MacMost Now 910: 9 Common Mac Myths and Misconceptions

I often hear myths and misconceptions about Macs in the comments and questions I get at MacMost. Here are some of the most common ones I see.

Video Transcript
Hi this is Gary with MacMost Now. On today's episode let's look at nine Mac myths.

A lot of questions I get asked actually come from misconceptions that people have about Macs or computers in general. Or a lot of time when people ask questions I notice that they are doing things that they don't need to do.

Like for instance the first one is that people quit apps far too often I find. When you are using a Mac you can run apps, especially ones you are using all the time, like Safari or say if you are a writer using Pages or Word, whatever apps you are using and you can leave them running. You don't have to quit one app to start another. Some people do this or they try to kind of manage their apps, quitting one if they don't think they are going to use it for a time.

I actually leave just about all of my apps running unless it is something I rarely use. I use it just once and then I quit when I am done using it. But I usually have image editing tool, word processor, Safari of course, a FTP tool, all sorts of things always running even if I don't have a document open with them at the time. They don't actually use up very much memory or resources if you are not using them at that moment so it is okay to leave them running. As a matter of fact it is common that I have ten or more apps running on either my MacPro or my MacBook Air at any given time. I simply don't bother to quit them. You don't really need to.

Similar to that I find that a lot of people shut their computers down at the end of the day. Something I haven't done for years. Maybe it was true say in the early nineties it was a good idea that when you were done using the computer to quit everything and shut it down. But with today's modern computers they use very little power when they go to sleep. You should let them go to sleep. You don't necessarily have to shut them down at the end of every day.

Similar to that I find people have a little bit of confusion using the new wireless peripherals like keyboards and mice. They are not sure whether they should shut them down when they are finished using their Mac at the end of the day or whether to just leave them on. I just leave them on. I've never shutdown my keyboard or my trackpad even though both just use batteries. They both kind of go into a sleep mode. They are not using very much power if you are not typing on them or using the trackpad so it is not really going to effect the battery life too much and of course it is a lot easier if you don't have to wait for them to reconnect over bluetooth when you start work again the next day.

Another thing I hear a lot are the people who have MacBooks shut them down before moving them. In other words they have them on their desk at home and when they want to go to work or school they shut them down so they are not actually transporting a MacBook that is on, even if it is sleeping. Now this comes from the early days of laptops. The early days laptops used standard hard drives. Standard hard drives didn't work well if they were being moved at the time because there is things in motion there. There is the spinning disk and there is a reading head that moves across the surface and the really early drives weren't made to be used while they were in motion. So sometimes you would have problems with that.

As soon as laptops became popular drives were developed that not only would work well while being moved but also would be smart about it. Like for instance in today's MacBooks if you were to actually drop your MacBook while you were doing something the hard drive detects that it is falling and will stop doing anything for the duration of the fall. So it won't damage itself. But in general you just don't have to shut down your MacBook while moving it at all. I just simply put mine to sleep and carry it with me. But I've even walked around with it on, doing things as I am moving and it is perfectly fine. It won't harm it. As a matter of fact the latest MacBooks don't even use hard drives like that. They use solid state drives so it is completely a non-issue.

That brings me to the next myth which is I hear a lot of people saying that they heard that you are not supposed to use a MacBook while it is plugged in. I'm not really sure where this comes from. I think some of the early battery type devices, maybe even before computers, had the issue where you would want to charge them fully up and you wouldn't want to overcharge them. But this certainly isn't true of laptop computers. I don't think it ever has been. So you have no danger of overcharging your MacBook and certainly if you have power available and have your power adapter have your MacBook plugged in. There is no reason to drain the battery if you don't need to. So certainly keep your MacBook plugged in when you can. Use the battery when you have to or it is more convenient and don't worry about overcharging because that is not something that happens.

So let's get away from power and on and off and talk about iTunes. Originally when iTunes started selling music it was copy protected. There was digital rights management on it and you had to basically authenticate yourself on your copy of iTunes to make sure you could play the music that you purchased. When you synced your iPod there was stuff that went back and forth to authenticate that it was your iPod and it was your music and it was all okay.

But Apple did away with this years and years ago. The music now doesn't have this kind of copy protection. When you buy it from iTunes you can put it on any other MP3 device you want. iTunes even lets you convert it from the AAC format to MP3 if you have an old player that only plays MP3 music. You can use it wherever you want on any of your devices. It does actually put your ID in the songs so it is not like you can just do whatever you want with the song and give it away to people but you do have freedom to basically use it outside of iTunes on your Mac and your iPhone, iPod, iPad.

Now if I had to pick a #1 myth. A myth that appears the most in comments and questions I get it's about Microsoft Office. For some reason people don't realize that there is Office for Windows and there is also Office for Mac. Now it is Office 365 and you can get it for either Mac and Windows. It pretty much has always been Office for Mac. So if you need to open some old Microsoft Office documents or you are communicating with people that use Microsoft Office on Windows just get Office for your Mac. It is available. The same price and it can open the same files.

Maybe the second most popular myth I hear all the time concerns Apple's wifi devices, the AirPort Express, the AirPort Extreme and TimeCapsule. People that don't have one think that maybe they only work with Macs and iPhones and iPads. That is not true at all. Wifi devices are across platform.

You can get an AirPort Extreme base station and you can certainly use that with your PC that has wifi. As a matter of fact you can use it with just about anything that has wifi. There is a modern wifi connection in it like a cable set top box for instance. A wireless camera. Game consoles. All sorts of things. AirPort base station is really no different than a base station from another brand. It is just that it has more of the Apple flavor to it. Its got an Apple control panel that you can use, an iOS device on your Mac. But it can still communicate with all of the other wifi devices in your house.

The last myth that I want to talk about today has to do with Macs having only one mouse button. Originally Macs did have only one mouse button. This differed from Windows that had a second mouse button that was the right mouse button that you could right click.

But even back in those days when Macs had one mouse button you could hold down the control key and click on your mouse and you would get the same effect. You would get a contextual menu just like right clicking.

Starting years and years ago some Mac mice came with the second mouse button. It didn't look like it did. It was just that you clicked on the left side versus of the right side. Surely enough the current Mac mouse that you get does that.

But you can also do that with any other device like say the trackpads on MacBooks or using the magic trackpad. As a matter of fact you have control over how the secondary click works. You go right in here into System Preferences into trackpad in this case or you can go into the mouse settings there. On the trackpad I've got secondary click. I can say I want to do it when I click with two fingers or I can do the bottom right corner or the bottom left corner there. So I get to actually determine how the secondary click is activated on my trackpad. Most people stick with clicking with two fingers.

So there are nine Mac myths and misconceptions for you. I hope you found this useful. Until next time this is Gary with MacMost Now.

Comments: 49 Responses to “MacMost Now 910: 9 Common Mac Myths and Misconceptions”

    8/28/13 @ 8:14 am

    Love this style of video – very informative!
    I still find it crazy how many people still believe some myths such as turning computers off all of the time :)

    8/28/13 @ 8:45 am

    I have heard that leaving the power plugged in after the battery is fully charged is not a good idea and may over charge the battery, shortening its life. I was told that to maximize battery life it needs to fully charge and then fully discharged to get the most cycles.

      8/28/13 @ 9:23 am

      Not true at all. That’s one of the myths I talk about in the video. There’s no reason to not leave your MacBook plugged in.
      And as for fully discharging the battery to maximize the lifecycle. While it is try that you might be able to eek out 1 or 2% more from the battery by doing this, that doesn’t not make it worth the time and effort it takes to micro-manage your battery. Use your MacBook — don’t let it use you!

      Joel Anderson
      8/28/13 @ 9:51 am

      The latest wisdom I’ve read is that you should completely discharge it as you describe maybe just once or twice a year, but the rest of the time, it’s best to keep the battery “topped off”.

    8/28/13 @ 12:02 pm

    1) Some applications use RAM and don’t discharge it. Only quitting the program resolves this.
    2) My MagicMouse practically drinks batteries. Shutting it off prolongs life.
    3) Dropping any laptop is not a good idea.
    4) You could have written this out and people could have read it in under 2 minutes, not listening to you drone on and on for 8:44!

      8/28/13 @ 1:54 pm

      1 — Apps shouldn’t. Not in 2013. If you have an app that does, perhaps contact the developer to let them know.
      2 — Sorry to hear that. Have to A/B tested?
      3 — OK.
      4 — I do video tutorials. That’s why this is a video. Sorry you think I “drone on.” I didn’t mean for this to be an inconvenience for you. Perhaps you would enjoy a web site that has written materials more than one that uses video.
      Oh, and if I had written it out, then not one of my 30,000+ YouTube and iTunes subscribers would have seen it.

        8/28/13 @ 2:35 pm

        The reply is correct. IMHO the last paragraph is not necessary. It sounds a little bit scornful and, you don’t need that sort of advertising.
        Best regards,

        8/28/13 @ 2:49 pm

        Brilliant reply to a idiot! Keep up the video tutorials, I’ve learnt so much from them. Thanks.

        8/29/13 @ 9:00 am

        Great response to all. If you don’t like, then don’t watch. Keep up the great work Gary. I learn something with every newsletter and video I watch. Oh! and by the way you don’t drone on.

          8/30/13 @ 2:46 pm


      Robert Gabriel
      9/29/13 @ 11:25 pm

      For point #3, the video did not suggest otherwise; his point is that damage caused from spinning hard drives is not an issue when the unit is dropped, as before. For point #4, your thought is worth considering in this regard, IMHO; much is communicated non-verbally by hearing someone speak–one of the reasons we still have face-to-face classrooms–but having written text would certainly be useful for many, especially when you are in a hurry.

    8/28/13 @ 3:30 pm

    Gary, there is one in every thousand, which means you have at least 30 of them among your subscribers..! pay no attention…you do a great job and i like many love your stuff. keep up the good work..!

    8/28/13 @ 4:27 pm

    Sorry Don108,
    I have learned tons from Gary’s videos. Don’t ever stop Gary!
    Thanks for all you do Gary!

    8/28/13 @ 5:22 pm

    I find that there can be useful information is in the ‘droning’, things maybe not specifically linked to the topic, but good to know nevertheless, and you can never have enough information, imo.

      8/28/13 @ 5:23 pm

      oops, sorry about leaving in the “is”, I meant to drop it out.

    8/28/13 @ 5:29 pm

    Those who can — do. Those who can’t — criticize.

    Keep up the great work Gary. I love your clips, so don’t let the haters change your style.

    8/28/13 @ 5:33 pm

    Great video – ignore the peanuts who really have no life – yeah you Don108 why bother?

    Paul Rowe
    8/28/13 @ 6:59 pm


    Your advises and guidance via your videos provide real insight into many issues – I applaud you , your style and the topics covered.

    Keep up the excellent work !!!!!

    8/29/13 @ 8:28 am

    As a Mac Newbie I appreciate everything you have to say Gary. Love the video style. Especially love when you show the mac screen and show where and what to click on. Seeing is better than just the written or spoken word. Keep it up.

      8/29/13 @ 8:44 pm

      Your videos are great, interesting and always full of very USEFUL info. Thank you Gary and please don’t stop!

    Thim Fook, Law
    8/29/13 @ 8:47 am

    Once again, much thanks for the video.

    I have a question on this matter, but related to iMacs, I was told by an Apple technician that if one leaves the iMacs running for too many nights and days (eg during downloading) it can cause a burn in or ‘moire’ on the screen. Is this true? FYI, I have had this problem before, but I’m not sure if it’s because of this, or because of a manufacturing defect.

    Thanks in advance.

      8/29/13 @ 9:00 am

      It is possible, but easily avoided. You should have Display Sleep set to something reasonable instead of “Never” in the Energy Saver settings in System Preferences. It will be by default. So if you are downloading something overnight, the screen will shut off, but not the Mac. I’m not sure about today’s advanced LCD screens having this burn effect (it was an issue for old CRT monitors in the 80s and 90s) but it will certainly save some energy to use Display Sleep.

        Thim Fook, Law
        8/29/13 @ 10:20 pm

        Thanks again for your quick reply, Gary. I’ll have to check on the Display Sleep later – I don’t think I’ve set it to “Never” though. FYI, the burn-in is noticeable when one switches on the Background to White. With a multi-coloured background, eg with a picture, most of the time the burnin is not noticeable. Unless it’s unfortunate for me to end up with a manufacturing defective iMac.

    Jim H.
    8/29/13 @ 8:52 am

    Good work ! IMO – the information was presented quickly and pleasantly – and
    I learned from it.
    Jim H.

    8/29/13 @ 9:16 am

    I always find tips in your videos…and I’m not a new user….and love the video format too…Im one of those that may be working on other things while listening, and probably wouldn’t spend the time reading. Keep up the good work

    8/29/13 @ 9:28 am

    Being fortunate to live in range of 3 Apple stores and to have a One to One subscription, I have had many sessions with Geniuses/trainers. At least 3x in 2013, I have been told by Apple personnel 2 things: exhaust Macbook/MBPro battery monthly and never carry around the laptop while it’s powered up. Indeed, my white Macbook’s hard drive died in 2012, and carrying it powered up was cited as a contributing factor. Could so many Geniuses and store personnel really be so out of date?

      8/29/13 @ 9:33 am

      Sounds like it. Maybe you had an older MacBook, or there was some particular problem with yours? Or maybe they were just being over-cautious.

    8/29/13 @ 9:36 am

    Thanks for this information! I was particularly interested in learning about leaving apps running… coming from a Windows background this could easily be a misconception as I often shut down apps to save memory usage. But paying attention to Activity Monitor the Mac does a great job managing memory no longer in use with these Apps. So I’ll try to leave these apps running going forward. ;)
    PS: Ignore the “Don108″s of the world… comments have given him far too much air time.

    8/29/13 @ 9:47 am

    At last I can prove to my husband that having more than one (usually loads) of apps open is ok on my Mac.
    He is still a pc lover….I do try and convert, but what is a girl do?

    jac mills
    8/29/13 @ 9:50 am

    Gary: Another outstanding, helpful video. I must have believed at least half of those before today. Thanks.

    jac mills

    Mr Anthony Cotton
    8/29/13 @ 11:03 am

    I leave my batteries in when they are fully charged,because when they are charged they are cut off. The same goes for the Energy Preference when I am finished on the computer I set the bottom one to zero,and the top one for 2 mins,but the computer is still working downloading whatever.
    This video is good for a beginner,and someone who is never too old to learn. I am 65 years old,and still learning.
    Gary has hit these myths on the head.

    Anton Petre
    8/29/13 @ 3:44 pm

    Great video!!! I use many of yours for a Seniornet Mac group…they love them, but all say “You talk too fast!!!” Sorry, but I think they’re right! We usually play each video more than once so folk can try to catch what they missed first time through…

      8/29/13 @ 3:50 pm


        8/30/13 @ 5:27 am

        Much thanks. Being from MS most of the world is speaking at a cadence hard for me to absorb. I’m glad you are you. Dr. Seuss would be pleased as well.

        I’m okay with playing the videos more than once and devour the transcripts.

    Clive Littin
    8/29/13 @ 4:25 pm

    Thank you heaps Gary – I love receiving your emails and vids. I am learning so much. I get annoyed when ignorant readers criticise you. Heck you are providing all this amazing information for FREE!
    PS. I’m a lot older than Mr. Anthony Cotton!

    8/30/13 @ 2:48 am

    My Mac Pro wakes up every hour in sleep mode. What could be causing this?

      8/30/13 @ 5:10 am

      Hard to say. Often the culprit is either something running on the Mac (an app), something on the network that attempts to access the Mac (another computer or device you own), or a wireless or USB device you have connected. You’ll have to investigate with some detective work to narrow it down and figure it out.

        9/8/13 @ 8:42 pm

        I found out that Sophos anti-virus wakes up my MAC every hour.

    8/30/13 @ 5:29 am

    so pleasing that this has so many comments of thanks and encouragement and defense for you, more than any I’ve read. You have saved the life of my computer many times, vbg. Keep on keeping on!

    Dawn Slater
    8/30/13 @ 4:46 pm

    Love the sound of Gary’s voice, but please try to slow down just a little bit LOL.

    Craig Partridge
    8/31/13 @ 2:54 am

    Keep up the video tutorials! Having used windows based pc’s for years, I found the transition to Mac tricky at first, but your blog is so useful. Whenever I am unsure how to do something, I can usually find a link to it here and I tend to recommend it to friends who are also changing over. Please ignore any small minded types!

    9/2/13 @ 6:51 am

    Good video, like most of them.
    The only thing is, if I do not quit my apps, I have almost no RAM at all to work with. I am using late 2011 Imac 2.66 Intel Core 2 duo with 8GB RAM.
    Apple spinning beach ball is a nightmare, appearing to often. Very slow imac. Checking emails, surfing is almost ok, but not perfect, but everything beyond this.. frustration.
    So for me to quit an app or tho restart the machine is sometimes necessary.
    I suppose, I have got to check my addons and apps – lots of them

      9/2/13 @ 7:36 am

      Your Mac running slow, and the spinning wheel, doesn’t mean you are running out of memory. More likely you are low on disk space (no virtual memory) or an app is hogging the processor. You can use Activity Monitor to figure that out if you know how. Or, the process of elimination. But it could be an app that you don’t even know is running — a background process of something you installed.

        9/2/13 @ 10:25 am

        Thank You for your this quick respond :D. I will check it.

    Claire Gehrett
    9/5/13 @ 3:44 pm

    I don’t know what I would do without you. I’m always looking and following your advice and so far, I have kept my computer running beautifully. Your instructions are easy to follow, if I don’t understand them, I would write and tell you. You are the best thing that ever happened to my Apple and any good computer users. Keep up the good work,,,WE LOVE YA…… HOORAY FOR US AND YOU.

    Richard Greene
    9/5/13 @ 8:55 pm


    Add my admiration to the now very long list of those who really appreciate your videos. I hardly read anything anymore – if a picture is worth 1,000 words, then a video is worth a million. Especially yours!

    Peter Cox
    9/7/13 @ 11:42 am

    I get the “Your Mac OS X startup disk has no more space available for application memory” message and have to restart to get it to go away. Does this go against what you are saying about closing apps down?
    Great tutorials Gary! Keep ’em coming!

      9/7/13 @ 12:59 pm

      No. Disk space and memory are two different things. If you are getting that message, that means you are running low on hard drive space and should work to clear some space as soon as you can.

        Peter Cox
        9/10/13 @ 1:20 am

        70GB available – time for a spring clean! Thanks for the tip Gary.

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