Is FileVault Disk Encryption Good or Bad?

The other way a reader emailed me asking whether it’s a good idea to turn on FileVault on her Mac.

Well, let’s admit it — this is a topic that has been debated again and again, and still it doesn’t seem to have a consensus among macOS users.

Just take a quick look at this forum thread, and this one in Apple Discussion…you’ll understand what I mean.

So, is FileVault disk encryption good or bad? What’s the best practices to follow if possible? That’s what I’m going to cover in this post.

But first, here are some opinions from authorities:

FileVault Is Good

Data security is the top reason for using it, and that’s what the feature was designed for, according to Apple, FileVault 2 full-disk encryption uses XTS-AES-128 encryption with a 256-bit key to help prevent unauthorized access to the information on your startup disk.

So, if your Mac has stored tons of highly private and sensitive information — it’s probably a good idea to have FileFault turned on as always. Because you never know what would happen to your Mac machine, e.g. one day you may need to resell or donate it, or in worst situation the machine got stolen.

BackBlaze had a great point in this:

FileVault protects your data from prying eyes. If you’re using your computer to access sensitive data, or if you just don’t want your information to fall into the wrong hands, FileVault gives you peace of mind you won’t have otherwise.

FileVault Is Probably Not Good

The main concerns include: performance, password, and data safety.

First of all, if you’re using an older Mac that loads with a spinning hard drive rather then an SSD (unless you’ve upgraded it), then having it turned on would probably cause more slowdowns or hangs.

As Jim Tanous put in TekRevue:

Another issue to consider is performance. Because the Mac will have to encrypt and decrypt data as the user calls for it, there will be a slight performance hit when it comes to reading and writing data.

On the other hands, you’ll need to set a password for the drive, and have to enter it to mount it. These days I believe you already have enough passwords, adding an extra one (different from other passwords) means more risk — you may forget it. And if that happens, it’s a disaster for all the data and content saved in the drive.

My personal take

You see? We can’t say it’s absolutely good or bad to encrypt Mac disk with this built-in feature.

Personally, I prefer not to turn it on. That’s why you see this on my MacBook Pro. Go to  > System Preferences > Security & Privacy.

I have disk encryption turned off 🙂

However, that doesn’t mean I don’t value data security. You may consider set up and enable Find My Mac, and if your Mac is too old to perform well and you want to recycle it, do these things to make sure the new owner has no access to your data (yes, data recovery is possible, see my previous post here).

Last yet most important, no matter what you choose — enable or disable the encryption option, always make timely backups of your Mac data. That’s the golden rule of protecting yourself from data disaster in the digital age.

How to Disable Siri (Turn it off on Menu Bar) on macOS Sierra?

Let’s be honest, are you really a fan of Siri?

Although Apple has put lots of efforts to make Siri an intelligent personal assistant, I’m just not as enthusiastic as I should be told to.

Don’t get me wrong, I have used Siri many times on my phone and Mac as well – yes, I am a typical example of “the 98% have used Siri, but only 3% do so in public due to embarrassment [poll]”, a survey from 9to5mac.

You can read the article here: https://9to5mac.com/2016/06/06/siri-embarrassment-poll/

I also participated the survey, and honestly the result was surprising!

Survey source: 9to5mac

So, if you are like me who want to disable Siri on macOS Sierra, here’s a quick guide for you. I have no idea why Apple decided to incorporate it into Sierra, maybe because El Capitan users made strongly request this feature. For me, I am used to not using Siri as my personal assistant when I’m working on my MacBook Pro.

Here’s where Siri shows up on Mac’s menu bar

To turn it off, you just need a couple of steps:

Step 1: Open System Preferences.

Step 2: Click “Siri” in the preferences pane.

Step 3: In the new windows, uncheck “Enable Siri”. That’s it.

You should notice the siri icon disappear from the menu bar right away.

In case you need the feature at some point, go to the same window and select “Enable Siri”. A pop-up “Siri sends information like your voice input, contacts, and location to Apple to process your requests.” will show and just click to confirm it.

Hope you like this simple tutorial =-)

How to fix it when headphone sound isn’t balanced on Mac

Yesterday I took the plug and upgraded my MacBook to the latest version of Sierra, finally!…I know, I know, it’s quite late (call me lazy) 🙂

One problem that got around me was – when I plug in my headphone on the Mac jack, there’s voice only on one side (I couldn’t tell which is right or left since the two sides on my headphone are exactly the same).

The unbalanced sound is oddly unacceptable, something I can’t tolerate for sure. Just imagine when Justin Bieber’s voice always come from your right ear when he’s singing What Do You Mean, lol

I have never met such issue when I upgraded my Mac to El Capitan (the OS X version before Sierra), therefore I have no idea what caused it.

Fortunately, I was able to fix the unbalanced sound issue in a few steps (really simple, actually):

Here’s how:

Step 1: Click Apple logo on top left, then System Preferences

Step 2: in the Preferences pane, click Sound.

Step 3: in the new window, under “Output” tab (select this one if you are not here). See “Balance”? Move the pointer to the middle, and you should be good to go.

P.S. In my case, it pointed to “right”, that’s why there was only sound coming from one side on my headphone.

Hope Apple would take care of this issue when releasing the next macOS version, which’s coming soon.

Thanks for reading. Hope you find this tip useful!

How to Quickly Find The MAC Address of Your MacBook Pro

You probably know what an IP address is and how to find it (yep, just type “what is my IP address” in Google and you’ll see a series of digits). But what about MAC address (or Wi-Fi address)? How to find it on a Macbook Pro?

What is MAC address (vs. IP address)?

Okay, there are enough resources on the Internet defining the two terms and exploring their difference. I found this article most useful and to the point.

Just a note – don’t get confused by the term “MAC” (short for Media Access Control). It actually has nothing to do with Apple’s Mac computers. Every network device has a unique MAC address, including a Windows PC.

When do you need to know your MAC address?

There are a number of situations you may have to know your MAC address. For example, you want to get authorized to access certain servers in your company or organization.

For me, the motivation was different. The other day the Internet on my apartment was super slow, I suspected somebody was stealing my network and draining the limited brand-width. So I went to the router and followed my Internet provider’s instructions to look up devices connected to my line. I did see several devices connected to my Internet router.

But surprisingly, it didn’t show me the names of each device. Instead, all I saw was a series of digits and characters — which later I figured out are the MAC (Wi-Fi) addresses. But which one represented my MacBook Pro? I was confused.

It’s not rocket science to find it out…

How to find MAC (Wi-Fi) address of a MacBook Pro

Step 1: Click on the Apple logo, and then System Preferences…

Step 2: On System Preferences pane, click Network.

Step 3: now check the Wi-Fi tab on the left panel. And then click the “Advanced” button.

Step 4: in the new window, go to the Wi-Fi tab, find this line “Wi-Fi Address” at the bottom. Here we go, the series of character is your MAC Address (aka, Wi-Fi Address).

Pretty easy, right? Hope you find this quick tip useful 🙂

 

How to Disable AVG Antivirus App Icon in Mac Menu Bar?

I’m not super paranoid about Mac security as I haven’t been caught by any virus or malware (yet), since I started to use my Mac. But it seems recent years there are some anecdotes (maybe facts) saying macOS isn’t safe any more.

Personally, I think the trend is to the benefits of the antivirus makers whose revenue comes from system protection software. AVG is one of them. I’ve installed AVG Antivirus on my Mac and liked its quick scan and through scan features.

But, one thing I felt annoying is the icon keeps showing up on Mac menu bar (screenshot here), every time I turn on my machine. This is not cool because I’m organized and I care a lot about desktop cleanness.

I don’t like this 🙁

Fortunately, preventing it from showing up is quite easy. Here’s how to disable the icon step by step:

Step 1: Click the AVG icon and select “Open AVG Antivirus…”.

Step 2: On the top left corner, click on AVG AntiVirus > Preferences.

Step 3: Under “General” tab, uncheck this option “Show AVG AntiVirus icon in the task bar.”

Step 4: Bingo! Now the icon should disappear from your Mac menu bar.

P.S. not sure why AVG calls it “task bar” but on Macs we’re used to call it “menu bar” (that’s also what Apple describes, see here). Also, in case you want to rearrange menu bar icons instead of removing it, check out this tip from HowtoGeek.

Does MacBook Pro Have BlueTooth? How to Tell What Version It Has

Bluetooth is a technology that makes our lives easier. It has been popular for years. You probably have heard, or even used it at some point of your digital life.

As a lover of MacBook Pro, one of the questions I have in mind and got asked several times was: does a MacBook Pro have Bluetooth? How to check what Bluetooth version my Mac is equipped with?

Today I’m going to show you the answer.

Does MacBook Pro have BlueTooth?

Yes. According to Apple, here’s what it says:

“Most Mac computers come with Bluetooth technology built-in….and you can pair your Mac with a Bluetooth device”

That means, as long as your mobile devices (e.g. a mouse, an iPhone/iPad, etc.) are Bluetooth-enabled, they can be connected to your Mac without problems.

How to tell what Bluetooth version your MacBook Pro has?

Step 1: Click the Apple logo icon on top left corner, then select About This Mac.

Step 2: Click the “System Report” button to continue.

Step 3: Under Hardware tab, find Bluetooth. Scroll down and locate this line called “LMP Version:”, it indicates the version of Bluetooth your Mac is currently with. For example, my MacBook Pro is with Bluetooth 4.0 (see the screenshot below).

Bluetooth 4.0 vs 4.1 vs 4.2 (and 5.0)

In general, newer versions are faster, more reliable and secure.

If you are interested in knowing a little bit further about Bluetooth technology, here are some useful resources to explore.

Happy New Year to All Mac Fans

Hey y’all.

I know what you’re doing at this moment, definitely not sitting in front of your computer or reading my blog 🙂

As new year is around the corner, very soon…I want to take this opportunity to wish all Mac fans (especially, my dear blog readers) a happy and prosperous 2017!

2016 has been a gorgeous year for me as I learned a lot along the way, both work and life.

Cheers and I look forward to any challenges or opportunities up coming in the new year.

Happy holidays and have fun!!

Is It Worth Upgrading a MacBook with an SSD?

So you’ve been told that getting an SSD can boost your Macbook performance, and you’re thinking about doing so? But, is it really worth it to upgrade your MacBook Air or Pro to an SSD?

In this article, I’ll share a few of my own opinions.

What is SSD?

SSD is short for Solid-state drive. In case you are new to the SSD world, check out the wiki for more information.

The common misconception about SSD

There are a lot of debates over HDDs vs SSDs in the past several years. Bill from EMC outlined the top three misconceptions about solid-state drive. The article was written in 2014. According to him, the common misconception was that SSDs are unreliable.

That is not true. According to PCMag’s explanation of difference between SSD and HDD, SSDs win HDDs on durability because

…an SSD has no moving parts, so it is more likely to keep your data safe in the event you drop your laptop bag or your system is shaken about by an earthquake while it’s operating…

Bill also mentioned that SSDs were expensive than HDDs, which was and still is true. But, earlier this year Lucas Mearian posted an article in PCWorld stating that SSD prices are coming close to HDDs. Here’s a graph you’ll find interesting.

Is it worth upgrading your Macbook to SSD?

In my opinion, it depends on your goal, and more important, the current situation of your Mac.

If your MacBook is a couple of years old and runs really slow to a point that affects your productivity (in particular, assuming you use it to do work most of the time), then you should consider replacing the internal hard drive with an SSD. Typical models include 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012.

If your MacBook is relatively new and it works okay to deal with most errands. Then I’d not recommend you to upgrade even if it has performance issues. Because you can resume some speed by unloading some apps, cleaning out unnecessary files, etc.

Be careful when choosing an SSD for your Mac

It’s common perception that a product receives good reviews and customer feedback, it must be good. But what if I told you that’s not exactly true?

What do I mean? Take a look at this SSD shadiness: “Kingston and PNY caught bait-and-switching cheaper components after good reviews”.

Seriously, I was shocked by the news reported by Joel Hruska from ExtremeTech (thanks Joel! I always have full respect to courageous journalists). I don’t know how dare these established tech companies tossed out business ethics.

Anyway, the takeaway to you is watch out for those SSD brands and manufactures that had bad reputation. It’s always safe to read reviews from different sources and compare what users had to say about their using experience.

How to install an SSD to your MacBook?

You don’t have to be super tech-savvy to do this. In fact, there are tons of great video tutorials out there to help you out. iFixit, for example, is one of my favorites. For MacBook Pros, this guide has detailed a 4-step instructions.

A general rule you should follow is to make backups before you proceed. This is very important and should always be kept in mind. Set up Time Machine, or have a solid online backup mechanism in place.

Hope you find these tips useful. Now I’d like to hear from you. What’s the life looking life for an SSD-based MacBook? Or any other reasons that are holding you back from upgrading?

Drop me a line in the comment!

How to Show Battery Percentage on macOS

Today a reader left a message to me. It was related to displaying the battery percentage on her new MacBook Pro.

Hey, I just bought a new MacBook, completely new to the macOS world. I was trying to figure out the proper setting to make the battery percentage show up so I can better prepare myself in case the percentage falls under 10% and enters sleep mode automatically (like Windows 10, maybe). Please help!

Well, first off — I want to make it clear that Macs, unlike PCs, don’t force the system to enter sleep mode when battery level is below 10%. At least, based on my personal experience, I’ve never encountered this situation when my MacBook sleeps or shuts down when the battery crosses the 10% line. In fact, most of the time I can still use my Mac for 10-15 minutes before I have to plug in the charger.

As to how to show the remaining battery percentage besides the icon bar, it’s actually quite simple:

On the menu bar, click on the battery icon, and select “Show Percentage” in the drop-down menu options.

Then you’ll see the percentage shows up on the left side of the battery icon (e.g. in my case, it says 96% which would last quite a few hours normally)

That’s it. Pretty simple, right? There is no need to configure this though Settings or System Preferences. The beauty of macOS!

The Magic Mouse Disconnecting Issue Is Driving Me Nuts

Okay, I barely complain about anything related to Apple products I use in public because I’m an advocate of Apple.

But I’m kind of annoyed by this kind problem for a long time. And today, the issue happened more often than usual.

It’s related to Magic Mouse I use. Late last year, I bought a Magic Mouse 2 (without battery) and used it ever since. I managed to resolve most of the issues I encountered including: how to auto connect, unable to finger scroll, etc.

However, there is one issue remains. Here’s the symptom:

  • It keeps disconnecting every 1-2 hours. And today I happened twice or three times in the past hour.
  • Sometimes after I start up my Mac, the mouse won’t be connected unless I log out my account and log in again.

I’ve tried almost every possible solution available on the Internet. For example, here are a few threads and blog articles I’ve read:

But nope, all the fixes don’t work for me…what a bummer.

I don’t how much patience I would have to endure this before it’s fixed. Or maybe I should return the product and get a non-Apple mouse instead? (yep, I heavily rely on a mouse to navigate).

Any help would be much appreciated.