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Home / Mac / The IOS and MacOS family set up tips for the holiday

The IOS and MacOS family set up tips for the holiday

Many of us travel to be with different family members over Thanksgiving. If you're like me, you're a resident "technical person" in your family, so for many family members you only see once or twice a year, this is their one shot to help you with the issues and run routine maintenance on their devices . Here is our list of family suggestions for your vacation.



There's probably no shortage of iOS devices around the Thanksgiving table, so here's some iPhone and iPad family setting tips for holidays.


When looking over a family member's iOS device, the first thing you want to do is make sure they are logged on to iCloud. I know it may seem wrong that someone in 2018 could use iOS without iCloud, but it can happen. Go to Settings> iCloud to confirm that they're signed in. While you're in that section, scroll down to Backup and make sure they've completed a backup recently.

Next, return to the iCloud main scale and confirm that ICloud Images is enabled. If not, check to see if they will get enough iCloud space to start using it. Losing images due to a damaged device is one of the worst things that can happen, and it's 100% preventable .

If they do not have enough space, talk to them about upgrade options. If they refuse to upgrade, let them know about the risk of losing images, data, etc. in the event of a damaged or lost device. If they are in good shape here, you can mention BestPhotos as a way to clean up their library as well.

 Vacation Technical Support

iOS Updates

iOS 12 has been looking for a few months, so there is little risk of updating at this point. Notify them that you want to upgrade their devices, and then get the process started by going to Settings> General> Software Update. When the process is complete, I like to confirm that iCloud Backups and iCloud Photos are still enabled.

Confirm iMessage Settings

Go to Settings> Messages and confirm that they have the correct configuration. I want my outgoing messages to always come from my phone. You can also check the children's devices and confirm that iMessages to the parents will not be sent there as well.

Discuss Parental Control Options

 Vacation Technical Support

Earlier this year, I wrote a quick guide on 9to5Toys to protect your kids when they are online. There are a number of free and paid options, so send them to that article so that they can start doing some basic things to protect their children from inappropriate content. At the minimum, be sure to set up OpenDNS Family Shield.

OpenDNS Family Shield involves changing the DNS servers at the router level. Each route is different, so you will use the instructions that came with it as a reference. Look for the DNS server section and change it to this:

When done, save it and then visit this page to test it. Once set up, all devices on the network will be filtered by OpenDNS Family Shield.


Has your favorite uncle downloaded the MacBook for Thanksgiving? Here is a quick list of family footage suggestions for your vacation.

Confirm that they do not have malicious software.

While macOS is very secure, you can still get malicious software by clicking on a random popup ad that tells you download a new flash player, etc. My favorite tool to clean up malicious software is Malwarebytes. It's free download and there are paid options for automatic scanning in the future. If you just want to run a quick scan and remove, you can do it for free.

If you have a family member who complains about popup windows or has a weird looking search page, be sure to run Malwarebytes to clean up things.

When done, click the Help menu bar. You will see an uninstall button in the list.

Confirm that Time Machine Works

 Vacation Technical Support

While they may not have an external hard drive with them, make sure they are at least backed up their Mac at regular intervals. If they do not, Amazon carries more hard drives that are extremely affordable. I recommend getting at least double size on the built-in drive. You can confirm that Time Machine works by going to System Preferences> Time Machine.

Confirm iCloud and iCloud Photos

 Holiday Tech Support

As we did for iOS, you will want to confirm that macOS is logged on to iCloud and use iCloud Photos. Go to System Preferences> iCloud. Make sure an account is logged in and all relevant items are checked. If they are not, make sure to enable them. If they do not use iCloud Photos, enable it for them.

Once enabled, start the Photos app. If it asks to set up a new database, this means they probably have not used the app before. Then go to the Photos settings to see if iCloud downloads all items or just saves them in iCloud. If they have enough storage, it's ideal to save them offline.

Talk about Offsite Backup

If they do not want to use Time Machine, you can mention a service like Backblaze (referral link) as an alternative. I have some staff who would not manage to remember to connect to an external drive to make backups so that they only chose Backblaze. Backblaze will automatically back up a Mac or PC offsite. Offsite backup is particularly important in case of fire, flood or theft. Once installed, there is nothing else to do.

macOS Updates

I'm sure in MacOS Mojave at this time that I'd recommend getting your family members on the latest version of macOS. If they are not already on Mojave, go to the Apple Logo> App Store to get them updated. This process may take a few hours to complete and I recommend making sure that they have a good backup of their data.

If you want to schedule for Christmas, you can even create a bootable installer using our guide. Creating a bootable installer increases the process because you do not need to download a 5+ GB file in advance.

Certainly Do not spend your entire vacation in iOS and MacOS updates, but helping family members with some important tasks can keep your devices running all year! If you just fill out an item in our family mode tips for holidays, triple check that iCloud Backup and iCloud Photos are enabled. They are the most important things!

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