Prevent Dock Following in macOS

I love macOS, I really do, but sometimes there is a feature that exists that makes me wonder what Apple was thinking. The current frustration I’m facing is Dock following. It is horrible and the only way to disable it is to turn off other useful features. For those not familiar with Dock following, it is a feature that allows the Dock to move to external monitors when you move your mouse to the bottom of the monitor. This may sound useful, but let me tell you about my setup to show you why I hate it.

My Mac setup at work is a 13 inch MacBook Pro connected to two external monitors. On the right side of my desk, is the Macbook. On this display is Outlook. I usually do not display anything else on this monitor since it is only 13 inches. In the middle display is a 22 inch display that houses the applications I use most throughout the day. This includes web browsers, SQL Operations Studio, One Note, and others. On the left most display (another 22 inch monitor) I run Skype for Business (don’t get me started on how horrible this app is) and Jump Desktop. Jump Desktop is a remote connection manager that is the best RDP manager I’ve found on macOS. Because my work has historically been a Windows-only shop that is only just now starting to support other platforms, I have to do quite a few tasks on Windows. When I’m using Jump Desktop, I want my RDP connection to my Windows machine to be as large as possible so I can perform my Windows tasks effortlessly. This is where the annoying Dock following feature comes into play.

Five or six times a day I will move my mouse to my left display to click on either the Windows Start menu or the task bar and as I do that the dock pops up on the left monitor because my mouse went to the bottom of the monitor, close to where the Windows Start menu and task bar live. Not only does the Dock just appear there, but often times gets in the way of what I was trying to click. Very annoying. Today, I found out there is a way to prevent the Dock from following your mouse. If you go to System Preferences and into the settings for Mission Control, there is an option called Displays have separate Spaces.

mission control

After unchecking this box, Dock following was disabled. I thought my problem was solved, but I quickly found out that this option has several drawbacks as well. By unchecking this, the menu bar no longer spans across displays, so any time I want to do a menu action, I have to do it on the MacBook’s main display, which means sometimes I have to traverse three displays in order to get to the menu action. Also, while not a heavy user of spaces, I do use them from time to time when I’m heavily multitasking and during those times I want displays to have their own spaces. So, I’m back to the original issue of wanting a way to disable Dock following. I’ve done several Google searches and the only option to disable it that I’ve found is via the Mission Control setting. It boggles my mind that Apple does not provide a way to disable this. If anyone has a way to do this, drop me a line.

Removing Public Beta Updates in macOS Sierra

Because I love shiny new things, I enrolled in the macOS Sierra public beta to play around with it before its general release. Once Sierra was released, I no longer wanted to receive public beta updates. In the past, I’ve gone to System Preferences -> App Store and disabled beta updates. Normally, this would remove the updates from appearing in the App Store’s Software Updates, however, this time I was still getting notified of new public betas. That’s when I found this thread on Apple’s forums. The solution, opening up Terminal and typing the following command: sudo softwareupdate --clear-catalog

Running the command removed the beta updates from the App Store and now all is right with the world. I thought I’d post this solution in case anyone else runs into this issue as well.

Update on iCloud Automatic Backups

I previously wrote how iCloud automatic backups were killing my internet connection and thought I’d provide an update, but first I want to discuss my experience with Apple support.

People who know me know I’m a huge advocate of Apple and their products. So, when something goes wrong, it is a bit disappointing. When I was troubleshooting the issues I was having with my iCloud backups I noticed that my iCloud storage was shrinking at a rapid pace.

phone backups

The amount of space my phone says I was using for backups.

It appeared that every time iCloud tried to back up and failed, the data that was backed up prior to the failure stayed in iCloud and there was no way for me to access it or delete it. Even after turning off iCloud backups, there was still over 50 GB of backup data that I could not remove.

When looking at the settings on my phone, it showed how much backup space I was using. According to the phone, I was using 8.8 GB of space on backups. This seemed correct and about what I was seeing before the trouble started. However, if I looked at the iCloud settings on my Mac or in iCloud.com, I would see something completely different. There, I would see over 50 GB of space being used for backups. This is obviously incorrect. Each time I attempted a backup and it failed, the number would grow.

iCloud backup storage

The amount of space iCloud said I was using for backups.

I contacted Apple about this, and while all the employees that helped me were very nice, none actually comprehended the issue and could provide me with a way to delete this backup data. I tried explaining the issue to several different techs, but none could give me an adequate answer. Finally, after a week of going back and forth via email with an Apple tech, I gave up and just told them to close the case. This was not going to get fixed because 1. They really didn’t understand the issue and 2. It was being caused by iCloud backups failing, which they also couldn’t solve. I was extremely disappointed by the support I received but there was nothing I could do at this point. I even had to upgrade my iCloud storage to 200 GB just so I wouldn’t get the space warnings on the 50 GB tier.

Fast forward a couple of months to the release of the iOS 10 Public Betas. I installed the beta because I’m a nerd and love to have the latest and greatest. After the third or fourth beta, I noticed that the 50+ GB of backup data no longer existed in iCloud. Everything started showing correctly on my phone, my Mac, and iCloud.com. Furthermore, backups were running without killing my internet connection. In fact, I am now able to stream media, backup my Mac data to CrashPlan and perform an iCloud backup all at the same time without an issue. I also noticed that my iPad, which backs up a lot less frequently, is backing up without issue now as well. Something with the way iCloud backups work must have changed with iOS 10. I’m really hoping that this continues through the public release and that backups continue to work. Otherwise, my phone will be stuck backing up at work only again.

Automatic iCloud Backups Killed My Internet Connection

For the past few months I’ve been experiencing intermittent connection issues with my home internet. The internet would stop working completely, on every device in the house, for a period of 10-15 minutes a couple of times a day. After a few months of experiencing this, I decided to finally start investigating. It was this past weekend when I finally noticed that about a minute after I plugged my iPhone into a charger, any charger, the internet would quit working. I was able to consistently recreate the issue. If I unplugged the phone right away, the internet would come back right away.

I figured out it was due to iCloud’s automatic backup when plugged in and on a known wireless network. So, when the phone starts to backup, the internet connection dies for all other devices while the backup is taking place, or tries to take place. Most of the time, iCloud backups on my home network fail 1. I did some searching on the internet to see if others have had similar issues and found a couple of posts, but no real solution. For a few days I thought I had fixed it by resetting the network settings on the phone. It looked like the small, but annoying problem, was finally resolved. Or so I thought.

While working from home yesterday, the problem returned. Plugged in the phone and the internet would stop working. Unplug it and internet is back. I’m not sure what the exact problem is. Is it a problem with the modem? The router? iOS? Last night I decided to update to the latest iOS 9.3 beta to see if backups become more reliable. So far, it does not look good. The phone was not able to backup to iCloud overnight. I will have to test more at home tonight to see if my connection dies the next time it tries to backup. I’m not sure what else to try at this point, besides disabling iCloud backups, but I’m not giving up yet. Suggestions welcome 2.

EDIT: Check out my update on iCloud backups killing my internet connection. iOS10 seems to have fixed the issue.

  1. Most successful backups I see are being made on my work’s network when my phone is plugged in during the day
  2. [email protected] or @shep on Twitter

Aerial Screensaver for OS X

 

aerial

John Coates created a screensaver for OS X based on the new Apple TV screensaver. It is beautiful. You should check it out. The only problem I have with it right now is that it doesn’t support energy saver, so if you have it as your screensaver, don’t expect your monitors to turn off.