Although Apple’s actual market share of computer users is around 10 percent and still small compared to Microsoft Windows, many more people are using Macs and OS X these days. Apple is growing fast and recently passed Microsoft in overall company worth; that means many more people are using MacBooks and iMacs.
And just like a Windows PC, there are a few important things to remember when using a Mac: one is to update software, and the other is to be sure you have a disk backup. But neither is difficult to deal with.
Software Update is just that: it’s a part of OS X that checks for updates and downloads and installs those updates. That’s important because Apple – like any software manufacturer – regularly issues updates that fix bugs and security problems.
The best way to keep updated is to have Apple’s Software Update run automatically. Go to the Apple menu in the upper lefthand corner of your MacBook or iMac screen and select it (you need an Internet connection, and preferably a fast one, as the updates can be large). Software Update
will run and you can select “Show Details…” to see what needs to be updated.
To choose how often the program runs, go to the “Preferences” menu (also under the Apple), look for Software Update, and tick “Check for updates” and select how often. (Weekly is a good choice.) Also tick “Download updates automatically.” That will ensure Software Update runs by itself in the background. For help with Software Update, see support.apple.com/kb/HT1338
As I pointed out last issue, it’s important to have Software Update run automatically, as Apple has been releasing fixes to prevent malware from being able to work.
The second important thing to do with your Mac is have a backup of your hard drive. Modern hard drives are very reliable and have a long life, but still, things happen, and if your hard drive dies and you don’t have a backup, all of your work and files will be gone. That means all Word docs, your photos, email, everything. Gone.
But the easiest way to back up your hard drive is to use Time Machine, Apple’s built-in backup system. Time Machine is available in 10.5 (Leopard), 10.6 (Snow Leopard) and the newest, 10.7 (Lion). If you bought a Mac in the last three years, you already have Time Machine.
Time Machine makes a full copy of your hard drive, and updates it every hour. So your full disk backup is never more than an hour old, and can be restored to a new hard drive if the old one crashes. Look in your System Preferences for Time Machine and how to turn it on.
You will need a USB drive (the same size or larger than the Mac’s hard drive) for Time Machine to use for the backup. Or, you can buy a wireless Time Machine from Apple. See apple.com/support/timemachine/ for more help.