Glenn Fleishman answers your most vexing Mac problems
IS iCLOUD REQUIRED WHEN YOU UPGRADE TO IOS 11?
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.
HOW TO SET OFFLINE ACCESS FOR SAFARI’S READING LIST FEATURE
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.
HOW TO SIMULATE THE MAC’S DESKTOP FOLDER TO GET AROUND iCLOUD CONTINUOUS SYNC
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, iCloud.com, 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.
ANOTHER WARNING: DON’T CONVERT YOUR TIME MACHINE VOLUME FROM HFS+ TO APFS
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.
WHY YOU CAN’T USE THE IMAGE CAPTURE MAC APP TO DELETE PHOTOS ON YOUR IOS DEVICES
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 iCloud.com, and that goes beyond the task level assigned to Image Capture.
With iCloud Photo Library enabled, you have to use iCloud.com, or an iOS device or Mac with the feature enabled to delete images. Those images will then be deleted off every connected device and iCloud.com.
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