to commonly asked questions.

Will Big Sur fix Apple Mail?

My gmail is acting up again inside Apple Mail. What should I do?

Before we re-attack the problem, let’s give apple a chance to resolve it. We are VERY close to the next operating system updated called Big Sur. MacOS 11. This is a major overhaul of MacOS. We’ve been using MacOS 10 since 2001 so moving to the number 11 says a lot to how big a change the entire OS is headed for. My hope is that Big Sur will address the mail issue you’re having. I believe last time it took a lot of digging to get to the root of the issue. By the way, I’ve actually had several gmail related complaints toward apple mail in the last two months so you’re issue is not alone. Last time, we tried replacing the email account by deleting then readding and then redownloading all the email. Cleaned out the old V2 folders but in the end it was a pretty obscure fix that resolved the issue. However, let’s sit back since we are so close to Big Sur’s release and see if it self-resolves.

Full Disclosure: Big Sir won’t come without it’s share of potential problems. It’s possible that moving to Big Sur could also create new issues with VMware or Parallels. I’ve not tested virtual machines yet within MacOS 11 but it wouldn’t surprise me if either of those companies were slow to roll out updates to their virtual machines to work with Big Sur.

Airport routers still useful?

In our home WiFi, we currently have an Airport tower or base and then a smaller airport expander… sure I am not using the correct terminology. We are moving and when I just looked at options, it appears Apple stopped making these a couple of years ago.

We currently have the base and expander on our first floor and get pretty good WiFi thoughout the second floor and attic.

The question is when we move our town house will have 3 floors and the office, AV WiFi will be on the middle floor… do you have an opinion on whether we should just continue using these (they do work) or whether we should try to set up a different system and if so do you have thoughts or recommendations on what equipment to use?

Great and very relevant question. Full disclosure: I'm still using the Airport wifi devices and have not yet upgraded. The Airport Towers are still decent routers but I would seriously consider getting rid of the smaller "expresses" as they only send a potential 100 mbps through wireless so that can result in a slower network. However, I wouldn't go so far as purchasing an older Tower. (Aka AirPort Extreme.).

You are correct. Apple discontinued those routers. They had a great run and as I said, the extremes are still serving many people well but if you're looking to upgrade your system then there are 3 games in town I would consider.

1. Netgear's Orbi routers
2. Linksys Velop system
3. Google Wifi

The best of those is the Orbi system. Very strong signal and I've had many many clients move to that system. I would suggest you first see if just re-installing the old Apple routers in your new home provides enough coverage for now. If not, then upgrade your entire system to the Orbi's.

FYI: I'm not currently entering residences or businesses due to Covid so I would be unable to assist onsite with setup. (Hate it but just trying to do my part to keeping everyone healthy.)

Deskjet 3054 printer to Mac

I am out of town and trying to connect my computer (MacBook Pro) to an HP Deskjet 3054 printer. Is that possible? I have the printer on wireless and added the printer but it ask for location and I have no idea. Thanks.

The printer should work complete fine with the Mac. However printers, in general, are terrible and there are many things that can go wrong (and usually do).

1. Make sure the printer and the computer are on the same network. Sometimes your computer will jump to a different network and therefore won't be able to find the printer.
2. You can try reseting network settings on the printer. Usually available in the settings area of the printer itself.
3. That particular HP Deskjet has a very small LCD display and if I recall correctly, it's very difficult to navigate the menu system. It may be better to first connect the printer via usb, configure it for wireless, then disconnect it.
4. Often, printers can end up added twice which means you may be trying to print to the wrong instance. For example. You could add the printer via USB but also add it via wireless. The Mac is not yet smart enough to let you know it's the same printer so you may be sending the job to the USB added printer but it's not plugged up so it just waits. You can usually solve this by going into system preferences and removing the printer you want.
5. Last resort, right click in the left column of printer system preferences list to reset the printer preferences entirely then start from scratch adding back the printer.

I'm a photographer. How should I configure a new MBP?

I'm a photographer. Can you advise me as to your advice RE: processor, Memory, Graphics, and Storage options for my new MacBook Pro? My port that connects the SSD to my computer must be going bad because my SSD keeps disconnecting mid-use, which makes me worried about losing work and corrupting files as Ligthroom and Photoshop just interrupted.
After the annoyance of having an external SSD I think I will spring for the 8TB; does this choice necessitate going big in any of the other areas? Then I will use the 8TB as my main storage and just backup to the 8TB seagate you helped me select.

8 TB laptop would be a massive machine but I understand your desire to have that much onboard storage. I wouldn’t think of increasing the baseline elements (Graphics card, Memory) to be honest. The amount of ram that an Adobe application can address can be adjusted but it’s more designed for video editors than photographers. This means that 16 gigs of ram is fine for photoshop or Lightroom. If you were using Premire Pro then you could argue that additional ram might be worth it.

The speed of the processor is also not that big a jump from the baseline to the next level up. Keep in mind that you’ll already have multiple cores running which means way more speed potential the programs you’re running will never reach.

There is a big difference in power requirements between photographers vs. musicians vs. video editors. Photographers need the least speed of the group.

Expanding a Windows virtual machine inside Parallels.

I am having trouble with Parallels  The disk did not expand and I have gotten several messages that the c: drive is out of room.  Any suggestions

To increase the allotted size of the Parallels image you should first ensure that the virtual machine is completely shut down. (Not suspended.). Next access "Control Center" from the Parallels icon in the menu bar. Once there, select Hardware, then Hard Disk from the left column. Next select Properties.


Increase the size of the drive allotted space via the slider. You may run into a warning about Snapshots if you've enabled Snapshots within Windows. However, you'll also be able to manage snapshots from that same dialog box then remove unneeded ones. As always, having a time machine backup of the entire computer is always recommended. Keep in mind that Time Machine only backs up the entire virtual image. It does not give incremental backup support to items within Windows.

After you've completed this step, restart the computer, and Parallels then open Windows and select Disk Management from the Start menu. You should be able to see the newly allotted amount there.

Another thing to keep in mind that you should not be using "File Vault". File Vault (Apple's built-in encryption software) is likely to conflict with the virtual machine that Parallels relies on.

If you still do not see the newly allotted size reflected in Windows, try the following steps provided by Parallels:

Windows support is beyond my prevue once inside the Windows Operating system.

Where's the email on my iPad?

I’ve been on the lookout for an email from a teacher. Marcia told me she received a copy and showed that it was sent to me. I searched and found it - “iCloud inbox”. Yet, when I look at all my mail on my iPad for that day, I don’t see it. How can I be sent mail that I can only find by searching?

Definitely not normal for iCloud email not to sync considering that it's IMAP. First, I'm sure you've checked that the email sent is actually the email account you have set up on your iPad. In other words, if it were sent to a gmail account for instance, but the gmail account were not set up on the phone, that could be an obvious reason.

Second, try deleting the email account then re-adding it again. (On the phone that is.)

Third: Insure that "complete Threads" is turned on in the Mail settings on your iPad under Settings/Mail

Fourth: make sure that "Push" is on and set to "automatically" within mail settings. You can toggle this off and on again to hope that it will resync with the server.

Fifth: be sure the location of the email is in the appropriate mailbox. Inbox, drafts, created mailbox, etc…. Sometimes an email can be in a different location than we expected it.

Sixth: "organize by thread" on the iPad could end up hiding an email you're looking for by placing it in line with the full conversation.

Seventh: check at to see that the email is actually in the cloud as well.

What is "unapproved caller" mean?

Keep tabs on time you spend with my questions and add next time we have a session.

A few days ago Marcia was trying to send some files to our accountants portal. She got this message and the screen froze. Force Quit didn’t work and she finally had to turn the iMac off and back on.

Any idea what this is?


The wording of this error message does sound alarming but it is poorly written on Apple's part. This issue can usually be solved by booting into safe mode (holding down the shift key at start up) then restart once again after the safe boot has gotten all the way to the desktop. This will reset certain cache files that are most likely responsible for the poorly worded message.

To my knowledge, this message is related to security software on every Mac called Gatekeeper. Its job is to verify that third party software has been properly signed or authenticated by Apple. This error can be caused by updating your Mac from one operating system to another and skipping one. For instance, if you update from 10.12 to 10.15, it would make it more likely to see this message. Booting into safe mode, then restart moments later should take care of it.

Which laptop should I buy?

Good afternoon. I need a laptop for my part-time assistant, I would like to make a conservative purchase but still need to computer that can get the job done.

My expectations:
-Link to photos on my work phone
- enough power to run quickbooks reasonably fast (no need for super speed- just adequate)
- enough memory to keep up with client spreadsheets in excel
- basic letter drafting and email

What apple product do you recommend? Also, I will need your help setting it up. Are you still working only remotely? Thank you!

Linking photos from your work phone to the computer can be accomplished one of two ways:
A: use the same appleID and iCloud service for both of those devices. Keeping in mind you should not use your personal ID.
B: manually connect the iPhone periodically to the computer and sync manually over a cable.

The rest of your requirements could be handled by Apple's least expensive MacBook Air but the one thing you'd probably want to consider is hard drive space. I would kick the space up to 512. While you could certainly get away with the lesser model, I think the 512 model gives you a little more space for expanded duties and twice as strong a processor. Base line $1299.

13-inch MacBook Air - Space Gray - Apple

Yes, I am only working remotely for the foreseeable future. I am, however doing dropoff/pickups for data transfers and other offsite tasks. I am not entering homes/business at this time.

Time Machine and Encryption

1. Following directions to set up a new backup disk...for some reason “select disk” is not an option here.

2. It appears to be set up properly to back up to the 8T backup ecm drive

3. Not sure if this encrypted stuff matters...


1. The "green" disk means that the computer already has a backup relationship with the hard drive. Olive green means already being used as a backup drive. Yellow means not yet used. So if you click on a green disk, the only choice would be to remove the disk as a backup since it's already being used as one.

2. Yes.

3. Yes, encryption does matter. Your computer's drive should mirror the backup drive so if your computer's drive is encrypted (via File Valut) then the backup drive should also use encryption. While you can backup an encrypted drive with a non encrypted backup, in my opinion it is best just to turn off encryption. It's just not really something the large majority of us need on our home computers.

I recommend the Orbi's.

Good morning. You set up our Apple airport years ago with WiFi extenders. Time Warner Cable wants to replace our modem and wants us to get a new router that our current set up will not handle faster speeds. It is super slow. Do you have a recommendation? I am worried about replacing and messing everything up since we are HEAVILY depending on WiFi right now- like everyone else. Is this something you can help us with or do you have a recommendation? I know you primarily deal only with Apple products. Thx so much.

Yes, the Apple airports are basically obsolete at this point. Specifically the expresses. The towers are still fine but regardless, you'll be looking to upgrade your wifi network soon. I recommend looking at the Orbi system by Netgear. There are several different models depending on square footage but in general, I've had very good success with the Orbi's.

I am not currently entering homes due to the COVID situation and only working remotely. Wifi networks cannot be setup remotely so that would only be onsite for me. I'm watching every day to see when NC moves to phase 3 at which time I will be considering starting on-location sessions once again.

One of the common mistakes that people make when replacing networks is that they leave pieces of the old system and that can confuse things. Another mistake to watch out for is what you name the new network. I prefer to use a new name. The password can stay the same but changing the network name eliminates the potential for other mistakes like conflicting names. (SSIDs)

Bottom line:

Orbi by Netgear=best
Velop by Linksys is also good.

Can I bypass the iPad passcode?

Found an old IPAD and do not have passcode. Can you help with this? The IPAD belongs to someone with a memory issue and the pass code had never been written down.

Depends. If you can't get past the passcode to open the iPad, it CAN be bypassed but it would require completely wiping the iPad and restoring it from scratch. The next obstacle comes in if the iPad had previously been logged into an AppleID. If it was, then after the iPad has been completely erased and restored as a brand new device, you will STILL see a message asking for the previous owner's AppleID password before it can be used by the new owner. This is Apple's way of deterring people from stealing iPhones and iPads and it has been very effective. So effective that some owners can't even get into their own devices. I see this a lot with family members passing one down or donated devices.

Was it actually Apple that called me?

I got a phone call from someone identifying themselves as a representative of Apple security. He told me that my iCloud account had been compromised. He said that there were too many logins. Then he said that the attempted log ins had come from various parts of the country. He then offered to switch me to the Apple security division and they would try to get the problem straightened out.

I declined and said that I would work on it myself. I hardly had that out of my mouth before I heard him hang up.

I think it unlikely that Apple would call me individually, and I found no message on the computer when I checked later in the evening.

Does this sound like a scam? Any other reports like this?

Yes. Very likely a scam. I do hear a lot of this type thing. Glad you didn’t interact with them.

Where did my documents go from these folders?

It is really weird that so much of the documents are missing from this level of folder…any ideas about what I did wrong? If this happened when I cleaned up the desktop why are the parent folders still in place but all the contents gone?

I am perplexed...

1. The screenshot you took is a little too small for me to make out some of the details. However,

2. It looks like you are looking at an iCloud Drive folder. I have seen this behavior before. Check to see if you have an iCloud Drive “Archive” folder in your home folder and if you do, check to see if the documents you are looking for are in the Archive. This can happen when iCloud Drive is disabled then re-enabled.

3. Cleaning the desktop would not effect folders that live in other places. Even if you had aliases pointing elsewhere and tossed out the originals, you would still see the abandoned alias file. So that’s not what happened. I’m guessing this is related to iCloud.

4. Check at to see if you can locate those documents via a web browser.

5. Do you have a time machine backup that we could use to recover these files. I LOVE time machine and it usually saves the day.

How should I backup my computer?

Can I backup to the cloud before I send my computer to Apple for repair?

Backing up to the cloud is not a good way to think of backing up when it comes to the full complete picture of your computer. Having an external hard drive dedicated to backup is the way to go. I recommend the Seagate Backup 1 or 2TB. You can get one from Amazon.

Loud Fans on Macbook

My laptop is making a loud noise. Think it is the fan. Ugh.

Since laptops only have one moving part which is the fan, you are probably correct. One of two causes. 1: there is a process going crazy causing heat to build up therefore triggering the fan to come on. 2: The fan sensor might be physically broken in which case only apple would do the hardware repair. If you call AppleCare they can send a box, you ship it to them, then they ship it back. One way to eliminate whether the problem is hardware or software is to boot into “safe” mode. Turn the computer on while holding down the shift key. Once the computer boots, use it for a few minutes. If the fan is still going crazy: it’s hardware. If the fan no longer sounds loud, then it’s probably a software issue in which case, I can fix for you via a pickup/dropoff if you’d like.

How do I get Microsoft Office back?

I bought a new iMac. My old iMac is 5years old

I tried to migrate info from old iMac to new iMac using seascape hard drive. Migration says not enough room (memory) to migrate everything. I bought the exact same computer! I was able to migrate WITHOUT applications. Not really sure what all the Applications are, but I can tell Microsoft office is one of them. Is this happening because Microsoft office is outdated? I have been getting messages that I needed to subscribe to new Microsoft Office or perhaps buy a new version. Or is there another reason I had trouble with migration?

If you did, in fact, buy the exact same hard drive size then your your backup drive should absolutely be able to fit everything over. I'm wondering if you may have bought the same model but different hard drive size. Regardless, you've moved the data over and left out applications. Not really a big deal over all however Microsoft Office isn't there obviously. So the answer depends on which version of Office you previously owned. Three current ways to pay for office.

1. Subscribe on one computer =$69 a year
2. Subscribe on up to six computers=$99 a year.
3. Buy it outright for one computer only=$149 one time.

If you subscribed to it then you can go to and redownload a copy if you know your Microsoft ID. If you didn't subscribe then yes, you would need to purchase it again for the new machine.

A possible larger issue here however is that if all you did was unselect applications in order for the migration to fit, that sounds like your new hard drive may already be full. Applications don't really eat up that much space on a Mac. So something to look into.

Mail's hidden cache stash.

I think my mail cache data base is corrupt and trying to rebuild each mailbox and the V4 etc… folders has not worked. Any other ideas.

Try removing the following folder:


Where to buy used computers?

Is there a good place to get refurbished MacBooks? I’m realizing my middle son is going to need something more than his awful chrome book for remote learning. He has an old MacBook but it is not working - thought I’d shop for a new one for him.

Apple does sell refurbished stock but the discount is usually not very significant. The benefit of buying from Apple however is that you have the opportunity to purchase AppleCare and it would be covered just as a new computer would. It would come with the first year warranty regardless of refurbished or not (if purchased directly from Apple that is.)

Buying from craigslist or eBay is a good option but there is an art to it. If you’re not used to buying from either of those sites, a computer is not a good first purchase to make considering the intricacies involved with bidding, meeting up, etc.

OfferUp is a source to consider as well and I’ve had several clients find success there.

The main thing to consider when buying a used computer is that sometimes the seller will try to add value by including software that didn’t come with the machine initially. This is illegal and misleading. For instance “comes with Photoshop”. Stay away from those types of advertisements.

Time Machine wants to erase my new drive!

Scotty, trying to back up on my new back up plus portable. Stopped because it said ... are you sure you want to erase...
Help please


Yes it is fine to Erase it. You just bought the drive so there is nothing on it that is important to you. Time Machine wants to reformat it so it can use it the way it would like. Reformating a drive means the drive must be erased in the process. Since the drive is brand new and you just took it out of its packaging, there is nothing on the drive that belongs to you. Go ahead and select "erase". I try to always mention this step to people because it's very common to be concerned when seeing such a seemingly scary message.

Which Mac should I buy?

Can you tell me which computer I need to upgrade to if my current Mac Pro is running out of memory? I’m not sure about all of the options for the 16” if I need them?

First you want to see what size the hard drive you have now is. go to the black apple in the top right corner and choose “about this Mac”. Then select storage. That will tell you 256, 512, 1TB. Whatever that is, sounds like you need the larger.

The 16” MacBook Pro is the flagship Mac these days so it’s easy to spend more than you really need to. If you really like the 16” size (some people find it a little too large) then you will have a few choices to make: processor, amount of ram, graphics card. But the only major choice you really need to make is hard drive size. So check out the entry level 16” but just increase the hard drive size to the size you think will fit you for the next 5 years or more. The 16” can go to a crazy amount. You won’t need 4 TB and 4TB would cost a crazy amount so don’t feel like you need the largest you can buy. But I’m guessing a 1 or 2TB will be plenty for you.

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