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Mac

Help & Information | News & Tips | Troubleshooting | Software
Security | User Groups

Macintosh information, sites, software and  user groups.

macOS Versions

Ventura | Monterey | Big Sur | Catalina

macOS Ventura

macOS Ventura includes new features and “powerful new ways to get more done.” It is available for MacBook 2017 and later.

Unlike last year's macOS Monterey, Ventura doesn't confront you with a major overhaul to the interface. Instead, it improves the operating system's look, feel, and security, and it adds flexible new features like a family-shared photo library in Photos. Ventura continues Apple's push to integrate iOS and macOS.

 

The most enjoyable and productive OS there is.
PCMag

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macOS Monterey

macOS Monterey is more of an incremental upgrade. It acknowledges the new dependence upon virtual connectedness in our lives with the focus on updates to FaceTime like watching movies together, screen sharing and grid view. Audio enhancements improve your online experience.

Monterey is an incremental upgrade to the already-polished macOS rather than a radical change. It adds plenty of security, collaboration, and convenience features.
PCMag

Apple's move to the M1 chip now includes the Mac Studio starting at $1999 (connect up to four Pro Display XDRs and one 4K TV). The M1 Ultra has truly amazing power (starting at $3999). Keep in mind that these devices are not user upgradable after purchase.

If you want power, the Apple Mac Studio with an M1 Ultra chip brings it in spades, elevating the elegant desktop PC with truly impressive processing and graphics.
PCMag

There are far more apps built with M1 processors in mind, but if your only option is an Intel-based app, you'll need to install Rosetta on your M1 Mac.

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macOS 11 Big Sur

macOS Big Sur included some of the biggest changes to macOS since the release of Mac OSX. It has more of an iOS look and feel, but with features unique to macOS.

macOS Big Sur upgrades the Mac's interface in dozens of subtle and substantial ways that make it easier and more convenient to use than ever. And new security features lock down the system even more effectively against malware.
PCMag

Big Sur does not support either 32-bit apps nor legacy system extensions.

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macOS Catalina

macOS Catalina continued to move much iOS functionality onto the Mac, including the ability to port iPadOS apps. iTunes is gone, replaced with Music, TV and Podcasts. iOS backup is now in Finder and Sidecar turns supported iPads into a secondary monitor.

If you've got an older Mac that you're still happy with, you have some options. You can continue to run Mojave or Catalina, depending on which version you’re happiest with.

 

Apple typically supports the previous two versions of macOS with security updates and new Safari versions, so Mojave should be supported for another year and Catalina should have two years of patches left.
Ars Technica

32-bit Apps Deprecated

Catalina is the last macOS version that will support 32-bit software.

The end of support for 32-bit apps in macOS 10.15 is probably most significant for legacy users more likely to be using 32-bit apps.

Mac hardware and macOS made the jump from 32 bits to 64 bits a long time ago, but Catalina will be the very first version of macOS that is totally unable to run 32-bit software.
iMore

Legacy System Extensions Deprecated

Catalina will be the last version of macOS to use legacy system extensions. Most active vendors have already made this change, but it may require you to pay for an upgrade. An example of the warning:

Catalina warning about the end of support for legacy extensions.

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Help & Information

The Internet is the best source for help with your challenges other than Mac user groups.

Apple Resources

macOS Tips

Buying a Mac

High-end Mac laptops (e.g., the M1 MacBook Pro or M1 Ultra) can be quite pricey, but are aimed at those that need the extreme performance in a laptop.

[T]here's a simple reason to buy a MacBook. They last twice as long.
ZDNet

Moving to an iPad Pro

The iPad Pro is a very powerful device (more powerful than legacy Macs). If you're considering replacing your Mac with an iPad Pro, your success will depend upon how you use your computer and the apps that are available. There are other potential issues.

Switching to a Mac

Should you switch?

The Mac provides a stable platform for those that dislike the direction Microsoft has taken with Windows 11 or is your current computer won't upgrade to the next version of Windows.

If your current Windows software is important, you can run Windows on a Mac using Boot Camp or by installing a virtual suite like Parallels.

Many think of Macs as expensive compared to Windows computers.

 

That's true for budget level computers, but no so much for high end Windows-based ultrabooks which are priced near (or even above) similarly equipped MacBooks and MacBook Pro machines.

The integration with iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad make it even more attractive if you run those devices.

The switch from Windows to OS X has really paid off for me from a reliability standpoint. Sure, the Mac ecosystem is far from perfect, and there are still plenty of annoyances to contend with, but I'm wasting a lot less time hand-holding systems these days.
ZDNet

Resources for Windows Users

These online resources and books can help you in the transition.

Amazon has several books about switching from a PC to a Mac.

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News & Tips

These news sources will keep you informed about what is new and upcoming regarding the Mac.

Looking for tips on how to do something or to work more efficiently?

Try searching for hints and how-to tips or see if you can't get help from an online forum.

  • Info-Mac the original Mac online community.

About Older Macs

These are sites don't appear to be maintained but still contain useful information if your Mac is older:

Mac History

Feeling nostalgic or curious about early Macs?

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Troubleshooting

Macs are very reliable, but sometimes things go wrong.

Unresponsive Programs

Apple has a Force Quit option for programs that don't respond to a normal shutdown request. This should be your last resort option.

Hardware

Storage Options

Traditionally, the only option for a hard drive was a spinning magnetic platter. Today, SSDs have changed that but you need to be aware of the risks and benefits of each choice.

Backing Up Your Mac

If your hard drive fails, you'll lose all your data and perhaps the information necessary to recover your computer.

 

Backing up your Mac stores that information so that you can recover. You might want to read a bit about backups to fully understand the main concepts and risks.

Acronis True Image for Mac now includes security protection. It is incompatible with other security software, so cannot be recommended if you have other security software installed.

Backing Up Your Email

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Software

Security | Graphics | Internet | LibreOffice | PDF Editors
HTML & Text Editors | Accounting | Utilities

This Mac software listing is not extensive but provides some basic apps. Try these resources:

Security Software

You need to be running security (antivirus) software on your Mac. The effectiveness of security programs varies. Not all products are as effective.

Many macOS security products adversely affect system performance. These reviews may help you decide:

I continue to use Kaspersky Total Security on my Mac (and now on my PCs).

Firewall

macOS's built-in firewall provides only inbound protection.

  • Little Snitch provides both incoming and outgoing firewall protection and includes a network monitor.

Photo & Graphic Design

Affinity products are extremely powerful and very reasonably priced with no subscription fees.

  • Affinity Photo (CA$69.99, no subscription) is professional photo editing software for the Mac. In the works for 5 years, it has an incredibly intuitive interface. System requirements.
  • Affinity Designer (CA$69.99, no subscription) is professional graphic design software for the Mac. Affinity Designer won the 2015 Apple Design Award, “honoring outstanding design and innovation.” System requirements.

Internet Software

Web Browsers

Email

Free
Paid
  • Postbox (US$59 per user) may provide a Thunderbird alternative to those looking for something similar but with more features.
  • Spark for Teams US$7.99/month/team member adds the ability to share and discuss email with your teammates to Spark.
  • AirMail is designed with performance and intuitive interaction in mind. Many of Airmail's features are free to use on Mac, iPad, and iPhone.
Reviews

FTP

  • FileZilla (free) is the recommended FTP client for casual users. macOS 10.13.2 or newer.
  • FileZilla Pro (US$19.99) is a professional FTP/S, SFTP client. macOS 10.13.2 or newer. Heavily optimized for speed, it can also connect with many cloud servers.

Accounting Software

Manager is free accounting software. Requires macOS 10.14 or later.

  • The Desktop edition is a full-featured accounting program for one user.
  • It includes modules such as cashbook, invoicing, receivables, payables, taxes and comprehensive financial reports.
  • If you need multiple users to access your accounting file at the same time, you need the cloud edition (CA$63/mo). Compare.

Multimedia

  • VLC media player is a free and open source cross-platform multimedia player and framework that plays most multimedia files as well as DVD, Audio CD, VCD, and various streaming protocols. macOS 10.7.5 or later.

LibreOffice

LibreOffice

LibreOffice is Free and Open Source Software.

I strongly recommend LibreOffice because it is better maintained and more frequently updated than OpenOffice. It provides everything most people need.

This section discusses the requirements for LibreOffice on Linux. For more general information about LibreOffice, please see the Recommended Software page.

System Requirements for macOS

LibreOffice runs on macOS 10.12 or later.

  • Intel or Apple silicon processor (via Rosetta - native Apple silicon support is being developed).
  • 512 MB RAM.
  • Up to 800 MB available hard disk space.
  • 1024x768 graphic device with 256 colors (higher resolution recommended).
  • For certain features of the software - but not most - Java is required. Java is notably required for Base.
  • Due to an issue, there are the following restrictions with Java: on macOS 10.10 and newer, JRE isn't found, JDK is required
  • LibreOffice 4.3 can still run on OS X 10.6+, but please understand that this support ended when 4.3 was retired on May 27, 2015.

See Oracle's Java Downloads for All Operating Systems page for information specific to macOS (10.7.3 or later).

PDF Editors

  • Able2Extract Professional is a powerful professional PDF program that allows you to do almost anything with PDFs. Strongly recommended. See my review of Able2Extract Pro 12 for details and full system requirements.
    • A full licence costs US$199.95.
    • Upgrade your old Able2Extract to latest version US$49.50.
  • PDF Expert is a feature-packed PDF program that allows you to do most things that Adobe Acrobat DC can do.
    • A premium plan costs CA$199.99 or CA$103.99/yr.

HTML & Text Editors

The macOS has a built-in editor but you might find one of these products more suitable for your requirements.

  • BBEdit ($49.99 USD) is an excellent HTML text editor. BBEdit is available in the Mac App Store on a subscription basis.
  • TextWranglers now BBEdit — and still free! It's time to switch.

Writing

Utilities

Your Mac has utilities built in that do much of what is done by these third-party utilities, but sometimes they simplify the process.

Disk Cleanup

When deleting files, be careful to avoid system files and files related to programs as they may not run properly (or at all) if you do). Duplicate files on the system may be named the same but used for different purposes.

  • CCleaner for Mac protects your privacy and makes your Mac faster and more secure.
  • CleanMyDrive 2 is a lightweight drive manager for Mac. It cleans up files which are otherwise hard to get rid of such as service files created by macOS and Windows that corrupt your external drive's compatibility with other devices.
  • AVG Cleaner tracks down forgotten duplicate files.
  • AppCleaner is a small application which allows you to thoroughly uninstall unwanted apps.

Zip Utilities

  • StuffIt Expander opens compressed StuffIt files and ZIP archives, as well as RAR, TAR, GZIP, BZIP archives files.

 

Mac Security

You need to be running security (antivirus) software on your Mac.

Reports of malware, ransomware and viruses infecting Apple computers and devices go back many years.

Unfortunately, the invulnerability of MacOS towards malware, such as ransomware and other threats, is and will remain a myth.
AV-TEST

Mac Security Notices

Learn more about both Apple security and trending security news:

Macs No Longer Secure

Once of the reasons people love Macs is because of its reputation for lacking security vulnerabilities compared to Windows.

That is no longer true. Security threats to Apple devices and computers have significantly increased.

[T]he volume of Mac threats increased by more than 400% year-on-year in 2019, outpacing Windows “threats per endpoint” by a ratio of nearly two to one.

 

That latter number being the more important as it allows for the fact that Malwarebytes has a larger Mac userbase than Windows.
Forbes

Malware Protection Weak

Malware protection has been particularly weak and we've had proof that Macs can get ransomware since 2015. Choose an effective program that doesn't significantly slow down the system.

With Increased Popularity Comes New Threats

With the increased popularity of Macs has come a new set of security threats (see sidebar).

Install Security Software

I strongly recommended that you install security protection onto your Mac.

  • Tips and tools to help Mac users protect their data and communications.

You'll find a listing of Mac security software in the software section.

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User Groups

Macintosh user groups provide a place to interact with other Mac users, to ask questions and socialize. There are often special interest groups (SIGs) that meet regularly to discuss specific topics.

Related Resources

Related resources on this site:

or check the resources index.

Buy Me A Coffee

 

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Updated: October 24, 2022