Help Desk

Kirk McEl­hearn an­swers your Mac ques­tions

Macworld - - Contents - Christo­pher Ben­der

How to res­ur­rect a Fu­sion drive from a de­stroyed Mac

Q: A very long story short, but I’ve an iMac that suf­fered cat­a­strophic dam­age in ship­ment. I’ve ex­tracted the 1TB hard drive and the 128GB SSD from the car­cass of the ma­chine, but the rest of it (save the RAM and pro­ces­sor) is rub­bish. In the end, I sim­ply want to pull the files off the hard drive, but none of the lo­cal com­puter-re­pair shops seem to know what to do. Any sug­ges­tions

A: Ap­ple’s Fu­sion sys­tem is a com­bi­na­tion of a high-ca­pac­ity hard disk drive and a low-ca­pac­ity but su­per­fast SSD. You can un­cou­ple them and

re­for­mat them, but this prob­lem was new to me. He tried mount­ing the hard drive, but it’s un­re­cov­er­able sep­a­rate from the SSD.

Fu­sion Drive is a hard­ware-locked so­lu­tion, so we sug­gested he beg, bor­row or rent any Fu­sion-ca­pa­ble Mac of a vin­tage that could run his ver­sion of OS X, stick the drives in and boot, and then clone onto a plain drive.

With­out an Ap­ple Store nearby, he was ul­ti­mately able to get one of the lo­cal shops to open up a com­puter they had on hand, drop the drives in, run an OS up­date, and re­cover the data.

You can’t play most pro­tected dig­i­tal video on an ex­ter­nal mon­i­tor

Many years ago, High-Band­width Dig­i­tal Con­tent Pro­tec­tion (HDCP) was born be­cause the film in­dus­try freaked out over re­leas­ing dig­i­tal movies that would flow dig­i­tally – rather than through ana­logue con­ver­sion – across a cable to a mon­i­tor or tele­vi­sion. The stan­dard re­quires a cryp­to­graphic hand­shake be­tween the software in a ded­i­cated player or on a com­puter or mo­bile de­vice and the dis­play. With­out that hand­shake, no video would flow.

We wrote about HDCP ear­lier this year, of­fer­ing a va­ri­ety of trou­bleshoot­ing ad­vice for peo­ple try­ing to sort out why their software on a Mac wouldn’t al­low them to play­back any video on a con­nected dis­play, or why they re­ceived a warn­ing about de­graded con­tent be­cause an HDCP hand­shake wasn’t hap­pen­ing.

We’ve re­ceived a spate of ad­di­tional emails since then, and we’ve been re­search­ing the is­sue

fur­ther. We dis­cov­ered that we were wrong about a fun­da­men­tal part of the ques­tion. We’ve pro­vided a cor­rected ex­pla­na­tion be­low.

We also looked at a cheap hard­ware by­pass for stream­ing video to an ex­ter­nal mon­i­tor, and whether it works for OS X. (Sorry, it doesn’t.)

Fi­nally, we sum­marise what each ma­jor stream­ing ser­vice notes about re­quire­ments and trou­bleshoot­ing, and finish up with how to fix DRM er­rors even with a built-in dis­play by re­set­ting or re­mov­ing Sil­verlight.

Only iTunes in OS X sup­ports ex­ter­nal mon­i­tors

The ac­cu­rate an­swer to HDCP and ex­ter­nally con­nected Mac mon­i­tors has three parts:

iTunes can de­tect the con­nec­tion cor­rectly, and play the high­est-res­o­lu­tion video on HDCP-ca­pa­ble mon­i­tors Non-Ap­ple firms of­fer­ing dig­i­tal stream­ing or other dig­i­tal play­back op­tions through browser

plug-ins, HTML5 video, or free­stand­ing OS X apps will al­ways re­port an HDCP or other er­ror for an ex­ter­nal dis­play Ap­ple doesn’t ex­pose the re­quired in­for­ma­tion to third par­ties (via an API that de­vel­op­ers can use) to de­ter­mine whether HDCP is in place, ac­cord­ing to Adobe

This also pre­vents us­ing HDCP over Air­Play, be­cause Air­Play-sup­port­ing de­vices ap­par­ently also don’t ex­pose to third-party de­vel­op­ers whether the as­so­ci­ated de­vice is an au­tho­rised de­vice. The Ap­ple TV works fine with HDCP and ex­ter­nal dis­plays, and in what should be bitter irony, fourth-gen­er­a­tion Ap­ple TV apps from Net­flix, Hulu, and oth­ers, firms that can’t stream DRM-pro­tected video in OS X to an ex­ter­nal mon­i­tor are per­fectly able to while wrapped in the em­brace of tvOS.

Oddly, Ap­ple doesn’t pro­vide in­for­ma­tion about HDCP, OS X, and ex­ter­nal dis­plays on its site. Mac­world asked Ap­ple for more de­tails, and we’re still wait­ing to for more in­sight.

Mac­world reader Kevin Kelly wrote in re­cently to re­port that he couldn’t get Flixster software to play on an Ap­ple Thun­der­bolt Dis­play, and that Ap­ple cus­tomer sup­port had told him that the Ap­ple mon­i­tor wasn’t HDCP cer­ti­fied, and that one needed to have a cer­ti­fied dis­play. It’s pos­si­ble it’s not HDCP cer­ti­fied, but it doesn’t seem like the sec­ond part of that state­ment is cor­rect.

We con­tacted the Elec­tronic Fron­tier Foundation (EFF), an or­gan­i­sa­tion that works on se­cur­ing dig­i­tal rights for in­di­vid­u­als, whether any­one on staff knew about this is­sue, as EFF has is­sued opin­ions on and

lit­i­gated about dig­i­tal-rights man­age­ment (DRM) con­trol of me­dia play­back. They had none.

This writer re­cently en­coun­tered this on a re­cent cold day, when our fam­ily re­treated into a room in the house with a roar­ing fire and we set up a 2015 MacBook with an HDMI out­put adap­tor to con­nect to an ex­ter­nal 1080p com­puter mon­i­tor. Ama­zon’s software wouldn’t let us watch the first Harry Pot­ter movie in high def­i­ni­tion.

We also tested var­i­ous meth­ods with a Mac mini and ex­ter­nal dis­plays of dif­fer­ent types, and it failed con­sis­tently, as now ex­pected.

It’s the end

One area of ex­plo­ration was us­ing a pow­ered HDMI split­ter, an in­ex­pen­sive small box that takes HDMI in­put and then al­lows the out­put to be fed out

through two or more HDMI ports. These split­ters aren’t de­signed to by­pass HDCP, nor would we sug­gest you buy a box de­signed for piracy.

How­ever, some (not all) ap­par­ently ter­mi­nate HDCP hand­shak­ing within the box, sat­is­fy­ing the DRM software on the host de­vice, and then out­put un­en­crypted video, so that a mon­i­tor or other HDMI-ca­pa­ble hard­ware doesn’t balk. Those who want to record them­selves play­ing video games have turned to these split­ters with PlayS­ta­tions and other gam­ing sys­tems.

We tested this with one rec­om­mended split­ter that can han­dle up to 4K dis­plays, and it didn’t work. We weren’t pre­cisely ex­pect­ing it to, be­cause OS X seems to sim­ply not al­low HDCP via ex­ter­nal mon­i­tors at all (as noted pre­vi­ously), but we won­dered if third-party software might some­how recog­nise the box dif­fer­ently than a mon­i­tor. No luck. We could try more split­ter boxes, but it’s likely the prob­lem re­mains the same.

Each stream­ing ser­vice has unique re­quire­ments

Here’s some of the ser­vices claim about Macs and play­back er­rors; most of the de­tails re­late to play­ing in a browser, not us­ing a con­nected mon­i­tor.

Ama­zon: Rec­om­mends ( use of HTML5 video with Chrome (ver­sion M42 or newer), Fire­fox (ver­sion 47 or newer), and Opera (ver­sion 31 or newer). Sa­fari isn’t in this list, as the Mi­crosoft Sil­verlight plug-in is re­quired to watch in Sa­fari.

Flixster: Claims com­plete com­pat­i­bil­ity through browsers us­ing Flash. Also of­fers its own desk­top

software, which reader Kevin (cited be­fore) couldn’t get to recog­nise HDCP play­back re­cently from his Mac to an ex­ter­nal mon­i­tor. iTunes: Ap­ple has no doc­u­men­ta­tion about HDCP or trou­bleshoot­ing, ex­cept with the Ap­ple TV. How­ever, in the past five years, there are al­most no fo­rum posts about Mac-re­lated HDCP play­back prob­lems, only with Win­dows.

Net­flix: No spe­cific browser or plug-in rec­om­men­da­tions, but it notes that: “Ap­ple only sup­ports play­back on in­ter­nal mon­i­tors or through HDCP… com­pat­i­ble mon­i­tors.”

Some peo­ple re­port prob­lems us­ing an in­te­gral mon­i­tor in a lap­top or iMac and across many ser­vices and many fo­rums, have found that dis­abling screen-shar­ing software fixed their prob­lem. This in­cludes third-party shar­ing op­tions, like AirPar­rot and iTele­port, and Ap­ple’s built-in screen-shar­ing (Shar­ing sys­tem pref­er­ence pane). It ap­par­ently doesn’t have to be in ac­tive use for it to be prob­lem; dis­abling the op­tion or quit­ting the app run­ning in the back­ground or via its sys­tem menu did the trick for many peo­ple.

For many peo­ple, re­mov­ing the third-party Dis­playLink software some­times re­quired for cer­tain ex­ter­nal Mac mon­i­tor com­bi­na­tions helped, too. There’s no on/off switch, but you can use an unin­staller to re­move it by down­load­ing the full pack­age from Dis­playLink ( jrusLgm), which in­cludes the re­moval software. Then re­in­stall it af­ter you’re done with the video con­tent; it’s not ideal at all.

Switch off Sil­verlight

Sil­verlight is of­ten the com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor for prob­lems with in­ter­nal dis­plays that should oth­er­wise al­low play­back. It’s an older Mi­crosoft tech­nol­ogy that must have ad­van­tages rel­a­tive to Flash for play­ing video, be­cause many stream­ing ser­vices adopted it. It’s no longer nec­es­sary in many cir­cum­stances, as noted.

If you want to con­tinue to use Sil­verlight, try emp­ty­ing the Sil­verlight cache for the site. Ama­zon

has de­tailed in­struc­tions un­der Re­solve Sil­verlight Is­sues head­ing (­t7q2k).

Al­ter­na­tively, dump a cached DRM er­ror. Sil­verlight ap­par­ently logs and caches any DRM prob­lems. If you set some­thing up the plugin didn’t like or there was a tran­sient HDCP hand­shak­ing prob­lem – which is ex­tremely com­mon – you might just need to delete a file, through the fol­low­ing steps:

1. Quit the browser

2. In the Fin­der, choose Go > Go To Folder

3. En­ter

4. Delete the file and empty the trash

5. Re­launch the browser You can also delete Sil­verlight al­to­gether, though that means not us­ing Ama­zon Video with Sa­fari.

1. Quit the ac­tive browser

2. In the Fin­der, choose Go > Go To Folder

3. En­ter

4. Delete the files Sil­verlight.plugin and WPFe. plugin (ei­ther or both may ap­pear) and empty the trash

5. Re­peat Steps 3 and 4 with

6. Re­launch the browser

Is Ap­ple to blame?

Yes, seem­ingly, although it’s mad­den­ing as a tech­nol­ogy writer and con­sumer to not have a de­fin­i­tive an­swer about a ba­sic piece of pro­tec­tive

software from the maker of the op­er­at­ing sys­tem and hard­ware that in­ter­acts with it.

It would seem that OS X sup­ports HDCP for in­te­gral mon­i­tors, and, with iTunes, for ex­ter­nal ones to meet li­cens­ing re­quire­ments. There’s no ex­cuse we can see for not ex­pos­ing the API to third par­ties. And, even if it were a browser is­sue, it seem­ingly ex­tends to Sa­fari, which can’t han­dle HTML5, Flash, or Sil­verlight pro­tected stream­ing to ex­ter­nal mon­i­tors.

Ap­ple could eas­ily rec­tify this prob­lem. Fail­ing that,the firm could clearly doc­u­ment it.

More ways to con­vert rich text to plain text on the clip­board

Re­cently, we ex­plained how to use spe­cial paste op­tions (­nfnr) in sev­eral pro­grams to re­move rich-text for­mat­ting when you just want to paste the ac­tual let­ters and sym­bols you’ve copied from one place to an­other, rather than pre­serve the font choice, type size, and other pa­ram­e­ters. Read­ers had a load of sug­ges­tions for more ways to make this sim­ple.

Cre­ate an Ap­pleScript and as­sign a key­stroke Sage Humphries wrote in with this Ap­pleScript that con­verts text af­ter be­ing copied to the clip­board into plain text. If you’re not us­ing a pro­gram to trig­ger Ap­pleScripts, here’s the eas­i­est way to get started: in­stall FastScripts, which al­lows free use for up to 10 script key­strokes. It costs £7.99 from the Mac App Store.

1. In­stall FastScripts

2. Se­lect FastScripts from the sys­tem menu bar, and se­lect FastScripts > Open Scripts Folder > Open /Users/[ac­count name]/Li­brary/Scripts

3. Launch Script Ed­i­tor (from Ap­pli­ca­tions > Util­i­ties

4. Paste in the ex­actly:

5. Save the script in the FastScripts user folder you opened in Step 2

6. Se­lect FastScripts > Pref­er­ences from the FastScripts menu, and click Script Short­cut

7. Dou­ble-click the ‘(none)’ to the right of your script name, and type a key­stroke com­bi­na­tion to as­sign. We’re us­ing Cmd-Ctrl-Alt-V

8. Close FastScripts

Now when­ever you want con­vert the clip­board, press that key com­bi­na­tion, and you can paste plain text into any app. (We tried to get Ap­ple’s Au­toma­tor to han­dle this Ap­pleScript by cre­at­ing it as a Ser­vice and then as­sign­ing a key­stroke in the Key­board sys­tem pref­er­ence pane’s Short­cuts tab to make it avail­able to all apps that han­dle text. But text ser­vices in OS X ap­par­ently only ap­ply when you have a range of text se­lected.)

Trig­ger Plain Clip with a macro The free Plain Clip ( has the sole func­tion of strip­ping for­mat­ting from text, but it doesn’t do any­thing else. The de­vel­oper cre­ated it for peo­ple to be trig­gered via launch­ing and macro apps such as Quick­Sil­ver (used by Sage), Key­board Mae­stro, and the like.

Use Tex­tEx­pander If you’re al­ready us­ing this (tex­tex­pander. com), it’s easy to con­vert the clip­board to text and paste in a sin­gle step, and one that reader Guy Scott uses all the time.

1. Open Tex­tEx­pander 2. Click New Snip­pet (+) 3. In the Con­tent area, make sure Plain Text is se­lected from the pop-up menu 4. Type in the field

5. Set a la­bel such as ‘Paste plain text’, and an ab­bre­vi­a­tion – Guy uses ‘ppp’

Tex­tEx­pander can also launch Ap­pleScripts, but this built-in ap­proach is su­pe­rior.

Use a clip­board util­ity

Read­ers use var­i­ous clip­board util­i­ties, some of which of­fer but­tons, pref­er­ences or menu items that strip for­mat­ting. If you use LaunchBar ( ovtwfty), one of its pref­er­ences lets you en­able a clip­board his­tory with an op­tion to paste via a key­stroke; this can be set to con­vert to plain text.

Print an email to PDF in iOS 10

iOS added print sup­port years ago, and Prin­topia and then other software rose to meet a chal­lenge: sup­port­ing prin­ters that didn’t use Ap­ple’s AirPrint. But they also added a nifty work­around to the miss­ing abil­ity to cre­ate PDFs from email and other software that sup­ported print via a Share but­ton, but didn’t have a work­flow that led to a PDF.

Prin­topia had to be hosted on a Mac, and it let you share any printer a Mac could ac­cess, as well as add printer and file-stor­age de­vices as prin­ters. You could print to PDF on the at­tached com­puter or print to Drop­box. iOS 10 adds a sub­tle way to get the same ef­fect with­out need­ing ex­tra software.

1. In Mail, View a mes­sage 2. Tap the Share but­ton 3. Se­lect Print 4. In the Printer Op­tions screen, you’ll see a pre­view. You can ei­ther pinch and ex­pand

it or poke it (the harder 3D Touch). A PDF pre­view win­dow opens 5. Tap the Share but­ton at the bot­tom of that win­dow 6. You can choose any Share op­tion, in­clud­ing Copy to switch to an app that sup­ports PDFs into which you can paste, share it Drop­box, add it to iCloud Drive, and the like 7. Once it’s shared, tap the back ar­row (up­per left), and then tap Can­cel

In our test­ing, im­ages on a page don’t al­ways load. With two im­ages from Ap­ple, one from TestF­light and one from its beta pro­gram, the TestF­light im­ages pre­viewed and the beta mes­sage didn’t. The beta mes­sage had a whole lot of CSS (Cas­cad­ing Style Sheet) for­mat­ting, and it’s pos­si­ble that af­fected how im­ages were loaded. The same email pre­viewed fine in OS X, though.

FastScripts let you as­sign key­strokes to trig­ger Ap­pleScripts

The Tex­tEx­pander short­cut is easy to use

In a mail view, tap Share, choose Print, then ex­pand or drag the PDF pre­view. It opens in a sep­a­rate view

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