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Updated: 18 hours 27 min ago

Why you’re prompted to erase an external drive when you use it with Time Machine

Tue, 10/08/2019 - 08:00

When you attach an external drive to a Mac to use with Time Machine and confirm the prompt that appears asking if you want to use it for that purpose, you may then be prompted to erase the drive. Why does that happen?

As noted in previous columns, Apple supports backing up macOS drives in both the older HFS+ (“Mac OS Extended (Journaled)” in Disk Utility) and newer APFS formats. But Time Machine backup drives must use HFS+ for now. It’s a weird requirement on Apple’s part after automatically migrating all Macs startup volumes to APFS during recent macOS version updates (10.13 migrated SSDs; 10.14 migrated hard drives and Fusion drives).

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I’ve got no strings: AirPods are more than an evil plot

Tue, 10/08/2019 - 07:00

The Macalope regrets to inform you that even though it’s late 2019 we’re still talking about the headphone jack.

Writing for NBC, Nicky Woolf says “Apple's AirPods changed everything. They gave the company near-monopolistic power over users.” (Tip o’ the antlers to JoeFoe and Bill in Dallas.)

The Macalope is so old he remembers when AirPods were so overpriced and ugly no one was going to buy them. Now we must buy them because our Apple overlords have made us. Stands to reason, though. They certainly can’t be popular because people like them.

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Ring Spotlight Battery review: The best Smart Lighting starting point

Tue, 10/08/2019 - 06:00
If you're looking to dive into Ring's Smart Lighting world, the best place to start is the Spotlight Battery.

Delaney Smartlock & Video Camera and Bridging Hub review: A home security bundle not ready for prime time

Tue, 10/08/2019 - 06:00
These two also-ran smart-home products form a mediocre bundle.

Microsoft Surface Pro X vs 12.9-inch iPad Pro: Which big-screened productivity tablet is best?

Tue, 10/08/2019 - 06:00
Microsoft has a new Surface tablet that seems specifically designed to take down the iPad Pro. But does it have the specs to do it?

macOS Catalina: How to use the new features in Safari 13

Mon, 10/07/2019 - 18:04

Safari is probably the most frequently used app in macOS. Fortunately, with the upgrade to macOS Catalina, Safari gets a few helpful new features. Here’s a look.


The new start page includes Siri Suggestions.

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Apple’s fall OS release schedule is weird—here’s when your device will be updated

Mon, 10/07/2019 - 18:00

Updated 10/7/19: Apple has released macOS Catalina.

Generally, Apple releases its big fall operating system updates at nearly the same time. We get the new iOS, tvOS, and watchOS all on the same day (or nearly so), and the new macOS within a week or two. Yes, there are further “point releases” to add features and fix bugs, but the big drop is often more or less at once.

This year is different. Apple started public tests of iOS 13.1 weeks before the release of iOS 13. It split the iPad off into its own OS with its own release date. The new macOS release is who-knows-when. And some features and devices are going to have to wait until a later date for updates. 

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Apple updates Final Cut Pro X in anticipation of the new Mac Pro release

Mon, 10/07/2019 - 14:31

The release of macOS Catalina grabbed the major Mac news headlines on Monday, but Apple also announced updates to Final Cut Pro X that could be foreshadowing a release of the new Mac Pro.

According to Apple, FCP X now supports up to 28 CPU cores (the maximum core configuration of the new Mac Pro) and multiple GPUs. Compared to the previous Mac Pro with a maximum of 12 cores, Apple says FCP X rendering is 2.9 times faster, and transcoding is 3.2 times faster.

The FCP X update also takes advantage of the new Afterburner card in the upcoming Mac Pro. Editors can play up to 16 streams of 4K ProRes 422 video or three streams of 8K ProRes RAW video.

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How to create a bootable macOS Catalina installer drive

Mon, 10/07/2019 - 14:00

An external drive that you can use as an installer for macOS Catalina is a handy thing to have. If you have multple Macs to upgrade, it’s a lot more efficient to plug in the USB installer drive and run the installer than to log into the App Store, download the 6.5GB OS installer, and then run it.

In this article I’ll go over the different ways you can create a bootable macOS Catalina installation drive. But before I give instructions on how to create the drive, I’ll go over the items you’ll need and how to get them.

Macworld also has bootable-install-drive instructions for:

Get an external drive and maybe an adapter

The macOS Catalina installer software is nearly 6.5GB, so you need a USB external drive that can hold that much data. The drive can be a thumb drive, hard drive, or SSD.

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If you bought an iPhone 6s or 6s Plus in the past year, Apple might fix it for free

Mon, 10/07/2019 - 13:45

The iPhone 11 might be getting all of the attention, but Apple isn’t ignoring users of its older phones. If you bought an iPhone 6s recently, Apple might fix it for free.

The new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus Service Program for No Power Issues affects models manufactured between October 2018 and August 2019. According to Apple, some devices “may not power on due to a component that may fail.” It has provided a serial number check to find out if you have an effected model.

Apple doesn’t specify what the repair entails, nor does it estimate how long a repair will take. The normal repair channels apply, as well as the warning that, “If your iPhone has any damage which impairs the ability to complete the repair, such as a cracked screen, that issue will need to be resolved prior to the service.” Apple is also offering refunds for anyone who paid to have this issues repaired.

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Spotify now supports Siri on iPhone, iPad, and CarPlay

Mon, 10/07/2019 - 13:31

The day that millions of users have been waiting for is finally here: You can control Spotify on your iPhone or iPad using Siri.

Simply grab the just-released Spotify update and you can tell Siri to play music or podcasts by adding “on Spotify” to the end of your command. It works on iPhone and iPad, and when using Siri with AirPods connected to those devices. It does not work natively on HomePod (you can’t install Spotify or any other app on HomePod); you have to use AirPlay, just as you’ve always been able to.

Want to hear Green Day? Say, “Hey Siri, play Green Day on Spotify.” Looking for a particular song? “Hey Siri, play Holiday on Spotify” will work just fine. You can queue up artists, songs, and playlists just as you would expect to.

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How to find out if your Mac’s software is 32- or 64-bit

Mon, 10/07/2019 - 13:30

MacOS 10.14 Mojave, the version of the Mac operating system before the new macOS Catalina, is the last version that supports 32-bit software. With Catalina, only 64-bit software will be supported.

Catalina is here and if you decide to upgrade to the new macOS, you need to do a bit more than usual to prepare your Mac. You need to make sure your apps are 64-bit versions. If your app is a 32-bit version, it will not work.


Apple actually started to warn people about the change with macOS 10.13 High Sierra. If you launch a 32-bit app in High Sierra, an alert pops up to tell you that your app needs to be updated. The alert appears only once in High Sierra, and in Mojave, it appears every 30 days.

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macOS Catalina: Everything you need to know

Mon, 10/07/2019 - 13:12

From the desert to the coast: macOS Mojave has given way to the next major version of the Mac operating system, called macOS Catalina. Revealed during Apple’s 2019 WWDC keynote in June, Catalina features some major new features that continues to move the OS forward.

In this FAQ, we’ll give you the general details on macOS Catalina: When it will be release, what Macs are compatible, etc. We’ll add more details to this article as they become available.

When will macOS Catalina be released?

MacOS Catalina was released on October 7.

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Six features you should try after installing macOS 10.15 Catalina

Mon, 10/07/2019 - 13:00

With the release of the latest version of macOS 10.15 Catalina, Apple introduces a slew of new features. You should (and will) try them all, of course, but where should you start? Well, we’ve been using the macOS Catalina betas, so we have ideas on which new features you should try first. These are the major new features that you’ll want to start with in the macOS update.

Get to know the Music, Podcast, and TV apps Apple

The iTunes app is no more in macOS Catalina—it was an app that had too much going on, and Apple wisely broke up the app up into Music, Podcasts, and TV. You now manage the respective media in each app, and if you connect your iOS device to your Mac, you use these apps to coordinate your syncs.

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Amazon's upgraded Fire HD 10 tablet finally dumps micro-USB for USB-C

Mon, 10/07/2019 - 09:37
Amazon has refreshed its low-cost Fire HD 10 tablet with the one thing we've always wanted: USB-C.

NAD Masters M10 streaming amplifier review: Great sound, Dirac room correction, and lots more

Mon, 10/07/2019 - 07:30
The NAD M10 streaming amplifier sounds great, is extremely versatile and offers Dirac so you can tune it to your acoustical space. But despite a large colorful touch display, setup and some other functions rely on a phone app or web browser.

Prizmo 5 review: Mobile scanner app makes it a snap to capture documents

Mon, 10/07/2019 - 07:00

Remember the days when scanning documents in digital form required bulky hardware tethered to a personal computer? With a decent smartphone and the right app, you can now perform this task in a few taps, creating shareable, cloud-friendly files with surprisingly good results.


Capturing documents is a snap with Prizmo 5, thanks to autoshoot, edge detection, and image stabilization for sharp, high-quality results.

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What to do if your Mac’s Fusion Drive fails (or shows signs of failure)

Mon, 10/07/2019 - 06:00

Apple created the Fusion Drive when large-capacity SSDs were unaffordable except to high-end professionals. A Fusion Drive pairs a large, low-speed hard drive (5,400 rpm) with a small-capacity, super-fast SSD, typically 24GB to 128GB. MacOS optimizes storage so that the most frequently accessed files are stored on the SSD.

You can run into trouble when the Fusion Drive’s SSD starts to falter, before it completely dies. While SSDs have no moving parts, they have an effective lifespan of a certain number of write operations per memory cell. Internal software manages “wear leveling” to make sure cells don’t stop allowing new writes prematurely by ensuring each cell gets an equivalent number of writes over time.

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Mpow Flame Bluetooth earphones review: A fine budget option for exercise enthusiasts

Fri, 10/04/2019 - 08:00

A pair of exercise-oriented earphones only need to do a few things well in order to be a success.

First, they need to serve up a brain-rattling amount of bass without swamping out the rest of the audio you’re listening to: sometimes a little extra thump is exactly what’s needed to power yourself to the end of a particularly grueling workout.

Second, they need to be resilient enough to survive your workout: moisture and salt can both be hard on electronics, so a pair of workout cans have to be water resistant, if not waterproof. This makes it possible for them to not only stand up to sweat, but also a quick dunk underneath of a tap to clean them off after exercise so that they’re fresh and ready for your next swole-seeking adventure. If your earphones can’t master this latter feat, they’d best be inexpensive because, sooner or later, your sweat is going to kill them dead.

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Apple Arcade could rock on Apple TV 4K with better optimization

Fri, 10/04/2019 - 07:00

I admired Apple Arcade when the new subscription-based gaming service first dropped for the iPad and iPhone, but I didn’t fall in love with it until I played it on my Apple TV 4K. On that device, it’s clear that commentators are doing Apple Arcade a disservice by branding it as a “mobile gaming” platform: On the Apple TV, it feels like a proper console along the lines of the Nintendo Switch, especially with a proper controller like the Sony DualShock 4 hooked up. I could forget that many of these games had mobile counterparts at all. Better yet, I didn’t have to hunch over an iPhone or an iPad: I could enjoy them with the full glory of my 4K television from the comfort of my couch.

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