How to erase a Mac that seems to lack erasure options

Susan Lawlor writes in with a common problem:

I’m trying to securely erase my poor sad iMac before donating or recycling it. It’s my old workhorse—running 10.6.8. Disk Utility’s Erase Security Options is grayed out. I have no OS X disk, and there’s no Recovery HD.

It’s admirable to erase your system before you sell—especially with secure erasure—to avoid leaking personal data to someone who buys it or obtains the disk drive. While the odds are likely very low someone would be able to extract data (or be interested in it), you can try to reduce those odds to what is effectively zero.

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How to dispose of a printer securely

Philip Cassir writes in with a non-obvious problem:

I have two older printers, an Epson Stylus Photo 960 and an HP OfficeJet 800 Wireless printer, as well as an old CanoScan flatbed scanner I would like to get rid of securely, but I need to know whether these consumer products store any print or scanning jobs as I have scanned receipts and personal documents. There is nothing about that on the manufacturers’ sites. If these devices do have [internal storage], how can I find the modules and remove or destroy them?

My knee-jerk reaction was, nah, these devices are all “dumb”—they don’t contain internal storage that would queue anything once the power was removed. But my knee stopped spasming almost immediately, because it’s these sorts of assumptions that come back to bite users (and manufacturers) later, and even inexpensive printers have become more computer-like starting several years ago.

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How to use iCloud Photo Library selectively

Brenda Best writes in with a common question that I finally have a workaround for:

How do take pictures off iCloud, but not have them deleted from my iMac, iPhone, and iPad? My iCloud is full and I want to clear it up by taking the photos off.

In the past, I’ve said, sorry, it’s all or nothing. Once you opt into iCloud Photo Library, all of your images are synced across all devices that use the same iCloud login and have iCloud Photo Library enabled, and the full-resolution versions of images and videos have to be stored in your iCloud account.

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How to fix missing media items in the sidebar

Faizal Dwi Nugraha is missing media:

The Photos app works well; iTunes works well too; but I can’t see any files in the Photos/Music/Movie folders within the Media folder.

As I noted recently, one way to import to upload media items from Apple software is via the Open dialog box under the Media label. You should see Music, Photos, and Movies, which, when selected, should link to libraries and other storage. This lets you pick items from your Photos library, for instance. Faizal sees these icons, but clicking them doesn’t reveal any media items.

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How to cope with a terrifying iOS Photos deletion warning

Mark Gutz writes in with concern about a dialog that appeared in iOS (see figure):

I’m trying to sync my devices to use photos in iCloud, and when I try to turn on iCloud Photo Library on my iPhone, I get this message!

This is an absolutely frightening thing to be presented with, especially as in Mark’s case, iOS warns him that it will be deleting over 15,000 items.

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How to consolidate calendar events among multiple people

Kristin Balliet asks about a problem with overlapping, identical events:

We’ve just synced calendars at work so there are three calendars that we each view. However, we have many overlapping events. If there a way to sync these so that if we’re all invited to a meeting, it only shows up once?

Yes, although you may have to change the way you think about personal and shared calendars. Many people run into this problem in work groups, families, and social and sports organizations. The trick is to figure out where a master event should live.

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