Not surprisingly, Apple has yet again cemented itself as a front-runner in our annual tech-support showdown. In addition to its in-store Genius Bar and online Express Lane hub for help articles, the company’s phone support is among the best we’ve experienced across the companies we’ve tested. We had no issue getting quick and timely answers over the phone without AppleCare, which costs $349 to cover our 15-inch MacBook Pro for three years.
We were also able to easily find answers to common problems on Apple’s website, which boasts a wide selection of troubleshooting guides. Apple says that it updated this support Web page back in August to make it even more streamlined and easy to navigate, and we can tell its efforts paid off. Support is now available in 14 countries, including the U.S., Canada, the U.K., France, China and Austria, among others.
For our testing, we asked Apple about how to create multiple user profiles on a single MacBook Pro, how to connect Bluetooth speakers to our notebook and how to change the default scrolling direction of our system’s touchpad.
Apple reserves its live-chat support for AppleCare customers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get quick answers online through other means. It took us less than 5 minutes of navigating Apple’s site to find the answer to our first question. After clicking on the Support tab, we selected Mac and then MacBook Pro to browse Apple’s support options. We chose New To Mac on the right because creating user profiles can be part of setting up your new laptop. The website pulled up a list of tutorials, classes and articles. Under Other Resources, we clicked About Passwords to learn about user accounts. A link within that article took us to a page with the directions we needed.
Searching for the answer to how to connect Bluetooth speakers was just as easy. We visited the Accessories section, where Apple offers a few ways to browse for Bluetooth-related inquiries, such as Support, Quick Assist and FAQs. Both the FAQs and Quick Assist sections provide step-by-step guides for pairing and connecting Bluetooth accessories with a MacBook Pro.
Our third question required a few more steps, but still took us only about 5 minutes. Under the Support tab, we clicked New To Mac to find out how to reverse the scrolling mechanism on our MacBook Pro. By default, the MacBook Pro’s trackpad requires you to move your fingers down the pad to scroll up and vice versa to scroll down. Apple calls this “natural scrolling,” but it could be jarring for someone switching from Windows. Then, we clicked Mac Basics and then Set Your Preferences. The bottom of that page features a link with directions for how to customize your trackpad and mouse.
Apple’s website was helpful when we tried to find answers to our questions, but the company doesn’t offer any assistance via social media. We tweeted at Apple’s official account, @TheAppleInc, and received no response. The company’s official Facebook page doesn’t allow fans to post on its profile.
Apple’s live-chat service proved to be quick and efficient during our testing. We navigated to Apple’s support page, and after clicking Contact Apple Support, selecting our product and entering our computer’s serial number, we were ready to get started. When we clicked on the Live Chat service, we received a prompt saying our device was no longer covered for technical support. We chose the option to purchase a single incident of support for $19, although Apple never asked us to enter payment information, and it didn’t say we would be charged.
We were connected with a technician named Matthew after waiting for about 4 minutes. Matthew was very polite throughout the conversation, and walked us through a step-by-step process after we asked him about the touchpad on our MacBook Pro. When we told him that we were new to Mac and that the MacBook Pro’s trackpad seemed inverted compared to what we were used to on Windows, he politely agreed and told us how to change it. It took less than 2 minutes for the Apple technician to help us solve our problem; when combined with the time we waited for an Apple team member to help us, that amounts to 6 minutes total.
Apple’s support team was friendly and helpful during our testing. When we called at noon EDT, an automated voice system asked us to state the name of the product we were inquiring about and its serial number. We were put on hold for less than 1 minute.
An AppleCare specialist named Marshall, located in central Oregon, helped us create multiple user profiles. Since our MacBook Pro was more than 90 days old, he told us our free AppleCare tech-support service had expired. He said that for extensive support, we would have to set up a payment plan, which would cost $349 per year or $29 per month. However, Marshall still offered to help with our question.
The Apple rep correctly told us to select System Preferences and then System. From there, Marshall advised us to click on Users & Groups, where you can create new user profiles. This answered our question sufficiently, but he also told us to head over to the Apple website’s support section, or to type Create User Profiles in the search bar to find a full guide.
Our second call with Apple was even smoother. Jennifer, an associate in Tennessee, walked us through setting up Bluetooth speakers with our 15-inch MacBook Pro within 1:30 of our call. She advised us to turn off both our notebook and our Bluetooth speaker. This step wasn’t necessary, but we were still able to get our speakers connected to our MacBook Pro within a matter of minutes. She then told us to turn them on again at the same time and to follow the Setup Assistant guide to successfully pair our speakers. Before ending our conversation, Jennifer sent us a follow-up AppleCare email with a case number so that we could call back and continue from where we left off if our issue persisted. The entire call lasted about 7 minutes.
Our third call with Apple, at around 3 p.m. EDT, proved to be the quickest and easiest. We waited on hold for less than 1 minute before Molly from Minnesota answered the phone. After she took down our first and last names, we asked how to change the touchpad’s scrolling mechanism to feel more like a PC’s. Molly chuckled and agreed that Apple’s “natural scrolling” actually feels quite unnatural, and guided us through the necessary steps to change it. She accurately told us to click the Apple icon in the upper-left corner of the screen and navigate to System Preferences. From there, we selected the Touchpad option and unclicked Natural Scrolling.
Apple’s tech support was quick, friendly and helpful during our testing. The company may not be available to take questions via social media, but with such a robust library of online help articles and extremely responsive phone support, there’s no real need to look elsewhere. If you do want live-chat support and are covered by AppleCare, you’ll appreciate the more direct assistance offered.
We never had to wait on hold for more than 2 minutes when calling for help, and Apple’s well-informed associates answered all of our questions promptly. Although we didn’t test it for this survey, Apple also offers one-on-one help through the Genius Bar in its retail stores, which are staffed with Apple technicians.