Disable the 5 Second Screenshot Delay on macOS

I was getting annoyed with how long it took to see a screenshot appear on the desktop after I took it, as I typically want to share the screenshot right away. To resolve this, I disabled the 5 second floating thumbnail delay:

  1. Open the Screenshot Utility (CMD + SHIFT + 5 by default)
  2. Under Options, disable “Show Floating Thumbnail”

You can also swipe the thumbnail out of the way if you’d rather keep the floating thumbnail.

To shave another half second off the time, you can also:

  1. Right click any blank space on the desktop
  2. Click Show View Options
  3. Untick Show Icon Preview and Show Item Info

MacOS still isn’t quite as fast at refreshing the desktop as I remember Windows XP being, but it’s tolerable now. If you still see a delay updating Finder, try disabling any Finder extensions in Settings.

One other tip: Remap the Screenshot Utility to something easier to remember, like CTRL + S, via the Keyboard:

Remapping macOS’ Screenshot Utility Shortcut to something easier to remember

How to Hide Mailboxes/Folders in Apple Mail

I have a long list of mailboxes/folders in Apple Mail and wanted to see just the three folders I use most often, with all of the others hidden.

The best solution I could find for this was Lory Gil’s article on iDB.

In short:

  1. Open the Mail app and go to Mailboxes
  2. Tap Edit in the upper right corner
  3. Select or deselect the mailboxes you want to see or hide
  4. Tap Done in the upper right corner
Hiding Mailboxes in Apple Mail on iPhone – Image: idownloadblog.com

This also allowed me to quickly hide the VIP mailbox. Very similar steps work in Apple Mail for macOS.

Another thing I’ve found about Apple Mail on the Mac is it takes a while to start up. In my case, it was taking 30-60 seconds, on a very fast M1 processor. Reducing the number of messages in the Inbox only cut down this time by 3 seconds or so.

To resolve this, I found some ancient plugins/extensions in my Extensions pane, and deleted them so the extensions pane looked like this:

Which Filesystem to Use on USB Sticks for Mac+Linux Interoperability

I had an hfsplus-formatted USB stick that I wanted to use for backups on my Linux machine. All worked fine until I restarted the Linux box. I tried to mount the USB drive and got the error “Mount Point Not Mounted or Bad Option“:

This command had worked before to mount the drive, but after the reboot it wasn’t working. Checking dmesg and running mount in verbose mode (-v) didn’t provide any helpful info.

After digging around on the arch wiki and stackexchange, I came to find that Linux support for HFS is iffy at best. So I decided I’m not going to waste any more time digging into this error and instead will just reformat the drive with something more compatible and reliable.

The most recommended filesystem type if using the drive on both Macs and Linux is … Microsoft’s NTFS. Weird, but true. So, time to repartition and format the drive as NTFS! Here’s how this was accomplished:

  1. Install the ntfs-3g package using your favorite package manager
  2. sudo fdisk /dev/sdb , then type d, p, n, t, L, 11 (GPT), w
  3. sudo mkfs.ntfs -Q -L label /dev/sdb1

I then was able to mount the drive successfully via the following command. (and complete my backups)

sudo mount --mkdir /dev/sdb1 /mnt/usb256MB -o rw,force,user,auto -t ntfs-3g

Thanks to Stefan van den Akker for writing an excellent article that helped me re-familiarize myself with fdisk syntax.

iPad Pro Smart Keyboards: Disposable After 2 Years

My wife bought a first gen Apple Smart Keyboard for her iPad Pro back in 2017. Within 2 years, the connector only worked intermittently and often failed to work at all. This meant the $169 keyboard was pretty much useless.

Rubbing a magnet on the guttering as described in this 26-page Apple Discussions article temporarily fixed the connectivity problem, but it eventually popped up again.

Apple recognized how widespread the problem was and replaced my keyboard in late 2019, for free under a 3-year extended repair service program. But a little over 2 years later in 2022, the replacement keyboard failed again in the same way. And this time, the magnet trick didn’t work. The replacement only has a 90-day warranty and is apparently not part of the extended repair program.

Apple’s First Gen Smart Keyboard for iPad

So I brought the iPad Pro and the Smart Keyboard into the Apple store today to see if they could fix it. The tech was kind and tested the keyboard with his own iPad Pro and noted that it failed in the same way. But he could only offer a $169 out-of-warranty replacement.

He did note that if I had bought AppleCare+ when I originally bought the iPad, a replacement would have been covered in full. But that would have required me to have done the following:

  1. In 2016, acquire iPad Pro, then buy AppleCare+ for $129
  2. In 2017, acquire Smart Keyboard (can be added separately to AppleCare even a year later as long as you are still covered under AppleCare)
  3. In 2018, buy extended coverage after the original AppleCare+ ran out after 2 years for another $129
  4. In 2019, receive replacement keyboard
  5. In 2020, buy extended coverage for another 2 years for another $129

In other words, for the low low price of $387 ($129*3), I could have been given a $169 keyboard that would fail in another 2 years for free.

No thanks.

Ended up giving my wife an old Apple Wireless keyboard from 2011 to use with her iPad. It connects instantly, and she likes how solid feeling it is:

Apple’s 2011 Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard

She still uses the old Smart Keyboard as a stand. A $169 stand.

MacOS Ventura Lost My Shortcut Folder Names

A few weeks ago, all of my Shortcut folders had names.

Suddenly when I go to open Shortcuts today (on my Mac, iPhone, and iPad), all my folder names are wiped out:

Missing shortcut folder names that can’t (?) be changed back

I tried renaming a folder, modified a shortcut within that folder on the Mac, and the folder reverted to a blank name again! This was 100% reproducible for 1 day.

Then I tried renaming a folder and modifying a shortcut within that folder on an iPad, and the folder name remained the same. It took 10 minutes to synchronize the changes to the Mac, but that worked.

Finally, I logged out of my Mac and logged back in, and everything works again. I don’t have my missing folder names back, but I can rename them and change shortcuts without the folder names blanking out.

Not sure if this is a Ventura bug, Shortcuts bug, iCloud bug, or what. There are no settings to turn on/off Shortcut synchronization in iCloud settings. If anyone has any ideas, let me know. Next time this happens, maybe I’ll poke around in the console logs.

Troubleshooting Continuity Camera

With Ventura, Apple released the Continuity Camera feature. This allows you to use a certain iPhone models as a webcam for videoconference / Zoom calls. The advantage is your iPhone’s camera is almost certainly higher quality than whatever old Logitech web cam you have currently atop your laptop or monitor.

Continuity Camera in action (works in FaceTime, Zoom, and most any videoconference software)

Before Ventura 13.1, Continuity Camera was fairly buggy. The first time I tried connecting, it would connect, but after opening and closing Photo Booth a bunch of times, the camera just stopped connecting. The phone’s console log had errors from the privacy/security tccd service, problems “constructing an identity for the camera“. There were also beachballs / slowdowns when trying to switch between microphones in Zoom. (a wired mic and the mic built into the iPhone)

Here’s what I did to troubleshoot and resolve the problem:

  • Turn off Private Wi-Fi address in Phone > Settings > Wi-Fi > [info button]
  • Make sure you’re in “wombatsMustBeMagic” mode by turning your phone to landscape orientation and following the rest of the mounting instructions in this Apple support article. (Landscape orientation is not strictly necessary, but it allows apps to automatically choose your iPhone as a camera.)
  • Check that your iPhone is in the compatibility list mentioned in the above support article
  • Ensure phone is locked and that all devices are updated
  • Use FaceTime, not Photo Booth or Zoom, as the first app you open for testing
  • Connect another webcam temporarily and see if that triggers iPhone camera detection

I wish there was a way to clear the Mac’s camera device list, or reset Continuity Camera. But turning off private Wi-Fi worked for me. And in Ventura 13.1, the feature became more reliable.

Speaking of Continuity Camera, I’m using a variant of Belkin’s $29 MagSafe mount. It works great, and is solidly built. There’s also a $39 Belkin MagSafe mount for external monitors, which works well too. (The magnet is almost too strong.)

Apple Silicone Case After 14 Months – Apple Thinks This is Normal

Here’s what my Apple Silicone phone Case looks like after 14 months of normal use, mainly just putting it in my jeans pocket. My jeans aren’t tight and I’m not rough with the phone.

Apple Silicone Case – normal wear & tear?

I’m trying out my credit card’s extended warranty process to see if this can be covered.

I stopped by an Apple store to get an estimate for replacement, as required by the warranty process. They gave me the estimate, but the way they worded it makes me think my extended warranty claim may be denied. Specifically, the Apple genius technician wrote: “Pilling at edging of case which can happen due to normal usage.

Apple thinks this is “case pilling”, not a defect, and they say this “can happen due to normal usage.” When I think of pilling, I think of this:

Clearly what’s shown in the defective case photos above is not the same as fabric pilling. There are actual splits and holes in both the silicone case outer material and in the inner felt lining. I’ve gently taken the phone out of the case around 6 times ever, so how did the inner felt come loose?

I’ll post an update here on whether Visa decides to honor the extended warranty claim anyway or not. But I feel like when you pay Apple prices for a nice smooth silicone case, it shouldn’t get all ratty looking just after the warranty expires.

Update: Visa honored the extended warranty claim! Pretty sure this is because I included photos of the actual damage, which was clearly not “pilling”. Good on Visa.

My next phone case is going to be third-party, and leather, which seems like it’s going to be more durable than Apple’s thin silicone. Maybe something like this $77 Bullstrap case which gets great reviews on r/patinaproud. Kind of a lot to spend on a case though.

How to Mark a Library Book as Read/Finished in Apple Books

Let’s say you finished reading a library (e-)book, but you have to return it to the library. How do you add it to your Finished list in Apple Books?

There are three ways, from easiest to hardest:

Method 1:

  1. Go to Apple Books > Search
  2. Find the title of the book in Apple’s ebook store. Download the book sample.
  3. Hit the ellipsis (…) next to the book sample and Add it to your Finished collection. Then remove the book from your Sample collection. (You could also try not even getting the sample, and instead just adding it to Finished directly from the store page, as shown in the screenshot below and on this Apple support page – but this method is a bit less durable from what I’ve seen.)
Marking a Book as Finished in Apple Books / iBooks by Adding it to your Finished Collection

Method 2:

But what if the book you just read from the library doesn’t exist in Apple Books? Then it’s a little more involved, but you can still add it, in less than 5 minutes:

  1. Open Pages on your Mac. Pull down the File menu. Hit New. Select Book.
  2. Pick any Portrait book. You don’t have to type anything on any page.
  3. Pull down the File menu and hit Export to EPUB.
  4. Fill in the Author and Title fields.
  5. For Cover, select Choose an Image, and use the book cover from Amazon.
Exporting a Fake Book as an EPUB in Apple Pages

Then save the EPUB and import it into Apple Books. Open the book one time. (this seems to help with synchronization) Add it to your Finished collection and you’re done. You will now see it in the list of books you’ve read for the year:

Finished Library Book (A Thread Across the Ocean) Added to Apple Books Finished Collection

Method 3:

What if you read a library book back in 2019, added it to your Finished Collection using Method 1, then it disappeared due to a bug in Apple Books?

You could add it back in, but then it says you completed the book in the current year.

How do you change the year that you completed the book in?

Now it gets more complicated.

And there’s a catch: The instructions below currently only work on the Mac. I haven’t figured out how to get it to sync date-finished changes to the iPhone or iPad yet.

  1. In Apple Books, add the book back into your Finished collection
  2. Close Apple Books
  3. Make a backup copy of all files in /Users/your_username/Library/Containers/com.apple.iBooksX/Data/Documents/BKLibrary/
  4. Install the free open source DB Browser for SQLite with brew install --cask db-browser-for-sqlite
  5. Open BKLibrary…sqlite in DB Browser for SQLite.
  6. Go to Browse Data.
  7. Pull down the Table dropdown on the top left and select ZBKLIBRARYASSET
  8. In the Filter menu on the top right, type the name of the book with the wrong finished date.
  9. You should see ZISFINISHED is equal to 1
  10. You will see a ZDATEFINISHED entry in Epoch time relative to 1JAN2001. For example, 606188764.16045 = Mar 17, 2020. Let’s say you want to change this to December 27, 2019.
  11. Convert December 27, 2019 to 599183734.16045 Cocoa Core Data / Mac Absolute Epoch time
  12. Save and exit DB Browser for SQLite. Open Apple Books again and you’ll see the book finished in the right year.
Carefully Editing the Finished Date of a Book in the Apple Books / iBooksX Database (having made a backup first)

If you want to quickly see all finished books with their completed dates, you can run the following in the Execute SQL box:

SELECT ZTITLE, strftime(%m - %d - %Y', datetime(ZDATEFINISHED+978307200, 'unixepoch', 'localtime')) FROM ZBKLIBRARYASSET WHERE ZISFINISHED='1';

The current problem I have (even before I did any database editing) is getting the Finished list to sync between iPhone, iPad, and macOS. macOS has the most complete collection of finished books, followed by iPad (which is missing one I added on the Mac), followed by iPhone (which is almost void of any finished books, but then a day later had almost all my books in the right place). There are some serious bugs with synchronization of finished books. Everything else (reading time, etc.) syncs though.

I wish Apple would make editing your finished dates easier, and I’ve sent Apple feedback on this. If you feel the same way, let them know on their feedback form.


How to View Safari History with Timestamps

Apple’s built in history viewer for Safari on macOS shows you days, but not timestamps.

This makes it hard to find out how much time you spent on a particular site, for example. Here’s a way to get the dates and the times for each site you visited:

  1. Copy the Safari history file from /Users/your_user_name/Library/Safari/History.db to your desktop
  2. Install the free open source DB Browser for SQLite with brew install --cask db-browser-for-sqlite
  3. Open your History.db in DB Browser for SQLite. Select Execute SQL. Run select datetime(visit_time + 978307200, 'unixepoch', 'localtime') as date, title from history_visits order by visit_time desc (or you can use asc like the screenshot below for ascending order)

You’ll see a screen that looks like this, which you can scroll through:

DB Browser for SQLite with Safari History.db open

If you want to narrow your search to a particular website, for example all Google Searches you made, you can run:

select datetime(visit_time + 978307200, 'unixepoch', 'localtime') as date, title from history_visits where title like '%Google Search%' order by visit_time desc

Thanks to Alexander Lindeskär and Roger Luan for figuring this out in this gist!

Why Don’t Book Publishers Give You Download Codes for Digital Copies?

There used to be an app called Shelfie that gave you free or discounted ebooks if you scanned and signed your name inside a purchased print edition.

Image credit: freetech4teachers.com

Amazon used to do similar with deep discounts on Kindle books with its barely advertised MatchBook service.

Both services failed to gain traction in the market because only two of the big five publishers were grudgingly onboard. Meaning limited selection. Publishers don’t want to give up their triple-dip revenue stream: print, audio, and electronic.

It’s also complicated by the fact that different companies commonly own print/distribution rights to different media types and they guard those rights jealously.

As for giving codes with print editions, similar to DVDs, Blu-rays, and music, that’s thwarted by dishonest people who would steal the codes. Bookstores don’t want to sell shrink-wrapped books.

This well-written 2017 article by Bill Rosenblatt goes into detail on the two services and what happened.

I find buying print + ebook bundles directly from the publisher sometimes gets you a better price than Amazon can. For physical editions that I already own, I check out the ebook from the library.