to commonly asked questions.

July 2020

How do I get my text messages to sync?

Are you still not coming in person? I need to sync up my phone with my laptop because my phone will have no new messages but I walk into my laptop computer in the studio and there will be something like 400 new messages that are ones I’ve already read on my phone.

I'm currently only doing online sessions via zoom while we art still in Phase 2 within NC. To solve your iPhone messages issue, here are a few things you can check:

1. In settings on the phone, go to Messages. Make sure you have iMessage turned on and that you can see both your phone number and your AppleID email address in the "Send and receive" area.
2. On your computer, open the messages app, go to preferences, and make sure you are signed in to the same AppleId and that both your phone number and AppleID email address appear in that area as well. If you are using 10.15 Catalina, you should see a "messages in the cloud" checkbox. Be sure to turn that on as well if it is off.
3. For iPads, repeat the same process as number 1.

You have to have your phone number and email address associated to each other in order to see text messages across computers, iPads, and iPhones. That's usually the problem.

What should I add on to my iMac purchase?

Hi Scotty,

I just went online to order the Mac and I would just like to confirm a couple of options that came up when I selected the

27” 3.0GHz 6-core
Priceless or with Turbo
boost up to 4.1GHz
1TB Storage
Retina 5K Display

1. Memory is standard....correct? (8GB)

Yes, I don’t suggest people add additional memory unless you were a professional video/photographer/music production.

2. Storage is standard....correct? (IT)

Yes, 1TB equals 1000 gigs. In your case, that’s enough.

3. Do I want the Magic Mouse2 (standard), Magic Trackpad 2 or Magic Mouse 2 + Magic Trackpad?

4. It looks like I can choose which Key pad Magic with or without Numeric Keypad?

More of a personal preference. I would go trackpad. There are more features with the trackpad in terms of 2 finger, 3, and 4 finger gestures. Just takes getting used to. It’s basically a trackpad just like a laptop trackpad.

5. Do I want Pre-installed Software?
Final Cut Pro X?
Logic Pro X?

No do not add these items on. These are professional video and music editing software. You have no need for these. Kids will use Garage Band, iMovie and there are other free tools if they feel like graduating out of those entry level tools.

I don’t know what those are... the kids do lots of video/project editing if this has anything to do with that.

6. If I get the Microsoft office do I buy it separately? If so where?

You can buy Office separately at I usually don’t buy it from Apple. One less complication to deal with in the long run.

What router do you recommend and how much bandwidth do I need?

Do you think through FaceTime you could help me set up new routers at home?? What brand router and type do you recommend??
How much band width is needed to run multiple computers, iPhones and 10 nest cameras plus streaming devices??

FaceTime router setup is not impossible but it's definitely a bit frustrating for people. I don't recommend it but if that's the best we can do under the circumstances, then we can make it happen. As long as the person I'm working with has patience we can get it done.

I recommend the Orbi router system by Netgear. Depending on the size of your home, you may get a larger coverage pack. Modern routers have the ability to provide way way way more bandwidth than your ISP can actually deliver to you. Therefore, routers aren't the bottle neck when it comes to speed. Your ISP is. Typical speeds around Charlotte can be between 50-150mbps down and between 20-100 up. This depends on the plan you buy with your ISP and whether you use Spectrum, Google Fiber, or ATT. ATT has better upload speeds in general but are less reliable as a service overall in my opinion. Google Fiber is rare so I can't really make any declarative statements about that service yet. No matter what ISP you have, you hate it and you wish you had the other one.

But to answer your question more specifically, it depends on the quality of video streaming. Have a 4k tv? Streaming 4k? You need as much bandwidth as you can get. Have 2 4k tvs streaming at the same time in 4k? Then somebody's not gonna be watching in 4k. There's just not really enough bandwidth coming into residences to stream two instances of 4k in 2020 right now. That may change by 2021 but it would max out your download speeds. Everything else besides 4K streams can usually fit inside one ISP residence plan. If you have kids, then assume they are all over the internet. But they're not streaming 4k. Youtube and Netflix will usually pull back video quality if they notice high traffic in the house. I have like 80 down and rarely really need that much. But it's just my wife and I. 80 down in a house of 4 may be maxing out.

Notifications on iOS

I’m sitting here looking at news and watching TV.  My relatively new iPad is pinging away.  It makes this noticeable but not too loud pinging sound a lot and when it pings the little battery symbol on the top right flashes when the ping occurs.  Wondering if my battery is dying or something.  Curious if you have heard of that issue and whether I should worry about it. 

I’d just book an appointment but with this Covid thing we are trying to stay isolated due to my wife’s lack of any immunity due to her cancer treatments.  I would be pleased to pay for advice even if it is remote and by e-mail or phone.

While I can't find a correlation to pinging and the battery icon flashing, there is a possible explanation of the pinging itself. It's possible that you have notifications turned on for several different services like text messages, emails, FaceTime, etc… and each of those services can notify you audibly from your many iOS devices. You can choose to include sounds or not per service. I suggest you take a look on your iPad under "Notifications" and scroll down the list turning off "sounds" as a notification method until you find the one that is the pest.

I'm not currently entering residences myself but am working remotely via Zoom so feel free to schedule online if needed for a remote session.

Do I need LifeLock?

I am worried about the crazy people who can hack our computers , iPhones, etc. Do you have any suggestions to protect our devices? Norton Life Lock?

This is a very large question and I do suggest you look through my answers section dedicated to the topic of scams and viruses located here:

scams | Answers | Sells Consulting
viruses | Answers | Sells Consulting

Now that that's out of the way, Norton Life Lock…no. Not a fan. Several reasons:

1. It's yet another subscription. Don't we have enough subscriptions these days?
2. Running a piece of software doesn't protect us from falling for the tricks that are out there where we are asked to type our admin passwords. I've yet to find a legitimate save that I could attribute to Norton.
3. You can pull your own credit every year and even lock it until you need to use it without subscribing to Norton.
4. As long as you are extremely hesitant to not type your password in when presented with the option to do so, unless you fully understand why you are being asked for it, you're ok.
5. Most of us get scammed because we tend to believe what other humans are telling us, not because something installed on our computers without us knowing.

Your iPhone and iPad are not going to allow malicious software. The only way that something can land on your iOS device is if you install it through the Mac App Store. Apple vets every app they allow into the App Store so that's a level of safety we can count on. Above all else, don't join wifi networks that don't require a password. That's the best advice I can give anyone when it comes to security.

Do I need the seagate for my backup drive?

Should I set up an appointment to remove the Seagate Backup Plus? And how can I check to make sure we are still getting backed up by Time Machine?

While you don't necessarily need an appointment to deal with your backup, I can't completely and clearly answer your questions without more information. First some vocabulary:

Seagate is the hard drive you may be using to backup your computer. The Seagate drive is being used by Time Machine.
Time machine is the software that runs on your computer that backs everything up periodically. Time machine needs an external hard drive in order to do its job.

The seagate drive and time machine are co-dependent unless you have a different drive. To make things sometimes more complicated, it is possible to use the software that came with the seagate drive (western digital does this also) to backup. I do not recommend anyone use that software. I prefer time machine.

So let me know if this helps clear things up and/or if you feel you need assistance you can schedule a remote session and I'm sure we could take care of any additional issues.

Why are my fans running on my laptop?

Hi Scotty, I don’t remember it happening during our session a couple weeks ago, but I’ve noticed since that when I open my laptop and start using it, a fan-like sound starts. Is this normal for this new model I got? My last MacBook Pro would only start making that noise after hours of use.

You are most likely correct that you are hearing the fan since the fan is the only actual moving part to the computer. No, it's not normal to hear the fan unless the computer is doing something that is causing the processor to work so hard that it is getting hot, therefore causing the fans to kick on to cool the processor down. So here are a few reasons this could be happening:

1. Using a "laptop" on a bed, quilt, soft cloth surface, or even one's "lap" is not a good idea. The computer should sit on a hard surface at all times so that it can transfer heat (through conduction) off of the back. Apple does not even call them "laptops" any more.

2. There could be a process that is stuck running that if we were to just find and kill, it would allow the fans to calm down. To discover open processes that may be eating up large amounts of power, you can open "activity monitor" (located in the utilities folder within Applications or by searching for "activity" using spotlight), sort by CPU, then view the processes that continue to eat up over say 70% percent. While it is normal for certain programs to eat up large percentages of processor power for a short while, it is not normal for those processes to continue for an extremely long time. For instance, with Activity monitor running, if you open Safari, then start watching a YouTube video, you would notice the processor jump but after closing the window or the video is over, you should see the processor lower. It is possible for a process to get hung and continue to run full speed therefore causing the fans to kick on. This is the most common reason why a person hears their fans. In the example below, you'll notice "all processes" across the top. To show all processes you can go under the menu item "view" and select it. Without selecting "all processes" you would only be seeing the processes running associated to your user. We need to see all processes. Also, don't worry about all the things running. It is completely normal to see things you don't know in that list. All we are looking for are big processor items by percentage.

Screen Shot 2020-07-21 at 3.57.00 PM

Feel free to take a screenshot and send it to me if you find large processes eating up percentages.

3. Another explanation as to why you're hearing fans could be that there is an actual hardware problem. Hopefully not. In other words, a temperature sensor could be malfunctioning causing the fans to go crazy.

Let me know your thoughts and I'm happy to continue to help any way I can.

Getting Safari to default to Adobe reader for pdfs.

I am working on a government contract and cannot get the below link to download to get to a pdf form you fill out. Tried to do it myself by opening settings in PDF and changing from PDF Expert to Adobe Acrobat Reader DC but I still could not get the link to download. Instead, it refers me to an adobe link to download adobe reader, which will not download since I have a higher grade adobe reader.

We should be able to take care of this. There are three ways for a browser to handle pdfs on websites.

1. Use the standard pdf viewer which is Safari's version of Preview.
2. Right click to download the file then open it in whatever is your pdf tool of choice. Ie: Preview, Adobe Reader, Adobe Acrobat.
3. Install Adobe Reader which also installs a plugin into your browser that enables Reader to jump the line to become the default reader.

I would start with 3. first. Go to to download reader. Next go to your downloads folder and double click the AcroRdrDC file you just downloaded. Follow the steps to install Reader back onto your system. You may be asked for your admin password during the process. Quit Safari then try the link again. This time the Adobe plugin should take control and display the pdf page.

The link that you sent to me, I have no issues downloading. The private link I was unable to access. So if reinstalling adobe reader doesn’t resolve it for you, then I may want to remote in and look at what’s going on. I’m not a fan of using Adobe reader either as a stand alone program or as a plugin for Safari, Chrome, etc…. Since Preview does a decent job and is much faster in my experience. Adobe Acrobat Pro is a different story. It’s a professional level tool designed to heavily edit pdf files. Preview can do some editing but it is limited. As you know, Acrobat costs money. But I don’t think it automatically installs the Safari plugin.

Another issue we’d want to consider is to see if the plugin is actually in the correct place. You can visit the hidden library folder by holding down the option key and clicking on the word Go in the menu bar. From there, check the Internet Plug-ins folder. If adobe reader plugin is installed, it would be visible in that folder. If you don’t see it there however, let’s check one more location. Under the word Go in the menu bar, select Computer. From there go to Macintosh HD/Library/Internet Plug-ins/ and you may see the AdobePDFviewer plug in there. Yes, there are two libraries on your Mac. One belongs to your user. One belongs to the Computer. (There is actually another Library inside the system folder but we don’t talk about that).

Check those items out and get back to me.

How do I disable plugins with Microsoft Word

I recently installed Mendeley as a plugin for Word but I won't it to stop. How can I get it to uninstall? The uninstaller doesn't work. I've looked everywhere. Now it gives me an error every time I open Word.

~/Library/Group Containers/UBF8T346G9.Office/User Content/Startup/Word

What hard drive do I need and do I need one per computer?

When I sent it off to repair they asked me if I had backed it on a hard drive. What should I get for a hard drive?

A simple $60 hard drive from Amazon is really all you need. You can get a Seagate 2TB for about that. They’re great.

and does each computer need their own hard drive?

No but humans are lazy and we tend to forget to use drives when sharing between computers so in the long run, each having its own drive is better.

Migrating from one email server to another

switched account servers, and now all ~9900 SENT biz emails are not converting. Tech support at says it’s an Apple issue… Have you seen this?

I’m currently not entering homes/businesses and working only remotely. Converting from one email server to another is never pleasant. The SENT messages can live either locally on your computer or on a server. When moving from one company to another, if the emails are on the old server and need to be migrated over to a different server, the Mac doesn’t really have a hand in that. That’s usually worst case scenario. We wouldn’t know where the emails live until I see the computer. (Remotely would be fine). Hopefully we can find those locally then move them where we’d like in the future. It’s a little complicated. The good news however is that it’s possible we could recover them from your backup as a last resort.

How can I tell how much hard drive space I need?

My Mac Book Pro is slowing down and almost full and I think it is time to get a new one. Can you tell me what you recommend for memory as this last one is too low you said and also isn’t it best that I have you do the information transfer for me?

First, we would need to know how much data you have currently and how large the drive is. To find this information, go to “about this Mac” under the black apple in the top left corner of your computer screen. Then click on “storage”. From there you’ll be able to see how big the hard drive is and how much data you have. Once we know that, we can decide on a model that fits your needs. You can take a screenshot of that screen and send it to me if you’d like. It will look like this:

To take a screenshot you can use command+shift+4 then drag around the area you’d like to share. That pic will appear on your desktop then you can drag it into an email.

I spilled water on my computer, what should I do?

Hey there-My daughter knocked her water over and a little got into her work computer-can you help?

If it was just water, it may be able to survive. Turn the laptop over on the edge of a table with the screen hanging off the table and the keyboard facing down. Use a couple small block of some sort to create space between the keyboard and the table. Then aim a fan under the keyboard to move air. Any water that went into the keyboard may run out and/or evaporate over several hours. If it was coffee or cola, forget about it.

Can you solve wifi issues remotely?

Can you solve our wifi issues without coming into our house? We have apple routers and we don't know the passwords.

Looks like I won’t be entering homes for quite some time so if the apple router issue continues to be something you’d like to resolve, we CAN most likely solve it remotely but it would require some patience on your part. It would sort of be like me throwing darts with my eyes closed. It can be done but will be a little frustrating for you. I just wanted to set those expectations ahead of time.

In regard to a password, the password to your apple router(s) would either be the same password as your old wifi network or the word “password” itself.

New wifi router and now airports are down.

Hey! My husband has switched our internet - now the apple routers your installed don’t work- have no way of knowing how to get those working apparently there is a password- can you let me know what to do?

There are many things that could be going on. It would be very hard to guess what the problem is without more details. Here are a few possibilities:

1. The new internet service provider has overridden the previous routers by turning on wifi with the new one.
2. The new router could have the same name as your apple routers.
3. The apple routers could have been disabled (turned off).

The two difficult things for me to work with via online session are printer and wifi issues. So this is more of an in-person type of problem to solve. We could attempt to adjust the network via remote session but it could possibly not go well. If we were to make changes to your wifi network remotely, without me being there, I could make a change that would require an in-person visit. So without more information, this is a difficult problem to guess at.

Advice on time machine backup drives

I guess I need to set up another appointment about the email, screen shot I sent you a couple of days ago while trying to set up my seagate back up. The error message about the back up being case-sensitive? Know we ran into that before.

But before I set it up, I want to make sure I have what I need to be “all set.” In the process I noticed that my existing 4 TB Seagate back up is very close to being full. SOOO if I want to active back ups feeling like I should replace that one as well? But perhaps go bigger? And would appreciate your thoughts on what to get. There is a 5 TB for $114 and an 8TB for $134. Thinking 8TB…


When we format drives, we do have to choose whether they should be case sensitive or not. That could be something I overlooked. I would not normally choose case sensitive as it’s just an additional hoop to jump through for security reasons that’s not really necessary in my opinion. But yes, let’s look at that.

That 4TB drive being close to max capacity: It is time machine’s job to fill up with data. The larger the drive, the farther back in time your backup can go. Another way to say it would be, the longer it can continue to backup unique data before it needs to make space for the redundant copies of data that will be inevitable. One way out is to just by a bigger drive and not bother with the old one that is full. Another solution to the problem is to erase the backup and start the process over again. In a perfect world, time machine should spend some time doing a little math then free up space based on how much data you are asking it to add to the already existing data.

On buying a new drive: an 8TB for $134 is pretty crazy cheap these days and as I’ve said previously, the performance of your backup drive is not really that important. It doesn’t have to be fast as you are not ever really accessing data on it for work. It’s just a safety measure. You could also always keep it disconnected while working if you felt it was slowing performance down. So overall, my vote would be to just buy a new drive. It would future proof you for a pretty long while I would think.

Can't install Fortnight onto Standard User using /Shared folder

I freed up 400G+ space. No problem installing un my user account; when daughter tries, she sees this message:


Odd because users are not allocated specific amounts of space to use on MacOS. Her user has the same rights as any other users when it comes to space allocation. Admins vs standard users doesn’t matter in terms of space. I suggest doing a reinstall but instead of installing it into the /Shared folder you install the application into the Applications folder. Give that a try next.

How was this message generated?

Why did the below pop up when I was messaging myself something from a web browser?  I was sending it as a text and typed in my phone number and this profile popped up. Does that mean it may pop up for other people?  

Screenshot 2020-07-02 at 8.03.18 AM

I may need a little more information before I can answer clearly. You were inside Safari on your phone and went to share the link from the phone? If so, I don’t know what relation the information such as “date of birth” is to that action. Or were you inside a specific app like AirBnB? Just sharing a link within the safari app via email would not cause any information like the profile pictured above however it is possible that the AirBnB app might pull information from one's AirBnB account while sending a link. If you could replicate this a few times in a row then let me know what steps you take for this "profile" information to be included when texting, I may better be able to understand what's going on in the pic above. You can also share the link via text to me personally and that way I may be able to tell if that is a jpg or active information. More info required before I can answer the question accurately.

Are you doing data transfers during COVID and how big a drive do I need?

Last year when we got this one, you helped take stuff off one and put it on the new one and cleaned up the old one for my son.... can you do that again for the new one we get for my daughter ? Also, I’m not sure how to get it since the Apple store is closed. Do I just order it on line? I’d get exactly what we have now- Mac air but I remember I had to exchange this one initially due to lack of space. So I got 38 ??
Can you please tell me what to order and do you still do the set up like you did last year?


I’d be happy to get the data transferred over for you from the old computer to your new one. When you’re ready, you can schedule a dropoff/pickup on my site using the link below. I am not currently entering homes but I am picking up and dropping off computers while we remain in phase II covid. Other than that, I am working exclusively via online sessions using Zoom. Once I pick the computers up, I’ll probably have some questions regarding passwords, AppleIDs etc so we can discuss over FaceTime or phone call. Then I’ll try to have the computers back to you by the next day. Usually about 24 hours turn around.

Ordering online via is the best option in my opinion. Yes space is defiantly a problem when people buy new machines. They tend to buy a smaller hard drive than they actually need. To find out the size of your current drive and how much data is on it, you can go under the black apple in the top left corner of your screen and choose “About this Mac”. From there, you’ll see “storage”. Select that and it will tell you the actual size of your drive and how much data is currently on it. For example: 1TB drive with 300 gigs used.

After you’ve seen that information, you will want to choose a drive that is at least equal to or greater than the one you have. I’m guessing that you may end up with a 512 gig hard drive but I honestly don’t remember the details of your computer. You are welcome to tell me the size once you find it then I can make a more specific recommendation for you if you’d like.

Where is my pictures folder?

Where is my pictures folder?

Every Mac user has a Pictures folder. To find it, open a Finder window (by either clicking on the Happy face in the dock or select "New Finder Window" from the File menu. Once there, follow this file path:

Macintosh HD/Users/youruser/Pictures

Screen Shot 2020-07-02 at 1.07.27 PM

Which library is Photos using?

How can I tell which photos library my Photos application is using and where it lives?

You can find out which photos library is in use as well as if it's the system photos library (the one syncing to the cloud) by opening Photos, going to Photos preferences and selecting the General tab.

There you will see the file path to the library Photos is using. Just below that, if the "use as system library" button is greyed out, that means it is the one being used to sync to the cloud. If it is black and clickable, that means it is not currently the system library.

Pointing Photos to your external drive

I opened photos and it appears to be importing the pictures from my phone. It never gave me the option to choose “Media.” Where's my pictures on my external drive?

Sounds like you may not have held down the option key at photos launch maybe. Restart Photos with the Option key held down then it will ask you to pick a library. With the new drive plugged int of course, choose the photos library that lives on McPhail media.

There are two types of photos libraries. The one that is considered the “system library” and any others. The system library is the ONLY library in your user that will sync to the cloud via iCloud. You may have inadvertently created a library that the computer thinks is the system library and is therefore pulling down pics from the cloud that were on your phone. It’s not a major issue at all.

Quit Photos
Restart Photos holding down Option
Select the photos library on the external drive.
After it’s open, go to preferences in Photos and under “General” select “system library”.

Finally, go into your Pictures folder that lives locally on your Mac and remove the automatically created photos library. It may be several gigs by now as some pics will have downloaded from the cloud. Don’t worry about that. The same pics will sync down to the massive library once it’s been blessed as the system library.

Hope everything is looking the way you want. I’m happy to work through any issues if not.

Someone logged into my Spotify from Russia?

I received this this morning.  I have a Spotify app on my phone but it’s free and I haven’t really used it.  There are a few links to navigation and apparently FB link is built in.  I don’t see the options to check they mention below so not sure what to do.  Help

Also, I looked all through the Spotify app on my phone and the only thing only there that shows up is under Storage. It shows 104.59 GB under other apps. Not sure what that means.

Also username shows up as

Thanks for forwarding the email. In this case it does look like it is an actual email from the company Spotify informing you that your account was indeed logged into. I am guessing that your Spotify password may have been the same as another previously used password in the past or may have again been a combination of a word in the dictionary followed by 1, 2, 3, or 4 numbers. It is always a good idea to make passwords that do not contain only that combination. In other words, always avoid passwords like "Banana1970" or "Monkey732". That sort of thing. I suggest you log into Spotify and change your password. Some people subscribe to Spotify. Some just use the free aspect of their music streaming service. In either case, it's a good idea to log in to Spotify and change your password to something more secure than may have been previously used. This has no bearing on other accounts. In your case specifically, after the bad guys previously discovered your email and password combination from your email address (as we have previously discussed) they just used the same combination throughout several services to see what would stick and Spotify was one of those. In other words, if I use the same email address and password for my ATT account as I do to log into Amazon, and a bad guy acquires that combination, they will run it through a program to try every account type they can and eventually will hit an account that I used it with in the past. They may discover that my email address and password combination also works with my Duke Power bill, my Charlotte water bill, my account, and so on. The moral of the story is always use a secure password, stay off open wifi networks, consider using a VPN went out in public, don't join hotel wifi networks in general, and avoid using the same password for too many things.

In the above example, the location states "Russia". You have to take that with a grain of salt as it's extremely easy to spoof one's location.

In regard to the "Facebook built in"link you mentioned, many companies have relationships with other companies that now allow you to use one account with another. For example, want to start a new account with the Nike running app? You can use your AppleID, your GoogleID, or your Facebook account ID to automatically create an account. That is a normal part of the internet now. They benefit by making it easier for you to create an account and they also benefit by being able to more closely profile the type of person you are so they can more accurately sell ads to you specifically, etc…

The 104gb of storage is a lot for Spotify. I suggest deleting the app then redownloading it to clear some of that space off. Spotify has an ability to store music locally on a device but that comes with a paid account only. By deleting the app then redownloading it, that should free up a little space on your phone. Overall, iOS (the operating system on your hone) is extremely secure and nothing can get onto your device without Apple allowing it. You cannot just go to any site and add an app to your phone. Only Apple approved apps through the App Store can make it onto your phone. This makes the phone very stable and secure.
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