Privacy Request Dialogs in Mojave Explained

With macOS 10.14 Mojave, Apple has beefed up the Mac’s privacy so it more closely resembles privacy in iOS. You’ve noticed that when you launch a new app on your iPhone or iPad, it often prompts for access to your photos or contacts, the camera or microphone, and more. The idea behind those prompts is that you should always be aware of how a particular app can access your personal data or features of your device. You might not want to let some new game thumb through your photos or record your voice.

macOS has been heading in this direction, but Mojave makes apps play this “Mother, May I?” game in more ways. As a result, particularly after you first upgrade, you may be bombarded with dialogs asking for various permissions. For instance, when you first make a video call with Skype, it’s going to ask for access to the camera and the microphone. Grant permission and Skype won’t have to ask again.

Skype’s requests are entirely reasonable—it wouldn’t be able to do its job without such access. That applies more generally, too. In most cases, apps will ask for access for a good reason, and if you want the app to function properly, you should give it access.

However, be wary if a permission dialog appears when:

  • You haven’t just launched a new app
  • You aren’t doing anything related to the request
  • You don’t recognize the app making the request

There’s no harm in denying access; the worst that can happen is that the app won’t work. (And if it’s malicious, you don’t want it to work!) You can always grant permission later.

To see which permissions you’ve granted or denied, open System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Privacy. A list of categories appears on the left; click one to see which apps have requested access. If you’ve granted access, the checkbox next to the app will be selected; otherwise it will be empty.

You’ll notice that the lock in the lower-left corner is closed. To make changes, click it and sign in as an administrator when prompted.

Most of these categories are self-explanatory, but it might not always be obvious why an app wants permission. In the screenshot above, for instance, Google Chrome has been granted access to the Mac’s camera. Why? So Google Hangouts and other Web-based video-conferencing services can work.

There are five categories (including three not showing above) that could use additional explanation:

  • Accessibility:Apps that request accessibility access want to control your Mac. In essence, they want to be able to pretend to click the mouse, type on the keyboard, and generally act like a user. Utility and automation software often needs such access.
  • Full Disk Access:This category is a catch-all for access to areas on your drive that aren’t normally available to apps, such as data in Mail, Messages, Safari, Home, and more, including Time Machine backups and some admin settings. Backup and synchronization utilities may need full disk access, in particular. An app can’t request full disk access in the normal way; you must add it manually by clicking the + button under the list and navigating to the app in the Applications folder.

Automation:The Mac has long had a way for apps to communicate with and control one another: Apple events. An app could theoretically steal information from another via Apple events, so Mojave added the Automation category to give you control over which apps can control which other apps. You’ll see normal permission requests, but they’ll explain both sides of the communication.

Analytics:The Analytics privacy settings are completely different—they let you specify whether or not you want to share information about how you use apps with Apple and the developers of the apps you use. For most people, it’s fine to allow this sharing.

Advertising:Finally, the Advertising options give you some control over the ads that you may see in Apple apps. In general, we recommend selecting Limit Ad Tracking, and if you click Reset Advertising Identifier, any future connection between you and the ads you’ve seen will be severed from past data. There’s no harm in doing it. It’s worth clicking the View Ad Information and About Advertising and Privacy buttons to learn more about what Apple does with ads.

Make Your Holiday Cards with Apple’s Photos App This Year

It’s that time of year again, when we realize that if we’re going to do holiday cards, we should get started. You can take the easy way out and buy a few packs of generic reindeer cards at the drugstore, but with a little work in Apple’s Photos app on the Mac, you can instead send cards personalized with your favorite family photos from the past year. Here’s how.

  1. Select photos. Although you can add photos to your card project at any time, it’s easiest to make a new album and then spin through last year’s photos, adding 20 or so of the best candidates to your album. Don’t be picky at this point because it’s easier to choose the final images from within the card layout.
  2. Create the card. Select all the photos in your new album with Edit > Select All, and choose File > Create > Card. Then select one of the three choices: a 5×7 folded letterpress card for $2.99 each, a 5×7 folded card for $1.49 each, or a 4×6 flat double-sided card for $0.99 each. They all include envelopes.

  3. Select a theme. Photos loads themes over the Internet automatically, so if you see just a few themes, wait until more appear. Choose Holidays from the pop-up menu at the top, and click either Landscape or Portrait to pick the orientation before selecting a theme and clicking Create Card in the upper-right corner.



    It’s easy to change your choices while working on the card by clicking the button next to Buy Card.

  4. Choose layouts. Although every card starts with a default layout, most have alternatives. Would you prefer a single image on the front, rather than a four-photo layout? Click the Options button below the card to open the Layout Options panel, and click the desired layout.

  5. Add photos. To add a photo to a spot on the card, drag it from the photo collection at the bottom of the screen, which shows the contents of your album. Dragging a photo on top of an already-placed image replaces it, or you can drag a photo from the card back to the collection at the bottom. Buttons let you clear placed photos (helpful when starting over with a new theme), auto-fill photos for quick placement, switch between showing unused and placed photos, and add more photos to the project.



    If Photos didn’t bring in all the photos from your album automatically, click the album in the sidebar, select all the photos, and drag them to the project entry in the sidebar. That’s much easier than adding them piecemeal via the Add Photos button.
  6. Edit photos. When you click a photo on the card, the Photo Options panel appears so you can apply filters, edit the photo with all of Photos’ editing tools, or zoom and crop. After zooming a photo with the slider, you can drag it within its spot on the card to position the subject properly.

  7. Add and edit text. Some text boxes in the layout can be edited; just click inside and type. Others can’t be changed. If you need to tweak the font, size, color, or orientation of text, select it and make your adjustments in the Text Options panel that appears.

  8. Buy your card. Once you’ve adjusted everything to your liking, click the Buy Card button in the upper-right corner of the window. Click Add Shipping Address, select a contact (likely yourself) to send the cards to, and then enter how many cards you’d like. When you’re done, click Place Order.


    Apple prints and mails you the cards, usually within a week or so. The print quality is, as you’d expect from Apple, top notch, and overall, the cards are a step up from those available from other photo services.

The hardest part of designing your own cards with Photos is figuring out which themes and layouts best match the photos you want to share. Some themes offer spots for only one or two photos, whereas others let you include a lot more, at the cost of making them much smaller. Similarly, some themes let you write a full letter, but others have room for just a few words of holiday cheer.

Count Selected Items in a Folder with the Finder’s Status Bar

When you work in a Finder window on the Mac, take note of the helpful Status bar. It can tell you how many items are in a folder, as well as how many items you have selected. This latter bit of information is useful if, say, you need to move five items to another folder and you want to verify that you’ve selected all five. The Status bar also shows the amount of free space remaining on your drive and provides a slider to change icon size if the window is in Icon view. Look for the Status bar at the bottom of every Finder window (or the top, if the toolbar is hidden). If you don’t see it, choose View > Show Status Bar.

Clear Your Mac Desktop by Removing Unnecessary Menu Bar Icons

You know all those status icons on the right side of your Mac’s menu bar? Many of them are useful, but if your menu bar is cluttered with icons you don’t need, you can make your Mac easier to use by removing the extras. Just hold down the Command key and drag an offending icon off the menu bar; you’ll see an X below the dragged icon to indicate that it will disappear when you let up on the mouse button. If you later decide you want it back, look for a “Show icon-name in menu bar” checkbox in an associated pane of System Preferences.

Apple Wows at WWDC with iOS11, New Macs, HomePod, and iPad Pros

Apple used the keynote address at its annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in early June to unveil new versions of macOS, iOS, and watchOS, new iMacs and faster notebooks, and new iPad Pros. In a “one last thing” announcement that hearkened back to the days of Steve Jobs, the company also gave a sneak peek at its first major new product since the Apple Watch: the HomePod smart speaker. Some of the new hardware is available now, the new operating systems are due this fall, and the HomePod and the workstation-class iMac Pro are scheduled for December 2017. Here’s what you should know.

New iMacs and Faster Notebooks

For those who have been waiting patiently to buy a new iMac or Mac notebook, now’s the time. Apple refreshed the entire iMac line with Intel’s latest processors, faster storage, higher performance graphics, and brighter, more colorful screens. They all provide a pair of Thunderbolt 3 ports for driving external displays and connecting to speedy external storage.

The most-improved award goes to the 21.5-inch iMac with 4K Retina display, which should see the most performance gains from faster CPUs and high-performance Radeon Pro graphics processors. Plus, that model can now take up to 32 GB of RAM, up from 16 GB — it’s far more compelling than before, if you don’t need the larger screen and better performance of the 27-inch model.

You can buy a 21.5-inch non-Retina iMac starting at $1099, a 21.5-inch iMac with 4K Retina display starting at $1299, and a 27-inch iMac with 5K Retina display starting at $1799.

Looking for more performance than even a tricked-out 27-inch Retina iMac can provide?. Wait for December, when Apple promises to release the new iMac Pro. It’s a workstation-class machine that retains the form factor of the 27-inch Retina iMac but swaps the brushed aluminum look for a space gray finish. It will be the fastest Mac ever, thanks to 8-core, 10-core, or 18-core Intel Xeon CPUs. Other performance enhancements include a next-generation Radeon Pro Vega graphics chip, up to 128 GB of RAM, a 1 TB SSD upgradeable to 4 TB, four Thunderbolt 3 ports, and 10 Gbps Ethernet. It won’t come cheap, with prices starting at $4999 and rising quickly with build-to-order options.

On the portable front, Apple’s top-of-the-line MacBook Pro notebooks should run a bit more quickly thanks to the addition of Intel’s latest processors running at slightly higher clock speeds. These models also get new graphics processors that improve rendering performance. The 13-inch MacBook Pro still starts at $1299 or $1799 for a model with a Touch Bar and beefier specs. The 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar starts at $2399.

For those who value portability over all else, the MacBook has become more attractive due to improvements that address its previously underwhelming performance. Along with sprightlier CPUs, it has a new SSD that Apple claims is up to 50% faster, and you can now buy it with 16 GB of RAM, up from the previous limit of 8 GB. It’s still a bit pricey for its performance, with two models priced starting at $1299 and $1599.

If you don’t have much to spend, consider the $999 13-inch MacBook Air. Apple gave it a minor speed bump, replacing the stock 1.6 GHz Intel Core i5 processor with a 1.8 GHz version. It remains upgradeable to an Intel Core i7 running at 2.2 GHz.

By the way, if you’ve been jonesing for a full-size wireless keyboard, you’ll be pleased to learn that Apple also just released the new wireless Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad. It’s $129.

New iPad Pros

Although these days Apple is putting more emphasis on the Mac, particularly for professional use, the company certainly isn’t ignoring pro iPad users. If you’ve been holding off on an iPad Pro purchase, there’s no reason to wait any longer. Apple introduced a new 10.5-inch iPad Pro that’s just a hair taller and wider than the 9.7-inch iPad Pro it replaces, despite having a larger screen that’s 20% larger. The company also enhanced the 12.9-inch iPad Pro with a variety of new hardware capabilities.

All motion on the screens of both iPad Pros will be smoother and more responsive, thanks to a previously unheard of 120 Hz refresh rate. It will make drawing with the Apple Pencil even more fluid. The screens are also brighter, can display more colors, and have low reflectivity. Both models get new cameras that match those in the iPhone 7: a 12-megapixel rear-facing camera with optical image stabilization and True Tone flash, plus a 7-megapixel FaceTime HD camera on the front.

Since professionals care about performance, the new iPad Pros rely on Apple’s new processor, the A10X Fusion chip. Apple claims that the A10X is 30% faster than the A9X used by the previous generation of iPad Pros, and it also delivers 40% faster graphics rendering.

You can buy an iPad Pro with 64 GB, 256 GB, or 512 GB of storage, significantly more than last year’s models. The 64 GB 10.5-inch iPad Pro with Wi-Fi costs $649; jumping to 256 GB increases the price to $749, and going to 512 GB raises it to $949. For the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, a 64 GB configuration starts at $799, with 256 GB at $899 and 512 GB at $1099. Add $130 to any configuration to get cellular connectivity as well.

Although the iPad Pros are available starting this month, you can look forward to them becoming significantly more useful when Apple releases iOS 11 in the fall. That’s because iOS 11 promises to bring a number of iPad-specific features, including:

  • A customizable Dock that holds more than six apps
  • A new App Switcher that includes split-screen app combinations
  • A new Files app for managing documents
  • Drag-and-drop capability for moving data between apps
  • Instant Notes, which opens the Notes app with an Apple Pencil tap on the Lock screen
  • Inline drawing with the Apple Pencil in Notes and Mail
  • Handwritten text recognition so you can search what you write

HomePod

The much-rumored HomePod is Apple’s answer to the popular Amazon Echo and Google Home smart speakers. In classic Apple fashion, however, the wireless HomePod speaker is focused first on delivering amazing audio quality that competes with the top Wi-Fi speakers available on the market. Setup will be as simple as setting up AirPods; just hold your iPhone next to a HomePod to configure it.

Physically, the HomePod is a 7-inch high cylinder covered in a 3-D acoustic mesh and available in black or white. Inside, it features a 4-inch Apple-designed woofer for deep, clean bass, and an array of seven beamforming tweeters that provides pure high-frequency acoustics.

The smarts in Apple’s smart speaker come from Apple’s A8 chip, which powered the iPhone 6. Thanks to the A8 chip and a six-microphone array, the HomePod can optimize its audio quality for its position in a room. If you put a pair of HomePods in the same room, they detect each other automatically and balance the audio to deliver an immersive listening experience.

Those microphones also let you control the HomePod via Siri. It’s designed to work with an Apple Music subscription, and Siri will be able to respond to many more music-related queries and commands. You can also ask Siri for weather forecasts, sports scores, traffic reports, stock prices, and even unit conversions. Thanks to the HomePod’s integration with the Apple ecosystem, you’ll also be able to send messages, make reminders, set alarms and timers, and control HomeKit devices.

Because it’s Apple, protecting your privacy is paramount, so the HomePod sends nothing to Apple until you say “Hey Siri,” and even then, what you say is both anonymized and encrypted.

When it ships in December for $349, the HomePod will be more expensive than the Amazon Echo or Google Home, neither of which have particularly good sound, but cheaper than many high-quality wireless speakers. We’re looking forward to listening to our music and podcasts on the HomePod, and to seeing how successfully Siri responds to us.

iOS 11

At WWDC, Apple gave us a peek at iOS 11, due as a free update this fall (which likely means September). Although it offers numerous changes, iOS 11 won’t seem like a huge revision, since most of the changes are refinements rather than new apps or wholesale rewrites.

Perhaps the most noticeable change is Control Center, the panel that appears when you drag up from the bottom of the Lock screen or Home screen. Apple has redesigned it so that the audio and HomeKit controls fit on one screen, even on the iPhone. In iOS 10, you may have to scroll sideways to see all the controls, which is awkward. The new design also takes advantage of 3D Touch to let you do more than toggle settings on and off.

We’re looking forward to the new Messages, which takes advantage of iCloud to sync messages (including deletions!) between your devices. What’s most important about this is that older messages will be stored only in iCloud so they won’t occupy precious storage space on your device.

Siri will receive new voices that sound more natural, and it will also sync what it knows about you between devices to personalize responses better. Siri is also getting smarter, or at least more observant. Thanks to a technology called Siri Intelligence, Siri will better understand your interests and the context in which you’re speaking. So, if you search for information about Paris, the News app may start recommending articles about France, and if you type “bor” in an app, the iOS keyboard may suggest “Bordeaux” as an auto-completion.

Apple will introduce new formats to the Camera app in iOS 11, which should result in photos and videos that take up much less space. iPhone 7 Plus users will also appreciate improvements in the two-camera Portrait mode. If you like Live Photos, don’t miss new features in Photos for trimming and editing the underlying movies — you can even apply looping and reversing effects.

Although Maps may always be playing catch-up with more established mapping companies, we’re still pleased to see Apple adding features like indoor maps of malls and airports in major cities. It will also inform you of speed limits and offer lane guidance on large roads.

If splitting a restaurant bill is awkward, you’ll be able to use Apple Pay in iOS 11 to send money directly to another person. It goes into an Apple Cash Card found in the Wallet app, and money stored there can be transferred to a bank account or used to pay for Apple Pay purchases.

Last, but certainly least, is a potentially life-saving feature: Do No Disturb While Driving. When enabled, it will detect that you’re riding in a car and shut off all notifications to your iPhone. You’ll be able to set an auto-reply text message in case anyone messages you, which the sender can break through by stating that the message is urgent. You can also turn off Do Not Disturb While Driving if you’re a passenger.

iOS 11 requires a 64-bit device, which means that it won’t be available to the iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, and fourth-generation iPad, but it will run on all other iOS devices Apple has released since 2013.

macOS 10.13 High Sierra

When Apple releases macOS 10.13 High Sierra this fall, it will include big behind-the-scenes improvements and a few upfront changes in core Apple apps like Safari, Mail, and Photos. The upgrade will be free, and High Sierra will run on all Macs that can run 10.12 Sierra now.

The most important change under the hood is a new file system called APFS (Apple File system), which is designed for modern needs like fast backups of massive amounts of data and optimal behavior when storing files on solid-state drives. The file system is the smarts beneath the Mac’s Finder, helping your Mac to keep track of all its data. The Finder itself won’t change much, but certain tasks like duplicating lots of data will be much faster.

Other low-level technology changes will enable developers to bring faster video streaming and playback to the Mac. Plus, they’ll be able to create graphically demanding apps that have even more realistic images, which is important for the fields of virtual reality and gaming.

More obviously, you can look forward to Safari providing a more enjoyable Web browsing experience, with fewer ads, articles opening in the less-cluttered Reader view, and no more auto-playing audio. You can customize all these settings, as well as the text zoom percentage, on a per-site basis.

Searching in Mail will be significantly faster, with a Top Hits area that Apple says will learn from you over time and get smarter about suggesting ideal results. Mail will also feature a redesigned split screen option that puts the compose window next to your messages, and your Mail archive will consume less drive space than before, thanks to better compression.

Photos gets a lot of attention from Apple in High Sierra, with a refined interface that should make it easier to find tools, syncing of facial recognition training between your Apple devices, new editing tools for fine-tuning and saturation, and fun choices for enhancing Live Photos. Also, Photos will finally allow integration with third-party editing apps like Photoshop and Pixelmator, along with support for printing projects to non-Apple print services, so you’ll have more choices in that area.

Overall, High Sierra looks like it will be a solid refinement on Sierra, with some core improvements for pro users and a nice collection of enhancements to apps that the rest of us use every day.

tvOS and watchOS 4

Although Apple gave tvOS the lead announcement at WWDC, it was just to get it out of the way quickly before making all their other announcements. The news is that Amazon Prime Video will be coming to the Apple TV sometime later this year, and better yet, it will integrate with the TV app. It’s likely that there will be additional changes in tvOS before Apple’s big OS release in the fall.

watchOS, on the other hand, received quite a bit of love during the WWDC keynote. watchOS 4, due for free this fall, will feature a new Siri watch face that feeds you relevant information based on the time of day, your activities, and data from apps like Activity, Calendar, Maps, News, Reminders, and Wallet. Other new watch faces are for fun: Toy Story characters with tiny animations and a Kaleidoscope face that draws ever-changing patterns.

Since fitness tracking is important for the Apple Watch, Apple has made watchOS 4 pushier to help you stay on the exercise wagon. It will send morning notifications to encourage you to match the previous day’s activity levels or reach a new Achievement. It also nudges you in the evening to complete your activity rings and issues monthly exercise challenges tailored to your situation.

The Workout app will help pool swimmers track sets, pace, and distance for different stroke types. Triathletes will like being able to switch between workout types and later combine them into a single session for better tracking. Apple will also add motion and heart-rate algorithms for High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). And if you work out in a gym, you’ll be able to sync exercise data with sufficiently capable gym equipment like treadmills, ellipticals, indoor bikes, and stair climbers.

If you listen to music while you work out, improvements to the Music app will be welcome. It will sync your most-listened music from your iPhone automatically, and if you subscribe to Apple Music, it will also pick up your favorite mixes.

Finally, watchOS 4 will make it easier for developers to connect the watch to more Bluetooth devices, such as for continuous glucose monitoring, analyzing your serve via a sensor on a tennis racket, or recording wave height and calorie burn via a sensor on your surfboard. Let us know if you have a sensor-enabled surfboard!

Happily, watchOS 4 will be compatible with both the original Apple Watch and the Apple Watch Series 2, so all Apple Watch owners will be able to enjoy these new features. Apple said nothing about new Apple Watch hardware, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see some before the holiday shopping season. 

 

4 New Apple OS Features You Can Use Today

Apple just released new versions of all its operating systems—iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS—fixing bugs, plugging security holes, and, best of all, adding a few new features. Here are four things you can do once you’ve updated. (If you’re concerned that installing the updates may cause other problems, check with us first, but it’s best to stay current.)

1: Sleep better after using your Mac late at night.

macOS 10.12.4 Sierra has gained Night Shift, a feature from iOS that automatically shifts the colors of the screen to the warmer end of the spectrum after dark. Night Shift may help you sleep better by reducing the amount of blue light that tricks your body into thinking it’s earlier than it is.

To set up Night Shift, open System Preferences > Displays > Night Shift and choose Sunset to Sunrise from the Schedule pop-up menu. Night Shift knows when the sun rises and sets wherever you are, but if you prefer, you can also set custom on and off times. (If you don’t see the Night Shift button in the Displays preference pane after upgrading to 10.12.4, your Mac is unfortunately too old to support Night Shift.)

If you’re working with graphics at night, or if video looks odd, you can turn off Night Shift manually. Do that either in the Displays preference pane or by scrolling down in Notification Center (click it in the upper-right corner of the screen) to see the Night Shift switch.

2: Find the AirPod that fell between the couch cushions.

Apple’s wireless AirPods earbuds are cute, but they’re also easy to misplace. If you can’t find yours, iOS 10.3’s Find My iPhone app can help. Bring it up, tap the AirPods icon in the display, and then tap the Play Sound button to make them play a locator sound. If you’ve lost only one AirPod, you can mute the other so it’s easier to hear where the sound is coming from.

Note that Find My AirPods works only when in range of a paired iOS device, so it may not help if you lose an AirPod while running.

3: Don’t be “that person with the Apple Watch” at the theater.

You’re in a darkened theater, at a movie or a play, and when you move in your seat or cover your mouth to cough, your Apple Watch’s screen turns on, annoying the people around you. Even worse is when a notification rolls in, causing the watch to make a sound. Embarrassing, we know. Happily, watchOS 3.2 adds Theater Mode, which turns on Silent mode and keeps the screen dark by disabling its standard “raise to wake” behavior.

To enable Theater mode, open Control Center by swiping up from the bottom of the screen. Then tap the Theater Mode button, which is emblazoned with theater masks. After the performance, you’ll need to disable Theater mode manually by tapping its button again.

If you do need to check the time surreptitiously (who knew this performance would go so long!), tap your Apple Watch’s screen, or press the Digital Crown or side button.

4: Ask Siri to find your car in a humongous parking lot

We’ve all been there. You parked at the mall, but got turned around while you were inside, and now you can’t find your car in the sea of automobiles. In iOS 10.3, you can now search for “parked car” in Maps, or just ask Siri, “Where did I park?”

And if you ever lose your car at a place like Disney World, this feature alone will be worth the price of the iPhone!

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