Help Desk

Glenn Fleish­man answers your most vex­ing Mac prob­lems

Macworld - - Contents -

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

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