OS X

A quicker way to toggle hidden files on macOS, no Terminal required

Sometimes you need to edit a system file, or look at a file created by one of your programs. Many of these files are hidden by default, so you'll need to make them visible before you can go about your business. One example I often encounter is hosts files, either for SSH or for your computer's whitelisted and blacklisted domains, though there are many others.

Selling your Mac to a new owner? Follow these steps beforehand

If you’re gearing up to sell your Mac, then the last thing you want to do is just shove it in the original box and call it a day. Your computer contains personal information that could tell the new owner a lot about you.

There are six steps for preparing most Mac computers for sale, but if you have a MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, then there's one additional step to add to your checklist. We’ll go over all of those in this piece.

Every Mac wallpaper since OS X Cheetah 10.0

Journalist Stephen Hackett and French designer @forgottentowel have created an awesome compilation of every new wallpaper that appeared in macOS editions since OS X Cheetah 10.0, the first major version of Apple's desktop operating system released sixteen years ago in 2001.

Older ones back from the day when computers didn't have Retina screens were upscaled for the glorious 5K resolution. You can view and download them individually from the 512 Pixels website, as well as learn a little bit of history behind each wallpaper.

The first two releases of Mac OS X shared the same wallpaper: the sweeping blue arcs and curves, which helped set the tone of the new Aqua interface.

It wasn't until OS X Leopard 10.5 that Apple changed the theme of the default OS X wallpaper from the blue-themed trails streaking across the screen to various space nebulas.

“It ushered in the 'space era' of OS X wallpapers, which was used heavily in the new Time Machine interface as well,” Hackett wrote. The space theme for Mac wallpapers had continued for a few years until OS X Mavericks 10.9, which marked the beginning of Apple’s naming scheme for Mac releases based on California locations.

With OS X Yosemite 10.10 and its flattened user interface, Apple began shipping new default wallpapers based on images of mountains. Subsequent OS X releases, including the latest macOS High Sierra, each shipped with their own mountain-themed wallpapers.

What's your favorite macOS wallpaper of all time?

How to fix TinyUmbrella v9.3.4 crashing on launch

Many jailbreakers will be familiar with the program TinyUmbrella, which has traditionally been one of the best ways to save SHSH blobs for their iOS devices onto their Macs for safekeeping. What SHSH blobs are, their function, and how to save them is outside the scope of this article, (I will put something together soon on this), but suffice to say that saving these blobs is of some importance to many jailbreakers and that TinyUmbrella has been the go-to application for doing so for a long while.

Whilst the application was updated as recently as August by its creator Semaphore, many Mac users (myself included) have noted that the new version, 9.3.4, gives an error on launch and cannot be used at all. This guide will walk you through the fix to get your umbrella back up again on Mac, so you can carry on wishfully saving those blobs.

How to enable AirDrop file transfers between unsupported Macs and over Ethernet

The AirDrop file transfer protocol, introduced with Mac OS X Lion and iOS 7, is a fast and convenient way to transfer files between Apple devices. The current version of the service is interoperable between iOS and macOS, but requires both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to be active in order to work. It also requires Mac OS X Yosemite or newer and a hardware model from 2012 or later.

However, the version of AirDrop that shipped as standard with OS X between 10.7 (Lion) and 10.9 (Mavericks), whilst unable to send files to iOS devices, works without Bluetooth and on Mac models going back as far as 2008. Luckily, alongside the newer version, this legacy mode is still included on all Mac models to date, and as this guide will show, can be modified to have an even broader functionality.

How to hide mounted volumes from your desktop and the Finder

We've already covered how to completely prevent partitions from mounting under macOS but, as one iDB reader pointed out, sometimes you want a partition mounted and ready to use but still want the benefit of it not cluttering up your desktop and the Finder sidebar. Luckily, there is a way to leave specific volumes mounted whilst hiding them from both the desktop and the entirety of the Finder in one fell swoop.

How to extend Quick Look preview functionality on your Mac

If you're not familiar with the Quick Look feature on macOS, try selecting a picture, folder, or text document on your computer and pressing the space bar. The rich preview that pops up is Quick Look working its magic. Apple introduced Quick Look in Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard and it has since gained support for many more file types natively, such as Microsoft Office and Adobe Suite documents.

I use it daily and it has become an automatic part of my workflow, a natural response to wanting to inspect a file without waiting for a program to launch and without leaving off what I'm doing.

However, the problem that Quick Look faces is support. It requires a plugin for each file type it can preview, and out-of-the-box only a handful are supplied. More obscure file types are neglected, and display only a blank pane with the file icon, name, size, and date modified. In this guide, I will detail how to add plugins to Quick Look for a richer and more useful preview experience.

How to prevent partitions from mounting when you boot up, log in, or connect drives to your Mac

With the exception of partitions in unreadable formats and certain hidden partitions such as EFI and Recovery HD, the default behaviour of macOS is to mount all partitions of a drive on boot-up, login, or on connecting an external drive.

Whilst this behaviour is useful for the novice or for those connecting a single USB stick to copy some files, it can become unwieldy and even annoying if you have many multi-partitioned drives attached to your Mac.

For example, my desktop Hackintosh has three internal drives, each with at least two partitions, and one of these drives is not even needed when booted under macOS – it is for Windows 10 and Linux. Add to this a couple of external hard drives with partitions for storage, OS installers and Time Machine backups for other computers, and your desktop and Finder sidebar can begin to look a real mess. It also takes time for the drives to mount on every boot and unmount on sleep or shutdown.

This guide will detail how to ensure only the drives of your choosing mount automatically, leaving the rest unmounted within macOS.

How to convert CAF files to MP3 or AAC

From time to time, you might come across an audio file format known as .caf (Core Audio Format), which was originally created by Apple to put an end to file size barriers set by other audio file types.

Unfortunately, not every audio player or device works with .caf files, so it might do you good to know how to convert them to another audio file type using the software that comes with your Mac. In this tutorial, we'll show you how to convert .caf files to more commonly-used audio files such as AAC or MP3 with Garageband.

Force quit not working on your Mac? Try this

When an app is dragging its feet on your Mac, you can force quit the app and try opening it again and usually this clears the problem. On the other hand, there can sometimes be circumstances where even trying to force quit an app doesn't seem to work. Bummer, right?

If you're having trouble trying to force quit an app on your Mac, we've got some ideas you can try to kill that app and re-launch it.