Mac 911: How to fix a grayed-out Safari home page preference, three ways to add an icloud.com address
Solutions to your most vexing Mac problems.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DELETE AN ALBUM IN THE MAC’S PHOTOS APP?
Deletion seems so final, and it’s worthwhile to pause a moment and reflect before clicking any Delete button or selecting any Delete menu item. In Photos for macos, you’re presented with many opportunities to delete items and collections, but Apple fortunately spells out the effects.
One area that confuses people regularly is how Photos deletes albums— both the regular static kind and “smart” albums that use criteria to select what appears within them. Surely, deleting an album might drop the photos and videos the albums contains into the trash?
Fortunately, it does not. In its internal structure, Photos separates out the actual media files from all the containers and
organizing structures it makes available. When you delete any album you’ve created, whether it’s smart or static, Photos only deletes the organizing framework. The original media remains in the library untouched.
Apple even makes an effort to reassure you. When you Control-click (or right-click on a two-button mouse) any album in the My Albums list in the sidebar and choose Delete Album or Delete Smart Album, Photos brings up a prompt that explicitly tells you what’s going to happen. The wording is a little quirky, saying that “items in this album will still be visible in your photo library,” but I assume Apple decided on that language to be clearest to the least-sophisticated users, who don’t necessary understand file management and storage.
You can delete albums with great aplomb without worrying about the original media being deleted when you do. If you actually want to delete an image or video:
> In the main Photos view, select the image or video and choose Image → Delete Photo/delete Video or press the Delete key on your keyboard.
> In other views, those options aren’t available. Instead, right-click an image or video in any view and choose the Delete option.
If you have icloud Photos enabled, Photos warns you that a deleted image or video will be removed permanently from every linked device’s Photos library, too. (Deleted images are held for 30 to 40 days in the Recently Deleted folder.)
DO YOU SEE A YIELD SIGN IN QUICKTIME PLAYER FOR YOUR MAC’S FACETIME CAMERA? HERE’S THE FIX
A webcam can be easily misused—and sometimes hijacked by malicious software. While macos has been generally free of malware that can tap into the camera, and Apple has a hardware-linked green LED that can’t be disabled in software when the camera is active, you may still want to prevent the camera from being used at all.
This typically comes up with kids, but it’s also a tool to disable any app from making use, although macos will always ask (at least once) before granting access. (There’s a security argument to be made that you can use an account with admin access for setting things up, but in your return use, you use a Standard account, which could even have parental controls enabled for your own focus or safety that you can bypass as needed.)
In System Preferences → Parental Controls, under the Apps tab, you can uncheck the option Allow Use of Camera. If you try to use an app that requires a camera, no video source option appears or when selected it won’t stream video from the Facetime camera. (Sadly, plugging in an external webcam that doesn’t require drivers to be installed bypasses this restriction.)
If you launch Quicktime Player with this parental control set, the app shows a yellow yield sign next to the Facetime camera. Even when you turn that option back in Parental Controls and quit and relaunch Quicktime Player, the yield sign persists.
The solution? Either log out and back into the account or perform a standard restart. That appears to clear the hardware lockout.
HOW TO FIX A GRAYED-OUT SAFARI HOME PAGE PREFERENCE
While malware hasn’t found a fertile home on the Mac for decades, scammers keep trying. As many of you have experienced, adware and other software that delivers unwanted content or an unwanted experience abounds—like redirecting you to a specific website for searching or turning all Amazon links into affiliate links that earn the scammers a commission until they’re shut down.
Even with vigilance against nasty threats, you or (more likely) someone you know may have installed otherwise reasonable seeming software that hijacks Safari in some particular way. That includes a rather nasty way in which you can be prevented from changing your homepage in Safari in Safari → Preferences → General, then the Homepage field.
This technique involves using profiles, a tool for system administrators and others to distribute specific settings files to Mac users. It’s used more widely in IOS, where VPN software and other apps rely on profiles to let users opt into behavior that Apple otherwise prevents IOS apps from engaging in.
In System Preferences, look for the Profiles preference, which is a spiky badge with a checkmark in the middle. If you don’t see Profiles, you have no profiles installed, and any Homepage field problems are unrelated.
To remove an errant profile, click the Profiles preference pane, select the profile in the list, and click the minus button. This will prompt you to confirm removal and may require entering an administrative password.
Others users unable to change or set a homepage in Safari have found first restarting in Safe Mode (restart and then hold down the Shift key at startup ( go. macworld.com/sfmd)), and then restarting normally restored their ability to choose a homepage.
THREE WAYS TO ADD AN ICLOUD.COM ADDRESS, EVEN IF YOU ALREADY HAVE ONE
Apple gives icloud.com email addresses away at no cost, but it’s not always obvious how to obtain one by itself or add one to an existing Apple ID account, or how to get additional addresses if you already have one at icloud.com.
But there are three paths, which vary by what you already have and what you want.
> If you have an Apple ID without an associated icloud.com address, you can add one (via IOS or macos).
> If you have an icloud.com address already, you can add aliases (via icloud. com).
> If you want a separate icloud.com address for email that isn’t an alias, you
can create one by creating an Apple ID account (via macos). Add an icloud.com address to an Apple ID While icloud seems like it’s integral to an Apple ID, Apple still keeps the two distinct: an Apple ID doesn’t have to have an associated icloud address, but all icloud addresses must be associated with an Apple ID. If you haven’t used icloud.com for email yet, you might have an Apple ID that uses a non-apple email address for its account name.
To add an icloud.com address to such an account, you must use either IOS or macos; you can’t add the address via the Apple ID site (or via icloud.com).
> In IOS, go to Settings → [ your name] → icloud, tap Mail and turn it on, and then follow the instructions that appear.
> With macos, open the icloud preference pane and check the box next to Mail. macos prompts you to create an address.
This new icloud address becomes associated with your Apple ID account, and can be used for email and to log into icloud.com for other services. Add icloud.com aliases Apple doesn’t exactly hide this feature, but it’s not that easy to find, either:
1. Log into icloud.com.
2. Click the Mail icon.
3. Click the gear icon at the lower-left corner of the screen and select Preferences.
4. Click the Account button.
5. Click Add an Alias.
You can add up to three aliases, all of which receive email just as if they were the main address on your account. (I wrote a Mac 911 column recently on how to use an alias to filter incoming email ( go.macworld.com/rtan), especially if you’re receiving too much spam or unwanted email at your primary icloud address.)
Create a new Apple ID to get an icloud. com address You can create an Apple ID that uses as its login name an icloud.com address that you pick without switching to this new Apple ID for any other purpose.
You can only carry this out sensibly via macos. You can’t use IOS without logging out of your current icloud account, which requires a lot of hassle with synced data. And it’s not available at all as an option at icloud.com or the Apple ID site.
Here’s how to do it:
1. In macos, open the Users & Groups preference pane.
2. Click the lock icon in the lower-left corner and enter your administrative password.
3. In Login Options, check “Show fast user switching menu.”
4. Click the + (plus) sign below the account list.
5. Create a macos account that you will then use to create a new Apple ID.
6. Select the fast-user switching menu at the upper-right corner of your macos screen and pick the newly created account.
7. Skip the step during the account completion process to use or create an Apple ID.
8. When the account finishes initial set up, open the Internet Accounts preference pane.
9. Click the icloud logo.
10. Click Create Apple ID at the sign-in prompt.
11. Click the text link “Get a free icloud email address.”
12. The Email Address field changes to an empty field and “@icloud.com”. You can now enter an address you want. (macos will warn you if it’s not available.)
13. Click Next and provide the confirmation data Apple requires to finish creating the account.
14. Log out of this new account ( → Log Out [account name]).
15. You can optionally disable fast-user switching.
Now, in Mail for macos or IOS, or in third-party email clients, you can enter your new Apple ID account information to access the associated icloud.com email address, even while using a different Apple ID account for icloud syncing. (If you enabled two-factor authentication, you’ll need to create an app-specific password for each mail client with which you use the email account.) ■
Media won’t be deleted when you remove an album.
Parental Controls lets you disable any Apple Facetime cameras attached to a Mac.
The Profiles preference pane may appear due to unwantedware installing it.
icloud.com lets you add additional icloud.com addresses to your account as aliases that receive email just like your main account.
You can create a new Apple ID in macos and opt to also create an associated new icloud. com address.