Thanksgiving Tech Support: Important tips and tricks for iOS and macOS to help set up your family member's devices

Today, Thanksgiving is celebrated in the United States, and many Americans are preparing for family reunions, watching football games, spending their free time on vacation, and looking for great deals as Christmas shopping approaches. If you are a “technician” in your family, chances are someone will ask for help with their iPhone or Mac. Here are some tips to improve their performance!

Get the latest iOS and macOS

If you have a family member using iOS 13 or an earlier version of macOS, Thanksgiving is a great time to update. They'll get all the latest features from iOS 16 and watchOS 9 and can stay up to date even longer with automatic updates.

All of Apple's fall operating system updates were released long enough that you should feel safe updating them . Keep in mind that the current versions are the most secure on the market so it would be a good idea to keep your family up to date with these patches and fixes.

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

Confirm your iCloud setup

iCloud Photos

If you're going to be browsing family members' devices, make sure they're signed into their iCloud account before doing anything else. It may sound crazy, but I've seen it with my own eyes: in 2022, someone will be able to use iOS without iCloud.

To check if your family members are signed in to iCloud, go to Settings > iCloud. While you're in this section, scroll down and make sure they recently completed a backup. If not, start a manual backup immediately so that it completes before updating iOS.

After making sure that iCloud Photos is enabled, go back to the home screen and check if there is enough space in their iCloud account. If you back up your photo library to iCloud, losing your device is no worse than forgetting where you put your charger.

On macOS, you need to enable iCloud (Apple logo > System Preferences > iCloud) . Then open the Photos app so that it syncs properly.

If you're adventurous, you can turn on iCloud Photo Sharing.

Time Machine and cloud backups

While your family may not have an external hard drive, you should strongly encourage them to back up your Mac regularly. Amazon offers a range of inexpensive external drives that are easy to use with Time Machine.

If they don't have a drive, ask them to order one and have it installed 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 but would like one, you can recommend a service like Backblaze. It only costs $70 a year. I have a few colleagues who didn't want to deal with having to remember to plug in an external drive to create backups, so they just chose Backblaze. Backblaze will automatically back up all files on your Mac or PC. Offsite backup is especially important in case of fire, flood or theft; once you install it, there's nothing else to do.

Check Chrome Extensions

Chrome is a popular browser among Mac users thanks to its easy sync with PC and a robust ecosystem of extensions. I tend to find cases where PC owners have loaded it with malware – and fortunately, removing such add-ons is relatively easy.

Go to Window > Extensions. Find anything abnormal (PDF converters, etc.) and remove it. Also, double check its default homepage (DuckDuckGo is the safest option). If your loved ones are complaining about constant pop-ups when they try to browse the web, it's probably due to an extension that installed its own search engine. Don't forget to enable this tech support during Thanksgiving dinner!

macOS General Cleanup

Even though macOS is very secure, you can still get malware by clicking on a pop-up asking you to download a new flash player, etc. My favorite malware cleaning tool is Malwarebytes or CleanMyMac X. Malwarebytes can download for free, and in the future there will be paid options for automatic scanning. You can do it for free if you want to run a quick scan and uninstall it.

If you need to perform general maintenance, delete large files to free up space, or uninstall apps, try CleanMyMac X. . It's the best tool for macOS services on the market. It's great for cleaning up space, removing unused apps, and more.

Discuss Wi-Fi Upgrades

I'm getting more and more questions about how to improve your home Wi-Fi network. There can be 60 devices connected to my home network at any given time – mostly HomeKit-enabled devices and accessories, as well as computers, iPhones and iPads.

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

Wrap -up about tech support for Thanksgiving

It's time to get all your friends and family ready for the New Year by backing up, updating and protecting their devices from malware. Avoid controversial topics like web and native apps – it's Thanksgiving!

Photo by Jure Pivk on Unsplash

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