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Ask Walt: FaceTime and iMessage vs. Hangouts

Also: Mass-marking emails as "read," and backing up huge libraries and RAW files.

You have some tech questions, I have some answers. Every Friday, I try to resolve these mysteries, succinctly and in plain language. Please send questions to Note that I won’t be able to diagnose your personal tech glitches and problems. I also reserve the right to edit questions for length or clarity, and to combine similar inquiries.

Q. I have friends who tout features of the Android and iPhones for communicating, but I find it confusing. What’s the difference between iMessage, FaceTime and Hangouts?

A. Good question. FaceTime is an Apple app and service that lets you make video and audio calls over the Internet. Apple’s iMessage is another app and service that lets you send text messages over the Internet that are like cellphone-carrier text messages, but free. Both services are excellent, in my experience, but, in classic Apple fashion, both only work on the company’s own devices — iPhones, iPads and Macs.


Google Hangouts combines the functions of FaceTime and iMessage, but works across both Google’s Android devices and Apple’s devices. It also works via a Web browser on a computer.

Q. How do I mark all my emails as “read,” all at once, in the inbox on my iPhone? I’m tired of selecting each one.

A. In the current version of iOS, the iPhone’s operating system, just tap on Edit in the upper-right corner of the inbox. Then, in the lower-left corner, tap on “Mark All” and select “Mark as Read.” This also works on iPads.

Q. I am a professional photographer with thousands of photos, and would like to store my library on a cloud service that has unlimited storage, like the Backblaze service you recommended a few weeks back. Would you advise Backblaze for photographers, too? Do they accept large RAW photo files?

A. Backblaze says it accepts all file types and sizes (except certain system files). So that presumably means that RAW files, which are very large, are backed up. However, there are two caveats. While it does back up external hard drives, which many photographers use, these must be directly connected to the computer being backed up, not networked drives. And external drives have to be hooked up to the computer at least once every 30 days. Also, with a data collection as large as yours, the initial backup could take weeks or even months, depending on upload speeds.

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