Blog — Tips and Tricks from the Mac Zen Team

Spooky Stories of Mac Disaster

Gather round, my friends. Fall has come, and with it, the month of ghostly spectres and terrifying tales. Hold your iPhone tight and read on if you dare.

The Priceless Paperweight

It was a blustery October afternoon. Outside, the wind blew crooked branches towards Fred's office window with a creaking, cracking noise. Reeek. Reeek. Shaking off an eerie feeling, Fred picked up his iPhone. Sensing his movement, the phone awoke. Lo and behold, a new version of iOS was available for his iPhone with hundreds of new emojis! He couldn’t wait to text his friends all about the new kundalini class on Saturday — the new yoga emoji would be perfect. Maybe he’d finally get around to trying out that iCloud thing.

Continue Reading

Got Files?

Got Files?

Now that you’re going paperless, Apple’s iOS 11 has you covered with the new Files app. In a way, it’s like iOS now has a “Finder” of sorts. If you’ve been used to using the iCloud Drive app on your iPhone or iPad, Files is the replacement for that app.


Continue Reading

Fujitsu ScanSnap ix500


Last month we had a look at Scanner Pro—a thoroughbred among apps that turns your iPhone or iPad into a scanner for capturing documents. The Fujitsu ScanSnap ix500 is a prosumer scanner with an automatic feeder that can take up to 50 sheets in one go.

With companion software that matches its excellent build quality, the solution is perfect for home use as a catch-all for all your paper. I’ve fed it business cards, statements, legal documents, receipts; I’ve even cut the spine off a Visa card terms of service booklet and stuck it in, and it has made easy work of it.

Continue Reading

Getting back to work…at school

With schools starting up again, the Summer freedom of the nomadic worker, if they are also a parent, tends to take on a bit more structure. I myself experience this so it occurred to me that it might be helpful to highlight remote work locations near schools. The benefit of such locations is that one can pop in right after drop-off in the morning or right before pick-up in the afternoon and get a bit of work done. Often you’ll be able to get a coffee for yourself or a snack for that hungry little one you’re about to see.

Continue Reading

One Step Closer to Paperless: Scanner Pro by Readdle


Close Up of Eye — How pixels make up an imageAll images are made up of pixels. Each pixel captures a colour, and together the pixels come together to make up an image. By the numbers, 8MP on the iPhone 5S (MegaPixels—“mega” means “millions”) is equivalent to an image 3264 pixels wide by 2448 pixels high. It makes the iPhone the most practical document scanner we've ever had access to—more than enough detail to capture a document clearly, and the phones only get better from there.

Our journey toward a paperless life would be challenging without  dramatic advances in photo sensors and scanning. What used to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a few decades ago and require large rooms to accommodate the computers, now satisfy consumer needs in the palm of your hand or a desktop flatbed scanner for less than $80.

We all have everything we need to begin a mostly digital and paperless life, and for the purpose of this article we’re going to focus on how the iPhone—and one app in particular—take us one step closer to PDF nirvana.

Continue Reading

The Easy Paperless Revolution is Finally Here

On the surface—for the average consumer—printing an email, an e-ticket for a flight, or getting your favourite photos into a frame on the wall is about the only time we use paper in relation to computers. Some of us venture into photo books or community newsletters, but aside from the occasional need to print sign some legal documents, we don’t do that much printing.

The reality, however, is quite different. For some reason we all end up with tomes of paper records; stacks of statements, receipts, and invoices; boxes of financial documents that need to be kept for X number of years. Is this still necessary?

2017 is half way gone, and the fact that we are so dependent on paper still is ridiculous. I hear over and over again that the computer has somehow generated more paperwork than saved us from it. We’re still cutting down trees at an alarming rate, but at least (thank goodness) we have the common sense to recycle as much as we can, and replant as much as possible.

Continue Reading

Photo Library Paradise, for $1.30 a month

Over the past few years, iPods and iPhones have begun to rival high-end cameras for photo quality, letting you take amazing snaps anywhere you go. This is unquestionably awesome — but there is a catch. Treating your phone’s storage as your digital camera card, along with all the other things it’s responsible for, often leaves people frustrated by a lack of space for apps and the dreaded warning message, “Your iCloud storage is full.”

That specific problem is a question for another newsletter, but suffice to say those folks feeling cagey about "the cloud” can manage this problem manually by plugging their device into their home computer. Choosing “delete after import” in Photos makes sure all your shots are safely stored before being wiped from your mobile device, so you can do a fresh backup and free up your clogged iCloud account. 

If this sounds daunting or in my case, simply too annoying to bother with, you might want to consider investing as little as $1.30 a month in Apple’s tailor-made solution to this problem: iCloud Photo Library.

Continue Reading

Travel Tech at Its Finest

You may have noticed there was no newsletter last month. As much as I’d love to put the blame on Aitan and Neil for dropping the ball, the truth is I’m mostly to blame — I was halfway across the globe, riding a bicycle over 13941 metres of Japanese mountains (also known as 1.5x the height of Everest.)
IMG 0018
My friend Kentaro and I with our new friend and walking pilgrim, Van.
I won’t launch into why someone would voluntarily embark on such a complete fool’s errand, but I thought it might be interesting to talk about some of the pretty cool apps and equipment I got to use along the way.

Continue Reading