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#962: Moore's Law; Maximize Your Memory; App Tabs


Hello Fellow Technophiles,

Technology moves faster and faster every day. The power of a processor continues to grow relatively close to the rate predicted by Intel founder Gordon Moore in 1965. This prediction, now known as Moore’s Law, stated that the number of transistors in an integrated circuit would double every year for at least a decade. When the decade was up, the prediction was downsized to doubling every two years. This rate has held up remarkably well for forty years. At this point, however, we are hitting the limits of the materials themselves and this trend is unlikely to continue indefinitely. Nevertheless, machines will still continue to gain in processing power as multiple chips are utilized and software is optimized for specific tasks.

Apple is one of the leading innovators in computing and they continue to upgrade and improve all of their product line. Because of this, there is always something more powerful on the horizon. We are often asked by customers whether they should buy the current model or wait for the next one. My advice is usually to buy the current model as the other option can extend the decision to purchase indefinitely. Why only wait for the next one when the one after that will be even MORE powerful? Or why not the one after that or the one after that? As you can see, this quickly turns into turtles all the way down and you will never buy anything new.

Another good reason to move on to a new computer is that Apple only makes replacement parts for a limited time period. After five years a machine is marked as vintage and after seven years it is marked as obsolete. In California and Turkey only, vintage products can be repaired. Everywhere else you cannot get hardware service from an Apple Authorized Service Provider, such as Small Dog, on either vintage or obsolete products. This means that the late 2011 15-inch and 17-inch MacBook Pro will be marked vintage soon, so if you have this model and there has been an issue, now is the time to get it looked at.

See Apple’s list of vintage and obsolete products here.

Thanks for reading!


  Slowing Down: Part 3  

Over my last two Tech Tails articles I’ve armed you with information about system performance related to memory. We discussed what RAM is, the different categories of memory in macOS and how they are used by the operating system. We later looked at how you can investigate and monitor your memory resources with Activity Monitor, a very useful tool built right into macOS. It is frustrating when your Mac takes longer and longer to boot up, applications take much longer to launch, or when your mouse pointer becomes the dreaded rotating color wheel AKA “spinning beach ball of death.” Depending on your Mac’s current workload even common tasks can temporarily overtax your Mac’s memory resources.

For my final installment of this series I will share a few tips for ways to relieve and free up memory which can help get that youthful spring back into your Mac.

One of the first things you can try and the simplest, is to reduce the number of applications you have open at once, as well as the number of things you have open in those applications. Having multiple documents open in MS Word, or several Google browser tabs adds to the program’s memory usage. Be selective about what apps you download and use. Install what you need as less apps tends to mean less possible processes running.

Conserve memory by switching to more efficient alternatives to the applications you use and remember to quit them when complete. Web browsers in particular and some more than other (Google Chrome I am looking at you..) will often consume more memory than needed the longer they are left open as the past web pages visited are stored in memory. Quitting and reloading a web browser can often free up memory.

Every file on your desktop is a window with an image in it, either an icon or a preview of the file. Each of those windows and their contents are stored in RAM so that when you switch to the Desktop or use QuickLook, your Mac can show you what’s in the window. In other words: the more files you have on your desktop, the more data that is stored in RAM. This could result in your Mac running more slowly, especially if your Mac’s memory is already under pressure. Organize files properly in the appropriate user folders: Documents, Pictures, Movies, etc. and you may see an improvement in the speed of your Mac.

Dashboard widgets can provide quick and easy access to all kinds of useful features but adding too many widgets to your Dashboard can put your Mac’s memory under pressure. If your Dashboard is starting to look cluttered, then ask yourself whether you really use all of these widgets on an everyday basis. If you don’t, then you may want to remove them from the Dashboard.

Stop apps from launching automatically. Your Mac launches a series of programs each and every time it starts up and you login. Some of these programs are critical for the smooth operation of your system and others, not so much. Because such items can increase your Mac’s startup time (and may decrease its performance), you’ll want your machine to load only items that are useful to you. Open the Users & Groups pane of System Preferences and click the Login Items tab, and you’ll see a list of apps and even files and folders that open every time you log in. This list is different for each user account on your Mac. Click an unwanted program from the “Item” list and then click the minus button. Repeat this step to remove additional programs from the startup list as needed.

By default, when you restart your Mac running macOS 10.7 or later, it reopens whatever applications and documents that were open when you logged out, restarted, or shut down. If you’re in the habit of doing any of these without closing anything first, then you may want to tell your Mac not to bother restoring anything the next time you log in. To start with a clean slate every time when logging out, restarting, or shutting down, in the dialog box that appears, if the “Reopen windows when logging back in” checkbox is selected, the items will reopen; if not, they won’t. However, you must make this decision before you shut down or restart, and it’s an all or nothing option. If you want to open only specific items, you’ll have to uncheck this box and add the items that you want to open at login to “Login Items.”

Another feature starting with macOS 10.7 or later is Resume, a feature that automatically re-launches applications in the state you left them. Resume is one of the handiest features on the Mac, especially for those of us who like to pick back up in our favorite browser right where we left off. While this feature can be useful, all those extra tabs or windows can have a negative impact on your Mac’s memory. If you don’t want Resume automatically re-launching applications in the state you left them in when last used, you can stop it from doing so. To prevent apps from launching with multiple documents or tabs already open, go to your System Preferences” and select General > Close windows when quitting an app. This too is an all or nothing option like stopping apps from launching automatically.

Reboot your computer. Yes, this can be a very inconvenient fix when you are in the middle of working but can be truly helpful. Reason is, after your computer has been running for a while and swapping lots of things in and out of memory, or after a program has crashed, small errors can snowball into bigger glitches. The RAM storage itself can get fragmented, or stalled background processes can begin to interfere with running tasks. Rebooting the computer clears out everything from RAM, stops all running processes, reloads the OS and brings things back to square one. Yes, macOS is more resilient than in days of old, but the need to reboot has not gone away entirely. If your Mac hasn’t been restarted in several weeks, it’s time.

If after all your efforts managing your memory you still are not seeing improvements in performance then the next step would be to upgrade your physical memory. Many Macs support the upgrade of their RAM after purchase (this does not include most newer Mac computers, however). When it comes to adding system memory, the general rule of thumb is, the more, the better. On average, doubling the amount of memory in your system will give you ample space to work and will make an obvious difference in overall speed. This is especially true with today’s memory-hungry applications such as MS Office programs, Adobe multimedia editing packages, and graphic-intensive games. More memory allows you to run more programs at once, and your favorite programs will be easier to use.

To figure out what memory is compatible with your Mac, give us a call or email us with your serial number:

Our knowledgeable staff will be more than happy to assist you in selecting the correct memory for your Mac model as well as provide services for installing it safely and properly for you.

Until next time: Happy Computing!

  Use Tabs in Apps in Sierra  

We’ve all become accustomed to opening web pages in separate tabs in Safari, Google Chrome, and Firefox. In OS X 10.9 Mavericks, Apple gave us the capability to open different folders in tabs in Finder windows, making it easy to work in multiple folders with limited screen real estate.

In macOS 10.12 Sierra, Apple has gone one step further, building tab support system wide so you can open windows in tabs in most Mac apps. Tab support is ‘free’ in apps, developers don’t need to do anything to support it and you won’t need to download an update to take advantage of it in most of your apps. So how do you get started with tabs and how can you use them in your everyday work?

First, to determine whether Sierra was able to add tab support to a particular app, look in the app’s View and Window menus. If you see View > Show Tab Bar and tab-related commands in the Window menu you’re good to go.

Next, if Show Tab Bar doesn’t have a checkmark in the View menu, choose it to reveal the tab bar, which appears between the app’s main toolbar and the document itself. You’ll see a tab for the current document or window, and (in most apps) a + button at the right side of the tab bar.

One final setup step: By default, documents open in separate windows. To make them open in tabs, open System Preferences> Dock, and choose always from the Prefer tabs when opening documents pop-up menu. This setting applies to both existing documents and those you create by choosing File > New. Now that you have everything configured, here is what you can do:

Create a new, empty tab:

Click the + button in the tab bar

Move between tabs:

1. Click the desired tab
2. Choose Window > Show Next Tab or Show Previous Tab
3. Press the control-tab (next) or control-shift-tab (previous) keyboard shortcuts
4. Choose Window > Tab Name

Merge multiple windows into tabs in one window:

1. Drag a document’s tab from one window’s tab bar to the tab bar window in another window
2. Choose Window > Merge All Windows

Move a tab to it’s own window:

1. Drag the tab out of it’s tab bar until it becomes a thumbnail of the document
2. Choose Window > Move Tab to New Window

Rearrange the order of the tabs:

Drag a tab to the desired position

Close a tab:

1. Hover over the tab to see the X button at the left side of the tab; click the X
2. Choose File > Close Tab
3. Press Command-W

Getting used to tabs may require a little adjustment, but if you configure your Mac to always prefer tabs when opening documents, using tabs will quickly become second nature just as it likely did for you in web browsers.

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