Locations of Media Files in macOS Catalina

With macOS 10.15 Catalina, and the splitting of iTunes into three apps (Music, Podcasts, and Apple TV), media files will be handled a bit differently. Here’s where the various files will be located.

  • Music: By default, these files will be stored in ~/Music . (~ is a shortcut for your home folder, the one with the house icon and your user name.)
  • Apple TV: For TV shows and movies, the default location is ~/Movies . Music Videos, however, will stay in the Music app.
  • Podcasts: Podcasts are stored in a cache folder in ~/Library/Group Containers/243LU875E5.groups.com.apple.podcasts . This is not designed to be user accessible, and the podcast files do not display the original file names. You can, however, drag podcast files from the Podcasts app to the Desktop or to a folder.
  • Books: Since Apple spun off the Books app, ebooks have been stored in a folder in your Library folder: com.apple.BKAgentService. This folder will contain both ebooks and audiobooks. As with podcasts, you’re not intended to visit this folder, and ebook files do not have their original names, though audiobooks do display their names. However, if you select a file and press the space bar to view it in Quick Look, you will see its cover. (This is not currently the case with podcasts; using Quick Look on a podcast file lets you listen to it, but there is no album artwork attached.)

When you upgrade from macOS Mojave, both the Music and Apple TV apps will remember the location of your existing media, if you are using a different folder than the default. And each of these apps has an Advanced preference allowing you to choose a location for its media folder. This means that you can store your music on one volume and your movies and TV shows on another volume, which can be practical for many people with large libraries.

Note that macOS Catalina is just a beta, and this information is subject to change.

Apple’s “Pro” Branding Confusion

Mac proIt’s been a week since Apple announced their new “cheese-grater” Mac Pro, the first non-iMac desktop computer in more than five years. Many Mac users have been griping about the price – it starts at $6,000, but, with lots of RAM and extras, could cost upwards of $35,000 – with an odd sense of entitlement. These people are complaining about a computer that’s not for them, but are acting as if it should be.

Part of the problem is Apple’s use of the term “Pro” in its product names. This new Mac Pro is really a computer for pros, for a very small niche of pros: high-end (movie) video editors, music producers, etc. It’s not for some Mac user in their bedroom, study, or basement. The price tag is not excessive for the target demographic.

But Apple has used “Pro” to market other devices. I have two of them: a MacBook Pro and an iPad Pro. Does this make me a pro? I guess in some ways I am. I use my Macs and iOS devices for professional work, but as a writer, the processing power I need is limited. The only work I do that stresses my processors is photo editing, and, to be fair, I find that with my current iMac, I move Lightroom sliders, and I don’t see the changes in real time, so I could use a bit more power. But I don’t need the new Mac Pro. (I did own two of the previous Mac Pros: one cheese grater and one trashcan.)

Apple originally used the “Pro” term to distinguish a higher level of functionality than the standard models. It makes sense to brand devices, such as the iPad, in such a way. It’s a lot better than just having an iPad with three different levels of specs. Same with the MacBook Pro, which was born back when the MacBook was the plastic Apple laptop. The Pro device came with a metal body, faster processors, better video, and more. But then the MacBook (plastic) was retired, and some years later, the MacBook (aluminium) was introduced (alongside the MacBook Air). It’s fair to say that Apple branded itself into a corner.

So we now have a real Pro desktop Mac again, at a price that is really for pros. And this confuses people, because they had come to believe that, with a MacBook Pro or iPad Pro, they were pros.

Maybe Apple should have called the new computer the Mac Pro+.

Three Key Points about Apple’s WWDC Announcements

Apple made some interesting announcements at their Worldwide Developer Conference on Monday. Here are three points to keep in mind.

It’s not for you.

Not every Apple product is for you. Just as the iPod touch, which was recently updated, isn’t for everyone (it’s widely used in industry), the new Mac Pro isn’t for everyone. So don’t gripe about the price (okay, you can gripe about the $1,000 stand for the display, but only because it’s a bit ridiculous; however, it’s a nice stand). Don’t drool over it, any more than you’d drool over, say, a Leica or Hasselblad camera to take vacation photos.

But keep in mind that perhaps Apple will introduce a less expensive Mac based on the new Mac Pro at some point in the future.

It’s just a beta.

I have an Apple developer account, allowing me to access beta software; I need this to be able to write about it as we approach release date. Lots of Apple websites are already writing about the betas of iOS 13 and macOS Catalina. But remember, these are very early betas, so any missing features shouldn’t be written off yet. There will be plenty of changes as the software matures over the summer.

It’s not dead.

In spite of what much of the press is saying, iTunes is not dead. First, the app has been renamed, but the iTunes name isn’t gone. You still buy music from the iTunes Store, accessible from the new Music app. Second, you can still buy music from the iTunes Store. I a journalist heard on the BBC news claim, on Tuesday morning, that Apple had killed off their music download service. Third, iTunes has been split into three apps, retaining nearly all the functionality of the current iTunes. Fourth, iTunes isn’t bloated. And, fifth and finally, iTunes on Windows – which represents perhaps 90% of iTunes users – isn’t changing.

Don’t expect Apple to retire the iTunes Store name any time soon. That brand is much too valuable.

Apple Trade-In Weirdness

My current MacBook Pro is about 19 months old. Seeing the new models released this week, I thought it might be time to upgrade to a faster model. I don’t use the MacBook Pro a lot – it’s my second Mac for testing, and for emergencies when there’s a problem with my iMac – but I have found myself using it more lately because it allows me to work in a location other than my desk. I’ve started moving around more in my home office, finding it a nice change of scenery to work in a different room.

Apple has been offering trade-ins on their website for some time now. I used this twice last year, trading in an iPhone 8+ and an iPad Pro. The process was smooth and seamless, and the amount that Apple paid was acceptable, compared to what I might have received by selling the devices on eBay. I used the following formula to determine this:

if Apple price ? eBay net price - (hassle factor selling on eBay)
then accept

Today, I went to the Apple website to see how much I could get to trade in my current MacBook Pro. I entered my serial number, and the device was not found. I then went through a process answering a few questions about the device. In the menu where I was to select the exact model, it was not available; the most recent device shown was a 2016 MacBook Pro.

So I called the Apple online store, and a helpful salesperson checked on her end. She didn’t find the same model either. She found a 2018 model, or a 2016 model, but not mine. For the 2018 model, the price would be around £700, she said, which, according to the formula above, would be acceptable. But for the 2016 model, she quoted £245, which would be ridiculously low. She said that I could send it in for trade-in, and the amount would be somewhere between the two, and I would have the choice to not accept what was offered.

But Apple’s hassle factor now exceeded the potential eBay hassle factor, and I decided to not only not trade it in, but to not buy the new MacBook Pro. I don’t need a new laptop that badly, and I certainly don’t need this kind of hassle. I’m surprised that this specific model doesn’t show up in Apple’s trade-in database, but what has been a smooth process for other devices in the past has too many hurdles for me to bother.

What every Apple user should know about software updates

You use lots of software, and much of it is updated regularly. Updates to apps–and also to the operating system–can provide new features, performance improvements, and bug fixes, and those fixes often remedy security vulnerabilities to protect you from potential threats. All of these are important, and it’s a good idea to keep your software updated. (In most cases, at least.) Here’s how.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

macOS Notes App Using a Ridiculous Amount of Memory

I recently started using Apple’s Notes app for taking notes and storing temporary bits of text and URLs. I use Evernote for long-term storage of this sort of thing, but Notes is an easy to use tool for me to jot something down – or dictate it – on my iPhone, and have it available almost instantly on my Mac.

However, I’ve noticed that Notes is using a huge amount of RAM. Here’s what it is currently using on my Mac:

Notes ram
That’s 7.38 GB on a Mac with 16 GB RAM. You can also see that there is 7 GB of swap memory (virtual memory) being used.

This has something to do with networking. If I look in Activity Monitor, there are about 100 processes called Notes Networking, each of which is using between 8 and 9 MB RAM.

Notes networking memory

I have no idea why this is happening; this isn’t just a memory leak, but these are processes being spawned for some reason. And my Mac has not been running long; the last time I restarted it was less than two days ago.

I’m not going to waste my time calling Apple, because their support is broken. Nor will I waste my time filing a bug report.

The only solution is to quit Notes regularly and relaunch it.

Why Is Apple Asking for These Documents to Change the Address on a Developer Account?

I have an Apple developer account so I can access beta software for macOS and iOS. I’ve had this account for more than ten years, while living in two countries. In the UK, where I live now, I’m at my third address in six years.

It was time to renew my account, so I went to the Apple developer website to pay for the coming year, and I noticed that I hadn’t changed my address the last time I moved. I proceeded to do so, and was then told that I’d need to upload a document with proof of my address to Apple, something that was never asked before. Here’s the email I received:

Apple dev

I am certainly not uploading a scan of any official government-issued document to any website; I don’t trust anyone to hold on to data that sensitive. (In addition, living in the EU, there are GDPR issues that don’t seem to be addressed.) I’d be happy to upload a utility statement, but certainly not a bank statement. Apple is asking for very sensitive information here, and I find this disturbing.

But why do they even ask for this? This is the first time that they have done so. And what if the account is in the name of a company?

Another point: they only accept documents in nine languages (Brazilian Portuguese, and not Portuguese Portuguese?). What do people in other countries do? Or is it possible that they don’t ask for this document in other countries?

Finally, the upload link doesn’t even work.

Not found

I’m a bit disturbed by this. Apple is requesting very sensitive documents, giving no information about how they are being handled, whether they are compliant with GDPR rules for these documents, and not even saying why they need these documents.

AppleCare Support is Broken

As a fairly knowledgeable Mac and iOS user, I’m generally the go-to guy for people I know who are looking for solutions to their problems. I’ve been writing about Macs and iOS devices for more than fifteen years, and a lot of my work has been around troubleshooting, and explaining to users how to accomplish tasks, or work around problems. As such, I don’t often need to contact AppleCare.

I buy AppleCare contracts for my Macs, and for my iPhones (for my current iPhone, this is included in the package I purchased through the Apple iPhone Upgrade program).

When I have issues with my Macs or iOS devices, I can generally figure them out. I search online, post in forums, and, in most cases, I find solutions. But there are times when I can’t find solutions, and I turn to AppleCare.

In the past couple of years, I’ve had several issues that involved contacting AppleCare. The front-link staff is generally amiable, and try to be helpful, but given that I can generally resolve simple issues, I almost always get bumped up to the next level, to senior advisors. And these senior advisors always start by reading a script, saying that they will “take ownership of my case” and ensure me that they will help resolve my issue.

Until they don’t.

Several times in the past couple of years, I’ve had cases where senior advisors give me hope, have me send data to them, then nothing happens. They just drop the cases. There is no further communication, no information, nothing. They just forget me. On their end, they probably close the cases so they can juke the stats. And I don’t get that common request for feedback regarding my case, so they don’t get negative feedback.

In one case, I was having battery issues on a MacBook, which dragged on and on, as it was hard to figure out exactly what was happening. I eventually traded that MacBook in to buy a new MacBook Pro, because it wasn’t worth my hassling with Apple’s support any more.

For another case, the senior advisor sent me an app to collect data – which totaled about 650 MB – that I was to send to Apple via a webpage. I tried many times and was never able to send the data; the connection would drop each time before the transmission completed. (I have 1 Mbps upload speed, making large uploads extremely difficult.)

My most recent case is more than two weeks old. I found I could no longer log into my Mac mini with my MacBook Pro to run Time Machine backups to an external disk connected to that Mac. The first-line technician started a screen-sharing session, which allowed me to show him the issue, and bumped me up to the next level, saying he couldn’t explain what was happening, and had never seen this before. The second line technician started a screen-sharing session, but wouldn’t let me go through the entire process to show what was happening, and I was quite annoyed at having to deal with someone who clearly didn’t care about my issue. She said she would call me back in a day or two, after consuming with engineering.

And that’s the general result of my contacts with AppleCare. They “consult with engineering,” promise to call back, and never do.

I have had a couple of senior advisors who have followed up on my cases, helping me resolve issues, but for most of the problems I have had in the past couple of years, I have been ignored, and had to figure out my own workarounds.

Apple touts their high rate of customer satisfaction, but this is probably because so many issues can either be resolved by front-line support technicians, or in-store; my nearest Apple Store is an hour away, and, for my latest issue, going to a store wouldn’t help, because the issue involves connecting to another Mac on my local network.

AppleCare is expensive, and I feel that I’m getting cheater, at least for issues that aren’t hardware related. AppleCare is broken and needs to be fixed.

(If you’ve had this problem, please post a comment below. I’d like to be able to forward some information about this to Apple.)

It’s Time to Cancel your Apple News+ Trial Subscription

Like many people, I signed up for a 30-day free trial of Apple News+ the day it was announced. While I like the idea, I don’t feel it’s worth $10 a month for what it offers. (Read my first look at Apple News+.) So I’ve cancelled my subscription.

It’s not always easy to find how to manage and cancel subscriptions you’ve signed up for with Apple (but read this article to find out more), but with Apple News+, it’s actually quite simple.

Open the Apple News app. On the Mac, look at the bottom of the sidebar; on iOS, tap Following, and look at the bottom of the list of channels. You’ll see something like this:

Sidebar

Tap Manage Subscriptions, and you’ll see this:

Cancel

Tap Cancel Free Trial, and confirm your cancellation. Note that Apple tells me that I’ll miss out on “more than 200 magazines,” whereas when they presented the service, they said there were around 300.

Confirm

Apple has been a bit aggressive, showing me this on all my devices whenever I open the News app.

Sure

I’ve tapped No Thanks. I don’t know what it would take to get me to pay $10 a month for Apple News+. More magazines, perhaps, but also the ability to view content from the different magazines on their websites, which is not currently possible.

How to Manage iTunes Store and App Store Subscriptions

There are lots of subscriptions you can purchase from Apple. They may be for services such as Apple Music and Apple News+. You may have subscriptions for specific apps that function on a monthly or annual payment. Or you may have subscriptions to third-party services–such as HBO NOW, Hulu, Pandora, or Spotify–that you’ve purchased through the iTunes Store.

It’s easy to manage these subscriptions once you find where to go. In this article, I’ll show you how to access information about your iTunes Store and App Store subscriptions, and how to cancel them.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.