How to upload multiple Photos libraries to a single iCloud Photo Library

Rob Rosenbaum has a slightly terrifying question. He’s been syncing photos from a single iPhone to two different Macs via USB—just importing them on each Mac. He is about to turn on iCloud Photo Library, but he wonders.

Once I turn this on for the first time, will iCloud import everything from all three? Even if it’s the same photo? Will anything be erased?

Before you change any settings, I recommend making a full local backup of all your libraries, just in case. Photos and iCloud Photo Library is much better and more stable than in its earlier releases, but you never know what might happen.

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How to update to two-factor authentication for an iTunes-only Apple ID

If you’re like me (and many of you are), you have two Apple IDs for historical reasons that you continue to use. Until the mythical future date at which Apple updates its back-end systems to achieve the glory obtained only decades ago by most businesses that manage accounts to allow merging purchases and other data from multiple IDs into a single one, we’re stuck with it.

(Sidebar: Many, many, many people write in regularly asking how to solve this problem, because they assume they simply haven’t found Apple’s merge-accounts options. It’s not you, folks.)

Years ago, iOS could interact poorly with two ID setup, but then Apple switched to embrace it fully. Now, in iOS 10, the Settings section for accounts even lists iCloud and Store as separate items if you’re using two accounts along with the email addresses for them. That’s a nice move.

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How to erase a Mac with a dead video card

Steve Mitchell has a sort of existential question about his Mac:

I have a MacBook Pro (early 2011), and want to erase the hard drive before selling it on eBay. It has a dead graphics card, so it is stuck in a grey-screen reboot loop. How do I erase the hard drive?

First, the bad news. Apple had an extended-warranty program for many MacBook Pro models release in 2011 through 2013 to replace faulty graphics cards. But the program ended for 2011 models in December 2016. Still, it’s worth contacting Apple to see if they would take care of it, and you should check with the consumer-protection division of your state’s attorney general’s office to see if your state offers additional protections for this kind of hardware failure.

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Apple's Thunderbolt Display doesn’t work with a 12-inch MacBook’s USB-C port

While the USB-C connector type has a lot of advantages and it’s now guaranteed with Intel’s full support at being the dominant peripheral format for the next many years, there’s still a lot of confusion about the difference between USB-C and Thunderbolt 3.

That comes up in an email from Simon Shaw, who can connect his 24-inch Apple Cinema Display to a 12-inch MacBook (2016 release) using a Mini DisplayPort to USB-C, but finds his 27-inch Apple Thunderbolt Display doesn’t have a solution. It probably seems even more arbitrary when MacBook Air models dating to 2011, including the ones still on sale, can work with both Cinema Displays and Thunderbolt Displays with no problem.

No solution is forthcoming, but it’s not surprising that this remains a puzzle. First the summary, and then the details:

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Why Photos duplicates a description across a set of images

Have you had the description or title of a photo or video wind up duplicated across all the media in an album? It’s an easy thing to do by accident, judging by reader email.

This was harder to do with iPhoto, where you’d need to use the Photos > Batch Change item after selecting images and videos. In Photos, it can be as simple as pressing return.

With a single photo or movie selected, the Info palette (Window > Info) displays the specific metadata, like exposure time and shutter speed. Select multiple items, and it shows a summary. In the title, description, and keyword fields, you’re prompted to add something if everything selected has none of each or all of those items. If anything is present, you’ll see Various Titles, Various Descriptions, and a list of keywords.

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How to restart your Mac remotely

Reader G. Murray needs to restart his Mac at times when it’s not within arm’s reach—or even with walking legs’ reach. He’s wondering what options are available with modern Macs. His Mac is located on a network created by a Time Machine, so it has a privately assigned IP address using NAT (Network Address Translation).

Two kinds of options apply here: for when the Mac is still ticking away but isn’t doing what you want, so you want to restart it if only you could connect remotely to it; or when the Mac is unreachable and ostensibly crashed or experiencing other problems, and you want to power cycle it.

Remotely connect to a working Mac

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