Mary asked: I heard there’s an update to OS X 10.8 for my Mac. How do I find it? And should I update?
OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) changed the way that you get updates. In prior versions, you were required to explicitly run a system update utility, and then you’d see the new updates to the operating system. Starting in OS X 10.8, system updates and operating system upgrades come to you through the App Store.
You can still, in Mountain Lion, go to the Apple menu and choose Software Updates, but you’ll find them in the App Store as opposed to needing to run a separate application.
As in any other update, you should always back up your computer before any update. Time Machine makes this extraordinarily easy, but any full backup will do. (We still recommend backing up the entire computer to an external hard drive using Carbon Copy Cloner (www.bombich.com/) or Super Duper (www.shirt-pocket.com/SuperDuper) every now and then and filing this copy away somewhere, preferably offsite).
You should keep up with the most current updates your operating system, if for no other reason than the fact that security issues get found and fixed over time.
New email service
Tom asks: I heard there’s a new free email product available from Microsoft. What would it get me? Is it worth looking into?
It’s true: In the final quarter of 2012, Microsoft released its new Outlook.com email product. It’s free, and it has a nice clean interface that looks like Outlook 2013, which I’m guessing most people haven’t seen yet.
It includes Facebook (facebook.com) and Twitter (twitter.com) integration so that if you have a Facebook account, you’ll be able to view photos of the senders of the email right there in the email interface.
Outlook.com has a few tricks up its sleeve, as well. When you attach a large file to an email, you must both upload it to a server. It needs to be transferred through multiple email servers, possibly, and then the receiver must download it to his computer.
Some/most email systems limit the size of attachments you can send. To make this simpler, and to allow for larger attachments, you can store a large attachment using Microsoft’s free SkyDrive service, (windows.microsoft.com/en-US/skydrive/download). You attach the file to the email, but Outlook.com stores the document on SkyDrive and inserts a link instead. Instead of emailing large files, you email links to large files that the receiver of your email can download at will.
Another nice feature: Because it’s a new service, there’s a better chance you’ll be able to log on and select an email address that matches your name. For example I logged on the first day, and I had no problem getting my own name at Outlook.com. That’s a nice feature because certainly all the straightforward names are gone at Gmail.com.
Give Outlook.com a look. It’s a nice, new, free email service from Microsoft.
Doug Behl and Ken Getzspent years answering technical questions in private, and are minimizing the questions by pre-emptively publishing the answers. Hear Doug and Ken’s tech tips on KNCO radio weekdays at around 8:21a.m. and 5:38 p.m.; find full write-ups including links to the products they mention at http://blog.techtipguys.com. Submit your own technical questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.