How to navigate the Genius Bar at the Apple Store

The “Genius Bar” name may do a disservice to everyday Apple users, scaring them away from fixing their own devices and implying only a “genius” can troubleshoot them. But sometimes, going to the Genius Bar makes sense—especially if your phone or Mac is still under warranty and you can get it fixed for free.

The vast majority of PC and phone manufacturers don’t have retail locations where you can walk in and get service—in fact, a lot of them require you to mail your device in for warranty service. A short trip to the Apple Store is much, much easier.

So if you’re headed to the Genius Bar for some help, here are some tips to keep in mind.

Research the issue before you go

Before you go: check with Google and see if the problem is easily fixable at home. If your iPhone is having trouble charging, for example, the charging port may just be full of lint—grab a toothpick and try to clean it out. You’d be surprised how often people waste a trip to the Apple Store for such a simple solution, and if you can save yourself an hour of hassle, you’ll feel pretty smart, too.

Similarly, the problem could be on your end—maybe your computer’s “slowness” is actually a poor Wi-Fi signal degrading your internet speed, or maybe your sound is finicky because the headphones are broken.

Plus – back up your data before you hand your phone or computer over to Apple. You never know when something will go wrong and you’ll be left without your crucial files.

Get an appointment—don’t try to walk in

Once upon a time, you could walk up to the Genius Bar, wait a few minutes, and get quick service. Those days are long gone. If this is your first trip in a while, going to the Apple store is like going to the DMV now, and an appointment is crucial if you don’t want to stand around waiting. Head to Apple’s website, click the “Get Hardware Help” button at the bottom, and make an appointment for the device in question. (You can also do this from the Apple Support app.)

If you have multiple issues or multiple devices that require service, make multiple appointments back-to-back from one another. Apple schedules those appointments assuming they’ll last 10-15 minutes each, so bringing a bunch of “but also” problems with you is only going to slow them down—and potentially get you worse service from a rushed technician.

Familiarize yourself with AppleCare

When you buy an Apple device, you get a one-year warranty with the device called AppleCare. You also have the option to purchase an extended warranty called AppleCare+, which not only adds an extra year (or two) of service but includes coverage for accidental damage, theft, and loss. That does not include a broken screen.

If your device has a known issue that you didn’t cause, then AppleCare will likely give you the repair for free. But if you damage your screen, dunk the phone in water, or otherwise damage it accidentally, you’ll have to pay a service fee to fix that damage. It’ll just be a lower service fee than you would have paid without AppleCare+. So don’t go demanding a free repair you aren’t entitled to.

In other cases, Apple may deny warranty coverage if you’ve damaged the phone, even if that damage isn’t directly related to your issue. The same goes for devices that you or a third party has repaired: Apple may decline to offer warranty coverage, even though it is illegal for them to do so. We’d encourage you to remind them of that fact if they try to pull a fast one.

See if you’re eligible for at-home repair

If you need service on a desktop Mac, it might be a hassle to take it into the store. They don’t advertise it heavily on their site, but Apple actually offers at-home repairs for desktop Macs if you’re still under the AppleCare warranty. You’ll need to give Apple a call, explain your situation, and they should be able to transfer you to a supervisor who can set up an at-home visit.

Don’t be afraid to look for help elsewhere

Geniuses are given specific troubleshooting steps by Apple, and many will just stick to those. Others may go above and beyond the call of duty, but that’s never guaranteed.

So if the Genius Bar can’t fix your problem, take it to an independent repair shop (or even a tech-savvy friend) and see if they can do anything. You may be out of luck, but you never know. So like visiting any other doctor, get a second opinion first.

Be nice, but be firm

At the end of the day, the Genius you’re talking to is just another person working their daily retail job. If you run in, angrily demanding repairs and blaming the Genius for your problems, you’re going to have a much worse experience than someone who is polite, listens carefully, and doesn’t act like you know more than them (even if you do). That doesn’t mean you should be a pushover—be firm in the resolution you want, especially if you know you’re entitled to it—but a little kindness goes a long way.

Wait… is there another option besides the Genius Bar?

Yes… It’s us! Faster, more available, and less people and hassle to deal with. Contact Us and we will take care of you before you spend hours at the Genius Bar!

7 easy steps to free up space on your iPhone

7 easy steps to free up space on your iPhone

It seems that your iPhone always runs out of space at the most inopportune times. If your iPhone storage is full or nearly full, you’re going to quickly need a way to clear up space on your device. In this article, we will go over some steps you can take to clear space on your iPhone.

You may be wondering why your iPhone keeps running out of space in the first place. The simple answer is that you may have too many videos, photos, apps and other files stored on your device.

How do you find out what’s using up space on your iPhone?

The first thing you should do is find out exactly what’s taking up most of your storage. Go to Settings > General > iPhone Storage and you should see a bar graph that shows how much space you have, like this:

From the screenshot above, you can see that apps take up most of the space on this iPhone, followed by messages and photos.

7 steps to free up storage space on your iPhone

Here are some recommendations Apple’s iPhone Storage screen shows you to free up storage space:

1. Auto delete old conversations

Under that graphic in Settings, Apple tells you how much data you can save if you automatically remove messages and attachments sent and received more than a year ago.

2. Review large attachments

It will also show you how to see large files that you have sent or received so you can see determine whether to delete them.

3. Uninstall unused apps

Many of us have apps that we seldom use. They’re literally just taking up space. If you scroll down, you can also see the last time you opened an app.

Just find the “Last Used” line under the app’s name and that should help you decide whether you should keep it or delete it to save space.

If you click on the app, the iPhone also gives you the option to “Offload” the app, which will delete it from your device but restore all of the documents and data you had if you choose to re-install it.

4. Back up your files with a cloud storage service

The obvious choice here for an iPhone user is to use iCloud, which comes with 5GB of free storage space. Aside from iCloud, here are some of the most popular cloud storage services:

  • Dropbox — Free account comes with 2GB of free space
  • Google Drive — Free account comes with 15GB of free space (including your other Google accounts)
  • OneDrive — First tier with 5GB of free storage

5. Back up your iPhone files to your computer

You can also choose to back up your iPhone to a Mac or PC. You can do this either with a cord or via iCloud. The good news is that your iPhone will no longer be the sole database for some of your most important files and data.  Here’s how to transfer photos from your iPhone.

6. Manage photos

Speaking of iCloud, if you go to Settings > Apple ID, ICloud, iTunes & App Store > iCloud > Photos, you can see several options to save space on your phone by managing your photos. They include the ability to:

  • Automatically upload photos to iCloud: Once you opt in, you won’t have to remember whether the photos you take are going to the cloud. This can also be a great data-reducing measure for your phone.
  • Remove photos and videos: Confirming that you want to “Remove from iPhone” will wipe the selected photos and videos from your device.
  • Turn off Photo Stream: Turning this feature off will delete all Photo Stream photos from your iPhone and save space.
  • Optimize iPhone storage: This will automatically downsize full resolution photos and replace them with smaller versions that take up less space.

7. Buy more mobile data

Aside from those options, you may decide that you want to simply buy more storage space, which can be done by going to any of the cloud services listed above.

Review

In conclusion, here are the best ways to free up storage space on your iPhone:

  • Delete old emails and attachments
  • Review old attachments and other files
  • Uninstall apps you don’t use
  • Back up your files to the Cloud
  • Transfer files to a computer
  • Manage photos
  • Buy more data

Overwhelming? Too much hassle?

That’s why we’re here! Contact Us and we can do it for you!

Training Google Mail (or Gmail) for Spam Filtering

Email spam

Have you ever had the experience of someone insisting that they sent you an email, but you can’t find it, only to look later in your Spam or Junk folder and find it hiding there? Now why would your mail app decide one thing is spam and another is not?

Email providers like Google, Yahoo, and Hotmail invest a lot of resources into making their spam filters do a good job of accurately identifying what is valid email and what is not. Sometimes they do a good job of that, and sometime they get a little over-zealous. This can result in what is called a “false positive.” That’s where an email may contain one or more traits that make it look like spam. This can be as simple as the email containing the word “spam” in the title or in the body.

All email providers use a varied list of criteria to give each incoming email a score. If the score of the combined factors goes over a certain threshold, then BAM – it goes into the spam folder. The Verge has an article about how Google now uses Artificial Intelligence to block spam.

How come I don’t see the spam?

Your email client (such as Apple’s included Apple Mail) does have its own junk filter. But that only comes into play once you check your mail from your provider’s servers. And that is long after their servers have already filtered out spam. That is why you may not see messages flagged as spam unless you log in to your account via a web browser at www.gmail.com.

If you use Gmail or Google mail (many non-profit and .org’s do) you can train it to remove false-positives. That way, email that you know is valid will no longer be filtered out as spam. The video below shows you how.

If you would like some help with this and any other aspects of keeping your email healthy and happy, contact us and we will be glad to take care of you!

Why you should update your software now

You secure your valuables – your wallets, keys, and homes. You know that, if left unsecured, they can easily be a target for criminals. So it makes sense to think the same way about the information stored on all your electronic devices. Computers, tablets, phones and other personal devices hold your emails and your financial… Continue Reading

iOS 12 – Should you upgrade?

Apple releases iOS 12 September 17th The folks in Cupertino have been working hard for a year now on the latest software update for iPhones, iPods and iPads. They had some ambitious goals for this release, and not everything made the final release. However, because of the fine-tuning and optimizing they’ve done on iOS 12,… Continue Reading

iPhone Spam Calls and Text Messages

What can I do about all these robocalls? The most common recommendation from security experts is to simply not answer your phone from numbers you do not recognize. That said, you’re probably still receiving voice messages that are clearly from robotic electronic recordings – robocalls. There are a number of apps you can run on… Continue Reading

Facebook was reckless with your data – Now what?

(Update: You now have the ability to download a copy of all your current data on Facebook. This article from macobserver.com shows you how.) As you may already know, there’s been a security meltdown at Facebook, thanks to a company called Cambridge Analytica. As many as 50 million users learned that their social media data was… Continue Reading

Meltdown and Spectre Security Vulnerabilities? Oh my!

Apple has released macOS High Sierra 10.13.2 Supplemental Security Update, along with Safari 11.0.2 for Mac OS X El Capitan 10.11.6 and macOS Sierra 10.12.6. These updates mitigate the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities you may have read about in the news lately, and are recommended for all eligible Mac users to install. The Mac security software… Continue Reading

iOS 11 – Should I Upgrade?

iOS 11 – Should I Upgrade?

In a word, YES. Apple has been working for a year on this update, which includes many small, but significant visual improvements, and a lot of invisible security and stability updates. What about my favorite (very old) app; will it still work? That depends; this version of iOS is all 64-bit, which means that some… Continue Reading

iOS10 for iPhone & iPad – How about it?

Apple released iOS10 in September and it brings a whole host of upgrades and user-interface changes, some of which take a bit of getting used to. However, they’ve really upped their game when it comes to security here, and you should definitely upgrade. If your phone has enough free space, you can do this yourself… Continue Reading

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