How to replace the missing optical-digital audio output on newer Macs

Jeff K. has a bone to pick with Apple:

I have a great set of speakers that I connected to my old iMac with a optical audio/mini-plug cable through the headphone jack. They had terrific sound. Imagine my surprise then when I connected the cable to the headphone jack on my new iMac and it wasn’t recognized. I called Apple, and it turns out someone decided to change that part of the audio electronics. No more digital optical. My speakers already have a DAC [digital-to-analog converter] built in, so it’s not a matter of adding one.

Starting in 2006, Apple incorporated support for S/PDIF, an optical digital connection standard that uses a fiber-optic cable with a Toslink connector or through Mini Toslink, which is compatible with standard 3.5mm audio jacks. This allowed higher-quality digital audio output, and this standard allows for 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound encoding, depending on the source device.

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How to bulk delete images from your iPhone

Reader Melissa Mead has a bad case of the overloaded iPhone. She writes:

My iPhone is running out of storage space and I think it’s because I have a lot of photos on it. I’d like to remove them all in one go, after backing them up. Is there a simple way to do that?

Try this: Jack your iPhone into your Mac using the included syncing cable and launch Image Capture. This is an oh-so-handy utility (that hardly anyone uses) for grabbing images from connected devices (including scanners, cameras, and iOS devices).

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How to restore items in the Finder sidebar

Adele Higgins asks:

I somehow removed the Documents category from the Finder’s menu list on the far left of the screen on my MacBook Air. How do I get that category to display again?

You have two methods for certain special folders and items. I’ll explain the specific first, and then the generic way to add any folder.

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Apple Pay, AirDrop, and Handoff not working? Here’s what to do to get them to work again

Apple has built a lot of proximity tools into iOS and macOS, and they’re great when they work. But when they don’t work, it’s leaves you scrambling to find an alternative. If you’ve ever used Handoff, Apple Pay, or AirDrop, you’re using a proximity tool.

Because these features require a combination of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to work, you’re likely experiencing a problem in how each OS or both of them determine whether they’re close enough to each other. (Some Continuity features work with just Wi-Fi or even devices just signed into the same Apple ID/iCloud account.)

I’ve found this a particular problem in a multi-base station household in which my iOS device and Mac wound up on the same Wi-Fi network via different Wi-Fi gateways. While Apple doesn’t say your devices must connect to the same base station, it does seem to be an issue.

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Slow Mac? Could be a hidden memory gobbler in macOS

Just hours into using my new 27-inch iMac with 32GB of memory, the system felt sluggish. I checked memory usage via the top -u command in Terminal, which showed all 32GB was full. Exclamation point, I said aloud, and launched Activity Monitor to dig in more easily than at the command line.

Sure enough, all memory was in use, and the culprit was something I’d never seen before: Turns out that this service relies on Apple plug-ins to make music and other audio, photos and video, and GarageBand files available throughout macOS, including via the options in the Media section of the Open dialog box’s sidebar.

For some (like me), this service goes out of control and consumes all available memory. It may be related to how large your various libraries are. I have over 50,000 images (225GB) in my Photos Library, 120GB in my old iPhoto library, and 240GB in iTunes (including video recorded over the air).

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Why your Mac isn't working as fast as it says it is—and how you can fix it

John Smith wrote in with a very interest set of queries about whether his Macs slow down when they’re left to complete a task. “Do you know why and whether there is a way to prevent it?”

John noted a few different behaviors he’d observed:

  • After enabling FileVault on an older Mac, the time noted for completion ballooned dramatically when he’d walk away and come back.
  • An animation program estimated completion time after about 5 or 10 percent was done, but on his return long after the remaining part should have been completed, it was still working away.
  • Also with that animation rendering, the fans blazed full power until he walked away. Coming back and moving the cursor seemed to put the app back into full-speed mode, as the fans fired back up too.
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How to zoom using the Magic Trackpad in Safari

Jeffrey Dore went through the looking glass with Safari:

When using Safari [in Sierra], it suddenly enlarges the document, similar to what can be done with Control and mouse movement back and forth. If I revert to the previous screen, it returns to correct size, and I can click on the forward button, and it’s fine.

My suspicion is that Jeffrey has accidentally triggered a zoom option I just learned existed. With a trackpad or Magic Mouse, macOS offers an option to zoom on selected areas, just as you can in iOS.

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