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HEIF HEIC Converter for Windows December 13, 2017

Posted by Steven in Apple, Software.
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Apple seems to be aware that local storage on iPhones is mostly scarce. Recent iOS releases brought a number of improvements and more transparency regarding the storage management on iOS and iCloud.

I was quite surprised that Apple did not only pull of a couple of tricks regarding the display and management of storage but it even thought about the file formats that take up most of the space on an iPhone. For many people the storage fills up quickly by taking a lot of pictures. Apple looked at the way photos are stored (usually in .JPG format) and jumped in to change that format on iPhones.

The new modern file format  HEIF was specially designed by Apple to efficiently store a lot of photos and save this precious storage space.

Now the downside of this great change is – that the format and the usage of this efficient image storage system is right now an isolated Apple thing. iPhones do a good job in letting you post to Instagram and Facebook – handling the conversions in the background. But when you use old fashioned cables to access or copy files off your phone than you might get stuck with a file that your Computer can’t open.

To solve this some free tools are available: For Windows have a look at:


And for Macs there are also free tools available: https://imazing.com/heic

My view: give it a try and fear not: the move to efficient image formats is surely a great move for users. More space on your device.. more features like these neat live photos and just a bit of getting used to in your daily workflows.



How to Back Up an iPhone or iOS device to an External Hard Drive via iTunes? September 21, 2016

Posted by Steven in Apple.
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The amount of data on my iPhone keeps growing and growing (I regularly use a 128GB model) – while my trusted old MacBook Air from 2011 keeps loosing and loosing free SSD storage space. Also in terms of strategies to backup an iPhone, for the general public there are two strategies:

  • You could either go with Apple’s iCloud service. The name is the game – it is a cloud based service which gives you all kinds of stuff, for example space for syncing your photos across your i-devices. And it also gives you a wireless, cloud based backup service.
    Basically the app user data and phone settings will be backed up to Apple’s servers. Apple gives you 5GB of free storage space and offers additional paid plans. Recently a new pricing was announced – and there is now a new top tier plan which provides 2TB of storage for $19.99 per month ($239,88 per year).
  • Or you could go with the traditional iTunes backup. Meaning you would hook up your iPhone with your PC or Mac (either via lightning cable or via Wi-Fi) and backup using the iTunes software. There are a couple of things to keep in mind when considering this method. Basically the backups will be stored locally on the respective PC or Mac (in kind-of the user library folder of iTunes – more details on folders later on). So you have to make sure there is enough space on the computer and if the computer breaks your backup is gone as well. One thing I regularly ran into: Your computer’s iTunes software has to be fairly up to date. Usually with iOS updates come updated versions of iTunes. So quickly powering up an old PC with lots of TB storage space usually involves downloading and installing iTunes updates.

I personally believe for my use case iCloud is to expensive (and in some scenaries too dependant on my internet speed at home). So my backup method of choice used to be the iTunes variant – until that time that my MacBook is running out of space.

So I was looking for a decent way to back up my iPhone 6s Plus to an external hard drive.

For Macs running iTunes there seems to be an elegant solution (I am not so familiar with symbolic links on Windows – however it seems that a similar solution  could work on Windows: Guide at TechinOurLife.)

My internet search surfaced this very useful guide: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3421834?tstart=0

  1. Pick an external hard drive and make sure there is enough space. Create a folder named “Backup” on your external drive. This can be done via Terminal with this command:
    1. "mkdir /Volumes/<ExternalDriveName>/Backup"
  2. Rename the local / standard iTunes backup folder on your Mac. Again the Terminal command:
    1. "mv ~/Library/Application\ 
       ~/Library/Application\ Support/MobileSync/Backup2"
    2. (this will keep the old local backups around – so make sure to clean this folder up if you need space / if you no longer need older backups)
  3. Create a symbolic link (these work well on OS X – I use them for a swift dropbox integration). This will look like the local iTunes Backup directory but it will point the computer to the external folder drive (specifically the folder we created in 1.). Again the Terminal command:
    1. "ln -s /Volumes/<EternalDriveName>/Backup 
      ~/Library/Application\ Support/MobileSync/"
  4. Launch iTunes and initiate the backup
  5. done

Please note: when the external disk is not connected the iTunes backup process will result in an error.

Upgraded to OS X 10.10 Yosemite: Notification settings not being saved April 26, 2015

Posted by Steven in Apple, The-Web.
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Judging from several threads in various forums: quite a few people seem to have this issue.

I use various MacBooks. All of them had several iterations of OS X installed. Now I upgraded all of them to OS X 10.10 Yosemite.

Several people noticed: On the new system you can set preferences for notifications for example (i.e. not seeing banners for every Facebook notification). However these settings are not being retained when the machine is being rebooted.

Here are some reports of the issue:





Fortunately very clever people found a solution for the issue. I am referring the wonderful site:


So here is the step by step solution for the issue:

  1. Open the Library folder in your Home folder.
  2. In the Library folder, open the Application Support folder.
  3. Locate the folder named NotificationCenter. Drag this folder to the desktop.
  4. Next, open the Terminal application.

    Copy and paste each line of these commands into the Terminal window, in order. Press return after each line:

    cd `getconf DARWIN_USER_DIR`
    rm -rf com.apple.notificationcenter
    killall usernoted; killall NotificationCenter

  5. Close the Terminal app.
  6. Restart your computer.
  7. The notification preference changes won’t stick until you restart a 2nd time after this.

This should be fixing the issue. Check for yourself if your Mac exhibits the issue and then let me know if the fix helps.

Workbench Project – Rely only on one Apple ID on my iDevices October 1, 2013

Posted by Steven in Apple, gadgets.
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I’ve recently had the pleasure to set up a new iPhone 5S for a friend of mine. I noticed that pretty early on during the on-device-setup it asked for your iCloud Apple ID (as you can see over at Ars..). Later on I discovered that using this Apple ID the system had pretty much tried to activate every service – so iMessage, Facetime, iCloud sync, Photo Stream etc. were all available relying on this Apple ID.

I started to think about my multipe IDs and I wondered: Wouldn’t it be cool to just have the one Apple ID and use it for all the services, thus having just one password? So I said: this is a nice little side-project.

Because I use iTunes longer than I used mobileMe – I had a Gmail address as my Apple ID for the stores and I had a nice mobileMe (and later on corresponding iCloud address) for my Contacts-, Calendar- and Photo Stream Sync and for things like find my iPhone etc.

Because most of my friends know the Gmail address, I used that one on Facetime and iMessage and so on.

Now the two ID method should vanish and I just want to have one Apple ID on my phone.

Which ID to choose?

For me the decision was fairly easy. My Gmail address based Apple ID was easy to use when communicating with friends (iMessage / Facetime) plus all my purchases in Apple’s digital stores are tied to that account – so I just had to pick my Gmail based Apple ID as the one and only ID.

I also thought about what kind of data is really 100% set in my other iCloud Apple ID. This boils down to a couple of documents in the cloud (nothing to write home about) and to my Photo Stream of round about the last 1000 photos (but these pictures exist elsewhere i.e. in my iPhoto library). Thus I said to myself there would be no issue in turning off the mobileMe based Apple ID.

What to do?

I dug around the internet and found a neat guide. Essentially I had to log off iCloud but keep things like contacts etc. on my iPhone. I then turned on iCloud with my Gmail based Apple ID. Plus I had to repeat all these steps on all iDevices and Macs I own.

Details with nice pictures are here:


What about email to the old iCloud / mobileMe addresses?

Well when I said I felt I can easily retire the mobileMe Apple ID – I should say it seemed feasible on the phone – but I definitely don’t want to loose these nice Email addresses. So I decided to keep the old ID around. Plus I used the iCloud web-interface to set up a forward of all emails to the mobileMe address to my Gmail address. It’s easy to do in Mail’s preferences. Another idea would be to simply set up the mail account via SMTP in any kind of Email program if necessary. Instructions are here.


If you do not love to have two IDs on the phone it is quite easy and straight forward to switch and use just one ID. You should beware and check where your purchases are linked to. iTunes in the Cloud is quite a neat feature allowing you to re-download apps etc. There are ways however to use Apps from several Apple IDs on one device the bad thing is then: should something happen to the device you cannot easily re-download the Apps from Apple.

So for me it worked. It was quite quick. The main challenge is to turn iCloud off and on again with the right timing (keeping in mind i.e. that in that moment you should not change a contact on your Mac etc.) – so if you have lots of devices connected to the internet this might be a bit cumbersome.

I unfortunately lost my Notes on the way (one possible reason could be that they are somehow tied to a SMTP folder in your iCloud email address). For me this was no big issue as I mainly use Simplenote and furthermore I was able to simply copy and paste the lost note via the Web Interface of my old mobileMe iCloud system.

iOS 7 – September 18th September 16, 2013

Posted by Steven in Apple, gadgets, The-Web.
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Capture logo mask

The public release of iOS 7 (7.0.0) is around the corner. Apple announced that it will be available on September 18th. I dug around the internet to find out: exactly which of the wonderful new features I can expect on my older devices. Or better: which shiny new features are not available on iPad 3 etc.

So here it is: iOS 7 is compatible with the following devices:


  • iPhone
    • iPhone 5S
    • iPhone 5C
    • iPhone 5
    • iPhone 4S, but does not support:
      • Filters in Camera app
      • AirDrop
    • iPhone 4, but does not support:
      • All items from iPhone 4S, plus
      • Panoramic photos
      • Siri
  • iPad
    • Fourth-Generation iPad
    • Third-Generation iPad, but does not support:
      • Filters in Camera app
      • Panoramic photos
      • AirDrop
    • iPad 2, but does not support:
      • All items from 3rd Gen. iPad, plus
      • Filters in Photos app
      • Square photos and videos
      • Siri
    • iPad mini
  • iPod touch
    • 5th generation iPod touch

* The cover image for this article was taken from a lovely article – investigating the inspiration for Apple’s new iOS 7 icons and color styles.

Apple iOS 6.0 main features per device draw down.. October 25, 2012

Posted by Steven in Apple, In-Media.
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Follow this link (German) to understand which main iOS 6 features work on which device.


Tipp: Using the unified phone number in OS X Mountain Lion Messages App October 16, 2012

Posted by Steven in Apple, In-Media.
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this article describes how to manage the account unification with your phone number:


Mountain Lion 25-July-2012 July 25, 2012

Posted by Steven in Apple.
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As expected on Wednesday 25th of July Apple released Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion. Early reviews are generally positive and the swift performance and the nice additions like the notification center and the improved cloud features were well received by beta and golden master users.

Below you can find some general tips how to get a clean install and how to prepare a bootable USB stick:

Prepare a bootable external USB drive – capable of installing OS X 10.8

  1. Purchase and download Mountain Lion from the Mac App Store on any 10.8 compatible Mac running 10.6 or 10.7.
  2. Right click on “Install Mac OS X Mountain Lion.app” and choose the option to “Show Package Contents.”
  3. Inside the Contents folder that appears you will find a SharedSupport folder and inside the SharedSupport folder you will find the “InstallESD.dmg.” This is the Mountain Lion boot disc image you are looking for.
  4. Launch Disk Utility and go straight to the Restore tab.
  5. Drag “InstallESD.dmg” the Source field, and drag your external hard drive from the left side of the Disk Utility window into the Destination field.
  6. Check Erase Destination (if present), and begin your restore. (It goes without saying this process will erase everything on your external hard drive.) Once Disk Utility’s restoration is complete you will be the proud owner of a external drive capable of booting and installing Mountain Lion clean.

Boot from DVD / USB and install OS X 10.8

  1. Insert your installation DVD or connect your external boot drive into any 10.8 compatible Mac.
  2. Restart the Mac holding the option key, and choose Mac OS Install ESD as the startup volume.
  3. Once booted from the Mountain Lion installation media you will have the opportunity to run Disk Utility and erase your Mac’s primary hard drive. From the Erase tab select your Mac’s primary hard drive and choose “Mac OS Extended (Journaled)” as the format. Before you erase the drive confirm you have a known good backup then click Erase.
  4. With your Mac’s primary hard drive wiped clean it is now time to begin installing Mountain Lion. Quit Disk Utility to go back to the Mountain Lion installer. Choose your Mac’s primary hard drive as the destination, and continue.


Absinthe 2.0 Jailbreak has been released! For iOS 5.1.1 devices! May 25, 2012

Posted by Steven in Apple, In-Media.
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The chronic dev team has released the new Absinthe 2.0 Jailbreak (untethered for iOS 5.1.1 devices). Yay! Thanks to the chronic dev team. All details on their website:


Third Party Information and How-To Guides:

Link: Stefan Esser Presentation regarding iOS Security March 15, 2012

Posted by Steven in Apple, In-Media.
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Thoughts on New iPad Delivery (3rd Generation) March 15, 2012

Posted by Steven in Apple, gadgets, In-Media.
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It is no secret: I am a fan of the PC era and also the post PC era! I love using my iPad! It is a gorgeous device, fast, powerful, easy to use and it beats the use of any netbook attempting to compete with it. I was simply blown away how fast I could get things done on a train: Just get the iPad out of its sleeve.. turn it on.. watch a movie.. switch to the email app – and answer some mail.. It’s beautiful!

So also no surprise I ordered the new iPad 3rd generation one day after the keynote (8th March 2012) via the German Apple Online Store. I was one of the lucky ones in the 1 and a half day period where the estimated delivery is the launch day (16th March 2012). Since then I have been trying to figure out if I am really getting my iPad(s) tomorrow and how they are going to reach me. Here are some thoughts on that:

  • I actually ordered two iPads both 64GB one with 4G and one WiFi only
  • The WiFi model: supposedly shipped with Hermes Logistics Group Germany
    • The Hermes bit is interesting: Hermes is an ultra cheap logistics company mainly active in Germany. Apple’s decision to rely on Hermes for the majority of its German iPad delivery summoned an outrage on the interwebs…
    • It also resulted in some coverage of the German Apple community…
  • The 4G model: supposedly shipped with UPS
    • In my tracking view on ups.com I see that Apple used International Express Saver
    • I have checked with the ups.com calculator what that means if one ships a packaged from Amsterdam to Frankfurt (see picture above / and more on that later) and it seems to work: UPS Express Saver offers guaranteed delivery next day by end of day – fingers crossed
  • In Apple’s Online order overview they always mentioned the iPads shipped on 10th March / 11th March
  • However it seems Apple uses some sort of logistics service to bring the iPads into the Netherlands
  • During the time where Apple brings the iPads from China to the Netherlands there is no shipment tracking possible for German customers
  • Once the iPads are in Amsterdam – which seemed to be the case some time early 15th March – then tracking via Hermes or UPS becomes possible

so fingers crossed for a timely delivery on 16th March!

Message vibration changed in iOS 4.3 April 18, 2011

Posted by Steven in Apple, gadgets.
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Well well.. turns out I haven’t been hallucinating in the end. After updating my phone to iOS 4.3.1 I felt like the SMS vibration was different. And in fact: After updating to ios 4.3+ the SMS vibration is different than in previous OS versions.

Also, you can find the full list of iOS changes on Simonblog.


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