How can you help another computer user from a distance? I am going to show you a super easy way to help another Mac user using software that came with your computer.
Sometimes we get questions about computer problems from friends and family. It would be so easy if we were in the same room and could see and interact with their screen. But if they are far away, or in 2020, staying isolated because of Coronavirus, how do you help them?
If you and the other person both have Macs, and you can send and receive messages using the Messages app, then the answer is just a click away.
To connect to your friend’s computer, we are going to use the Messages App (formerly known as iMessage). This application comes with every Macintosh. It isn’t obvious, but the humble Messages app has a superpower. It can remote control a computer screen.
It might be good to first verify that you can send and receive messages to and from the remote computer. You must be connecting to your friend via their email address, which should be associated with their Apple ID.
If you see the blue text bubble(s) when messaging your friend, the next steps should go smoothly. If you see green text bubbles, or can’t send and receive messages at all, see the Difficulties section below.
To begin screen sharing, make sure that the correct friend’s conversation is highlighted in the Messages window. Then, select Ask to Share Screen from Messages’ Buddies menu.
This will cause a message to appear in the upper right of your friend’s screen asking them to allow screen sharing:
When they click Accept, they will get one more message:
For troubleshooting with a trusted friend, it is usually easier if the recipient allows you to control their screen as well as observe it. Control is the default.
Once they click Accept, screen sharing will begin.
Either party can end screen sharing. Remember that if the computer restarts, or if you quit the Messages app, screen sharing will end and need to be restarted.
I have successfully talked some very inexperienced computer users through this process on the phone. They only have to be able to see when they receive a text message, and then click Accept twice. After that, you will be able to help them.
You’ll probably be talking to your friend on the phone to get this started. When screen sharing starts, it also starts an on-line voice conversation. You should be prepared to end the phone call when this happens to prevent echo, feedback and confusion. You will still be able to speak to each other via the computer (if both computers have microphones and speakers — most do).
If this is not working as expected, check the following:
Both computers must be running MacOS
Both computers must be connected to the Internet
Both parties must have an Apple ID
Check that the email addresses being used for communication are listed in System Preferences/Apple ID under Name, Phone, Email in the Reachable at section. If not, they can be added there.
These are the Keynote slides from MacMAD’s February 2020 meeting on using Gestures on iOS and Macintosh. Note: this presentation contains some short videos so is rather large (~160 MB). The link is to a Keynote presentation file shared in iCloud.
I want to document the process I went through recently when I sent my iPhone in for repair. That’s a similar process to getting an entirely new phone. There were some unexpected issues you should be aware of. This is going to be pretty long, so here’s some key points first.
While you still have your old phone, whether or not you expect to get a new one soon, make a backup of your phone. If your phone unexpectedly fails, or is lost or stolen, you will have to get a new one. You can backup your phone to your computer or to iCloud. If you specify a password for the backup, you will get a more complete backup than if you do not. I recommend using the password. Write it down.
If you are using two-factor-authentication (2FA) login for any sites, create backup codes to access those sites. Look at your authentication apps (e.g., Google Authenticator, 1Password and Last Pass Authenticator) and make a list of all the sites you are using with those apps. Your 2nd Factor information may not be restored to your new phone. Make sure you know how you will sign on to your sites without it.
If any of your sites use text messages or phone calls as an alternate 2nd factor for login, consider assigning another phone number, such as your spouse’s phone for these, since if you are without your phone, you can’t receive those messages.
Make sure you know your Apple ID username/password, your iPhone’s passcode, and the password to your latest iPhone backup. Write them down. Your Apple ID credentials are the same as you use for iCloud logon.
Your Old Phone
If you are sending your iPhone away, out of your control, for any reason, including repair, or sale or trade, you should follow Apple’s Instructions here. Your phone should then be a blank slate, just as it was when it was brand new, with none of your personal data in it. Be aware, that if you have an Apple Watch, this will render your Apple Watch completely useless until you pair it with another iPhone. (Is this true for cellular model watches also?)
Remove the case from your iPhone if it has one. Remove the screen protector, if any.
Remove the SIM card from your old phone. Save it. You will need it for the new/repaired phone.
Received the New/Repaired Phone
I had backed up my iPhone to my Mac. When I got the phone back, although it was the same phone (I recognized minor scratches on the back), it had a new serial number from Apple, and for all practical purposes, it was a different phone.
The process below will be different if you are restoring from iCloud, or if you make any of several choices differently than I did, but this will give you an idea.
This process was longer and more complex than I would have liked. I had to enter multiple passwords multiple times, and deal with confusing dialogs, but I got done eventually.
Begin by installing the SIM card into the phone.
Next, power on the phone. Enter your language and country when prompted.
I chose “Set up Manually” since I had no other iOS device present.
Enter your WiFi password.
You’ll see a message “…It may take a few minutes to activate your phone”.
You’ll click through the Data and Privacy notification screen.
Next, setup touch ID or face ID, depending on your phone model.
You must create a passcode. You can re-use the passcode you had before. I chose “custom alphanumeric code” for greater security.
Enter the passcode twice. (To prove you really know it, and entered it correctly.)
Restoring Apps and Data
The phone presents you with the following options:
Restore from iCloud Backup
Restore from iTunes Backup
Move Data from Android
Don’t Transfer Apps & Data
I selected Restore from iTunes Backup, and connected my phone by USB to my Mac.
An irrelevant and distracting dialog pops up on the Mac.
Cancel that to see the meaningful dialog behind it. As of MacOS Mojave, the actions below take place in iTunes. In MacOS Catalina, it is expected to take place directly in the Finder.
I selected my most recent backup to restore, and had to enter the password. Even though I had saved the password to my keychain when I created it, I still had to enter it manually here. Don’t forget your backup password, or remember where you saved it.
The phone restarts automatically after the restore, and you are presented with multiple popups.
On the iPhone, press Home to upgrade, and enter your passcode on the phone (your iPhone passcode).
This was the one place where things actually went wrong in this process for me. After a progress bar, the Apple logo appeared on the iPhone. After a long wait, iTunes said Syncing TV Shows to “Jamie Cox’s iPhone” (Step 4 of 4), and Waiting for items to copy. I was looking at a 100% progress bar for many minutes. (I only had a couple TV episodes on my phone.)
I gave up waiting and clicked Done in iTunes. The phone wouldn’t power down with a long press on the side power button. (This was an iPhone 7) This proved to me that it really was hung, and would never have finished no matter how long I waited. I held Power and Volume Down for a reset. I then unplugged the phone from USB. When the phone started up, I had to enter my iPhone passcode. I was then at the Update Completed screen on the phone.
Things are back on track now where you should be if the phone doesn’t hang.
General New iPhone Setup
At this point, you will be prompted to enter your Apple ID password. You may also receive this security prompt on the Mac:
After clicking Allow, on the Mac, you then get a 6-digit code which you need to enter on the iPhone. (If you have two-Factor Authentication enabled on your iCloud account.)
Then agree to the Terms and Conditions screen.
Then you see the Location Services screen. (I chose Enable Location Services.)
Now, you will see the Welcome to iPhone Screen. Choose Get Started.
Now, finally, you are at the iPhone home screen, with icons loading.
On the Mac, you may get a couple more popups. First, asking if you want to add your phone number to iMessage and FaceTime. (I clicked Yes.) Second, notifying you that “Your Apple ID and phone number are now being used for iMessage and FaceTime on a new iPhone.”
At this point, I put the case back on my phone.
Re-Pairing the Apple Watch
Initiate pairing by moving your phone close to the watch. Let the phone’s camera see the pattern on the watch face.
I selected Restore from Backup, to get my watch back to where it was previously.
You’ll have to agree to the Apple Watch Terms and Conditions screen on the iPhone.
Then enter your Apple ID password on the iPhone. (For me, the steps in this sections failed the first three times. I then restarted both the iPhone and the watch. After that, it worked.)
After your Apple ID is verified, you will get to the Shared Settings screen. Tap OK.
You will be asked to create a passcode for your watch. (I used the same code I had before.) You must enter it twice.
You may see the Heart Health screen on the iPhone. Tap continue.
You may see the Apple Pay screen on iPhone. Tap Continue. Then you will have a chance to enter credit cards or set them up later in the Apple Watch App. (I chose to set them up later.)
You’ll see the SOS and Fall Detection screen. Pay attention, this could be important later. I enabled Fall Detection. It can save your life later.
What Wasn’t Restored
All my credit cards were missing from the Apple Wallet after the restoration, both on iPhone and Apple Watch. However, my loyalty cards and passes were still present in Wallet. Apparently Credit Cards are not stored in the Apple Watch or iPhone backups, even when the encrypted backup option is selected. This is probably a security measure by Apple.
As I mentioned before, my Two-Factor Authentication information was not restored in Google Authenticator or Last Pass Authenticator Apps. So, I could no longer generate codes for those sites I had been using with those apps. The 1Password app still had all my passwords as well as 2nd factor codes for those sites which used those. Your mileage may vary depending on your version of 1Password and how you sync it.
My Home Kit devices remained set up in iPhone as before, no problem.
If you had installed a configuration profile, such as the Spectrum WiFi access profile, it isn’t restored, and you will have to follow the instructions from the provider to get it installed on your new phone.
Your WiFi credentials are not restored. You will have to re-login to your favorite WiFi networks.
You will have to re-pair your Bluetooth devices, such as headphones, speakers, and car stereos.
During the restore process, you will have to enter passwords or passcodes at least 10 times, assuming you don’t make any mistakes, and everything goes perfectly.
iPhone Backup Password 1 time
WiFi Password 1 time
iPhone Passcode 4 times
Apple ID 2 times
Watch Passcode 2 times
Before you start, make sure you know your existing passwords, or what you want them to be, and write them down in a safe place.
So, I hope this overview of the process of getting a new iPhone was helpful to you. This process seems like it is longer and more difficult than it should be, but knowing it in advance should help. Please leave a comment if this was useful, or if you see anything wrong or anything I left out.
In their quest for help with their Apple gadgets, many users overlook the free resources provided by the Apple mothership.
Apple provides a number of helpful text and video tutorials on their support page. Either select your device or topic there, or use the search on that page to find what you are looking for. Most common tasks and questions are covered.
Apple also has a series of free eBooks covering many of their hardware and software products. To find these, open the Books app that came with your device. You will have to sign in with your Apple ID. (Your Apple ID is the same as your iCloud credentials, and is the one ID and password you use for all Apple services.)
You may find that you already have a User Guide for your devices in your Books library. There’s more available, though. If you click the Book Store icon, you can find more books to download. Any book which says Get instead of a price will be free. You can search for “Apple”, or “iPhone”, for example, to find applicable books. Note that there are often different versions of the same book for newer and older versions. Choose a version that matches what you have.
Here are links to some of these useful (free!) books. Enjoy.
“My photo appears correct on my computer, but when I uploaded it to [website], it is sideways. How can I make my image upload in the correct orientation?”
This problem is surprisingly universal, it affects many different web sites and users of Windows, Macintosh, tablets and smartphones are all affected. It most often affects photos that were taken in portrait orientation.
The problem is caused by the varying interpretations of the image rotation tags in the EXIF data accompanying digital photos. This problem is not likely to go away anytime soon because the meaning of the rotation tags is somewhat ambiguous, and there is disagreement about what the correct way to handle them ought to be. Some software thinks it should apply the tags, other programs or sites think they should ignore the tags or remove the tags.
There is an easy solution for users: Edit the photo in your photo editor of choice (with the possible exception of Windows Picture Viewer). Rotate it to be right-side-up if necessary. Then make some other change that affects the image. Tweak the contrast or the color. Crop the image slightly. Almost any change will work. Then, save it.
The saved image will have its pixels oriented properly and have no Orientation tag, or have the default Horizontal tag. Everybody agrees on how to display an image like that. When you upload it, it will display the same as you saw it on your computer.
If you edit an image, but only rotate it, your editor will probably just change the Orientation tag without changing the image pixels. Unfortunately, not every program or site will interpret the Orientation tag the same way as your image editor.
If you make a change to the actual image, it forces the program to completely re-write the image from scratch, which results in an image with the default orientation.
Apple Pay is potentially the perfect checkout experience at brick and mortar stores, but the implementation at particular stores often leaves room for improvement.
The perfect register checkout experience for me would be: once my goods are rung up, the cashier announces the total. I present payment, which is accepted instantly. I leave with my purchases. Anything else that interrupts that flow is unnecessary, and detracts from the experience.
Brick and mortar stores are now competing with on-line retailers like Amazon. Customers have become used to a friction free on-line checkout process, ala Amazon’s “Buy with One Click”.
Life Without Apple Pay
Some stores clearly appreciate the value of quick checkout to customers: Publix posts signs at the checkout reading “Now for the easy part”. Ironically, unlike Food Lion, The Fresh Market and Winn Dixie, however, Publix doesn’t accept Apple Pay — the one thing that would make checkout significantly easier.
When paying with a credit card, the experience is usually something like this: You put your card into the machine, but the clerk says you inserted it too soon. You remove the card. Five seconds later, the machine beeps and says “Insert card”. Now it says “Do Not Remove Card”. This stays up for an annoyingly long time. Just as your attention wanders, the machine beeps frantically saying “Remove Card”, like it’s your fault it’s been in there so long. As you are attempting to get your card back in your wallet, the cashier simultaneously hands you a receipt, and pushes your purchases towards you. The person behind you is impatient as you frantically try to do three things with two hands.
Do You Take Apple Pay or Not?
When visiting a new store, it’s surprisingly difficult to determine if they actually accept Apple Pay. The clerk often has no idea. If they say yes, it may be because they have seen someone checkout with their phone, not realizing it was the Samsung Pay hack, not Apple Pay. Samsung Pay tricks mag-stripe readers into thinking you swiped a card. That was a brilliant trick, but won’t work in the future because merchants are no longer accepting swiped cards, but only chip cards.
If the clerk says Apple Pay doesn’t work at that store, it may be that it does work, but nobody has tried it before. It usually doesn’t hurt to try it. I have amazed a few clerks when it did actually work.
If a store displays the contactless payment logo or the Apple Pay logo, then they are supposed to accept them. But, I have seen too many stores where they didn’t accept Apple Pay in spite of the logo(s) on the register.
One store had a handwritten note saying “NO Apple Pay” next to the Apple Pay logo. When I asked them about that, they said that Apple Pay seemed to work at their register, but then the store could not get their money. Obviously they didn’t want it used in those circumstances.
They Just Don’t Get It
Many stores accept Apple Pay, but most don’t take full advantage of the convenience it can offer the customer. After submitting payment with Apple Pay, I have had some registers insist that I sign on the line. Signatures have been irrelevant to credit card security for years. No one ever looks at the signatures. You can write any foolishness on the line and your purchase will still go through as normal. There is serious talk about removing the signature from all credit card purchases. To ask for a signature with Apple Pay is like insisting that your Tesla be equipped with a buggy whip.
Some registers, especially gas pumps, ask for your zip code. This is either irrelevant security theater, an attempt to track you or bad programming; I’m not sure which. A zip code is a trivial security measure next to the security of Apple Pay and your iPhone or Apple Watch. You’re just asking your customer to do one more stupid step that your competitors might be smart enough to skip.
Stores should not ask customers any questions at checkout. None. They are unexpected, slow down the process and hold up the line. NO, I don’t want to join the loyalty program. YES, I speak English and told you so the last 10 times I was here. NO, I won’t give you my email address. I’m already getting an electronic receipt — I used Apple Pay! NO, I don’t want to contribute to the charity of the day. NO, I don’t want to leave a tip in a traditionally non-tipping environment, like a fast food place. Don’t even ask. Just pay your employees yourself.
The actual paper receipt is optional and unnecessary, and holds up the process, especially if it takes any time at all to print.
I have abandoned my purchases at a store and left because the person ahead of me was holding up the line by joining a loyalty club. On the other hand, I was so happy that Walgreens accepted Apple Pay in a convenient manner, and that their loyalty card was Apple Pay compatible, that I joined Walgreen’s loyalty program as a reward to them for a nice checkout process. (I signed up via the web, not while holding up the line.)
The Joy of Apple Pay
For me, much of the appeal of Apple Pay is that it is fast. It is much quicker for me to get my phone out than to get a credit card out of my wallet. The Apple Watch is even quicker, and since it’s strapped to my wrist, I don’t have to give up a hand to deal with it.
The Apple Pay transaction itself is fast. Apple Pay transactions go through in milliseconds, compared to normal credit card transactions, where the seconds drag on.
Apple Pay is secure. When the next major breach is announced, and your favorite store discovers that hackers have captured all the credit card numbers used last month (or last year), Apple Pay customers have nothing to fear! Apple Pay has never handed over your actual credit card number to anyone. It only uses a temporary, one-time number which cannot be used again.
Here’s some useful information from this month’s meeting on Contacts and Calendars.
The contacts and calendars apps exist on both the Mac (computers) and iOS (iPad & iPhone). The different versions can cooperate and share data via iCloud, but they are not the same. The Mac version can do some things, such as edit contact groups that the iOS version cannot do.
Besides Apple’s pre-defined Holiday calendar and your own calendars, you may find public calendars for various topics and groups on-line which you can subscribe to. For example, here is the MacMAD meeting calendar. If you subscribe to that, you will see our monthly meetings. If any changes are made, you will see the changes automatically.