Help Desk

Glenn Fleish­man an­swers your most vex­ing Mac prob­lems

Macworld - - FEATURE -


Sa­fari for macOS lets you view the kind of data cached lo­cally by web­sites in your browser. Se­lect Sa­fari > Pref­er­ences >Pri­vacy, and then click

M to re­move them, or even go nu­clear and click Re­move All.

Ap­ple en­cour­ages iOS and macOS users to take ad­van­tage of its iCloud ser­vices, which vary in cost. A lot of the ser­vices rely on iCloud stor­age, and they’re free…un­til you ex­ceed the pal­try 5GB of in­cluded ser­vice, at which point you pay monthly from 79p for 50GB to £6.99 for 2TB.

That’s not a ter­ri­ble lot, but 5GB doesn’t even cover the ca­pac­ity of any of the iOS de­vices Ap­ple sells. Other ser­vices, like iTunes Match (£21.99 per year) are not quite iCloud fea­tures, but rely on it.

Mac­world reader Su­san is still run­ning iOS 10 and has ap­pre­hen­sions about up­grad­ing to 11. She writes, “The in­for­ma­tion I find on iOS 11 sug­gests that it will au­to­mat­i­cally log me in to var­i­ous things I do not use. Ap­ple seems to be push­ing a lot of fea­tures I am leery about, es­pe­cially too much stor­age of things in iCloud.”

For­tu­nately, you’re not forced to use any­thing. Ap­ple doesn’t turn on iCloud fea­tures by de­fault, even though it of­fers them. You may be think­ing of a fea­ture new to iOS 11, Quick Start, which is of­ten called au­to­matic setup. With that fea­ture, you bring two iOS de­vices close to­gether, one you’re us­ing as the tem­plate and one you’re set­ting up. With a com­bi­na­tion of Blue­tooth to ex­change some in­for­ma­tion and a vis­ual pat­tern that re­quires the cam­era to com­plete, the trans­fer process starts. It’s much more stream­lined than other meth­ods, and it brings most or all of your set­tings, in­clud­ing iCloud.

You can al­ways re­view your iCloud ser­vice set­tings in iOS via Set­tings > ac­count name > iCloud, and make sure there’s noth­ing switched on that you didn’t mean to en­able.


Mac­world reader Gavin, was on a cruise with his wife when she asked him, an IT pro­fes­sional, for

help get­ting Sa­fari’s Read­ing List to work off­line,

as they had no in­ter­net con­nec­tiv­ity. She’d saved

ar­ti­cles to it to read later.

She wasn’t miss­ing any­thing. De­spite seem­ingly

hav­ing all the right set­tings en­abled to sync her

Read­ing List across all the de­vices con­nected to

her iCloud ac­count, her marked items didn’t show

up and weren’t avail­able. What gives?

Turns out, Sa­fari for both macOS and iOS have

a set­ting you may never have no­ticed, since we

so of­ten have in­ter­net ac­cess (and per­haps so

rarely con­sult Read­ing List).

In Sa­fari for macOS, choose Sa­fari >

Pref­er­ences and then click Ad­vanced. You can then

check next to the Read­ing List la­bel Save Ar­ti­cles

for Off­line Read­ing. If that op­tion isn’t checked,

you can also view the Read­ing List in the side­bar,

right-click an item, and choose Save Off­line. With

iOS Sa­fari, you nav­i­gate to Set­tings > Sa­fari and

swipe down to the bot­tom, and then tap the switch to on for Au­to­mat­i­cally Save Off­line. If you have that op­tion dis­abled, which it is by de­fault, you’re prompted the first time you choose Add to Read­ing List from the Shar­ing sheet whether or not to save items from then for off­line read­ing au­to­mat­i­cally.


With macOS 10.12 Sierra, Ap­ple in­tro­duced a way to off­load some of your Mac’s stor­age dy­nam­i­cally us­ing iCloud. The Doc­u­ments & Desk­top op­tion had the most im­pact, in that it could not just sync your home folder’s Doc­u­ments and Desk­top fold­ers to iCloud and make them avail­able through iOS,, and other Macs, but also delete the least-used and old­est doc­u­ments from your Mac if lo­cal stor­age was un­der pres­sure. The copy kept in iCloud would be avail­able on de­mand, so ac­cess­ing an in­fre­quent doc­u­ment re­trieves it.

Mac­world reader Chris is run­ning up against this fea­ture, be­cause they use their Desk­top for their ac­tive work­ing doc­u­ments. “Files I’m work­ing on go there un­til fin­ished, and then are moved to their var­i­ous fold­ers,” he writes. How­ever, he of­ten works with large Pho­to­shop files. This leads to ex­ces­sive sync­ing.

Chris would pre­fer to only sync his Doc­u­ments folder, and won­ders if there’s a way to do so. Un­for­tu­nately, Ap­ple pairs Doc­u­ments and the Desk­top to­gether. Even if you use the Finder spa­ces

fea­ture to cre­ate mul­ti­ple desk­tops, macOS still stores the ac­tual items in the same Desk­top folder.

You could switch to another sync­ing ser­vice, like Drop­box, which only syncs the Drop­box folder, and store your doc­u­ments there.

You could also use a reg­u­lar folder to simulate what you rely on with the Desk­top through these steps:

1. Cre­ate a new folder and place it any­where.

2. Name it some­thing iden­ti­fi­able, like ‘Work­ing


3. Se­lect View > Icons for a Desk­top-like icon view.

4. Se­lect Show > Show View Op­tions, and set a back­ground colour or pic­ture.

5. Add the folder to your side­bar so it can be reached from any open or save di­a­log.

6. Click the green full-screen but­ton on the folder’s win­dow in the Finder.

This might be close enough to what you need to let you keep us­ing Desk­top & Doc­u­ments for syn­chro­niza­tion with­out the con­stant In­ter­net file up­dates to iCloud.


Months af­ter the re­lease of macOS 10.13 High Sierra, folks are still hav­ing prob­lems with lim­i­ta­tions of the new Ap­ple File Sys­tem (APFS) for­mat re­quired for SSDs that run High Sierra, and which you can op­tion­ally up­grade other drives to use. That in­cludes your colum­nist, who biffed a Time Ma­chine ques­tion that’s now up­dated for ac­cu­racy.

Time Ma­chine can work with APFS vol­umes, but the shape looks like this:

• Time Ma­chine can archive files from both HFS+ and APFS vol­umes

• Time Ma­chine vol­umes must be HFS+

• You can use Disk Util­ity to up­grade a Time Ma­chine HFS+ vol­ume to APFS with­out a warn­ing. You’d think Disk Util­ity would de­tect the Time Ma­chine backup and stop you, but it doesn’t

• Once up­graded to APFS, the Time Ma­chine

backup archive is mostly use­less, even though files aren’t de­stroyed

The archive be­comes use­less, be­cause APFS doesn’t sup­port hard links. These are a special kind of alias. A soft link is a poin­ter to a des­ti­na­tion file that looks to the op­er­at­ing sys­tem like a poin­ter. A hard link looks to the op­er­at­ing sys­tem like an ac­tual file, even though it’s just a poin­ter. This al­lows a sin­gle copy of a file to be in a file sys­tem, but have many point­ers that ref­er­ence it, and they can be ma­nip­u­lated and copied as if they ex­ist in mul­ti­ple places.

Time Ma­chine back­ups start with a full backup of a drive for ev­ery file, and then in sub­se­quent back­ups it cre­ates folder-based snap­shots that use a mix of hard links for files that haven’t changed and new files for ones that have. This makes Time Ma­chine ac­ces­si­ble through the

Finder as well as through the Time Ma­chine app’s graph­i­cal in­ter­face.

Be­cause APFS lacks hard link sup­port, con­vert­ing an HFS+ vol­ume to APFS de­stroys those links and re­places them with bro­ken soft­link aliases. Thus, Mac­world reader Yousif noted to me on Twit­ter that he’d up­graded his HFS+ Time Ma­chine vol­ume to APFS, but he couldn’t copy the back­ups.back­updb folder, be­cause the aliases were bro­ken. He re­ceived a “the op­er­a­tion can’t be com­pleted be­cause it isn’t sup­ported” error. I tried this with in­di­vid­ual files that ex­isted on the APFS vol­ume and were not aliases, and re­ceived the same error.

It ap­pears that all the in­di­vid­ual copies of files that Time Ma­chine made are in­tact, so you could man­u­ally browse fold­ers to find older ver­sions. That’s bet­ter than en­tirely los­ing those archives, but it’s not fun, and be­ing un­able to copy them di­rectly make them near use­less. There doesn’t ap­pear to be any way yet (and pos­si­bly ever) to copy that folder to another drive or to re­store the hard links, though I would think a de­vel­oper might be able to write a util­ity that could han­dle it.

You can re­for­mat an APFS drive back to HFS+, but it re­quires eras­ing the drive com­pletely. Time Ma­chine will of­fer to han­dle the era­sure and for­mat­ting if you try to use an APFS drive for Time Ma­chine. But that, of course, doesn’t re­store your archives, ei­ther.

There’s no ad­van­tage to us­ing APFS on hard drives, and the file sys­tem isn’t ready for (or maybe

will never come to?) Fu­sion drives that pair an SSD and hard drive for af­ford­abil­ity, so I re­it­er­ate my ad­vice: don’t up­grade drives man­u­ally to APFS.


I of­ten rec­om­mend the not-quite-hid­den app Im­age Cap­ture to peo­ple hav­ing trou­ble get­ting im­ages trans­ferred or sync from iOS de­vices, es­pe­cially if they’re us­ing iTunes sync. It’s a way to peer into photo stor­age on an iOS de­vice, as well as cam­era cards and other places. (It han­dles scan­ners, too, but some read­ers have found in High Sierra that they had to use Pre­view with their scan­ner.)

How­ever, Mac­world reader Larry wrote in ask­ing about an ar­ti­cle from July 2017 in which we noted that Im­age Cap­ture also let you delete im­ages di­rectly from an iOS de­vice. (Ac­tu­ally, it was another pub­li­ca­tion that wrote that ar­ti­cle, but we’re happy to an­swer the ques­tion.)

Larry asks, “There is no delete but­ton and delete in the Edit menu is greyed out. What am I do­ing wrong?”

If you’re us­ing iCloud Photo Li­brary on your iOS de­vice, Im­age Cap­ture dis­ables the Delete but­ton, as iCloud man­ages all the im­ages and videos stored on that iOS de­vice. If you could delete from Im­age Cap­ture, it would have to prompt you about delet­ing from all other de­vices con­nected to iCloud Photo Li­brary and from, and that goes be­yond the task level as­signed to Im­age Cap­ture.

With iCloud Photo Li­brary en­abled, you have to use, or an iOS de­vice or Mac with the fea­ture en­abled to delete im­ages. Those im­ages will then be deleted off ev­ery con­nected de­vice and

Cre­ate a faux Desk­top folder to avoid sync­ing with iCloud

A Time Ma­chine HFS+ vol­ume is ren­dered ef­fec­tively use­less when con­verted to APFS

Im­age Cap­ture won’t let you delete pho­tos or videos for de­vices us­ing iCloud Photo Li­brary

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