Glenn Fleishman answers your most vexing Mac problems
APP STORE AND ITUNES PURCHASES: YOU CAN’T DELETE HISTORY
We don’t typically run one-word answers to reader questions, but it’s worth it in this case, because we regularly receive a question similar to this one from Macworld reader JLR:
“I want to dump, forever, some music and iphone apps from my itunes account and not have to deal with them just ‘hiding’. Is this possible to do?”
No. Okay, I can’t help myself, I need to give a complete answer here. Apple lets you hide purchases from appearing where they typically display in a list or are available via Family Sharing, but the purchase remains part of your account information and can be viewed when you examine your account. Apple hasn’t explained why you can’t delete your purchase history.
IS THERE A DRAWBACK TO USING WI-FI CALLING ON AN IPHONE?
Wi-fi Calling is a feature that lets an iphone effectively re-route mobile calls over the Wi-fi network to which you’re connected – if it has the right qualities instead of using the cellular network. Most carriers support Wi-fi Calling.
Macworld reader Steve wonders if there’s a drawback to Wi-fi Calling. His iphone typically picks up a stronger Wi-fi signal than a cellular one.
There’s none that I can think of, even though carriers mostly offer no benefit to you off-loading phone calls from their networks to your own or someone else’s. (At one point, T-mobile’s Wi-fi calling option had some real cost advantages.)
Voice calls over 3G and 4G networks are just data, anyway. Calls use up very little bandwidth, so even on a lower-speed broadband network or one that has usage caps, the data consumed is minimal.
Wi-fi Calling also optionally lets you connect all other kinds of Apple devices using the same icloud account so you can make calls from them even if the iphone is powered down or not on the same Wi-fi network. That’s a big advantage depending on how you work.
Apple doesn’t reveal the specific means by which it tests that a Wi-fi network has suitable characteristics for Wi-fi Calling, but I expect it performs a quick test for data loss and latency, or the time it takes for data to start transmitting rather than its overall speed.
FUSION DRIVE OR HYBRID DRIVE: WHICH ONE SHOULD YOU USE?
Solid-state drives (SSDS) are expensive, especially if want a capacity above 1TB. That’s why hard drives still rule the roost, even though they don’t offer the speed of an SSD. Apple’s softwarebased Fusion Drive provides a compromise: it
uses a small amount of high-performance SSD alongside a higher-capacity HDD. macos caches frequently used drive-based data in the SSD, boosting performance. When deciding on a drive for an imac I purchased earlier this year, I felt that the performance I’d get from the £700 jump from a 1TB Fusion Drive to a 1TB SSD simply wasn’t worth it. Apple pairs a 32GB SSD with its 1TB hard drive, and 128GB with its 2- and 3TB options.
Macworld reader Terence would like to upgrade an older imac to a newer version of macos, and wants to create his own Fusion Drive. Apple’s technical support told him, he says, that he can migrate to High Sierra and then use it to create a Fusion Drive with bring-your-own-drive options.
I’d say the far better option, if you’re purchasing new drives anyway, is to find a hybrid drive with a good reputation and go with it. A hybrid drive is a single drive that combines a SSD with a hard drive. These seem to mostly max out at about 8GB of SSD, but can cost under £100 for a 1TB/8GB model. The caching happens below the driver level, so the drive winds up ‘responsible’ for making the choices, but there’s less to fail, too.
DROPBOX OR ICLOUD DRIVE: WHICH IS BETTER FOR FILE SHARING?
icloud Drive isn’t quite like Google Drive or Dropbox. As with most Apple digital and cloud services, it’s tied to a single identity without much in the way of sharing. icloud Drive’s sharing features seem a bit tacked on.
Macworld reader Howard writes in asking about an aspect of this. “I was hoping also to have my wife’s icloud drive show up on my Mac’s Finder the way I do with Dropbox. I haven’t been able to get this to work.”
It’s not you, Howard. You can only mount a given icloud Drive associated with an icloud account on an account in macos logged into that same icloud account. With some previous Apple cloud storage systems, you could use the credentials (user name and password) to mount a drive without having your system logged into the same account. You can select individual files in macos, the IOS app, or via
icloud.com and share them. But access is solely via the web, and you can’t share folders.
Apple lets you share icloud storage using Family Sharing, but it doesn’t provide any way to share files among those family members, either. Howard’s family bumped up their storage and has now bumped against this limit.
Dropbox is a very reasonable way to have a shared folder, the contents of which are constantly synced among those connected to the folder. One other option would be to use Internet file storage via Panic’s Transmit 5 (fave.co/2cowsxt), which allows several kinds of servers and cloud hosts to be mounted as Finder volumes. However, this doesn’t use sync: you’re really opening and saving files live over the Internet, which can add lag unless you have a relatively fast broadband connection.
Turning on Wi-fi Calling seems to have no drawbacks
Only individual files can be shared in icloud Drive