Help Desk

Glenn Fleish­man an­swers your most vex­ing Mac prob­lems

Macworld - - Contents -


The badge that can ap­pear on se­lected apps in the macos Dock is a help­ful re­minder that you’ve got some­thing that re­quires at­ten­tion. But when the badge ‘sticks’ and con­tin­ues to re­main in place even af­ter you’ve car­ried out your task? It’s a per­sis­tent itch you want to scratch.

This can hap­pen in the Mes­sages app, as I dis­cov­ered re­cently af­ter tex­ting my­self a link when I couldn’t get the oh-so-re­li­able Air­drop to work

be­tween my phone and com­puter. The link ar­rived, but the badge wouldn’t dis­ap­pear. Clos­ing the con­ver­sa­tion in the list in the left of the Mes­sages win­dow didn’t help. Nor did quit­ting the app.

I tried a sug­ges­tion many fo­rum posters around the Ap­ple uni­verse of dis­cus­sion boards recommended for stuck Dock icons. In the Ter­mi­nal app, en­ter ex­actly the fol­low­ing and press re­turn:

kil­lall Dock

This restarts the Dock, and can clear stuck states. It may take a mo­ment. This, too, failed!

The ul­ti­mate so­lu­tion? I sent an­other mes­sage to my­self from my Mac, and then read it on my iphone. The badge now dis­ap­peared in both IOS and macos.


Time Ma­chine in macos can work within a num­ber of apps, let­ting you re­trieve older ver­sions of files or even deleted email mes­sages in the Mail app. How­ever, if an en­tire folder of stuff goes away, you need to turn to the Fin­der. Mac­world reader Harold found him­self in this pinch, be­cause a folder that con­tains all his busi­ness emails dis­ap­peared from Mail with­out any ac­tion on his part that he’s aware of. He first tried to use Time Ma­chine within Mail, open­ing Mail, then choos­ing En­ter Time Ma­chine from the Time Ma­chine sys­tem menu item. Ev­ery time he did so, Mail quit. If you’re us­ing IMAP, a pro­to­col for sync­ing mes­sages with a re­mote server

to a lo­cal app’s mail­box, it’s pos­si­ble to re­cover it that way, as­sum­ing the dele­tion didn’t prop­a­gate to the server, too. You should be able to se­lect in Mail: Mail­box > Syn­chro­nize > Mail ac­count name, and this will re­store ac­cess to the mes­sages.

Fail­ing that, how­ever, Time Ma­chine can still do the trick, be­cause it’s back­ing up the mail­box files that Mail uses to store mes­sages lo­cally.

1. In the Fin­der, choose En­ter Time Ma­chine from the Time Ma­chine sys­tem menu item. 2. Go to your Home di­rec­tory, open the Li­brary folder, then the Mail folder in­side that. 3. You may see mul­ti­ple fold­ers at the next level. Look for the one start­ing with ‘V’ that has the most re­cent mod­i­fi­ca­tion date and open it. 4. You’ll see sev­eral folder with long hexa­dec­i­mal (base 16) names. One of these is the folder that cor­re­sponds to the mail ac­count that has the mail­box you need in it. Open each in turn un­til you find the right one. 5. Re­store the file with the name of the miss­ing mail­box, like Small House De­sign.mbox to the Desk­top or some­where, not to the orig­i­nal lo­ca­tion. 6. Exit Time Ma­chine.

7. Switch to Mail, and then choose File >

Im­port Mail­boxes.

8. Choose Ap­ple Mail, and click Con­tinue. (Even though the fold­ers end with mbox, they’re not us­ing the stan­dard Unix mbox for­mat, which can be used to im­port mail fold­ers from other plat­forms.)

9. Se­lect the mbox file in at this stage and then click Choose.

10. All the mes­sages un­der Items To Im­port will be se­lected by de­fault, and that’s likely what you want to keep in place.

11. Click Con­tinue.

12. You’ll see a di­a­log that the mes­sages are in a folder and it tells you the name, which is typ­i­cal ‘Im­port’ un­less that folder al­ready ex­ists.

13. Look in the Mail­boxes view at left un­der On My Mac, and the Im­port folder should be at the bot­tom. Se­lect it.

14. All your mes­sages will ap­pear in the sum­mary col­umn if im­ported cor­rectly. (If you click open the fold­ers un­der the mail­box name, you’ll see a whole hi­er­ar­chy you can ig­nore.)

15. Re-cre­ate the mail­box that was deleted.

16. From the Im­port mail­box, se­lect all the mes­sages and drag them into the mail­box you want them back in. If that mail­box is hosted on an IMAP server, Mail will up­load them there.


Decades ago, I used to set up ‘head­less’ servers. These were com­put­ers that you stuck in a server

room and ac­cessed re­motely. While ter­mi­nal-based re­mote ac­cess for Unix sys­tems was rou­tine, the same ap­proach with Gui-based op­er­at­ing sys­tems, like what was then Sys­tem 7, was un­usual. We had to use a mon­i­tor to in­stall Tim­buktu Pro, and some­times even at­tach a dummy mon­i­tor ca­ble af­ter­wards so the Mac ‘thought’ it had a dis­play.

Re­mote-desk­top ac­cess later be­came an ab­so­lutely rou­tine part of op­er­at­ing sys­tems, and macos has of­fered it as a built-in ser­vice for many, many years. Mac­world reader Peter asks if there’s a way to ex­am­ine a Mac mini with­out a mon­i­tor at­tached, if all he has is an ipad, a key­board, and a mouse. There is, but you have to set it up with a mon­i­tor at­tached first, as Ap­ple doesn’t en­able re­mote ac­cess by de­fault.

Tech­ni­cally, Ap­ple is us­ing a vari­ant of the

Vir­tual Net­work Com­put­ing (VNC) stan­dard for its screen shar­ing, ty­ing into the macos user au­then­ti­ca­tion sys­tem. IOS doesn’t sup­port this, but you can en­able a set­ting that works with third-party apps for re­mote con­trol.

On the Mac, in Sys­tem Pref­er­ence > Shar­ing > Screen Shar­ing, you’ll see a but­ton la­belled Com­puter Set­tings. Click this, and note a check­box la­belled ‘VNC view­ers may con­trol screen with pass­word’ and a field to en­ter a pass­word. Check that box and en­ter a pass­word, and then click OK.

You can choose to not en­ter a pass­word, but that makes your com­puter vul­ner­a­ble to re­mote ac­cess by any­one. Even if you’re be­hind a gate­way that as­signs pri­vate lo­cal ad­dresses or have a

ro­bust fire­wall, at­tack­ers may be able to pierce your gate­way or an in­fected ma­chine on your same net­work could at­tempt to gain con­trol of your ex­posed ma­chine and re­lay it to some­one re­motely.

Once en­abled, you can use any of a num­ber of third-party VNC apps for IOS. Realvnc’s free VNC Viewer is a good place to start: it’s free, reg­u­larly up­dated, and well re­viewed. When you con­nect to a Mac via VNC, you see its ac­tive desk­top, and can type on the key­board of the de­vice from which you’re con­nect­ing. How­ever, this doesn’t dis­able lo­cal pe­riph­er­als, so you can in­stead use a key­board and mouse at­tached to the de­vice that’s shar­ing the screen. That way, you could use the ipad as the ‘mon­i­tor’, while typ­ing on the Mac mini key­board and point­ing and click­ing with its mouse.

(VNC isn’t very se­cure in Ap­ple’s back­ward­scom­pat­i­ble ver­sion, so you should only rely on it for lo­cal con­nec­tions, and you may want to con­fig­ure your broad­band or Wi-fi gate­way to block re­mote ac­cess to the VNC port ranges; check your router man­ual for de­tails.)


Be­cause my wife’s Mac re­fused to sync her iphone’s me­dia prop­erly, she wouldn’t delete pho­tos and videos she’d taken on her iphone. Even­tu­ally, her phone filled up, and it was time to fix this prob­lem.

She re­cently mi­grated from iphoto to Pho­tos – based on Help Desk emails, this isn’t a unique

cir­cum­stance. Pho­tos seems to be hap­pi­est im­port­ing rel­a­tively few pic­tures and movies, or us­ing icloud Photo Li­brary. (She’s not in­ter­ested in stor­ing her per­sonal me­dia in any­one’s cloud.)

I rec­om­mend us­ing Im­age Cap­ture. This un­der­ap­pre­ci­ated app, in­stalled as part of macos in the Ap­pli­ca­tions folder, han­dles im­port­ing and man­ag­ing me­dia on mem­ory cards, scan­ners, and on at­tached IOS de­vices and cam­eras. (You can also ac­cess a scan­ner via Pre­view.)

You can set Im­age Cap­ture via a menu at the bot­tom of its win­dow with a given de­vice or drive se­lected to im­port se­lected or all me­dia to iphoto or Pho­tos, as well as to other apps, scripts, or fold­ers.

In my wife’s case, how­ever, Im­age Cap­ture stopped work­ing. She tried to im­port all im­ages, and it would ap­pear to make progress, but then fail with a lengthy er­ror mes­sage list­ing prob­lem­atic im­ages, and an in­com­plete state of what was im­ported. Im­age Cap­ture doesn’t have an op­tion like Pho­tos for im­port­ing only new im­ages (ones that it’s sure it im­ported be­fore), but it also didn’t seem like there were ram­pant du­pli­cates.

(To re­move Pho­tos du­pli­cates, the best op­tion ap­pears to be Pow­er­pho­tos, which can work with Pho­tos li­braries di­rectly for dedu­pli­ca­tion, merg­ing, and other fea­tures.)

The list of failed im­ports was so long, it didn’t seem worth the time to try to run each of those down, and she lacked the con­fi­dence that her orig­i­nals were im­ported cor­rectly be­sides them that would lead her to delete them from the

phone. (She has an en­crypted on­line backup and reg­u­lar clones of her drives, to en­sure we don’t lose her Pho­tos li­brary.)

To fig­ure out what the cause of the prob­lem was, I sug­gested a dif­fer­ent tac­tic: bi­nary trou­bleshoot­ing, which is where you split a set of what­ever you’re work­ing in half, try to ac­com­plish an ac­tion and, if it fails, split it in half re­peat­edly. This lets you drill down to the prob­lem, while also ac­com­plish­ing the task (like im­port­ing me­dia) for sec­tions of the over­all set you’re work­ing on.

With Im­age Cap­ture, we at­tached her phone to her Mac via USB, se­lected it in the app, and then used the Date field to sort im­ages in chrono­log­i­cal or­der. We then se­lected the old­est half by find­ing the rough mid­dle point and se­lect­ing from there

back­wards in time. Click­ing Im­port, we watched the progress bar – and, shock­ingly, it suc­ceeded.

We looked at the old­est and new­est pho­tos in Im­age Cap­ture that we’d im­ported and then cross-checked against Pho­tos to be sure those were im­ported and at full res­o­lu­tion. With that con­firmed, we re­turned to Im­age Cap­ture and clicked the delete but­ton and erased that half of the im­ages. That freed up gi­ga­bytes. But now, work­ing with the re­main­ing half, we stopped en­coun­ter­ing prob­lems in view­ing and im­port­ing. It’s pos­si­ble that some­thing had be­come cor­rupted in IOS in how it had in­dexed im­ages, and delete half of them ei­ther freed up enough space or caused a re­build op­er­a­tion. Re­gard­less, the er­rors dis­ap­peared.

How­ever, if you find your­self in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion, you could con­tinue down the bi­nary path to iden­tify any re­main­ing im­ages or videos that won’t im­port. You may be able to delete those, ei­ther from the IOS de­vice or via Im­age Cap­ture. If they refuse to be erased, af­ter mak­ing sure you’ve re­trieved all the me­dia you can, you might con­sider back­ing up the IOS de­vice, wip­ing it, and restor­ing it to see if that re­sets your de­vice’s photo stor­age.

An­other op­tion? Switch on icloud Photo Li­brary, and buy ex­tra icloud stor­age if you need it for just the month, sync­ing ev­ery­thing to a Mac and mak­ing sure to down­load it there at full res­o­lu­tion. Then dis­able icloud Photo Li­brary and con­firm those im­ages and movies are on the Mac. You can then delete all or some of the me­dia from your IOS de­vice, know­ing its safely coped over.

An im­ported mail­box has a nested hi­er­ar­chy of fold­ers that you can just ig­nore

The Com­puter Set­tings di­a­log lets you en­able stan­dard pass­word­based VNC re­mote-desk­top ac­cess

Im­age Cap­ture can im­port im­ages, but also helps you trou­bleshoot im­port prob­lems

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.