Ask: Tech Support & Techsplanations
Mac Life|July 2021
Like any new technology, we have much to learn about the working life of SSDs in M1 Macs. Alarming reports of rapid wear must be tempered against use. Take any low–end Intel Mac with limited memory and work it hard with high use of virtual memory, and its SSD wears out faster. Unlike rotating hard disks, which can keep spinning for a decade or more if you’re lucky, the more your Mac writes to an SSD, the shorter its life.

A steady hand on the SSD

It’s only when we’ve gained experience with a broad range of Apple silicon and usage that we’ll have a better idea of whether their SSD’s working life is going to be any different from Intel models. Neither is there anything peculiar to Big Sur which should cause premature ageing. The SSD in our iMac Pro is still as fresh as a daisy, and it hardly ever uses virtual memory.

Better App Store updates

How do I go about updating App Store apps reliably?

These problems are widespread. Some advocate killing processes that might be involved, but it’s better to adopt a more systematic approach. Updates may appear days after they’ve been available. When you open the App Store app, select Updates and press Cmd+R to force it to refresh and offer any delayed updates now.

Rather than updating all available at once, try one at a time. In most cases, they download fairly quickly until their progress indicator reaches the 10 or 11 o’clock position, then pause for many minutes or even hours. Be patient: most should eventually complete, and you can start another updating in the meantime. If they don’t complete, quit the App Store, open it again after an hour or so and repeat the process.

Other useful checks are that your Mac is properly signed in using Apple ID, in its pane, and that there are no known problems with the App Store service identified on Apple’s System Status page at bit.ly/ml182sysstat.

If you have multiple Macs to update, run the Content Caching Server (in the Sharing pane) on one to minimize downloads. If you still can’t make any progress, contact Apple Support as it may be a server problem.

Invert + Dark Mode = Confusion

I use Invert modes on my iPhone to help me see its display. These work correctly when using Light Mode, but fail in Dark Mode. How can I fix that?

There’s a very common misunderstanding that Dark Mode is another form of inversion. It’s more complex, so interactions with inversion modes result in strange effects. If you find the Smart or Classic Invert modes help you read your iPhone’s display, use them only in Light Mode.

Inversion modes alter colors by optical inversion, which changes everything that’s black to white, and the reverse. Classic Invert applies that to the whole display contents including images, but makes images unintelligible, which Smart Invert addresses by preserving the original colors of those elements which it identifies as images.

Dark Mode aims to do something quite different, in setting dark shades as the background instead of light, using different colors including near–blacks and near– whites according to context. Unlike Invert modes, it can’t change the contents of images or documents which specify colors, so it won’t alter the appearance of images or PDF documents. Some documents are now designed to work with Dark Mode though: this is growing among websites, and is available in rich text (RTF and RTFD) documents too, where Apple has extended the RTF standard with modeless background and foreground colors.

Using both Invert and Dark Mode is therefore asking for two different and conflicting display effects at the same time, and is guaranteed to set them working in opposite directions, resulting in something which is neither inverted nor of dark appearance.

Quick–fire questions & answers

HOW WELL PROTECTED IS iCLOUD SECURE BACKUP?

Data, particularly “keybags” used to access private information, is encrypted before being sent to iCloud, where it remains encrypted. Secure backup only occurs when a device is locked, connected to a power source and has a Wi–Fi connection. Together these ensure that even Apple doesn’t have access to data.

HOW TO KEEP NOTES ON MY iPHONE RATHER THAN iCLOUD?

First enable local storage of notes. Go to Settings > Notes, then enable “On My iPhone” Account. To make that the normal location for notes, set it as the Default Account. Ensure that you back your iPhone up then, as local notes aren’t stored on iCloud otherwise.

HOW TO CHECK THE INTEGRITY OF FILES IN iCLOUD?

iCloud Drive doesn’t have direct support for integrity checking but, contrary to rumors, it appears reliable at preserving files for several years. Dintch and Fintch (free utilities from bit.ly/ mac365 dintch), can be used to attach checksums to files and check them when you wish.

BEST APP TO INVESTIGATE BLUETOOTH ISSUES?

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