Mac users: If you’re still holding out, should you upgrade to El Capitan?

BANNER Apple Mac OS X El Capitan 640x400

BANNER Apple Mac OS X El Capitan 640x400Apple released OS X 10.11 El Capitan in September 2015, with the promise of “refining the experience and improving performance in lots of little ways.” That’s marketing speak for “you may not notice hardly any difference.” But just because the changes are minor doesn’t make the decision to upgrade any easier. Here’s why.

For the most part, El Capitan hasn’t caused compatibility problems, and most of those that did crop up immediately have been resolved…

On the one hand, you shouldn’t worry about El Capitan’s new features being hard to learn. Split View is the only truly new feature, and by merely clicking and holding the green zoom button in a window, you can assign it to a side of your screen, after which you can pick another window to occupy the other half. Other new features, such as expanded Spotlight searches, the shake-to-zoom feature for finding the lost pointer, more swipe gestures in Mail, the capability to mute tabs in Safari and pin other tabs so they can’t be closed accidentally, and an all-new Notes app, are all easy to figure out and at least moderately useful.

On the other hand, if whatever version of OS X you’re using now is working fine, why mess with it? If it ain’t broke… For the most part, El Capitan hasn’t caused compatibility problems, and most of those that did crop up immediately have been resolved, either by updates from other developers or by subsequent minor updates, which fixed nasty crashing problems experienced by Microsoft Office 2016 users.

Nevertheless, upgrading to El Capitan may require you to update many of your applications, and if you’re relying on a significantly older version of expensive software, like Adobe Creative Suite, it’s hard to justify even a free operating system upgrade if it comes with lots of hidden app upgrade costs.

Here, then, is the answer. First, don’t upgrade until you’ve talked it over with whoever helps you with technical problems you can’t solve on your own. (If you purchased your Mac from Connecting Point, call or drop in to talk it over with us.) There’s never any harm in waiting for Apple and other developers to fix more bugs.

But you will have to upgrade eventually, and that’s particularly true if you use an iPhone or iPad running iOS 9 and want to sync Notes between them. An El Capitan upgrade will also give you certain useful features in the included Apple apps, such as geotagging and editing extensions in Photos, and transit directions in Maps. And if something were to happen to your Mac and you had to buy a new one, it would come with El Capitan, so you don’t want to be caught flat-footed with incompatible software and a looming deadline.

So yes, do upgrade to El Capitan once you’ve been given the go-ahead by your tech, and do it on your own terms and your own schedule. It’s not hard, but if you’re anxious about it, an ebook called Take Control of Upgrading to El Capitan will walk you through the entire process.

TUTORIAL: How to launch apps from your Mac’s keyboard with Spotlight

ICON Mac OS X SpotlightThere are oodles of ways to launch apps in OS X. You can double-click an app in the Applications folder, click an app icon in the Dock, invoke Launchpad and click the desired app, or choose an app from the Apple menu’s Recent Items > Applications submenu. You can even add commonly used apps to the toolbar of Finder windows by Command-dragging them up there.

But what if you don’t want to take your hands off the keyboard? Is there any way to open an app without touching the mouse or trackpad? Indeed there is, courtesy of Spotlight.

You’re probably familiar with Spotlight as a search tool, both for finding files and folders on your Mac, and for ferreting out information on the Internet (in OS X 10.11 El Capitan, Spotlight can even find weather forecasts, sports scores, and stock prices). But what you may not realize is that among the files that Spotlight can find are all the apps on your Mac, and you can launch them with just a few keys. Follow these steps:

  1. Press Command-Space to display the Spotlight window.
  2. Begin typing an app’s name, such as “ac” for Activity Monitor. For apps whose names have multiple words, you can type the first letter of each, as in “ic” for Image Capture. And if an app name is a single InterCapped word, it’s fine to enter just the capitalized letters, as in “ft” for FaceTime. Spotlight searches, and while it should be nearly instantaneous, if it doesn’t show the app you want at first, give it a few seconds.Activity Monitor detail
  3. If the app you want to launch is highlighted as the top hit, press Return to launch it. If it’s not the top hit, you can either continue typing to narrow the search or arrow down to it in the list, and then press Return.

That’s all there is to it! As you might guess, you can use the same technique to open documents or even System Preferences panes.

Cleverly, Spotlight is adaptive so if the first time you type “ac” it suggests Adobe Content Viewer, once you select Activity Monitor instead, it will know that “ac” should open Activity Monitor in the future.

On the downside, Spotlight isn’t always as fast as you might like, and while it guesses relatively well, you may find that its conception of what an app is called doesn’t always match with what you want to type.

So give Spotlight a try, and if you find that you like launching apps from the keyboard but want the best possible experience, try one of the four excellent keyboard launcher utilities on the Mac: Alfred, Butler, LaunchBar, or QuickSilver. Alfred and QuickSilver are both free, whereas Butler costs $20 and LaunchBar—the most powerful and popular of the pack, is $29.

TUTORIAL: How to sign PDFs using OS X’s Preview app

Although a fully paperless office remains tantalizingly in the future, we get closer all the time. For many people, one of the most annoying uses of paper is the signature dance. You know how it goes—someone sends you a document via email that you need to sign, so you print it out and sign it. Then you have to figure out how to send it back: scan and email, run through the fax machine, or pop it in an envelope and mail it. There’s a better way, and it’s been built in to every copy of OS X since 10.7 Lion.

That’s right, the app you use to look at PDFs and images on the Mac boasts a feature that makes the signature dance a thing of the past.

You’ve likely used this surprisingly powerful program many times over the years: Preview. That’s right, the app you use to look at PDFs and images on the Mac boasts a feature that makes the signature dance a thing of the past. First, you create an image of your signature using either your Mac’s camera or its trackpad. Then you can drop that signature image into any PDF with just a couple of clicks, save the file, and email it back.

Follow these steps in Preview in OS X 10.11 El Capitan (earlier versions of OS X are similar):

  • Open the PDF you need to sign in Preview.
  • Click the Toolbox icon Preview app icon in the toolbar to reveal Preview’s markup tools.
  • Click the Signature icon: image02
  • To use the trackpad to make your signature, click Click Here to Begin, and start signing. Press any key when you’re done. Honestly, this is hard to do with a finger—click Clear to try again—so if you have a rubber-tipped iPad stylus, use that to make the writing easier. Click Done once you have a signature you like.
  • For an easier method, sign your name using a thick black marker on a white piece of paper that’s blank on the back. Then click Camera and hold your paper up to the camera. You can keep moving it around until the entire signature fits in the window and isn’t angled oddly. Once Preview captures it, click Done.image01
  • To sign the current PDF and any others in the future, click the Signature icon again and click your signature to insert it as a graphic that you can move around in the document and resize to fit into the appropriate space.image05

That’s it—you now have your own digital signature stamp! One final tip. You can create and insert multiple signatures, and while the authorities frown on forgery, Preview makes it easy for an assistant to affix the boss’s signature to documents that don’t need the real thing.

12 Days of Savings | DAY 4 (Wed., Dec 16th): $40 Off Apple Magic Trackpad

Connecting Point's 12 DAYS OF SAVINGS - DAY 4: $40 Off Apple Magic Trackpad

Connecting Point's 12 DAYS OF SAVINGSConnecting Point's 12 DAYS OF SAVINGS - DAY 4: $40 Off Apple Magic Trackpad12 DAYS OF SAVINGS | DAY 4 – Wednesday, December 16th:
Apple Magic Trackpad $40 Off
(Previous generation #MC380LL/A – Reg. $69.99 SALE $29.99)

The Apple Magic Trackpad is the first Multi-Touch trackpad designed to work with your Mac desktop computer. It supports the full set of Apple gestures, so you can click, scroll, swipe, and rotate to control what’s onscreen. Magic Trackpad is made with smooth glass that feels great to the touch. And because it sits at the same height and angle as the Apple Wireless Keyboard, you can go from trackpad to keyboard in one seamless motion. Magic Trackpad works using Bluetooth technology and is completely wireless. It normally retails for $69.99, but as today’s 12 Days of Savings special offer, they are only $29.99 – that’s $40 off!


This offer will be available all day Wednesday, December 16th, 2015, or while supplies last. Sorry, no rain checks.

12 Days of Savings | DAY 3 (Tues., Dec 15th): $30 Off Apple Wireless Keyboard

Apple Wireless Keyboard on sale for $30 off (reg. $69.99)

12Days-Header-GreenApple Wireless Keyboard on sale for $30 off (reg. $69.99)12 DAYS OF SAVINGS | DAY 3 – Tuesday, December 15th:
Apple Wireless Keyboard $30 Off
(Previous generation #MC184LL/B – Reg. $69.99 SALE $39.99)

The Apple Wireless Keyboard‘s ultra-compact size allows you to place your mouse comfortably next to your keyboard and fits on even the most crowded desk. It communicates with your Mac over a reliable, secure Bluetooth wireless connection. And advanced power management hardware and software extends the life of your AA batteries (included), giving you up to nine months of battery life (based on average usage patterns).


This offer will be available all day Tuesday, December 15th, 2015, or while supplies last. Sorry, no rain checks.

12 Days of Savings | DAY 2 (Mon., Dec 14th): $100 Off Apple Thunderbolt Display

Apple Thunderbolt Display on sale for $100 off regular $999.99 price

Apple Thunderbolt Display on sale for $100 off regular $999.99 priceMore than just a stunning 27-inch LED-backlit display, the Apple Thunderbolt Display is the ultimate docking station for Mac notebooks, the ideal second display for iMac, and the perfect match for Mac mini and Mac Pro. A Thunderbolt port, a FireWire 800 port, three USB 2.0 ports, and a Gigabit Ethernet port make it a plug-and-play hub for everything you do. The Apple Thunderbolt Display normally sells for $999.99. Today and today only, you can pick yours up for $899.99 — saving $100 in the process.

  • Thunderbolt I/O technology for lightning-fast data transfer and daisy-chaining up to six peripherals
  • Works with all Thunderbolt-enabled Mac computers, including MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iMac, Mac Pro, and Mac mini
  • 27-inch glossy LED-backlit widescreen display
  • 2560-by-1440 resolution
  • Thunderbolt port, FireWire 800 port, three USB 2.0 ports, and Gigabit Ethernet port
  • MagSafe connector that powers and charges your MacBook Pro or MacBook Air
  • Ambient light sensor
  • Built-in FaceTime HD camera and microphone
  • Built-in speaker system

This offer will be available all day Monday, December 14th, 2015, or while supplies last. Sorry, no rain checks.

Learn about this morning’s WWDC announcements in real time via Apple livestream, tech site liveblogs

Apple’s 2015 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) launches with a keynote this morning. Expect big announcements about the next versions of OS X and iOS, along with developer-centric news about the Swift programming language and a Software Development Kit (SDK) for the Apple Watch. You can read some educated guesses about additional announcements over on Ars Technica.

If you’d like to experience each technological bombshell as it lands, Apple will be broadcasting the keynote live on their site – but you’ll only be able to watch it in their Safari browser, running on either a Mac or an iOS device, or on a 2nd-generation or later Apple TV.

In addition, a number of tech and business sites will be liveblogging the event:

A roundup of this week’s new Apple product announcements

Apple Live Event October 16, 2014 - Watch it live

During yesterday morning’s special press event, Apple introduced a host of new products, along with some restructuring and repricing in their product lines (you can now get a new iPad for a little as $250, and a new Mac mini starts at just $500). Here are the highlights, along with availability information (as best we can determine—we will update this post as details emerge):

  • Apple iPad Air 2 familyiPad Air 2: The big splash was made by the debut of the iPad Air 2, a crazy-thin (just 6mm) iteration of its flagship full-sized tablet. It’s not only thinner, but faster, too. And you can now add a third color choice to the current Space Gray and Silver: Gold. The new color choice, along with the addition of TouchID, brings the iPad Air 2 in line with Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Prices start at $499.99. Available for pre-order immediately; we expect to begin filling orders in roughly two weeks. Find out more.
  • iPad Air: Yep, it’s sticking around—but it’ll cost you substantially less. Prices now start at $399.99. Available almost immediately. Find out more.
  • iPad mini 3: Similar specs to the original iPad mini 2, but now adds TouchID and the new Gold color choice. Available for pre-order immediately; we expect to begin filling orders in roughly two weeks. Find out more.
  • iPad mini 2 and iPad mini: Now cost much less than before. The Wi-Fi 16GB iPad mini, for example, now sells for $249.99—the lowest price ever offered for a new iPad. Available almost immediately. Find out more.

If you’re interested in a specific model iPad, contact us and we’ll get you the very latest availability and pricing.

Other announcements…

  • Apple iMac 27-inch running YosemiteiMac 27-inch with Retina 5K Display: The “5K” stands for “5000”—as in 5000+ pixels. The new flagship iMac boasts more than four times the pixels of its 27-inch brethren. That’s impressive enough, but the fact that it will sell for $2499.99—that’s just nuts. Most 4K standalone monitors sell for more than that. Basically, Apple’s throwing in a quad-core Mac with all the bells and whistles for free. Available for pre-order immediately; we expect to begin filling orders in roughly one week. Find out more.
  • Mac mini: The littlest Mac got a well-deserved, long-delayed makeover. The entry price point dropped a hundred bucks to $499.99—the lowest price ever for a new Mac. It now comes with two Thunderbolt 2 ports and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. Available for pre-order immediately; we expect to begin filling orders in roughly one week. Find out more.
  • OS X 10.10 Yosemite: The long-awaited major update to the Mac’s operating system looks to be an impressive one, with hundreds of new features and enhancements—and is available for free download immediately.