Another warning: Don't convert your Time Machine volume from HFS+ to APFS

Months after the release of macOS 10.13 High Sierra, folks are still having problems with limitations of the new Apple File System (APFS) format required for SSDs that run High Sierra, and which you can optionally upgrade other drives to use. That includes your columnist, who biffed a Time Machine question that’s now updated for accuracy.

Time Machine can work with APFS volumes, but the shape looks like this:

  • Time Machine can archive files from both HFS+ and APFS volumes.
  • Time Machine volumes must be HFS+.
  • You can use Disk Utility to upgrade a Time Machine HFS+ volume to APFS without a warning. You’d think Disk Utility would detect the Time Machine backup and stop you, but it doesn’t.
  • Once upgraded to APFS, the Time Machine backup archive is mostly useless, even though files aren’t destroyed.
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Why you can't use the Image Capture Mac app to delete photos on your iOS devices

I often recommend the not-quite-hidden app Image Capture to people having trouble getting images transferred or sync from iOS devices, especially if they’re using iTunes sync. It’s a way to peer into photo storage on an iOS device, as well as camera cards and other places. (It handles scanners, too, but some readers have found in High Sierra that they had to use Preview with their scanner.)

However, Macworld reader Larry wrote in asking about an article from July 2017 in which we noted that Image Capture also let you delete images directly from an iOS device. (Actually, it was another publication that wrote that article, but we’re happy to answer the question.)

Larry asks, “There is no delete button and delete in the Edit menu is greyed out. What am I doing wrong?”

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What to do when macOS High Sierra's Content Caching isn't working

Before iTunes 12.7, you could use iTunes for iOS syncing and backups, and iTunes could copy over downloaded iOS apps. Apple changed all that a few months ago with the release of iTunes 12.7. I suggested that a newly available feature in macOS 10.13 High Sierra could help cushion the blow of repeated downloads.

If you needed to restore an iOS device, those apps would be copied locally, instead of downloaded from the internet. And with multiple iOS devices in a household all using iTunes, it seemed like iTunes 12.7 could require a lot more app downloading, which can affect people with limited bandwidth or charges for bandwidth overages.

High Sierra added a feature previously found in macOS Server: Content Caching. In the Sharing system preference pane, you can click Content Caching, and enable it, and then macOS will retain all sorts of Apple and iCloud related stuff. Devices on the local network will recognize the cache, and retrieve what they can from the Mac instead of a new Internet download. (You can read Apple’s full list.)

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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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