Weekly News Summary for Admins — 2018-06-22

MacAdmins are gearing up for the summer imaging… er… installation season and we have a bunch of interesting and useful articles to prepare us!

Apple is releasing some of the software they didn’t have time for at WWDC. New Numbers, Pages and Keynote updates dropped last Friday just after I had finished up the last newsletter, and GarageBand 10.3 dropped yesterday. Can we have at least some new Macs next!?

Also, a few new security related posts and remember to catch up with all the WWDC sessions and MacDevOps YVR videos before PSU MacAdmins Conf posts theirs!

If you would rather get the weekly newsletter by email, you can subscribe to the Scripting OS X Weekly Newsletter here!! (Same content, delivered to your Inbox once a week.)

#! On Scripting OS X

📰News and Opinion

🐦MacAdmins on Twitter

🐞Bugs and Security

🔨Support and HowTos

🤖Scripting and Automation

🍏Apple Support

🎧To Listen

📚Support

There are no ads on my webpage or this newsletter. If you are enjoying what you are reading here, please spread the word and recommend it to another Mac Admin!

If you want to support me and this website even further, then consider buying one (or all) of my books. It’s like a subscription fee, but you also get a useful book or two extra!

Prefs Tool

Preferences or defaults on macOS seem easy, but their subtleties can grow complex very quickly.

The main reason for confusion is that preferences can be stored in many places and on many levels. The defaults system composites all of the keys and values from all locations to a process or application.

In my book “Property Lists, Preferences and Profiles for Apple Administrators”, I list 17 possible domains or levels where preferences can be stored and read from. The most common domains are:

Domain Location
User/Application ~/Library/Preferences/identifier.plist
User/Application/Computer ~/Library/Preferences/ByHost/identifier.xyz.plist
Computer/Application /Library/Preferences/identifier.plist
Configuration Profile n/a

To add to this confusion, Apple’s documentation keeps mixing up terms like ‘domain’ and ‘identifier’. I use the term ‘domain’ to designate the level or location a setting is stored in, and ‘identifier’ for the name of the preference (i.e. com.apple.screensaver).

The defaults command, which is the proper tool to interact with preferences files, does not properly work with different levels or domains. When you run

$ defaults read com.apple.screensaver

The output will be from the User/Application domain only, i.e. the data stored in the file ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.screensaver.plist.

But the ScreenSaver process stores more data in the ByHost domain. You can read this domain or location with defaults as well:

$ defaults -currentHost read com.apple.screensaver

However, you must remember to check and read the ByHost domain as well as the standard domain. To access the computer level domain you have to use

$ defaults read /Library/Preferences/com.apple.screensaver

(The ScreenSaver process does not use this domain, so you will get an error saying that it does not exist. However, you won’t know this domain is empty until you try.)

Defaults cannot tell you when a setting is set or overridden by a configuration profile, or what its value is in that case. You cannot get the full composited view of defaults with the defaults command.

Greg Neagle wrote a short python script a while back which could give you the effective result for an identifier and a specific key. His script will also show where the value is coming from.

I have found Greg’s script to be very useful, but I wanted it to do a bit more. My version, Prefs Tool, can now show you all keys set for a specific application identifier, including those managed by configuration profiles.

$ ./prefs.py com.apple.screensaver
idleTime <int>: 0L (User/ByHost)
CleanExit <string>: u'YES' (User/ByHost)
askForPassword <bool>: True (Managed)
askForPasswordDelay <int>: 0L (Managed)
moduleDict <dict>: {
    moduleName = iLifeSlideshows;
    path = "/System/Library/Frameworks/ScreenSaver.framework/Resources/iLifeSlideshows.saver";
    type = 0;
} (User/ByHost)
showClock <bool>: True (User/ByHost)
PayloadUUID <string>: u'AAAAAAAA-BBBB-CCCC-DDDD-EEEEEEEEEEEE' (Managed)
tokenRemovalAction <int>: 0L (User/ByHost)
PrefsVersion <int>: 100L (User/ByHost)

The script has a few more tricks up its sleeve. There is also still lots of work to be done. See the Github repository and its ReadMe for details.

Weekly News Summary for Admins — 2018-06-15

Many new posts, regarding macOS Mojave and iOS 12. Usually I do not upgrade my main devices to beta versions, but this time I am sorely tempted.

If you would rather get the weekly newsletter by email, you can subscribe to the Scripting OS X Weekly Newsletter here!! (Same content, delivered to your Inbox once a week.)

#! On Scripting OS X

📰News and Opinion

🏜 macOS Mojave

🎤Siri Shortcuts

🐦MacAdmins on Twitter

🐞Bugs and Security

🔨Support and HowTos

🤖Scripting and Automation

🍏Apple Support

♻️Updates and Releases

📺To Watch

🎧To Listen

📚Support

There are no ads on my webpage or this newsletter. If you are enjoying what you are reading here, please spread the word and recommend it to another Mac Admin!

If you want to support me and this website even further, then consider buying one (or all) of my books. It’s like a subscription fee, but you also get a useful book or two extra!

MacAdmins Slack – a highly opinionated guide

I love MacAdmins Slack. I am logged in nearly every day. I use it for research, solving problems, camaraderie, and just plain fun. The community there is wonderful.

There are a few things particular to this Slack and some other online forums in general that I noticed, so I thought I’d like to write this guide.

This is, as the title says, highly opionionated and from my personal perspective. I do hope it is useful for everyone.

What is Slack?

Slack is a popular message board application. It’s a cross between between a bulletin board system and a chat room.

Slack has a web interface and clients for most operating systems.

The MacAdmins Slack is a particular instance which specializes on topics relevant to Apple Administrators. You can sign up here.

The Lingo

There are a few terms particular with Slack, that might be confusing at first.

An organization can set up a Slack “Workspace.” You can be a member of and logged into multiple workspaces. You will have a different login and username for each workspace.

Slack help has a general glossary, which is helpful.

Channels

Within a workspace, Slack is separated into “channels.” Channels can be public or private. When you sign in for the first time, you are be added to some public channels by default. You can click on the “Channels” header in the sidebar to browse and search existing channels.

When you are typing and start a word with the # character Slack will treat this as a link to a channel. When you start typing the channel name Slack will suggest auto-completions. If a channel with the name exists, the word will be linked so that users can click to go to that channel.

Frustratingly, Slack’s autocompletion (for channels and users) uses the return key to confirm a selection and the tab key to jump to the next suggestion in the list. This is not how those keys are usually used on macOS and throws me off every time.

Public channels in MacAdmins Slack are either on a particular technology or software (#highsierra or #munki), regions or countries (#thenetherlands, #uk or #anzmac), events (#psumac or #wwdc) or pretty much everything else.

The language on MacAdmins is usually English, though regional channels are often held in that region’s language. Be aware that English is not every user’s main language. While this can make communication frustrating on both sides, be polite, patient and friendly about it.

To be honest, there are way #toomanychannels. The reason for this is that anyone can create a channel. Before you create a new channel, you should browse and search and maybe ask if there is already a channel for that particular purpose or topic. #general is usually a good place to ask if you can’t find something obvious in the channel browser.

In addition there are private channels, which work basically the same, but cannot be searched and only joined on invitation.

Special Channels

There are a few channels that have special roles or uses:

#general: is the “anything” channel, as long as the topic is somewhat MacAdmin related. Questions asked here may are often answered directly or you will be referred to a different channel.

#backroom: This is for ‘off-topic’ discussions. Any topic goes, as long as you follow the CoC.

#ask-about-this-slack: for technical and organizational questions to the admins about the MacAdmins Slack.

Slack is not Email

The MacAdmins Slack can get very busy. You may have the urge to keep up with every message in every channel you follow. This may be possible when you are in just a few channels. However, I have gotten used to just hitting ‘shift-escape’ (Mark all as read) in the morning and maybe again in the afternoon. I try to keep up with discussions and threads I am part of, and have learnt to be ok with missing most others.

Emojis

Emojis are an important part of Slack and there are a few ways of using them.

You can just insert an Emoji when typing with the standard macOS or iOS emoji picker. You can also type an emoji name or ‘code’ between colon characters:. So :grin: will turn into the grinning smiley. This is usually more convenient than the system pickers.

When you see an emoji, you can hover the mouse over it to learn its name or code.

Reactions

You can add an emoji to a post with the reaction button. (the smiley with the + symbol). Then the emoji will be shown attached to the post, multiple reactions by different users will be shown next to each other, and they will be counted up.

When you hover your mouse over a reaction, it will show which users added that particular reaction.

Special Emojis

Some Emojis are unique to Slack or have special meaning

:+1: will show as the ‘thumbs up’ emoji. This is commonly used to show approval or support, though some users prefer :plus1 or :heavy_plus_sign:

:protip: is used to highlight a great tip. There is a bot that gathers all post with this reaction in the #protips channel

:this: will show as an animated chevron. Used to approve or emphasize a post.

:raccoon: is used to politely notify that an ongoing discussion might be better suited for another channel (Why is is a raccoon?)

:dolphin: is sometimes used when you leave a channel to state that you are merely leaving to prune your channel list and not because something has upset you

Custom Emojis

You can create your own emojis. Or add new names for existing ones.

Create custom emoji – Slack Help Center

To Thread or not to Thread

You can reply to a post directly in a channel’s timeline or create a ‘thread’ where the replies are collapsed or sorted with the original post. Use the speech bubble icon to create a thread.

In MacAdmins Slack, most users prefer replies in the timeline, however, when you are replying to a post further up in the timeline, then threads can be quite useful. When replying in a thread, you have the option to show the reply in the channel’s main timeline as well.

Use the ‘@’ Wisely

You can ‘mention’ another user with the @ symbol and their username. With Slack’s default setting the user will get notified of a mention. When you use @scriptingosx in a post, it will notify me, even when I am not in the channel.

This can be very useful to ‘summon’ someone into a channel, because they might be interested or able to contribute to a discussion. I use it when I reply to questions or requests that happened a while ago, so that the person gets notified that there is a reply.

Other than that, you should use mentions with care. Remember that you may be ringing all of someone’s devices with it.

Set up Do not Disturb

To avoid excessive notifications, you can set Slack to ‘Do not Disturb’ mode by clicking on the bell icon next to the Workspace name. You can snooze the Slack for a certain and setup a recurring schedule to mute notifications overnight.

A user who mentions you while have the ‘Do not Disturb’ mode enabled will be informed why you may not be reacting.

You can also see a user’s local time in their profile. This might give you an idea of when they might be online or not. You can get to a user’s profile by clicking on their icon.

Manage your Notifications

Aside from the ‘Do not Disturb’ feature you can further manage the notifications Slack can send to you.

In addition to be notified when you are mentioned (@ed) you can add certain keywords that may be interesting to you. (e.g., I have keywords for my books’ titles)

Formatting Posts

You can use a simplified MarkDown-like syntax to format your posts. Enclosing a word or sentence in underscores _ will turn it italic, asterisks * will turn it bold.

If you have trouble remembering the syntax, you can also see the most common formatting options in small text under the message entry field.

Posting Code

Since MacAdmins Slack is a technical forum, posting commands or pieces of code will be fairly common. When you enclose a sequence of words with single backticks it will be shown in monospace font, which others will usually understand to be a command.

When you use triple backticks, Slack will interpret the text in between as a code block. Other special characters and white space (multiple space, tabs, new lines) will be shown as is. This is useful to share short code blocks or log sections.

To share full scripts or longer log files, you should use Slack Snippets. You can create a snippet with the big ‘+’ button next to the text entry or by just dragging a script or text file into the slack window.

Asking questions

We all use Slack to ask for help when we are stuck. The willingness to help each other out it one of the strengths. However, when you do have to ask for help, there are a few common courtesies you should follow. (These hold true for any request for help, like a support incident.)

Be Descriptive and Specific

Don’t just say “Help, XYZ is broken!” Don’t ask if “anyone knows ABC?”

Explain what you are trying to do, in which context. Show what you already tried to fix the problem. (you did try to solve it yourself first, didn’t you?)

I find, that often the act of formulating the question properly helps me figure out the solution myself, or at least get closer to a solution.

People who want to help you will follow-up with those questions, but will be more likely to help when the request is well formulated and has (most of) the necessary context.

Examples:

Bad:

My postinstall script does not work! Can anybody help?

Better:

I want to show a dialog from a postinstall script which prompts the user for the computer name. I am using osascript, but it is failing and I don’t understand why?

Even better: add the script (or a part of the script) and errors you are seeing

Keep your question relevant

Sometimes a question might just drown in another ongoing conversation. Sometimes, expecially on the less busy channels, no-one will be around to answer. Be patient before you start cross-posting to other channels.

It’s ok to repeat your question, once the ongoing discussion subsides, but don’t spam. Maybe it’s just that no-one really has an answer.

Keep in mind that everyone on the MacAdmins Slack has a job, which is not answering your questions on Slack. Helping each other out on Slack is something we all do on the side, voluntarily.

Don’t @ or DM people just because they have helped you before, unless you want to follow-up on something very specific.

MacAdmins Slack is busiest during North American office hours. Keep that in mind when posting questions as well. (There are a few admins from elsewhere in the world who will help out when they can.)

What do you want to accomplish?

Even when you ask questions properly and with detail, you may ge the the counterquestion: “What is it you actually want to accomplish?” This has turned into a sort of a meme on the MacAdmins Slack.

When you get this question, someone believes that you may be narrowing down on a dead end and a completely different approach may be more appropriate. They want to get your ‘big picture’ to understand the context.

This is the time to step back, explain your goals and let the MacAdmins community help you gain some new perspective. Don’t double down on what you are trying to do. This question has lead to some of the most interesting discussions.

Join the Slack and Enjoy!

Overall I feel the MacAdmins Slack is a great place to share and receive knowledge for MacAdmins. I you still haven’t signed up, go and do it here!

If you already are a member, I hope you learnt something useful here. If you think I missed something important, then let me know! (My user name on the MacAdmins Slack is @scriptingosx.)

Weekly News Summary for Admins — 2018-06-08

WWDC week! A peak at all the wonderful new stuff coming to us in iOS 12, watchOS 5, tvOS 12 and macOS Mojave 10.14.

Also macOS 10.13.5 dropped last Friday, a few hours after I posted the last newsletter. (Already seems so long ago.)

If you would rather get the weekly newsletter by email, you can subscribe to the Scripting OS X Weekly Newsletter here!! (Same content, delivered to your Inbox once a week.)

#! On Scripting OS X

📰News and Opinion

💻WWDC and macOS Mojave

🐦MacAdmins on Twitter

🐞Bugs and Security

🔨Support and HowTos

🤖Scripting and Automation

🍏Apple Support

♻Updates and Releases

📺To Watch

🎧To Listen

📚Support

There are no ads on my webpage or this newsletter. If you are enjoying what you are reading here, please spread the word and recommend it to another Mac Admin!

If you want to support me and this website even further, then consider buying one (or all) of my books. It’s like a subscription fee, but you also get a useful book or two extra!

Books Update

First of all: Huge thanks to all who have already bought “macOS Installation”!

Even more thanks to all who have already left reviews, or already got back to me with feedback. I am quite overwhelmed by all the positive and even excited responses.

During the week-end, the book actually broke in the US iBooks Store top #200! All three of my books totally dominated the “System Administration” category.

I have to admit, this probably says more about the fact that the iBooks Store has turned into a total ghost town. It is still something to celebrate.

If you have not yet bought the book: get it on the iBooks Store!

If you want to read a sample first, you can get a free sample on the iBooks Store, or from this post. It’s the same chapter, though the book has the re-worked, edited version

If you are reading or have finished the book already, then please leave a review on the iBooks Store.

All of that said, today I pushed an update for my other two books to the iBooks Store! The main motivation was to update the “More Books” section in both with a link to the new book. But along with came a bunch of small fixes, corrections and even new subsections that have accumulated since the last update. (These are the eighth update for “Packaging” and the third update for “PR3”) You can see the details in the version history section in the iBooks Store and in each book.

If you have already bought the books, just go to your iBooks app and download the updated versions. If you have not bought them yet, you can get them here:

Weekly News Summary for Admins — 2018-06-01

My new book ‘macOS Installation for Apple Administrators’ is out!

Go get it, and read it!

(Please leave a review and share the link on social media!)

Also this is the ‘WWDC eve’ edition of the newsletter. iOS 11.4 dropped this week, but as of now we are still waiting for macOS 10.13.5.

If you would rather get the weekly newsletter by email, you can subscribe to the Scripting OS X Weekly Newsletter here!! (Same content, delivered to your Inbox once a week.)

#! On Scripting OS X

📰News and Opinion

🐦MacAdmins on Twitter

🐞Bugs and Security

🔨Support and HowTos

🤖Scripting and Automation

🍏Apple Support

♻Updates and Releases

📺To Watch

🎧To Listen

📚Support

There are no ads on my webpage or this newsletter. If you are enjoying what you are reading here, please spread the word and recommend it to another Mac Admin!

If you want to support me and this website even further, then consider buying one (or all) of my books. It’s like a subscription fee, but you also get a useful book or two extra!

New Book: macOS Installation for Apple Administrators

My new book is on the available on the iBooks Store. Go get it! I have talked about it before, with a nice long sample chapter.

Get it on iBooks

There is one more thought I want to add: I don’t consider this book complete yet.

This doesn’t sound like the best endorsement, so let me explain:

Apple is not only deprecating technologies for macOS deployments (imaging, NetBoot), but the pace for macOS releases is changing as well. I started writing this book in October, shortly after the release of High Sierra. However, with every update to 10.13 it became clear that Apple was not standing still. They kept iterating, sometimes quite drastically.

The iMac Pro introduced Secure Boot and we realized that NetBoot-based workflows would need to be retired much faster than initially assumed. Secure Boot also makes booting off external drives quite inconvenient. While this is great from a security standpoint, it removes yet another option for installation workflows.

Then they announced that macOS Server would be stripped of nearly all services, again including NetBoot/NetInstall. 10.13.4 added a very useful option to startosinstall. Just recently, Apple changed the infamous HT208020 article (a.k.a. Imaging Killer). I was adding, removing and rewriting parts of the book until the literal last minute.

Not even the proofreaders have seen the final version. (Can’t blame the remaining typos on them.) Existing workflows (or planned workflows) had to be adapted for the new hardware and updates.

I don’t expect this will stop at 10.13.4, or 10.13.5 or any time soon. We will have to update our practices to be more adaptable, and that includes writing books. I expect that 10.13.5 and future updates, new hardware with new features, and then 10.14 (whatever Apple will call it) will bring more changes.

Digital books are software, and can be treated as such. I wanted to “release early and often.”

When you buy the book now, you will receive new versions from the iBooks Store when I publish updates with new information, workflows and solutions. I plan to keep this up with the remaining 10.13 updates and all the way to the 10.14 release (presumably this fall). So by the end of this year, you should have a book with great information on how to install High Sierra and how to upgrade to and install 10.14.

Like for an app in the App Store, I have to consider how long it makes fiscal sense to maintain free updates. After the 10.14 release, I will evaluate the effort spent and make new plans from there. I will certainly write about that here.

There are also some parts of the book that I would have liked to have a bit more detail. I had set the myself the goal to get the book out before WWDC and 10.13.5, so some things had to put on the ‘later’ list. So, in addition to new content forced on us by updates and upgrades, I will keep improving, fixing, and adding to useful content as well.

I have done this with my “Packaging” book, which is on its seventh update. (The eighth is in preparation.)

I believe that “macOS Installation for Apple Administrators,” as it is now, already has a lot of great information and is well worth buying and reading. It will get even better.

Get it on iBooks

At the end, a short request for help: The book is self-published. There is no big marketing machine behind this. If you like the book, then please leave a review on the iBooks Store. Apple’s stores segregate reviews by region, so every single review makes a big difference.

You can also help by recommending the book to another MacAdmin or presenting it at your local MacAdmins meeting, or just by simply sharing or re-tweeting my posts on social media.

Thank you!

Weekly News Summary for Admins — 2018-05-25

Some interesting releases this week. Otherwise, you can tell that WWDC is approaching as the macOS/iOS wish lists are appearing.

In other news: I finished the first draft my next book “macOS Installation for Apple Administrators” and have sent it out the test-readers (thank you!). I posted an excerpt on my blog last week: macOS Installation: Strange New World

This topic has proven to be very volatile with Apple changing important parts of the workflows in nearly every update to 10.13. I don’t think this new book completely does the topic justice yet. There are many sections where I’d like to add more detail and depth.

However, I also believe it is already very useful in its current form, especially as ‘deployment season’ is approaching for education administrators, more secure boot Macs are likely to be announced at WWDC and the next macOS (10.14 or whatever) is looming on the horizon.

Like my other books, I plan to regularly update this book at least until the macOS 10.14 (or what ever it ill be called) release. When you purchase the book you will get the updates pushed from the iBooks Store for free.

If you would rather get the weekly newsletter by email, you can subscribe to the Scripting OS X Weekly Newsletter here!! (Same content, delivered to your Inbox once a week.)

#! On Scripting OS X

📰News and Opinion

🐦MacAdmins on Twitter

🐞Bugs and Security

🔨Support and HowTos

🤖Scripting and Automation

🍏Apple Support

♻Updates and Releases

📺To Watch

🎧To Listen

📚Support

There are no ads on my webpage or this newsletter. If you are enjoying what you are reading here, please spread the word and recommend it to another Mac Admin!

If you want to support me and this website even further, then consider buying one (or both) of my books. It’s like a subscription fee, but you also get a useful book or two extra!

The Next Age of the Mac

Yesterday marked the day where Mac OS X has been available to the public longer than the previous Macintosh operating system (known as ‘Mac OS’ [with a space] or ‘Classic’ towards the end of its lifetime).

This has been noted by many on Twitter and on the Mac news sites.

I do think it is a milestone worth noting. Darwin/Mac OS X/OS X/macOS has served as a stable foundation not just for the Mac but also for the iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Apple Watch and now even the HomePod.

However, I have also seen comments that the “next age of the Mac” will have to happen soon, because Mac OS X/macOS is so old now. That statement really bugs me.

Mac OS X was not Apple’s first attempt at an operating system to replace ‘Classic.’ In the late 80s and early 90s it was already obvious that the Macintosh System architecture would not scale to modern CPUs and work requirements. An application that crashed would normally take down the entire OS. You had to assign memory to an application manually. System Extensions would frequently conflict with each other and also crash the entire system. There was no concept protected memory or segregating processes from each other. There were no multiple users with access privileges in the file system.

The operating system had been designed for a 8MHz 16-bit CPU with 128KiloByte of RAM where every cycle and every byte had to count! Apple was now in the PowerPC era and the requirements for the system were vastly different.

Taligent, Copland and Gershwin were successive efforts and promises for a better system that each failed for various reasons. Some of the parts of each did find their way into Mac OS. Then Apple bought NeXT (and Steve Jobs) and the rest is history.

So, for most of the nineties, it was obvious that the classic Macintosh system needed replacement something newer. Microsoft had Windows NT and alternative operating systems like BeOS and NeXTStep were showing the way. By the time Mac OS X arrived, classic Mac OS was old, but users needed to hang on to it because of critical applications and workflows.

Now, in 2018, macOS might be as old as Classic was in 2001, but it doesn’t feel as old. Like the original system for the Macintosh 128K, Mac OS X 10.0 was designed for entirely different hardware and use cases. In 2001 only the high-end PowerMacs had two CPUs. Mac OS X required at least 64MB of RAM (a 500 fold increase over the original Macintosh). Laptop batteries would last for three to four hours under the most ideal circumstances. Digital photography and video was still vastly inferior to analog. Music came from CDs. Screens had far lower resolutions and security meant requiring a password to login. Wifi was new, and hardly ubiquitous. Bluetooth was brand new and used in expensive cell phones which where used for talking, not data. There was no App Store.

All of this would change, sometimes quickly, over the next years.

Mac OS X and Apple as a whole were able to adapt to these changes. Hardware and software were optimized to deal with video and media. Multi-tasking and threading were improved as multiple CPUs and cores became cheaper and common, even in laptops, tablets and phones. As mobility and power consumption got more important the hardware and software was adapted to take that into account. Security and privacy became more and more important and integrated in the operating systems and file systems.

Apple used Mac OS X as the basis for iPhone OS, porting a Unix system to a phone. There has also been much back and forth of software and technology between the two systems (or three or four). macOS and iOS have evolved, changed and adapted in a way that the classic Mac OS in the 80s and 90s did not.

I am not claiming that macOS in its current form is perfect and cannot or should not be improved. In a few days at WWDC Apple will show us how they plan to further evolve macOS and iOS to adapt further to the future and I am looking forward to it.

When you wonder ‘what is next for the Mac’ you are ignoring that in 2018, the Mac and macOS are not an isolated platform any more.

All my Apple devices talk with each other and exchange data. My Mac shows me which website I am reading on the phone. My phone unlocks my watch and my watch can unlock my Mac. I can create a note on my tablet, add pictures from the phone and finish it on my Mac. I can read messages on my Mac or have them read to me by the phone through my headphones. When I say ‘Hey Siri’ the devices that can hear me decide among themselves which should answer.

macOS and the Mac are now just a part of larger ‘system.’ This system runs on different devices: from my headphones to the iMac on my desk to servers on Apple’s data centers. It includes custom silicone, software, and data stores and relies on communication and local cached data and protocols to communicate locally and all around the world.

The digital hub has grown to the ‘digital net’, where everything is connected and (ideally) everything is available everywhere.

Not all of this works all the time yet. Why the iPhone still cannot pickup a playlist from where I paused it on the Mac is still an absolute mystery to me.

When this new system fails, we get very frustrated, there is no ‘shell’ we can drop down to, to fix a thing. It is often quite impossible to even figure out in which part of this net of devices and services the problem is occuring.

macOS, iOS, iCloud, Siri, HomeKit, Bluetooth and Wifi, Messaging, email, App Stores and third party apps, devices and services like Google, Office 365, 1Password, etc.

Hardware, software and services. All have to work together in the digital net.

When Apple introduced Mac OS X one of the main benefits was that you could easily manage multiple users on one device.

Now, 17 years later, we have multiple devices per user.

I want is the Mac to keep evolving and adapting with my digital net, so I can continue to use its strengths (large screen, CPU/GPU power, storage, high throughput I/O) and supplement its weaknesses (not mobile, few sensors) with the other devices and services. I don’t want the Mac to fall behind or out of the digital net.

I want to stop having to think about whether something I want to do is a “Mac” task or a “phone” task, but whether I’d rather have a keyboard and a large screen or maybe prefer to do it in a chair in the backyard or by talking with Siri, while walking somewhere. Not all those options will work for every task, but I’d like the options to increase. And I want the Mac to be part of that.

I don’t expect a new age for the Mac. I don’t want a new age for the Mac. That would be too small, too myopic, too limiting.

The next age of the Mac is with the digital net and it has already begun.