Look inside! What is Console.app?

Another incredibly useful tool for support is Apples Console.app.

It displays a lot of textual information about all the programs running on your Mac.

You can find it in the Utilities folderĀ of your Applications folder.

console-appIf you launch Console.app, you will be greeted by a really long list of messages that all the processes on your system have generated.

Please note that by default, the All Messages report is selected in the left part of the Console window.

console1

Some of these messages are important, but there are a lot of them.

Fortunately, there is a powerful filter funtion available that will show you just the stuff you are interested in.

You find the Filter at the top right corner of the window.

To see what messages NeoFinder has generated, type its name into the Filter field:

After that, you will only see the messages from NeoFinder.

For example: If NeoFinder tries to generate a thumbnail for a certain file, and fails, you will see a message here for that:

Do you notice the little triangle in front of some messages? You can click there to open it to see the entire content of that particular message.

You can also select a message, and use the Copy command in the Edit menu to copy the entire text of that message to the clipboard, so you can paste it into an email, for example.

These messages are very helpful and important for our support.

If something doesn’t go as planned, you will definitely see a message in the Console.

Our support will absolutely ask you to gather messages from here.

And there is a second process involved in cataloging with NeoFinder, its name is ThumbnailHelper. If you type that name into the Filter, you will see messages from that separate cataloging process, too:

As you can see, there is nothing to fear from Apples Console.app, but a lot to gain.

Hidden features in Apples macOS Sierra

While running the brand new version 6.9.3 of the amazing Digital Asset Manager NeoFinder for Mac through our extensive and complex testing plan, we have discovered a couple of strange bugs and secret hidden features in Apples new operating system macOS Sierra.

neofinder-sierra

But the really good news first:

NeoFinder Mac 6.9.3 runs really nice and smooth in macOS Sierra, and was successfully released on Monday, September 26, 2016!

Should you upgrade to Sierra?

After what we saw during our testing, it is far too early to upgrade any productive Mac to macOS Sierra today. Please wait at least until 10.12.3 comes out, and Apple has fixed many of these bugs.

And if you decide to upgrade, make 100% sure you have a full backup of your entire statup disk and all data on it. Really.

macOS Sierra is slow?

After we had upgraded our test machine to macOS Sierra, we found that the MacBook Pro was extremely slow, all input was lagging, and everything took ages.

A quick visit to the Activity Monitor revealed that there was some process named “secd” running amok, and eating up almost 100% CPU time. This is a process from Apple, undocumented, which seems to have something to do with their security concept.

Fortunately enough, there is a way to solve this problem. It seems to be related to some problems in Keychains, when you upgrade an existing system. To solve it, delete the folder “Keychains” in your personal Library folder (not the global /Library folder!). Then run these three lines in Terminal.app:

launchctl stop com.apple.secd
killall secd
launchctl start com.apple.secd

In our testing, that has solved the CPU hogging of Apples secd immediately and permanently.

Another issue we saw is that another strange process, called com.app.appkit.xpc.openAndSavePanelService was eating up almost 100% CPU time. This one is also not documented, and it is unclear what purpose this process has.

We were able to solve that second problem by quitting Apples Photos.app. It seems that they are somehow connected.

The huge CPU load of a “photoanalysisd” process, after importing photos into Apples Photos.app, was to be expected. They are now automatically analyzing your photos for scenes and objects, to improve the search feature of Photos.app.

Unfortunately, this take a LOT of processing time, our test Mac ran for almost 20 hours on full power after importing only 17000 pictures into Photos.app. We will see if and when this stops…

Fonts

NeoFinder is able to catalog text excerpts from RTF and Microsoft Word documents, among others. macOS Sierra adds a very interesting new twist to that.

If your document contains one of the Apple standard fonts that seems to be no longer automatically installed (probably to save space and download time, who knows), macOS Sierra now offers to download and activate that font for you:

missing-font

While that is an interesting and possibly nice feature for some users, this really is a problem when you catalog a disk with thousands or millions of text files in NeoFinder. In that case, cataloging will pause until you have replied to that dialog.

And if you select “Skip”, that exact same dialog will show up seconds later for that exact same font in another document. Bummer.

Most unfortunately, there is completely zero official documentation from Apple about this unexpected behaviour, and so far no way to turn off this disruptive feature during cataloging.

We have posted a bug report with Apple, and hope to get a reply from them soon.

Until then, you have two options:

  1. Turn off the option to catalog the text contents of files. That will prevent NeoFinder of cataloging all text files, though. You can have a finer grained exclusion of only .RTF text files, as described in the NeoFinder Users Guide.
  2. Download and activate the required fonts from Apple once, and be done with it.

Visual glitches

As with most new operating system versions in the past 6 years, macOS Sierra has some strange visual glitches. We saw them during testing of NeoFinder in NeoFinder itself, but also in Apples Finder and other applications. Things like the blue background of selected items in an outline view sometimes disappearing, and such.

So far, none of these have caused any real problems, and we expect Apple for fix them in 10.12.1 or 10.12.2, as they did in the previous five major OS releases.

The HFS Standard filesystem is no longer supported

This short sentence in the official technical documentation about macOS Sierra from Apple (https://developer.apple.com/library/content/releasenotes/MacOSX/WhatsNewInOSX/Articles/OSXv10.html) should start to make you nervous.

It means that Apple no longer cares about their original file system.

But that is so long ago, who cares?

You may care a great deal!

If you have a large archive of data CDs or DVDs, those created prior to 1998, you may not be able to actually read them in macOS Sierra, even if these disks are still perfectly OK.

So go and check your digital data archive. If there are files on these older disks that you may still want to use, now is really the time to copy them to a new device!

Mail.app. Beware!

One massive problem we have encountered during the upgrade from Mac OS X 10.10.5 to macOS Sierra was the complete disappearance of every single mail in Apples Mail.app!

So far it is unclear what caused this, but even though Mail was able to use all existing mail accounts, it has simply deleted every single mail in our massive mail folder.

Good thing we always try these upgrades only on our test machines with a copy of the real data, so in our case, no real data was lost.

In a second attempt, Mail was even able to read most of the mails, but kept our Inbox empty and even write protected, so we were not able to use the app at all.

So if you like to keep your mail, make sure you have a valid and current backup, if you really think about upgrading to macOS Sierra today.

We will postpone upgrading our work machines to macOS Sierra until Apple at least fixes the problems in Mail.

Crash me if you can!

We at West-Forest-Systems write the best and most stable software code in the world. Ever.

Yeah. Sure. šŸ˜‰

Well, we are only humans. Humans make mistakes. And when we make a mistake during coding, bad thingsā„¢ can happen. One of the worst of those is that our brave application crashes.

A crash means that the operating system does not know how to continue running that application, simply stops it, and wipes it out of its memory.

This can happen if a software tries to access a memory area that doesn’t belong to that application, or for many other technical reasons beyond the scope of this article.

The good news here is that Mac OS X has a really amazing and powerful support feature built-in for this exact case.

It is called the Crash Report. Such a report is automatically generated for each and every single crash that happens on your Macintosh computer.

This crash report contains a wealth of important and valuable information. For example, it tells precisely where and usually also why the software has crashed.

Of course, this is amazing, as it can help us, the developers, to locate and fix that particular cause for this inappropriate behaviour.

So how can you obtain this valuable crash report?

Apple has placed the organisation of all the crash logs of your system in the hands of the versatile Console.app. This mighty helper is located in the Utilities folder, and yes, you have seen that folder already when you were looking for the Terminal in another entry of this blog here.

console-appIf you open up Console.app, you will be greeted by a quite complex window with lots of incomprehensible things in it.

Fear not, we will guide you safely through this maze!

console1The interesting part is located in the left region of that window, and it is called User Diagnostic Reports:

user diagnosticsIf that section, marked red in the screen shot above, is not open, please click into the little triangle in front of its name.

Then you can see a list of all crash reports that happened in your system.

The names of these reports indicate the application that caused the crash, followed by the date and the time of the crash.

If you select one of these reports, the content of that report is being displayed.

one reportAnd yes, that is still hard to comprehend for you, and that is OK. But it is a very valuable source of information for us, the developers, as we can actually read that log, and get amazing hints as to why and where the crash happened.

So it is very important that you email us that crash report ASAP. Fortunately, there is a very cool command for this right in the context menu.

mail it!

Please send any NeoFinder crash reports to support@cdfinder.de , so we can investigate, and fix that as quickly as possible.

Thank you.

Make it forget! How to delete the Preferences in Mac OS X properly

Sometimes, the best way to solve a weird problem, is to delete the Preferences of an application.

The Preferences can contain any number of settings you have made in your apps, but also other stuff that the app may have stored while it was running.

To get a really fresh start, deleting these Preferences is possible.

In the old days, you had to locate a preferences file in a hidden folder, and delete that.

That doesn’t work anymore since Mac OS X 10.8 at least, when Apple had introduced a cache system that would speed up access to the Preferences.

The only official way to really and certainly delete the Preferences for an application in Mac OS X was and still is to run the defaults delete command in the Terminal.

What is a Terminal?

It is one of the powerful helper apps that Apple has placed in the Utilities folder of your Applications folder.

terminal appLocate it now, and open it!

You will be greeted by a simple empty text window that waits for your text input.

Yes, that is very unusual in Mac OS X, where you can usually do most anything with the mouse and some serious clicking. But here, you must type the commands.

Simple paste in the following line there, and hit Return:

defaults delete de.wfs-apps.neofinder

terminal commandThe part with theĀ  de.wfs-apps.neofinderĀ  is the unique identifier that NeoFinder has to use according to the Apple developer specifications. If you need to delete the Preferences for any other application, you need to contact their support to get this particular identifier.

After you hit Return, Terminal will execute your command, and as long as there are no problems, typos, or spelling errors, you will see no reponse.

But the Preferences for NeoFinder are now properly deleted, and you can try a fresh start.

And yes, it is a great idea to quit NeoFinder before doing this…

This won’t delete any of your NeoFinder catalogs, or your NeoFinder license, these are stored separately.

What is it doing? Get a Sample!

Sometimes an application in Mac OS X is showing you the dreaded spinning beachball cursor, or just spending a lot of time doing something.

Something.

Who knows what.

Well, you can know! Just take a Sample!

What on earth is a Sample? A Sample is a very detailed technical inspection at what an applications is doing.

That sounds hard? No, it isn’t.

Fortunately enough, Apple has included a really cool and helpful tool in Mac OS X, called the Activity Monitor.

You can find it in the Utilities folder of your Applications folder. That folder also containes a couple of additional powerful tools that we will inspect later.

UtilitiesFor today, locate Activity Viewer and launch it.

You will see a list of all the applications that currently run on your Mac. There is also a large number of tools and other processes that make up your system.

activity viewer outputAs you can see, there is a lot going on in Mac OS X, many things you probably have never seen before.

But we want to know what NeoFinder is currently doing, right?

Just select NeoFinder in the list, and use the little Tools menu above the list. It has a command “Sample Process” in it. That is what we need:

sample processAfter a short while, Activity Monitor will display the results:

The SampleThis is all text, so you can click into it, and select it all, copy it, and paste it into an email. Then sendi this to the NeoFinder Support Team at support@cdfinder.de

Our support team will then be able to see what is going on, and what the problem might be, if there is any.