High Sierra, APFS, and your hard drive-equipped Mac

Apple has released High Sierra, a new upgrade to macOS that’s installable on most Macs built since 2009 and 2010. One of the key features of High Sierra is a new file system. There’s a hitch if you’re using a Mac with a hard drive, including Macs with Fusion Drives. File systems aren’t a sexy feature or even a visible one, but the last time the Mac’s file system changed, Bill Clinton was president. So it’s a big deal. Read on for the full story.

Macbook highsierra file system

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Upgrade tips for High Sierra

macOS High Sierra is now available for download. If you’re upgrading or planning to upgrade, do a bit of advanced prep before you download and install the new operating system using the Mac App Store. Those steps include backing up your Mac and qualifying the apps and devices you depend on for use with the new operating system. Here are some helpful hints to keep you on the right course.

Macbook high sierra hero desktop

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Apple Context Machine: APFS, iOS 11, backups and more

On this episode 429 of the Apple Context Machine podcast, Jeff Gamet and I talked at length about iOS 11, the new APFS file system change that’s already come to iOS and is coming to (some) Macs with High Sierra’s release, T-Mobile and LTE Band 71, backups and more. If you’re looking for an hour to fill with Apple nerdery, please tune in, or whatever the kids are doing with podcasts these days.

Apple Context Machine

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Upgrade Tips For iOS 11

Apple’s iOS 11 is the newest latest major release of the operating system that powers the iPhone and iPad, and it’s a significant change. Here are a few tips to make that upgrade and transition as smooth as possible – what to do before you upgrade, when you upgrade, and what to do if things go wrong after the upgrade.

iOS 11 on an iPad

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About the new iPhones and T-Mobile’s 600 MHz spectrum

Iphonex front side flat

If you’re in the U.S., looking at a new iPhone 8 or iPhone X and you’re a T-Mobile customer, you may wonder if the new phone supports T-Mobile’s LTE Band 71, new 600 MHz spectrum the company is in the process of bringing online. The short answer is no. Apple’s new phones don’t support Band 71 and can’t be made to. You’ll have to wait until Apple’s next iPhone refresh to get that capability. The devil is in the details, so read on for more.

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Speed up your 2014 Mac mini with this upgrade!

2014 Mac mini

I finally got around to upgrading my 2014 Mac mini with a solid state drive (SSD). The difference is like night and day. If you’re using one of these models and you’re looking for a good way to bump up the performance, an SSD is, quite frankly, one of the only things you can do (unlike older Mac minis, Apple soldered the RAM in place). Regardless, I strongly recommend considering it – not just for a 2014 Mac mini, but for any older Mac you’d like to pep up.

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CrashPlan and Burn: Trust No One

 Backing up your computer to the cloud is easy with a subscription to Backblaze, CrashPlan, Carbonite or another service. What happens when one of those services stops? For one thing, it’s a good time to stop and take stock of your backup strategy. Are you putting too much trust in it?

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Apple World News: “Get Off My Lawn”

Apple World News podcast

Very pleased to appear on Nerd Radio FM’s “Apple World News” podcast episode 6 with Brian Sutich. We talked about:

  • old Macs
  • new Macs
  • Cool iPhone photography techniques we recently learned
  • Apple news and rumors
  • My personal philosophy on best backup practices, and lots more.

Lots of ground to cover!

How to use Night Shift on the Mac

Apple on Monday released macOS 10.12.4, the latest version of its Sierra operating system. Among the new features is Night Shift, the same screen-dimming technology that Apple has had in iOS for a while. They’ve buried the feature, though, so it can be a bit tough to find. Here’s how, and what it does.

Night shift

Night Shift adjusts the color of your Mac’s display after sunset. According to some research, exposure to the bright blue light of computer displays in the evening can affect your ability to sleep. Night Shift mode – first introduced in iOS 9.3 – changes display colors to warmer tones with less blue. In the morning the Mac returns to its normal settings. If you’re working with graphics, art, photography, video or other content where color fidelity is of paramount importance, Night Shift is probably not the best thing to use. But for the rest of us, Night Shift can give your eyes – and your circadian rhythm – a bit of a break.

Night Shift is similar in concept to the third-party application f.lux. F.lux is still available if you’d prefer to use it or are not ready to upgrade yet to macOS 10.12.4.

How To Use Night Shift On The Mac

  1. Click on the  menu.
  2. Click on System Preferences…
  3. Click on Displays
  4. Click on the Night Shift tab to change settings.

You can schedule Night Shift according to a custom schedule, determining what time to turn it on and off. You can also override the setting to turn it on until the next day. You can also adjust the intensity of the color shift.

Apple notes that this won’t affect the color balance of connected televisions or projectors – so Night Shift, at least for now, will only affect directly connected monitors.

It’s also worth noting that Night Shift imposes specific system requirements. Apple has outlined them in a tech note posted to its website.

All about Solid State Drives (SSDs)

Solid State Drives (SSDs) offer much better performance and reliability than the traditional spinning hard disk drive, which makes them an attractive option for computer users looking to get a bit more bang for the buck from their existing hardware. Got questions about SSDs? I’ve got answers.

SSD image

SSDs work differently than hard drives – inside are memory chips instead of moving parts, which is why they work so much faster than conventional drives. Memory prices have dropped dramatically in the past few years, which has lowered the price of high-capacity SSDs, making them a more budget-friendly upgrade solution than ever.

Lots of us have questions about SSDs, however. To help answer them, I’ve written a series of posts over at Backblaze. If you’re thinking about upgrading your current hardware, having trouble with an SSD, or need to get rid of one, I’ve got you covered.