Frequently Asked Questions
Listed below are some of the questions I get asked on a regular basis so I thought I would add a Frequently Asked Questions page for your convenience.
Can’t find the answer to your question? Feel free to email me or go to my Contact page for more contact information.
Question: My printer/wireless/mouse/something else isn’t working. What should I do?
Like most electronic devices, the first port of call when something isn’t working correctly is to try the “simple fix first”. And with computers and devices the same can be said. So if something is playing up or not working as it should be, just give the computer a restart. (Click the Apple logo in the top left corner and choose “Restart…”) - you’ll be surprised at how many things this simple trick can correct.
In fact they made a whole segment about this in a British TV show called The IT Crowd - “have you tried turning it off and on again”
Question: How do I find out information about my computer?
When upgrading or changing computers, sometimes there is certain information required to help get some information about your current setup. Or if installing RAM (on older models), then the version of computer is required.
You can get this option by doing the following.
1. To find your Apple model, click on the Apple menu () in the top left, and choose “About this Mac”. On the new pop up window it will show which version of macOS you’re running (eg High Sierra 10.13.x, Mojave 10.14.x, Catalina 10.15.x etc) and which model it is (eg iMac (Late 2012), MacBook Pro 15-inch (Late 2012), iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, 2017 etc). Also on the window you’ll see how much RAM (Memory) you have (eg 16GB 1600MHz DDR3, 8GB 1333MHz, 32GB 2400MHz DDR4 etc). - RAM amount (and speed) and machine model are useful.
2. If you click “System Report”, you’ll then get some further information under Hardware Overview. Normally the one required is the Model Identifier. This will be something like iMac12,1 or MacBookPro11,2 etc).
3. **Most Important** Is finding your hard drive capacity. There are two ways to do this as follows -
3a. To find your hard drive capacity or space used, you can right click (or Command-Click) on “Macintosh HD” (or the hard drive) and choose from the drop down menu “Get Info”. You’ll then see “Capacity” (eg 1TB, 500GB etc) and “Used” (eg 323GB or 273GB).
3b. Go to Apple menu in top left corner and choose “About this Mac”. Then click on “Storage” in the middle of the pop up window. You’ll then see something like xGB available of xGB (or TB). e.g. 150GB available of 500GB. Note these two figures.
This information can be very useful when trying to get details to someone about your computer.
Question: How do I take a “snapshot” of something on my screen?
You have two options to take a picture of your screen.
(1) If you want a picture of everything on your screen then you press the following key combination – Command+Shift+3
(2) If you want a picture of a specific area then you press the following key combination – Command+Shift+4. This presents a crosshair on the screen (+) You drag this “box” around the area you want to take the picture of.
Both this pictures will appear on your Desktop with the file name of “Screen Shot <date-time>”
Question: How do I Zap The PRAM? (And what is it and why would I do this?)
(The Parameter RAM (or PRAM) is a little chunk of memory that doesn’t get erased when the power goes off. Your Mac stores things like the current day, time, and which printer is chosen in that memory. Sometimes it becomes corrupt and can cause problems.)
To do this:-
1) Choose Restart from the Apple Menu ()
2) Straight away hold down the Command-Option-P-R Keys (Stretch those fingers!)
3) Keep the keys hold down until you hear the normal startup chime about 1-3 times. (On later machines, you won’t hear a chime).
4) Release the keys.
Question: How do I do an SMC reset?
Sometimes if certain things are playing up (battery, power issues, USB port issues etc) there can be a slight problem with what is called the System Management Controller (SMC), so doing a reset of this can help things run as they should. It differs for each model of computer, but it’s fairly easy to do.
For more information this Apple article has all the steps. - How to reset the SMC of your Mac
Question: How to do a “Safe Boot”?
Sometimes if the computer is playing up, or something isn’t working as it should you may be required to do what is called a “Safe Boot”. This prevents other software launching while the computer starts up, and also allows it to delete some system caches that are re-created again on restart.
To do a Safe Boot, you do the following :-
1. Power off your computer first. (If the computer has locked up you can hold down the Power button for 10-15 seconds until it stops running.
2. Hold down the Shift key on the keyboard then turn the computer on.
3. Keep the Shift Key held down until you see the Apple logo. Once it gets to this stage, you can then release the key.
4. Let the computer start up and go through the processes it needs to do. Sometimes this can take quite a while and you may see strange graphic displays on screen.
5. After it’s started up, let it sit for about a minute. Then choose Restart from the Apple Menu ()
It will then start up as per normal. And all going well things should work normally.
Question: What is Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi + Cellular?
Generally if you’re looking to buy an iPad, you’ll be asked if you want it Wi-Fi Only or Wi-Fi+Cellular. If you’re unsure what this means, it’s listed below:-
Every iPad can connect to the Internet through a high-speed Wi-Fi network, like the wireless internet router in your home or the wireless hotspots you can find in a café, school library or airport. (Or via wireless hotspot on your iPhone). There are hotspots all over the world, and iPad finds them automatically.
Wi-Fi + Cellular model
If you’re in a place where there is no Wi-Fi, iPad with Wi-Fi + Cellular models let you stay connected to fast mobile data networks practically anywhere you go. So you can continue to browse the web, send and receive mail, get directions and more. To use a mobile data network, simply insert an activated carrier SIM card or purchase a mobile data plan. These types of Cellular network then allow you to use 3G, 4G and 5G networks (depending on device) anywhere around the world. SIM plans normally come with an allocated data amount for you to use - you can then top it up or just be aware of extra costs if you go over the limit they provide.
Question: What does USB-C and “Normal USB” mean? And using both on newer model devices.
A lot of the new range of devices all now come with USB-C, including some iPads, iMac, Mac mini, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. So if you have older devices that just have “normal USB” then it won’t plug into your new computer with out some form of adapter. There is quite a range, so I have a bit more information available here.
Question: How do I set a Background Picture in Mac OS X?
If you have downloaded a picture or have something you want to use as your background it is very easy to change. Go to System Preferences and choose “Desktop & Screen Saver”. Where the current picture is, near the top left, drag and drop your new Desktop picture into the “well”
Question: How can I have a screen saver on my computer like the AppleTV?
If you’ve ever seen the AppleTV screen saver work when it’s not being used, it has some awesome photography from around the world. Previously this was only available on the AppleTV. Now you can have something similar on your Apple computer. It’s a screen saver called “Aerial”, and it’s free.
You can get it from here.
Some ‘OPTION’ key helpful hints!
(The ‘Apple’ Key also known as the ‘Command’ key)
Option + click on desktop or other application = hides the current application after switch
Option + About this Mac = System Information
Option + empty trash = trashes locked items without asking
Option + collapse window = collapses all windows
Option + dragging item to another directory or desktop = copy to new location
Option + Apple + Escape = Force Quit
Option + Apple + P + R at Start up = Zaps the PRAM
Option + Apple + Power = Force Sleep
Option + Apple + Power + Shift = Force Shutdown
Option + Apple + Mouse Drag = Create Alias where mouse button is released
© MacWizardry, 2023. Some images and illustrations may be copyright of their respective owners. Ownership of images and illustrations is neither inferred or implied. All information is provided “in good faith”.