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Mac Mail Mystery, starring Verizon and AOL

It was a rainy day in New York City. I emerged from the 1 train at 79th St, for an appointment with EW. She had spent two hours on the phone with Apple, and two hours with Verizon. She was at her wits’ end. Her mail was sometimes disappearing before her eyes from her iPad and iPhone, as if a ghost were moving her inbox messages to her trash.

I surveyed the scene. Two iPads, two iPhones, one Mac. An unusual circumstance: she had a email address. Verizon decided they don’t want to host email any more, so they’ve given that dirty work to their subsidiary, AOL. Every customer with a email address can keep it, but will be checking their mail at AOL. I figured this tricky business could confuse a computer’s mail program, since it’s an AOL in Verizon’s clothing.

The devices looked kosher. They were all set up for IMAP. Synchronized mail. As it should be.

The Mac was another story. It was set up for POP. Downloaded mail, not synchronized. But that alone didn’t explain the disappearing mail. Then I found it: the Mac was set to delete mail from the server, one week after downloading it. Culprit found. I’ve seen it before. I’ll see it again The thing to do was save the downloaded mail into On My Mac, remove the account, add it back as IMAP, and copy the saved mail back into the server folders. Easy peasy.

Except it wasn’t. The Mac insisted that because the email ended in, it had to be set up as POP, because that was all Verizon had offered. Even AOL’s own tech support page said that POP was the only option for people using Apple Mail.

But I don’t take no for an answer from computers. Apple’s done their damnedest to keep you from customizing your Mail setup, but I faked it out by putting in bad account info. Then I got to the manual setup page, and put in the AOL IMAP and SMTP server information with the email address.

The account loaded up. It matched the iPad and iPhone. I left EW breathing easy.

I went to my next client, to work on my next case.

image by m01229 courtesy Flickr Creative Commons

Customize Your Mac Laptop with Skins from RedBubble

I just found out about RedBubble, which sells artist-designed objects including:

  • “skins” for laptops
  • laptop sleeves
  • iPhone cases
  • t-shirts and other clothing
  • home accessories like pillows and mugs
  • stationery items like notebooks and greeting cards

I just bought a “skin” for my 11” MacBook Air — it’s a piece of printed plastic that adheres to the top case, and gives my laptop some personality.

They have all the Mac laptop sizes available. Most cost $20-$25.

There are thousands of designs to choose from…florals, geometrics, patterns, photographs, animals. Here are a few designs I thought were cool:


Geometric a01

Succulent Circles

Bowie Bird

And the design I chose, because I like the geometrics:

snww kyttyn



Cooper Hewitt Museum Lets You Save Images with its Pen

I went to the Cooper Hewitt Museum recently and played around with the Cooper Hewitt digital Pen that you can borrow free with admission. The Pen lets you “collect” specific images from your visit to look at later.

Here’s what the Pen looks like (image from Cooper Hewitt site):

You just click it to a wall tag (just like in the image above) and that artwork is saved to your “collection.”

Your admission ticket has a URL and code on it so you can access your “collection” later.

Here are some examples of what the “collection” images look like, compared to mine. (Images on the left are the Cooper Hewitt’s; images on the right are mine. Not all are the identical items….)




The museum images are better if you want flat, full-object views that are perfectly lit. Mine are better if you want to see the pieces in context or zoom in really close.

The best part is that along with the image itself, the museum provides a wealth of detail about the object, including date, dimensions, who owns it, and similar items in the collection.

Of course what the museum really wants you to do with the Pen is share the images via social media, and each image in your “collection” has links for email, Pinterest, Twitter, and Tumblr.

I hope there are future uses for the Pen (and coordinating website with images) that let you do more — think how useful a resource it could be if from this image in the collection you could get links to other sites with other images, historical background, artist info, and so on.

Apple Watch can’t display battery level when you need it

So, get this:

  • If you have an Apple Watch that has been reset to factory state, you can’t do anything with it until you pair it.
  • In order to pair it with an iPhone running a current version of iOS, its own watchOS version must also be current.
  • If you need to update watchOS, you need to use the Watch app on an iPhone. The watch must be on its charger, and the battery level must be at least 50%.
  • But, when it’s in “update” mode, the screen simply shows an Apple Watch logo, and can’t do anything, including show you the battery level.
  • So your iPhone, which has the Watch app, simply says that it won’t install the update until the battery level is at 50%.
  • Meanwhile, the watch is in a mode where it tells you nothing. It can’t even tell you if it’s getting a charge from the charger. There’s no chirp when you attach it, or anything.
  • The Watch app also won’t tell you the battery level, or if the watch is even getting a charge.

So Apple has designed this product in such a way that, if its software out of date, you have to wait a completely unknown amount of time in order to be able to set it up, and your iPhone is tied up during that time. You can’t even know that it will eventually get there, since you can’t see if the watch is getting a charge.

Come on, Apple. You’re the user experience company. Can we have a battery indicator during a watchOS update?

Image from Apple’s website.

Why you might run older versions of macOS

macOS (or OS X, or Mac OS X, as it has been variously called) has had 13 major versions. Each brings with it new capabilities, but each also drops some older ones as well. Here is a non-comprehensive list of some of the things I might use an old version of macOS for:

10.0 Cheetah, 10.1 Puma, 10.2 Jaguar, 10.3 Panther: These are so old I have no occasion to run them.

10.4 Tiger: Last version to include Classic environment, which enables running MacOS 9 software on Macs with Motorola PowerPC CPU’s.

10.5 Leopard: Last version to support to support printing to AppleTalk printers on a network. Last version that runs on Macs with Motorola PowerPC CPU’s.

10.6 Snow Leopard: Last version to include Rosetta, which enables running software written for Motorola PowerPC CPU’s. Last version to support iSync, which synchronizes address book information via USB or Bluetooth with older mobile phones. Last version that runs on Macs with 32-bit CPU.

10.7 Lion: Last version that runs on Macs with 32-bit EFI ROM.

10.8 Mountain Lion: Last version to support Sync Services, which synchronizes address book and calendar information between the Mac’s Calendar and Contacts applications and other Mac Apps (such as Entourage and Outlook 2011). Last version to support fully manual configuration of Apple Mail.

10.9 Mavericks: Last version that performs acceptably on hard drives (as opposed to solid state drives). Last version to support download headers only in Apple Mail, rather than entire messages.

10.10 Yosemite: Last version to support “unenhanced” iCloud notes syncing used by older iOS versions.

10.11 El Capitan: Last version to support Apple Java 6. Last version to support somewhat manual configuration of Apple Mail settings. Last version that runs on Macs with older wireless hardware (Broadcom 4300 series).

h/t to the Wikipedia articles on the various individual versions of macOS for reference and memory-joggers.

Migration Assistant and the MacBook 12″

The MacBook 12″ is a truly elegant computer: it’s ridiculously thin and weighs only two pounds, and has a beautiful screen. It’s underpowered in most other regards — it has one lonely USB-C port for both power and devices, and is generally kinda pokey — but if you want the ultimate portable Mac, it’s that.

If you’re setting up a new one, and want to use Migration Assistant (the option during setup that makes it easy to copy everything from an old Mac), you’re gonna face some challenges, because the MacBook 12″ doesn’t have Thunderbolt. Even if you have a USB 3 C-to-A cable, the older Mac only will offer Target Disk Mode over Thunderbolt, not its USB port.

So, here are the options available for Migration Assistant with your new MacBook:

  • The easiest solution is to back up the old Mac with Time Machine to a USB external drive. (If you’ve already got a Time Machine backup drive, good job! Just plug it in and choose “Back Up Now” from the Time Machine menu at the top of the screen to make it current.) You can then plug this drive into the MacBook and use Migration Assistant with it. If price matters, external hard drives are cheap. If speed matters, then you want an external solid state drive.
  • If you have a Time Capsule backup, you can use Migration Assistant with that instead. Be warned that it might take a LONG time (hours or days) if you’re doing it over Wi-Fi.

Or, if you are a power user, you have an option to bypass Migration Assistant entirely, provided your old Mac is running the latest operating system (currently macOS Sierra 10.12.3), and is a 2012 or later model (that is, it has USB 3). Put the new MacBook into Target Disk Mode, and attach it to your old Mac with a USB 3 C-to-A cable. From the old Mac, erase the drive of the MacBook using Disk Utility, then use Carbon Copy Cloner to copy the entirety of the old Mac to the MacBook. (If the old Mac isn’t up to date, you can still clone it, but the MacBook won’t start; you can fix this by creating a Sierra boot disk on the old Mac, and boot the MacBook from that so you can upgrade its operating system.)


How I organize apps on my iPhone

I’ve got a ton of apps on my iPhone, and even though I don’t need most of them all that often, some I need all the time. Everyone’s going to have a different approach to how they organize their iPhone, but I thought I’d share mine, in case it offers any ideas.

It all comes down to priority. The single most important apps — the ones I need to get to all the time, no matter what — occupy the bottom four spots, which are available on every screen. For me, these are Phone, Mail, Safari, and Settings.

(Settings is not going to be an obvious choice for most. I need to get in there regularly, though, because it’s where the options for Personal Hotspot, VPN, and Low Power Mode are found, and I enable each of those all the time.)

I have only three screens of apps on my iPhone. That’s all I can handle. But I use lots of folders.

The first screen — the one you can get back to by pressing the home button if you’re on another screen — has my everyday apps that I want to get to quickly. Most of my daily communications apps are here, such as Messages, WhatsApp, Skype, and Line2. I take taxis all the time, so I also have Curb and Arro, which let me set up payment before the ride concludes. Other key apps are Clock, Wallet (need to be able to get to that boarding pass quickly), and Camera.

Then come folders. Some people prefer themed screens of icons, but that’s not how I roll. Creating a folder is easy — you just rest your finger on any app to put the screen into “wiggle mode,” then you drag one app on top of another. A folder will be created, and you can give it an appropriate name. Apps can be added that folder it the same way — drag an app on top of it while in wiggle mode. And folders can contain multiple screens themselves, so you can put as much as you want in there; I prioritize the more important apps on the first folder screen. (You can’t put a folder inside another folder.)

My most important folders go into the remaining spots on my first screen, and the rest go onto the second and third screens. What goes into a folder is subjective, of course. I like to collect all of my less-used apps that come with the iPhone in their own folder; then I have folders for apps related to Movies, Music, New York City, Travel, Food, Social Media, and more. There’s no right or wrong way to do this — I just do what makes sense to me, so I can spend as little time opening an app as possible.

My third screen contains a few less important folders that didn’t fit on the second screen, and also serves as a holding area for apps I have recently downloaded and want to check out, or haven’t yet put into a folder. So, it contains a small hodgepodge that I periodically go through, and either delete apps, or put them in folders. Or I just leave them there, if I don’t feel like thinking about it.

Of course, I always have the options of searching for an app with Spotlight, if I can’t remember where I put it. But I think that’s clumsy and slow, and they way I’ve got things set up, I rarely have to do it!

4 Cool Features from the New Apple OS Updates

Apple just released new versions of iOS, watchOS, and macOS (as well tvOS) including plugging security holes and adding a few new features. Here are four cool things you can do once you’ve updated.


Night Shift: Use your Mac at Night and Sleep Better Afterwards

MacOS 10.12.4 Sierra now has Night Shift, a feature from iOS that automatically shifts the colors of the screen to the warmer end of the spectrum after dark. Night Shift may help you sleep better by reducing the amount of blue light that tricks your body into thinking it’s earlier than it is.

To set up Night Shift:

  1. Open System Preferences > Displays > Night Shift
  2. Choose Sunset to Sunrise from the Schedule pop-up menu

You can either use the Mac’s built-in knowledge of sunset time where you are, or you can set it for a specific time.

Note that older Macs may not be able to support Night Shift.


Find Lost AirPods

Apple’s wireless AirPods earbuds are so small that they’re easy to lose. If you can’t find yours, iOS 10.3’s Find My iPhone app can help. Here’s how:

  1. Open the Find My iPhone app
  2. Tap the AirPods icon
  3. Tap the Play Sound button to make them play a locator sound

If you’ve lost only one AirPod, you can mute the other so it’s easier to hear where the sound is coming from.

Unfortunately Find My AirPods only works if the missing AirPod is in range of your paired iPhone…no good if you’re at home and your missing AirPod is at work…


Quickly Turn Off The Apple Watch Screen at the Movies

If you wear an Apple Watch, it’s probably annoying (to you and to others around you) when you’re at the movies and you grab for some popcorn and your Apple Watch light goes on!

Well now there’s Theater Mode for the Apple Watch, which keeps the screen dark and puts it into Silent mode. Here’s how to enable it.

  1. Open Control Center by swiping up from the bottom of the screen
  2. Tap the Theater Mode button (the masks)
  3. After the performance, disable Theater mode manually by tapping the button again

If you do need to check the time during the movie, tap your Apple Watch’s screen, or press the Digital Crown or side button.


Find Your Car in a Parking Lot

Perhaps less pertinent to us New Yorkers, but still valuable —

In iOS 10.3, you can now search for “parked car” in Maps, or just ask Siri, “Where did I park?”



Use a Time Capsule without attaching it to a router


Every now and then, you need to back up to a Time Capsule, but you don’t have access to the router, or a wired network jack. You’ve got to go 100% wireless. I discovered a way to set it up 100% wirelessly, with no cables attached.

You’ll need:

To install AirPort Utility v5.6.1:

  • Download the Launcher (there are three download options; choose the leftmost one)
  • Open your Utilities folder within your Application folder
  • In the resulting window, drag each item (AirPort Utility 5.6.1, and the Launcher) one at a time to your Utilities folder. You may need to enter your computer password.

If you’ve never set up your Time Capsule before, use AirPort Utility (6.x, which has been included with macOS since 10.7 Lion), in the Utilities folder inside your Applications folder. Click the “Other Wi-Fi Devices” button in the upper left of the window, and choose your new Time Capsule.

AirPort Utility will scan your network for a while. When it’s done, if it does not say “This AirPort will create a network”, then click “Other Options” in the lower left of the window, and select “Create a new network.” Click Next.

Set up the Time Capsule using any temporary network name and password (but not your actual one). Click Next when it warns you that there’s no cable attached. Quit AirPort Utility when it’s done.

Now, join your new temporary network from the AirPort menu on your computer. (You won’t have internet access once you do.)

Open AirPort Utility 5.6.1 Launcher from your Utilities folder. (Or, if you’re still on Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, or 10.8 Mountain Lion, you can open AirPort Utility 5.6.1 directly, without the Launcher.) The first time you do this, you’ll probably get an Unidentified Developer warning. To bypass this, control-click on it, choose “Open”, and then “Open” again.

You’ll probably get notified that there’s a newer version of AirPort Utility. Cancel this. (If you don’t want to be hassled about it in the future, go to Preferences from the AirPort Utility menu, and uncheck all the boxes.)

If you’re using an 802.11ac Time Capsule (tall shape, rather than flat shape), you’ll be warned that the version of AirPort Utility you’re using is incompatible. Ignore this, and click “Continue”.

Select your Time Capsule on the left, and click Manual Setup at the bottom. If you get asked for Keychain permission, click Allow (and do this for any subsequent steps if you get asked). Click the Wireless tab.

Here’s the tricky part: hold down the Option key on your keyboard, then click the menu next to “Wireless Mode”. Choose “Join a Wireless Network”.

Choose your regular network under “Wireless Network Name”, and the password should automatically be filled in. Click Update.

Your Time Capsule will restart. Switch back to your regular WiFi network. Quit AirPort Utility.

Once the Time Capsule done restarting, you’ll be able to select it as a backup disk in the Time Capsule system preference (Apple Menu -> System Preferences -> Time Machine -> Select Backup Disk), as described in this Apple Support article.

You can also now maintain your Time Capsule using AirPort Utility 6.x, as you would normally. You only need version 5.6.1 to be able to get the Time Capsule into “Join a Wireless Network” mode; once it’s there, the current version of AirPort Utility works fine.

You can also use AirPort Utility 5.6.1, and the same method above, if you wish to create a WDS (Wireless Distribution System). This is not an option for the 802.11ac (tall shape) AirPort and Time Capsule; those only offer the “Extend a Wireless Network” option, which is much easier, but does not permit chaining WiFi devices.

AirPort Utility 5.6.1 is also useful for not permitting computers and devices to use an AirPort’s wireless network. This can be useful if you set up an AirPort Express to wirelessly extend a network for AirPlay wireless audio, in a home that is otherwise well covered by 802.11ac AirPorts. The Express only offers 802.11n, so you may want devices to use the other AirPorts instead. I may put up a separate post on this later.

1Password is a good password manager if you’re anxious about hacking

I think password managers are an extremely good idea, second only to backup. To have reasonable security, you really need to have a different password on every account, so that the keys to the castle aren’t given away if a single site gets compromised. And ideally each password should be as much of a scrambled mishmash as possible.

This means we need to get out of the business of memorizing passwords, and instead start using password manager software, which can store all of your passwords, and even fill them in for you, in a central place, with you only having to remember the single master password. The master password is a key; without it, none of the other passwords are accessible.

There are many password manager titles available, of which some of the most widely used are 1Password, LastPass, and Dashlane. We like 1Password (though we don’t have enough experience with the others to have a strong opinion about them, other than that they’re all reputable).

One of the reasons we like 1Password is their security model. If you want to just use it on a single device or computer, then your passwords are never stored on any kind of server — they just sit, encrypted, in a single file (called a vault) on your computer.

If you want to synchronize your passwords across devices, 1Password offers several options: storing your vault on iCloud, or on Dropbox. This means both your iCloud or Dropbox account would have to be compromised, and then your 1Password vault within would have to be hacked. But if you’re truly worried about your passwords being in any kind of cloud, 1Password can sync directly from computer to devices on your own local network.

In addition, because some people found the above methods to be challenging to set up, 1Password now offers synchronization via, where they do store your passwords, though only in encrypted form — the unencrypted passwords are never sent to them. (They swear up and down that this is secure, and I believe them, but I still like it a little bit less because it makes them such an obvious target for hackers, like LastPass was.)

1Password is primarily sold as a subscription service now. However, it’s also, for the time being, available as a one-time purchase. Synchronizing via (rather than iCloud, Dropbox, or local network) is only available when subscribing.


About IvanExpert

IvanExpert provides superior Mac, iPhone, and iPad support for small businesses and home users in New York City. We provide on-site help with a range of Apple computer and mobile issues.

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