How to find and remove files from the ‘Other’ storage category on your Mac

How to find and remove files from the ‘Other’ storage category on your Mac

Other Storage

Our resident Mac Help guru, Peter Cohen, previously told us about the “Other” storage category on Mac computers and what it catalogs: In short, you’re seeing space taken up by plug-ins, documents, and caches stored by OS X.

It’s worth noting that these files aren’t normally harmful or wasteful to your computer’s system; most are intended to help your Mac run efficiently, and ideally, you shouldn’t ever have to clear out your Other files. Unfortunately, they can quickly clog up a computer low on storage — especially if you’re storing a large number of iPhone or iPad backups.

Whether you’re looking to free up space on your hard drive or just want to do some spring cleaning, here are some simple steps to get your Mac free and clear.

A note on what happened to ‘Other’ space in macOS Sierra and higher

Optimized Storage on Mac

When Apple added its storage management feature to macOS Sierra, called Optimize Storage, it reorganized what “other” storage is and where it’s located on the Mac. Much of it has been divided out through other categories so it’s easier to find and remove.

The 100GB of Other storage I used to carry on my iMac is whittled down to just 5GB. You can still clean out old and unnecessary content from your Mac with macOS Sierra and High Sierra by using Optimized Storage. It’s just a little easier to find those unused files than it was before.

How to use Optimized Storage on Mac

A lot of the features of Optimized Storage remove content from your Mac and store them in iCloud. If you’re concerned with how much storage you’re using up in iCloud, you can customize or disable some Optimized Storage features to keep a balance between what’s on your Mac and what’s in iCloud.

How to customize or disable Optimized Storage on Mac

What’s this ‘Purgeable’ category all about?

Purgeable storage on Mac

If you check your system storage graph in macOS, you’ll probably discover a category called Purgeable. This is part of Apple’s Optimized Storage service. When you move your Documents into iCloud (part of the Store in iCloud component) and your hard drive gets low on storage, only recently opened files are kept on your Mac. Older documents are stored in iCloud, while a shortcut icon is kept on your Mac (files are automatically re-downloaded to your Mac as soon as you open them). The Purgeable files are what Optimized Storage will move to iCloud and delete from your hard drive only if your hard drive starts to get full. Purgeable files also include caches and temporary files that used to fit into the Other category, which will also be deleted as your hard drive starts to fill up.

Though your Other storage might have been spread out across categories in macOS Sierra and higher, you can still follow the below steps to manually clean up your Mac and get rid of unnecessary files.

How to check your storage space on your Mac

If you are concerned with how much storage space you have remaining on your Mac computer, you can check its usage folder to see how much space each category is taking up, including Other.

  1. Click on your desktop or the Finder icon from the Dock.
  2. Select the Apple Menu icon in the upper left corner of the screen.
  3. Click on About This Mac.

    Finding storage usage on OS X

  4. Select Storage.

    Finding storage usage on OS X

Your Mac breaks down its storage categories as follows: Apps, Movies, Photos, Audio, Backups, and — that annoying, undescriptive category — Other.

How to remove cached files

Now that you know how much space your Other files are taking up, it’s time to reduce their footprint on your Mac. You can start by removing items you don’t need, including caches for your web browser, saved Apple Music streams, and photo previews.

A note on deleting cache folders: You only want to delete old and unnecessary files, as current cache files store your preferences. We strongly recommend only deleting cache files from old apps.

  1. Click on your desktop or select the Finder icon from the Dock.
  2. Select the Go menu in the upper left corner of the screen.
  3. Click on Go to Folder.

    Opening library caches on OS X

  4. Type ~/Library/caches into the text box. A list of caches from active apps will appear on your desktop.

    Opening library caches on OS X

  5. Select the app folder you wish to remove the cache from.
  6. Right-click (or control-click) on the app folder.
  7. Select Move to Trash.

    Deleting cache files on OS X

How to remove downloaded files

Chances are, your Downloads folder is stuffed with Other-type files, including installer packages, documents, and folders you have already made copies of somewhere else. If you want to make some room on your Mac, it may be time to clean out your Downloads folder.

  1. Click on your desktop or select the Finder icon from the Dock.
  2. Select the Go menu in the upper left corner of the screen.
  3. Click on Downloads.

    Opening the Downloads folder on OS X

  4. Select the file you wish to remove.
  5. Right-click (or control-click) on the file.
  6. Select Move to Trash.

    Deleting downloads on OS X

If you want to save a file from the Downloads folder but don’t want it clogging your drive, consider moving it to an external hard drive or flash drive, or uploading it to an online storage option like Dropbox.

How to delete old device backups in iTunes

If you tend to get new iOS devices fairly regularly, you may have unnecessary device backups stored on your computer via iTunes. Backups take up 4-5GB each, on average; there’s no need to hold on to older device backups if you no longer have the device or have it stored in iCloud.

How to delete an iPhone or iPad backup from iTunes

Third-party software that can help

While you don’t need any third-party app to “clean” your Mac, there are some very handy system access tools out there that make it easier to regularly remove unwanted files.

CleanMyMac 3

With CleanMyMac, you have easy access to a list of features that help you keep your Mac free of unnecessary junk. It scans your entire system and recommends files you should delete based on how old they are and whether they are considered unnecessary to your workflow. It’s a lot like Apple’s Optimized Storage, but with a few additional features. My favorite is the recommendation to delete all content related to an application. Sometimes, you’ll end up with a couple of files left behind by an app when you delete it. CleanMyMac provides a one-button purge of everything associated with that app.

$39.99 – Download Now


DaisyDisk scans your Mac and gives you a pie chart that makes it easy to see what files are using up the most space. You can identify files that are in the Other storage category and drag them to the delete box.

$9.99 – Download Now


Onyx is a robust Mac system access tool that, in-part, can delete caches, logs, temporary items, and other files that find their way into the Other storage category.

Free – Download Now


Cocktail is another useful system access tool that you can use to clear caches, purge memory, and manage hidden Apple app settings, which might be automatically sending files into the Other category abyss.

$19 – Download Now


Still having trouble with Other? Let us know in the comments.

Updated June, 2018: Updated the section on deleting iPhone and iPad backups in iTunes to direct people to the article about doing that. The rest of these steps are still correct.

How to do a clean install of macOS High Sierra

How to do a clean install of macOS High Sierra

Feel like you need a fresh start with macOS High Sierra? Do a clean install!

macOS High Sierra

Downloading and installing a new OS gives you the opportunity to do some major house cleaning if you so desire. If you feel like you’d like a fresh start with macOS High Sierra, you can always opt to do a clean install: Just follow the steps below, even if you’ve already installed macOS High Sierra.

Make sure you understand the difference between a clean install and a standard install before you get started.

  • Step 1: Back up your Mac
  • Step 2: Create a bootable drive of macOS High Sierra
  • Step 3: Erase your current Mac operating system
  • Step 4: Install a new copy of macOS High Sierra

Note: If you are reading this article on the Mac you want to perform the clean install with, switch to another device or print this page before continuing so you can read along as you go.

Step 1: Back up your Mac

This process will erase whichever OS you’re currently using from your hard drive entirely. That means any files, programs, or documents you have will be deleted. To save your files, put them on an external hard drive or a cloud-based program like Dropbox, OneDrive, or iCloud. If you don’t save these important files off your computer, you will lose them.

Step 2: Create a bootable drive of macOS High Sierra

Before you erase your current operating system, download macOS High Sierra from the Mac App Store. You’ll need a copy of macOS High Sierra to perform a clean install later on. If you don’t create a bootable drive for macOS High Sierra, you’ll have to install an older Mac operating system first and then upgrade to macOS High Sierra afterward.

Step 3: Erase macOS High Sierra

  1. Connect your Mac to the internet via Wi-Fi or Ethernet
  2. Click on the Apple icon.
  3. Select Restart from the drop-down menu.

    Restarting Mac

  4. Hold down Command-R when you hear the startup chime (or the screen turns black on newer Macs) and keep holding the keys until your computer reboots.
  5. Click on Disk Utility in the OS X Utilities selector.
  6. Click Continue.

    Seleting Disk Utilities from the OS X Utilities Selector

  7. Select your Startup Disk.
  8. Click on the Erase tab at the top of the window.

    Selecting a drive to erase on Mac

  9. Enter a name for the file to be destroyed (Like macOS High Sierra or something).
  10. Select Mac OS Extended (Journaled) from the format list.
  11. Click Erase.

    Erasing a drive on Mac

Step 4: Reinstall a new copy of macOS High Sierra.

  1. Click on Reinstall a new copy of macOS.
  2. Click Continue.

    Reinstall macOS Sierra

  3. Click Continue again when the installer window appears.
  4. Agree to the software terms and conditions.
  5. Select your hard drive.
  6. Click Install.
  7. Complete the installation process.

    Reinstall macOS Sierra


Any questions about performing a clean install? Let us know below in the comments.

Updated June 2018: These are still the correct steps to do a clean install of macOS High Sierra.

How to check if your Mac or iOS device is still covered under warranty or is protected by AppleCare

How to check if your Mac or iOS device is still covered under warranty or is protected by AppleCare

If you have a problem with your Mac, iPhone or iPad that needs examination by the Genius Bar or another tech support member, it’s usually handy to check if the hardware is still covered by warranties or one of the AppleCare programs, or if you can expect a heftier repair bill. AppleInsider details how to find out if you are still covered before you contact Apple’s support teams.

Accidents and computer issues happen to almost everyone, and while many are minor and can be easily dealt with via light use of Google and a small amount of effort, sometimes the problem is significant enough to require professional assistance. In the case of physical issues, like an iPhone display cracking or a key flying off a MacBook’s keyboard, this will usually result in a visit to an Apple Store or one of the Apple Authorized Service Providers for a repair.

Depending on the issue, this could potentially cost a lot of money, unless it is something covered under the standard limited warranty or the various AppleCare protection plans. In these cases, the cost of repair could be reduced, but only if the hardware is still within its coverage period, or if you paid for the extra protection, if it is still protected under AppleCare.

Before you make contact, it is usually a good idea to check the status of the problematic device, as finding out it is covered could ease your concerns of receiving a hefty repair bill.

Registered Devices

If you have registered your devices to your Apple ID, there are two easy ways to find out the status of all of your hardware via your account.

On a working iOS device logged into your Apple ID, open the Apple Support app, which appears in iOS as a blue square icon with a white Apple logo in one corner. Within the app, tap Account, followed by Check Coverage.

This will bring up a list of devices registered to the account. Tap the item you want to check, and the app will advise of its coverage status.

This can also be checked in the browser, by accessing the My Support page. Click Sign In to My Support, enter your Apple ID credentials, then if needed, complete the two-factor authentication procedure.

The My Support page will bring up a list of all devices currently signed into that account, along with the serial numbers. Click the device in question to bring up the coverage status for the device, and offers links for support.

Unconnected Hardware

In the event the device in question isn’t connected to your Apple ID, such as one used by a family member, the status can still be checked online via the serial number.

Using the Check Coverage website, enter the serial number in the top text entry box followed by the captcha security code, then click Continue.

The next page will identify the device registered to the serial number, and advise on the support status for the device.

Serial Numbers

There are a number of ways to find the serial number for a device, with Apple including a number of different ways to find it out.

For iOS devices, it can be located in the Settings app, under General then About. The serial number is roughly three-quarters of the way down the page.

Alternately, it is also printed on the back of the device. Look under the name section where the regulatory marks are located, and it can be seen in very small print, as well as the model number.

Mac users able to access macOS can find it by clicking the Apple icon in the menu bar and selecting About This Mac. The serial number will be detailed below other general specifications for the Mac, which may also be handy to record.

Again, it is also possible to find the serial number physically printed on the Mac hardware, alongside the regulatory information and the device name. In the majority of cases, it will be printed on the base of the Mac, though some older models can have this information printed on the back instead.

For the Apple Watch, the data can be found in the Apple Watch iOS app, by selecting the My Watch tab, then General, then About. On the Apple Watch itself, open Settings, select General, then About.

Lastly, you can also find the serial number on the back of the Apple Watch itself.

Support Status

The status pages will provide information depending on whether or not they apply to the device.

First, the Valid Purchase Date is a confirmation that it was bought and Apple knows when. This date dictates whether or not certain options are available.

The next section will advise of whether or not telephone technical support is still available for the item. Regardless of whether or not it is active, there will be links explaining how to contact Apple for support.

The third section, Repairs and Service Coverage, will explain if the hardware is covered by Apple’s limited warranty or the AppleCare Protection Plan, and links to arrange a repair. In the event both options are expired, the section will also advise your country’s consumer protection laws may still be of some assistance, and to speak to an advisor to see if they apply to the device’s current predicament.

If AppleCare was bought for the device, a fourth option will show if it is still active or has expired. 

How to Write Image Files to SD Card with dd from Command Line of Mac or Linux

How to Write Image Files to SD Card with dd from Command Line of Mac or Linux

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Need to write an image file to an SD card? The command line ‘dd’ tool can do that for you, writing a disk image .img file to an SD card with minimal effort. A nice perk to using ‘dd’ for writing image files to an SD card is that it works for Mac OS as well as linux right out of the box, since it comes preinstalled there are no additional downloads or third party apps necessary to burn an image this way.

Using dd from the command line to write an image to an SD card is considered advanced, so this is best for users who are comfortable with the command line. For example, you might use this for writing a boot image for a RaspberryPi or some other quick-boot linux setup. A simpler option for most users is to use a third party app like Etcher to write an image to an SD card. Nonetheless, dd works just fine as long as you have an understanding of the command line. Using dd this way to write an SD card image is similar to how you’d use dd to burn an ISO to a USB drive or another disk image, except of course the file format is different and so is the target.

How to Write Image .img to SD Card via Command Line with dd

To get started, launch Terminal app from the /Applications/Utilities/ folder. Have your .img file to write somewhere easily found as well, we’re assuming here that it will be in your current working directory.

You must have the disk identifier for the target SD card you wish to write the img file to, thus we’ll first run diskutil list:

diskutil list

Locate the SD card in the diskutil list output and make note of the rdiskNUMBER disk identifier associated with the SD card. You will be using that as the SD card target for writing, as well as the file name of the disk image to write to the target SD card.

Use the following command syntax to write the .img image file to the SD card:

sudo dd if=NameOfImageToWrite.img of=/dev/rdiskNUMBER bs=1m

Replacing NameOfImageToWrite.img to image and path, and rdiskNUMBER with the target SD card disk identifier as found through ‘diskutil list’ output.

Hit return and enter the admin password to start the writing process, it may take a while to complete depending on the size of the image file and the speed of the SD card.

For example, if your disk image name is “RaspberryPiCustom.img” and the disk identifier is “/dev/rdisk4” then the command would look as follows:

sudo dd if=RaspberryPiCustom.img of=/dev/rdisk4 bs=1m

This should be fairly simple and straight forward to users who are already familiar with the command line.

Straying away from SD cards for a moment, another option which may work for some users is to burn disc images directly from the Mac Finder in modern Mac OS releases, which works fine if you have a CDRW or DVD-RW and are working with common disk image file formats too. Older Mac OS X release can use Disk Utility to burn ISO and other images as well, but modern versions of Disk Utility have lost that capability. Fortunately, the dd tool can burn ISO images from the command line as well as write an image to a USB drive.

Do you know of another approach to writing image .img files to an SD card via the command line or otherwise? Share your tips or comments below!


How to Burn an ISO Image from Command Line of Mac OS X

The most straight forward way to burn an ISO from a Mac is using Disk Utility, but you can also burn ISO’s and disk images directly from the command line with the help of a tool called ‘dd’. This works for OS X and Linux, but we’re going to be…

How to create custom ringtones on your iPhone with GarageBand for iOS

How to create custom ringtones on your iPhone with GarageBand for iOS

While personalized ringtones can be created on the Mac version of GarageBand and exported to the iPhone, producing a custom tone can also be done from within iOS. AppleInsider shows how to turn GarageBand recordings into a ringtone using an iPhone or iPad, without using a Mac.

Creating a ringtone from the iOS device itself is easier in some respects compared to doing the same thing via GarageBand for Mac. While the music production or recording creation element is slightly different, due to it being iOS-based instead of macOS along with different recording options, the overall process is quite similar to the Mac version.

The main difference is exporting the ringtone and implementing it on the iPhone or iPad. Where the Mac requires users to find the file and import it into iTunes to apply it to their devices, exporting as a ringtone is more direct when performing the procedure on the smartphone or tablet itself.

Creating the Tone

Open GarageBand. If you have an existing project available, skip down to the Sharing the Tone section below.

Start a new project by tapping the plus symbol in the top-right corner.

While this guide isn’t going to delve into GarageBand production, it is suggested to the reader to experiment with all of the options available, depending on what they want their ringtone to sound like by the end.

For example, you could use the virtual session drummers to create a basic beat, then lay down extra tracks using the built-in virtual instruments. This can also be used to record singing using the built-in microphone or the playing of real instruments.

A quick way to create a track is to go into the Live Loops section, selecting one of the example sample grids, and then record a session using the included samples.

Once created, tap My Songs in the top left to save the project. Give the new project a long press and select Rename, give the song a title, and tap Done.

Sharing the Tone

Long-press the new track or the existing project, and select the pop-up Share option. The new panel will offer three options, to export as a song, a ringtone, or as a project. Select Ringtone.

If you wish to use a different name for the ringtone instead of the song title, change the name by tapping it, otherwise just tap Export. This will bring up an extra notification advising it was successful, and while OK will end the process, Use sound as… will allow for it to be set as a ringtone straight away.

Selecting Use sound as… will bring up three more options, namely to set it as the Standard Ringtone, Standard Text Tone, or to Assign to a contact. Selecting either of the first two will change the default assigned tone to the new one, and will end the process.

If you opt for Assign to contact, the full list of contacts stored on the iPhone or iPad will be shown onscreen. Scroll through and select the contact you want to use. Lastly, select between Assign as Text Tone and Assign as Ringtone to complete the procedure.

Regardless of whether the tone is assigned or not, it will be immediately available to use in the main tone settings as an extra tone option.

To make it the default tone after exporting, go to the Settings app followed by Sounds then Ringtone. The custom apps will be at the top of the list, and can be tapped to set as the default tone.

Deleting the Tone

Custom ringtones created in GarageBand iOS and exported to the same device are not accessible within iTunes on a Mac, for unknown reasons. It is possible to remove the tones, but from within GarageBand itself.

Long-press any project and select the Share option, followed by Ringtone. On the screen for entering a new name, select Your Ringtones below the textbox.

This will list all custom-made ringtones created on the iOS device. Tap Edit to bring up the deletion options, tap the red circle next to the tone you wish to remove, then the new Delete button to confirm its removal.

Once finished, click Done, and exit the export menus.


Just like the Mac version, GarageBand for iOS ringtones are limited to only 40 seconds in length as a maximum. Rather than warn of this during the export, GarageBand automatically clips the tone to the first 40 seconds, eliminating the rest of the track.

If you have a composition and want to use only part of the song from the middle or the end, for example, duplicate the project on the Recent Projects page by a long-press followed by Duplicate. Enter this duplicated project and trim the track down to 40 seconds or less, before sharing again.

Also, it is advised that readers do not import music tracks they do not have permission or the rights to use for their own ringtones, for copyright-related legal reasons. If you want to use copyrighted music, a sound effect, or a fictional character’s catchphrase, it is recommended to look at the tones available in the iTunes store. 

How to troubleshoot Notes

How to troubleshoot Notes

Here are some steps to take if you suddenly find that your iCloud Notes aren’t syncing properly on iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

How to troubleshoot Notes

A lot of us keep our thoughts and writing organized using Notes, which uses iCloud to keep everything in sync between iPhone, iPad, and Mac. And if you do, it’s likely that you’ve opened Notes on one of your devices only to find that a note from another device didn’t sync like it’s supposed to. Fortunately, there are steps you can take in order to get Notes syncing back on track.

  • First steps
  • How to move a note out of iCloud
  • How to turn off iCloud Notes sync on your iPhone or iPad
  • How to turn off iCloud Notes sync on your Mac
  • How to sign out of your iCloud account on your iPhone or iPad
  • How to sign out of your iCloud account on your Mac

First steps

If a problem in Notes syncing ever arises, there are a number of steps that you can take to try and resolve the issue. These range from force quitting the app on your iOS device to signing out of your iCloud account entirely and signing back in. Be aware that while none of these steps are guarantees, but will likely fix most syncing problems that you face.

For the purposes of this guide, I’m going to assume you have a fairly common Apple device setup: an iPhone, an iPad, and a Mac.

Find the source of the problem

When Notes fails to sync across your devices, this is generally an indication of a problem with one of your devices, rather than with iCloud as a whole. If it happens across multiple products, it likely means a wider iCloud issue.

Before anything else, you’ll want to check Apple’s iCloud System Status page to ensure that iCloud, and Notes, in particular, isn’t suffering from some sort of problem. If the symbol next to iCloud Notes is green, this means everything’s fine on iCloud’s end and that you’ll have to check and see which of your devices is falling down on the job.

The easiest way to do this is to open Notes on all of your devices. If you’ve run into a sync problem, then your new note should either be available only on one device, the one you wrote it on, or all but one device. Whichever device is the problem, that’s the one on which you’ll focus.

Force quit and reboot

The easiest step to take is force quitting the Notes app. On iPhone or iPad, this process involves activating the multitasking view, while you have a few options on the Mac.

I’ve found that this process is more likely to work if I pair the force quitting of the app with a power cycle (completely rebooting the device).

If these methods don’t work, it’s time to move on to trying to reset the connection that the app and/or your device has with iCloud.

How to move a note out of iCloud

If the device on which you’ll be switching off Notes sync is the one that you used to write the note you want to sync in the first place, you might want to move it out of iCloud so it’s not deleted when you disable Notes sync.

How to move a note out of iCloud on iPhone or iPad

  1. Open Notes.
  2. Swipe left on the iCloud note that you wish to save to your device.

    Open Notes, swipe left

  3. Tap the purple folder button.
  4. Tap an available location under On My [Device].

    Tap folder button, choose folder

How to move a note out of iCloud on Mac

  1. Open Notes.
  2. Click and hold on the note you want to move.

    Open Notes, click and hold on the note

  3. Drag the note to a folder under On My Mac.

    Drag note to an On My Mac folder

How to turn off iCloud Notes sync on your iPhone or iPad

If a force quit and reboot didn’t work, you’ll want to turn off Notes sync on iCloud on the troublesome device. Here’s how to do it on iPhone and iPad.

  1. Open Settings on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap the Apple ID banner at the top of the screen.
  3. Tap iCloud.

    Open Settings, tap Apple ID banner, tap iCloud

  4. Tap the green slider switch next to Notes to turn off Notes sync.
  5. Tap Delete from My [Device] to remove your iCloud notes from your device.

    Tap switch to turn off, tap Delete from my iPhone

Once your iPhone or iPad has completed removing your iCloud notes from your device, flip the switch next to Notes back on again. Give your device a minute to download all of your notes.

If this is the device that you wrote the note on, move the note back to iCloud using the same steps that you did to move it out of iCloud and see it it syncs to your other devices. If this is a device that a note needs to sync to, open the Notes app to see if the new note has appeared.

How to turn off iCloud Notes sync on your Mac

If it’s your Mac that’s giving you problems, you’ll need to turn Notes sync off and on again on that device.

  1. Open System Preferences.
  2. Click iCloud.

    Open System Preferences, click iCloud

  3. Click the checkbox next to Notes to turn off iCloud Notes sync on your Mac.
  4. Click the same checkbox again to turn iCloud Notes sync back on.

    Click checkbox, click checkbox again

  5. Open Notes and wait for it to sync all of your iCloud Notes.

    Open Notes

If this is the device that you wrote the note on, move the note back to iCloud using the same steps that you did to move it out of iCloud and see if it syncs to your other devices. If this is a device that a note needs to sync to, open the Notes app to see if the new note has appeared.

How to sign out of your iCloud account on your iPhone or iPad

This is the step that you want to avoid because it can cause a lot of annoyances for different apps on your devices. But, if previous steps haven’t worked, then you can sign out of iCloud on your iOS device, then sign back in.

How to sign out of your iCloud account on your Mac

If you’re troubleshooting this issue on your Mac, here’s how to sign out and back into iCloud on that device.


If you’ve got questions about troubleshooting iCloud Notes sync on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac, let us know in the comments.

Can’t Auto Unlock your Mac with your Apple Watch? [Solved]

Can’t unlock your Mac with your Apple Watch? Here’s how to fix it!

When the Apple Watch’s Auto Unlock works, it’s magical. You open or approach your Mac while wearing your Apple Watch and, instead of having to type in your — hopefully long, strong — password, it just logs you in. No fuss. No muss.

But when it’s not working, you might feel anger, frustration, blame, recriminations, along with having to type in that — hopefully long, strong — password. Not so much fun.

So what can you do when Auto Unlock doesn’t work? Here’s an in-depth guide to help you out.

  • Some basic Auto Unlock troubleshooting
  • Is Automatic Login enabled?
  • Is your Apple Watch paired correctly?
  • Reset the radios
  • Reboot everything
  • Check for updates
  • Re-pair your Apple Watch
  • Contact Apple

Some basic Auto Unlock troubleshooting

If you can’t enable Auto Unlock (or it was working, but stopped), here are a few of more obvious problems we’ve run across:

  • Your Mac is not compatible: Remember, to use Auto Unlock, you must have a 2013 Mac or newer.
  • Your software isn’t compatible: If you own an Apple Watch Series 0, 1, or 2, you’ll need watchOS 3 or later and macOS Sierra or later to use Auto Unlock; the Apple Watch Series 3 requires watchOS 4 and macOS High Sierra or later.
  • You don’t have two-factor authentication enabled for iCloud: Either you never enabled two-factor authentication, or you still have Apple’s older two-step verification procedure enabled instead.
  • Your Mac and Apple Watch are signed into different iCloud accounts: Make sure your devices are both signed in with the same Apple ID.
  • Your Apple Watch or Mac don’t have a passcode enabled: Both devices should have a default passcode enabled to use Auto Unlock — otherwise, what are you unlocking?

You can also check your setup process and make sure everything’s still working there:

Set up auto unlock on your Apple Watch and Mac

These quick fixes fail to address your issue? Check out our more in-depth troubleshooting options below.

Is Automatic Login enabled?

If so, you should disable it.

  1. Click on the Apple icon () in the upper left corner of your screen.
  2. Select System Preferences from the drop-down menu.

    Opening System Preferences on Mac

  3. Click on Users & Groups.
  4. Click the lock to make changes.
  5. Enter your system administrator password.
  6. Click on Login Options.
  7. Select Off from the Automatic login menu.

    Disabling Automatic login on Mac

Is your Apple Watch paired correctly?

This has happened to iMore staffers before: Editor Lory Gil had forgotten to pair her existing Apple Watch with her new iPhone, which momentarily broke Auto Unlock.

How to pair your Apple Watch to a new iPhone

Reset the radios

Auto unlock requires Bluetooth 4.2 and Wi-Fi to be up and running on both your Apple Watch and Mac in order to work. If one or both radios have been turned off on one or both devices, or somehow stopped responding, Auto Unlock will likewise stop working. Cycling them can sometimes jump start everything back into action.

On your Apple Watch:

  1. Swipe up from the watch face to bring up control center.
  2. Tap the Airplane Mode button to turn all radios off. (It’ll turn yellow when they’re off.)
  3. Tap the Airplane Mode button to turn all the radios back on. (It’ll go back to black and gray when they’re on.)

On your Mac:

  1. Click on the Bluetooth icon in the menubar.
  2. Click on Turn Bluetooth Off.
  3. Click on the Bluetooth icon in the menubar again.
  4. Click on Turn Bluetooth On.
  5. Click on the Wi-Fi icon in the menubar.
  6. Click on Turn Wi-Fi Off.
  7. Click on the Wi-Fi icon in the menubar again.
  8. Click on Turn Wi-Fi On.

Once you’re done, try auto unlock again. If it works, great. If not, keep reading.

Reboot everything

The next thing to try is a hard reset. Make all the “reboot Windows” jokes you want but it’s a cliche for a reason!

On your Apple Watch:

  1. Press an hold the Digital Crown and Side button at the same time.
  2. Keep holding them down until you see the Apple logo.

On your Mac:

  1. Click on the button on the menubar.
  2. Click on Restart…

Once you’ve rebooted, auto unlock will be temporarily disabled. Enter your password to re-enable it. Then let you Mac sleep and try auto unlock again.

Check for updates

Apple’s Bluetooth and Wi-Fi stacks—the set of software that controls the radios—aren’t without occasional quirks. Sometimes, new versions of watchOS or macOS introduce compatibility problems; other times, they fix them. If you’re having Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connectivity problems, you’re better off updating than not. If it’s already broken, the update is your chance for a fix.

On your iPhone:

  1. Launch the Watch app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap on the My Watch tab at the bottom.
  3. Tap on General.
  4. Tap on Software Update.
  5. If there’s an update available, tap to install it.

On your Mac:

  1. Launch the Mac App Store.
  2. Click on the Updates tab, top left.
  3. If there’s a macOS software update available, click to install it.

Once you’re done updating, try to use auto unlock again — after you’ve logged in following reboot to re-enable it! If it works, awesome. If not, there’s even more to try!

Re-pair your Apple Watch

Re-pairing your Apple Watch is a huge pain, but if something has gone wrong with the connection between your iPhone and Apple Watch, secure information won’t be transmitted properly, and that will stop auto-unlock dead.

  1. Launch the Watch app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap on the My Watch tab at the bottom.
  3. Tap on [Name]’s Apple Watch at the top.
  4. Tap on the Info button on the right. (Looks like an i.)
  5. Tap on Unpair Apple Watch.

Once your Apple Watch has been unpaired, repeat the pairing process, restoring from your most recent backup. You’ll have to re-enable Auto Unlock in your Mac’s System Preferences again, but once that’s done, auto unlock should be back up and running. If not, you have one option left…

Contact Apple

Sometimes a problem really is a problem. Like any electronics, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi radios and the various connections to them can have problems. If you have AppleCare+, don’t walk, run to your local Apple Store to get it looked at.

Other questions?

Let us know below.

Updated March 2018: Updated to reflect High Sierra and watchOS 4.

Tip: Sådan ændrer du en fils standardprogram på Mac

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Alle filtyper er som standard associeret med et bestemt program, når man dobbeltklikker på dem i eksempelvis Finder eller Spotlight. For eksempel åbner .txt filer i TextEdit og .pdf filer i Billedfremviser. Men sådan behøver det ikke være. Du kan nemlig selv bestemme hvilke programmer en given fil eller filtype skal associeres med. Enten for hver enkelt fil eller for alle filer af en bestemt type. Måske har du behov for at alle tekstfiler åbner i en bestemt editor, måske har du behov for at kun et bestemt dokument åbner i en anden editor end alle andre. Begge ting kan nemt lade sig gøre.

Skift standardprogram for en enkelt fil

Hvis du vil skifte standardprogrammet for en enkelt fil, skal du finde den i Finder og højreklikke på den. Det frembringer en menu, hvor du skal vælge “Vis info”. Er du mere til tastaturgenveje, kan man også trykke cmd+i. Begge dele åbner et info-vindue med oplysninger om den valgte fil. Det vigtige her er afsnittet “Åbn i”.

Her vil du kunne se, hvilket program der er filens standardformat. Klikker du på menuen, vil du se hvad der ellers er af muligheder. Du vælger det ønskede program og kan derefter lukke info-vinduet. Fremover vil filen åbne i det program du har sat den til.

Skift standardprogrammet for alle filer af en bestemt filtype

Ønsker du at ændre standardprogrammet for alle filer af en bestemt type på én gang, kan det også lade sig gøre. Du åbner info-vinduet som ovenfor beskrevet og vælger det ønskede program. Derefter trykker du på knappen “Ret alle”. Det vil ændre standardprogrammet for alle filer med samme filendelse, der herefter fremover vil åbne i det nye standardprogram.

Du skal være opmærksom på, at har du sat enkelte af filerne til at åbne i et specielt program, så bliver det ikke overskrevet af den nye indstilling. Så du skal altså ikke være bange for, at miste dit arbejde med at associere enkelte filer med specielle programmer, fordi du ændrer standardprogrammet for alle dokumenter af en bestemt type.

App Store og Andet

Nogle gange er der mange muligheder at vælge mellem, andre gange er der slet ingen. Det kommer helt an på, hvilke programmer du har installeret på sin Mac. Først og fremmest vælger Apple kun de mest oplagte i listen.

Ved at trykke op Andre i menuen kan du dog selv vælge frit mellem alle ens programmer, også blandt dem, der ikke er så oplagte.

En anden mulighed er, at trykke på App Store i menuen. Det sender, sam navnet siger, en til App Store, hvor du vil blive præsenteret for programmer, der er beregnet til håndtering af lige præcis den typer fil, du sidder med. Ganske smart måde at finde egnede programmer på.

Som du kan se, er det nemt at få kontrol over, hvilke filer der skal åbne i hvilke programmer.

How to Show a Map of All Geotagged Photos on Mac

How to Show a Map of All Geotagged Photos on Mac

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Have you ever wished you could view all of your geotagged pictures on a map? With the Mac Photos app, you can do exactly that by accessing a handy map of all images containing geotagging and GPS data, each displayed on a nice navigable map, right within the Photos app of Mac OS.

For some quick background, if an image is geotagged it will have embedded GPS metadata stored with the picture file to maintain a record of exactly where a photo was taken (or at least where an image was assigned a location for).

While many privacy advocates don’t like geotagged pictures – particularly if the images are posted to the internet, social networks, social media, or any other broad service for the world to see – some users may find having precise location data within images to be useful.

This only works if you have pictures within the Mac Photos app that are geotagged with GPS data. If you removed location data from Photos on the Mac, otherwise routinely bulk strip GPS and metadata out of images for privacy reasons or compression purposes, or turned off geotagging and camera GPS on iPhone, you may not have geotagged image data to work with and thus wouldn’t have anything showing up in the Photos app.

How to See Map of All Geotagged Pictures in Photos for Mac

  1. Open the Photos app on the Mac
  2. From the Photos sidebar, choose “Places” to load the geotagged photo map

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Note if the sidebar isn’t visible by default, you can go to the View menu to reveal the sidebar as expected.

The “Places” section of the Photos app will always show GPS tagged images that are within the Photos app of Mac OS, but there are other ways to see geotagged images as well.

You can zoom in and out on the GPS tagged photo map, and you can set the map to be a satellite view too if you’d like. The map with the geotagged images is the same type of maps you encounter with the Apple Maps app on Mac and iOS.

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Show Nearby Photos with Geotagging

You can also show nearby geotagged photos that may relate to an existing geotagged image by having a nearby location:

  1. From Photos on the Mac, open a geotagged picture you want to find other nearby photos for
  2. Scroll down to reveal the “Places” section and then click on the “Show Nearby Photos” option

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You can also view EXIF data directly from Photos app, which will also show the geotagging information if relevant.

This can also offer a simple way to see a bunch of images that have GPS data if you want to remove the location data from the picture directly within the Photos app on the Mac, or if you want to know what image files should be passed through a Mac app like ImageOptim to strip the image files of EXIF metadata and GPS coordinates.

So there you have it, now you can quickly see all the geotagged pictures you have played out on a map for you within the Photos app. And if you have other pictures elsewhere you wish to check this for, you’d want to import those image files into Photos app, or copy the pictures from an iPhone or camera to Photos app on Mac first. Just remember that if you do have GPS and geotagging data stored in pictures and you choose to share those pictures with someone else or post them online, technically anyone can retrieve the metadata and GPS coordinates of where the picture was taken. 

How to Use a Windows PC Keyboard on Mac by Remapping Command & Option Keys

How to Use a Windows PC Keyboard on Mac by Remapping Command & Option Keys

Use Windows PC Keyboard on Mac with remapped modifier keys

Macs can use nearly all keyboards built for Windows PC, whether they are USB or Bluetooth, but you may notice that the layout of some of the modifier keys are different on a Mac keyboard from the layout of a Windows keyboard. Specifically, the WINDOWS and ALT key of a Windows keyboard are switched compared to the Mac keyboard layout of OPTION/ALT and COMMAND keys. This can lead to erroneous keyboard shortcuts or other unexpected key press behavior when using a PC keyboard with a Mac.

A simple solution to this problem is to remap the Windows and ALT key and the command and option/alt keys on the Windows PC keyboard connected to the Mac, so that the keyboard layouts will mimic expectations based on the standard Apple modifier key layout, rather than what it says on the PC keyboard. For most Mac users who connect a PC keyboard to their Mac, this will dramatically improve their typing experience when using a PC keyboard.

Using a Windows PC Keyboard on Mac with Remapped Windows & ALT Keys

This trick works the same with all Windows and PC keyboard with the standard CTRL / Windows / ALT key layout, and all versions of Mac OS:

  1. Connect the Windows PC keyboard to the Mac as usual, either by USB or Bluetooth
  2. Pull down the  Apple menu and choose “System Preferences”
  3. Click on “Keyboard”
  4. Choose the “Keyboard” tab and then click on the “Modifier Keys” button in the lower right corner of the preference panel
  5. Choose the PC keyboard from the “Select Keyboard” dropdown menu at the top of the Modifier keys screen to insure you are modifying the proper keyboard connected to the Mac
  6. Click the dropdown next to “OPTION Key” and select “Command”
  7. Click the dropdown next to “COMMAND Key” and select “Option”
  8. Click “OK” and test out the newly remapped keyboard keys *

Once finished you will have a new digital layout of the Windows PC keyboard keys when used on the Mac:

  • WINDOWS key becomes the ALT / OPTION key on Mac OS
  • ALT key becomes the COMMAND key on Mac OS

* NOTE: Some PC keyboards also have the “CNTRL” and “ALT” keys switched too, compared to a standard Mac key layout. If applicable, go ahead and switch those with the same Modifier Key trick outlined above.

A simple way to confirm the keyboard modifier keys are switched as expected is to issue a keyboard shortcut, like a screen capture (Command Shift 3) or a Close Window command (Command + W). It should work as you’d expect based on the Mac keyboard layout.

Obviously this isn’t going to change the actual physical keyboard appearance, so you’ll have to get used to the appearance of the keys saying one thing, but doing something else. But if you are mostly a touch-typer and never look at your hands when typing this shouldn’t be an issue.

Essentially you are reversing the Windows PC keyboard Windows and ALT keys (which become the Command and Option/ALT keys when connected to the Mac), which puts them in line with the default Mac and Apple keyboard layout of those buttons. Thus, the Windows PC keyboard Windows key becomes the new ALT / OPTION key on the Mac, and the Windows PC keyboard ALT key becomes the new COMMAND key on the Mac, just like it would be on an Apple keyboard.

For example, here’s a Windows PC keyboard with a different modifier key layout than the Apple keyboard layout:

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And here’s a Apple keyboard with different modifier key layout than the Windows PC keyboard:

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Thus you can see why switching the modifier key behavior when the PC keyboard is connected to the Mac can be helpful.

This trick should be particularly useful to Mac users who have a favorite PC keyboard laying around they want to use, or perhaps prefer a particular Windows PC keyboard for one reason or another. And yes this tip works the same regardless of the Windows PC keyboard connected to the Mac, and regardless of the Mac operating system or the Mac itself. You can switch the modifier keys in any release and with any keyboard this way.

By the way if you’re coming to the Mac from the Windows world, which is perhaps why you have a Windows PC keyboard in use on a Mac in the first place, you’ll probably appreciate learning the Home and END button equivalents on a Mac keyboard, what the Print Screen button equivalent is on a Mac, potentially using the Delete key as a Forward DEL on a Mac, or discovering how to use Page Up and Page Down on a Mac keyboard, and understanding what and where the OPTION or ALT key is on a Mac too.

So, try this out if you have a Windows keyboard you want to use with a Mac, or if you want to try an external PC keyboard on a Mac then go ahead and don’t be shy, because simply swapping those two modifier keys can remedy one of the biggest annoyances when using a Windows PC keyboard on a Mac.

If you have any other helpful tips for using a Windows or PC keyboard on a Mac, then share them with us in the comments below!