The Mac Questions I Get Asked The Most

Between this column, my blog, and my work with a Mac users group, I get asked a lot of questions. Some I can answer and some I can’t. The ones I can’t answer are usually related to, “What’s wrong with my computer?” My answer to that one is easy. I don’t know - God gave me children to fix my computer.

The ones I can answer usually start with, “How do I…..”, or “Should I…..” Those are the fun ones and a few come up over and over. Following are some of those questions and my answers. Feel free to share your own.

I’ve never owned a computer. Should I buy a computer or an iPad?

Answer: What do you want to do with it? 

If you want to send and receive email, shop the internet, read books, and maybe play some games the iPad may be all you need. But how good is your eyesight? Check out the size of the iPad screen before you decide. Do you have a good place to set it up? You don’t want to be holding it all the time. Do you travel a lot? An iPad is great for that.

Before you buy an iPad learn about the different sizes 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB. And there is also the issue of Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi plus 3G (iPad 2) or 4G (new iPad). With Wi-Fi only you must be somewhere where there is Wi-Fi available to get on the internet. With Wi-Fi plus cellular you always have internet connection but you have to pay for a cellular plan just like you do for a cell phone. 

If you want to do all the things mentioned for the iPad, plus write books, create cards, manage your accounts, learn film making, chat with friends all over the world, modify photos, do your taxes, make free phone calls, and a hundred of other things you may have not even thought of, then you should get a Mac. You can technically do all these things on an iPad, too, but you can do them more easily on a Mac.

If you haven’t a clue which one to get, ask a Mac friend to help you decide. And don’t forget to consider secondhand ones. Macs have long lives.

How do I make my scanner work with my Mac?  

 Answer: The very best thing to do is ignore all the directions for the scanning software that came with your scanner. It doesn’t matter what brand it is. It doesn’t matter if it is just a scanner or a combination machine (like an all-in-one printer). Just ignore those directions, because they seldom seem to work. That said, do make sure the scanner you’re buying supports the Mac.

Then when you are ready to scan, open up the app Preview on your Mac. It comes with your operating system. Once you have Preview open choose File Import from Scanner your scanner.

Select Import from Scanner to find your scanner

The Preview scanner window will open. The page you have set to scan will appear. You highlight the portion you want saved in the scan, and make necessary adjustments in the column on the right. Hit the Scan button and you have a scan saved to your desktop. 

Pages scan window

The whole process just makes me giddy because it is so easy.

Is there any way to send a big bunch of pictures to someone without emailing them one by one?

Answer: Absolutely. Easy way number one is to use iChat. If you both have an iChat ID you just put all those pictures in a folder and drag and drop that folder into the field that you use to enter text. (If you don’t know how to use iChat send me an email—use the link on my name at the top of this column—and I will send you a training handout that tells you how to set it up).

Add a folder to iChat

Easy way number two is to use Dropbox. Dropbox is free and works cross platform so your unenlightened friends who don’t use Macs can still get your pictures from Dropbox. If you are not familiar with it check it out. The other person doesn’t have to have Dropbox because you will just give them a URL where they can get what you are sending. 

I want to shop online but I hear such horror stories. Is it really safe?

Answer: It’s safe if you take precautions. After all, millions of people do it and if it wasn’t working they wouldn’t be doing it. Here are some suggestions for protecting yourself. 

If you get an email promoting something you want to purchase, go to the company website instead of clicking on any URL included in the email. That way you know it is not a scam.

Many people I know never use their bank debit cards to make purchases on line because that is where they have the most funds. Rather they get a separate credit card that they only use for making purchases on-line. It is easier to monitor charges and easier to catch any problems. Credit cards from reputable companies are watching out for you. I got a call from one of mine one day asking if I had ordered anything from a small country in southeast Asia. When I said that I had not, they immediately cancelled that card and issued me a new one. They caught it because the criminals had tested the waters by putting through a small charge to see if it would get through.

I hope this answers a question or two that you might have.  Feel free to send me others if you are looking for answers.