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All Macs with OS X El Capitan installed on them have a new layer of security known as System Integrity Protection, which has been given the nickname ‘Rootless’ because it closes off a lot of system files to user access to prevent malicious programs and code from causing harmful changes to the core of OS X.

What is System Integrity Protection?

System Integrity Protection is a new layer of security that shipped with OS X El Capitan in the Fall of 2024. As we noted, it’s also referred to by its nickname ‘Rootless,’ so you might know it better by that name.

With System Integrity Protection, many directories in your OS X operating system are protected by additional restrictions. These protected parts of OS X are then, as a result, limited in what you can and cannot do with the files that reside inside of them. Such directories, as noted by an Apple support document include the following:

Paths and applications protected by System Integrity Protection include:

• Apps that are pre-installed with OS X

Paths and applications that third-party apps and installers can write to include:

• /usr/local

Before OS X El Capitan, the root user had no restrictions in what they could or could not do with these files and directories, but the additional security improvements make it much harder to make modifications to these parts of your operating system. With that being said, any malicious software that had your admin username and password would be able to modify your system files.

But now, because there are heavier restrictions, just because something with malicious intent steals your admin username and password doesn’t mean that the malware will be able to do a whole lot to trash your operating system and render it useless. Instead, only Apple-signed software and updates can make changes to your operating system.

Why you might not want this How to disable System Integrity Protection

If you’re okay with turning off this layer of security for the purpose of having more access to your files, then disabling System Integrity Protection can be done on your OS X El Capitan Mac with the following steps:

Step 1: Boot up into recovery mode on your Mac. This is done by turning your Mac off, and then beginning to turn it back on again and pressing the Command + R keys on your keyboard as it boots back up.

Note: Booting up may take longer than usual, but you’ll end up in recovery mode on your Mac. The screen should then look something like this:

Step 2: From here, you will navigate to the “Utilities” drop down menu in the Menu Bar at the top of the screen, and you’ll open the Terminal app from the menu.

Step 3: In the Terminal window, you will type the following command and then hit the Enter key to see the status of your System Integrity Protection:

csrutil status

Step 4: The Terminal window will then either tell you that the System Integrity Protection is enabled or disabled. If it’s enabled, you can enter the following command and hit the Enter key to disable it:

csrutil disable

Step 5: Once you’ve used the above command to disable System Integrity Protection, you can reboot your Mac. Do so from the  “Apple” menu in your Menu bar and choose “Shut Down,” then turn the computer back on again and allow it to reboot normally.

Note: With your Mac turned back on as usual, if you followed the steps above correctly, then you should be able to access all of your system files without restrictions just as you could in earlier versions of OS X before OS X El Capitan. If you want to double check to make sure it worked, you can open Terminal again and fun the following command:

csrutil status

You will either get a result of “enabled” or “disabled,” letting you know what the status of your System Integrity Protection is. If you ever want to re-enable System Integrity Protection, you would follow steps 1 through 3 again, and instead of typing “csrutil disable,” you would type “csrutil enable” instead.

Note: Ours is still enabled because we like the added protection and we didn’t keep it disabled.

Conclusion

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How To Create A Mac Os X Recovery Disk

If the worst happens and your Mac crashes and won’t start, what can you do? Of course you should do Time Machine backups regularly. Unless you do that, you won’t get your machine back exactly as it was if trouble strikes, but it’s worse than that.

The recovery disk, a secret partition which is part of the Recovery System, resides on your system drive, and while it contains useful tools to recover your data and move on, it’s no good if you can’t get to it.

In this article, we talk about the Recovery Disk hiding on your system, and how to prepare for the worst case scenarios by making a copy of it as a bootable recovery disk.

I am Broken; Recover Me

The Recovery disk is the best friend you never knew you had. Tucked away in a 650Mb partition on the system drive is a set of tools you can use to fix and restore your drive should it crap out on you.

It’s not an installer. It’s a fixer, a toolkit. It props up your broken machine long enough so you can reinstall or restore your system. With the tools it contains, it can:

Restore your Mac from a Time Machine backup

Verify and repair connected drives using Disk Utility

Check your Internet connection or get help online using Safari

If all else fails, install or reinstall OS X

To start your computer with Recovery, restart and hold down “Command + R” before the startup chime.

Saviour in the Cloud

Maverick and Yosemite have a feature that when you have Internet access, you can boot your machine from a Recovery partition up in the cloud. But this doesn’t save you if your drive is unstable and you have no Internet access, which of course can happen.

One option is putting the recovery partition on an external drive by using the Recovery Disk Assistant (download it here).

First, you will be asked if it’s okay to use this software:

Note: if you want to use an SD card, here’s a tip. Putting the card into the internal SD card slot in your Mac won’t work as the Recovery Assistant only polls the USB ports. Put your SD card into a USB adapter, and it will be seen.

Now choose the volume you want to store the Recovery Disk on:

The Assistant will now create your external Recovery drive.

Once you have a recovery disk, you can recover your Mac when trouble strikes.

To recover your machine, simply boot or reboot holding down “Command + R” and your Mac will search, first the recovery partition, then the Internet and any external drives you have made with Recovery tools on them and then load the tools.

That’s all good, but the Assistant app is limited. It only allows the creation of OS X Recovery disks on an external drive or flash drive via USB. Can you make an optical disk?

Seeing the Unseen

To burn an optical Recovery Disk (and a CD will suffice, as it’s deliberately only 650Mb in size), you will need to locate the hidden Recovery tool files on your drive and burn them to a disk.

Open Disk Utility. You will notice the menu probably looks like this:

What we are looking for is the Debug menu. If it’s not there, you need to activate it with Terminal. Close Disk Utility (because the menu won’t activate in an open program), open Terminal and type the following:

defaults

write

com.apple.DiskUtility DUDebugMenuEnabled

1

Open Disk Utility again, and you will see the Debug menu is now showing between the Window and Help menus.

Burn it!

Now that you can see the Recovery HD partition, you can burn it to a disk. Select the drive image you just created:

While you can save a tiny bit of space when saving Recovery Image by checking the compressed box, you don’t save that much space, and compressing it adds a little uncompressing time when unpacking it for burning. But it’s your choice.

Once you have a disk image isolated and saved to disk:

Once the disk has burned, test it by booting from it. Hold down the “C” key as you start or restart.

Another thing you might want to do for safety’s sake at some point is make a bootable disk installer for your OS, but perhaps we’ll go into that another time.

Photo source: DVIDSHUB

Phil South

Phil South has been writing about tech subjects for over 30 years. Starting out with Your Sinclair magazine in the 80s, and then MacUser and Computer Shopper. He’s designed user interfaces for groundbreaking music software, been the technical editor on film making and visual effects books for Elsevier, and helped create the MTE YouTube Channel. He lives and works in South Wales, UK.

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What You Need To Know About The Sparkle Vulnerability Affecting Some Os X Apps

A new vulnerability has been discovered to affect a wide variety of third-party apps for OS X that have been downloaded from the internet and use an outdated version of the Sparkle updater framework.

The new vulnerability puts a number of users of affected third-party apps at risk of being hijacked when those apps attempt to use the outdated framework to alert users of new app updates.

Who’s affected?

The problem, as noted by a security engineer named Radek on chúng tôi doesn’t affect apps that are updated through the Mac App Store, but rather, affects a number of third-party apps downloaded from the internet that are installed manually by the user and are using an outdated version of the Sparkle updater framework to regularly check for updates automatically in the background.

Lately, I was doing research connected with different updating strategies, and I tested a few applications working under Mac OS X. This short weekend research revealed that we have many insecure applications in the wild. As a result, I have found a vulnerability which allows an attacker take control of another computer on the same network (via MITM).

The vulnerability is not in code signing itself. It exists due to the functionality provided by the WebKit view that allows JavaScript execution and the ability to modify unencrypted HTTP traffic (XML response).

Below, the security engineer demonstrates in a YouTube video how the vulnerability works:

Among some of the affected apps are Camtasia 2 (version 2.10.4), DuetDisplay (version 1.5.2.4), Sketch (version 3.5.1), and uTorrent (version 1.8.7), but many other third-party apps using the same insecure updater framework are also affected.

VLC Media Player was recently affected by this vulnerability, but a recent update to the app (version 2.2.2) has reportedly patched the problem. Ars Technica notes that the vulnerability affects Macs running OS X Yosemite and OS X El Capitan.

How does it work?

The Sparkle updater framework vulnerability is essentially a man-in-the-middle attack, which is when the user’s machine is attempting to communicate with the update server over an unencrypted and insecure HTTP connection and a hacker with malicious intent can get right in the middle of the communication line and force the user’s computer to download malicious software instead of the real thing.

Because the problem doesn’t affect the updating mechanism in the Mac App Store, third-party app developers could avoid this problem by simply hosting their apps in the Mac App Store. The other option third-party app developers have is to update the Sparkle updater framework being used by their apps to the latest version, which isn’t affected by the vulnerability found by these security researchers.

This isn’t something Apple can readily fix to protect their users’ systems, but this is one of the reasons why Apple has become so strict with default OS X security settings, such as having Gatekeeper set to only allow apps to be downloaded from the Mac App Store by default. Instead, this is something the individual third-party app developers have to fix on their own by updating their apps as necessary.

How do I protect myself?

If you’re trying to update an app from the Mac App Store, then you have nothing to worry about because this vulnerability doesn’t affect Mac App Store apps.

Third-party app developers who are aware this problem is affecting their apps will be updating their apps accordingly to protect their users, so keep an eye out for updates on the webpages of the apps you use regularly on your Mac.

How To Easily Add Emoticons To File Names In Os X

Emoticons are arguably the 21st century’s most popular way to communicate when using computers and smartphones. Starting with combinations of text characters, smilies have evolved into emoticons with the development of Unicode fonts that automatically substitute an image of a smiling face for a specific set of characters. For example, various OS X apps such as iMessage, iChat, etc. that make use of emoticons, will automatically substitute an image of a smiling face if you enter the “:)” text for a smile.

You can also set your own global text substitutions for emoticons, so that you can quickly access them in multiple programs. While this is more useful for enhancing e-mails, chats, messages, etc., OS X also supports the use of emoticons and other symbols in your file names. This is a really unique way of naming files since you can easily search and characterize them using an image instead of simple text characters.

Now, you should know that your Mac does not support dynamic substitution of text in file names with emoticons. For example, if you type “:)” in a file name, OS X will not replace it will a smiley. In order to name your files using emoticons, you’ll have to use OS X’s Character Viewer. To do this, simply follow the steps below:

1. Enable the Character Viewer and open it, using the steps outlined in this article.

2. Locate an emoticon that you would like to use. Use the Emoji section for this.

3. Select the file/folder whose name you want to edit, and press “Enter” to edit its file name.

Tip: You can also use this method to use other symbols in file names.

This method also lets you search for a file using Spotlight. After you have added a symbol to the name of the file, you can easily perform a Spotlight search for that symbol to quickly reveal it. However, do know that for the search you will need to use the character palette to enter the appropriate symbol.

This method can be more difficult to manage than fun for some, but it does provide a unique naming option. Also, you should know that all these symbols are Unicode-based and will not work in some services that do not support Unicode. For example, if you frequently use Terminal in OS X, you’ll find that adding symbols to file names will have them appear as “question marks” in Terminal, which will undoubtedly make them more difficult to identify and manage.

Shujaa Imran

Shujaa Imran is MakeTechEasier’s resident Mac tutorial writer. He’s currently training to follow his other passion become a commercial pilot. You can check his content out on Youtube

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Mac Os X 10.10 Yosemite Review

After months in beta since its unveiling at WWDC 2014 in June, Apple released OS X Yosemite in October for Mac users to download and install for free. We’ve spent time with the new operating system to bring you our OS X Yosemite review.

The successor to OS X Mavericks and the second iteration in Apple’s current California places naming convention, Yosemite has a new design, new cloud features, an improved Notification centre and new Continuity features that aim to improve the communication between your iOS device and your Mac (but it doesn’t always work).

Read on to find out more about Yosemite’s new features and whether they’re actually any good in our OS X Yosemite review.

OS X Yosemite review: Upgrading & compatibility

Any owner of a sufficiently powerful Mac can upgrade to Yosemite for free. In order to do so, go to Apple’s site, and find the Yosemite page. Here’s a

Your Mac will need 2GB of RAM to run Yosemite, and 8GB of available storage. You’ll also need to be currently running OS X 10.6.8 Snow Leopard or later, because you’ll need the Mac App Store to download the update.

Yosemite will run on the following Macs:

iMac (Mid-2007 or later)

MacBook (13-inch Aluminum, Late 2008), (13-inch, Early 2009 or later)

MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid-2009 or later), (15-inch, Mid/Late 2007 or later), (17-inch, Late 2007 or later)

MacBook Air (Late 2008 or later)

Mac Mini (Early 2009 or later)

Mac Pro (Early 2008 or later)

Xserve (Early 2009)

The system requirements for Yosemite are the same as those for OS X 10.9 Mavericks, the current operating system for Mac.

OS X Yosemite review: Design

The first thing you’ll notice when you download and install OS X Yosemite is that it’s been significantly redesigned. It’s no surprise that the operating system now has a flatter and more minimalist look, with translucency, brighter colours, flatter icons and new typography, all of which are reminiscent of the redesign that was introduced to iOS with iOS 7 in 2013.

These new aesthetics likely stem from Apple’s design guru Jony Ive’s expanded role at the company, which means he’s now working closely with Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering Craig Federighi on OS X.

Buttons have been tweaked, menu bars have been simplified and there’s a new Dark Mode option that offers darker menu bars, ideal for working in dark environments or if you simply prefer the look of the Dark Mode.

OS X Yosemite review: Notification Centre

We love the new Notification Centre in OS X Yosemite, which has been significantly improved upon since OS X Mavericks. Now, instead of sliding the entirety of the content being displayed on your Mac off to the left to display the Notification Centre, it simply slides over the top of the content on the right side of the screen which is much more stylish and subtle.

You’ll now see ‘Today’ and ‘Notifications’ rather than just ‘Notifications’ like you used to see in Mavericks. In the Today tab, you’ll see an overview of what’s happening in the day ahead, including Calendar appointments, the weather and more.

We think that Notification Centre will soon replace the Dashboard, a feature that was introduced to OS X in 2005 when Tiger was released. For now, Dashboard remains, offering access to similar widgets as those found in the Notification Centre.

OS X Yosemite review: Spotlight

Spotlight is another feature that came to the Mac with OS X Tiger, and has been a real boon to Mac users ever since. Now, in Yosemite, it’s more useful than ever, allowing users to not only search for files and applications on their Mac, but also news headlines, maps, the App Store, iTunes, Wikipedia and Microsoft Bing (not Google, of course. Microsoft is the lesser of the two evils apparently) for web search.

You can perform quick unit and currency conversions within Spotlight now too, which we’ve found to be immensely useful.

Plus, instead of simply typing into a tiny text box in the top right corner, Spotlight now appears smack bang in the middle of your Mac’s display, which takes a bit of getting used to but is much more convenient now that a large preview of the results of your search appears too.

OS X Yosemite review: iCloud Drive

In OS X Yosemite, you can add iCloud Drive folders to the Finder, which we were pleased to see. We also like the ability to store files from our Mac in iCloud Drive folders and use them in various applications, even if it’s not the one that you created it in, on your iOS device.

Right now, iCloud Drive isn’t a way to share documents and files with colleagues or friends (you can use Mail Drop for that), but we suspect that Apple is working to make iCloud Drive even more useful in the future.

You will only get 5GB of iCloud Drive storage for free, though, which includes space for your documents, photos and backups so it’s highly likely that won’t be enough. You can pay 79p a month for 20GB of storage, £2.99 for 200GB of storage, £6.99 for 600GB of storage or £14.99 per month for 1TB of storage.

OS X Yosemite review: Safari 8

Safari 8 is the new version of Apple’s web browser that comes with OS X Yosemite. Like the rest of the operating system, it has adopted the new design, and we rather like it. It’s cleaner and clearer, but keeps the features we loved from the previous version of Safari including Reading List, Shared Links (which now includes RSS feeds) and Bookmarks, which you can access by tapping the icon next to the back button in the toolbar. You also see Frequently Visited sites and Favourites in the Smart Search URL bar.

You’ll also get a new Tabs view, which shows you previews of all the tabs you have open a bit like you get in iOS 7 and 8’s Safari app. Simply tap the icon that looks like two overlapping squares on the right of the toolbar to see the Tabs view.

If you use the same Apple ID for your iPhone and iPad and have iCloud turned on, you’ll see the tabs you have open on those devices in Safari on your Mac in the Tab preview too.

Now, like Spotlight, Safari can also search for more thanks to the aforementioned Smart Search URL bar. It can search Wikipedia, Maps, iTunes and news, but just like Spotlight it doesn’t always show up the results you’d expect it to.

You can now use Safari’s Private Browsing mode in a separate tab rather than the whole window/application. See also: Why use incognito mode: Private mode isn’t just for porn

OS X Yosemite review: Mail & Mail Drop

Mail has some great new features that could prove to be huge time-savers if used regularly.

The new Markup feature in Mail lets you add annotations and images to PDFs from within the Mail app, but we actually found it to be fiddly and temperamental during our testing. Sometimes, trying to get Markup to actually work took so long that we may as well have edited the image or PDF in Preview and then reattached it, which pretty much defeats the whole purpose of using it.

A better new feature in Mail in OS X Yosemite is Mail Drop, which lets you upload an attachment larger than 5MB to iCloud when you attempt to send it via email, which will then be automatically downloaded by the recipient of that email. You won’t even notice it’s happening (well, unless you’re on a bit of a slow internet connection as it can take quite a while to download the large files for you).

The catch, however, is that the recipient must be running OS X Yosemite on their Mac and must be using the Mail app, which narrows down its usefulness dramatically. That said, if you use Mail Drop to send an attachment to someone who doesn’t use Yosemite, they’ll receive a download link for the file instead, which can sometimes still be quicker (at least at your end) than services like Dropbox.

OS X Yosemite review: Continuity

Here’s where our praise of OS X Yosemite begins to falter. Continuity was one of the features in the new operating system that we were most excited about. It should mean that the iPhone, iPad and Mac can communicate in ways that they never have been able to before, making life much easier and more efficient for anyone with multiple Apple products.

There are various elements that make up Continuity: AirDrop now works between the Mac and iOS devices (previously it only worked from iOS device to iOS device and Mac to Mac) and Handoff.

When Apple first announced that AirDrop would finally work between iOS and Mac, we were jumping for joy. It’s something that has frustrated us ever since AirDrop was introduced. It’s a quick and easy way to transfer files including images and documents between your devices (if you’re on the same WiFi network) so can come in very handy.

However, there are several catches to the new AirDrop features in Yosemite. The first is that it doesn’t work with all iOS devices or Macs. If you have a Mac that was purchased after 2012 and an iPhone 5 or later and/or iPad 4 or later, iPad mini 1 or later or a 5th gen iPod touch or later, then in theory, you should be able to use AirDrop between OS X and iOS.

But, we actually had so much trouble trying to get OS X Yosemite to work that it drove us round the bend. It did work, eventually, though not particularly reliably, but the point is that not everyone is going to go to as much effort to get it fixed as we did. In fact, if we hadn’t been trying it for the purpose of this review, we would have given up on it long ago. If you find that you’re having trouble getting AirDrop to work, take a look at our AirDrop troubleshooting guide.

Instead, we’d recommend using the iCloud Drive feature. It’s actually a quicker and easier way to copy files to your iPhone than using the currently crappy AirDrop, as you can simply drag and drop files into the iCloud Drive folder and they’ll be accessible on all of your other devices.

AirDrop between iOS and Mac is a step in the right direction, but right now it’s in need of some serious improvements so is a bit of a let down for us.

Similarly, Handoff is a feature that got us excited when OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 were first unveiled. In theory, it’s supposed to let you begin working on something on your iPhone or iPad – say an email or a pages document, for example – and pick up immediately from where you left off on your Mac, and vice versa. Your devices are supposed to be able to detect that you are approaching and are mid-email, and should prompt you to continue writing the email right away. It should even work with Safari, which is quite cool.

However, just like with AirDrop our experience with Handoff so far has been far from satisfactory. It seems to work better from iPhone to Mac than the other way around, with prompts appearing when we approached our Mac while writing an email in our iCloud account, but not appearing on the iPhone when we wanted to pick things up there and head out.

One feature in Continuity that does seem to work quite well, however, is the ability to make or take phone calls from your Mac, and also to be able to pick up and reply to messages, even if they’re not iMessages, right from your Mac too. You’ll get notifications on both your Mac, iPad and iPhone if you miss a call, which is handy when you leave your phone in your bag, for example.

OS X Yosemite review: Verdict

Overall, we really like OS X Yosemite, and we think that many of the new features introduced with the update are a step in the right direction, even if they’re not quite up to scratch yet.

We really wish Continuity worked correctly, and it’s a shame that those features don’t work at all on Macs that are more than two years old, but we’re pleased to see that Apple has at least attempted to introduce them. We’ll suspect have to wait for an update to Yosemite, or perhaps even for the next version of OS X 10, before we can really say that Continuity is a feature that we find useful, which is a real downfall when you consider that it should be one of the flagship features of this OS X update.

However, we love the design of OS X Yosemite (though we know not everyone agrees) and improvements to Notification Centre, Mail, and iCloud have already changed the way we work on our Macs in a very positive way.

If you’d like a more in-depth look at the new features and how well they work in OS X Yosemite, check out our sister title Macworld UK’s OS X Yosemite review.

7 Os X Tips For Windows Users

If you recently purchased a Mac or if you have been required to use a Mac for work, you might be frustrated trying to use OS X if you have been a long-time Windows user. This is completely understandable and Apple really doesn’t care to change their OS to match that of Windows anytime soon.

Apple loves OS X the way it is and it will probably remain the way it is for the remainder of its life. This means you’ll need to get used to some of the differences between Windows and Mac. In my view, OS X could still be made to be easier to use by default, but unfortunately, you have to manually make some changes to make things better.

Table of Contents

In this article, I’m going to give you a couple of my favorite tips for Windows users who have to use a Mac and OS X. Once you get used to OS X, you may even like it more than Windows, which is what happened to me. There is a small learning curve, but it’s worth the effort. Also, be sure to check out my post on programs and features in OS X that are equivalent to Windows.

Tip #2 – Add Applications to the Dock

The other major change that is most jarring for Windows users is the lack of a Start button. There simply isn’t any central button in OS X. You have the small Apple logo icon at the top left, which can do a few things like get you to System Preferences or let you restart/shutdown your computer.

You can also use Launcher (the silver/grey rocket icon in the Dock), but I never find myself using that for some reason.

Tip #3 – Eject Drives using the Trash

This would be like dragging your USB drive into the Recycle Bin in Windows, which basically means delete everything! So obviously, people don’t even like the idea of throwing anything that has important data on it into a trash can!

Tip #4 – Tweak Finder

Finder is basically like Windows Explorer. A much simpler version of Explorer in my view. However, I prefer the more detailed and cluttered view of Explorer than the streamlined Finder. It’s just too simple.

On the General tab, you can also edit the New Finder window shows option and pick something other than All Files. I prefer to pick my home folder, which matches more to Windows explorer.

Tip #5 – Learn to Use Spotlight

Using Spotlight is the best way to find your files, change settings in OS X, find apps to install, find emails, find calendar events, etc. It also shows results from the web, so you could search for Apple and get suggested websites and even a map to the local Apple store.

Tip #6 – OS X Uses Spaces & Full Screen

 Another thing you have to get used to is understanding how those three buttons at the top left of every window work. In Windows, you have three buttons: a minimize button, an expand button and a close button. In OS X, you have a red close button, a yellow minimize button and a green button that expands, but differently depending on the program.

Well, in OS X, the app has basically gone into its own space. If you scroll up with three fingers, you’ll see something called Mission Control. Basically, it shows you a thumbnail of each desktop or program that is using its own space.

On some apps, however, the app will expand to full screen, but it will not go into its own space. It’ll basically remain on the original desktop, just taking up most of the screen. Most third-party apps like Microsoft Office now support the full-screen mode that go into their own space.

Tip #7 – Install Programs from the Mac App Store

By default, Apple tries to protect you by only allowing you to install apps from the Mac App store and from identified developers. In one sense, it’s good because it keeps you a bit safer without having to do much on your part.

If you want to install a new program, the best place to go is the Mac App store. Whereas Windows software is usually downloaded from everywhere on the Internet, most programs you’ll ever need to install on your Mac will be available in the Mac App store. If you really need to install something from some other place, you can go to System Preferences – Security & Privacy and select Anywhere under Allow apps downloaded from.

So hopefully those are some good tips for beginner Mac users who pretty much used Windows for their entire lives. There are a lot of other differences, but if you can get through these major ones, you’ll enjoy using your Mac rather than wanting to beat it. Enjoy!

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