Archive for March 10, 2021

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Shortcuts Library, Simplified

Matthew Cassinelli (via Dave Mark):

It’s my pleasure to announce that I’ve completely revamped my Shortcuts Library portion of my Shortcuts Catalog, remaking what was previously hundreds of shortcuts into a condensed set of:

I spent many hours combining each of my 100 or so Shortcuts folders and putting each shortcut inside a single shortcut for that folder, filled with menus of different actions to take – this is the same content as before, repackaged to be much more accessible.

Fixing macOS Big Sur Search Bugs

Jesse Squires:

Search in the on Big Sur stopped working for some users. In addition to the workarounds mentioned here, Ben used OnyX to delete Mail’s Mailboxes index. After that, search in started working for him again.

More recently, Alexis tweeted about an issue with Spotlight Search (and others replied with the same issue). Apparently, for some users, Spotlight was taking insanely long to search. For Alexis, it took almost 45 minutes to find a single file. I suggested using OnyX to rebuild the Spotlight index, which fixed the issue for him.

OnyX is available here, and there are also manual ways of rebuilding these indexes.



Fredrick R. Brennan (via Jason Snell):

It is abundantly clear that this is the font they used, and no typewriter was involved in the production of this scene, even though the documents were the primary object of the scene.

While working on the project, incredibly, another bad typewriter scene intruded upon my life.

Fredrick R. Brennan:

While it would be ideal for the font itself to contain code through which it could create a (near-) infinite number of similar-looking glyphs, that is not possible in an OpenType font.


FF Duper, however, works via hundreds of GSUB subtables; while I tried to follow Wenzel’s lead in this regard, I eventually realized that for my font it was not going to be possible; the layout would be far too slow and the GSUB table far too large.


Instead of large tables and variable numbers of alternate glyphs, acquiesce, and include n (I decided on 9) versions of each glyph, even such glyphs as “space”.

His more realistic typewriter font is available here.


The Role of Bootable Duplicates in a Modern Backup Strategy

Adam Engst:

This change increases security even more, but it also prevents all backup apps from creating bootable duplicates because they cannot sign the backed-up System volume. In theory, Apple’s asr (Apple Software Restore) tool makes this possible, but it didn’t work at all until just before Big Sur was released, still has problems, and even now cannot make a bootable duplicate of an M1-based Mac boot drive. On the plus side, Apple has said it plans to fix asr, but who knows when, or how completely, that will happen.


So, even if you can make one, a bootable duplicate won’t help you unless every Mac you want to use it with uses the same chip.


The primary reason for having an up-to-date bootable duplicate is so you can get back to work as quickly as possible should your internal drive fail.


All this is to suggest that the bootable part of a bootable duplicate is no longer as essential for many people as it was when we first started recommending that a comprehensive backup strategy should include one. Since then, it has become far more common for people to have multiple devices on which they could accomplish their work, and much more of that work takes place in the cloud or on a remote server.

The situation with bootable clones is a shame. It was nice to have that option. Even with an SSD, it can take a long time to restore your data to a fresh macOS installation. But it’s likely that, with access to multiple Macs that are mostly in sync, these days I would be more likely to try to resume work on another device while trying to fix the first, rather than boot from a clone of it.

The most important part, as Engst lays out, is to have a multi-part backup strategy. Time Machine is useful, but should not be relied upon. I consider Internet backups and clones to be essential, too, even if they aren’t bootable.


Update (2022-10-06): Howard Oakley:

There are two other good reasons for wanting to build a cloned external bootable volume.

One is to add your own tools to supplement those provided in Recovery Mode, for example a copy of Disk Warrior to enable rebuilding the directory structures of an HFS+ volume, or TechTool Pro for its hardware tests and other tools. Apple has improved those available in Recovery, and the most important third-party disk utilities simply aren’t available for APFS, as Apple still hasn’t provided developers with sufficient information to enable their development.

The other is to provide a fallback macOS known to work, in the event that the upgraded macOS has problems that can’t be solved. These most commonly arose as the result of defective or failed upgrades, which have largely been addressed by Apple’s new updater/installer and the use of the Signed System Volume (SSV), which verifies every last bit in the System volume is correct. There will always be users who want to have a fallback bootable disk, but that can easily be created by a normal macOS install, rather than requiring any form of cloning.

However, without a clone you cannot quickly switch to a fully capable backup system.