What to do when FileVault won’t turn on

After a recent inexplicable problem on my MacBook, in which macOS would complete loading but never get past the blank screen before the Desktop appeared, I had to revert to a clone. (Even reinstalling macOS didn’t work.) I then upgraded to Mojave. Somewhere in there, an important piece of macOS “fell out,” metaphorically.

Apple added the concept in 10.13 High Sierra of a “secure token” to the first account created in macOS on installation or after upgrade as part of the process that allows you to use FileVault. There’s almost no information about this feature, and there’s no way to determine from macOS’s graphical features whether an account has it set.

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How to use Handoff with iOS 12

Apple designed Handoff to make it easier to work seamlessly between a Mac and iOS. If you’re reading a text message on one device and pick up the other, you can open up to where you left off. Viewing a webpage? Handoff lets you bring up the same page on the other device with a click or a tap.

But for a couple of versions at least, notifications in iOS interfered with Handoff. You could see a Safari icon on the lock screen, for example, and if notifications were also on the screen, using the swipe-up gesture to open that Safari page didn’t work. I eventually stopped trying.

I can see I wasn’t alone: Apple gave up, too! In iOS 12, Handoff icons no longer appear on the lock screen. Instead, they’re in a better, smart, more accessible place—the app switcher!

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When not to use Apple’s Mail Drop file transfer service

Apple’s Mail Drop is a feature that ties the Mail app with iCloud, letting you send large attachments. Instead of packaging the attachment with the email message, Mail uploads the file to iCloud and includes a link in the email message. The upload doesn’t count against your iCloud storage total, and is only stored for 30 days.

Apple explains of Mail Drop’s limits on a support page, and notes just in passing, “The recipients might not be able to access your attachment if the link has an excessive amount of downloads or high traffic.”

Macworld reader Ken seems to have run aground on his proviso. He sent a 1GB movie file to about 25 to 30 people via Mail, which uploaded and managed the movie via Mail Drop, but he said after a few recipients had viewed it, the rest were told no more downloads permitted. Since Apple Continue reading "When not to use Apple’s Mail Drop file transfer service"

macOS Mojave: For app permissions, what’s the difference between Accessibility and Full Disk Access?

The Mac has avoided widespread malware, and Apple tries to keep ahead of the ways in which malicious software can gain a foothold in macOS. In 2015 with El Capitan, that was System Integrity Protection, to keep system files from being modified. Sierra in 2017 removed an option to allow unsigned Mac apps to run without a prompt.

Now in Mojave, macOS has forced apps to request certain kinds of system-level privileges for behavior that it generally allowed in previous releases. In some cases with older apps that haven’t been updated, you have to take a manual step to keep them working, too.

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Is there a way to block certain incoming texts in iOS?

A Macworld reader want to know if there’s a way in iOS to block texts from everyone who isn’t in the Contacts list. Her elderly mother is receiving harassing texts from someone who obtains a new number and continues the attack every time they are stymied using iOS’s option to block texts (along with FaceTime requests and calls).

There isn’t such a feature, although you’d think this would be a much-desired one. Apple has continued to add anti-spam and contact-blocking features across the latest releases of iOS, and allows third-party app makers to tap into calls and texts to help, too.

Apple does offer a feature to sort iMessages—texts sent from people with registered iCloud accounts—into a separate area. Visit Settings > Messages > Unknown & Spam, and enable Filter Unknown Senders. (On a Mac, using Messages > Preferences, and uncheck the Notify Me about Messages from Unknown Continue reading "Is there a way to block certain incoming texts in iOS?"

How to get out of iOS public beta program

Apple encourages people with the time and tolerance for mild risk to join its iOS and macOS public beta programs each summer after it announces updates the Worldwide Developer Conference. This year’s batch were remarkably stable and consistent, which offered a great experience.

Even though iOS 12 is officially here, if you're still in the beta program, you will get beta of iOS 12 updates. For example, Apple recently gave notice that a 12.1 beta would be installed if beta program participants had auto-updates turned on. How to get off this update conveyor belt? Macworld reader Jason wrote in with just that question.

It’s easy:

  1. Open Settings and navigate to General > Profile.
  2. Tap the iOS 12 Beta Software Profile.
  3. Tap Remove Profile.
  4. Enter your passcode if prompted.
  5. Tap Remove to confirm.

If you want to re-enroll, visit the Apple Beta Software Program page and follow the steps to Continue reading "How to get out of iOS public beta program"

It’s time to switch your Mac backups from Time Capsule to Time Machine volumes

The Apple Time Capsule seemed like a great idea when it was unveiled about a decade ago. It was a Time Machine network backup target that also embedded a Wi-Fi gateway and ethernet sharing. Perfection, even if it was a little too expensive: It came with Apple technical support and warranty.

But it didn’t play out with the promise it had. An internal drive that you can’t physically remove or upgrade is a problem when it crashes or loses data, something that has happened to many Macworld readers. There’s no Disk Utility for Time Capsule. And if the Time Capsule hardware or the drive died, you could not swap that drive out without a lot of fuss.

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Can’t find a file in macOS? Here’s what to do

Macworld reader Lon has a problem finding a file on his Mac. He needs to remove it to avoid a compatibility problem, and no amount of Spotlight searches nor browsing through folders can find it.

Spotlight should let you find nearly any file you create or store in macOS with ease, but it doesn’t always work that way. There’s a way to search comprehensively through your macOS drive (or drives) using the Terminal, but I think of it as a last resort, because it involves tricky syntax and can be slow. It also may match a lot of files you’re not interested in.

In the Terminal, a command called find can perform a comprehensive and deep search across everything, including system files and other stuff that we don’t need to interact with and macOS doesn’t readily expose to users. (Find is something I’ve used for decades, and it feels like Continue reading "Can’t find a file in macOS? Here’s what to do"

Why does Apple’s two-factor sign-in think you’re hundreds of miles away?

Apple’s two-factor authentication (2FA) is a boon for anyone who wants to be sure that even if their Apple ID or iCloud password were stolen or found out, an intruder would still need a piece of equipment associated with the account to complete the login. These trusted phone numbers and trusted devices offer good deterrence.

When you log in to an iCloud account, the Apple ID site, or an Apple app that gives you account access or lets you make purchases, you’re prompted on a trusted device if you haven’t been challenged in a while at the software location at which you’re logging in. It’s in two parts: first, iOS and macOS show a tiny map and Don’t Allow and Allow buttons. If you tap or click Allow, you then get a six-digit code you can enter to complete the login.

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Accidentally merged a set of photos in iCloud Photo Library? Here’s a fix

When everything works as expected in iCloud Photo Library, you not only have access to all your images and videos on every device logged into the same iCloud account, but they’re all backed up by Apple, too.

However, disorder can enter this perfect realm unintentionally. Macworld reader Jack and his girlfriend—let’s call her “Jill”—tripped into a situation when she logged into his Apple ID to install an app he’d purchased. (Sure, technically, that’s not how Apple wants you to share apps. It would rather people use Family Sharing, but that feature remains weak and inconsistent, and I understand when people are driven to use this alternate approach.)

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How to use Apple’s new re-used password warning to reduce your risk of account hijacking

The biggest risk when setting a password is when you re-use a password across sites and services. If you do this, you’re multiplying the risk of a breach at one of those services, allowing a cracker to try your account name and password from the breached service at other sites. If any match, they’ve now hijacked your account there, too.

A unique password at every site is the goal. And Apple added an alert in iOS 12 and macOS 10.14 Mojave that will help you towards that.

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This warning tries to push you towards a slightly lower level of risk online. Don’t worry: I’ve changed all those passwords.

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How to use iOS 12 to enter passwords on an Apple TV

There’s one Apple TV issue that Macworld readers (and me) have dealt with for years: entering passwords! Many tvOS apps rely on a round-trip with a browser instead of a password, providing a code that you enter after using a desktop computer or mobile browser to log into an account. That’s just fine.

With apps that want actual text entered, it’s been frustrating. A few releases ago, Apple linked tvOS and iOS, so that when a text entry field appeared, you received an alert on iOS devices logged into the same Apple ID, and could at least type in from your iPhone or iPad.

You could also enter a password by tapping it in with the keyboard or switching to a password manager app in iOS, finding the account and password, copying the password, switching back, and pasting it in.

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Want to connect an old DVI monitor to newer Mac with USB-C? Here’s one way to do it

One problem that Mac 911 can always count on: The complexities of using old Apple monitors to work with new USB-C-equipped Macs.

The 2015 and later MacBook uses USB-C for USB 3 and DisplayPort. The newer MacBook Pro and iMac models pass Thunderbolt 3 over USB-C, along with DisplayPort and other standards.

I recently updated our best advice and knowledge for Apple’s Mini DisplayPort and Thunderbolt 2 displays. For older Apple monitors that relied on DVI—sometimes requiring a dual-link DVI setup for its largest displays—I had yet to find a solution in a single product, with adapters, or from readers who had solved it.

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What to do when Photos for Mac says your external drive uses an unsupported format

Macworld reader Carah received an error messages from Photos in macOS I’d never seen before—but which is fortunately easily diagnosed and solved.

Carah was trying to free up space on her internal disk drive, as it was nearly full, so followed instructions in another Mac 911 column on copying Photos libraries to an external drive.

After completing the copying and launching Photos with the Option key held down to select her new external library, Photos gave her an error on selection: “The library ‘library name’ is stored on a drive that uses an unsupported disk format. To access this library, copy it to the internal drive on your Mac or to a drive that uses a supported format.”

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What’s that weird app folder doing in your iCloud storage?

There’s nothing more disturbing than finding files on your hardware that come from an app you are sure you never installed.

Macworld reader Kevin wrote in asking about a video-management app. It’s an app he is positive he never installed on his iOS device, and he was shocked to find a folder in the iCloud Storage view in iOS (Settings > account name > iCloud > Manage Storage).

He noted that the information seemed quite personal, as it had images that seemed to represent all his network devices. I suggested this might be something related to an app he purchased and forgot, but the explanation Kevin uncovered is only slightly related.

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How to disable Optimized iCloud Drive storage with a single click

A big problem with iCloud Drive’s Desktop and Documents Folders synchronization feature is that, by default, iCloud Drive automatically deletes local copies of files when you start running out of storage—by whatever definition of “running out of storage” macOS internally relies upon. The file still appears to be available, but it’s in iCloud, and if you want to access it, macOS downloads it when you try to open or otherwise manipulate it.

Because any given file could be deleted, you can’t make a full local or cloud-based backup separate from iCloud of all your files. This means you’re relying entirely on Apple, and if you had a problem with your Apple ID or iCloud account, you could wind up losing access to files or having to go through a tedious problem to regain them. (I covered this issue recently as a more general issue in “Why you shouldn’t rely Continue reading "How to disable Optimized iCloud Drive storage with a single click"

How to fix a 1Password sync problem

If you’re a 1Password user, you likely enjoy the ability to make unique, strong passwords for every account you have to manage or create. Unique passwords make it enormously unlikely that a single breach of a site at which you have an account, even a catastrophic breach, would let attackers leverage that information to log into your accounts elsewhere.

However, there’s a problem seen routinely that’s easy to fix: 1Password sometimes loses its connection to a syncing archive. 1Password has a few ways to keep vaults in sync. Some people use the 1Password.com vault for everything, which allows them to access their passwords from a web browser, as well as from end points, like an iPhone (or Android phone) or desktop computer.

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How to consolidate media from old apps into a single Photos library

If you’ve used previous tools such as iPhoto and Aperture for managing your photos and videos, you can wind up with many libraries and miscellaneous files, and be unsure whether you have a definitive set of photos that’s not full of wasteful overlaps.

That’s the case for Macworld reader John, who has libraries across several software programs and piles of backups to boot. He’d like to consolidate everything in one place and de-duplicate, so he has an authoritative set. He wonders if he’ll wind up needing a huge drive to manage all this, too. (Probably!)

Apple offers no real help with this, except recognizing duplicates of certain kinds when importing images from another source. You need to turn to third parties for help. My best recommendation here is PowerPhotos from Fat Cat Software, a unique app that contains a lot of tools you might have hoped Apple would Continue reading "How to consolidate media from old apps into a single Photos library"