How to manage media when migrating to a Mac with a smaller drive

A reader with the nom de Internet of Bass Hound writes in with a set of interlocking problems:

  • Their new computer has a 128GB drive while the old one was 512GB. They have a Time Capsule backup and wonder if they can make choices while restoring the backup.

  • While they’ve opted into iCloud Photo Library, they “have not, however, joined Apple Music because I don’t want to pay the ongoing fee.”

  • Finally, they’d like to “add all my media—music, movies and possibly pics—to an external drive.”

This is not an uncommon collection of questions, so I’ll do my best to knock them all out.

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How to consolidate iPhoto libraries

Steven Graeber just upgraded to El Capitan and wants to move his photos from iPhoto to Photos for OS X, but:

Photos gave me an option of 5 different libraries to choose from. Why is there more than one? I have never used multiple libraries. And the dates on these are from times I wasn’t using iPhoto at all.

You’ve got a couple of approaches to solve this.

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Two issues with iCloud Photo Sharing

Stéphane Rainville writes in wondering about how to preserve comments on photos in shared albums. (Shared albums work with iCloud Photo Sharing, but also using iPhoto and iOS 7 as “shared streams.”):

I’ve been using shared albums to show pictures of our newborn daughter to our extended family. Now, after sharing 1,269 photos, I’m sure I’m taxing people’s local storage on their iPads/iPhones, and so I’d like to start archiving. Most precious, however, are the comments everyone has made on individual pictures, and I haven’t found a way to archive while preserving comments.

Unfortunately, Apple documents in a few places that while you can back up shared photo albums that aren’t persistent—that aren’t part of your iCloud Photo Library, if you use that feature—comments aren’t attached. They’re only stored online. This is unfortunate, because you’ll lose those forever unless you take screen captures, print PDFs, or the like.

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When iTunes accounts intermingle: How to separate the data

Shirley Last Name Withheld wants to help her boss, who constantly loses his phone, without having her data get intermingled with his. She notes:

Although I sign into iTunes using his Apple ID—say boss@yahoo.com—and sync his phone with iTunes, all my data (photos, contacts, etc.) goes into his phone as well. How can I separate his stuff from mine?

If he’s switched entirely to iCloud syncing, iCloud backups, and iCloud Photo Library, you could avoid using iTunes altogether, but it sounds like that might not be in the cards. If you can make that happen, you’ll probably need to make sure he has 50GB or 200GB of paid iCloud storage as well.

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How to disable mouse and keyboard low-battery warnings (you can’t)

Worth Gretter speaks for us all with this complaint:

The Bluetooth keyboard and mouse on my 2009 iMac (running Mavericks) both run on AA batteries. I am using disposable batteries, not rechargeables, so I want to get every bit of life out of them. The low-battery warning comes on at 15%, but I still have a couple of weeks of battery life left. Nonetheless, the warning continues to come on every day until I change the batteries. Is there a way to kill it?

I searched through Apple forums, blog posts, and old Macworld advice. This reply is to just to reassure you that you haven’t missed anything. There’s currently no way to prevent OS X from warning you regularly and frequently until you replace the batteries. I understand Apple’s desire to have your device not stop working, but the warnings can’t be customized or halted for a period of days.

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How to get a Mac laptop's headphone jack to work reliably

Reader Jeremy Saklad reports a problem many have experienced over many years, including yours truly:

My Retina MacBook Pro has recently stopped detecting headphones properly when they are plugged in. It will act as if nothing is connected and just continue using the speakers. Restarting will cause it to work again, but only until close it. The problem will then return.

There can be several causes to this problem, but you can isolate the easy one first: Get a can of compressed air or an air compressor designed for use with computers. Put the laptop on a level surface, and briefly spray air into the headphone jack. (Never spray canned compressed air except with the can perfectly level; otherwise, it can leak compressed liquid and damage.)

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When AirPort base stations don't appear over Ethernet

Henry Albert writes in with a puzzle related to using AirPort Utility to configure his network’s Apple base stations:

On my MacBook Pro and my iPhone, the access points appear correctly, just not on [my wired] iMac. What’s different on the iMac? It’s wired to the network. Its Wi-Fi is just lurking—on but not connected to any access point. The other gadgets are using Wi-Fi.

Henry might be suffering from an interface selection problem. Most people probably never click on the Other Wi-Fi Devices menu in the upper-left corner of the AirPort Utility overview. When you do, it shows other configurable base stations—but also reveals network interfaces if more than one is active.

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