to commonly asked questions.

purchase recommendations

Which laptop? Buying advice

I am going to purchase a new laptop and give my oldest daughter my MacBook Air (I have the 13 inch 16 GB 2020). I would like a bigger screen and am looking at the 14 and 16 inch MacBook Pros. Do you have thoughts on which one is a better computer? Do you recommend purchasing it directly from Apple? I do not travel much with mine; I most often use it sitting at my desk. I mostly use it for emails, Slack communications with my work group, photos and videos, zoom calls. I am planning to purchase it in the next few weeks and would then like to set up an appointment with you to transfer everything to my new computer and clear out this current one to give to my daughter when she comes to visit in early August. I’d love your thoughts,


Between the 14 and 16, both are equal in terms of speed. Apple didn’t limit the 14” in power this time around so either would be a great choice. Just be sure you purchase the appropriate amount of hard drive space on your new computer. So many people buy too small a drive and can’t fit all their old data onto it. In general a 1TB is usually a good bet. But to see exactly how much space you’re taking up on your current computer, go to the apple in the left corner, choose “about this Mac” then select storage. It will tell you how big your current drive is along with how much data you are using.

One thing to consider is possibly purchasing a second monitor down the road. It doesn’t have to be an apple monitor! Just any nice monitor will connect to your laptop and give you double the screen space. Then when you want to travel, just unplug it and take it with you. We can discuss the pro’s of that some time.

Buying advice for my elderly parent.

Clearly my father is in need of some upgrades - I would like to hear what you think might best suit his needs - (and if you might be able to walk him through set ups etc-
He is truly only using the machines for day to day tasks- but he is struggling with the password security and honestly I don’t think he understands what an APP can do for him.

We have always used Macs and I know that he will be a tougher sell on other products but I would like to know what you think might be the easiest and user friendliest

Currently he has a tyrannosaurus Rex desktop, a stegosaurus laptop and a mircro raptor iPad-

Trying to convince him that he no longer needs both a desk top and a lap top-
I think one basic function machine and an iPad would be more than enough - possibly might even think an iPad with a keyboard -
Curious on thoughts of the Microsoft systems as options?

I complete understand the struggle of trying to find the best technological fit with your parent. Keeping him happy and comfortable would be my main priority. Even when I think something might work better for them, sometimes it’s best to let them live in their comfort zone. If you push something new (and even easier onto them) they will blame you for whatever ever small thing goes wrong and you will never hear the end of how the old computer was so much better. I speak from personal experience with both family and professionally.

All that out of the way, yes an iPad with a keyboard would most likely serve 90% of his needs. The question then becomes: is he willing to let go of the traditional computer model. While I do not think it is a good idea to throw him into the windows world, you could consider either of the following:

Hand down an old iMac or laptop from yourself personally and buy yourself a new computer.
Or purchase a modest Mac like the entry level 21” iMac or entry level MacBook Air. Both are great machines and less expensive at around $1000 each. I think it’s a good idea for him to have an iPad in tandem with the computer. If he does, he’ll most likely find his own way to seeing that’s all he really needs. Especially considering the mobility benefit of an iPad.

He definitely doesn’t need both a desktop and a laptop. That’s certain.

Those are just a few of my thoughts.

How do I know how big a drive I need for my new computer?

I recently bought too small a hard drive for my new computer. How can I avoid this problem in the future?


This is a very common mis step. Best way to avoid this problem is to first check the amount of storage you have and are currently using on your old computer then go from there. To do this, go to the black apple in the top left corner of the screen, choose "about this Mac" then select storage.

The bar graph will show you the total capacity of your internal hard drive as well as how much space is being used. If you have a 1TB drive that's 1000 gigs. But if you are currently using 750 gigs of that 1TB drive then you would probably want to consider going to a 2TB drive. In general I don't really recommend anything below 1 TB these days. But there are exceptions to this rule of course. I 16 year old probably doesn't need that space yet in their lives. But an adult might. You are welcome to send me those numbers and I'll recommend a drive size based on the type of computer you buy of course.

Should I go to the M1 chip?

What's the latest version of Catalina currently? Should I go to Big Sur? Do I need to go to the new M1 chip for extra security?

10.15.7 is the highest. Apple will probably roll out 2 more updates before stopping development on Catalina. Catalina is a very stable operating system and there’s no need to move to Big Sur anytime soon. If you had the M1 chip then maybe but considering what we just went through, I’d stay in safe harbor Catalina for now. Big Sur has several new layers of security that sound great on paper but are proving to be a very big pain. The more secure something is, the less convenient it becomes. I don’t mean internet security. I’m talking about if someone steals your computer and wants the data, or just wants to wipe the machine (just like me last night) Apple has new steps in place with Big Sur that basically goes scorched earth if someone tries to steal someone else’s device. The iPhone has had this approach for several years now. Problem is, when someone runs into a standard issue they can sometimes not boot from an external drive, mount in target disk mode, change the password, wipe the computer etc... all for the sake of “security”. Think of it like this: say you upgrade your front door locks to 15 dead bolts instead of 1. Then one gets stuck and you can’t turn it as deadbolts sometimes (but rarely) do. You’ve just increased your chances of not being able to open your door 15 fold when one deadbolt was just fine for security in the first place. All this extra security is great if you are working for Space X but the spies from Blue Origin are after your industrial secrets but for the rest of us, a simple password on our machines is plenty.

What monitor should I buy?

i want to purchase a screen to be used with the laptop. In an ideal world, I would purchase it over the weekend and have it ready to go on Monday. That is my goal. However, the Apple website does not compare just screens (only desktop computers.) Do I need to buy an Apple? I want to purchase quality but do not want to be wasteful or overspend.

With all new laptops, the first thing to consider when purchasing a secondary monitor is the connector. New laptops come with USBC which carries data, power, audio, and video. Problem is; not many monitors on the market yet support USBC as a connection method. Most are DVI or more commonly now HDMI. This means that you'll most likely be looking for an HDMI monitor and a HDMI to USBC adapter.

Secondary monitors can come in a huge price range. You are paying for quality, contrast ratio, refresh rate, color accuracy, etc…. But for most general office purposes, a less expensive monitor is totally fine. 21, 24, 27" are all completely acceptable sizes. I'm liking the LG monitors recently.

24" LG monitor: LG 24MP88HV-S 24-Inch IPS Monitor with Infinity Display 2.5mm Bezel: Computers & Accessories

HDMI to USBC adapter: USB C to HDMI Cable for Home Office 6ft, CableCreation USB 3.1 Type C to HDMI 4K Thunderbolt 3 Compatible, Work with MacBook Pro/Air/iPad Pro 2020 2018, Surface Book 2, Dell XPS 15, Galaxy S20/S10: Computers & Accessories

Which laptop for my elderly mother?

I need to buy a laptop for my mother-in-law. She is also 82. Any suggestions as to which one to buy? She currently works on the same iMac that my mom does.

First, I apologize for any stereotyping I’m about to do...

82 year olds and laptops can sometimes be a little problematic just so you know. Here’s why:

1. Trackpad and elderly motor skills. The sensitivity to one, two, three, or even four fingers touching at one time can lead an elderly user to triggering actions they didn’t intend. So you may want to go into settings and dial down the sensitivity settings on the trackpad system prefs.

2. Eye sight. Increasing the size of the cursor arrow helps a lot. I use it myself. You may also consider changing the resolution of the screen. This can be done in the display settings. You can either choose a large amount of viewable space with everything smaller or less viewable space with everything bigger. Good idea to point her to that area so she can change things herself to fit what she likes.

So if you’re going forward with the laptop idea, she won’t need much. And weight should be a consideration also. So I would look at the new MacBook Air. Apple just released a new version 2 weeks ago so now is great time to buy. They released the M1 processor Air and also in the 13” MacBook Pro. She doesn’t need the pro so I would lean toward this one:

13-inch MacBook Air - Space Gray - Apple

It has a 256 gig hard drive which should be plenty for her needs. Price point $999. I wouldn’t add on anything other than possibly AppleCare if you are into extended warranties.

What monitor to buy for my iMac pro?

I’m close to throwing in the towel on the Target Display Mode thing.  Dead end after dead end.  Works, then stops and goes to a black screen.  
I have the new black 27” iMac Pro.  Do you have a recommendation for what the top of the line monitor would be that I can connect to it?

Glad to hear you finally came to your senses. I’m sure you fought the good fight. I think it’s disgusting that Apple didn’t build that very simple option to just continue to use the iMac as a monitor other than that small window of time plus the fact that you have to actually have the computer booted into a user. Stupid. That defeats the purpose. They could have easily built in a key combo that you hold down when booting that allows it to just act as a pure monitor. So if you feel like filing a class action law suit on them, count me in as a witness.

So second issue. Monitors are like ice cream. You may be totally happy with Food Lion brand vanilla or your could spend 3 times more to get Bryers.

Things to look out for when purchasing a monitor:

1. What resolution will the actually machine you’re using push onto a second monitor? I suspect with the iMac Pro, you can go bigx2.
2. Resolution
3. Refresh rate
4. Contrast ratio
5. Resolution!

Buying a monitor that is a different resolution than the main iMac can be a little weird. Totally doable but moving a window from one screen to the other to see its size change is a little low budget. I prefer to have the exact resolution as my main. Not all monitors are equal. Just because it says it supports a certain number doesn’t mean it will look good at that resolution. Don’t buy a weird size like some super wide curved display. Total cheese.

Brands I like:

Brands to stay away from unless money is tight:

I owner several Spectres because their cheap. The contrast ratio sucks which means black is not really very dark and white is not all that bright. But for my use of them just being side monitors for email or a calendar, that doesn’t really matter. I wouldn’t edit photographs on it.

There’s a very good chance your iMac monitor will be far superior to your second monitor. Apple has very good monitors and most monitors under $350 will not compare. That said, I have a 32” LG monitor I just bought that I use in tandem with a 16” MBP and I’m really high on it. I will probably end up buying another LG 32 within the next 6 months.

Industry secret: Every monitor contains dead pixels. You’ll most likely never notice them however because they are usually just dead sub pixels. Each pixel is made up of 3 sub pixels: Red, Blue, Green. A very expensive montior is going to prevent light from coming through the closed pixels therefore giving the appearance of a true black. All black is on a monitor is all three pixels closed. If the monitor is a poorer quality, there will be light that leaks through and the black will be less black. You see the same concept on cheap TV screens. Some tv’s are now able to turn off the back light behind pixels in different areas of the screen but those are $$$.

Anyway, long story short: LG, Samsung, High Contrast ratio, resolution that matches your primary. But be ready to $$$ to get close to the iMac resolution.

What additions should I consider when buying a new Macbook Pro?

Ordering the MacBook Pro – have a few questions:

8 – Core or 6-Core?

Depends obviously on what you’ll be using your computer for. In your case, being a very heavy Photos user, if you decide to migrate over the Lightroom (an Adobe product for professionals) then having 8 cores would make more sense. So if you feel frustrated with Photos and are looking for an alternative down the road, go 8 cores. It will set you up for Lightroom in the future. Otherwise, 6 is just fine.

4.8GHz or 5Ghz?
I wouldn’t bother paying for a speed bump.

Memory – 16 or 32?
Basically same answer as the 6/8 corse question but in my opinion, not as important. 16 is a great amount.

Graphics – nothing correct?
Correct. Don’t invest in a higher GPU.

Storage – looks like 2TB is $400 (sounds like it has come down) – 4TB is $1,000

Watch the announcements due on Nov 10. But I’d lean toward as much storage as you can afford. I hate that Apple charges so much for SSDs but this is the primary category that I would invest the most in. On board storage is king.

Understand no pre-installed software?
yes. Don’t bother with preinstalled software. You can buy whatever you want later and there are less complications.

MBP running Logic. How much ram?

Getting lots of “Disk full” messages on MacBook and iMac is running slow.  Thinking about replacing both:
Have 500 GB SSD on current MacBook.
Have 1 T HD on current iMac, with only 168 GB available.  Would this make my iMac run slower?
Looking for recommendation on how much SSD to buy for each replacement computer.
Basically my question is should I go with 1 T for MacBook and 2T for iMac (lots of emails stored) or should I spring for more.
Leaning toward the 16” MacBook.
Also, do I need to get 16GB memory or is 8 enough.
Obviously, will need your help after these are ordered.

Forgot to say that I HOPE to run Logic Pro on the MacBook if that makes a difference on how much memory I would need.

Disk full is a dangerous message to see. You always want to address that before you go below 10% capacity of the entire drive. (My number, not Apple's) On the several issue of your iMac, in general having 168 gigs still available is probably not the reason your iMac is running slow. There are usually two potential reasons. Software/Hardware. The most common reason is hardware in my experience. Hardware means hard drive. And Apple did not put good quality hard drives into their 2013-2018 iMacs. I've seen many of those drives fail in recent years.

Replacement drive: Yes, you can put a new SSD in the iMac at a fairly low cost. The problem isn't the cost of the SSD replacement drive
. The problem lies in how Apple manufactured those iMacs. They glued the screens on which means you have to unglue them in order to get into them. Once they started this method, I ended my hard drive replacement service. It just leads to an ugly repair with the display not reattaching to the computer in a reliable way. So I personally don't do the repair anymore.

Replacement computer: I would recommend investing in the storage as opposed to Ram. However, you mentioned you want to use Logic. So Logic will address as much ram as you have so Logic loves lots of ram. But here's the deal…that's only really relevant if you're running lots of tracks. If you're just 1-4 tracks 8 gigs would really be fine. (My current Logic setup is just 8 gigs)
. But if you plan to use Logic extensively then 16 gigs is a great option. It comes down to how much money you have! I think the 1 TB laptop and 2 TB internal on the iMac would be good as long as you are looking at an SSD. Do not buy a fusion drive option. I just can no longer recommend spinning drives of any type. It's 2020.

Upcoming Apple event

Should I wait to buy a new laptop? 11/4/20.

Apple is having one more event next week so I would suggest just hold off. They do have a 10 day upgrade policy I think. Or something close to 10 days where if you buy a machine and a new one is released within a certain amount of time, they would swap it out with a 10% fee. But don’t hold me to that. Regardless, even if they didn’t have that current policy in place, complaining can go a long way in retail. But do avoid all that, I suggest just wait until they reveal product on their next event scheduled for Nov 10th.

The major move they’ll be making in the laptop world will be the switch to Apple in house processors. They’re eventually leaving intel processors for their computers. They’ve been making processors for their iPhones and iPads for 10 years so they feel it’s time to roll that into their computers as well. This will be a very big step for them. It’s all about heat dissipation. You balance thinness with heat production. And they’ve gotten these processors down to like 20 nanometers thick. So moving to a new processor structure inside their machines could go very well or very badly for them. They’ve made this switch before however. They left powerPC for intel in the mid 2000’s and that was a great move for them.

Enough geekiness,. Long story short: wait until Nov 10th at this point.

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.

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.
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