Tune up your two-step Recovery Key

If you’re using Apple’s two-step verification system for logins, I have just one (not two) questions for you: do you know where your Recovery Key is?

A friend recently went through a multi-week set of interlocked problems when he was locked out of his Apple ID account on his iPhone, and couldn’t find his Recovery Key. He wasn’t ultimately able to get Apple to unlock his account. (During this period, his phone also locked up for a few days and he couldn’t receive texts or alerts, either.)

He had forgotten he’d enabled two-step verification, which is the older of Apple’s two methods of using a second piece of information to validate that you’re the accountholder. With the two-step system, Apple uses something akin to Find My iPhone to provide a code on your iOS devices or sends an SMS that you use to complete your login.

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How to work between Pages 5 and Pages ’09

Natasha Scott asks about finding a simple way to work between two different versions of Pages: Pages ’09 (version 4) and Pages 5. She writes:

From my research online it appears that they do not work compatibly together; I need to be able to open the documents he sends to me and edit them.

I was also curious if there was any way for me to download the version of Pages ’09 so that I have the same version my work associate has.

You’ve got a few different ways to sort this out, but I’ll start with the second question first, as it may be simpler. While Apple no longer sells the iWork ’09 suite, of which Pages ’09 is a part, third-party sellers offer it via Amazon and other sources. Looking at Amazon, I see a number of “new” copies available for about $20. (Check the New box under Condition in the far left column of the Amazon page.) I wouldn’t buy “open box” copies, and I’d only purchase from sellers with high ratings and a history at Amazon. As of El Capitan, Pages ’09 still runs just fine.

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How to change payment methods for an iPhone Upgrade Program loan

After my third credit-card number was stolen this year, I had to make the rounds of recurring payments to get them changed. But I hit a snag. I had used Apple’s in-store iPhone Upgrade Program to purchase my iPhone 6s, which is handled by Citizens One. But even though I ostensibly should have had loan information somewhere, I couldn’t find a digital or print copy of any of it.

Stranger still, that iPhone doesn’t show up as an Apple Store purchase in my account, even though everything else I’ve bought from Apple online and in an Apple Store is listed. I visited Apple’s site to find more information, and there’s none there, either. I called an Apple Store help number listed on the site, went through phone trees, and when I answered legitimately, the tree said it couldn’t help me and hung up. I tried a few paths with the same result.

I went to Citizens One’s Web site, which required an account number number to register and get started. But my monthly statement from the loan processor, sent via email, only contained the last four digits of my account number. Good on them for security, but bad for me.

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How to erase a Mac that seems to lack erasure options

Susan Lawlor writes in with a common problem:

I’m trying to securely erase my poor sad iMac before donating or recycling it. It’s my old workhorse—running 10.6.8. Disk Utility’s Erase Security Options is grayed out. I have no OS X disk, and there’s no Recovery HD.

It’s admirable to erase your system before you sell—especially with secure erasure—to avoid leaking personal data to someone who buys it or obtains the disk drive. While the odds are likely very low someone would be able to extract data (or be interested in it), you can try to reduce those odds to what is effectively zero.

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How to dispose of a printer securely

Philip Cassir writes in with a non-obvious problem:

I have two older printers, an Epson Stylus Photo 960 and an HP OfficeJet 800 Wireless printer, as well as an old CanoScan flatbed scanner I would like to get rid of securely, but I need to know whether these consumer products store any print or scanning jobs as I have scanned receipts and personal documents. There is nothing about that on the manufacturers’ sites. If these devices do have [internal storage], how can I find the modules and remove or destroy them?

My knee-jerk reaction was, nah, these devices are all “dumb”—they don’t contain internal storage that would queue anything once the power was removed. But my knee stopped spasming almost immediately, because it’s these sorts of assumptions that come back to bite users (and manufacturers) later, and even inexpensive printers have become more computer-like starting several years ago.

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How to use iCloud Photo Library selectively

Brenda Best writes in with a common question that I finally have a workaround for:

How do take pictures off iCloud, but not have them deleted from my iMac, iPhone, and iPad? My iCloud is full and I want to clear it up by taking the photos off.

In the past, I’ve said, sorry, it’s all or nothing. Once you opt into iCloud Photo Library, all of your images are synced across all devices that use the same iCloud login and have iCloud Photo Library enabled, and the full-resolution versions of images and videos have to be stored in your iCloud account.

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