U is for Upgrade

Like so many others I was dismayed to find that Google Chrome was no longer going to support Snow Leopard, which is my MacBook Pro operating system. Last year I had switched from Safari to Chrome because of the same issue. I decided I did not want to switch browsers again and most likely encounter the same lack of support in the near future.

I bought my MacBook Pro in the spring of 2011 making it now five years old. Ancient in computer time. I love my laptop and have not had any issues with it. I love how it seldom needs updating, and no viruses. One of the reasons I bought a Mac was because people said they kept them a long time. I was perfectly happy with what I had and felt no need to change. But I knew eventually I was going to have to do something so I felt it best to peruse my options sooner rather than later.

Of course I considered simply buying a new computer. An easy answer but pricey. Plus I don’t need new bells and whistles, I am content with no bells and whistles, I just want basic functionality. I use the internet, mail, Microsoft Office and iPhoto. No gaming or code writing. Little streaming. I am a simple user.

Option two, upgrade the operating system. Sounded pretty scary at first. I googled and read and checked my computer memory and asked my computer savvy friend if I could do it.  I asked the Magic 8 ball: all signs point to yes.  So I decided to go for it, secretly reserving the first option as a backup plan if things didn’t go well.

In my browsing for information I found a guy who had two laptops running Snow Leopard and the first thing he did was double the memory. Hmm. I looked around the internet and read some more on this. It looked really easy and inexpensive. Did I dare?

I dared and it was easy and my memory went from 4 GB to 8 GB. The actually installation took about 10 minutes. Seriously, that easy. The hardest part was making sure I ordered the right memory boards. The screws were really tiny but I put them on a magnet and had no problems. I had to finesse the bottom card out and in a bit, but again no biggie.

After ensuring that everything seemed quite okay with the new memory and backing up my computer to an external hard drive I proceeded to the next step of the project: downloading the new operating system El Capitan. My computer showed it was going to take 11 or 12 hours. I thought I would let it run overnight but three times it failed with an internet connection error. I believe my ISP either hiccups or resets or something during the night. For the fourth try I started the download in the afternoon and hit pause before I went to bed. It had run about six hours and looked to be half way done. Honestly I did not trust the pause thing but the next morning when I hit resume it started downloading again. Much to my surprise it finished just an hour later.

Now it was time for the install. My research had showed this could take anywhere from 45 minutes to 20 hours. Boy Howdy! With a deep breath I closed all my other programs and hit start. Then I walked away. An hour later I checked and it was done! I spent the next hour confirming that my word docs, photos, bookmarks etc were all still there. I had three issues that I found and resolved rather easily.

1. My mouse wheel was now scrolling in the opposite direction. At first I thought I was nuts but after 10 minutes of not knowing if I was going up or down I googled for solutions. Under System Preferences go to mouse and uncheck “scroll direction: natural” . Easy peasy .

2. My printer wouldn’t work. I simply deleted it and then re-added it. Printer works. (I think it had something to do with updating the driver.)

3. Missing mail folders. This one was kind of scary and to be honest I can’t remember exactly how I found them. One solution had simply unchecking and then re-checking a box but that didn’t work for me. Other resolutions were too technical for me to follow but I did get a few ideas. In Finder I confirmed the folders were still on my computer and in mail I went to add mailboxes and somehow found the folders and now everything is hunky-dory.

Not much has changed for me with the El Capitan. The icons look a little different. The biggest negative is the change from iPhoto to Photos.  Some loss of functionality like no more drag and drop to add photos to wordpress.  I haven’t seen anything in Photo that works better than iPhoto. I am toying with the idea of restoring iPhoto from my backup but not sure if I want to push my luck!

My MSN mail account is different. I have switched it to “classic layout” which helped some. Am I the only person who prefers words to icons? I have been doing a lot of hovering in order to find what I want to do. I hope in a few weeks I will adjust to the new pictures. (Unlike the new laundry tags on clothes which may as well be written in Greek. I say “new” but after all these years I still have no idea what those symbols mean!)

So there you have it, a basic non-technical computer user can lengthen a MacBook Pro’s usable life span without even swearing a little. Here’s to five more years!

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