Customizing Spotlight Search Settings with El Capitan

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Appearing for the first time for OS 10.4 (Tiger) in 2005, Spotlight search has easily become one of Mac users’ most convenient tools. Although it is already such a great tool, some users don’t know that there are more features that first meet the eye. With El Capitan’s release last year, even more convenient features were added too.

To start, here are a few keyboard shortcuts to make your usage of Spotlight even easier:

Command+Spacebar opens Spotlight.

Command+L goes straight to the dictionary result.

Command+B opens a search for the term you’ve entered in your default browser and default search engine.

Command+Backspace clears the text in the Spotlight search bar.

ME - Customizing Spotlight

Search Results Pane

To open settings for Searchlight, go to the Apple Menu> System Preferences> Searchlight. In the “Search Results” pane, you can add categories you’d like Searchlight to search or deselect ones you’re not interested in.

The default setting on Spotlight includes suggestions from Bing which is based on the queries you enter in. If you wish for those to go away or just don’t like your information sent to Apple, you can deselect “Allow Spotlight Suggestions in Spotlight and Look Up” and “Bing Web Searches” to turn that setting off. This will keep searches exclusively on your Mac and dictionary.

As an extra privacy note, location services for Spotlight are also in Mac Menu> System Preferences> Security & Privacy preferences. This will stop sending your location to Apple when you search through Spotlight.

Privacy Pane

The settings from the privacy pane are best for those of us using a shared Mac or those who like to travel with our computers a lot. This lets you keep certain folders private from search, so even if someone DOES get ahold of your lapto, they won’t be able to use search to find anything you note here.
You can click the “Add” button (the + sign) to browse and add files or folders you’d wish to keep private from search. You can also drag and drop items here to add them more quickly. If you want to remove anything you’ve added, click on the item you want removed and then click the “remove” (-) button.

ME - Customizing Spotlight

Special Features for Search

In addition to finding any document in your computer by date in files listed, you can also search documents in time by typing in more casual language. For example, you can search the terms, “photos I edited yesterday” or “document I viewed last Tuesday.” These search commands will prompt similar items and can more quickly bring up exactly what you’re looking for.

In addition to searching documents of your own using Spotlight, you can also search for the weather, stock results, sports, and popular web videos! Just type in the keywords into Spotlight and web results for your requests will pop up right there for you. Feel free to also use natural language for those search inquiries as well!

Still using an older OS X and considering El Capitan? Read our blog about the best new features in El Capitan here. Have any questions for us regarding your Mac computer? Come to our store, call us at (800)448-1892, or contact us online here.


4 Ways to Fix a Failing Mac App

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Mac App Fail

We’ve all dealt with the pesky error of an App stalling to launch or just simply not doing anything when we click it to open. We all probably have our own ways of going about trying to fix it. Most of the time it works, but, for those times it doesn’t, Mac Enthusiasts has put together a list of steps that can help:

  1. “Quit process” in activity monitor: This is a quick and easy way to suspend a simple error and try again. This usually will fix everything. In “Finder” go to Applications> Utilities> Activity Monitor. Go through the processes and find the one associated with your app that will not open. Select it and click “Quit Process.” If this does not fix the problem, you can move on to the next step.
  2. Correct disk permissions error: All of your permissions are automatically generated by your computer. You can access them to repair one, if needed. Before you use the “Repair Disk Permissions” option, you should know that it can take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour. Also, you will want to backup your hard drive externally or with Time Machine before you begin. Once you are ready to repair your permissions, go to Finder> Applications> Utilities> Disk Utility. Select your hard drive and the “First Aid” pane at the top. Select the box with “Show Details,” and click “Repair Disk.” If any errors appear, keep running “Repair Disk” until a message comes up saying, “The volume xxx appears to be ok.” If the application does not run after this process, try the next step.
  3. Delete appropriate .plist files: There may be errors in the system preferences file of the certain program you’re having difficulty with. You can delete this folder, relaunch the app, and reset your preferences. You can do this by right clicking on “Finder” and clicking “Go to Folder.” Put in “~/Library/Preferences,” and click “Go.” A list of all of the preferences folders for each program will come up. The files will be named like: “,” Find the one for the program you can’t open and drag it to the trash. Once you open the app again, be sure to add your new preferences into the app. If this does not work, try the last step.
  4. Re-install the application: If all else fails, it may be time to delete and re-install. Many applications can simply be deleted by dragging the application into the trash. If an app has its own installer, it’s recommended to use their uninstaller to completely remove all of the app’s data. When re-installing any app, try to get it again from its most official source, namely the App store, to avoid downloading any corrupted software.


If you continue to have any problems past this point, it may be time to bring your computer into Mac Enthusiasts for some help. Our team of Mac experts will be able to fix any issues you may be having. You can also call us with any questions (800)448-1892, or contact us online here.

What is the Difference Between RAM Memory and Hard Drive Space?

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Before we begin to explain the difference between RAM memory and hard drive space, it’s important to clarify where the general confusion stems from, as it is not necessarily the user’s fault. At one time or another, most computer users have faced the dreaded computer error reading, “insufficient memory.” To any unknowing person, that reads like, “you should delete any unnecessary files on your computer to free up space.” What it really means is that the user has too many files and programs open, depleting the computer’s RAM (or working) memory.
Mac Enthusiasts RAM Memory
RAM (Memory): As you can probably gather from above, that error message is confusing to users, because, although we might think of memory in our computer as general files and items stored on our computer, memory in a computer is temporary. If you must compare your computer to a brain, It’s easier if you think of RAM like “working memory.” It’s the space your computer has for working programs and files, not permanent stored one. You can learn more about upgrading your RAM in our past blog.
Mac Enthusiasts Hard Drive
Hard Drive (Space): Hard drive space may be first thought of as “memory,” but unlike in the human brain, it is never referred to as such. It is probably easier to call hard drive space “permanent storage.” Every computer comes with a hard drive that can be upgraded. To upgrade, you can either change out your internal hard drive or you can add more. The ability depends on the physical space your computer possesses and power required to run a computer with more storage. Hard drives should technically be considered “more permanent memory” than “permanent,” because hard drives always have the potential to fail. This is why it is often recommended that you backup your computer with an external hard drive or to the Cloud.
A great analogy to visualize RAM vs. hard drive is a desk. Your computer is a desk. RAM is the workspace you have (the size of the table top). The hard drive is actual storage space (the drawers it provides). You can add more drawers, depending on the size of your entire desk and the strength of your entire desk to support more weight. Same goes with updating your RAM/ workspace.
Here is a more practical example of data in your RAM vs. hard drive: RAM is the text you just added to an open document. As long as your computer is powered on, it is available. If your computer shuts off unexpectedly, that information is lost. Once you save a document, that information is stored in your hard drive space. That way, it becomes more permanent.
Now that you know the difference, it’s important that you look out for those mistakes from those who don’t. It can be easy to get confused, even if you know the difference, if a lot of people continue to use the wrong terminology. If you’ve gotten the “insufficient memory” error we talked about before, you may be in need of a RAM upgrade. You can come to our store, or give us a call at (800)448-1892 to discuss your options for upgrading.

Everything You Need to Know About Mac Thunderbolt

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The other week Mac Enthusiasts discussed the advantages of USB 3.0 and how much faster of a connection it is in relation to I/O (input/output) options of the past. If you’re a techie expecting the fastest speeds, and highest quality out of your devices, you probably looked right past that option and instead to Thunderbolt for the fastest connection for your devices. If you didn’t before, you may want to. We’ve put together all the basics you need to know about Mac Thunderbolt and the advantages you’ll have in using it.

What is Thunderbolt? Thunderbolt is an I/O type designed by Intel, available on newer Macs as the fastest option out there for devices. There are two channels on the same connector, to connect high-speed peripherals and displays with the highest resolution. There are currently two generations of Thunderbolt, Thunderbolt and Thunderbolt 2, and cables/ devices that are compatible with the second version are also backwards compatible with the first.

Mac Thunderbolt 3

What are the differences between the two versions? With Thunderbolt, each channel on the connector offers up to 10 Gbps in both directions. The newer version, Thunderbolt 2, offers up to 20 Gbps. o compare, USB 3.0 offers 5Gbps on both channels, and Firewire offers 0.8 Mbps.

Which Mac computers have Thunderbolt? If you’re still not sure about whether or not your personal Mac offers Thunderbolt, you can check out the list below. All the devices listed offer up to two display connections, unless otherwise specified. If you’re not quite sure which kind of Mac you have, you can find out under the Apple Menu> About this mac.

Macs with Thunderbolt Capabilities:

  • MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Late 2012) and later
  • MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2012) and later
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, Early 2011) and later (*Only one display on Early- Mid 2011)
  • MacBook Pro (15-inch, Early 2011) and later
  • MacBook Air (11-inch, Mid 2011) and later (*Only one display on Early- Late 2011)
  • MacBook Air (13-inch, Mid 2011) and later
  • Mac mini (Mid 2011) and later (*Only one display on Mid 2011)
  • iMac (Mid 2011) and later
  • iMac Pro (Late 2013) (**Offers up to 6 displays!!)

Macs with Thunderbolt 2 Capabilities:

  • MacBook Air (13-inch, Early 2015)
  • iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, Late 2014)
  • Mac mini (Late 2014)
  • MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Late 2013) and later (**Offers up to 6 displays!!)
  • MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Late 2013) and later (**Offers up to 6 displays!!)
  • Mac Pro (Late 2013)

To quickly spot the port on your computer, you’ll look for this port shape, and this symbol.

Mac Thunderbolt 2Mac Thunderbolt1

What other system requirements do I need to meet to run an Apple Thunderbolt display? Besides using one of the above Macs, to use an Apple Thunderbolt display, your system will additionally need to be running OS X v10.6.8 Snow Leopard or later.

Will my Mac sleep with Thunderbolt devices plugged in? No, sleep mode is deactivated when Thunderbolt devices are plugged into your Mac. This important to note if you’re one who walks away from your computer a lot. Additionally, if you’re using a Thunderbolt-connected device on a portable Mac, if your battery depletes and your Mac goes into hibernation, your Thunderbolt connections will all disconnect. To reconnect, wake the computer and restart.

Mac Enthusiasts sells many Mac Accessories, including Thunderbolt cables, and corresponding devices in our store at 10600 W. Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064. If you have any more questions about Thunderbolt or Thunderbolt 2, feel free to visit us, call us at (800)448-1892, or contact us online here.

How to Sync iPhone to iPad and Your Mac Computer

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Many of us are mobile beings, using technology from anywhere in world. For that reason, an iPad has become a very popular choice for Mac users on the go. Unfortunately, sometimes we can be so on the go that we even leave our iPad at home. If you’re used to doing a bulk of your digital media consumption on your iPhone, you’re not alone. Often that can mean downloading movies, music, and e-books to the smaller of your devices. Well, once you’re ready to watch that movie or read that book, you’re probably going to wish that you had a way to open it on your iPad instead. The best way to easily sync an iPhone to iPad, or vice versa, is to set up iCloud account.

Before you set up an iCloud account, you want to make sure your device(s) meet the Apple system requirements.  When you first turn on an Apple device, you are given an opportunity to create and set up a new iCloud account. If you skipped this step before, you’ll want to go into “Settings”, tap “iCloud” and either enter an Apple ID you have there or tap “Create a free Apple ID” to create an Apple ID with iCloud.

Create Apple ID/ New iCloud email

Once you’ve setup your Apple ID, you will want to turn on “enable automatic downloads” to sync your music, books, etc. across all devices. Under “Settings” you will go to “iTunes & App Store.” From there you can turn on syncing for each individual type of media. Make sure to turn on iCloud on every device with the same Apple ID and sync downloads.

Automatic Downloads Sync iPhone to iPad

If, instead, you’re looking to physically sync your device(s) to a Mac Computer, you will use sync in your iTunes. Syncing works best when you have the latest version of iTunes and an up to date iOS. iTunes will also determine if the software is up to date on all of your devices. Open iTunes and connect your desired device with the USB cable included. Find your device by clicking “Library” in iTunes Store and find your device in the upper-right-hand corner. Under the “Summary” tab, you will see a list of options to check or uncheck. Make sure to check, ““Sync with this [device] over Wi-Fi.”

To sync the device formally you want to make sure the device is charging and is on the same Wi-Fi network as the computer. At this point you can select the device and configure syncing to choose what type of files sync and so on.

If you have any problem setting up iCloud or syncing, feel free to bring it into Mac Enthusiasts for help. If you’d rather shoot us a question online, you can contact us here. You can also give us a call at (800)448-1892.

How to Clean Up a Mac

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You love your Mac because it’s sleek, reliable, and has been the fastest computer you’ve had; but lately, you’ve began to realize that your Mac hasn’t been as quick as it used to be. Thankfully, you’ve got Mac Enthusiasts on your side. If you want to, bring your Mac in to us and we’ll happily, thoroughly clean up your Mac and get it working as fast as possible! If you don’t have the time or would like to take a stab at it yourself, here’s our tips for how to clean up a Mac.

Delete unnecessary disk images in downloads: The downloads folder of your computer is a place where a lot of clutter and unused files can end up. One main group of items that can be removed to create some much-needed space are disk images. Go into your downloads folder and search “disk image” under KIND for a list of disk images to delete.
How to Clean Up a Mac Computer

Manually clean your hard drive: This can be done simply by going to your Applications and Downloads and selecting any apps or downloads you don’t remember installing or you haven’t used before. Drag these unused programs to the trash to create some much-needed space on your Mac.
Adjust login items: If your Mac computer is taking a while upon startup, it may be because you have a lot of apps automatically opening. Many programs have a setting which automatically boots them when you turn on your computer. To adjust these programs, go to System Preferences> Users & Groups. Select the user in question and select Login Programs at the top. From there you can select and deselect the programs you want to open upon start up.

How to Clean Up a Mac 2

Use Disk Utility: Disk Utility is a handy app on your Mac used to clean up the disk permissions on apps you’ve downloaded. If you’re not sure what it means, disk permissions are a file a part of any app that says which users can do what. When permissions are changed over time and it can affect the speed and precision of your Mac’s performance. You don’t need to understand it any more to fix it. Search spotlight for “Disk Utility” to begin cleaning up these permissions and getting your Mac back to peak performance. From there, click your hard drive from the left and click the Verify Disk Permissions. After some time scanning, the irregular disk permissions will come up for review. Anything that needs correcting can be remedied by clicking “Repair Disk Permissions.”

How to Clean Up a Mac 3
Clear your cache: Your Mac computer sometimes stores a lot of unnecessary items in your cache. It’s good every once in a while to go in there and manually clean it up. You can do it manually by going into Finder> Go > Go to Folder and putting in “~/Library/Caches.” From there, you can delete old data inside the folders. If you feel safer using an external program, we suggest Cocktail.
Delete Foreign Language Fonts: Most Mac programs you download come with many versions including languages you don’t speak and will never use. These files can take up a lot of space. You can either delete them all manually by searching for “resources” folders under each app and manually deleting the “.lproj” type folder of each language you don’t speak, or you can download CleanMyMac 3. Click “scan” and “delete” for the program to clear out unnecessary files for you. This also applies other unnecessary files such as disk images and the like.

If you have problems performing any of the tasks above, don’t stress. You can bring your Mac into Mac Enthusiasts and we can clean up your mac for you. You can also contact us here for more help.