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Archive for the ‘macOS Tips’ Category

by Tom Nelson

Safari 11, included with macOS High Sierra, has a number of new features. It’s also one of the fastest browsers, at least when it comes to rendering and running JavaScript. But one feature that’s turning heads in the web-marketing arena is Safari’s new ability to prevent cross-site tracking using ITP (Intelligent Tracking Prevention).

ITP, along with how Safari manages cross-site cookies, can cut down on the ability of web-based ad services to track your movements around the web. It’s this tracking ability that leads to focused ads appearing in many different and unrelated websites. For example, after looking for a new winter coat at your favorite clothier’s web site, you might discover that wherever you go on the web, an ad for winter apparel is present.

While Safari and ITP may put an end to many of the annoying ads that follow you around the web, as well as create a bit more personal security, it may also have a few unintended consequences that may result in a favorite website or two not working correctly, until they receive an update to work with ITP.

You may find you need to revert back to the old way that Safari managed cookies when visiting a few sites, including some sites (banking and financial services come to mind) that use a centralized login system that provides sign-in service for multiple related sites. In that case, there’s a good chance that ITP’s machine learning system will mistake the central sign-in service as an ad tracker, forcing you to sign in repeatedly.

With that in mind, we’re going to take a look at how to manage Safari’s new privacy settings, and how you can enable and disable ITP in Safari.

Cookie Management and Cross-Site Tracking
Safari 11 (and later versions) disables cross-site tracking as its default configuration, so out of the box, you should notice fewer obviously targeted ads appearing in the websites you visit. To be clear, Safari isn’t stripping out ads from websites; the websites you visit will still display ads; they just won’t be explicitly targeted to you, based on other websites and products you’ve viewed.

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

But, wait; you say you’re seeing targeted ads even though cross-site tracking is enabled? Yup, you may still see targeted ads for one of two reasons: either the web advertisers have implemented new technology to get around ITP, or you’re seeing ads based on a site you routinely access.

ITP uses a 24-hour window that allows for some tracking, mostly in the form of a persistent cookie that can be used to allow you to automatically sign in to a site. But third parties who provide web resources, such as images or ads, to the site can use the same cookie to track the fact that you visited the site. That’s why you may still see some ads tracking you around the web. After 24 hours, the cookie is automatically disabled for tracking functions, but retains its ability to be used for auto sign in to a site.

After 30 days, the ITP system purges the cookie completely, requiring you to manually log in should you return to the site in question.

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Because ITP is a new technology involving machine learning, it’s likely that we’ll see updates to Safari that will make some changes in the cookie management system, but when macOS High Sierra is first released, what we described above will be the default ITP behavior.

Read more on Rocket Yard, The MacSales.com Blog

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by Tom Nelson

When you find yourself performing the same task over and over on your Mac, you may wish some developer somewhere would code up a nice little app to make your job a bit easier.

There’s no reason to wait for an app when you can make use of one or more of the many Mac automation tools that are already available. Your Mac comes equipped with AppleScript, Automator, and Terminal, all of which can be used to create your own custom tools to make repetitive tasks easier.

AppleScript and Terminal require a bit of coding to create an app or script, but Automator uses a graphical interface to allow you to create custom apps without having to learn a complex programming language. So, we’re going to start our look at how to automate tasks on the Mac with Automator.

By the way, if you’d like to explore how Terminal can be used to create scripts, the Rocket Yard has a two-part introduction to the Mac’s Terminal app that you can check out.

Using Automator
Automator has a simple drag-and-drop interface you can use to build simple to complex workflows that can automate those repetitive tasks that just take time away from other things. Workflows are made up of individual tasks that you drag into place in the workflow. You can then tweak each task in the workflow to meet your specific needs. Once it’s ready, the workflow can be used much like an app, service, or folder action.

Automator has 6 templates that can be used for creating different types of workflows. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Automator Apps, Services, and Folder Actions
Automator supports creating the following types of workflows:

Workflows: These are a series of actions that you run from within Automator. Automator must be running for the workflow to work.

Applications: These are self-running workflows. They don’t need Automator to be active in order to work.

Services: Services allows you to build workflows that are tied to contextual menus that may appear within another app’s service menu.

Printer Plugin: Allows you to create workflows that appear in the Print dialog box.

Folder Actions: This is a workflow that you attach to a folder. When an item is added to the folder, it triggers the attached workflow to run.

Calendar Alarms: These workflows are triggered by events in the Calendar app.

Image Capture Plugin: These workflows are available from within the Image Capture app.

Dictation Commands: You can create workflows that are triggered by specific dictation commands.

We’re going to use Automator to create two different types of workflows. The first is a service that will allow you to select any word or phrase you come across and look up its meaning in Wikipedia. We’ll also show you how to modify this service, so you can use other sites to perform the lookup instead.

In our second example, we’ll create an application to batch resize images automatically. You could also use this workflow as a Folder Action, if that’s a better fit for your needs.

Read more on Rocket Yard, The MacSales.com Blog

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by Tom Nelson

Safe mode and single-user mode are two of the special start-up modes that your Mac can be powered up to. They’re often used to troubleshoot issues a Mac may be experiencing, or to assist in isolating and repairing some common issues that can keep a Mac from starting up correctly, or that make it act strangely when it’s in use.

The two modes are distinctly different, with safe mode being a more automated approach to fixing Mac issues, and single-user mode being more akin to the Mac’s Terminal app, giving those familiar with UNIX the ability to manually run various troubleshooting utilities and commands.

In this Rocket Yard Guide, we’re going to show you how to use each mode to help troubleshoot Mac problems you may be experiencing.

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Safe Mode
Up first is safe mode, one of the easiest ways to isolate and fix many Mac problems. Safe mode allows you to troubleshoot problems you may be having in starting up your Mac, working with specific apps, or system-wide issues.

When you invoke safe mode, your Mac will restart and perform various troubleshooting checks on your Mac’s system, hardware, and startup drive. It will also disable some system components, and if it successfully completes the checks, will finish by bringing you to the standard desktop, though with certain functions disabled.

What Does Safe Mode Do?
Safe mode uses a process similar to Disk Utility’s First Aid to verify and repair your startup drive. Unlike Disk Utility, which can’t repair the startup drive directly, Safe Mode can perform both a verify and a repair of the startup drive’s directory structure.

Safe mode only allows the most basic system kernel extensions to be loaded. This will prevent third-party kernel extensions from affecting the startup process, and from being available to use once safe mode drops you into the desktop.

Safe mode allows only system fonts that are provided with the operating system to load; all other fonts are disabled.

It deletes all font caches, kernel caches, and system caches.

It disables all startup and login items from being loaded by the system.

Read more on Rocket Yard, The MacSales.com Blog

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by Tom Nelson

The version of Safari included with macOS High Sierra brings new and significant abilities to customize how it works with each website you visit. You may have already read about Safari’s new ability to block user tracking by websites, or its new ability to prevent video from auto-playing. But Safari rolls out a whole new way to work with websites, putting you in control and allowing for quite a bit of customization in your viewing.

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Safari 11, the version included with macOS High Sierra, has a number of new features, including advanced methods of preventing user tracking (Intelligent Tracking Prevention). But in this Rocket Yard Guide, we’re going to look at Safari’s new ability to customize how a website looks and performs on a site-by-site basis. It’s a powerful tool that can help you tame the wild web.

Website customization works on two main levels; you can define how all websites will be handled, and you can specify how individual websites will be managed. When the two are in conflict, the settings for a specific website override those set for all websites.

A simple example is that you may set all websites to never auto-play audio or video content, but then configure your favorite video service to allow auto-play. When you browse the web, you should never encounter a website that auto-plays sound or video, until you land on the sites where you’ve specifically allowed auto-play to work.

Read more on Rocket Yard, The MacSales.com Blog

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by Tom Nelson

The version of Safari included with macOS High Sierra brings new and significant abilities to customize how it works with each website you visit. You may have already read about Safari’s new ability to block user tracking by websites, or its new ability to prevent video from auto-playing. But Safari rolls out a whole new way to work with websites, putting you in control and allowing for quite a bit of customization in your viewing.

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Safari 11, the version included with macOS High Sierra, has a number of new features, including advanced methods of preventing user tracking (Intelligent Tracking Prevention). But in this Rocket Yard Guide, we’re going to look at Safari’s new ability to customize how a website looks and performs on a site-by-site basis. It’s a powerful tool that can help you tame the wild web.

Website customization works on two main levels; you can define how all websites will be handled, and you can specify how individual websites will be managed. When the two are in conflict, the settings for a specific website override those set for all websites.

A simple example is that you may set all websites to never auto-play audio or video content, but then configure your favorite video service to allow auto-play. When you browse the web, you should never encounter a website that auto-plays sound or video, until you land on the sites where you’ve specifically allowed auto-play to work.

Read more on Rocket Yard, The MacSales.com Blog

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by Tom Nelson

I’ve always enjoyed working with the latest releases of the Mac OS. Although Apple tends not to release new major versions of the Mac OS until the fall of each year, that doesn’t mean we have to wait till then to take a new OS out for a spin.

Apple has long provided developers with early beta versions of OS X and macOS, but only started providing betas to the general public a few years ago. The public betas have the advantage of letting you try out macOS before the general release, giving you the opportunity to participate in finding bugs, check out new features, or just make sure important software you use every day will work with the upcoming version of macOS.

macOS High Sierra
The latest version of macOS, which will enter public beta sometime in late June, is macOS High Sierra. This version of macOS has quite a few new features and capabilities, including APFS, which, for the first time, will be used as the default file system on the Mac, replacing the very old and long in the tooth HFS+ file system. (Related: See our First Impressions of ‘High Sierra’.)

I’m anxious to find out if some of my older software will still run under macOS High Sierra. Microsoft has said, when referring to the 2011 version of Office, “Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Lync have not been tested on macOS 10.13 High Sierra, and no formal support for this configuration will be provided.” So, I may end up looking for new office apps to use with High Sierra. But it’s not just older versions of Office that may not run correctly on macOS High Sierra, so finding out in advance which apps will work and which are in doubt is one of the many reasons to enroll in the Apple Software Beta Program, aside from just wanting to check out the new OS, that is.

Read more on Rocket Yard, The MacSales.com Blog

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by Tom Nelson

You made the decision to move from your Windows PC to a Mac. There are a lot of great reasons to make the jump, and one nagging problem that many switchers agonize over: how to transfer their PC data to their shiny new Macs and access the information without any issues.

For the most part, moving PC data to a Mac is a fairly easy process, with quite a few options available to get the job done. And that’s where this article comes in. We’re going to show you a few of the methods available to get your Mac set up with your PC data.

What Can Be Transferred and What Can’t?
Let’s start with the easier part of that question: what can’t be transferred, or more accurately, what can’t you use even if you manage to transfer it over. The answer is: applications. Windows apps that ran on your PC just won’t work on your Mac, not without using some form of virtualization software, such as Parallels, or emulation, such as CrossOver Mac, that can mimic a PC environment, or a complete install of Windows on the Mac (Boot Camp).

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

We’re not going to go into the options for running Windows on your Mac, but you can find out more by investigating the links above. What you can easily move to your Mac and make use of is most of your PC data files, the documents you have created, such as photos, music, videos, spreadsheets, and word processing documents, even all of the email messages you’ve collected over time. There will, of course, be a few file types that won’t have any equivalent on the Mac, and those documents may prove difficult to successfully make use of on your Mac. But for the most part, you should find that you can transfer and use most of your documents.

Many of the most popular Windows apps have Mac counterparts. For instance, while your Windows copy of Office can’t be used on the Mac, there’s a complete version of Office that Microsoft developed specifically for the Mac. The same holds true for many other popular apps. Check with the app manufacturer for an available Mac version. If you can’t find one, there’s likely a third-party app that can make use of the Windows files.

Read more on Rocket Yard, The MacSales.com Blog

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by Tom Nelson

Every summer, Apple announces a new version of the Mac OS (now called macOS) at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). Along with highlighting what’s new and improved in the operating system, Apple provides its developers with a beta version of the new macOS, followed up in a few weeks with a public beta for everyone.

The public beta of the macOS is popular, with many Mac enthusiasts participating in the beta program to both try out the new OS, and try to help Apple find bugs before the final release in the fall.

Since the public beta is open to any Mac user, you can join the beta program and participate in the fun of discovering all the new features, as well as one or two new bugs. In fact, it’s kind of fun to track down a bug and report it to Apple. If you want to participate in the beta, you’ll find information about how to do it at the end of this article.

But before you hop on the beta bandwagon, there are some important steps to take to keep your Mac safe and trouble-free during the beta process. Forgetting these steps can lead to disastrous events, including having your Mac lock up or fail to boot, as well as loss of data, and for those of you who rely on your Mac for your work, loss of income.

Even though the above may sound terrifying, it’s actually pretty easy to put safeguards in place to ensure participating in the Apple beta program is, for the most part, a fun undertaking.

Get Your Mac Ready for the Apple Beta Program
This article is going to concentrate on what you need to do to safeguard your Mac while you participate in the beta program. I won’t be covering how to install the beta version of the macOS, mostly because I’m not a member of the super secret Apple developers group that has early access to the most secret of secrets.

Heck, at this point I don’t even know what the name of the new macOS will be. If you have a guess you would like to share, add it to the comments below. Once the beta is released to the public, the Rocket Yard will be posting a full install guide to help you with installing the beta.

In the meantime, you can get ready for the macOS beta with these tips to keep your Mac safe during the beta program.

Read more on Rocket Yard, The MacSales.com Blog

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by Tom Nelson

Are you the designated IT person for your family, or maybe for your small business? If you are, then perhaps you’re getting a bit tired of everyone asking you to provide your administrator name and password every time a printer jams, an app needs updating, or Time Machine throws an error code.

The Mac has a pretty straightforward model for assigning privileges to a user’s account, and in many cases, only the administrator has the right to stop, start, or pause services, such as pausing the print server when a printer jams. Only a user with administrator privileges can get the print server running again.

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

If you’re tired of running over to a user’s Mac just to enter a password so the print server can restart after a paper jam, then you may be thinking it’s time to give everyone admin privileges. And believe it or not, that may be a valid solution to the problem, depending on the competence and trustworthiness of your users.

It is, in fact, the method we use; all users at our home and office are set up as administrators, relieving us of the more mundane tasks of Mac administration. But if you’re inclined to use the standard, managed, and administrator user models to ensure a bit tighter security, then this tip can help you keep your personal workload low, while allowing other users to perform routine tasks, such as resetting printers, without needing the local overlord to make an appearance.

Read more on Rocket Yard, The MacSales.com Blog

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by Tom Nelson

Boot Camp and Boot Camp Assistant allow you to install Windows on your Mac. It’s a nice capability that lets you select – at boot time – which operating system you wish to use: Mac OS or Windows.

One of the downsides to Boot Camp and the Windows installer is that it restricts you to installing Windows on your Mac’s internal drive. While Boot Camp Assistant can partition your startup drive for you to make room for Windows, there are bound to be many of you who just don’t have room to spare on your startup drive to install Windows.

Installing Windows on an external drive would be a great solution to the problem of available space, but as we said, Boot Camp and Windows impose a restriction on installing to an external drive – or do they?

There are actually a few ways you can successfully install Windows on an external drive. They range from creating clones of an existing PC installation, or using Microsoft IT tools for installing Windows. But the method we’re going to outline here is a bit different. It allows you to install Windows on an external drive without first having Windows installed on a PC or in a virtual environment.

This is an advanced process with quite a few pitfalls that can trip you up. Be sure to read through the process before undertaking it. Also, make sure you have a current backup before beginning.

Read more on Rocket Yard, The MacSales.com Blog

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