Tuesday, October 2, 2018

How Do I Create Multiple MacOS Volumes or Partitions on an SSD or Hard Drive with APFS?

Generally, when you have an SSD or hard drive formatted with the new Apple File System (APFS), you only want a single partition on it. You can then create multiple "volumes" within that partition. These volumes act just like partitions, except they share a single partition's space among themselves as needed. This avoids the kind of wasted space you always get with multiple drive partitions and their rigid size allocations.

The problem comes when you want to place more than one copy of a recent MacOS version on the drive -- say, both High Sierra and Mojave, or even duplicates of either one for testing or easy backup. An APFS volume with MacOS installed is accompanied in that same partition by three hidden, associated volumes, including the Recovery volume. Place another MacOS volume in that partition, and your system and utilities can become confused.

So, in this case, you do have to partition the drive instead of adding volumes. But on trying to, you may run into quirks and bugs in MacOS and Disk Utility, and possibly in your cloning app.

I'm no expert on this, but after trying several schemes and finally succeeding, I'll tell you the way things look to me. Keep in mind, though, that some conclusions may apply only to my own hardware and software setup. I was using Disk Utility and SuperDuper in High Sierra on a 2010 Mac Pro, and one of the SSDs was years old, branded by Apple itself.

-- If an APFS partition has multiple volumes, you can't use Disk Utility functions on ANY of them unless you're booted from a volume in that partition. If you're not, Disk Utility can't unmount them.

-- Because of the hidden volumes, you cannot reliably place a second MacOS volume within an APFS partition. Though you can boot from either one, this caused a freeze for me when running Disk Utility First Aid on the second one.

-- Again because of the hidden volumes, you cannot reliably create a second APFS partition by splitting one that already hosts a MacOS volume. This too caused a freeze during Disk Utility First Aid.

-- You cannot copy MacOS between one volume and another in the same partition if it contains the boot volume, because the Recovery volume is locked. (Thanks to Dave Ninian of Shirt Pocket for the explanation.)

-- At least in some cases, APFS partitions have minimum sizes -- a fact I have not seen mentioned anywhere. A partition with a MacOS volume must be at least 240GB, even in the absense of backup snapshots. How this minimum is affected by other types and numbers of volumes in the partition, I haven't tested.

So, after all that, what CAN you count on doing? I believe the most reliable plan is to set up the drive with one APFS partition for each MacOS copy you'll need, and to do it BEFORE you clone MacOS into any of them. Make each partition at least 240GB.

And if the drive already hosts a MacOS volume? Boot into that volume, then try to partition the disk with one or more new, NON-APFS volumes. For instance, for Format on the new partitions, tell Disk Utility to use MacOS Extended (Journaled), the format of Apple's old file system, HFS+. Then once those partitions are created, use Disk Utility again to erase each of them with the APFS format instead.

Either of these methods will create APFS partitions with NO hidden volumes to start with. Then, when you clone MacOS into them, the hidden volumes will be created correctly, and you should have no trouble at all.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

What Do I Do Since My Adobe Creative Cloud Desktop Failed to Update on my Mac?

Adobe installers and updaters and authorization schemes have always been the pits, and I recently had another major run-in with them. I'd read about another round of updates for the Creative Cloud apps, and I fired up the CC desktop app to collect them. What I got instead was the desktop app itself trying and failing to update itself, with this message:

"Creative Cloud desktop failed to update (Error code: 1001)."

There was a Cancel button, which led to another screen allowing me to retry the installation or quit. So, I tried again . . . and again . . . and again. Each time I got the same error message, and always at the 43% mark. And unfortunately, the "install or quit" screen gave no other option. In other words, there was no way to bypass the desktop update and go on to updating the other apps. If I couldn't update the desktop, I couldn't update anything.

Following Adobe's instructions, I then uninstalled the desktop app and reinstalled with the downloaded installer found at


No dice. Same error, still at around 43% -- though this time the progress was shown as being divided between download and installation. The error occurred right at the beginning of installation.

So, I went to Adobe's next level of instructions. I removed the app again, but this time with the CC Cleaner Tool. Well, maybe I did something wrong, and maybe I didn't, but it removed ALL my CC apps -- and the desktop app STILL wouldn't install. So, with no way of downloading the apps again through the CC desktop, I wound up restoring everything with Time Machine. And that included the outdated desktop app itself, since without it, the apps' authorization scheme would eventually shut them all down.

OK, time to start surfing the Web. I spent hours over a period of weeks. I tried nuking a multitude of files and folders mentioned as possibly related to the problem, and others I found on my own. I even tried repairing permissions -- something not easy to do in recent versions of Mac OS. Still failing at 43%.

At one point, I figured maybe I could bypass the desktop app entirely, and sure enough, I learned I could download the individual CC apps from Adobe's Web site. So, I downloaded Photoshop and installed it -- and discovered they'd given me a version that was half a year old. That was older than the version I'd replaced! Again, I had to go to Time Machine to restore.

At last I found an Adobe forum participant, Brucgovn, who had posted about reinstalling the desktop app and turned out to know what he was talking about. Actually, his recommended procedure included more than was needed -- including using the CC Cleaner Tool -- but his post did identify possible problem folders that I hadn't seen mentioned anywhere else.

Removing all his specified folders -- nothing more -- finally made it possible to reinstall the desktop app with the downloaded installer. And then the desktop app updated all the rest. (Including Camera Raw, to a buggy version I wound up having to revert.)

So, here they are -- the folders I removed from my boot volume to fix the error. Keep in mind that your problem might not be identical, so this list might not be enough for you. But at least it will give you a better starting point than I had. (The Adobe Sync folder was not in Brucgovn's instructions -- and I didn't remove it this final time -- but it's another one replaced by the desktop installer, so it probably belongs on the list.)

/Applications/Adobe Creative Cloud
/Applications/Utilities/Adobe Creative Cloud
/Applications/Utilities/Adobe Application Manager
/Applications/Utilities/Adobe Sync
/Library/Application Support/Adobe/AAMUpdater
/Library/Application Support/Adobe/AdobeApplicationManager
/Library/Application Support/Adobe/OOBE
/Users/[Your Username]/Library/Application Support/Adobe/AAMUpdater
/Users/[Your Username]/Library/Application Support/Adobe/OOBE

You should also remove Applications and Utilities folders with names like "Adobe Creative Cloud 8.55.06 AM." These are just useless leftovers from failed installations.

Since there's no guarantee this list will work in your case, be sure to retain a copy of each folder, so you can restore it if something goes wrong. That includes preserving all folder and file permissions, because the files might not work otherwise! Ways that will preserve them include backing up to Time Machine, leaving the folders in place but renaming them, and even dragging to the Trash, where you can later use the right-click menu command "Put Back" -- unless, of course, you've emptied the Trash in the meantime.

Good luck!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

"How Can I Extend the Range of My iPhone's Personal Hotspot with Airport?"

I recently had this question myself but couldn't find any answer that was reasonably non-geeky, even when it didn't deny the possibility outright -- so I had to invent one. The trick is to extend your hotspot as a separate, alternate wi-fi network, not try to connect it to your primary one! To do this, I used an old Airport Express I had lying around.

Also, note I was using AirPort Utility on my Mac, not on my iPhone -- though you can probably do it with the iOS version, too. Of course, you'll need a data plan from your carrier.

First, in your iPhone Settings, make sure Wi-Fi, Cellular, and Personal Hotspot are all turned on. Now follow the directions shown in Settings under Personal Hotspot to join the network with your Mac over wi-fi. (In your iPhone Settings, you can change the wi-fi password, if you like.) The easiest way to switch wi-fi networks on the Mac is on the menu bar, so make sure your Network Preferences are set to "Show Wi-Fi status" there. Also, when you switch to the hotspot network, be sure to tell your Mac to "remember" the network, so you don't have to reenter the password next time.

Now take your AirPort device and reset it. On my AirPort Express, the procedure is to unplug it, plug it back in, and depress the Reset button with a paper clip end for about five seconds, till the amber light flashes rapidly. (To reach the button, I plugged the device in upside down.)

Finally, open Airport Utility. Your AirPort device should show up under "Other Wi-Fi Devices" on the home screen a minute or two after the reset. Select the device and follow the directions to set it up automatically to join your iPhone's wi-fi network. (If you're given a different network choice by default, click the button for "Other Options.") Be sure to set up for secure login, using the wi-fi password from iPhone's Settings.

If all goes well, that should do it! After the AirPort device's restart, you should see the device on the AirPort Utility home screen with a nice green light beside it. Now you can easily switch your Mac back and forth between the hotspot and your primary wi-fi network -- and with the password, so can any other computer or mobile device within your newly extended range. To deal with the added battery drain on your iPhone, you can keep it plugged in to charge while the hotspot is active.

Update -- July 17, 2017

As I've discovered, things get a bit more complicated if you're trying to set this up while your regular wi-fi is down, if you don't have a data plan in place. That's because, without exising wi-fi, you can't use the T-Mobile app to get the plan!

If you get stuck this way, you can add funds to your account by calling *ADD and going through the automated system. Then call T-Mobile's customer service to buy the plan. (Or maybe the T-Mobile app will work if you turn on Wi-Fi Assist in the iPhone's Cellular settings -- but I haven't had a chance to try that yet.)

Sunday, February 12, 2017

"For Adobe InDesign CS5 or CS6, How Do I Fix Crashing on Exit, Disappearing Text, Disappearing Menu Fonts, and Limited Undos in El Capitan or Later?"

There are good reasons to resist the siren call of Adobe Creative Cloud, especially when relying on an Adobe app like InDesign that produces files in a proprietary format. If you stop your subscription -- ever -- you may not be able to access the files you created while subscribed. The price of sticking with an older version, though, is that you must contend with dwindling support from Adobe.

InDesign users have been facing this for a while now with versions CS5 and CS6. Crashes on exit, text disappearing when any is selected, font names disappearing from menus, and undos being limited to one or two, have become standard occurrences. Fortunately, these problems have fixes, though some may cost you.

Let's start with crashes on exit, a problem with InDesign CS5 (and Illustrator CS5 too). This is actually a new manifestation of a recurrent problem with Adobe apps: Adobe sets them to automatically access a server on the Internet that Adobe then eventually decommissions. The app can't access the missing server, so it crashes.

The solution is to stop InDesign CS5 from trying to access the server. The trick, though, is to do it permanently. You can find a number of methods on the Web involving deleting or renaming Adobe support files or cache files, but they only work till the app restores those files, which it does automatically.

Still, there's a simple way to do it. First, shut down InDesign CS5 and any other CS5 app. From your root drive -- not your User directory -- go to Library > Application Support > Adobe. (The Library directory is normally hidden, but you can reach it through the Finder's Go menu if you press the Option key.) Find the folder CS5ServiceManager and drag it to the trash.

Now, here's the important part. In a text editor like TextEdit or BBEdit, create an empty text file -- a file with no content. Name it "CS5ServiceManager" -- the same as the folder you trashed -- and move it to the same folder -- Library > Application Support > Adobe. With this empty file in place of its support folder, InDesign will no longer be able to attempt online access, and it won't crash again.

Why does this work while other prescribed fixes don't? Because when InDesign tries to overwrite your empty file with the proper folder of support files, MacOS won't let it. A file can overwrite a file, and a folder can overwrite a folder, but a folder is not allowed to overwrite a file!

OK, that deals with the crashes. But what about the other wonkiness? This seems to be due to obsolete memory handling in this fairly old software -- obsolescence that MacOS versions starting with El Capitan no longer accommodate. And no, increasing the memory on your computer won't help, as I learned from expensive experiment.

It took Adobe about a year to fix this for Creative Cloud customers -- which seems about typical for Adobe's lethargic customer support nowadays. But complaining owners of previous versions have regularly been told in  forums that Adobe would NEVER fix it for them, because those versions are no longer supported. The only solution, supposedly, was to subscribe to Creative Cloud.

Fortunately, this was only half-true. Yes, InDesign CS5 is completely unsupported and will never be fixed. And yes, no new features are being added to InDesign CS6. But Adobe HAS supported InDesign CS6 to the extent of keeping it functional on later MacOS versions. So, when InDesign CC got its fix for these memory problems, so did InDesign CS6.

If you're having these problems with InDesign CS6, the simple solution is to go to InDesign's Help menu and check for updates. Sad to say, if you're using InDesign CS5, the only solution really is to update -- but if you don't want Creative Cloud, you can update to InDesign CS6 (then install its available updates.) Adobe itself has stopped selling it, though, so you'll have to find it elsewhere, new or used.

A quick note about moving from InDesign CS5 to CS6: I resisted this for a long time, because CS6 seemed much buggier. But most of that bugginess is now gone, and I appreciate this version's improved display of graphics. One big sticking point for me was CS6 opening document windows partially under panels. But it turned out I just had to select "Application Frame" from the Window menu to stop this.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

"How Can I Get Back My POP Mail and SMTP in Apple Mail Under El Capitan?"

Apple has a compulsion to improve things. The problem is, they don't seem to care if that breaks the things they've improved.

A case in point is POP mail and SMTP in Apple Mail for El Capitan. In case you don't know, POP mail -- or POP3 mail -- is an older email protocol for receiving email. Nowadays, it's mostly replaced by IMAP, but some of us still prefer it. SMTP is used for email sending. For security, both depend on another protocol called SSL, which is used to encrypt email and account sign-ins.

It's SSL that Apple decided to tinker with, perhaps to enforce some obscure requirement that most people considered optional. Anyway, the upshot was that POP and SMTP accounts of mine that had been working flawlessly were suddenly unable to connect.

My emergency solution was to turn off SSL for each POP and SMTP account in Preferences. That also meant changing the ports, since non-SSL email is generally handled by different ones. The specific port changes I made for my service were typical ones: for POP, 995 to 110, and for SMTP, 465 to 587. (For some reason, the SMTP port numbers kept reverting after saving, so I had to fiddle with them and redo them till they stuck.) I also had to change preferences to allow "insecure authentication."

But obviously, this would never do as a permanent arrangement -- and I could do it temporarily only because I was on a secure network. You really don't want to broadcast your email account passwords. So, my next step was to query my email service provider and ask if they could come up with a fix.

I still don't know exactly what the problem was, but this is how they told me they fixed it: "I made a very small tweak to the server config to only allow TLS1 and SSLv3." So, if you have the same problem, you might want to suggest this solution to your service provider. For me, it worked perfectly.

By unwelcome coincidence, my POP account for Google Mail also stopped connecting after the upgrade to El Capitan. In this case, though, it was apparently not so much Apple's fault as Google's. Signing into Google Mail in my browser, I found they had courteously provided an email telling me why my connection had been refused -- an email, of course, that they hadn't let me download.

And what did Google say was wrong? Using Apple Mail for Gmail, I was told, was less secure than using a Google app. So, to keep using it, I had to go to a linked page and tell Google that it was OK to use a less secure app!

Which I did. And now it works just fine -- and as securely as it ever did.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

"Why Won't Mobile Safari Write Cookies for My Web Site?"

Probably because, as I was, you're triggering your cookie Javascript with "onunload" or "onbeforeunload." That won't work on Safari for iPad or iPhone.

Modern browsers work differently from older ones -- they want to save your page off-screen, or "cache" it, rather than unload it completely. In some browsers, your use of "onunload" or "onbeforeunload" rules out caching, leading to slower performance for your site. Safari on iOS, on the other hand, caches the page anyway and just ignores your script!

The solution is simple. In place of "onunload" or "onbeforeunload," use "onpagehide." That's right, just substitute that one term for either of the other two. Then your script will be triggered whenever the page is unloaded OR just cached. Not only will Safari now write your cookies, but this will speed up navigation back to your page in all other modern browsers!

By the same token, you may want to replace "onload" with "onpageshow." But not always. "Onpageshow" will trigger whenever a page is loaded OR just retrieved from cache. But if the page is just retrieved, it returns in its previous state, so onload functions may not be needed or wanted. In that case, you should leave those functions in "onload," while moving any others to "onpageshow."

The biggest disadvantage to using the new triggers is that older browsers won't recognize them. That includes Internet Explorer before version 11. If that's important to you, you can design your JavaScript to revert to the older triggers for older browsers. (But I haven't bothered.)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

"Why Do I Lose Email Messages When I Import Mailboxes from Thunderbird or Postbox to Apple Mail?"

Apple Mail uses a more restrictive standard than Thunderbird or Postbox do when looking for the start of a new message, so it simply misses many or most of them. On one attempted mailbox import, I saw the message count drop about 95%! The scary part is, if I hadn't checked the count in Postbox against the count in Mail, I might not even have realized I'd lost anything.

Eudora Mailbox Cleaner, a commonly recommended solution for importing from Thunderbird to Mail, did exactly the same thing, for the exact same message count. (I ran it on Snow Leopard Server in a virtual machine.)

So, how do you import without loss? I'm going to make this very simple for you. Use Weird Kid Software's Emailchemy, a brilliant app for converting from one email format to another. In the Preferences, on the "Standard mbox" tab, select "Relaxed" for "Compliance to mbox standard when reading." I also suggest you choose "UNIX and Mac OS X: LF" for "Output Newline Characters."

Then just choose to convert your mailboxes from "Thunderbird" to "Apple Mail 1.0." On the same mailbox I mentioned above, with almost 9,000 messages, Emailchemy recognized all but three, and Apple Mail showed that same number after import. Good enough!