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A Decade of Change

We've come to the end of a momentous decade. Huge changes in technology, politics, climate & social issues have re-shaped the way we look at the world. I hope that we can all enter 2020 with more understanding, enlightenment and tech awareness than we have in the past!

For this last newsletter of the year, I want to provide some insight into key features of the Apple eco-system that I have found immensely useful. I'll be giving some tips on using iCloud, Apple's remote storage & synchronisation feature. It includes Keychain,which can help you out if you need your Mac system to come to your rescue with a forgotten password.  I'll  cover AirDrop, which is the name Apple gives to it's near-field file transfer capability. Plus Apple CarPlay gets a nod for it's super convenient capabilities.

Last but not least, I'll tell you about a great way to dispose of old phone hardware and peripherals.

A common request I get is to explain the basic functionality of iCloud. What is it? What does it do? Where are my documents / pictures? 

In essence, iCloud lets you store information online, and then access this information from all of your devices - iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac, even Windows PCs.
A lot of the time, iCloud works quietly in the background; if you've allowed iCloud to do its thing (which in many cases is the default setting) you'll simply find that documents you created on one device are available on another, calendar events and contact details sync seamlessly as do things like passwords (keychain).

In iOS or ipadOS (iPhones and iPads), open Settings and tap your ID at the top of the screen; you'll see all the apps and services that can use iCloud. Tap your chosen app so the slider turns green. (A few apps, such as Photos, are more complex - tap to see a list of permissions.) There is a built in App called 'Files' in these devices that shows you the files that you have put into iCloud - a particularly useful feature when travelling.

On MacOS (Mac Computers), open System Preferences and click iCloud, and do likewise - except this time you're placing ticks instead of tapping sliders. You will see an 'iCloud Drive' tab appear in your Finder window - this is where you can drag files to and store them in the cloud.

Once you have it set up, make sure to go to and sign in with your Apple ID. There you'll see all of the various elements of iCloud, including the extra useful 'Find iPhone'. In MacOS Catalina, this feature has evolved to become the 'Find My' app covering all your Apple devices.

Here's some of the highlights:

Contacts: If you let it, iCloud will sync Contacts across your iOS and macOS devices. This means you need to maintain only one list of contacts, because any changes you make on your iPhone will apply to Contacts on your Mac and other devices.

Calendar: Likewise, iCloud (if permitted) syncs events across all of your devices.

iCloud Drive: A simple way of storing files in the cloud. These can be accessed on any device that allows you to sign in to iCloud.

Keychain: iCloud Keychain's seamless integration with not only websites in Safari but also apps on your  various Apple devices makes setting and remembering passwords for each individual site a breeze.

iWork: You can use Pages, Numbers and Keynote as web apps, thanks to iCloud. It also allows you to easily save TextEdit documents to the cloud, and access them from other devices.

iCloud pricing

iCloud is free... to start with. You can set up iCloud without paying a cent, and this comes with a fairly modest 5 Gigabytes of storage across all your devices.

If you want more space - and if you plan to back up multiple devices to the cloud, or store significant collections of photos, videos or documents off-device, then you'll need it - then you'll have to fork out some dosh.

Here's what it costs to upgrade your iCloud storage:

  • 50Gb:   $1.49 per month
  • 200Gb: $4.49 per month
  • 2Tb:     $14.49 per month

How to upgrade your iCloud storage plan

Upgrading your iCloud plan is easy. You can do it from an iPhone or iPad, from a Mac, or even from a Windows PC.

On iPhone or iPad: Go to Settings, and tap your name at the top of the screen (or tap to sign in).

In the second group of options, tap iCloud; at the top of the next screen, under the heading STORAGE, you'll see a little graph showing what your storage is being used on. Tap Manage Storage under the graph, then Upgrade and follow the instructions.

If you're old enough to remember the days when moving files back and forth between computers meant trying to cram them on a floppy disk, the idea that you could seamlessly transfer a huge picture, PDF, or even video file between two devices over the air seems like witchcraft. I use AirDrop every single day, mostly to move files from my iPhone to my Mac, but it's also proved invaluable for sending a file to, say, my wife when one or both of us don't have reliable Internet connections. Frankly, it's an Apple feature that still, years later, feels like magic.
Here's a link from iMore that is a fabulous resource for the ins and outs of AirDrop:

Apple CarPlay

I'm still fairly new to CarPlay, as I've only had it for a couple of weeks in the new Mr Mac Mobile, but I'm definitely impressed. Previously I used a cheap & nasty eBay-bought mount on my car's dashboard so that I could see directions on my iPhone while driving. Now, I can just glance down at the dash mounted screen for a bigger and better picture, not to mention the improved safety implications. My appointments ( calendar entries ) and corresponding Maps destinations and directions all come up automagically.

Voice activation via Siri makes it easy to issue commands, and  Messages integration makes it possible to respond to texts without getting distracted. If you're looking at upgrading your wheels, this is definitely a feature to aim for.

Mobile Muster

Don't let mobiles go to landfill or gather dust in a drawer! Help address the e-waste epidemic by recycling your used mobile phones and accessories. Simply drop them into a participating location.

Mobile Phones and mobile batteries cannot be recycled in your council recycling bins. There are a number of mobile phone recycling programs that you can get involved in that will help to protect our environment and conserve our natural resources.

What is MobileMuster?

MobileMuster is the official recycling program of the mobile phone industry. It is a free recycling program funded voluntarily by handset and accessory manufacturers Nokia, Motorola, Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, Sharp, NEC, Panasonic, I-Mate, Force Technology and network carriers Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, 3 Mobile, Virgin Mobile and AAPT. It is a not-for-profit program.

Where do I drop off my phone and accessories?

You can recycle your mobile phones, batteries, chargers and accessories at any one of the 3000 plus public drop off points including Nokia Care and Motorola Service One Centres; mobile phone retailers Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, 3 Mobile, Virgin Mobile, Crazy Johns, Fone Zone, Allphones as well as participating local councils, Cartridge World stores and selected ANZ and Sydney Credit Union branches.

Alternatively you can pick up a free postage paid recycling satchel from your local Australia Post outlet, or download a free mailing label from

To find a drop-off location, visit RecyclingNearYou - search for Product - 'Mobile Phones' in your local area.

Why should I recycle my phone?

Do not throw your old mobiles in the rubbish as they are not biodegradable and contain small amounts of potentially harmful substances that if not managed properly may harm the environment. By recycling your old mobile phones, plastics and metals are recovered and recycled and you are reducing potential greenhouse gas emissions.

What happens to the phones?

All mobile phone components are recycled to the highest environmental standards. None are refurbished or resold. Over 90% of the plastics and metals in the mobiles are recovered and used to make plastic fence posts, stainless steel and jewellery. It is estimated that one tonne of mobile phone circuits can yield the same amount of precious metals as 110 tonnes of gold ore, 123 tonnes of silver bearing ore and 11 tonnes of copper sulphide ore. By using these recycled products, rather than the raw materials, greenhouse gas emissions are reduced.


Copyright © 2019 Mr Macintosh, All rights reserved.

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