entrust your computer and your data to professionals. 
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