Six updates for your parent's computer over Thanksgiving

Bring a flash drive to your parent's house over Thanksgiving and make sure their Mac is in tip-top shape with six easy software upgrades.
Written by Jason D. O'Grady, Contributor on

If your like most, you're probably getting ready to go to your parent's (or grandparents) house for a delicious Thanksgiving feast.

If you are, do your folks a favor and load up a flash drive and/or external drive with some of the latest and greatest software updates for their computer.

Here are some quick suggestions for five easy upgrades for your parent's Mac on Thanksgiving.

  1. Back up all photos. If your folks have a digital camera, back up all their photos to an external drive. If you burn them to disc, make two copies and bring one home to your house. While you're at it, burn a copy of your photos to leave at their house. If their hard drive is more than three years old, it's a ticking time bomb. Backup all data regularly.
  2. Run Disk Utility (it's in Applications > Utilities) and Repair Disk Permissions. This cleans up a lot of system gunk that builds up over time and makes the Mac run better. This is especially important before undertaking a major system update, like #3 below.
  3. Upgrade to Snow Leopard (Mac OS 10.6), it's only $29, well worth the price and it's faster and more secure. Just make sure to run software update afterward and patch up to 10.6.2 and install all of Apple's recommended updates too. You may want to start the update before dinner is served though, it takes a while.
  4. Install the latest version of FireFox (currently 3.5.5). If they've already got FireFox, make sure that it's patched up, auto-updating (Preferences > Advanced > Update) and in the Dock. If they're using Internet Explorer – put it in the trash.
  5. Configure iChat for screen sharing with this excellent tutorial. This it eminently useful for those "I lost the AOL icon" phone calls. If you have a MobileMe account, you can also set up your parent's Mac for remote access via Back to My Mac. If you're having router issues, read this article.
  6. Set your folks up with a Google account, it works with Docs, Spreadsheets, Calendars and gets them a free Gmail account too. Even if you don't think that they'll use it immediately, set it up anyway, and make sure that they remember the password.

While you're at, customize your Mac with some tasty Thanksgiving icons (pictured) from Icon Factory. Happy Thanksgiving!

Photo: TUAW

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