Cocktail is a general purpose utility for OS X that lets you clean, repair and optimize your Mac. It is a powerful digital toolset that helps hundreds of thousands of Mac users around the world get the most out of their computers every day.

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Securely dispose old storage media

If you’ve been using FileVault from the time you set up your Mac, that encryption is extremely strong, and erasing the drive deletes the passphrase-protected encryption key. That makes the contents effectively irretrievable, and no additional erasure is needed for an SSD or HDD. If you didn’t use FileVault, here are your options.

HDDs

Unless you’re dealing with secrets that would lead to the overthrow of governments, using Disk Utility’s secure erase feature meets the mark. HDDs can also be physically destroyed with a drill equipped with a bit suitable for puncturing the metal casing. A hammer and chisel could work, too. If you have a dead HDD and if you think anyone with motivation might pay to have the data recovered, physical destruction is the only way to ensure data isn’t readable.

SSDs

Data is written in an unpredictable fashion on SSDs to distribute the wear across all the memory cells in the solid-state device. As a result, a secure erase feature doesn’t work at all, as it may not overwrite all the data. Physical destruction is really the only course of action, which is an unfortunate waste of technology. And if you have a Mac in which the SSD isn’t removable, but part of the computer, that’s even worse.

RAM

Fortunately, the various kinds of RAMs used by generations of Macs are all volatile memory: the contents disappear instantly or shortly after a device is powered down. So far, there’s no way to recover any traces of data from RAM chips.

Use natural language expressions to create alerts with Reminders

One of the good things about Reminders app is that it allows you to set due dates and times with each task you enter. You can set these times and dates manually, or you can use natural language expressions with the app to set up your time-sensitive tasks a lot more quickly. Here’s how to do it.

Launch Reminders and select a list of reminders you want to add tasks to, or create an entirely new list. Then, click on the little Plus icon in the upper right; this should create a spot for you to make a new reminder. Now, type in your natural language request, like "Meeting with John tomorrow at 11:30".

Reminders will create the actual task, but will also set up a notification to let you know when the event is about. You don't have to create the reminder, select the info button, and put in the details one at a time.

 

Move Photos library to a new location

Posted in Photos Tips & Tricks

Need to move your Photos library to a new location? No problem, it's easily done.

First you need to physically copy the picture library to the new location, and then you have to tell Photos where the new location is. Here's how to do this:

• Go to the Pictures folder (in your home directory) and locate the "Photos Library" package
• Copy the "Photos Library" package to the new destination by dragging and dropping it to the desired location
• Hold the Option (Alt) key down and launch Photos
• Find the Photos Library in the list or click the "Other Library…" button to manually navigate to the new location and then click the "Choose" button

Now Photos will use the library you have specified in the new location. Be aware that if the library is located on an an external hard drive and you launch Photos without that drive connected, your images won’t be available.

 

Apple launches new privacy portal

Posted in General Security

Apple has today launched its new Data and Privacy website, allowing Apple users to download everything that Apple personally associates with your account, from Apple ID info, App Store activity, AppleCare history to data stored in iCloud like photos and documents. This is currently only available in European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland to comply with GDPR, but will roll out worldwide in the coming months.

The new online tools allow customers to get a copy of all data associated with an Apple ID. You can request account details and sign-in records and data such as contacts, calendars, notes, bookmarks, reminders, photos and documents. Apple also stores info like app usage statistics for Apple Music and Game Center, a purchase history of items bought from the App Store and iTunes Store, AppleCare support history and marketing records. 

Only data that is personally identifiable can be found here. This can all be downloaded with a few simple clicks on the privacy portal. To obtain a copy of your data:

1. Log in to privacy.apple.com.
2. Select the "Get started" link under the "Get a copy of your data" heading.
3. Tick the boxes of the categories of data you want to download (iCloud Photos, Mail and Drive are separated into a separate list as this data may be exceptionally large).
4. Press Continue.
5. Select what is your preferred maximum file size (Apple will split up the data into chunks, up to a maximum of 25 GB) and press Continue.

Your data request is now in progress. Data like iCloud Photos will take a long time to generate as there are potentially tens of gigabytes of files. It can take up to a week to prepare the downloads. Apple notifies you when the data is ready to download, and it is automatically deleted after 2 weeks.

Apple says it provides all data in standards-compatible formats. This means it can be used as a way to move all your data to a new cloud service, as well as transparently showing customers what data Apple keeps on you.

Whilst these features will roll out later in the year for other regions, all customers can request data corrections, deactivate or delete their account. You can do this by following the links on the main page.

Deactivation means that Apple will stop processing any data relating to your Apple ID. You will not be able to access any store purchases from iTunes, iBooks or the App Store. You will not be able to access any iCloud data, or use iCloud services like FaceTime or iMessage (see here for more conditions about account deactivation). You are literally cutting yourself off from the Apple connected world. Apple will verify all deactivation requests to prevent abuse. Apple doesn’t delete your info, it just stops anyone - including Apple - from accessing it whilst the account is deactivated. You can re-enable the account by logging back in to the privacy portal and choosing to reactivate it.

Permanent deletion takes this one step further, essentially asking Apple to remove all data they have stored on you - forever. This process is not reversible once initiated.

Monitor your Mac with Activity Monitor

There is a whole jungle of apps out there that show you the status of your computer in the menu bar, on your desktop or in the Dock, but did you know that the best tool of them all comes with macOS?

Activity Monitor is an application that allows you to monitor exactly what is going on with your computer at all times by showing you how much memory, cpu, network and disk space is currently being used. It can also show you which application is using the resources and it allows you to quickly kill a process that is going haywire or has stopped responding.

The handiest feature of all is that it can show the status in the Dock so that you can quickly see if something has gone wrong and prevent crashes. Open up Activity Monitor (in Utilities inside Applications), then select the type of information you want from the View, Dock Icon menu. To make the most of this we’d recommend setting Activity Monitor to automatically launch when you log in. This is done by right clicking the icon in the Dock and choosing Options, Open at Login.

Keeping Activity Monitor in the Dock also has all sorts of unexpected benefits, for example it is very handy if you feel that your computer is getting slow. Most Macs that are kept in good shape can live for many years and still be as fast as the day they were purchased. The key to this? Keep an eye on the memory usage.

If all the memory is being used up soon after booting up your computer macOS will start using the hard drive to give you more memory than what is physically available (this is called swapping). The catch is, swap memory is much much slower than real RAM memory so you will notice this by feeling that the computer gets much slower. The solution? Use Cocktail to purge inactive memory (System > Memory), try cleaning up the applications that run in the background or install more memory.

Activity Monitor can also help you debug other problems. Battery life is directly dependent on how much load there is on the processor so if the battery in your laptop doesn’t last as long as you expect, have a look at how the processor is being used. Generally, to get anywhere near Apple’s specified battery life you should be around 10-20% usage so if the processor is averaging more than that some process is draining your battery.