Feature: Help Desk
Kirk McElhearn answers your Mac questions
Use iCloud Photo Library selectively
Q: How do I 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. Brenda Best
A: In the past, I’ve said, “Sorry, it’s all or nothing.” Once you opt in to 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.
But I was being a little too restrictive in my thinking. There are ways around this situation, neither of which is ideal, but neither is completely a pain, either.
Use a separate Photos library
Only a single Photos library can be synced to iCloud Photo Library. You can maintain other libraries, and those photos and videos remain only locally stored. (Be sure and create an effective backup plan for that media, though, so you don’t accidentally lose it all in the event of a drive disaster or unintentional deletion.)
Photos for OS X doesn’t let you split libraries; you’d have to export images from your existing library and re-import them into a new one. To switch among multiple libraries, quit Photos, hold down the Option key, and launch Photos. You’re prompted to select which library to open.
If you’re willing to spend the princely sum of $29, you can purchase PowerPhotos from fatcatsoftware.com. It’s a third-party utility package that can merge, split, and manage Photos libraries. I’m a big fan of this software for adding functionality that Apple didn’t include.
While merging is self-explanatory, splitting a library isn’t a built-in feature. Follow these steps to do so in PowerPhotos:
Create an album (or albums) in your main library that contains items you want to shift to a local-only library Launch PowerPhotos and create a new Photos library or select a new one to add media to
Copy the albums from your main library to this new local-only library. Return to the Photos app and select your main library and then delete the photos in the copied albums
It’s possible you may lose some metadata in the process or be unable to revert to the original for images that were modified within Photos, so keep that in mind.
Use referenced media for local storage
Photos for OS X only syncs media files to iCloud Photo Library that have been imported into the Photos library rather than copied. Photos for OS X copies all media by default, but you can disable this behaviour: in the Photos → Preferences → General tab, uncheck Copy Items To The Photos Library. Now when you drag items in or import them, Photos will create a reference to the file’s location on an internal, external, or networked volume.
Referenced images can be used in Photos just like any others, but they’re not copied to iCloud. This means you should make a local backup of these non-imported files just as you would any other data that’s not also backed up in the cloud. You can opt to copy referenced images into a library later (select one or more items and choose File → Consolidate), but you can’t take an imported image and convert it to a referenced-only one.
The biggest pain with this approach is that you will likely want to include or exclude images at different times from being synced when importing. You have to remember each time to check the
Photos preference to ensure that the Copy Items checkbox is set as you want it for that import.
Q: How do I work between Pages 5 and Pages ’09? 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 Pages ’09 so that I have the same version my work associate has. Natasha Scott
A: 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 (tinyurl.com/j52t4ks), I
see a number of copies available. (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. At the time of writing only one ‘new’ copy was available, priced £39.
I would avoid any online offers to download the files, as those are likely laden with malware or adware, and it’s not a legitimate way to obtain licensed software unless it’s from the source in any case.
However, if you’d prefer to get and use Pages 5, you can work between the two versions. It just takes extra effort, and you might wind up with some formatting problems over time. Pages 5 can open Pages ’09 files without any extra software or configuration. Pages 5 can also export any opened file to Pages ’09 format via Files → Export To → Pages ’09.
Some Pages 5 features won’t export correctly to Pages ’09 and are removed, though you may be warned if something particularly critical would be suppressed. Likewise, opening a Pages ’09 file that does something differently than Pages 5 should cause the software to list what’s wrong in View → Show Warnings.
I’ve found going back and forth can introduce problems after a while, but it’s definitely a reasonable, if logistically annoying, solution.
Erase a Mac that lacks erasure options
Q: 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 greyed out. I have no OS X disk, and there’s no Recovery HD. What should I do? Susan Lawlor
A: 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.
Susan has a number of options of how to proceed, but there’s a bit of navigation along the way. She’s running 10.6.8 (Snow Leopard), which didn’t include Recovery HD. Security Options in
her version of Disk Utility is greyed out because you can’t erase a disk from its startup volume. (That option is always unavailable for SSDs, but an older iMac won’t have an SSD.)
Here are the easiest ways to erase that drive securely by degree of difficulty:
Use Target Disk Mode. With two Macs that both have Thunderbolt or FireWire ports, connect them with the appropriate cable, and follow Apple’s instructions (either hold down the ‘T’ key after restarting the one to erase, or use Startup Disk on that computer before restarting it). The Mac to erase mounts as a drive, and Disk Utility can be used with it.
Install OS X on an external drive or borrow one with OS X installed. Booting off that drive will also allow erasing via Disk Utility.
Upgrade to a newer version of OS X and use Recovery HD (go.macworld.com/recovery). Snow Leopard with the Mac App Store installed should let you download at no cost a later version of OS X. All versions after Snow Leopard include and will install Recovery HD, from which you can then boot and run.
iMac models released starting in 2010 can use Internet Recovery, but first have to be upgraded at least to Lion and some need a firmware update installed, so that’s not the simplest path to pursue.
A related question came in from Becky Steinke, who was trying to erase a 2008 MacBook. She
tried to use the Recovery HD startup (holding down Command-R after restarting) and had no luck. Every 2008 and later MacBook Pro and MacBook can install Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, which should be able to install the Recovery partition. If possible, upgrade it to Lion, restart, and use Recovery HD to erase, or use one of the other options mentioned.
How to dispose of a printer securely
Q: I have two older printers, an Epson Stylus Photo 960 and an HP Officejet Pro 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. Philip Cassir
A: Let’s start with internal storage. While corporate-scale multi-function printers (MFPs) and copier/ printers may have internal flash or even hard disk storage, depending on what kinds of tasks they carry out, no consumer device I’m aware of has non-volatile storage for documents and scans.
Multifunction printers can have enough volatile memory (regular old RAM) to queue dozens or even hundreds of pages scanned or coming through as a fax or while waiting to be printed, pulling the power instantly erases whatever was stored. Many printers can accept flash memory cards from cameras, so make sure you don’t leave one of those inserted.
The line between business and consumer hardware has blurred in recent years as the premium for more sophisticated features has dropped, and if you’re in a small office or had to purchase an expensive printer/copier for some specific feature, it’s possible you’ve crossed a storage line, too. Just in case you have an oddball model with internal storage, checking the manual for a reference to such a thing isn’t a bad idea.
The more important task is to delete settings stored in the small amount of flash memory used to retain values when the power is off, because networked and internet-connected printers can be configured to receive files and print jobs over the internet, or email documents to you or store them in a service such as Dropbox as they’re scanned in or received as faxes.
Most printer utility software or the front panel used for direct setting changes has a factory-reset or restore-to-default option. Make sure and go through that reset process and check it happened.
Consumer scanners that aren’t part of an MFP, to my knowledge and experience, have no permanent storage. I can’t think even of a high-end singlefunction scanner that I’ve ever used that relied on local storage; they all connect to computers or other host devices to pass the data along.
HP Officejet Pro 800 Wireless