The 3 Essentials for iPad/iPhone and Mac users

It appears that spring has sprung!  This week I begin my spring quarter teaching at Clark College and in preparing for my classes (7 of them!) I am reviewing and freshening my curriculum.

I have taught iPad/iPhone and Mac classes for about 5 years now and have learned a few things (mostly the hard way).  In addition, in my previous career at HP I found myself frequently making presentations about complex topics.  Both of these endeavors taught me to  summarize very complex topics into easy to understand, bite-sized chunks.  I was taught early on that teaching facts or summarizing complexity often works well in sets of 3.  3 key facts, 3 summary points, 3 aspects of an issue, etc.

I would like to offer you 3 summary points from my spring quarter classes.  These are 3 essentials that every user should practice on a regular basis.  They should be committed to memory and be a natural part of your interaction with your devices.

The 3 Essentials for iPad and iPhone users:

(The first two involve iCloud.  If you do not have an iCloud account, you should get one.  Go to Settings > iCloud on your device to set one up):

  • iCloud Backup.  Make sure you are backing up to iCloud on a regular basis.  Check your last backup time/date in Settings > iCloud on a regular basis (at least weekly).  Backup is a mission critical activity.  Using your device without a backup is like driving your car without a seat belt: it can be done but it can be very dangerous.  If your iCloud backup is working like it should, your device should backup automatically when it is charging, on Wi-Fi and locked (the screen is black but the device is on).
  • Find my iPad / iPhone.  Make sure this is enabled in Settings > iCloud.  If your device is lost or stolen this may be the only way to find it.  To find it either go to on a computer (any computer) or use the free “Find iPhone” app on another iOS device.  There you can erase your device, display a message on the lost device or have it play a sound.
  • Restart your device regularly.  iPads and iPhones are computers.  They need to be restarted on a regular basis (at least weekly).  Also, if something is not working as it should, your knee-jerk reaction should be to restart it and try again.  Restart is the miracle drug for computers.

The 3 Essentials for Mac users:

These are similar to the ones above and, of course, I will lead off with backup - the most important thing you should do with any computing device.

  • Backup your Mac and check that the backup is working every week.  Time Machine backup software is built into every modern Mac and it is easy to setup and automatic in its operation.  You just need to buy an external hard drive (I like Western Digital’s Passport series) or Apple’s excellent Time Capsule (a Wi-Fi router with a backup drive inside for backups that happen automatically when you are on your home Wi-Fi).
  • Quit apps properly.  In most cases, clicking the red dot does NOT quit an app.  If you are trying to quit apps by clicking the red in the upper left of a window you are doing it WRONG.  The proper way to fully quit an app is one of the followin
    1. Right click the app’s icon on the Dock and choose Quit.
    2. Click on the name of the app (next to the Apple menu in the upper left) and choose Quit.
    3. Use the keyboard shortcut - command-Q

If you do not quit apps properly, they continue to run, taking precious memory and processor power and generally slowing your Mac.

  • Restart our Mac regularly.  It needs to be restarted on a regular basis (at least weekly).  Also, if something is not working as it should, your knee-jerk reaction should be to restart it and try again.

There you have it - the three key take-aways from my classes this spring.  Of course I will teach many, many more things, but these are the 3 that I want my students to commit to memory and put into practice because of attending my classes.