Strait Macintosh User Group

September 21, 2021: We talk about email

Email is one of those subjects you can talk about all day, every day, and not cover everything. Starting with how to write it: is it e-mail, email, E-mail (patterned after V-mail of World War II fame), or electronic mail? The Associated Press Style Manual says “email,” which is lazy, but lazy often wins over formal.

Most of what we will discuss is: safety. How do you handle email in a safe, private fashion, with high confidence the person or entity you are engaged in is the person or entity you think they are? Much of this comes down to a few simple elements:

  • Limit your email volume. Don’t sign up for mailing lists, donation lists, sales lists, etc., unless you have a definite need. Most of us get way, way more email than we take the trouble to read.
  • Verify your correspondents. Take the trouble to find out if Harold’s Rocket Parts is really sent by your favorite supplier of rocket engines and fuselages, and not someone pretending to be Harold. This is obviously easier to do if you limit your total email volume.
  • Mark junk mail as junk. Don’t just delete it, mark it. The process of marking it as junk mail “teaches” your mail client and host to look for certain characteristics and filter them out of your inbox.
  • Delete old mail. Once you no longer need it, delete it. If you want to keep something as reference, don’t do it by leaving it in email.
  • Delete your trash. If you are throwing it away, periodically empty the trash.
  • Similarly, delete junk mail. If it is junk mail, don’t let it consume your hard disk space and mail server space.
  • Keep your address book up to date. Your mail client assumes that messages from entities in your address book are not sources of spam. Delete old email addresses and contacts that are no longer relevant.
  • Don’t open suspect messages. If you have doubts, don’t even open the message. Among other things, opening a message can verify that you are a valid target for spamming.
  • Don’t open any attachment unless you are absolutely sure it is legitimate.

Most of the time will be spent on that second item, verifying who is sending you mail. This is not always easy to do, and how to do it varies with how you read your mail.

Homework for the meeting

While we don’t generally assign homework for a meeting, please check out this page and think about watching the two videos before the meeting.

The September 21 meeting will be a virtual meeting via Zoom. The meeting will start at 7 p.m., but we will activate Zoom at 6:30 p.m. in order to get video and sound working, and conduct our usual interactive Q&A (Question & Answer) session. The Zoom meeting invitation will be sent out Monday, September 20, to people on our mailing list. If you are not on the mailing list, send us a message via the Contact page.

August 17, 2021: macOS Monterey and other things

For August, we will look into the (near) future and talk about macOS 12 Monterey, Apple’s next operating system for the Macintosh. We may have a (brief) demo, though I may abandon that idea as it is Really Complicated to run a beta operating system and present it via Zoom at the same time. But if we don’t have a demo, we will at least have a presentation on what it can do that is new, different, and spiffy.

If time allows, we will also start a discussion of email. Email is not a simple topic, even though it is about as old as the Internet. We may, in fact, just discuss the differences between chat, Messages, SMS messages, and email. To some degree, these are all alike, in as much as they use written words and phrases (and symbols) to pass ideas back and forth, but they are not, and it is worth exploring the differences.

We could talk about email at every meeting from now through the end of the year, and if we do get beyond macOS 12 Monterey, it will be just a toe-dip.

The August 17 meeting will be a virtual meeting via Zoom. The meeting will start at 7 p.m., but we will activate Zoom at 6:30 p.m. in order to get video and sound working, and conduct our usual interactive Q&A (Question & Answer) session. The Zoom meeting invitation will be sent out Monday, August 16, to people on our mailing list. If you are not on the mailing list, send us a message via the Contact page.

July 20, 2021: Summer Questions and Answers

At the June meeting, there was no clear consensus on the July meeting topic. So that will be the topic: nothing in particular!

We will devote the meeting to Questions and Answers, only with an added twist: you have to submit the questions in advance. Send your questions (for the July meeting, not about your garden mole problem or where to get a burrito) to: straitmac.vicepresident@gmail.com.

There are some parameters:

  • The question should be something that can be answered in five minutes or less, and it should be relevant to Macs or iPhones or iPads or Apple TV or something of that order. It should also be of general interest to the average Mac or iPhone or iPad user.
    • Bad: “Which is the best Star Wars film?” (Wars have been fought over that question)
    • Good: “What Mac-based image rendering technology was used in Star Wars for special effects?” (Answer: RenderMan)
    • Bad: “How long does it take for light from the Sun to reach Pluto?” (About 5 1/2 hours, but not Mac relevant)
    • Good: “How far will an iPad on the International Space Station travel in 5 1/2 hours?” (94,500 miles)
  • The question should not require the meeting host to vanish:
    • Bad: “Can you demonstrate how to put a Mac in Target Disk Mode?” (Zoom crashes as host reboots computer)
    • Bad: “Can you demonstrate CarPlay?” (Host leaves computer running but drives off somewhere)

Some suggestions offered so far:

  • What are the Macs built-in networking tools? And what can you do with them?
  • Are some of these networking tools available for iPads or iPhones?
  • How can you see who really sent an email message? (Essential for tracking down spammers)
  • How do you tag files on the Mac? (And what are “tags?”)
  • What third party (i.e., non-Apple) diagnostic tools do you recommend?

Like most of our demonstrations, this will be highly visual, and using your Mac or iPad is much preferred to an iPhone or just audio. When you log into the Zoom meeting, please make sure you use your full name, as “Sue’s iPad” or “Jeff” just don’t quite offer the same friendly vibe.

The July 20 meeting will be a virtual meeting via Zoom. The meeting will start at 7 p.m., but we will activate Zoom at 6:30 p.m. in order to get video and sound working, and conduct our usual interactive Q&A (Question & Answer) session. The Zoom meeting invitation will be sent out Sunday or Monday, July 18 or 19, to people on our mailing list. If you are not on the mailing list, send us a message via the Contact page.

June 15, 2021: Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, etc.

We will still be doing things virtually in June. Right this second, the Sequim Library has exceedingly limited access, on certain days, for certain purposes, and meetings are not possible. Please wear a mask, practice social distancing, get vaccinated, and help everybody return to “normal” as quickly as possible.

For June, we will be looking at Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, Photos, Calendar, Maps, etc. Google has a massive collection of on-line applications, and while they aren’t as well integrated as Apple’s, they are more widely used, and better supported by non-Apple devices. Just as the iCloud applications can do things you simply can’t do with other devices, Google has some clever tricks that it does shockingly well.

We will also probably discuss whatever they talk about at the Apple World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC21) on Monday, June 7. As a guess, they will say something interesting.

Like most of our demonstrations, this will be highly visual, and using your Mac or iPad is much preferred to an iPhone or just audio. When you log into the Zoom meeting, please make sure you use your full name, as “Sue’s iPad” or “Jeff” just don’t quite offer the same friendly vibe.

The June 15 meeting will be a virtual meeting via Zoom. The meeting will start at 7 p.m., but we will activate Zoom at 6:30 p.m. in order to get video and sound working, and conduct our usual Q&A (Question & Answer) session. The Zoom meeting invitation will be sent out Sunday or Monday, June 13 or 14, to people on our mailing list. Maybe we’ll remember to have a sign-in sheet for the meeting, too…

May 18, 2021: Files, Clipboard, Reminders, AirDrop, and other mysteries

For May, we will turn from the critical but somewhat opaque world of security to the critical but sometimes confusing world of moving things around and making useful lists of things. Since the very beginning, macOS has made it easy to “physically” move files around in the Finder (so named because you could find files). This was much harder to do on an iPad or iPhone, so Apple introduced Files, an app that allows you to click on files and move them around. But it definitely does not work the same way as Finder.

Similarly, from the very beginning, macOS has supported Cut, Copy, and Paste. But do these critical features work on an iPad or iPhone? Yes. But not necessarily the same way.

And if you want to move something from your iPhone to your Mac, do you just email it to yourself? Or is AirDrop a better way of moving files. Hint: yes, AirDrop is a better way, but not always.

Finally, Reminders. Reminders is a really useful way to remind you of things on your iPhone or iPad. But it is now also available in macOS. That’s splendid. But did you know you can use Reminders for shopping?

The topics were suggested by someone with an iPad, but Files, Clipboard, Reminders and AirDrop are now “cross-platform,” of value to Mac users, iPhone users, iPad users, and users of various combinations of these devices. In fact, having two or more of these devices makes life easier and more flexible.

The May 18 meeting will be a virtual meeting via Zoom. The meeting will start at 7 p.m., but we will activate Zoom at 6:30 p.m. in order to get video and sound working, and conduct our usual Q&A (Question & Answer) session. The Zoom meeting invitation will be sent out Sunday, May 16, or possibly Monday, May 17, to people on our mailing list. Maybe we’ll remember to have a sign-in sheet for the meeting, too…

April 26, 2021: Security on the Mac – Beyond the basics

If at first you don’t succeed, reschedule

Ahem: the April 20 meeting was cut short just as the presentation was supposed to begin. We were finishing up the last question in the Q&A (Question & Answer) session when the Zoom session collapsed. A quick diagnostic survey showed that the lights and power were on, but the TV, telephone, and Internet were out. Sigh. Rumor has it that the participants in the Zoom meeting chatted amongst themselves for a bit, wondering when the Vice President would return with the presentation. The host wondered about that, too…

On the bright side, we have posted the Q&A session.

So we are rescheduling this meeting for Monday, April 26, 6:30-8 p.m. Same topics.

And what are those topics? We will probably entertain a few more questions about Apple’s Spring Loaded event where they introduced a bunch of new stuff, and then proceed with talking about beyond the ordinary macOS security.

When you install or update macOS, it is very secure, right out of the box. (Assuming operating systems come in boxes, which they no longer do.) But what if you want to go beyond the basics to make things even more secure?

This is a complicated subject, especially since “beyond the basics” implies that users have done the basics — which many have not. But we’ll do our best to cover things you can do to make things more secure and see how far we can get in 60 minutes. If you want to get a head start, go to Take Control books and buy — and download — Take Control of Securing Your Mac.

The April 26 meeting will be a virtual meeting via Zoom. The meeting will start at 7 p.m., but we will activate Zoom at 6:30 p.m. in order to get video and sound working, and conduct our usual Q&A (Question & Answer) session. The Zoom meeting invitation will be sent out Sunday, April 25, to people on our mailing list.

Speaking of which: if you were purged from the mailing list and wish to be reinstated, go to the Contact menu item, and send us a note. We are friendly.

March 16. 2021: Preview and TextEdit – Mac superheroes

A year ago, the March 2020 meeting was canceled due to the pandemic, officially declared just a few days earlier. Since then, SMUG has boldly gone where it had never been before: into the virtual world of Zoom.

And — for March 2021, we continued on virtually, discussing two utility programs for the Mac that are often overlooked: Preview and TextEdit. Preview is positively ancient, dating back to 1989, and TextEdit is almost as old, dating back to 1996. Both programs have their own Wikipedia entries. Preview also has a Take Control book, which is recommended.

For more on the meeting, see the March blog entry.

February 16, 2021: iMovie by a non-expert, for non-experts

For the second meeting of 2021, we will have a presentation on iMovie. We couldn’t find anyone willing to admit to being an iMovie expert, so a non-expert was volunteered. (Note: was volunteered by someone else.) The presentation will be a demo of how to make a video with iMovie, from start to finish, using tools everyone should have on their Mac: Keynote, Preview, QuickTime Player, and iMovie. Note: the presentation will be done on a Macintosh. You can also create iMovies right on your iPhone or iPad, but those won’t be covered.

The February 16 meeting will be a virtual meeting via Zoom. The meeting will start at 7 p.m., but we will activate Zoom at 6:30 p.m. in order to get video and sound working, and conduct our usual Q&A (Question & Answer) session. The Zoom meeting invitation will be sent out Sunday or Monday, February 14 or 15, to people on our mailing list.

Speaking of the mailing list, anyone who hasn’t attended a meeting or paid dues since October 2018 will be purged from the mailing list in late February 2021. You can avoid being purged by going to the Contact page, https://strait-mac.org/contact/ and writing to tell us you don’t want to be purged.

January 19, 2021: macOS 11 Big Sur and Apple Silicon

We plan to open the year with what we would have closed the previous year: we will have a demonstration of macOS 11 Big Sur and of a computer running Apple Silicon, both at the same time (because we are lazy). Apple claims Big Sur is a “major advance” in macOS, and we believe them, as this is the first version of their operating system since 2000 that hasn’t been named some variation of 10 or X. Big Sur was bumped up to 11.†

October saw the release of the first three Macintosh computers (MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Mac mini) using Apple Silicon CPUs (central processing units). This is a massive change from Intel CPUs, used in Apple’s desktop, laptop and server computers since 2006. It isn’t the first time Apple has made a CPU change, as the company started with MOS Technology 6502 CPUs in 1976 before moving to Motorola processors, and then IBM processors, and then to Intel processors. Each evolutionary step has been challenged as a risky move, yet Apple remains the oldest and the most valuable personal computer company in history.

The January 19 meeting will be a virtual meeting via Zoom. The meeting will start at 7 p.m., but we will activate Zoom at 6:30 p.m. in order to get video and sound working, and conduct our usual Q&A (Question & Answer) session. The Zoom meeting invitation will be sent out Sunday or Monday, January 17 or 18, to people on our mailing list.

We will also talk about (if someone remembers) Apple’s Exposure Notifications on iPhones, recently activated in Washington State.

† To the great joy and happiness of Spinal Tap fans everywhere. Yes, this description was cut and pasted from December, with modest changes.

Canceled: December 15: macOS 11 Big Sur and Apple Silicon

The December 15 meeting was canceled literally at the last couple of hours (“literally at the last minute plus 120 other minutes”). Stay tuned for 2021.

November 17, 2020: Apple Watch and Health

Health is a world-wide obsession in 2020, and the Apple Watch is all about health. Yes, it can tell time, act as a walkie-talkie, and (in some models) phone, and do countless other things, but the most popular non-time function is: health. You can use the Apple Watch to not only time your exercise (and a wide variety of exercises, too), but also, in many cases, use it to draw a map of your activities. It can help you wash your hands, remind you to take breaks, assist in meditation, and track your sleep. No, it can’t cure COVID-19, but it can help you stay healthier and, as a result, more capable of withstanding the disease.

The November 17 meeting will be all about the Apple Watch — and health. Bring your questions, bring your discoveries, and — if you are a skeptic — bring an open mind.

We will also talk about whatever it is that Apple will announce at their November 10 special event, One More Thing…

This will be another virtual meeting via Zoom. The meeting will start at 7 p.m., but we will activate Zoom at 6:30 p.m. in order to get video and sound working, and conduct our usual Q&A (Question & Answer) session. The Zoom meeting invitation will be sent out Monday, November 16.

October 20, 2020: Word Processing

Our meeting on Tuesday, October 20, will be about word processing. This is a vast subject that, in one way or another, encompasses the entire history of microcomputers. Lawrence Charters, Strait-Mac Vice President, purchased his first microcomputer to turn it into a word processor. No word processing programs existed, so he wrote his own. (It was terrible, but he had a word processor!) We will probably also cover, at least briefly, whatever Apple brings up at their Special Event on October 13.

This will be another virtual meeting via Zoom. The meeting will start at 7 p.m., but we will activate Zoom at 6:30 p.m. in order to get video and sound working, and conduct our usual Q&A (Question & Answer) session. The Zoom meeting invitation will be sent out Monday, October 19.

Bring your questions! Also, bring your answers!

September 15, 2020: Backups, Time Machines, and Archives

Our meeting on Tuesday, September 15, will be about Time Machine, Backups, and Archives. The original suggestion was just about Time Machine, but the other topics are intimately related. We will probably also cover, at least briefly, whatever Apple brings up at their Special Event earlier in the day.

This will be another virtual meeting via Zoom. The meeting will start at 7 p.m., but we will activate Zoom at 6:30 p.m. in order to get video and sound working, and conduct our usual Q&A (Question & Answer) session. The Zoom meeting invitation will be sent out Monday, September 14.

Note: this will not be just a boring monologue about backups. There will be props! Audio-video demonstrations! Questions! Answers!

August 18, 2020: Basic digital photography, part 1

August will see a return to a topic we touched on in June: digital photography. In June, we started with the most basic question: what the heck do you do with all those digital photos pouring in from Apple Mail, Messages, Gmail, the web, and who knows where else? But while organizing photos (and then using the organization to find and use the photos) is a critical skill, it isn’t the only critical skill you might need. Also of use: knowing how to take a photo.

There are lots of ways to take digital photos. In fact, you can take photos with a traditional film camera, then scan them and turn them into digital photos — but that’s a lot of work. We’ll skip that, and stick with the easy methods: using an iPhone, iPad, or (shocking idea) a digital camera to take a photo.

At least, it seems easy. Until it isn’t.

August will be a virtual meeting, via Zoom

Meeting starts at 7 pm; you may connect at 6:30 pm to test your connection and participate in our Question and Answer session. The link for the meeting will be sent out a day or two before the meeting.

In May, June, and July, we used Zoom to host virtual meetings, and it went well. We will continue with Zoom as the North Olympic Library System (NOLS) has announced all in-person meetings are canceled through at least August 31. Their announcement went on to say that “we are unable to predict what level of building use will be safe and appropriate through the summer.” Even when meeting rooms can be made available, “meeting room space will likely be needed for other library services in order to follow social-distancing guidelines.”


July 21, 2020: WWDC

Apple’s June 22 World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) was the main topic of the SMUG meeting in July. We discussed Apple’s forthcoming releases of new iPhone, iPad, and macOS operating systems, as well as their surprise announcement that all Macs are going to be moving to new CPUs, designed and built by Apple. It was a lively meeting.


June 16, 2020: Basic digital photography, part 0

(This event took place on June 16, as scheduled.)

More photographs are taken with iPhones than with any other camera in history. In fact, more photographs are taken with iPhones each day than were taken by all cameras, everywhere, between the first photograph in 1826 and the introduction of the iPhone in 2007. Of the 7.5 billion people on earth at the moment, 3.5 billion of them have a smartphone, and the most widely used feature on a smartphone is: the camera.

Which leads to a very obvious question: what do you do with the 1.5 trillion (1,500,000,000,000) photos that will be taken in 2020?

In Part Zero of a zillion part possible series, we will look at photo storage and organization. We know you’ve taken selfies and pictures of your dinner and pictures of a cat (yours or someone else’s) and things you want to buy at the grocery store or clothing store, or a funny sign or what you thought was a coyote but was actually a paper sack. What do you do with all those photos?

In deference to pandemic recovery efforts, this will be a virtual meeting using Zoom. SMUG members should receive an email message (not right this second, but sometime soon) with the details. If you don’t receive such a message, please contact us.

Normally, we would meet at the Sequim Public Library, but all libraries in the state are closed under the Stay Home, Stay Healthy initiative.

May 19, 2020: Staying Together Using Macs, iPhones and iPads in a Time of Social Distancing

(This event took place on May 19 as scheduled.)

Since Macs, iPhones, and iPads are communications tools, there is an endless number of ways you can use them to stay in touch, but the focus will be on: email, SMS (instant messaging), and virtual meetings such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, FaceTime, etc. We won’t go into how to use each method, or the endless number of things you can do with them. Instead, the focus will be on which tool is best for which task, and what these tools do poorly.

This will be a virtual meeting using Zoom. SMUG members should receive an email message with the details. If you haven’t received such a message, please contact us.

Those attending via Zoom should please fill out an attendance form.

Normally, we would meet at the Sequim Public Library, but all libraries in the state are closed under the Stay Home, Stay Healthy initiative.

Previous meetings

March 2020: meeting canceled due to pandemic outbreak.

January 2020: Setting up iCloud services

November 2019: Macintosh file management

October 2019: Securing macOS Catalina

September 2019: Preview of macOS Catalina

August 2019: crickets.

July 2019: Questions and Answers

June 2019: Web browsers, continued

April 2019: Web browsers

December 2018: Troubleshooting your Mac

In the meantime, here are some resources on COVID-19:


Strait Macintosh User Group (SMUG) is open to owners and users of Macintosh, iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod), HomePod, Apple TV, Apple Watch [etc.] devices. Our goal is to spread computer literacy and technical savviness to residents of the Olympic Peninsula.

Located in the upper left-hand corner of the United States, the Olympic Peninsula is rich in natural beauty but isolated from the services commonly found in metropolitan areas. There are no computer stores, no electronics stores, no television stations, and limited broadband connectivity. On the other hand, we do have elk, deer, a floating bridge, volcanoes (though not that close), and a fair number of computer wizards willing to teach, and learn.

Meetings are (generally) at 7 p.m. on the third Tuesday of the month, at the Library in Sequim, Washington. [Map] Since the library is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual meetings are being held at the same time and date. Check here before meetings for the latest information.

To keep up with SMUG, enter your email address in the box to the right below Follow Strait Macintosh User Group, and you will be notified of new posts via email.