Remember when you first started using a web browser, how great it was to be able to save bookmarks? It was necessary back in the day, because you couldn’t remember all those URLs, and browsers didn’t auto-complete with addresses of your saved sites. They also didn’t suggest sites when you typed the name of a company or publication, so you needed to know the URL to get where you wanted.
But the more bookmarks you save, the harder it is to find what you’re looking for. Remember that site where you saw that really interesting article last month? You bookmarked it, and you remember the title, but if you look in your Safari bookmarks, you have to either scan the entire list, or search for it. Sure, you can sort bookmarks in folders, but who has the time to do that? And you’d only do that for the sites you visit very often.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could sort bookmarks alphabetically in Safari? There has never been a way to do this in Safari itself, but there is a way, one that’s been around for donkeys’ years. The process is slightly different now.
Start by displaying your bookmarks in Safari (Bookmarks > Show Bookmarks). Click the Edit button at the bottom of the list.
Edit your Safari bookmarks to be able to drag them to the Finder.
Drag them all to a folder in the Finder; make sure you don’t select Bookmarks Menu, or you won’t be able to drag the bookmarks. Display that folder in List view (View > As List, in the Finder), and then click the Name header to sort the files by name.
Next, move up a level in the Finder (press Command-up-arrow), and drag that folder onto the bookmark list in Safari. All your bookmarks will be added to the Bookmarks list, in that folder, You can delete the originals, then move the bookmarks out of the folder to the Bookmarks Menu, or to your Favorites. This is a lot of work for something that should be pretty simple.
You can do this easily in other browsers. For example, in Chrome, if you display your bookmarks and click the Organize menu, you can easily sort them alphabetically (Reorder by title).
Chrome lets you sort bookmarks alphabetically.
And Firefox gives you a plethora of sort options:
Firefox gives you lots of sort options for your bookmarks.
Fortunately, there’s an app for this: the free SafariSort, which can sort your bookmarks alphabetically, or in alphabetical order with all your bookmark folders on top of the list. It’s fast and simple, and if you like having bookmarks in order, you can run it regularly.
SafariSort is a simple app that sorts your bookmarks alphabetically.
Wanting to sort bookmarks alphabetically doesn’t seem like an odd feature request; it’s actually a great way to cull duplicate bookmarks. In fact, Apple should allow Safari to display bookmarks in date order as well. If you add bookmarks to folders, you won’t see all your bookmarks by date, and having a full list in order can be a good way to find what you’re looking for.
No matter what, it would be nice if Safari offered some more ways to view bookmarks, as other browsers do.
When OS X won't let you unmount a flash drive or external hard drive, here's what you can do
the drive won’t unmount no matter what, and I get the dreaded “The disk wasn’t ejected because one or more programs may be using it” or “The volume cannot be ejected because it’s currently in use” messages.
He’s had this happen routinely with a Mac mini using flash drives and external hard disk drives (HDDs). I’ve definitely seen some of this behavior, though it’s not routine. If OS X “understands” why it can’t unmount a drive, starting a few releases ago, it will tell you. But the dialogs Kurt is seeing aren’t the informative kind that tell you which app is involved.
Folks across the Internet seem to have connected the rise of this issue under El Capitan to Spotlight indexing. They’ve tested whether that was the cause by removing the mounted drive from Spotlight, and then they are able to unmount it. (Open the Spotlight preference pane, click the Privacy tab, and drag the volume into the “Prevent Spotlight from searching these locations” area.)
Failing that, logging out of your OS X account and back in should clear the state, allowing you to unmount it. And if that doesn’t work, a full restart should help.
I’ve discovered in El Capitan, unfortunately, that even in 10.11.4 it retains a few bugs that degrade the experience until rebooted, notably the “items disappear from my sidebar” bug. I documented it back in November 2015, and subsequent release of El Capitan (10.11.2, .3, and .4) seemed to reduce the frequency with which it occurs. But I have heard from readers that they are still seeing this disappearance as well.
Because some sidebar items derive from Spotlight searches, it’s possible that Spotlight is the culprit behind both disk unmount and the temporary loss of sidebar items.
If you want to dive down into the command-line level, launch Applications > Utilities > Terminal, and type precisely:
lsof | grep "/Volumes"
The “list all open files” (lsof) command combined with grep to filter lets you see all open files on attached drives.
The lsof command is short for “list open files,” and sending the results via a pipe | to the grep pattern-recognition command and using /Volumes as the match shows only open files related to items on externally mounted drives. You can look through this list of files, and see if there’s a frozen program or something you need to uninstall that you didn’t realize was active.
Connecting to wireless networks is pretty much mandatory these days, particularly now that most Macs only have wi-fi cards and no built-in ethernet, and so it can be incredibly frustrating to be unable to join a wi-fi network. Typically when you can’t connect to a particular wi-fi router on a Mac, you’ll see the error message “A connection timeout occurred” or “Failed to join network – a connection timeout occurred” either when trying to join a network or when the Mac is attempting to auto-join a wifi router and it fails.
If you see that error message, you should be able to resolve the connection timeout issue by following the steps outlined below.
The troubleshooting steps covered here apply to any and all Macs using nearly any version of Mac OS X, whether it’s on a MacBook, MacBook Pro, iMac, Mac Mini, Air, or whatever else you’re using. Note you’re going not be removing wireless networking preferences as part of this sequence, that alone can reliably resolve stubbornly problematic wi-fi issues, but you will lose customizations to wireless settings in the process, so if you set custom DNS or specific DHCP or TCP/IP settings, be prepared to make those changes again.
How to Resolve Mac “Connection Timeout” Error Messages with Wi-Fi Networks
Before anything else, you should reboot the wi-fi router that is having a hard time connecting. Sometimes just turning a router off and back on again is sufficient to resolve connection difficulties.
Turn off wi-fi on the Mac by going to the wireless menu and choosing “Turn Wi-Fi Off”
Eject and disconnect any Thunderbolt or USB drives or disk peripherals that are attached to the computer (I know this sounds weird, just do it)
Next to to the Finder in Mac OS X and create a new folder, call it something like “backup Wi-Fi files” so that it’s easy to identify and put it on the Desktop or another easy to access location
Open a new Finder window, then hit Command+Shift+G to bring up “Go To Folder” (you can also access this from the Go menu), entering the following path:
Select the following files in this directory, and copy them to the “backup Wi-Fi files” folder you made in the third step by using drag and drop:
Back at the “SystemConfiguration” folder with the aforementioned files selected, delete those files by dragging them to the Trash (you will need to authenticate to make this change)
Now reboot the Mac as usual by going to the Apple menu and choosing “Restart”
When the Mac boots back up, go to Apple menu and choose “System Preferences” and select the “Network” preference panel
Choose ‘Wi-Fi’ from the side menu, and click the “Turn Wi-Fi On” button, then pull down the “Locations” menu and choose “Edit Locations”
Click on the + plus button to create a new network location, name it something obvious, then click “Done” and using the Network Name menu item choose to join the wi-fi network as usual
Authenticate and login to the router as usual, the wifi network connection should establish without incident and without a connection timeout error
Close out of System Preferences (Choose Apply when asked about network settings) and enjoy your wi-fi connection
Once you have established a wi-fi connection, you can reconnect any USB drives, Thunderbolt drives, USB flash disks, or other peripherals back to the Mac again – why this sometimes impacts wi-fi connections is unclear but for whatever reason, perhaps due to a bug, disconnecting them as part of the sequence usually resolves any connection failed and connection timeout issues.
After the wireless connection is shown to be working as intended, you can trash the ‘backup Wi-Fi files’ folder that was created in this process – the reason we kept those is so that if there is a problem and things are somehow worse (which is incredibly unlikely), you can quickly swap the files back into place again and at least return to the prior point. Of course if you regularly back up your Mac like you should with Time Machine, that’s less of a necessity, but it’s still good practice.
Did this resolve your Mac connection timeout problems? Do you have another trick to fix the issue? Let us know in the comments below.
It’s often only a matter of time before Mac users wind up seeing the dreaded “startup disk almost full” warning message in Mac OS X, which often leads to a frantic dash around the Downloads folder as users trash unnecessary files to attempt to free up disk space. While there’s nothing wrong with going on a manual mission of tracking down where your disk storage vanished to, there are an entire category of disk space analyzer apps available which make the job easier, offering a visual experience that is quickly scannable and actionable.
We’ll cover three of the best and most popular disk space analysis tools available for the Mac, each of which is either free or offers a free trial version to give a good test run with.
A big thing to remember with using these disk analyzer apps is that if you shouldn’t delete anything without discretion, as they sweep the entire drive and inevitably display system files, system folders, and other necessary components of Mac OS X and apps, along with personal documents and accumulated cruft. It’s a good idea to back up the Mac with Time Machine before using these apps if you’re planning on performing some mass file removal, it’s always better to be safe than sorry and lose files or have to reinstall Mac OS X if you deleted critical system files willy-nilly.
DaisyDisk is by far the most attractive storage analysis utility, with a beautiful and intuitive interface that makes finding disk clutter a matter of navigating an interactive colorful wheel. In terms of visualization of your file data, DaisyDisk is superior to anything else available, and it’s also very fast.
Get Daisy Disk from the developer here (free trial available, otherwise $10)
The free version of DaisyDisk is highly functional and will sweep your drive and allow simple quick access to any files or folders found (right-click on anything and choose ‘Show in Finder’), and you could get away with just using the free version if you wanted to, but if you enjoy DaisyDisk enough and find it to be a helpful companion to your Mac experience, the full version is money well spent.
OmniDiskSweeper is great and the interface is quite similar to using the Finder in Column view, making it very easy to navigate to large files and folders throughout the file system hierarchy. The files are shown in descending order by size, so it’s very easy to figure out what’s eating up storage space.
Get OmniDiskSweeper from the developer (free)
OmniDiskSweeper has long been one of my favorite free utilities available for the Mac, and I use it often for my own computer and when trying to figure out what’s eating the disk space of other Macs I may encounter. We have discussed using OmniDiskSweeper before here on multiple occasions, it’s a great tool.
Disk Inventory X
Disk Inventory X has been around on the Mac for quite some time, it is an oldie but goodie. Though the interface could use some updating, the functionality remains high and the app works great for discovering large blocks of data (for example, a gazillion photos or zip archives). Perhaps the only issue is that in modern versions of Mac OS X, files can be assigned to the app they open with rather than their file type, which may lead to some confusion. Nonetheless, Disk Inventory X is free too, so if you decide it’s not your cup of tea you’re out nothing but a few mb of bandwidth.
Get Disk Inventory X here from the developer (free)
A significant perk of DiskInventoryX having been around for ages is that it’s widely supported on much earlier versions of Mac OS X, so if you’re working on an older Mac with earlier system software, this may be the solution you’re looking for.
Bonus: The Finder!
If you don’t want to download any third party utilities, or perhaps you can’t for whatever reason, the Mac search function within the Finder is able to find large files in Mac OS X too. You’ll just need to set a minimum file size to look for, and away it goes.
The Finder search function works reasonably well for this purpose, but for many Mac users they will find one of the above third party utilities to be easier to quickly scan for large groups of files on a drive with.
Know of any other great utilities to analyze disk storage space and files on a Mac? Let us know in the comments!
Many Mac users running a modern version of OS X El Capitan have noticed the Secure Erase Free Space feature has gone missing from Disk Utility. What the “Erase Free Space” feature did (and still does in prior versions of Mac OS X) was overwrite the free space on a drive to prevent file recovery, adding a layer of security and privacy to file removal, much in the way that Secure Empty Trash performed a similar function of overwriting data after removal.
For those wondering, these features were removed from the modern version of Disk Utility in Mac OS X because they do not work on SSD volumes, which are becoming more commonplace and nearly all Mac laptops ship with them by default now. But not everyone has an SSD drive, and thus some users may still wish to perform a secure erase of free space on their Mac hard disk. To achieve the same secure erase in modern versions of Mac OS X you’ll need to turn to the command line. And yes, this works to erase free space on older versions of Mac OS X too, but since they can do the same task with Disk Utility it’s perhaps a bit less relevant to the prior releases.
This is for advanced Mac users only who are comfortable with backing up their Mac, using the command line with exact syntax, and the concepts behind permanently removing data. To be perfectly clear, this secure erases only the free space on a drive, aimed at preventing file recovery efforts, it does not perform a secure erase of the entire hard drive as described here.
How to Secure Erase Free Space on Mac OS X El Capitan Drives via Command Line, Without Disk Utility
Back up your Mac before attempting to use these commands. The command line requires precise syntax and is unforgiving, improper commands could lead to the unintended removal of data you do not want to delete, permanently, as this is a secure erase function. You have been warned, so backup your Mac data first, then proceed at your own risk.
To get started, launch the Terminal (found in /Applications/Utilities/) and use the following general syntax, replacing level and drive name as appropriate:
diskutil secureErase freespace (level 0-4) /Volumes/(Drive Name)
(level 0-4) is a number indicating the number of passes to write to the free space, ‘freespace’ indicates you are erasing only the free space and not the entire drive itself – a critically important difference – and (Drive Name) is self explanatory. Users can also choose the disk identifier if desired. If you aren’t sure of the name of the drive, using diskutil list will show you all mounted drives and partitions. If the drive in question has a space in the name, you should place it in quotes or escape it with backslashes.
For example, to perform a secure erase with 35 passes on free space on a drive named “Macintosh HD” you could use the following command string:
diskutil secureErase freespace 3 "/Volumes/Macintosh HD"
Hitting return will instantly begin the secure erase of any free space. This is irreversible, so as we’ve mentioned a dozen times already, be sure the syntax is exact.
The manual page entry on diskutil offers the following details on the secure erase feature, detailing the level of writing over free space.
That’s all there is to it, and this is how you can continue to erase free disk space on a Mac running OS X El Capitan or later with the newly limited Disk Utility. Another option is to use an old version of Disk Utility in modern versions of Mac OS X, either from a boot drive or recovery mode, of an older Mac OS release, or with the application itself, but that is generally not recommended.
And yes, this works on both standard hard disk drives with spinning platters, and modern SSD disks, though with an SSD drive the feature is less relevant as TRIM / garbage collection should handle the file removal on it’s own. For SSD volumes, a better option is to enable and use FileVault disk encryption on the Mac, which encrypts data on the drive making it unrecoverable without the FileVault key, thus obviating the need to securely erase free space on the volume.
Know of any other helpful secure data removal tips or tricks, or another way to securely erase your free disk space in modern versions of Mac OS X? Let us know in the comments.
Evidence that Apple will rebrand OS X to MacOS is starting to pile up, with the new name appearing briefly on Apple’s own website.
As spotted by 9to5Mac, Apple’s Environment page got an update on Thursday, and for a short time it included a reference to MacOS. “Years of use, which are based on first owners, are assumed to be four years for MacOS and tvOS devices and three years for iOS and watchOS devices,” the page said. (Apple has since reverted the name to OS X.)
This isn’t the first time the potential name change has slipped out. Last month, an Interface Builder document inside the OS X system folder included a file named “FUFlightViewController_macOS.nib” (emphasis ours). Still, 9to5Mac noted that the name could have been included for the sake of convenience, as developers sometimes prefer the symmetry of iOS and macOS suffixes together. The name’s appearance on an official webpage seems like strong evidence.
Also worth noting: Last June, Apple marketing head Phil Schiller vaguely hinted at more name changes to come, after the company announced “watchOS” for the Apple Watch. “I think, you’ll see. Give us time, we’ve been through many fun naming things,” Schiller told John Gruber during a live podcast at Apple’s WWDC conference. (At the time, however, Apple still hadn’t revealed “tvOS” for the Apple TV.)
Why this matters: A name change would make sense given that all of Apple’s other operating systems now fall under the [prefix]OS naming scheme. And given that Apple has been updating the desktop version of OS X for more than 15 years now, the roman numeral for 10 has long outlived its functional purpose. MacOS—or, perhaps, macOS—could be a fun throwback to the operating system’s origins, while positioning it for the future alongside Apple’s broadening range of phones, tablets, watches, and TV devices.