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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Time Machine and APFS

macOS High Sierra contains many new features and capabilities, but APFS (Apple File System) is certainly one of the biggest changes. Changing the primary file system used by the Mac is a big deal. And like any big deal, there’s a lot to understand about how APFS will work with existing Mac apps and services, including Time Machine.

In its current incarnation, the Time Machine app is mostly compatible with APFS; that is, you can back up an APFS formatted drive using Time Machine, as well as restore files from a Time Machine backup to an APFS formatted drive. However, there are some very important caveats that Time Machine users should be aware of.

Time Machine drives must be formatted in HFS+ (a file system released with Mac OS 8.1 in 1998 and found on every version of macOS since then). Time Machine uses the magic of hard links, a feature that HFS+ file systems have to catalog and keep track of which files in a backup make up the current version of an app, document, or directory.

APFS, on the other hand, does not support hard links. When you convert an HFS+ formatted volume to APFS, any hard links found during the conversion process are automatically changed to symbolic links, thus breaking your Time Machine backup into a collection of almost useless files.

Luckily, installing macOS High Sierra won’t automatically convert Time Machine drives to APFS, but it’s possible to accidentally change the drive’s format to APFS from within Disk Utility. You’d think Disk Utility would detect the Time Machine backup and stop you, but it doesn’t. You can also convert a drive to APFS without macOS warning if you use the Finder option to encrypt a drive in High Sierra (macOS will convert the format to APFS before encrypting the drive).

If you do accidentally convert a Time Machine drive to APFS, the Time Machine app will no longer recognize the drive as a backup drive. If you select the old Time Machine drive within the Time Machine app as a backup destination, you’ll be confronted with an option to erase all of the content on the selected drive and reformat it as HFS+.

Until Apple releases a new version of Time Machine that makes use of the APFS feature set, such as snapshots to replace file linking, your Time Machine backup must remain formatted as HFS+.

Using the "Go to Folder..." command

The Finder's Go > "Go to Folder..." (Shift-Command-G) menu item is a nifty way to access your file system.

The Finder's Go > "Go to Folder..." (Shift-Command-G) menu item is a nifty way to access your file system.

First of all, you can use it to see hidden folders, so if you need to view /private/var, you don't have to open a Terminal window to do so.

Secondly, the "Go to Folder" window is an excellent place to paste a path rather than clicking around to get to a deeply nested folder. I use this pretty often when I'm troubleshooting. After all, if Apple's support documentation tells you to open ~/Library/Mail/V2/MailData to access a file within it, it's very quick to just copy that path and paste it into the window.

To make typing stuff in even faster, the "Go to Folder" window allows tab completion (just as Terminal does), and it tries to autofill as you type, as well. So if you type in ~/Doc and then wait for a moment, your Mac will attempt to figure out the destination and fill it in for you.

Important to note is that you aren't just limited to using "Go to Folder" within the Finder itself. The same keyboard shortcut can be used to invoke it within Open/Save dialogs, too.

 

Restart and shut down keyboard shortcuts

You can use these keyboard shortcuts to shut down or restart Macs that have a keyboard with an Eject key. If you have a computer without an Eject key, simply replace the Eject key with the Power Button in the tips below.

Please note that key names are separated by a hyphen (-), such as "Control-Eject". You do not type the hyphen as part of the key combination.

Control-Eject
The dialog box "Are you sure you want to shut down your computer now?" appears with options to Restart, Sleep, Cancel or Shut Down. After the dialog appears, press the R key to Restart, press the S key to Sleep, press the Esc key to Cancel, or press the Return key to Shut Down.

Control-Command-Eject
Quits all applications (after giving you a chance to save changes to open documents) and restarts the computer.

Control-Option(Alt)-Command-Eject
Quits all applications (after giving you a chance to save changes to open documents) and shuts the computer down.

Command-Option(Alt)-Eject
Puts the computer to sleep.

Shift-Control-Eject
Puts all displays to sleep.

Power Button (if the computer is not responding)
Press and hold the power button on the computer for six seconds to shut down the computer.

Automate Cocktail

One of Cocktail’s most useful features is the built in Pilot you can use to schedule optimizations of your computer. But that’s not all, Cocktail also lets you use Apple’s Automator to build your own workflows that can be more flexible and a great complement to the Pilot.

First, let’s get to know Automator, Apple’s excellent automation tool. Automator let’s you build workflows in a “Lego” fashion using simple actions, which you can chain together to create really complex applications without having to learn how to code. For example you can use it to resize, rename and upload pictures to your blog or to automatically sort files using Folder Actions. In this example we’re going to do something relatively simple to show how easy it is to interact with Cocktail and other applications to create fast and powerful workflows.

First, a little bit of background knowledge about what we are trying to do. Have you ever used a USB drive with macOS, then plugged it into a Windows computer only to find a bunch of .DS_Store files? macOS creates these files and uses them to keep track of the folder icon, background and other things. Normally they are hidden from the user, however, when you plug the USB drive into a Windows computer they show up since Windows doesn’t understand what a DS Store file is. This can very quickly get very messy and confusing, so let’s use Cocktail to clean it up!

What we are going to do is create a service for Finder. Services allows you to expand the functionality of Finder and virtually every other application in macOS using Automator. In this case it will add an option to the menu when you right click a folder that lets you clean up all the DS Store files inside. 

To do this, open Automator (in Applications) and when it asks you for what type of workflow you want to create, select Service. Automator will create a template for a workflow which can receive a number of different inputs from applications and lets you process these. In this case we want to deal with folders in Finder so make sure it says “Service receives selected folders in Finder” in the top of the right hand pane. 

On the left side of the Automator window you have the library which contains the building blocks for the workflows. We definitely recommend that you explore these actions when you have time but for now lets carry on with our example. Select the Files & Folders category in the Library, then drag the “Delete DS Store Files” action into the workflow area on the right. When you drag it into the workflow area a few more options will appear, in this case we’d like it to search the subfolders on the drive too so make sure you tick the checkbox. When you’re done, save the service and name it “Delete DS Store Files”.

Voila, we’re done! Plug in a USB drive, then right click it and select Delete DS Store Files from the menu. Now go to a Windows computer and magically your USB drive will be a little cleaner! This works on any folder or drive so if you are emailing a folder to a friend who’s using Windows, you can clean it up the same way.

Automator lets you do much more than this, for example you can make your own maintenance scripts which you can run whenever you want by saving them as small applications (just select Application instead of Service when you create a new workflow).

 

Get high quality Apple hardware icons for free

A large collection of high resolution Apple hardware icons is bundled right in macOS, including great icons for nearly all vaguely recent Mac models, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Apple TV, iMac, Mac Mini, Mac Pro, and much more, going all the way back to the G4 series.

To access the hidden hardware icon pack:

• From the Finder's Go menu choose "Go to Folder" and enter the following path:

/System/Library/CoreServices/CoreTypes.bundle/Contents/Resources/

• Scroll down until you start finding .icns files named “com.apple” followed by the hardware name

Many of these icons are what you find when using network sharing with a computer they match, but they also make for an excellent way to dress up your matching Mac, for example by replacing the generic Macintosh HD icon or anything else.