How to delete photos in iOS when the trash can icon is grayed out

Several readers have written in asking how to delete photos from their iPhone or other iOS device when the trash can icon appears in gray and can’t be tapped in the Photos app when displaying some or all images and videos. There seem to be a few different causes for this problem, which typically arise if an iOS device has been synced to iTunes—either the iOS device with the trash-can issue or a different one that was backed up and restored to that problematic device.

In both cases, you may need to erase the current contents of the iOS Photos library in the steps that follow, so you should make sure you have a complete backup of all the multimedia you want to save. If you’re already syncing photos with iTunes on a Mac or PC and you’re sure you’re up to date, that’s likely what’s preventing you from deleting images in iOS—I’ll get to that in a moment.

If you’re not already using iTunes, the best advice I can find and offer is to use iPhoto, Photos, or Image Capture to retrieve all the images from your device, even if you only need to do that temporarily. After being sure your photos are completely backed up, then:

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How to restore your Mac to an older version of OS X

Patrick Atis securely wiped his drive, and then wanted to reinstall Yosemite, the installer for which he has on an external hard drive. However, after he booted into OS X Recovery (holding down Command-R at startup), he was only offered the option to download OS X through the App Store, and Yosemite wasn’t an option. What path could he take forward?

Recovery will reinstall the same version of OS X that was on your Mac, even though it’s been erased. Patrick should therefore be prompted to install Yosemite. That didn’t happen in his case. With an erased 2009 MacBook Pro, as Patrick has, he can’t use Internet Recovery, which will reinstall the original operating system that came with the Mac. If that had worked, you could install that older OS, then copy the Yosemite installer, and use it to upgrade, although an intermediate OS X installation might even be required.

mac911 app store old os x

The App Store keeps old OS X installers available under the Purchased tab.

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How to add accents and other marks to characters in Pages

Colin Webb writes with a grave problem:

The piece I’m writing at the moment needs me to use a few French expressions. Some of the French words have various different accents: acute, grave, circumflex, cedilla, etc. The built-in Help in Pages said to select Edit > Special Characters. But it only has an Emoji & Symbols option. This will allow me to select the appropriate accent on its own, but not with the corresponding letter. I can type an “e” and an acute accent separately, but not with the accent in the proper position, above the “e”.

There’s a point as a computer user when you’ve used one so long that you forget what you’ve learned. My wife was working on her résumé the other day and asked me to proofread it. I noticed she’d used hyphens where a long dash is typically required, and I said she should substitute it.

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Can you print via an Apple guest network?

Oscar Medellin writes in with a reasonable request. After setting up a guest network using his Apple Wi-Fi base station that was paired with using Timed Access Control to limit his kids’ access to the Internet, he found that they couldn’t print via Wi-Fi.

How can I configure their computers or my AirPort Extreme to print wirelessly using my Wi-Fi network while still using the Guest Network?

Unfortunately, this is one of the tradeoffs with guest networking. Not all companies’ Wi-Fi routers restrict printer access, but Apple only allows a kind of tunnel-to-the-Internet. Those connected to the guest network when you have Wi-Fi security enabled also can’t view each other’s network traffic, even with tools designed to sniff around.

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What to do when mobile Time Machine backups linger and fill storage space

After reading the case of the missing El Capitan hard disk space and following all the advice in that column, Jim Williams still had an inexplicable 300GB that had no reason to exist. He ran a disk analysis program that showed that a hidden Unix directory named .MobileBackups.trash What is it and can he get rid of it?

This is a side effect of Time Machine, of all things. When one of your Time Machine targets is a drive that isn’t currently connected to your Mac, the backup system will continue to generate system snapshots up until all but 20 percent of drive storage is filled. After that point, Time Machine starts to delete snapshots and is more aggressive if you have very little storage available (less than 10 percent of drive capacity or less than 5GB).

mac911 missing time machine backups

Our reader found 300GB occupied inexplicably. 

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How to replace El Capitan's missing Secure Empty Trash

Yves Laurin echoes a concern of many people:

Secure Empty Trash: We lost that option with El Capitan; how could we get it back?

I’ve seen this question come up a number of times since late in the El Capitan public beta cycle, and you can find hundreds of postings about it on Apple’s forums and elsewhere. People have a concern about this option having gone missing, even if they used it as an extra measure of security, rather than ever having had a breach due to not using it.

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