How to back up iPhone without iTunes on macOS Catalina

iTunes is no more. When you upgrade to macOS Catalina, the iTunes app will be removed from your system. It’s hard to say anyone will miss it. It did not age well, and users grew tired of its sluggishness over the years. That said, iTunes had one very important job; backing up your iPhone, or iPad. It also let you restore your iOS device from an older back-up which leaves you wondering how that’s going to work with Catalina. The answer lies with the Finder app. Here’s how you can back up an iPhone without iTunes on macOS Catalina.

Back up iPhone without iTunes

Launch Finder and connect your iPhone to your Mac. In the column on the left, you will see the device appear under your MacBook. Select it.

In the preview pane on the right, click the Pair button. You need to allow your Mac to access files on your iPhone, and the permission will have to be granted on your phone. Unlock it, allow your Mac access from the pop up, and enter your Passcode if prompted.

Once your Mac is allowed to access your iPhone, the preview pane will be replaced with a familiar interface; the iTunes device details interface, with some changes.

Of course, this isn’t iTunes. Apple has just fashioned the new feature after iTunes so that it is easier to use/learn. Select the General tab, and click the Sync button at the bottom. Allow it to back up your data and sync it to your Mac.

This is how it works in the Catalina public beta. There’s one rather glaring shortcoming here; Finder gives no indication that the back up is complete or in progress. The Sync button appears greyed-out/is un-usable but there is no progress bar or anything like that. To check if your phone is still syncing, look at the status bar for the syncing icon. Once sync is complete, the Sync button will be ‘clickable’ again. No notification is shown when sync completes.

To restore your iPhone, you will do what you always did with some small amendments. Put the iPhone in restore mode, connect it to your Mac, and select the device inside Finder. Once selected, you will see an option to Restore iPhone much like you did in iTunes.

With respect to selecting what is synced to your iPhone, all the same options that iTunes had to offer are there in Finder. Look through the different tabs under your device; Music, Films, TV Programs, Podcasts, Audiobooks, Books, Photos, Files, and Info, to select what to sync.

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How to install the macOS Catalina public beta

The next version of macOS is called Catalina and today, its first public beta was released. This means that anyone with a Mac can try out the beta version of the upcoming OS. An Apple Developer account is not needed. Here’s how you can install the macOS Catalina public beta.

Install macOS Catalina public beta

If you’re not following this on your Mac, switch over to it before you proceed. Also, it’s a good idea to back up your files first, just in case. This is beta software and things can go wrong.

Visit this page, and sign in with the Apple ID you use on your Mac.

Once you’re signed in, you will have to enroll your Mac into the public beta program. Click the link to proceed.

On the next page, click the ‘Download the macOS Public Beta Access Utility’ button and it will download a package.

Look for it in the Downloads folder, and install it. The package will advise you to back up your Mac if it doesn’t detect a Time Machine back up. It will also tell you that a Feedback Assistant app will be installed on your Mac. There is no way to opt out of installing this app.

The package will install in a few seconds and the Feedback Assistant app will launch. Switch to it first and accept the on-screen agreement. In the background, the Software Update will run and check for an update but if you haven’t accepted the agreement on the Feedback Assistant app, it will fail.

Once you have the Feedback Assistant app set up, check for a software update again the same way that you update macOS.

Once the update has been detected, you can download and install it. Again, it will install like any other macOS update.

The macOS Catalina public beta is fresh right now. Everyone is trying to access it and the website sometimes tells you it’s being updated. You will eventually manage to get the public beta access utility but downloading the Catalina beta through macOS will be slow. It’s a good idea to wait a day or two to get the update.

The update isn’t permanent i.e., you can downgrade back to the stable version of macOS Mojave. Once you’re on the beta version of Catalina, you will continue to get the other public betas that are released. The betas are normally one version behind the developer builds but you will nevertheless get every single beta released leading up to the final, stable release, and all subsequent public betas for it.

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How to automatically copy screenshots to clipboard on macOS

Screenshots, once captured, end up being used for lots of different things. One primary purpose of taking a screenshot is to share it with someone in order to show something on your desktop. By default, when you capture a screenshot on macOS, it is saved to your local disk. This is fine if you often need to annotate screenshots before you can use them however, if you mostly just share them without editing, it might be more convenient if you can automatically copy screenshots to the clipboard when you capture them. There’s a built-in setting on macOS that lets you change this default behavior.

Automatically copy screenshots to clipboard

In order to automatically copy screenshots to the clipboard, you need to change a small setting in the screenshot utility. To access the screenshot utility on macOS, you can either search for ‘Screenshot’ in Spotlight, or you can open Launchpad and look inside the Other folder. Launch the screenshot utility and it will add a control bar at the bottom of the screen just above the Dock.

On the control bar, click the dropdown arrow next to the ‘Options’ button and from the menu that opens, select ‘Clipboard’. That’s all you need to do. You can now exit the Screenshot utility and take screenshots like you normally do.

This feature comes with a limitation that you should be aware of before you enable it. Once screenshots are set to copy to the clipboard on capture, they no longer save to your disk. A screenshot exists only in the clipboard and if you do not paste it into an app that can keep it long-term, you will only ever be able to use the most recent screenshot taken.

If you need to successively take multiple screenshots with minimal interruption to your workflow, this is probably not the best option for you. Unfortunately, you cannot have a screenshot both copy to the clipboard and save to disk. This is something that happens by default on Windows 10 despite macOS having the more superior screenshot utility out-of-the-box.

If you prefer to copy a screenshot to the clipboard so that you don’t have to clean your disk later, you can opt to have screenshots open in Preview. Once they do, you can annotate them if you need to, copy them to the clipboard with relative ease, take multiple screenshots in succession without interrupting your workflow, and then delete them in bulk from the Preview app.

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How to enable closed-display mode on a MacBook

Laptops, whether they’re branded MacBooks or generic ones running either Linux or Windows, are powerful. In many cases, they are as powerful as desktop computers and can be used in their place. A laptop has the added benefit of running on a battery and being portable so it’s often a better investment than a desktop (unless you’re a hardcore gamer). As great as a laptop is, it does have a smaller screen and many users tend to use them with an external display. If you prefer to use an external display with your MacBook, and would prefer to use just the external display with the laptop lid closed, you can do so by enabling the closed-display mode.

Enable closed-display mode

Closed-display mode doesn’t have an explicit setting on macOS. Other than it being exclusive to MacBooks, it requires a few conditions to be met for it to work. Once those conditions are met, you can close your MacBook and use just the external display.

There are three conditions that must be met in order to enable closed-display mode.

Connect external keyboard/mouse

If you plan on using your MacBook with the lid closed, you obviously will not be able to use either its keyboard or the trackpad. You will need to use an external keyboard and/or mouse with it. To that end, you need to first connect an external keyboard or mouse to your MacBook. Any type will do; wired or wireless.

Connect power adapter

Unfortunately, you cannot enable closed-display mode with the MacBook running on battery power. This is why you need to connect your power adapter before you can use the MacBook with the lid closed. This is one area where Windows 10 outshines macOS.

Connect external display

Connect the external display and make sure it is detected first. Once the external display is connected, you can close the lid on your MacBook and the display will work. Your MacBook will not enter Sleep mode, however its internal display will turn off. On your desktop, you will only have one display i.e., this will not enable a multi-display set up. This means that when you move your mouse to the edge of the screen, it won’t move to a second display.

Exit closed-display mode

Exiting closed-display mode is pretty easy. If you want to switch to a multiple-display set-up, all you have to do is open the lid on your MacBook. Its display will wake up and it will appear as either the primary or the secondary display. You can of course change with display is the primary one. You can also disconnect the power adapter or the external mouse/keyboard to exit closed-display mode.

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How to fix Xcode stuck on ‘Installing’ on macOS

Xcode isn’t an essential app if you’re not looking to develop on your Mac. That said, if you plan on developing for any of Apple’s devices, or maybe just side-load an app on your iPhone, you do need this app. You can get it from the Mac App Store easily enough however, sometimes the app tends to get stuck. This isn’t like a normal app installation getting stuck but the fix is fairly easy. Here’s how you can fix Xcode stuck on ‘Installing’ on macOS.

Basic checks

Xcode is a large app and when you install it from the Mac App Store, it tends to download a little slowly. Often users are tempted to install it via a torrent but that’s not a good idea as it might have been tampered with. To that end, do not use any other source other than the Mac App Store to download Xcode.

Additionally, it may be worth cancelling the installation, and deleting it. Try starting it again to see if it installs correctly. This is a long shot but try it nevertheless. Also, wait a while. It can sometimes take hours for the installation to finish so give it some time, especially if your Mac is a bit old.

Fix Xcode stuck ‘Installing’

Try each of the following fixes. You may have to download the app all over again. If you have a slow internet connection, you might want to set some time aside for when you attempt to fix the problem.

Restart Mac

This is the oldest bit of troubleshooting advice you will ever get but it does work often. Restart your Mac and see where that leaves you. You may be able to resume the download and then install the app successfully or, you may have to delete it and install it again. Try both.

Mac App Store

Open the Mac App Store and sign out of it. Cancel the installation/download. Next, quit the Mac App Store and then restart your Mac. Once you’re back on your desktop, open the Mac App Store, sign in again, and then download and install the app.

Disable anti-virus

If you have an anti-virus on your Mac, try disabling it until Xcode downloads and installs all the way. While an anti-virus shouldn’t technically block an app from the Mac App Store, it seems that Xcode is an app with its own unique set of problems which is why disabling the anti-virus works.

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