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Tech Tips For Your Mac Courtesy of OWC and MacSales.com

The following Tech Tips for your Mac are reprinted with permission from Rocket Yard Weekly, the terrific Blog sponsored by OWC and MacSales.com. For the latest postings from Rocket Yard, and to subscribe to their weekly newsletter visit: http://blog.macsales.com

 

Finding and Changing Your MAC Address in OSX

Friday, August 12th, 2016  |  Author: Steve Sande
Every network card in your Mac, whether it’s for Ethernet, Wi-Fi, or even Thunderbolt, has been assigned a unique identifier called a Media Access Control or MAC address. This address can be used to identify a specific computer when it’s on the Internet, so those individuals who are very concerned about privacy sometimes use what’s called “MAC address spoofing” to temporarily mask the MAC address of the computer they’re using. It’s rare, but it’s one of those things you might need to know someday.
Find the MAC address
First, let’s find the existing MAC address for the connection you’re most likely using — a Wi-Fi connection. This is quite simple; just hold down the Option key on your keyboard, then click on the Wi-Fi icon in the Mac menubar:

MacAdress 1

Using the option key and Wi-Fi icon to find the interface name and MAC address for Wi-Fi
This tells us a few things about the Mac we’re on. First, it’s using an interface with the name of en1 to connect to Wi-Fi. The MAC address is right below that interface name — in this case, it begins with the hexadecimal address 28:f0:76…and I’m going to stop right there because I don’t want to encourage hackers to break into my machine!
If you need to check the MAC address for other network devices, the System Information utility is very helpful. Launch it from Applications > Utilities > System Information, or from the Apple Menu > About This Mac > System Report. In either case, click on Network, then the specific network hardware you wish to find. On my iMac (see image below), the Ethernet card is listed as en0 with a MAC address beginning with 38:c9:86…

MacAddress 2

Use the System Information Utility to find other MAC addresses
You can also use the Terminal to find the current MAC address of an interface. Launch Terminal from the Applications > Utilities folder, then type in the command highlighted in yellow below, substituting the correct BSD Device Name (in this case, en1):

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Using Terminal to determine the MAC address of a network interface
Changing the MAC address
Here comes the fun part. Remember, there’s usually no reason for you to change the MAC address unless you have a specific reason to do so. Both of the methods I’m demonstrating here require the use of Terminal. If you’re not comfortable with the OS X command line, perhaps it’s not a good idea to play with MAC addresses…

First, let’s change the MAC address to a specific address. It needs to be twelve hexadecimal numbers in groups of two, separated by colons. For example, something like 14:d2:71:11:57:a6 would work.
Now at the Terminal prompt, (without the quotes) type in “sudo ifconfig en1 ether 14:d2:71:11:57:a6″ and press the return key. In this case, Terminal sets the MAC address of en1 (which is the Wi-Fi adapter in my iMac) to the address we selected.

The next method changed the MAC address to a randomly chosen address, which is probably the absolute best way to ensure your privacy. Once again in Terminal, type (or copy and paste) the following command, being sure to change the BSD Device Name (en1 or en0) to the interface you wish to change:
openssl rand -hex 6 | sed 's/\(..\)/\1:/g; s/.$//' | xargs sudo ifconfig en1 ether
In my example, that selects a random hexadecimal string that fits the required format and then passes that random string to ifconfig to set the MAC address.
Every time you run this command, it generates and sets a new MAC address for the chosen interface. Realize that any time you restart, the MAC addresses revert to the number originally assigned to the interface, so this is by no means permanent. Some privacy fans make this command a script, then have it run each time the Mac is rebooted. That gives them a new MAC address each time they start their computer.

One other thing: editing your MAC address may cause temporary network issues. It’s a good idea to restart that particular network connection after you change the MAC address to ensure a good connection. For Wi-Fi, that’s simple to do — just click the Wi-Fi menubar icon, select Turn Wi-Fi Off, wait a few seconds, then use the same menu to select Turn Wi-Fi On.

 

 

The OS X Utilities Every Mac User Should Know

December 2015  |  Author: Steve Sande

Whether you’re new to the platform or a seasoned veteran, there are some utility apps hidden away on your Mac that you should know about. These apps are all found in the Utilities folder that’s inside the Applications folder. To see the contents of the folder from the Finder, just  select Go > Utilities and you’ll see a bunch of helpful programs that can save the day when something appears to be going wrong. Here are our top five picks in alphabetical order.

Utilities1

Activity Monitor
At the top of our list is Activity Monitor, the “Mission Control” of your Mac. It monitors everything in real time, including CPU, memory, energy, disk and network activity.
Probably the most useful function — at least for me — is checking out CPU usage (the first tab). Sometimes you may find that your Mac is just acting sluggish for no reason; with a look at the list of processes, you can see just which process may be grabbing more of your computer’s processor power than the others. However, you’ll want to look at CPU usage over time – the screenshot above shows that Snapz Pro X (a screenshot utility) is hogging a lot of CPU, but that was only true while I was grabbing the screenshot. A webcam utility that is always running on my Mac (EvoCam) is the largest continuous user of processor power on my Mac.

Through the Network tab on Activity Monitor, it’s possible to find out what is using the most of your network bandwidth. On my Mac, for example, Dropbox, Slack, and Mail are big users. That makes sense, since Dropbox is always trying to keep things in sync with the cloud, and Slack and Mail are constantly being updated.

For those who use laptops, finding out which apps are the biggest energy hogs can make a big difference in how long your battery lasts. Click on the Energy tab, and you’ll see a list of the average energy impact of each app running on your Mac. I found that once again EvoCam was a real energy hog… which is why I run it on a desktop machine that’s always plugged in. Google Chrome was a surprisingly wasteful app compared to Safari, which sips power by comparison.
Finally, Activity Monitor is the one place where you can find out if something is truly wrong with your Mac. Under the “gear” menu there’s a selection for “Run System Diagnostics”. This takes a while to accomplish, but when it is done, a Finder window displays a gzipped folder full of results that tell you just how all of the subsystems of your Mac are running. On the negative side, you might need to be an Apple engineer to really be able to figure out what all of those results mean, but if you’re ever asked to run the OS X System Diagnostics, at least you know where they’re hidden.

AirPort Utility
This utility isn’t particularly useful unless you have an Apple AirPort Extreme or AirPort Express Wi-Fi router, but if you do, it’s one you want to keep in mind. Launching this app, the first thing you’ll see is “the Internet” and a graphical representation of your AirPort. Click on that AirPort, and you’ll see an informational display showing the network name, the external (Internet Service Provider) IP address, your LAN IP address, the serial number of the device and the firmware version it’s running. There’s also a list of every device that’s on the network by name or — in some cases — IP address.

Utilities2

Click the Edit button that appears in the lower right corner of the main informational display (seen above) and you can perform a huge number of tricks.

Want to change the name of your Base Station to “Rebel Base”? Do it in the Base Station tab. Want to set up Back to My Mac to access other Macs on your home or office network? Add your Apple ID and password on that Base Station tab for easy remote access. Use the Internet tab to set up options for your Internet connection, or the Wireless tab to change the name of your network, change or set up a password, and enable a guest network.

Sometimes it’s useful or even necessary to specifically open ports on your AirPort to allow certain Internet services to work properly. You can do that under the Network tab. Finally, you can connect a disk drive to the AirPort, then use the Disks tab to set view and set up partitions on that drive, then share the drive space with everyone on the network.

The AirPort Utility is also the first tool you should go to if your network goes down. A yellow light next to “Internet” or the AirPort icon on the main AirPort Utility window shows that your network may have issues, and you’ll get troubleshooting tips from the app that can help you determine if the problem is local or with your Internet Service Provider.

Disk Utility
While Disk Utility is a lot more limited in capability in OS X El Capitan than it had been in previous versions, it’s still a very useful utility. Most of the changes to Disk Utility in OS X El Capitan were due to Apple making some of the previous capabilities “invisible” to users — in other words, the operating system handles things that users had to do manually before.

Utilities3

The primary screen seen above shows the main internal drive of the Mac (“Macintosh HD”) and a colorful depiction of exactly how much of your drive is filled with apps, photos, audio, movies, and other information. Clicking on the actual drive (“Fusion Drive”) gives you the opportunity to create partitions; individual partitions can be assigned to specific functions and/or users if necessary, and appear to be a distinct logical drive to the utility.

Disk Utility is one of the utilities available from the Recovery Partition. If you ever need to sell or give away a Mac and wish to erase all of the data on the device, reboot while holding down Option-R, and the Mac boots into its Recovery Partition. It only has a few available applications — Disk Utility and Install OS X are the two most useful — and it’s possible to use Disk Utility to erase the drive, then Install OS X to install a fresh copy of the operating system onto the Mac.

Keychain Access
The keychain in OS X and iOS is quite important, as it allows you to securely store user IDs, passwords, and even secret notes in a password-protected file that is synced between all of your devices. Keychain Access is also a great place to look up passwords that you may have saved into the keychain but forgot.

In the image above, you can see that I have 525 items that are stored in the iCloud keychain — the one that is shared between all of my devices. A lot of these are “web form passwords” and “Internet passwords” associated with various websites that I’ve visited. To see what password I used with a particular site — especially one that I haven’t visited in a while — double-clicking one of the entries brings up a small dialog that shows the attributes of a specific entry. To view the password for the entry, check the “Show password” check box highlighted below. You’re asked to enter your administrator password, but when you do so, the password is revealed.

Utilities4

System Information
Finally, we’ll take a look at System Information. If there’s anything you ever want to know about your Mac hardware, this is the place to do it. Want to know what audio devices are connected to your Mac? Click on Audio. Bluetooth devices? Click on Bluetooth. Want to know what kind of graphic chipset you have in that iMac and what resolution your display is? See Graphics/Displays below.

Utilities5

You can even use System Information to help troubleshoot hardware issues. I recently sold a six-year-old iMac, and it was working perfectly when I shipped it to the new owner. When the new owner tried connecting to his Wi-Fi network, things didn’t work so well… I had him go into System Information and click on Wi-Fi. Sure enough, where System Information should have displayed an interface (the AirPort Extreme card built into the computer), there was nothing. We figured out that a connector had been loosened during shipment, and he’s now taking the iMac to a local repair facility to have it reconnected.
System Information can show you such an amazing amount of information; things like every Wi-Fi network that your Mac can “see”, every application installed on your Mac, a list of every font on the computer, and more. It’s worth going in just to look around, and you definitely can’t break anything since System Information doesn’t permit changes.

 

 

 

Five Quick Ways to Free Up Space On Your iPhone

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016  |  Author: OWC Jarrod

IPhone1

You’d be forgiven for thinking that by the year 2016, the base model iPhone would come with more than 16GB of storage. Unfortunately, many iPhone owners are still forced to pull juggling acts in order to keep their device from maxing out on storage.
But no matter how much storage your iPhone has, you can always use a bit more. We’ve compiled some of the easiest – and even some mysterious – ways that you can clear storage space so you have more room for photos, music and podcasts. As always, be sure to make a backup of your iPhone’s data before deleting content or apps to protect yourself from any inadvertent deleting.
1.) Don’t Hoard Messages
We will start with a very easy tip – but one that text message hoarders neglect – deleting old text messages. Tap Settings > Messages and scroll down to Message History and change your setting from “Forever” to 30 Days or 1 Year. That is, unless you think you’ll be scrolling back through more than a year’s worth of texts in your spare time…

IPhone2

 

2.) The iTunes ‘Magic’ Trick
We discovered this little space-saving quirk last month, and have enjoyed the space savings ever since. It’s a simple trick that involves trying to rent a movie in iTunes that is larger than the space you have available. It really is one of the easiest ways to save meaningful space with few caveats.

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3.) Restore your iPhone
OWC Erik discovered this trick on his iPhone that saved him about 5GB of storage, and fortunately it’s another simple trick. All you have to do is perform a restore of your iPhone. That’s it. And you’ll gain some valuable and potentially huge storage space.

4.) Browser Cache
The more you use Safari, the more data your phone is storing from the app that you don’t need. Tap Settings > Safari and scroll down to Clear History and Website Data. Then simply tap to clear the data.
Do note, that clearing the browsing history on your iPhone will remove it from your other devices that have Safari enabled in iCloud settings.

IPhone4

 

5.) Delete Photos in Delete Folder

At the bottom of the Photos app is the Albums section. There you will find the Recently Deleted photos from your iPhone. This is where photos are kept for 30 days after you delete them, in case you change your mind. Clearing this section will quickly free a good amount of space depending on how many photos are in the folder.