More help for Photos: Metadata, the Places map, and syncing without iCloud

Photos for OS X made a big impact—some might say a crater. While the software has huge improvements in speed, it comes with a lot of changes, some bumps in get started, and a few bugs. In last week’s Mac 911, I covered merging iPhoto and Photos libraries and a tip on pausing iCloud Photo Library sync. Jason Snell last week also explained how to use Photos with Automator, the limits of geotagging, and hard linking in Photos.

One update from last week: Fat Cat Software has already released PowerPhotos 1.0 ($20) to work with new Photos libraries, but the first version doesn’t let you merge libraries. The developer is thinking about adding that feature in a future release. For now, you need to merge iPhoto libraries first via the company’s $30 iPhoto Library Manager (includes PowerPhotos in that price), or one of the other techniques described in my and Jason’s columns last week.

(Also tune in to the Macworld podcast this week for a discussion of Photos’ issues with me, executive editor Susie Ochs, and regular Macworld contributors Jeff Carlson and Joe Kissell.)

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How to import, merge, and consolidate your libraries in Photos for OS X

Photos for Yosemite is finally out! And that’s a real “finally” given how long we’ve all been wrestling with the limitations of iPhoto in OS X and Apple’s early announcement of its replacement. Photos for OS X has a lot going for it, especially in speed. But it’s also a ground-up rewrite of our Mac photo experience, and some pieces are missing (some permanently), some moved, and some broken.

This week, I’ll answer some early questions about Photos, but there are plenty more Photos queries in the queue, and I’m sure you all will have more. (Read Jeff Carlson’s Photos review for an overview of features and how they work.)

Merging libraries

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Mac 911: How to erase your Mac's hard drive the right way

When you sell or donate a Mac or give it to a family member, it’s best to make a clean break: wipe the puppy clean, reinstall the latest version of OS X, and hand off a system that you’re not worried has remnants of yourself on it.

But how can you be sure? Readers have written in with several related questions, so let’s talk this week about erasing a drive, how FileVault 2 encryption can play into it, and out-of-date Recovery Drive partitions.

Erase and leave no trace

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Mac 911: A wild Wi-Fi ride to hunt a pesky set of problems

There’s no technology simultaneously more useful and frustrating than Wi-Fi. Wireless local area networking shouldn’t be rocket science at this point, even though it involves fiendish calculations and increasingly sophisticated physics.

While setting up a Wi-Fi network has become simpler over time and networks more reliable, when a connection doesn’t work, you could tear your hair out. This might explain my expanding forehead space.

I haven’t yet been able to crack why some OS X users continue to have connection issues with Yosemite. In successive updates, Apple has apparently solved frequent disconnect issues for some users, but they persist.

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Mac 911: Good backup habits making migrating to a new Mac easier

To go forward, you must back up. This is an old rubric and bad joke about the importance of keeping regularly updated copies on hand of your personal and work documents and, ideally, your entire drive. Backing up is often an important stage in migrating to a new machine as well. This week, I cover my recommended methods.

Jim Kay writes:

I’m planing on purchasing the new MacBook in April, but I am wondering what the best way is to move all my files, settings, pictures, and music over to the new Mac from my current Mac?

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Spring cleaning for your Mac: How to consolidate files and remove duplicates

This week we tackle some of your storage questions, including consolidating, de-duplication, and management.

Too many drives

Reader Jon writes that he has a pile of partly full external USB drives formatted for use with Windows that he almost always mounts on a Mac, and expects there is a lot of duplication among the different drives he’s using.

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Mac 911: Making DVDs from old iMovie projects and slideshows

I still remember the glorious day when I first encountered writable CDs. It was in the early 1990s in a $100,000 system designed by Kodak to produce its Photo CDs, discs that worked with its CD/DVD player and with computer software to provide galleries to few and high-resolution scans. It took years before CD burners were cheap and then included in inexpensive PCs (and, late to the party, Macs), and the CD media dropped in price.

Then the DVD format went through a similar, but much more rapid cycle, and then on to Blu-Ray, the winner in the high-definition home video format years ago. But I haven’t owned a computer that can burn DVDs for years and I’ve never even considered writing to Blu-ray. Once hard drives outstripped the capacity to back up to more than a handful of discs and drives also became cheap to use for backup, coupled with cloud storage and online sharing, it all seemed pointless.

I’m not alone in feeling this way, but two questions from readers sparked this walk down writable memory lane.

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