How to create a private LAN for Mac hardware devices

Apple has long had robust networking support in macOS, allowing many different kinds of network interfaces to be connected at once, including multiples of the same kind (like ethernet), network adapters plugging into to interfaces (like ethernet over Thunderbolt and ethernet over USB-C), and multiple simultaneous internet connections.

But Macworld reader Steven can’t get a particular installation to work that he needs for speed for his music recording studio. He has a 200Mbps internet connection, and the Mac he’s using for editing connects directly to the broadband connection. That part works fine.

But he has two other devices he wants to connect via ethernet to his Mac to get the throughput he needs. When he plugs his Mac into the internet connection, one of the other music-editing devices loses its connection. He’s tried a lot of combinations and different ethernet adapters, and nothing’s worked. He wonders how to proceed.

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Can an iPhone's Personal Hotspot feature connect to a Wi-Fi network?

Personal Hotspot was introduced many years ago as a way to turn your iPhone (and later iPad) into a conduit between a cellular data connection and one or more computers or other devices. Macworld reader Gabriel was hoping to use Personal Hotspot after his MacBook Air’s internal Wi-Fi system apparently conked out.

Gabriel is in ultima Thule, far from cellular networks, but has access to a Wi-Fi network. He tried to use Personal Hotspot to tether his Mac via Bluetooth and USB to the local Wi-Fi network, but couldn’t get it to work. “Every time I try to pair the two, the Wi-Fi connection drops off on the iPhone,” he writes.

That’s by design. Apple doesn’t have a way to use Personal Hotspot with Wi-Fi networks, even when you’re tethering through USB or Bluetooth, leaving Wi-Fi available. With Personal Hotspot turned on, any active tethering disables the Wi-Fi connection, and relies entirely on the cellular one. (It has been possible to relay Wi-Fi over USB with certain Android phones out of the box or when the default OS was replaced by a user.)

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Does Time Machine back up every file every time?

Time Machine backups are unfussy: unlike many proprietary backup software packages, you can browse a Time Machine backup either through its interface or via the drive in the Finder. However, it appears as if every backup is a complete backup.

This concerned Macworld reader Peter, who just purchased a new iMac and a 4TB external drive to use with Time Machine. “This is going to fill up my external drive fairly quickly,” he worries.

Time Machine just looks like it’s making a full backup every time it creates one, but it’s really using a clever technique to only copy changed files at each hourly interval.

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How Apple's Startup Security Utility and Secure Boot works

With the appearance of the fancy new iMac Pro, Apple has also added some new startup options available exclusively on this model. If you’re a new owner, here’s how the new Startup Security Utility works at providing enhanced protection against people who might gain physical access to your computer.

It’s available only through macOS Recovery, Apple’s current name for the mini-operating system on a separate partition on your startup macOS volume that you can start up from in order to fix problem on your main partition. It’s been a huge help since it was added way back in Lion, and it’s become more advanced and reliable over time.

To launch macOS Recovery, you restart (or startup) your Mac, and hold down Command-R. A window appears on all Macs with a set of options for programs to run or actions to take with additional options in the Utilities menu. On the iMac Pro, you can select Utilities > Startup Security Utility.

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iOS

What you can and can't restore through an iOS backup in iTunes

A terribly sad email came in from Macworld reader Sharifa:

I deleted an iPhone back up from iTunes by mistake and have been trying all day to retrieve it. I lost all my honeymoon pics!

iTunes backups of an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch don’t contain apps and some kinds of media. They contain settings and certain kinds of documents stored within apps, and may contain images stored in an iOS device’s Camera Roll. Some apps that use iCloud or other cloud-based sync mark their local content as not needing to be backed up, since it can be restored by logging back into an account or resyncing.

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What’s SATA ’bout? The problem with older laptops and hard drive upgrades

Correction: The model of laptop my wife has has a SATA III controller, but Apple supplied only a SATA II drive with it and the controller will not support any of several SATA III-only drives installed. See more details at the end of the article.

It was baffling, irritating, and inexplicable. My wife’s late-2011 MacBook Pro remains in generally good condition, but she started to bump up against the storage limits of its 500GB drive, between iPhone photos and videos and her music collection. She prefers to not use iCloud for sync and storage, especially after watching me wrestle with problems over the years. (It all works fine for me now.)

A drive upgrade seemed a logical and easy course. Apple used to make it relatively easy to pop a new 2.5-inch drive, and this model wasn’t an exception. You pop a few screws on the underside, disconnect the battery (optional, but sensible), and then remove the drive interface cable and a few mounting and locking screws. Reverse the process, and you’re all set.

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Why an update badge won't go away on an iOS app

iOS tries to prevent you from installing apps on your iPad and iPhone that won’t run, but sometimes you’re left with cruft—digital vestiges of the past—that persist and make things difficult for you to sort out what’s wrong.

That appears to have happened to Macworld reader Carol, who has an app called Life Cycle installed on her iPad. The update badge is on her App Store icon, but whenever she tries to install the update, she’s told it’s not compatible with iPad. She writes, “Because it won’t update, there’s always the red circle on it indicating that I need to update.”

The current version of Life Cycle is up to date (and well reviewed), but its compatibility list only includes iPhones. That shouldn’t be a problem most of the time. While many apps are designed to be “universal,” and work equally well on iPhones and iPads of any size, some are aimed just at the iPhone, and most of those work in a compatibility mode on an iPad that’s a sort of iPhone-shaped emulator.

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