This month we’re looking at some of the important things that should be known about Apple / MAC Computers and their operating systems. MacOS is well-known for its ease of use, and I’m confident any of these systems will be easy to learn in no time at all. Many of you are likely using a close relative of the MacOS
already if you have an iPhone or iPad. That said, there are a few tricks that will help you avoid confusion later on.
What Is MacOS? It is the name of the operating system that powers most older Mac computers, The AppleOS and the Mac OS X systems are older versions but work basically the same except they are slower, less powerful and require older hardware. There is a new version of the MacOS that has just been released and all future mac’s will be using it at some point but it is something you may already be used to since it is the one found on iPhones and iPads. You can only get the MacOS by purchasing an Apple/ Mac system.
All operating systems, regardless of who makes them require and receive regular security updates and Mac’s are no different. The MacOS is based on the Unix operating system, tracing it’s roots back to the 1970s. As a result it shares many similarities with Linux and other Unix offshoots.
MacOS is quite straightforward and comes with a rich suite of applications and software 'built-in' to simplify everyday tasks like email and web browsing, and it integrates well with Apple's family of mobile devices like the iPhone and iPad. Setting up a new Mac takes approx. 20 minutes, during which you are guided through
the easy setup process. Although the internet is not required to use the system once it is setup (except for internet related things) it is required for the initial setup to create accounts with Apple for an Apple ID, iCloud, the App Store, iTunes. If you have an Apple ID that you're already using an Apple product it is recommended to use the same account so everything will transfer easily between the various devices. The most important parts (besides the actual hardware) of your Mac 'initially' will be the desktop (this is what you see on the screen), the menu bar at the top of the desktop, and the dock at the bottom of the desktop.
Like many other operating systems, MacOS uses a desktop as a temporary workspace on which to store files. Hard drives, external drives, and mounted disk images will all appear here when connected to your machine. You can right-click to create folders and drag to arrange you’re desktop as you see fit.
The menu bar will change based on the application / software currently being used. The Apple menu is where you can Shut Down your machine, and obtain information specifically about your system and what is attached to it. The left side of the menu bar displays options like File, Edit, Help and so on. On the right side of the menu bar are status indicators for system and third-party apps.
"The Dock" is the closest equivalent MacOS has to a Windows "Start Menu". It's divided into two parts: Shortcuts to Apps, and Pinned or Minimized Folders. Of note, also is the "MacOS Finder" a management app which lets you browse your hard drives and other connected devices.
Your Mac can be customized in many ways, but rather than trying to explain all or many of them, I would suggest using the Mac Help files as they are quite well written, and are built into the system. You can access the "Help Files" by using the built in search engine on the system called Spotlight, and it appears in a floating window any time you press Cmd + the space bar. Simply type your query and MacOS will respond with context-sensitive results.
Most applications you will download from the internet will show up as a disk image (DMG) files at first. Double-click the DMG to mount it, after which it will show up on
your desktop as a read-only drive. Simply drag the application file to your Applications folder to install it. Deleting the Application file from this folder will remove it from your system.
The easiest and safest way to install any Mac software is by using the Mac App Store. This is an application which manages the install process for you. It will also manage all updates for the applications it installs. Launch the Mac App Store and login with your Apple ID. Any preferences you may have on how the Mac responds and looks to you can be setup within 'System Preferences'. It is pinned to the dock by default. You can also find Siri within the Preferences Menu. Siri on the Mac works the same as on an iPhone or iPad.
You'll find Apple iCloud info all over the MacOS, so it's vital that you understand it - iCloud is a name for Apple's online cloud services, like iCloud Drive or iCloud Music Library. In short, it basically means that particular service's data is stored online, in the cloud, and helps to sync those services between all your devices. You are provided with 5GB of online storage at no charge. Any additional space you would like has a fee associated with it.
Generally speaking, you don't have to actively maintain MacOS. By simply running updates and keeping your machine backed up, you'll be prepared for most eventualities. Apple delivers MacOS updates via the Mac App Store. You can backup your Mac with the built in application called Time Machine. It is very easy to use and works with an external drive that you need to purchase separately. Once backed up, the system can be
restored to the last completed backup at any time. The purpose of this backup is to restore your Mac to its current glory if something goes wrong. That includes hardware or operating system failure, or even moving to an entirely new Mac. A Backup is also important for securing your Mac when you travel. For proper
backup redundancy, consider creating non-Time Machine backups too.
Macs are relatively maintenance free although they will experience performance issues if they run low on space or memory. If your Mac is still under warranty and you think there's a problem, talk to Apple. You can find out whether or not it's still covered by putting your serial number (found on the bottom of your machine, and under Apple > About This Mac) into Apple's warranty checker.
If your Mac is out of warranty, you can still have Apple fix it, but this is an expensive route. You could also opt for third-party Apple service, which is cheaper. The MacOS is meant to be user-friendly. You'll have a hard time "breaking" the operating system, based on the safeguards Apple has put in place. Should you be interested in learrning more or making a change to one or more of your systems, you can send an email toI will get back to you asap.
Next month we’ll take a closer look at The Internet of Things. Thanks for Reading.