Software to avoid: ExpanDrive

Expandrive is a program that lets you mount external connections (SSH servers, Google Drive etc.) as volumes on a Mac, so you can drag/drop/save/load as if they were local.

Both the old version I had (6.4.7) and the newest release of version 7 essentially won’t connect to anything at all for me – either servers I run myself or Google Drive/Dropbox (in the case of the last two they get stuck in an infinite loop.)

This is on Mac running macOS Mojave 10.14.6.

There are log files, but they weren’t massively useful.

Didn’t get far with their live support. Similar complaints on Trustpilot. I believe it’s quite a small team (though more than one). Their apps are still actively developed, but if one doesn’t work and they can’t help you…

I asked if they operated a test server, which would be useful for diagnosing problems as they could use it to check the logs at their end. But they don’t.

Possibly the thing to get instead if you really need it is Transmit ($45), though I have gone back to moving files via the command line.

You accidentally deleted your entire Apple Photos library. How to undelete it.

e.g. you’re trying to view the package contents of the “Photos Library” (in /Users/[username]/Pictures/), so you can check an original file, RAW image, etc. – but you’re not thinking properly, accidentally click the wrong option in the menu and send the entire contents to the Recycle Bin by mistake.

You stop the deletion immediately, and the Photo Library isn’t in the Recycle Bin, and still appears to be in the usual location in the Finder, but, on launching Photos (macOS Mojave 10.14.6, in this case) it says it has failed to repair the library and invites you to open another one.

The fix is very simple – first, disconnect your Time Machine drive (or any other automated backup location) to avoid harming your backups.

  • close Photos if it’s open
  • hold down the command + option (alt) keys while clicking the icon
  • the Photos app will open and should immediately offer to repair the library for you.
  • supply password when prompted
  • wait a while (a few minutes for 80GB of photos in my case) while the photolibraryd process rebuilds the library (you’ll see a fairly accurate progress meter)
  • browse / continue to use the library for a while to check everything is still there and ok (mine was).

On a related note, I highly recommend Adobe Lightroom Classic (superbly well thought out app, very powerful and perhaps also the best designed keyboard shortcuts I have ever seen). The £10 a month Creative Cloud subscription is worth it (get the one that also gives you Photoshop). It’s considerably better at things like HDR and spot removal/healing brushes than, for example, Pixelmator Pro, Affinity Photo etc.

Only issue is that it can eat memory. Keep an eye on that and be prepared to relaunch if it, as has happened to me a couple of times, it creeps up to 9GB.

Mac shortcut tips – playing live radio stations with a single keypress

Using macOS Mojave, iTunes, some apple script and BetterTouchTool (£)

  • Create a playlist entry for the radio station in iTunes
  • Create a script file like this:
bbcws.scpt:

tell application "iTunes"
play track "BBC World Service"
end tell
  • Add a shortcut in BetterTouchTool, using the Execute Terminal Command option: e.g. osascript /path/to/bbcws.scpt

(Remember you can use modifier keys for variations. e.g. F18, shift-F18, cmd-F18)

Benefits:

Whilst I have streamlined the way I access audio over the years, by putting all my preferred stations in iTunes playlist, to avoid having to launch individual websites or apps, you generally still have to first switch to iTunes etc. (Launchbar currently doesn’t support playing live streams properly).

With this solution, I can literally just hit a button and it’ll start within a second. (If you have a digital watch, e.g. a Casio, I suggest activating the hourly chime if you want to avoid missing the start of news bulletins etc.)

Q: But what about iTunes being abolished in Catalina? Yes, well I’m not planning to upgrade for some time, and when I reach that point I’ll probably switch to VLC or something.

 

PSA – Safari 13.0.1 breaks multiple extensions

Even if you’re still running macOS High Sierrra (I’m on 10.13.6) you’ll receive a Safari update (from 12 to 13).  This will break a number of extensions – including most adblocking – also a vim-based keyboard extension I was using called Vimmy.

So you may want to avoid upgrading, or do as I’ve done and switch your default browser to Firefox etc. for the time being.

macOS Catalina 10.15 – things to be aware/wary of

  • 32-bit apps will no longer be supported at all (currently that still includes Acquia DevDesktop – for running Drupal development sites)
  • the default shell is going to change from Bash to Zsh
  • scripting languages won’t be installed by default (Apple gave Python, Ruby and Perl as examples in a support document, but didn’t specifically mention PHP).  It’ll mean Homebrew will need to be installed differently.   Presumably it won’t be an issue if you’re upgrading a previous macOS version, but, also presumably, it will be if you’re using a new computer, even with Migration Assistant.
  • iTunes has been removed and the Apple Music replacement apparently doesn’t support column view of your music library.
  • John Gruber writes that Catalina is a pain to use due to (a) bugs but also (b) excessive permission alert dialogs.

(As usual, my own policy is not to upgrade to a new macOS release until 9-12 months after it’s come out, to allow everything to settle. I write this – post updated Feb 2020 – on a machine that’s still running High Sierra, which should still get support until late 2020 – although again, Apple have never announced support lifecycle dates.)