Apple: Remove Touch Bar Data Before Selling MacBook Pro »

As noted by Zac Hall, this kbase article about prepping your Mac for sale has a surprise step for those of us with Touch Bar Macs:

You can clear any information stored by the Touch Bar before you sell or give away your MacBook Pro.

First, start up from macOS Recovery: Hold down Command-R on your keyboard immediately after pressing the power button to turn on your Mac, or immediately after your Mac begins to restart.

When the macOS Utilities window appears, choose Utilities > Terminal in the menu bar. Type this command in Terminal:

xartutil --erase-all

Press Return, type yes when asked if you’re sure, and then press Return again. Finally, choose Terminal > Quit Terminal and proceed to the next step.

When I first saw this, I assumed this has to do with the fingerprint information stored in the Secure Enclave. I rebooted into macOS Recovery, ran the command and rebooted again. After the restart, my Touch ID information had been wiped from the machine:

Mystery solved. Add this to the long list of things to get a Mac ready for sale that macOS should handle itself.

Cardhop for Mac »

Flexibits, the makers of Fantastical, have a new Mac app out for dealing with contacts. It boasts the same easy-to-use, text-driven intelligence that its calendar-based sibling does. The natural language input field at the top of the menu bar app can handle search, creating contacts, editing record information and more.

The app can also serve as a launchpad for contacting someone. The input field can turn “email Jason Snell” into a draft to the man with a spider in his iMac. It builds upon natural language input in a new way that I find clever.

While I do keep a fairly robust contacts database, I almost always start a new conversation with someone within the app I’m going to use for that interaction. Mail pulls from my contacts database as well as their own internal history, and Messages works in a similar fashion. Slack and Skype are already islands all their own.

If you do a lot with contacts at your Mac, it is well worth the cost of admission, which is reduced to $14.99 for launch.

Personally, I would love to see the addition of more CRM-focused information that could sync to my iOS devices. The app’s notes field is a great start, but a way to enter structured data about phone calls and emails to form a paper trail of communication would make it a real winner in my book.

Dropbox Professional »

Todd Jackson at Dropbox, after some mumbo jumbo I tried reading before blacking out:

That’s why we’re launching Dropbox Professional, a new plan that lets you store, share, and track your work from one place. It’s designed specifically for independent workers, and it comes with two new features: Dropbox Showcase and Dropbox Smart Sync.

The new $19.99/mo plan comes with 1 TB of data, like the $9.99/mo Plus plan that I’ve been using for a while. All of the various plans can be seen here.

Dropbox Showcase is a new way for users to share and publish files for others to interact with. The far more interesting feature is Dropbox Smart Sync, which grants access to every folder and file in your account in Finder, without the need to sync everything to your local disk.

Ultimately, this isn’t a big enough temptation for me to pay twice what I’m paying now for Dropbox. I have several folders un-synced with my computers, and just go to the website if I need to access them. If this new plan came with more storage, I may feel differently, but for now, I’m staying on my $9.99/mo plan.

There’s No i in Keyboard 

As outlined in the most recent episode of Connected, the keyboard on my Late 2016, 13-inch TouchBar-equipped MacBook Pro is not doing well.

A couple of weeks ago, its i key started feeling a little sticky. This keyboard does not boast a large amount of travel, but this key was barely moving at all when pressed.

I assumed a tiny bit of dust or other debris had worked it way under the key. This is a bit of a known problem with these laptops, as Casey Johnston has noted at The Outline in an article titled “The New MacBook Keyboard is Ruining my Life.” She writes:

“Maybe it’s a piece of dust,” the Genius had offered. The previous times I’d been to the Apple Store for the same computer with the same problem — a misbehaving keyboard — Geniuses had said to me these exact same nonchalant words, and I had been stunned into silence, the first time because it seemed so improbable to blame such a core problem on such a small thing, and the second time because I couldn’t believe the first time I was hearing this line that it was not a fluke. But this time, the third time, I was ready. “Hold on,” I said. “If a single piece of dusts lays the whole computer out, don’t you think that’s kind of a problem?”

Like Johnston, I remember that on previous versions of Apple’s laptops, this would be easy to resolve. Simply (and carefully) remove the key, blow out the offending particle, and pop the key (carefully) back into place.

That’s not so easy on the 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro and the 12-inch MacBook. The butterfly switches are easily disrupted by tiny intrusions of dust and crumbs.

I, like the good kbase follower that I am, consulted and followed Apple’s directions for dealing with this:

  1. Hold your Mac notebook at a 75-degree angle, so it’s not quite vertical.
  2. Use compressed air to spray the keyboard, or just the affected keys, in a left-to-right motion.
  3. Rotate your Mac notebook to its right side and spray the keyboard again, from left to right.
  4. Repeat the action, this time with your Mac notebook rotated to its left side.

I walked through the process, somehow without dropping my notebook on the concrete floor of my studio. The travel of my i key improved somewhat, but I still had to strike the key with a lot of additional force for my key press to register. I had work to do, so I pressed on, whacking the i key with a bunch of force when I needed to use it.

After a couple days of light usage, the problem got worse.

The bottom lip of the key began to flip up a little bit as the key tried sprinting back up after being depressed. Light was leaking around it, and eventually this happened:

Keyboardlolapplecomeonwhatisthisgarbage

One of the tiny arms that the key cap clips onto is broken. My nearly $2,000 laptop that I bought less than a year ago is now missing a key, as I shared with our Connected audience this weekend before using an iBook G3 for the rest of the show:

LionKingLaptop

I have a Genius Bar appointment set up for the end of the week. I have the i key ready, tucked away in a small plastic baggie, as if it was a piece of police evidence. I’m not looking forward to it.

Newest Mac mini Turns Three »

I would have missed the anniversary without this blog post by Brian Stucki:

It’s been three years since the current Mac mini was released on Oct 16, 2014. “All About That Bass” was the number one song in the land. Four hundred million humans have been born since that day and have never known a new Mac mini. My daughter is one of them. She already walks and talks and just moved to her big-girl bed. Three years is a long time.

It’s not all bad news for MacStadium, as he writes. They have tons of customers using the small machine for a whole bunch of different things. I’m one of them; Relay FM’s live stream is powered by a Mac mini hosted in Las Vegas.