How to make two-factor authentication less of a pain

You probably know by now that you should never use the same password in more than one place, and that each of your passwords should be strong enough to resist an automated attack. Perhaps you use iCloud Keychain, or a third-party password manager such as 1Password or LastPass to generate random passwords, store them, and fill them in automatically. But all that may not be enough if a site suffers a security breach that reveals its users passwords to an attacker—sadly, a frequent occurrence.

At the moment, the best defense against such attacks is two-factor (or two-step) authentication, in which you need more than just a username and password to log in on an untrusted device. You also need a second element, which often takes the form of a numeric string sent by SMS and so foils any attacker who has your password but not your phone. Most major Internet companies offer two-factor authentication as an option—you can read how to set this up for your Apple ID (which now applies to the iCloud website as well), Dropbox, Evernote, Facebook, Google, and Twitter, for example.

The problem with two-factor authentication is that it’s a bother, requiring an extra, manual step. Usually you have to do this only once per device or app, after which point ordinary logins work, but even so, it’s a pain. Here are a couple of ways to reduce that inconvenience.

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Beyond the basics: OS X's advanced printer tools

Setting up a printer in OS X is often as simple as plugging it in to your Mac or connecting to a shared printer on the local network. From these simple cases, you probably know how to use the system’s Print & Fax system preferences pane to configure the printer. But there are a few other ways to connect and manage printers that you might not be so familiar with.

Add shared printers on the fly

While you can add a shared printer available to your system using the Printers & Scanners pane in System Preferences, you can also do so from the print dialogue in any document. In the Printer drop-down in the standard Print dialog, you will see an submenu labeled Nearby Printers. Choosing a printer from that list will cause OS X to automatically install its driver and set it up for use.

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How to get the biggest bang for your broadband bucks

I lived in Paris for five years before moving to San Diego at the end of 2012. During that time, I got used to the idea of having half a dozen choices for home broadband service, most with up to 100 Mbps of bandwidth and costing perhaps $30 a month for a combination of internet, phone, and TV.

So it was a rude shock to return to California, where one can easily pay five times as much for equivalent service, and where many people are lucky to have two providers to choose between. In my neighborhood, the only options were Cox (cable modem service) and AT&T (DSL and U-verse fiber-optic service).

Still, those two providers fight furiously to capture each other’s customers. Thankfully, I know a bit more about this stuff than the average customer. I did my research and picked the service that’s best for me. But even after I’d made my decision, I spent months saying, “No thanks” to the guys I didn’t pick; they persisted in the hard sell (and in the process distorted the facts). Had I been less tech-savvy, I might well have fallen for their sales pitch, even though it would have left me paying more for less. Here’s my story plus some tips to avoid falling into a similar trap.

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Running Windows on a Mac: Why I prefer VMware Fusion

My work requires me to occasionally use Windows and Linux, as well as older versions of OS X. Fortunately, as a Mac user, I have several ways to run multiple operating systems without switching computers. In addition to OS X’s Boot Camp, I have my choice of three virtualization products for Mac: Parallels Desktop, VMware Fusion, or Oracle’s VirtualBox. Using any of those three, I can pop into another OS as easily as launching an app. Each of these products has its partisans, and I’m not going to tell you definitively which one you should choose. But I did want to explain why I’ve settled on VMWare Fusion as my go-to virtualization choice.

(By way of disclosure, I should mention that I wrote books about Fusion versions 2 and 3; it’s now at version 6. I have also been a Parallels user almost since its very first release. I have no particular allegiance to one developer or another. I just want to get my work done in the most efficient way possible, with a minimum of distraction and complication.)

I’ve seen many comparative reviews, benchmark tests, and feature checklists for these products. In its last couple of comparisons, Macworld has concluded that Parallels and Fusion are virtually equivalent, the differences increasingly minor with each revision.

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What iOS 8, OS X Yosemite, and iCloud Drive will mean in the enterprise

[Editor's note: This article originally appeared on CITEworld.]

Apple’s WWDC keynote was an interesting mix of user-oriented features and developer-focused announcements. While Apple didn’t announce any new hardware (as some Wall Street pundits might have liked), Apple never does at WWDC: this is a software-focused event for develpers. The fact is, Apple introduced a number of revolutionary advances described during the event that stretch across the consumer, enterprise IT, and developer spheres.

One of the big questions is what happens when the consumer and enterprise spheres intersect, as they are certain to do in a world where iOS is the dominant mobile OS in the enterprise and where Apple is continuing to push for integration between its mobile, desktop, and cloud platforms.

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How to access iCloud files from your Mac

[Editor's Note: This story was written prior to the WWDC keynote, at which Apple execs outlined some upcoming changes to the way iCloud files are displayed in OS X and iOS. But until those changes take effect next fall, the advice below will still pertain.]

iCloud serves many purposes these days. (I’d actually say it tries to do too much, but that’s another story.) One of its main functions is document storage for the iWork suite (Pages, Numbers and Keynote) and other apps.

The problem with using iCloud for document storage is that it’s a black hole: Once you save a document to iCloud, you can only access it again with the same app, or its sibling, in OS X or iOS. If you have a problem with one of those iCloud apps—it won’t launch, say, or an update broke it—you may not be able to access your files at all.

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Four reasons to get a remote control for your iPhone

Your iPhone is smaller than many remote controls—and can function as a remote control itself. So why would you need a remote control for your iPhone (or other iOS device)?

A few months ago I would have thought the idea ridiculous. But it turns out that adding a Bluetooth remote control to my iOS devices has enabled me to solve some interesting problems and to make my iOS devices more useful. If you’ve never considered a remote control for your iOS devices, I’d like to suggest four uses that may change your mind.

Remote shutter release Long before anyone used the term “selfie,” people put cameras on tripods, set a self-timer, and ran back in front of the camera to appear in a group shot. You can put your iOS device on a tripod too, but the built-in Camera app has no timer. No worries: use a button on an easily concealed remote control to snap the picture (or many pictures).

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