Does your Mac's desktop get a bit cluttered? I don't mean a few files on the desktop, but lots of files and folders, just hanging around, some of which you probably haven't accessed since last spring.
Messy desktop courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.
Well, that is sometimes a good description of my desktop. It tends to get pretty messy, until I finally decide it's time to organize the mess into something slightly less, well, messy.
The benefits of a cleanup aren't limited to how your desktop looks or how quickly you can find a file. Cleaning up your desktop also boosts your Mac's performance, especially at startup when you first log in.
Those of us with a messy desktop (go ahead, raise your hands) may have noticed that when we log into our Macs, it takes a while for the desktop to display; sometimes it takes so long that we see a spinning beach ball. Turns out there's a good reason for this delay, and an easy way to speed things up:
Apple's Mac lineup for 2014 is in pretty good shape. There's a new Mac Pro and recent versions of iMacs (September, 2013), and a Retina-based MacBook Pro (October, 2013). MacBook Airs are getting on a bit; the most current model dates from last summer. And the Mac mini is absolutely ancient, hailing from October of 2012.
Courtesy of Apple
The 13-inch non-Retina MacBook Pro probably won't be a viable model for Apple much longer, with rumors already predicting its demise in the next round of updates. That leaves new Mac minis and MacBook Airs as the most likely to receive updates soon, possibly by WWDC in early summer, if not sooner. And of course, the rumor mill is predicting that a new Apple TV will appear in late March or sometime in April.
The only surprise I'm expecting from Apple this year, at least in the Mac product line, is a brand new Mac mini, one that will probably follow in the footsteps of the 2013 Mac Pro and eschew hard drives in favor of PCIe-based SSD storage. The Mac mini may also get a redesigned case, perhaps something circular, so it can be the Mac Pro's mini me. It may also be assembled in the Austin, TX assembly plant, right alongside its big brother, the Mac Pro.
So, that brings me to this week's poll question:
Apple today announced that Peter Oppenheimer will retire at the end of September, 2014. Peter has been with Apple since 1996, when he took the position of Controller for Americas. Peter was subsequently promoted to Vice President Worldwide Sales Controller, and then corporate controller, before finally being named Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Apple.
During his stint as CFO, revenues for Apple grew from $8 billion to over $171 billion. After retiring, Mr. Oppenheimer plans to finally obtain his pilot's license, settle down in the central coast area of California, and maybe get involved in Cal Poly, his alma mater.
Luca Maestri, Apple's Vice President of Finance and corporate controller, will be the new CFO of Apple starting in June, providing a slight overlap to allow a seamless transition.
Today Apple, along with featured car manufacturers, unveiled CarPlay, the ability to integrate iOS features into a car's entertainment and display system.
Courtesy of Volvo Car Group
CarPlay uses an automobile's central touchscreen display, as well as any control surfaces the car manufacturer may include, such as steering wheel-mounted buttons, to activate and provide access to your iPhone's features and apps.
Once you connect your iPhone to the system, using a standard Lightning charger cable, Siri, Maps, Messages, Music, and of course, phone services, are available directly through the car's touchscreen and control systems.
Availability in 2014 will be limited to Ferrari, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar, Mercedes, and Volvo. Additional car companies, including Ford, Chevrolet, BMW, Nissan, and Toyota, will add CarPlay in future models.
CarPlay is just the first step in Apple's plan to move the iOS system into cars. And if this first attempt at letting iOS device owners use them in a more integrated fashion is successful, you can expect further development, leading to iOS being integrated into the car itself.
This could mean a simple Wi-Fi or Bluetooth integration method, so you don't need to physically connect your iPhone to the car, or the licensing of an iOS core that is part of the car. Maybe someday cars will directly respond to our commands:
Siri, lead me to a good, local restaurant, and not a drive-though, like the last time!
Stock continues to fall in the refurb store, though there is still plenty to choose from in most categories. While you won't find Mac minis or Mac Pros this week, there are some good deals in both iMacs and MacBook Airs.
Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.
Best Deals of the Week **
This week we're highlighting a pair of Macs that provide a good value:
- 2012 11.6 inch MacBook Air priced at $799, a 27% price reduction over its original $1,099 cost.
- 2012 27-inch iMac priced at $1,549, a 22% price reduction over its original $1,999 cost.
Quantities are limited, so if any of these tickle your fancy, be fast on the trigger to make a purchase.
- 2012 11.6-inch MacBook Air 1.7 (Review) GHz Dual-Core i5 with 128 GB SSD and Intel HD Graphics 4000: $799.00**
- 2013 11.6-inch MacBook Air (Review) 1.3 GHz Dual-Core i5 with 128 GB SSD and Intel HD Graphics 5000: $849.00
- 2013 11.6-inch MacBook Air (Review) 1.3 GHz Dual-Core i5 with 256 GB SSD and Intel HD Graphics 5000: $1,019.00
- 2013 13.3-inch MacBook Air (Review) 1.3 GHz Dual-Core i5 with 128 GB SSD and Intel HD Graphics 5000: $929.00
- 2013 13.3-inch MacBook Air (Review) 1.3 GHz Dual-Core i5 with 256 GB SSD and Intel HD Graphics 5000: $1,099.00
- 2012 13.3-inch MacBook Pro (Review) 2.5 GHz Dual-Core i5 with 500 GB hard drive and Intel HD Graphics 4000: $999.00
- 2013 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display (Review) 2.0 GHz Intel Dual-Core i7 with 256 GB SSD and Intel Iris Pro Graphics: $1,669.00
- 2013 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display (Review) 2.3 GHz Intel Dual-Core i7 with 512 GB SSD and Intel Iris Pro Graphics and NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M graphics: $2,19.00
- 2013 21.5-inch iMac (Review) 2.9 GHz, Quad-Core i5 with 1 TB hard drive and NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M graphics: $1,269.00
- 2012 27-inch iMac (Review) 3.2 GHz, Quad-Core i5 with 1 TB hard drive and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX: $1,549.00**
- 2013 27-inch iMac (Review) 3.2 GHz, Quad-Core i5 with 1 TB hard drive and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 775MX: $1,529.00
- 2013 27-inch iMac (Review) 3.4 GHz, Quad-Core i5 with 1 TB hard drive and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 775MX: $1,699.00
- 27-inch Thunderbolt Display 2560x1440 resolution: $799.00
- 2013 AirPort Extreme with simultaneous dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi technology: $169.00
- 2013 AirPort Time Capsule with 2 TB drive and simultaneous dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi technology: $255.00
- 64 GB Wi-Fi iPad 4 $529.00
- 128 GB Wi-Fi iPad 4 $619.00
- 16 GB Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad 4 $479.00
- 32 GB Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad 4 $559.00
- 64 GB Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad 4 $649.00
- 128 GB Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad 4 $729.00
- 64 GB Wi-Fi iPad mini $419.00
- 16 GB Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad mini $359.00
- 32 GB Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad mini $449.00
- 64 GB Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad mini $529.00
Want to find out more about Apple refurbished Macs? Take a look at the process my wife and I experienced when we took the Apple refurbished store for a spin.
Artboard from Mapdiva is a vector-based drawing app that provides all of the basic tools you need to build illustrations, drawings, and gorgeous graphics, without the steep price or steep learning curve of more advanced drawing tools.
Artboard's vector-based foundation allows you to create objects that can be edited, stacked, scaled, and transformed any time you wish. You can easily change a drawing as you work on it, instead of wiping out areas and starting over. Artboard supports layers, templates, and styles. It also makes use of powerful Boolean operators that allow you to combine multiple objects (union, intersect, difference, and append) into a new complex item.
Artboard includes 20 tools for creating lines, shapes, curves, and text, including text on path.
Artboard is $29.99. A demo is available.
See other software choices from Tom's Mac Software Picks.
This weekend's Mac DIY project may not seem very exciting. Some of you may shy away from it, because you just don't like to clean. And who knows what cleaning your Mac might lead to? You might end up cleaning your desk, your office, the family room, or the basement. You might even (heaven forbid!) break out the vacuum cleaner.
Courtesy of Apple
While it's possible that you might go on a cleaning binge, it's well worth the risk. Keeping your Mac clean can help ensure a longer, more trouble-free life. So, unless you're looking for an excuse to buy a new Mac, and having your current one keel over from neglect would fit right into your plans, let's get started.
Our cleaning guide focuses on the basics: the monitor, keyboard, and mouse or trackpad.
I suggest starting with your Mac's display, since it's something you look at every time you use your Mac. If you haven't cleaned the display in a long time, you may be surprised at what a difference it makes. Yes, there really is a Mac under all that dust.
But don't reach for the glass cleaner you purchased at the grocery store. There's a better, safer way to clean your display.
Next up are your Mac's mouse or trackpad and keyboard. With a little bit of preparation, and the willingness to exert a little elbow grease, you can have your Mac's keyboard and trackpad or mouse looking like they did the day they came out of the box.
For even more computer cleaning tips, take a look at:
Apple has posted an SMC firmware update for the late 2013 Mac Pro that allows the cylindrical Mac to enter a Power Nap state without running its fan.
Courtesy of Apple
There are restrictions on the no-fan state during Power Nap, so it's still possible that a Power Nap activity could cause the fan to spin up. Apple hasn't yet listed what the restrictions are, so if you have a new Mac Pro, let us know what you're doing that causes the fans to spin up during a Power Nap.
In addition, the SMC update fixes a problem that sometimes caused a low-speed USB (USB 2.0 or slower) device from being detected at boot-up. This update should get those older USB 2 external devices working correctly.
You can download the Mac Pro SMC Firmware Update 2.0 from the Apple support site.
Recently, I was perusing the Mac App Store looking for a new game or two to play. This, of course, was all in the line of duty in my job as a Mac pundit. It's hard work writing about the Mac, and games are as important a topic as security or how to install software (wink, wink, nudge, nudge, Bob's your uncle).
Courtesy of Apple
Anyway, while downloading a Mac game, my wireless connection shut down. We have an ongoing issue with one of our wireless routers; from time to time, it just stops sending data to a client, causing the client to eventually time out. We'll replace the wireless router at some point, but for now we manage the problem by issuing a remote reset command. The router then starts to work again, at least for a while.
This time when the wireless router failed, it did so at a point where the Mac App Store decided that the game I was trying to acquire had been successfully downloaded and installed (it had not). The option to download the game was replaced with the word "Installed," which prevented me from restarting the download process.
Luckily, the solution to this bit of aggravation is to trick the Mac App Store into thinking the app still needs to be downloaded, which you can do by following this simple guide:
Apple today released security updates for OS X Lion and Mountain Lion that address the SSL security bug we highlighted earlier this week.
Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc
Apple also released OS X Mavericks 10.9.2, which incorporates the same security update needed to address the SSL bug mentioned above. In addition to the security update, 10.9.2 includes new FaceTime Audio support, new Messages and FaceTime features that let you block others from sending you requests, and Mail fixes that finally bring Gmail compatibility to Mail and also fix a few remaining bugs. The Mavericks update also improves Safari's AutoFill feature and further enhances support for SMB2 file sharing protocols.
Because of the nature of the SSL flaw, I highly recommend that all Mac users who are running OS X Lion, Mountain Lion, or Mavericks install these updates right away.
The updates are available from the Mac App Store (click the Updates tab); you can also download them directly from the links above.