I wrote this massive support email to a friend and thought I should share it with the class! Stuff everyone should know! It’s written for Macs, but the laptop tips are for everyone.
This one will work great: http://goo.gl/4ST5CB (Best Buy, $70). You just plug it in, format it for Mac and point Time Machine to it. Voilà! Try to get in the habit of running Time Machine at least daily.
DropBox is a FREE service that offers you a way to automagically back up documents or whatever files you want to in the cloud. You get 2Gb storage for free. This is really great for using with accounting files because you always have a current backup, independent of your full Mac backup, so if you forget to plug in your backup drive and something happens, you’ve got a backup in Dropbox at all times. I highly recommend setting this up.
Using your MacBook Pro (MBP) or ANY laptop:
ALWAYS let it go to sleep completely before moving it. Look for the pulsing light. This goes for moving it around while you are using it. BE CAREFUL. Hard drives spin at 5400rpm!! One good bump could crash the arm onto the plate. Think record player – hard drives are similar: an arm goes back and forth across a spinning platter. This does NOT apply to MacBook Airs since they have a solid state drive (SSD) which has no moving parts. Same if you’ve installed an SSD to your MBP.
NEVER handle your MBP by the display. Not only does it put stress on the hinges, but it could damage the very thin ribbon that runs from the mother board to the display. Don’t crank it open all the way back, either.
MAKE SURE your MBP’s vents along the back under the hinges are not blocked. Lack of air flow will fry your motherboard.
TRY to restart your MBP once a week. Go to Apple menu -> Restart. DO NOT press the power button. ALSO, shut down your running programs before you restart. You can tell what’s running by looking at your Dock at the bottom of your display. Anything running will have a dot under it. If you right click the icon, you’ll see the option to shut it down. Or you can click the icon, bring the application forward and Quit via the menu.
TRY to run down the battery at least once a month. The “optimum” for these batteries is between 40% and 80%, but that’s really hard to do, so just run it w/out the power supply often and run it down. That should keep your battery happy. ALSO, the new (late 2012 and up) MBPs have a different type of battery than the older ones. I am not sure if they have the “battery bulge” problem, but just be aware of any change in the bottom of your MBP. If you see any sort of warping or bulge, take it to the Apple Store or Onyx immediately. Onyx is a really good Apple Certified support provider in Atlanta if you need a repair: http://onyxconsulting.com/ There’s an office in Downtown Decatur behind McDonalds.
Speaking of Apple, did you buy AppleCare? It is the extended warranty offered from Apple. If not, DO IT. It costs $150 and extends your warranty by two years, which means you’ve got three total years of warranty. I am not a proponent of warranties generally, but I can tell you that spending the $150 for the extra two years is TOTALLY worth it. A bench charge (diagnostic) ALONE is $50 and that’s not doing any work on a laptop. Laptop parts and labour are PRICEY.
Buy AppleCare no later than the 10-11 month point of owning your MBP. Do NOT let the year lapse, tho, or you will not be able to get the extended care. And if you didn’t register your MBP, go register w/Apple RIGHT NOW. You need to be in the system to get service. Set up an iCal alarm to alert you to get your AppleCare before your year elapses.
Since Apple support is apparently unaware that Office is still made for Mac, here is the scoop: Microsoft Office for Mac is available for download from here: http://goo.gl/eK3RQt Student version is $140. Office documents are 100% compatible between mac/pc as long as the VERSIONS of office are close. The only time you’ll run into problems is if one version of Office is a lot newer than the other. This is a Microsoft issue, NOT a mac or pc issue. I’m not sure why Apple Support tells users that there is no Office for Mac. ?? (They told this to a client of mine recently.)
I highly recommend getting Cocktail and running it once a month on your Mac. http://www.maintain.se/cocktail
The free version gives you a few uses then you have to buy. I’d just flat out buy it. It is the best software out there to keep your Mac’s Unix underpinnings optimised and running happy. Get the $19 single user version, it’s worth it.
If you need FTP, I recommend Transmit. It’s been around forever and it’s rock solid. It’s not cheap at $34, but it is really excellent.
Use Chrome. It is an excellent browser and you can tweak it to be very secure. Second choice is Safari. Third choice is Firefox (mozilla). You’ll probably need more than one browser handy no matter what you have because lazy corporate web coders who use ASP will not code their sites to work properly with anything Mac. It’s not that it’s a big deal to be 100% compatible, it’s that ASP coders tend to rock it like it’s 1999. Sad but true. If you run across a site that won’t function properly in your browser, it’s good to have a backup to try. Oddly, I find that ASP sites that won’t work in Chrome (Mac) will typically work in Safari. If the site won’t work at all, then send them hate email and find another site that employs decent coders. ;)
And don’t forget to check out the Apple App store as well (there is a shortcut in your dock!). Lots of apps that are in iOS have been ported to Mac and there are TONS of handy little free apps for all sorts of things, like finding special characters on your keyboard or getting the hex number for a colour. Cool stuff!