You have been able to use the Apple Watch to unlock your Mac for a couple of years. In the Security & Privacy pane of System Preferences, you can check a box to allow this to occur. When you’re wearing your Apple Watch, and it’s unlocked, pressing a key on your keyboard or clicking your mouse tells the Mac to look for the Apple Watch to authenticate you. This was the single feature that got me back to using the Apple Watch a couple of years ago after having worn the device off and on.
Now, in Catalina, this goes one step further. If you have turned on the above setting, you can use your Apple Watch to enter your password when you need to authenticate to perform administrative tasks. For example, if you want to delete files in the system space, applications installed via the Mac App Store, or access secure preferences panes, you must enter this password.
Now, you’ll see a dialog like this:
Double-press the side button on your watch, and, boom! It’s done. This will save a lot of time when performing this type of operation, and it allows you to create a more secure password, because you won’t need to type it as often.
Note that on a Mac with Touch ID, this latter technology seems to overrule the use of the Apple Watch. Here’s what I see on my MacBook Pro:
I guess this makes sense; it defaults to the closest method of authentication available to the device, and using Touch ID is even a bit quicker than using the watch.
With the new Music app in macOS Catalina, which retains most of the music functions of iTunes, but sloughs off the other media kinds that the previous app managed, there is a change in the way the iTunes Store is handled. In some cases, users won’t even see the iTunes Store.
In early betas of macOS Catalina, the iTunes Store was visible, but in recent betas it did not show up in the sidebar of the Music app if the user was signed into Apple Music. That seems to be the default now: if a user has an Apple Music account, they won’t see the iTunes Store. You can display it, if you wish, in the Music app’s Preferences, on the General pane, but if you’re a streamer, you won’t see it by default.
You’ll note that in the screenshots on Apple’s macOS Catalina preview pages, the iTunes Store is not visible.
The iTunes Store is certainly not going away, but Apple is considering that streamers don’t want to buy music. This isn’t the case with the TV app, which retains the tabbed navigation bar of iTunes, to show one tab for Library, and four other tabs to entire users to find new content. Granted, the way we consume music is different from movies and TV shows, but this is a clear sign that Apple is betting on streaming for music, and rentals and purchases for video content.
It’s interesting that, while Apple has made the interfaces of the four apps that replace iTunes (Music, TV, Podcasts, and Books) very similar, two of these apps retain the tabbed navigation bar: TV and Books. And these are both apps where there is more content to purchase than to stream. (Obviously, all podcasts are free, so there’s no need to have a marketplace in that app.)
In the Books app, I think the tabs don’t make sense. There is one for your library, which is logical, but there are two store tabs: Book and Audiobooks. I think it would be better to have a single store, because there are a lot of people who buy both ebooks and audiobooks, and splitting them can make it harder to find which options you have.
As for the TV app, that has the potential of quickly becoming bloated. There are tabs for your library, then for Watch Now, Movies, TV Shows, and Kids. The problem with the TV app is that it aggregates not just your own content, but potentially channels, networks, and services that you subscribe to. And that leads too bloat. But the very nature of these disparate services makes it hard to do otherwise.
Update: Commenters have asked about searching with the iTunes Store disabled. When you search in the Music app, the search results show three tabs: Apple Music, Your Library, and iTunes Store. If the iTunes Store is disabled, then you only see the first two tabs; if you don’t have an Apple Music subscription, then you only see Your Library.
You can, however, go from Apple Music to the iTunes Store, even if the latter is disabled, by clicking the … button next to any item and choosing Show in iTunes Store. However, searching only Apple Music will not find items that are for sale in the iTunes Store and not available to stream.
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.
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:
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.
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.
We take a close look at the great new security features in iOS 12 and macOS Mojave. We also answer a few reader questions, about the Activity Monitor app, about when to upgrade hardware, and whether “free” media sites are safe.
Apple works hard to ensure the security of its operating systems and sometimes these security features can be confusing. In recent years, Apple has sandboxed their operating systems. This means that apps only have access to limited parts of your computer’s operating system and files. The reason for this is to prevent rogue apps from accessing data that they shouldn’t be able to read and to prevent malware from installing in certain parts of the system.
Related to this are specific accessibility permissions for apps that use the accessibility framework and automation permissions, for apps that use AppleScript, and other background technologies. You see dialogs asking you to grant these apps the permission to do certain things to your files.
While sandboxing and permissions are a good thing overall, they can be an annoyance. It means that some apps – notably utilities – are limited as to which files they can access on your Mac, and that some app features that you were used to using on your Mac may no longer work. While some of these permission dialogs existed before Mojave, they have become more common and can be confusing.
Among the new features in macOS Mojave is a set of powerful tools in the Finder that lets you manipulate or annotate files. Instead of needing to open an app to make simple changes, you can perform some operations on files directly in a Finder window or using Quick Look. In this article, I’m going to tell you about these new features: Annotations and Quick Actions.
Dark mode is one of the most visible new features in macOS Mojave, and is the most radical change to the interface of Apple’s operating systems since the advent of Mac OS X in 2001. This setting allows you turn most of what you see into a sort of negative view: instead of black text on a white or gray background, you see gray text on a black (actually, dark gray in most places) background. Windows, menus, toolbars – everything shifts (though there are some elements that don’t change; see below).
Dark mode is not for everyone. Reading white text on a dark background can be difficult for many people, notably those with astigmatism. But some people love working like this; it’s a lot more restrained than the standard interface; there is less light to assail you. It is especially good for working late at night which is probably why many developers tend to favor this mode.
I’ve long used Automator for “quick actions” on files in the Finder. Now, with Mojave’s Quick Actions in the Finder – available when you’re in the new Gallery view – you can run your Automator workflows from this new interface, instead of using a contextual menu, or other method.
To do this, open a workflow, then choose File > Convert To… By default, Automator displays its file type dialog with Quick Action selected.
Click Choose, then press Command-S to save the file and name it. It will immediately appear in the Finder’s Quick Action More menu.
If you want it to be visible in the Quick Action sidebar, go to System Preferences > Extensions, then Finder. You’ll see a list of available quick actions. The first two items in the list show up in the Finder. Drag any quick actions you want to be visible to the top of the list. And you can uncheck any that you don’t use, so they don’t clutter up the More menu.
Unfortunately, I don’t yet see any way to show more than two quick actions in the Finder, before the More menu, so choose the ones that are really most useful to you.
Today, Apple is releasing macOS Mojave. Most Mac users are going to upgrade – if their hardware is compatible – and it’s good to know what you need to do to prepare for upgrading. In Take Control of Upgrading to Mojave, Mac expert Joe Kissell has updated his trusted advice on upgrading to the latest version of macOS. Learn what you need to know to make the process go smoothly and efficiently, and what has changed from previous versions, including revisions to the APFS file system and important new ways of keeping your Mac secure. Includes troubleshooting advice in case things go wrong!
And once you’ve got Mojave running on your Mac, you need to know how to get the most out of it. Learn all about it with Take Control of Mojave by Scholle McFarland. Like her previous book on High Sierra, this book covers all the new features and options in macOS 10.14, and also provides a good overview of the entire operating system. Find out about all the changes to your Mac’s apps and system-wide tools, and learn useful tricks that may be not be obvious at first glance.