512: Ask the Genius

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I definitely recorded this wearing one of my old Genius t-shirts.


I worked almost 5 years at the Geniusbar. It was the toughest job I have ever had…

Circa 2006-2007 might have been the best & worst time to be a Genius.

“Drag it to your Desktop…”

One of the troubleshooting tips Stephen recommended was moving things from the ~/Library/ and dragging it to your desktop. I’m 99% sure that Stephen isn’t syncing his Desktop via iCloud, but if you are syncing your Desktop via iCloud (or if your Desktop is extremely cluttered), I would drag it somewhere else

(I’m guessing most MPU listeners know that already.)

Admin Account or Not?

Another brief topic was whether or not to run your Mac as Admin account or not.

After years of hearing this advice, I actually tried this for awhile recently. I did not survive even one full day. It was extremely annoying, and I feel badly for anyone who works somewhere that does not give them admin access to the Mac. It would drive me nuts.

Should You Create A Second Admin Account?

Stephen mentioned that he does not have a second admin account, but will create one if he needs one.

I can’t say this is based on anything other than my own sense of “What if…?” (and I’m really good at worrying about things that never happen) but I always create a second admin account as soon as I set up a Mac.

My thought process is that if something were to happen to my (primary) admin account and I could not log in for some reason, I would always have the backup account where I could log in and potentially troubleshoot.

I even use a different login shell for the admin account. So when bash was the default shell and I always used zsh for my personal account, I would leave the admin account as bash. Now that Catalina changes the default shell to zsh I made my backup admin account shell bash.

Again, I can’t say that this has ever actually been necessary, but it feels like an easy thing to do “just in case”.

I also log in at least once to get through all of the annoying first-time-account-setup steps, because if I do need another admin account in a pinch, that sh&t will annoy the crap out of me when all I want to do is log in and troubleshoot. That’s probably the biggest reason to do this before you need it, IMO.

Family members who might forget their Mac password…

If you’re the family nerd/geek/tech support, ask family members if you can create yourself an admin account on their Mac before you need it.

That way if they do forget their password, you can just log into your admin account on their Mac and reset their password, which is much easier than the other ways of resetting a forgotten Mac password. This is especially true if they use FileVault.

It will still reset their keychain, which is a giant PITA, but that’s unavoidable, and makes this a good time to suggest to them that they use 1Password instead of Keychain :wink:

If you have them in your 1Password Family account, you can even reset a forgotten Master Password and they still won’t lose all of their saved passwords.


I’ve still got my 17" MacBook Pro, love the size of it.

David and Stephen were reading my mind. I had posted about AppleCare earlier yesterday since I am probably going to get a new 16" computer. So this episode came at a great time.

I was a little stunned by their collective agreement that when deciding on specs, it was SSD over RAM. In the past, it always seemed to be RAM over SSD. In 2012, I spent a lot of money to get 16G and 512. For those first few years, I was doing video editing in FCP7 but lately, I don’t push the machine too much.

I am doing audio editing but any video editing will be minimal that I can foresee.

I’ve been going back and forth on the 16G/512 issue for the last 1.5 weeks. I was pretty set on 32G even though I probably wouldn’t utilize it now but I didn’t want to get caught without it in the future. (I cringe when I help people that have 4G and even 8G.). But I’m just not sure where that much would come into play.

As far as storage goes, 24 hours ago, I had 188 left of 512. I know I had junk I could clear so last night, I started going through it. Turns out, I cleared 50G without even thinking about it and I can clear at least another 20 due to big apps I no longer use (so many Adobe apps). I had 40G of iOS files that I didn’t need. So once I truly clean this machine up, I can see having 250-270 free so although more is always better (1T sounds great), is it worth $200 more? (I don’t have an unlimited budget.) I also want to be more intentional in the future about loading on tons of apps. I can’t believe the garbage I have on this machine and have just left it there.

I posted about RAM recently and the consensus seemed to be to get 32 over 16 but after hearing this episode, I’m wondering if it’s worth it. Are the days of ‘always get more RAM’ behind us given that we are starting with 16G?

It feels weird to think I would get the same specs 7 years later but I’m not sure where I would see the benefit of upgrading on either RAM or storage. Saving a bunch of cash can’t be discounted.

On a separate/similar topic, ages ago, one rule of thumb was not to fill up your hard drive past 90% or you would see a performance hit. At least that is what I remember. Does that still hold? I have no idea if going from a spinning hard drive to an SSD changes that at all.

I would get the i9 version and upgrade the memory to 32Gb
You can always solve a storage issue.
Its impossible to add more memory.

I think 16GB of RAM will easily suffice for the next 2-3 years for anyone who doesn’t have some specialized need.

Having 250/270 GB of 512 GB free suggests to me that you don’t really need more than 512 GB of storage.

I think 16 GB / 512 GB will suit your needs.

Now, the next question is about how long you plan to keep the Mac and what sort of work you will do with it. Do you find yourself having to manage storage often? (Doesn’t sound like it.)

You do audio editing, but not video, so you may benefit from 32 GB of RAM, even if you don’t “need” it. Plus, as @MacExpert said, you can add (external) storage later, you can’t add or “fix" RAM later.

If you want to be able to keep the Mac a little longer, then 32 GB might be worth it, but is that what you are actually likely to do, keep the computer longer? Or will you be looking for another one in 3-4 years? If so, save your money now and put it towards AppleCare.

FWIW, those are my thoughts and reasonings.

I think the “keep 10% free” rule was largely for spinning drives.

These days I would worry less about percentages, and more about amounts.

If I was regularly running lower than 50GB of free space, I’d keep an eye on it.

If it was to get below 30GB, I would start to get uncomfortable.

At 20GB I would stop whatever I was doing and clean the drive to get back to at least 40-50GB.

That has less to do with the drive performance per se and more to do with macOS. It gets very unhappy when it runs out of space, and you don’t want that.

(Note: none of this is scientific, it is all just “gut feeling”. Others may have data, I do not.)

Thanks, @tjluoma for the thoughtful reply.

The more and more I think of it, I’m going with 512 because these days, I just don’t have a lot of files that take up a lot of space. Gone are the days of having big ripped movie files since I stream (or download) anything to an ipad. I’m never juggling storage at all. I only did it yesterday more out a curiousity and also wanting to purge stuff I knew I didn’t want anymore in prep for a new computer.

Regarding the RAM, this current MBP is 7 years old. I would love to get as many years out of it as possible. This has generally been solid for me until this past year when the ports started to go as well as the battery. And the screen is a mess (which I didn’t know could get replaced until it was too late). I’ve stuck with it but the new 16" has made me excited again for a new laptop. So that’s a long way of saying that I hope to have it longer than 3 years. But…

I’m the type of person that closes apps when I’m not using them. I don’t have a lot of tabs open in Brave. I generally like to stay focused with the task at hand so I don’t think I’m needing more RAM due to a lot of multitasking.

So I continue to wonder where 32G of RAM would be beneficial. Are there types of applications that are RAM hogs? (If I use Photoshop, I’m not doing anything substantial at all.)

For a desktop, I still think RAM over SSD, but when portable, having to rely one external media stinks. Besides, paging out of RAM onto SSD is waaaay faster than in the hard drive days.

You can still run into issues if you fill a drive all the way, even with SSDs and APFS, but I agree, the 10% free rule seemed more important on spinning drive machines.

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Yeah, like running out of oil and/or gas in your car, filling a drive is Very Bad and you should never do it.

@ismh I, had the same network issue on my iPhone XR after updating it to iOS13.
Did a lot of google research and read a lot of weird click-bait type of forums.
The solution for me was a Settings>General>Reset>Reset all Settings
It permanently solved my issues (one month+ without drops) but it comes with some costs you should know about:

  • FaceID - you’ll need to set it up again
  • Apple Pay cards disappear -you’ll need to set them up again
  • Passwords for wifi reset - you’ll need to set them up again

You’ll keep the photos and your data but all “time-saving” goodies will be reset

What did not work:

  1. Airplane mode toggle on/off (one-off success)

  2. restarting iphone

  3. resetting network settings (one-off success)

  4. updating iOS

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Great episode. Definitely think that style of show should be added to the rotation :+1:

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Really enjoyed this show! I agree with others to add this type of show to the rotation every now and then.

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Nice episode.

Perhaps ironically (or not?) trying out the AASP link, and plugging in a zip code to look for a service provider locks up Safari, at least on my work machine.

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I loved this episode. “Send more”.