Thanksgiving Tech Support: Basic iOS and macOS Tips and Tricks to Pair Your Relatives’ Devices

The United States is celebrating Thanksgiving today, and many Americans are spending time with family gatherings, watching football games, enjoying their free time – and looking for deals as Christmas shopping approaches. If you’re the “tech guy” in your family, chances are someone’s asking for help with their iPhone or Mac. Here are some tips to make it run better!

Get the latest version of iOS and macOS

If you have a family member running iOS 13 or an older version of macOS, Thanksgiving is a great time to update them. They will get all the latest features of iOS 16 and watchOS 9, and may stay updated even longer thanks to automatic updates.

All of Apple’s fall operating system updates have been out long enough that you should feel safe updating them. Remember – the current versions are the most secure on the market, so it’s a great idea to update your family with these patches and fixes.

iCloud settings

Before you upgrade to macOS Ventura, make sure your system is backed up – more on that later. If you’re going to do just one thing for Thanksgiving tech support, checking for updates should be it (more than cleaning potatoes).

Make sure iCloud is configured

iCloud Photos

iCloud Shared Photo Library

If you’re going to look at a family member’s devices, make sure they’re signed in with their iCloud account before doing anything else. It may sound crazy, but I’ve seen it with my own eyes: In 2022, anyone can use iOS without iCloud.

To check if your family members are signed in to iCloud, go to Settings > iCloud. While you’re at it, please scroll down and make sure they’ve completed a backup recently – if not, start a manual backup immediately so it’s done before the iOS update .

Once you’ve confirmed that iCloud Photos is enabled, go back to the main screen and check if they have enough space on their iCloud account. If you back up your photo library to iCloud, losing a device is no worse than forgetting where you put the charger.

On macOS, you’ll want to enable iCloud (Apple Logo > System Preferences > iCloud). Then open the Photos app to sync it properly.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you might want to enable iCloud Photo Sharing.

Time Machine and cloud storage

Although your family may not have their own external hard drive with them, you should strongly encourage them to back up their Mac at regular intervals. Amazon offers a number of reasonably priced external drives that are easy to use with Time Machine.

If they don’t have a driver, you should ask them to order one and install it by Christmas. You can verify that Time Machine is running by going to System Preferences > Time Machine.

If they don’t have a Time Machine backup and want one, you can recommend a service like Backblaze. It costs only $70 per year. I have a few colleagues who didn’t want to remember to set up an external drive to make backups, so they just chose Backblaze. Backblaze will automatically back up all files on your Mac or PC. External backups are especially important in the event of fire, flood, or theft; once you install it there is nothing else to do.

Check Chrome extensions

Chrome is a popular browser among Mac users due to its easy synchronization with PCs and strong extension ecosystem. I tend to see instances where it’s loaded with bloatware by PC owners, though – and fortunately, such add-ons are relatively easy to remove.

Go to Window > Add-ons. Look for anything abnormal (PDF converters, etc.), and remove it. Also, double-check your default landing page (DuckDuckGo is the safest option). If your loved ones are complaining of constant pop-ups when they try to browse the Web, it may be because of an extension that their search engine has installed. Make sure you include this tech support during Thanksgiving dinner!

General cleaning of macOS

While macOS is very secure, you can still get malware by clicking on a random pop-up ad telling you to download a new flash player, etc. My favorite tool for cleaning malware is Malwarebytes or CleanMyMac X. Malwarebytes is a free download, and there are paid options for automatic scanning in the future. If you want to run a quick scan and remove it you can do so for free.

If you need to do general maintenance, delete large files to free up space, or uninstall applications, check out CleanMyMac X. It is the best macOS maintenance tool on the market. It is great for cleaning up space, removing unused apps, and more.

Discuss Wi-Fi updates

I get more and more questions about how to improve home Wi-Fi connectivity. At any given time, there may be 60 devices connected to my home network—mostly HomeKit-enabled devices and accessories but also computers, iPhones, and iPads.

I use the eero Pro 6E at home because I work from home, but for someone with less demanding needs, the regular eero 6 model would be a fantastic upgrade. Here is my full review. If your family complains about poor Wi-Fi at home for remote work, you can confidently recommend eero to them.

Meet Thanksgiving technical support

It’s time to get all your friends and family members set up for the new year and make sure their devices are backed up, updated and free of malware. Avoid controversial topics like web apps vs. native apps – it’s Thanksgiving!

Photo by Jure Pivk on Unsplash

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