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#828: Improve Gmail in Apple Mail, Reboot Your iPhone, RAM Allocation


Hello all,

It’s another week of dangerously hot weather in the central part of the country and it’s unseasonably stupidly hot here as well, with no end in sight (at least until later this week)! If you live in the middle part of the country please take care.

I received a bunch of good-natured emails after last week’s column, the general thrust of which was “Ha. You aren’t old enough to talk about the good old days.” There were some great insights into the nature of the good old days as well, which maybe I will revisit here at a later date. I may not be the oldest person in the world, but my next big birthday is going to put a 5 in my tens column and mark a point where I might (just might) start to consider myself to be middle-aged. I remember moon landings and the oil embargo of 1973. I remember the floods of 1972 here, and Richard Nixon resigning.

I also remember when there were no personal computers, no internet, and no awareness in the mass consciousness that we were on the edge of a radical and widespread change in the way humans perceive and interact with the world. No idea that in the next twenty years everything would change for hundreds of millions of people. It’s often said the advent of this new era of wonder has made the world smaller, much like the telegraph and telephone did earlier. I suppose I understand that, but from my perspective—that of a kid growing up in a small town in an era when that meant your world was small already—it has gotten a lot bigger and has shown itself to be more wondrous and richer than I could possibly have imagined back there in the “good old days.”

Thanks for reading.


  Reboot a Frozen iPhone  

This past weekend a friend of mine posted a frantic status on Facebook that his phone would not power on no matter what he did. We typically have a few people come to the service desk here in South Burlington every week with a similar problem. Nearly all of these phones are brought back to life by a very simple two button reboot process.

Hold the power button (the one at the top) and the home button (the one on the face of the phone) both down until you see the Apple logo on the screen. Depending on the status of your battery, you may need to plug the phone in for this to work. In cases where the phone either has a fully drained battery or has crashed this should get it rebooted.

  Improve Gmail in Apple Mail  

Are you one of the 425 million people in the world who have a Gmail account? If so, you’ve likely become accustomed to one of the best email experiences today that you can get for free. However, there may be some tips I can impart to improve your Gmail experience on your Mac.

We all know how great Gmail’s web interface is, but there are some great benefits to accessing your Gmail account via Apple’s Mail app. For example, have you ever wanted to reference an old message but not had access to the internet? Apple’s Mail application can store a local copy of all your messages, providing access to email without an internet connection. Google has a great knowledge base article on how to set up your Gmail account with Apple’s Mail app here.

Once your Gmail account is configured, you’ll be presented with an inbox identical to the inbox you have at However, there are some key changes I’d recommend in order to keep everything about your Gmail email (it rhymes!) in sync.

After adding your Gmail account to Mail, you will note that a Gmail category has been added to Mail’s left-hand sidebar. Underneath that, you’ll probably have a couple mailboxes/mail folders with the first one labeled . Click on the disclosure triangle to the left in order to disclose the contents. What you’re seeing under the Gmail category is every folder that’s synced to Gmail’s servers. Under the [Gmail] mailbox, you’ll see Sent, Trash, and Drafts. It’s important to click on each of these, one at a time, and click Mailbox in the menu bar and click Use this mailbox for… Then, choose the appropriate type (Sent, Trash, etc.). This will keep everything you do in sync with Gmail’s servers, as well as other devices you check your email on.

Next, you’ll want to go to, log in, and get to Gmail’s settings. Here, you can click on Labels. You’ll see System labels and Labels, all of which will have a Show in IMAP checkbox option. If you want to tidy up Mail’s left-hand sidebar or if you simply don’t care to utilize some of Gmail’s built in label/mailbox/mail folders, then you can simply uncheck a label such as Important or All Mail.

Google services are great, but I hope I’ve relayed some info that might make your Gmail experience on your Mac a bit better. Stay tuned for more Google-Mac-integration themed tips in the future!

  Breakdown of RAM Allocation  

One frequent question we encounter with regard to performance and speed is “how much RAM do I need?” While increased RAM will help significantly in some cases, RAM is not always the bottleneck contributing to the performance deficit you are working through. How do you then determine if more RAM will help you and your computer? The Activity Monitor application has several wonderful tabs built in. These tabs include Mass Storage Usage, Network Throughput and Memory Allocation.

In Activity Monitor, select the Memory tab toward the bottom of the application window. Listed in a few columns with a corresponding pie chart will be the RAM usage of your Mac, broken into several different categories. To begin with, in the lefthand column, there are five main listings: Free, Wired Active, Inactive and Used. “Free” is the amount of addressable RAM in your computer not currently allocated to any process. The second item, “Wired,” is the amount of RAM that cannot be moved to mass storage because it’s being used by the system.

Next in the list is Active RAM; Active is the data in the RAM recently used. Inactive RAM is RAM that contains information from applications or processes that have been ended. This RAM is available to the System, but if the application which parented this wired RAM should be reopened, it would become Active again and its information would not need to be reloaded from mass storage. Used is the sum of the four previous categories of RAM in the machine; Used plus Free should equal the total RAM installed in the computer.

The second column contains how much data from RAM has been written elsewhere—or Virtual Memory. In this column, the one statistic that will alert you to the need for more RAM is Page outs. Page outs are the total number of times the System has written contents of RAM to mass storage because there was inadequate RAM in the system.

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