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#1436: What’s new in iOS 12’s Photos, Mojave’s Dark Mode and Continuity Camera, Safari 12 crashes Sierra’s Spotlight

Explore the new features of macOS 10.14 Mojave and iOS 12 with TidBITS this week! But first, for those still running macOS 10.12 Sierra, Safari 12 is causing Spotlight to crash—we have the fix. Back in Mojave, we look first at Dark mode, which may or may not be compelling for your eyes, and then examine the new Continuity Camera feature that lets you scan documents or take photos with an iOS 12 device straight to your Mac. Finally, Jeff Carlson reviews the new features of Photos in iOS 12, which are designed to encourage you to engage with and share your photos more. Notable Mac app releases this week include SoundSource 3.1.1, Transmit 5.2, Ulysses 14, Live Home 3D 3.4, VMware Fusion 11, 1Password 7.2, Agenda 2.4, Apple Configurator 2.8.1, ScreenFlow 8.1, SuperDuper 3.2, Banktivity 7.0.1, and Logic Pro X 10.4.2.

Adam Engst 29 comments

Safari 12 Crashes Spotlight in Sierra—Here’s the Fix

If you’re still running macOS 10.12 Sierra and have upgraded to Safari 12, you may have noticed Spotlight crashing when you invoke it with Command-Space and start typing a search term. Thanks to TidBITS reader Christopher Stone for alerting us to the problem, which other readers have since confirmed and which has been discussed in the Apple Support Communities. The crashes may not occur on every use of Spotlight, perhaps due to the specifics of individual searches. The problem is limited to those using Sierra and Safari 12; it doesn’t occur with any other version of macOS or Safari.

Our friend Matt Neuburg shared one way to avoid the crashes if you’re only searching for files—use the Search field in Finder windows instead. But there’s another workaround that eliminates the crashes entirely with only a small hit to Spotlight’s capabilities. Open System Preferences > Spotlight > Search Results, and deselect the Bookmarks & History category.

Screenshot of the Spotlight preference pane

Presumably, doing that prevents Spotlight from searching through Safari 12’s bookmarks and history, and something in that data is causing  Spotlight in Sierra to choke. We anticipate that Apple will fix this in the next update to Safari.

Adam Engst Josh Centers 9 comments

Explore the Dark Side of Mojave: Understanding, Enabling, and Customizing Dark Mode

Do you find your Mac’s screen too bright for comfort, even after you’ve dropped the brightness setting in System Preferences > Displays? Apple has been sensitive to lighting issues for years, enabling the Mac to adjust screen brightness automatically to match ambient light and adding Night Shift to shift the colors of the display after dark. On the MacBook Pro, even the keyboard is backlit for easier typing in the dark, and it too can adjust its brightness in low light. And in previous versions of macOS, there was an option to make the menu bar and Dock dark.

More significant than these options, though, is macOS 10.14 Mojave’s Dark mode, the first major visual change in macOS in a long time. Apple promotes it generally, saying:

Dark Mode is a dramatic new look that helps you focus on your work. The subtle colors and fine points of your content take center screen as toolbars and menus recede into the background. Switch it on in the General pane in System Preferences to create a beautiful, distraction-free working environment that’s easy on the eyes — in every way.

It’s not clear that Dark mode is a win for everyone, but light-sensitive people such as Josh are thrilled by Dark mode because it radically reduces the amount of light coming from the screen.

Dark mode is easy to turn on and off in System Preferences > General, where you can click Dark or switch back to the traditional look with a click on Light. There’s no shortcut for switching, but developer Benjamin Kramser has just released NightOwl, a menu bar utility that makes switching easy and also provides a schedule for automated switching, much like Night Shift. That might be helpful if your work environment is light during the day, but dark at night, when a bright screen may be less comfortable.

Light vs Dark mode.

When you switch into Dark mode, macOS immediately swaps dark text on light backgrounds for light text on dark backgrounds, changing the menu bar, windows, interface elements, and more in the Finder and supported apps. As you can tell by the increased number of releases in our Software Watchlist, developers have jumped on Dark mode with enthusiasm, so nearly every app that claims Mojave compatibility is specifying support for Dark mode. Older apps won’t gain Dark mode support without an update.

Josh has made a video showing how to turn it on, and offering some examples of how it looks. Even though not every app supports it, it still makes a big difference!

Precisely what aspects of an app get dark is another question, however, and this is one of Dark mode’s challenges. Open a new document in TextEdit or Pages while in Dark mode, and while the toolbar and controls will all be dark, the content area will be the same bright white that it always was before. Same with Safari and many Web sites. Worse, the contrast between a bright content area and dark controls is more jarring than when the controls were on a light background. Help may be available from Denk Alexandru’s Dark Mode for Safari, a $1.99 extension for Safari that gives you control over Web site themes.

Some apps have their own internal settings specific to Dark mode that let you pull back on how dark it is. For instance, when you’re in Dark mode, Mail displays a new “Use dark backgrounds for messages” checkbox in Settings > General that lets you choose between dark and light backgrounds when reading and composing messages. Similarly, when running Maps in Dark mode, you can choose View > Use Dark Map to switch the map style between the standard light style and a dark style. You’ll have to poke around in your favorite apps in Dark mode to see if they offer such adjustments.

Light Maps vs. Dark Maps.

Another challenge for Dark mode is that light text on a dark background doesn’t have nearly as much contrast, so it’s harder to see, particularly for the majority of the population that isn’t light-sensitive. If you find reading text in Dark mode difficult because it seems blurry, but you prefer the dark look otherwise, you may be able to make it more to your liking by changing the font or style to make it bigger or bolder, such as in Mail’s Settings > Fonts & Colors settings. For system-wide improvements, though, visit System Preferences > Accessibility > Display.

Adjusting Dark mode with Accessibility settings.

The Display Contrast slider here lets you make text whiter and backgrounds dark, which goes a long way to improving the readability of text. Select Reduce Transparency to make items like the Dock and menus solid, rather than allowing the background to show through slightly. And to separate dark and light even more, select Increase Contrast—it turns up the brightness on divider lines as well, which can make windows easier to interpret.

Finally, if you’re using Dark mode, you’ll probably want a dark desktop picture to keep the overall screen brightness down and avoid too much contrast with the dark windows and controls. If you look in System Preferences > Desktop & Screen Saver, you’ll find new wallpapers that won’t blow out your eyes.

Mojave's dark backgrounds.

Should you give Dark mode a try? Absolutely! It’s trivial to turn on and off again and has no lasting effect on anything apart from your retinas. Most people aren’t light-sensitive, and for them, especially during the day when room lighting is generally quite bright, the traditional look will likely be the most comfortable and easiest to read. However, if you recoil in pain from too-bright screens, particularly in dimly lit rooms, Dark mode may be a boon for your eyes. And if you have no issues with either the light or dark look of macOS, feel free to pick whichever you prefer aesthetically.

What’s your opinion of Dark mode? Let us know in this single-question survey.


Josh Centers 3 comments

How to Take Photos and Scan Documents with Continuity Camera in Mojave

One of the cool things about living in the Apple ecosystem is how your various Apple devices can interact with each other through Continuity, which includes features like auto-unlocking your Mac by wearing your Apple Watch, automatically moving copied text across devices, sharing files via AirDrop, and taking calls anywhere with Wi-Fi Calling.

In macOS 10.14 Mojave, Apple has expanded these capabilities with Continuity Camera, a new feature that lets you take pictures or scan documents with an iOS 12 device and have them immediately show up on your Mac—either on the Desktop or in a document. If you’ve ever been working on your Mac and needed to email someone a scan of a receipt that’s sitting on your desk, you’re going to love Continuity Camera.

Requirements and Controls

As with many system-level features, Continuity Camera requires explicit support in apps. Unsurprisingly, many of Apple’s apps offer Continuity Camera in Mojave, including the Finder, Mail, Messages, Notes, TextEdit, Pages, Keynote, and Numbers. I haven’t yet heard of any third-party apps that have added support, but let us know in the comments if you run across any.

Continuity Camera has a few basic requirements: the Mac and iOS device need to be on the same Wi-Fi network, have Bluetooth turned on, and they must be logged in to the same Apple ID, which must be set up with two-factor authentication. Check the Apple ID on your Mac in System Preferences > iCloud and in iOS under Settings > Your Name.

How you access Continuity Camera varies somewhat by app, but the most common way is to Control- or right-click where you want the photo or scanned document to appear. If you have only one device, you will see a subhead for the device, like iPhone X, above commands for Take Photo and Scan Documents. If you have multiple devices, you’ll see an “Import from iPhone or iPad” submenu, under which those commands will be replicated for each device.

Take Photo in the Mojave contextual menu.

In many of Apple’s apps, you’ll also see Import from iPhone as a submenu in the File menu, although that submenu moves to the Insert menu in Pages, Keynote, and Numbers. Plus, in Mail composition windows, there’s a drop-down menu on the right side of the toolbar that includes the Take Photo and Scan Documents commands.

For simplicity’s sake, I’m going to focus on importing images to the Desktop, but the process is the same regardless of whether you’re in the Finder or some other app. If you’d like to watch a quick visual guide to Continuity Camera, check out my short video that explains how to use it.

Take Photos with Continuity Camera

Here’s how to take a photo with Continuity Camera:

  1. Control-click the Desktop, and in the contextual menu, choose Import from iPhone > Take Photo.
  2. A dialog or popover (the latter in apps) appears on the Mac screen, and a simplified version of the Camera app opens on your iPhone. You don’t get many options, but you can switch between the front- and rear-facing cameras, and tap the flash The icon for camera flash. icon to turn the flash on or off, or set it to auto (the default). You can also pinch out to zoom or tap the 2x button on an iPhone with two rear-facing cameras.Prompts to take photos on macOS and iOS.
  3. Frame your subject in the viewfinder, and tap the shutter button.
  4. Tap Use Photo to save the photo to the Mac’s Desktop as a JPEG.  Or if the photo isn’t to your liking, tap Retake to try again. Note that the photo won’t appear in Photos on your iPhone.

Scan Documents with Continuity Camera

For most people, document scanning with Continuity Camera is more useful than taking photos, since you’re unlikely to need a one-off photo that you can take while sitting near a Mac. Be sure to have your document ready on a well-lit surface, and then follow these steps:

    1. Control-click the Desktop, and in the contextual menu, choose Import from iPhone > Scan Documents.
    2. You see a dialog or popover, and a Camera app variant opens on your iPhone. This one offers a few more options than Take Photo:
      • Flash: Tapping the flash The icon for camera flash. icon lets you lock the flash on or off. The default is auto.
      • Filters: Tap the Filters The filters icon in Camera. icon to choose which sort of scan to take: color, grayscale, black-and-white, or photo. The default is color.
      • Auto: By default, the scanner will snap a picture automatically when it detects a document, but tapping Auto lets you change that to manual.
    3. Once your options are set, center the document in the viewfinder, and if Auto is enabled, the iPhone will capture the image automatically.
    4. If you’re capturing the document manually, tap the shutter button. Drag the four circles to adjust the corners if necessary.
    5. If the scanner captured an image you didn’t want (as happened in my video), tap Retake to go back.
    6. Tap Keep Scan to add the scan to your queue.
    7. For a multi-page document, you can continue scanning subsequent pages. Each additional scan is added as an extra page to the document. When you’re done, tap Save to transfer your scans to your Mac as a PDF. The scanned document is not saved on the iPhone.

It’s tempting to import directly into apps, and for a quick photo or single-page scan, that should work well. However, you might prefer to import photos and scans to the Desktop first, and then drag them to their eventual destination. That approach gives you another copy of the file, which may provide more flexibility or security—you never know when you’ll need a photo or scan again.

As with many Continuity features, Continuity Camera can be fussy. Its contextual menu commands sometimes disappear, presumably due to communication lapses. Once when I was scanning, tapping the Save button did nothing—this might have been an indication of a communication failure. And another time, it just threw up its hands.

A Continuity Camera import error.

Nonetheless, we’ve found Continuity Camera to be among the most useful features of Mojave. Although we’re still recommending that most people hold off on upgrading to Mojave, once you take the leap, be sure to give Continuity Camera a try!

Jeff Carlson 17 comments

Inside iOS 12: Photos Encourages More Engagement

The iPhone has become the primary camera for many people because it’s so convenient and it takes high-quality photos. But an often overlooked factor in its popularity is the social aspect: you can share photos immediately to Instagram or Facebook, or directly with friends and family members, without first having to offload them to a computer.

Apple’s improvements to the Photos app in iOS 12 focus on the social side of modern photography, encouraging you to revisit, discover, and share images from your library. There are also a few importing and editing changes worth mentioning.

Photos For You (Yes You)

Apple has leveraged its For You feature in iTunes successfully—even though I see a lot of repetition, I still turn to it often to see what music it suggests. In iOS 12, the Photos app’s new For You screen incorporates more than just Memories, the button it replaces on the toolbar.

The For You screen in Photos on iOS 12.

Memories—those collections of photos and videos turned into an automatically generated movie—share space in For You with the following additions, which may show up in various orders:

  • Featured Photos: Photos mostly pulls these images from the pool of photos you’ve marked as Favorites, although some recently edited shots that aren’t favorited also pop up in my feed. The idea seems to be to expose you to images you liked, perhaps to bring a smile to your face or encourage you to share them. A dozen images appear in this category every day; there’s no mechanism to change or display others other than waiting to see what shows up the next day.
  • Effect Suggestions: This category takes advantage of the lighting effects in Portrait Mode photos and animation options in Live Photos (such as looping, bouncing, or smoothing the video), suggesting that you might try applying those effects for the displayed images. When you view one of the suggestions, you can jump to the photo in your library, or tap Apply to Original to add the effect without going through the editing interface. So far I’ve seen only those two types of effects, but in theory, Photos could suggest applying filters or other edits as well. Curiously, even after you apply an effect, the image stays in the Effect Suggestions row until the next day, (with an option to revert the edit if you change your mind).
    Effect Suggestions in iOS 12.
  • Shared Album Activity: The Shared category used to have its own button at the bottom of the Photos screen, but now Apple groups it in with Albums. But since For You is all about staying on top of what has happened recently, the new Shared Album Activity category reveals photos you or members of group shared albums in iCloud Photo Library have contributed recently, as well as likes or comments on those photos.
  • Sharing Suggestions and Recently Shared: Photos that include contacts you’ve identified using the People feature can show up in these two categories. More on new sharing features shortly.

It’s worth pointing out that the items in the For You screen are identical on my iPhone X and iPad Pro. Earlier versions of Photos could bring up different Memories suggestions, and facial recognition was done independently on each device. Now they’re synced through iCloud. Alas, the Photos apps in macOS 10.14 Mojave and tvOS 12 lack these For You features.


Apple shuffled the Albums screen a bit, putting My Albums and Shared Albums up top, followed by People & Places. Photos in iOS 12 more prominently lists the Media Types—videos, selfies, Portrait mode shots, and the like. A new Animated type includes Live Photos to which you’ve applied effects, along with any animated GIFs that you’ve saved to your library.

Under the Other Albums category, the app breaks out the Imports, Hidden, and Recently Deleted albums.

Sharing Suggestions and Pooling Photos

Sharing photos goes beyond just texting a selfie to a friend or posting a snapshot on social media. Have you attended an event with friends or family and wished you could see everyone else’s photos? (Apart from everyone posting them to long Facebook comment chains, that is.)

Apple has offered iCloud Shared Albums for a while, but those are more permanent and structured, requiring that you set up the album and invite people to subscribe to it. If you create several one-off shared albums, they start to clutter up the list.

Photos in iOS 12 introduces the option to share photos by sending someone a link, versus sending image files outright, but it may not work the way you expect.

You have several paths to get to this feature. The easiest is to select one or more photos, tap the Share button, and tap Copy iCloud Link. Photos generates a URL and copies it to the clipboard, after which you can paste it into any text field, such as an email message or text. Following that link takes the recipient to a Web page containing thumbnails and the option to download or add the images to their iCloud Photo Library.

The more clever version of this feature is called Sharing Suggestions, and it’s triggered when people you know—more specifically, folks you’ve identified in the People feature—appear in your photos. The app also looks at the location data embedded in the images to guess events. For example, when my family and I went to the state fair a couple of weeks ago, Photos listed the location as “Washington State Fair,” not the city of Puyallup where it’s located.

When these two criteria intersect, you may see prompts to share the images under Sharing Suggestions on the For You screen. Or, in the Photos screen, you can tap the > button to the right of the date or location heading, tap the More button (•••), and choose Share Photos. If an identified person appears in any of the photos, you’re asked if you want to share with them; otherwise Photos asks if you want to share “with friends.”

Sharing Suggestions

Time for a Rant: Why Does Photos Have to Be Such a Black Box?

Before I get into the mechanics of how this works, I need to rant briefly about the opaque inner workings of the Photos app.

To test the Sharing Suggestions feature, I invited a friend who was also running iOS 12 on his iPhone to go photograph a spot in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle. Then we’d share the shots we captured, making sure we each took pictures of the other so facial recognition could kick in.

First lesson: don’t expect quick results. In the 10 or 15 minutes it took for us to walk to a nearby coffee shop, get drinks, and set up at a table, Photos didn’t recognize that there was a person in my images. Perhaps I was expecting too much, too soon; Photos puts off computationally expensive tasks like facial recognition until the device is plugged into power, so as not to drain the iPhone’s battery in the background. I understand that.

However, there’s no way in iOS to scan and identify a person manually, even just for one image. My friend Rob didn’t appear in the People album, even though other photos that include him exist in my library. If he had appeared, I could have tapped his name and hoped that Photos would find the new photos as possible matches.

Photos updating a face.

In fact, Photos in iOS and on the Mac (in this case, in 10.13 High Sierra) only wants to deal with people on its own schedule, when the device is connected to power, and preferably overnight. The Mac version of Photos is even more frustrating, telling me, “To finish updating your people, quit Photos, and make sure your Mac is connected to power.”

This is yet another example of one of my biggest gripes with the Photos app. It’s so intent on doing everything for you that it provides no way to intervene and force it to do something specific. How many times have I wanted Photos to sync with iCloud Photo Library so new images appear on my iPhone, iPad, and Mac? More than I can count. It doesn’t matter whether I’m using a cellular Internet connection, a janky coffee shop Wi-Fi network connection, or my relatively speedy home router. Photos sometimes syncs right away, and other times delays syncing until it feels like it. Impatient users can go pound sand.

In this case, I thought I could perhaps cheat the process and identify Rob in Photos on my Mac, since a mechanism exists for manually doing that (choose Window > Info with an image selected, and click the Add Faces button). The images themselves had synced, so I identified Rob in two of the images—maybe that would prime the pump?

No. Even with the Photos apps running on the iPhone and my MacBook Pro, and the iPhone plugged into a portable battery charger to eliminate battery life savings as a holdup, it took Photos more than an hour at the coffee shop before the app recognized Rob as a person. Oddly, it did so based on other photos in which Rob appeared in my library, and he didn’t show up in the People album until much later.

In short, don’t expect to pool your photos with your friends right after an event ends. This is an instance when the 3D Touch feature would come in handy: press on a face to bring up a circle to define where a person’s face is, and assign an identity. I know it’s Rob in my photo, and I should be able to tell Photos that, instead of waiting for the app to get around to asking.

Meanwhile, Back at Sharing Suggestions

With that rant out of the way, the Sharing Suggestions feature is actually pretty neat. In the For You screen, if a collection of photos includes a person and a similar timestamp and location, Photos assumes you were with that person and asks if you want to share your images with them. You can also view the option in the Photos screen by tapping the (>) button to the right of a date or location heading, tapping the blue More (•••) button, and choosing Share Photos. You can share with anyone, not just the people identified in the photos.

The Sharing Suggestion workflow.

Instead of sending image files, Photos generates an iCloud link and sends it using Messages. If the recipient is also running iOS 12, they can add your pictures—at full resolution—to their Photos library; if not, they have the option of downloading the files. When someone uses the latter option, Photos converts the HEIC originals to JPEG files.

Furthermore, if you appear in their photos, Photos asks them if they want to share their images back to you using the same Messages mechanism. Everyone involved in the conversation ends up with all of the photos from the get-together that they choose to add or download.

Note that these shared groups are active for only one month, after which the link expires, so don’t put off snagging shared photos that you want to keep.

As I said, this new sharing approach is a neat idea, but there are some problems:

  • Most annoying, even beyond the lag in identifying people mentioned above, is that there’s no attribution for who took each photo in the pool. By blending my shots with Rob’s, we ended up with a collection of photos where many of them could have been taken by him or me, and I don’t know which is which. It’s just as important to include authorship as it is to be able to combine shots. I’m amazed Apple didn’t include some owner metadata and a tag denoting it.
  • The iCloud link that’s generated applies only to the state of the photos at that time. When I edited some images (such as converting a few to black and white), those changes weren’t reflected on Rob’s iPhone. In other words, this is not an active pool of photos on an Apple server somewhere; Messages provides only the conveyance. If I click the original link that was created, in fact, none of the edits appear there either.
  • The Photos app doesn’t know that I’ve already shared those images with Rob. The following day, they appeared once again as a Sharing Suggestion, asking me if I wanted to share them with Rob.

Speaking of Messages, in iOS 12, you now share image files from your Photos library using a new Photos mini-app available under the text field. Previously, you’d tap the camera button to either take a snapshot with the camera or browse recent photos.

Search Suggestions

I’ve written several editions of Take Control of Your Digital Photos, which, at its core, is all about finding the photos we’ve put so much time and effort into capturing and storing. If we’re just stuffing images into a virtual shoebox, then what’s the point in using anything beyond Finder folders?

To that end, Apple has expanded the search capabilities in Photos for iOS. Search is now a prominent category button in the toolbar, and tapping it displays suggestions for Moments, People, Places, and Categories. The Moments and Categories options are all generated using machine learning, resulting in options such as (in my case) Summer, Dining, Sporting Events, Museum Visits, Trips, and the like. Tapping Museum Visits, for example, displays more specific options, such as names, keywords, and locations. A new Groups row reveals photos where two or more named people appear together in the same photo.

Search Suggestions in Photos.

Photos’ search is quick to display related photos and other metadata, which you can tap to refine the search. Apple says you can “combine keywords in searches… for even better results,” though this seems to be limited to choosing multiple suggested terms. Typing “California sunset” netted me nothing, but searching for “California,” tapping the first result, and then typing “sunset” did work.

Unfortunately, Photos still ignores some basic metadata included in every image file, such as camera model; if I type “Fuji” in the Search field to reveal all the photos taken with my Fujifilm X-T1, Photos comes up empty.

Import(ant) Improvements

For people who import photos from traditional digital cameras into an iPad or iPhone, this release of Photos will be a relief.

When you connect a memory card using Apple’s Lightning to SD Card Reader, Photos displays thumbnail previews in the Import screen much faster than in the past. I had pretty much stopped doing large imports to my iPad Pro because of the painful pace of just drawing those images.

You can also now specify a destination album for the images, and see how many images are selected for import, how many are on the card, and how much storage space they occupy.

How photos import works in iOS 12.

Editing Raw Images

Lastly, Apple says you can edit raw images on iPhone or iPad models with an A9 chip or later, although this claim has generated some confusion because raw support in iOS isn’t new.

Quick background: iOS has included native raw image support at the operating system level since iOS 10 appeared in 2016. Before that, if you imported a raw file directly onto an iPad or iPhone, editing it would affect only the small JPEG preview your camera creates to display a preview on its LCD.

Editing raw images in iOS 10 and later produced better results due to that raw support, but there was a twist. The Photos app in iOS 10 and iOS 11 doesn’t edit the raw image directly. Instead, the app generates a high-quality JPEG from the raw data and edits that copy.

In the Photos interface, it looks like you’re working with just a single image. And, because the edits are non-destructive, adjustment data is stored separately, such as noting that exposure is at 0.13. When Photos syncs the raw image to the Mac, the same settings apply to the actual raw image, since Photos in macOS does edit raw files directly. (See “How Raw Works on iOS,” by Nik Bhatt, formerly a lead on Apple’s Aperture and iPhoto teams and now the creator of the utility RAW Power.)

Editing raw photos on an iPhone in iOS 12.

Back to iOS 12: Since the A9, A10, and A11 processors are much more powerful than the generations before them, the Photos app can now work directly with the raw files. If my experience using an iPhone X and a 9.7-inch iPad Pro is representative, you’ll notice a short delay as Photos loads the raw file into memory, but you shouldn’t notice any other difference in editing. Photos doesn’t include any raw-specific editing tools, for instance.

There is a catch, if you shoot and import Raw+JPEG pairs (where the camera captures the raw file and also a separate JPEG image). In iOS, the Photos app edits only the JPEG portion, which may not be what you want. In Photos on the Mac, when editing a Raw+JPEG image, you can choose Image > Use RAW as Original to ensure that you’re working with the raw version.

Editing iPhone Xs Portrait Images

The only other notable change in the editing features is support for the adjustable aperture feature for Portrait mode photos in the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. When editing a Portrait shot, a control appears below the image that makes the background more or less blurry, simulating the effect you’d see when shooting at wider or narrower apertures. Turned all the way to f/16, backgrounds are mostly crisp and in focus. When set to f/1.4, the widest setting, the background becomes more blurry to enhance the separation between it and the subject.

Editing Portrait mode focus in iOS 12.

Only the iPhone XS models currently create the type of depth mask that this feature requires. However, the control does appear on some other iOS devices when editing a Portrait mode image captured with an iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max. I tested this with my iPhone X and 9.7-inch iPad Pro, and the control showed up; I don’t have an iPhone 7 Plus or iPhone 8 Plus at hand, but I suspect it might work. It did not appear on my wife’s iPhone SE.

A Parting Shot

Setting aside my criticisms, what I like about Photos in iOS 12 is Apple’s acknowledgment that our digital photos shouldn’t be stored away and forgotten as we chase the next image. Surfacing images in new ways and improving the search features keep us in touch with the reasons we took those photos in the first place. As our libraries increase in size, it’s going to be more important to capture those moments, moods, and memories.

How much—and in what ways—do you use Photos? Let us know in our quick five-question survey.


SoundSource 3.1.1 Agen Schmitz No comments

SoundSource 3.1.1

Rogue Amoeba has released SoundSource 3.1.1, adding compatibility with macOS 10.14 Mojave and bringing error reporting for the audio device permission system that Apple built into Mojave. The sound preferences tool also improves resampled audio quality and now requires a minimum of 10.11 El Capitan. SoundSource costs $10 on its own, but you’ll get a free SoundSource license if you own a license for any current version of a Rogue Amoeba macOS application. ($10 new with a 20% discount for TidBITS members, free update, 2.6 MB, release notes, macOS 10.10+)

Transmit 5.2 Agen Schmitz No comments

Transmit 5.2

Panic has released Transmit 5.2, bringing support for Dark mode in macOS 10.14 Mojave and exposing the OpenStack Swift protocol in Automator. The file transfer app also ensures that the file browser view exhibit modern drag-and-drop behavior, improves the error message displayed when connecting to SSH-based servers that do not support SFTP, fixes a bug that could keep multiple large transfers from starting on slow connections, ensures that dragging a file from Transmit to the Desktop no longer creates an extra copy, and resolves an issue where synchronization operations run from AppleScript could cause an exception. ($45 new, 69.6 MB, release notes, macOS 10.11+)

Ulysses 14 Agen Schmitz No comments

Ulysses 14

Ulysses has updated its eponymous writing app for the Mac and iOS to version 14, a major upgrade that revamps the app’s own Dark mode for macOS 10.14 Mojave. The Mac app gains a Share Menu extension that enables you to share links, texts, and images from another app into Ulysses, and the Sheet List has been given bigger titles to improve legibility. Ulysses also updated the iOS app to version 14.1 with support for Apple’s new iPhone models.

In addition, Ulysses 14 ensures that Command-clicking a link in the editor opens the link in the default browser, prevents typing of four spaces from making a tab, stops comment blocks from adding to the paragraph count, improves reliability when editing goals, and resolves crashes related to searching, merging sheets, and exporting a group containing a broken sheet.

If you have a Ulysses subscription, version 14 is available now for both the Mac and iOS editions. There is a free 14-day trial. Ulysses costs $4.99 per month or $39.99 annually for access to both Mac and iOS apps (a student discount costs $10.99 for 6 months), and it’s also included in the $9.99-per-month Setapp Mac app subscription service. ($39.99 annual subscription, free update, 22.6 MB, release notes, macOS 10.11+)

Live Home 3D 3.4 Agen Schmitz No comments

Live Home 3D 3.4

BeLight Software has released Live Home 3D 3.4 with extended import capabilities, including the addition of 3D objects in Wavefront’s OBJ file format, improving the import of COLLADA file format objects, and enabling native opening of 3D objects and projects created in Sweet Home 3D in the SH3D file format. In addition to bringing compatibility with macOS 10.14 Mojave and its Dark mode, the home design software also introduces export to SCN and SCNZ (file formats that can be used by game developers), adds 500 new objects to the built-in Library, optimizes drawing in 2D, and enables you to resize sprite objects directly on the 2D floor plan. Live Home 3D 3.4 also paves the way for the upcoming Live Home 3D for iOS, coming later in 2018 (a public beta testing has launched, and you can request access to it now). The Pro edition, which offers more tools and output options for $69.99 from BeLight and the Mac App Store, includes the same changes. ($29.99 new from BeLight and the Mac App Store, free update, 336 MB, release notes, 10.12.6+)

VMware Fusion 11 Agen Schmitz No comments

VMware Fusion 11

Making its annual appearance coinciding with a new macOS release, VMware has issued version 11 of its VMware Fusion virtualization package in both standard and Pro editions. Built for macOS 10.14 Mojave, VMware Fusion defaults to Apple’s new Enhanced Metal Graphics Rendering Engine on supported hosts and provides DirectX 10.1 compatibility. The release also updates the Application Menu, enabling you to change view modes, settings, snapshots, or launch Windows applications with a single click.

VMware Fusion 11 extends the REST API to support more networking operations, adds support for customizing the Touch Bar, and adds Finder integration at the top of the VM Window for faster navigation of a virtual machine’s folder tree. It supports all Macs launched in 2011 or later (except for the 2012 Mac Pro with the Intel Xeon W3565 processor), as well as the 2010 Mac Pro. New host and guest OS support includes Mojave, the Windows 10 October 2018 Update, Windows Server 2016 updates, and Ubuntu 18.04.1.

VMware Fusion 11 costs $79.99 for the standard edition and $159.99 for Fusion Pro. Those with Fusion 8, 8.5, and 10 licenses can upgrade for $49.99 (standard) or $119.99 (Pro). Purchases of version 10 made on or after 21 August 2018 are eligible for a free upgrade. You can download a free trial from this VMware store page. ($79.99/$159.99 new, $49/$119 upgrades, 495 MB, release notes, 10.13+)

1Password 7.2 Agen Schmitz No comments

1Password 7.2

AgileBits has released 1Password 7.2 with support for the new hardened runtime and app notarization security features in macOS 10.14 Mojave, as well as Dark mode. The password manager also now has a new Safari App Extension, providing built-in support for filling passwords and personal information within Safari, implements a 10-character password requirement for accounts, enables 1Password Preferences to be activated from 1Password mini using the Command-comma keyboard shortcut, and addresses several performance bottlenecks.

1Password uses a subscription model that provides access to apps for the Mac, iOS, Windows, and Android. Alternatively, you can buy a single-user, single-platform license from within the free trial for a one-time fee. ($64.99 standalone app from AgileBits and Mac App Store or a $2.99- or $4.99-per-month subscription (TidBITS members receive 6 months free), free update, 44.3 MB, release notes, macOS 10.12.6+)

Agenda 2.4 Agen Schmitz No comments

Agenda 2.4

Momenta has issued version 2.4 of its Agenda note-taking and task management app with support for macOS 10.14 Mojave and its new Dark mode (see “Agenda Offers a New Take on Note-Taking and Task Management,” 8 May 2018). The release also improves efficiency of importing data from Apple’s Notes, synchronizes app data when going to sleep to keep cloud data fresh, fixes a bug that would lose the URL scheme when entering links with Markdown, resolves an issue where project titles could overlap notes, fixes a rare issue where paragraphs could end up out of order, and ensures the H2 and H3 touch bar buttons are correctly placed.

Agenda is free to download and use, but you can unlock added premium features for an in-app purchase of $24.99. This purchase includes all current premium features (including calendar selection, pinning notes, saved searches, and export as Markdown or HTML), as well as any new premium features that are added in the 12 months following your purchase. (Free with $24.99 in-app premium feature purchase new, free update, 29.0 MB, macOS 10.12+)

Apple Configurator 2.8.1 Agen Schmitz 4 comments

Apple Configurator 2.8.1

Apple has released Configurator 2.8.1, the latest version of the Mac utility that schools and businesses can use to manage and deploy software to multiple iOS and tvOS devices. The update now requires macOS 10.14 Mojave, and it adds a bevy of iOS payload settings for Restrictions, providing control over proximity-based password sharing requests, password sharing and autofill, forcing automatic date and time, and the option to disable the eSIM capability of the new iPhone XR, XS, and XS Max. Other new payload settings offer additional S/MIME-related options, allow grouped notifications, and let Exchange accounts use OAuth for authentication. (Free, 64.5 MB, release notes, 10.14+)

ScreenFlow 8.1 Agen Schmitz No comments

ScreenFlow 8.1

Telestream has released version 8.1 of its ScreenFlow screencast recording and video editing app with numerous fixes and improvements following the recent major upgrade (see “ScreenFlow 8.0,” 6 August 2018). The update adds a beats-per-minute option in the Metadata/Filtering section for Stock Media, resolves an issue with SCC files getting corrupted with projects saved to Dropbox, adds the capability to make multiple templates from an existing template, fixes a bug that prevented Dark/Light mode options from being displayed in macOS 10.14 Mojave, and resolves a crash that occurred when adding an HEVC file to the timeline.

ScreenFlow costs $129, and it’s also available with the Stock Media Library subscription for $175. Those who own previous versions can upgrade for $69 from version 4, $59 from version 5, $49 from version 6, and $39 from version 7. If you purchased ScreenFlow from the Mac App Store, Telestream has details on how to upgrade. ($129 new from the Telestream Web site or the Mac App Store, upgrade pricing available, 110 MB, release notes, macOS 10.12+)

SuperDuper 3.2 Agen Schmitz 4 comments

SuperDuper 3.2

Shirt Pocket has released SuperDuper 3.2 with full support for macOS 10.14 Mojave including full disk access and automation prompting. If you’re using SuperDuper 2.7.5 or earlier, you must delete and recreate your schedules. The drive-cloning and backup app’s Smart Delete feature now works hand-in-hand with Smart Update to avoid disk-full errors. If SuperDuper encounters such an error, it uses Smart Delete to clean things up so Smart Update can continue the backup.

The update also enables automatic mounting of source and destination volumes during schedules, copies APFS boot volumes from a frozen snapshot, ensures settings selected in Finder run correctly, and displays success or failure alerts in Notification Center. (Free for basic functionality, $27.95 for additional features, free update, 17.1 MB, release notes, macOS 10.10+)

Banktivity 7.0.1 Agen Schmitz No comments

Banktivity 7.0.1

IGG Software has released Banktivity 7.0, a major upgrade for the personal finance app that provides compatibility with macOS 10.14 Mojave and its Dark mode. The new version brings some real estate improvements, including a revamped real estate view, integrating Zillow’s real estate estimating capabilities, and enabling you to link your real estate accounts with associated loans. Upping the minimum system requirements to 10.13 High Sierra, the new Banktivity also speeds up Direct Access so you can import transactions more quickly, adds a calendar view that shows your posted transactions and upcoming scheduled transactions, and improves reconciling by letting you auto-reconcile all transactions, no transactions or just cleared transactions.

Shortly after this release, IGG Software issued version 7.0.1 with minor improvements to Dark mode, a fix for a crash that could happen when updating some securities, and improvements to the Mac App Store in-app purchases.

Banktivity 7.0 costs $69.99 from IGG Software and the Mac App Store (Banktivity 6 is still available for those running 10.12 Sierra for $64.99). Customers with either a Banktivity 5 or 6 license can upgrade to version 7 for $34.99. A 30-day free trial is available from both the IGG Software Web site and the Mac App Store. ($69.99 new from IGG Software with a 20% discount for TidBITS members and from the Mac App Store, $34.99 upgrade, 21.8 MB, release notes, macOS 10.13+)

Logic Pro X 10.4.2 Agen Schmitz 6 comments

Logic Pro X 10.4.2

Apple has released Logic Pro X 10.4.2, a maintenance release with a lengthy list of minor enhancements and bug fixes for the professional audio app. The update now lets you relocate the Sound Library to an external storage device, tweaks Smart Tempo to analyze tempo data across multi-track recordings to define the Project Tempo, and lets you apply Automatic Slurs to selected notes in the Score Editor. The app also remains responsive when resizing the Key Commands window, eliminates lag when selecting tracks in large projects, adds a scroll bar to the File Tempo Editor, updates Alchemy’s additive synthesis engine for greater clarity and improved tuning stability, and fixes numerous crashes and hangs. ($199.99 new in the Mac App Store, free update, 1.45 GB, release notes, 10.12+)


Mojave Won’t Install on Some 2012 iMacs with Boot Camp Josh Centers No comments

Mojave Won’t Install on Some 2012 iMacs with Boot Camp

If you have a 27-inch iMac (Late 2012) with a 3 TB hard drive, Apple says you must remove any Boot Camp partitions with Boot Camp Assistant before installing macOS 10.14 Mojave. Back up any important Windows data first, needless to say. Furthermore, after you update the Mac to Mojave, you cannot use Boot Camp to reinstall Windows. However, either Parallels Desktop or VMware Fusion should run on that iMac if you need access to Windows.

Apple offered no explanation for this extremely specific limitation. The Late 2012 model is the oldest iMac that can run Mojave, so it’s likely that the company felt it was better to support Mojave on it in general than to preserve Boot Camp on every configuration.

Astro Acquired by Slack: Apps to Shut Down October 10th Adam Engst 9 comments

Astro Acquired by Slack: Apps to Shut Down October 10th

Astro Technology, the company behind the email app Astro for Mac and iOS (among others) has announced that it is being acquired by Slack, maker of the popular enterprise messaging service.

Unfortunately for those who use the Astro apps, Slack plans to shut them down on 10 October 2018, giving users just over two weeks to switch to another app. The Astro apps synced data with Gmail and Office 365 accounts, so you should be able to switch without losing anything. Just be sure you don’t have any messages that are snoozed or scheduled to send after the shut-down date.

It’s disappointing that Slack is giving users so little time to switch, but the apps were free, and it seems likely that Astro Technology never figured out a viable business model when competing with the likes of Apple’s Mail, Google’s Gmail, and Microsoft’s Outlook. Let us know in the comments if you have a favorite email app apart from the big three.

50 Million Facebook Accounts Hacked Adam Engst 8 comments

50 Million Facebook Accounts Hacked

Facebook has acknowledged a security breach affecting 50 million users but says it has yet to determine whether the accounts were misused or any information in them accessed. Subsequently, the company admitted that the attackers would also have had access to any other account for which users had signed into using their Facebook account. This is precisely why we always recommend against using your Facebook, Google, or Twitter account to register with another Internet service—give every service its own username and password if possible.

In response to the breach, Facebook has reset the access tokens that enable users to avoid re-entering passwords on every use of the app, and it also disabled the View As feature that the attackers exploited. The owners of the 50 million affected accounts will have to log in to Facebook again, and as a precaution, Facebook reset the access tokens on another 40 million accounts.

A few additional thoughts:

  • 50 million affected users is a lot in raw numbers, but it’s only about 2% of Facebook’s 2.2 billion active monthly users.
  • Because of Facebook’s precautionary measure, if you’re forced to log in again, you have no idea if your account was in the 50 million that were affected or not. Despite Facebook’s claim to the contrary, we recommend changing your Facebook password if you do have to log in again. (And for goodness sake, if you don’t have a strong, unique password for Facebook, set one immediately!)
  • We’ll be interested to see if Facebook ends up increasing the number of affected accounts, potentially by a lot. Not that 50 million is a good number, but it’s a whole lot better than 2.2 billion.
  • Although we worry much more about what Facebook itself will do with all the data it hoovers up, situations like this bring into stark relief the fact that you should be extremely careful about what you choose to share on Facebook, given that the company cannot guarantee the security of your data.
Follow These Steps to Enable Backblaze for Mojave Adam Engst 17 comments

Follow These Steps to Enable Backblaze for Mojave

Backblaze (a TidBITS sponsor) has posted a support article outlining the steps that users must take in macOS 10.14 Mojave to grant full disk access to the backup company’s Mac client. Backblaze needs full disk access to access all the files necessary for it to complete its backup tasks. You’ll also need to update Backblaze to enable its menu bar icon to work in Mojave.

Both cases are related to Mojave’s tightened security and privacy preferences—for details, see “Mojave’s New Security and Privacy Protections Face Usability Challenges” (10 September 2018). We anticipate that Backblaze will release an update that will explicitly request the necessary permissions soon. If you haven’t yet upgraded to Mojave, this is another reason you might want to delay the installation.