Yosemite Beta

Take Control helps you beta test OS X Yosemite with confidence

Good day!

Apple today released the public beta of OS X 10.10 Yosemite!

Simultaneously, we’ve published “Take Control of Beta Testing Yosemite,” by Joe Kissell. You can buy it for a suggested price of $5 from Leanpub. Read on for all the details, or just click the link to get your ebook:


The Yosemite beta is exciting stuff, at least for those of us who love poking around in new software to see what has changed. But the rewards of beta testing come with risks and responsibilities, so in “Take Control of Beta Testing Yosemite,” Joe Kissell draws on years of experience with testing every version of OS X since 10.3 Panther to make sure you know what you’re getting into. Follow Joe’s advice and you can be confident that you won’t mess up anything as you switch to and from the beta.

In the 51-page book, Joe teaches you what’s involved with beta testing in general, and he discusses the pros and cons of installing the beta on a startup volume, virtual machine, separate volume, SuperDuper sandbox, or (best of all) a separate Mac. Next up, you’ll run the installer (without letting it delete itself). With installation completed, Joe suggests key post-installation tasks and categories of software you may need to reinstall, plus gives tips on how to look for new features and report any bugs you may find. Perhaps most important, Joe explains how to switch between the beta and your main installation of OS X, how to downgrade from Yosemite if necessary, and how to upgrade to release version when that ships.

You may be thinking, “Really? A book about how to beta test Yosemite?” We won’t pretend that it’s essential, even though there are helpful details you won’t find elsewhere (such as which virtualization program can run Yosemite as a guest OS) and advice that could save you significant headaches (such as the best destination for your installation). And, of course, the lifespan of the book is limited — it’s useful only until Yosemite ships.

So we’re doing something unusual with pricing: we’ve set a suggested price of $5, but you can pay whatever you think it’s worth — whether that’s more or less than the suggested price, or even nothing at all. (That’s why there’s no MUG discount this time. And if you get it for free and later decide it was valuable to you, you can come back and buy a copy.) Paying helps Joe and his wife keep their baby in diapers and gives us concrete feedback that books of this sort are worth doing.

In keeping with the fast and fluid nature of beta testing, we’ve decided to publish this ebook exclusively via Leanpub, which was designed for quick releases. Had we used our traditional method, we wouldn’t have been able to publish the book at the same time as the public beta, and we would need more time to react to new versions (nor would we have been able to do the choose-your-own-price approach). Any updates to the book will be free.


Thanks for your support of the Take Control series and our authors!

cheers… -Adam & Tonya Engst, Take Control publishers

iOS8 rumors and speculation

As we’d expect this time of year, rumors are beginning to accumulate with timelines, features and other details we may expect to find with the next release of the iDevice opertaing system from Apple.

On the heels of the latest iOS 7.1 software update, we are seeing numerous reports and leaked screenshots of the next version of iOS, iOS8.


Consistent among many rumors, and fueling the logical progression of software updates we’ve seen thus far:

  • Simplified Notification Center
  • Game Center App removed
  • improved CarPlay, without requiring a Lightning cable
  • Automatic deletion of old message in Mail
  • Separation of iTunes Radio into its own app
  • Improvements to Maps
  • Separation and improvements to Siri

Take Control of iCloud

Subject: “Take Control of iCloud” ebook updated to cover Apple’s many changes

Time for a pop quiz! 

Is iCloud (a) packed with useful features, (b) more complex than Apple lets on, (c) almost essential for Mac and iOS use, (d) thoroughly documented by Joe Kissell in “Take Control of iCloud,” or (e) all of the above? 

The answer, as you veteran quiz takers know when faced with an “all of the above” option, is (e). iCloud really is helpful, deceptively complicated, integrated deeply into the Mac and iOS experience, and, frankly, sometimes a royal pain in the posterior. But no one does a better job of explaining iCloud’s features and quirks than Joe Kissell, and you can come up to speed with everything iCloud can do for only $10.50 with the 30% MUG discount:


If you’re pulling out your hair in frustration as you try to connect your Mac, iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, or Windows PC to the many digital pipes that iCloud offers, Joe’s 155-page “Take Control of iCloud” will answer your questions and preserve your hairstyle. And, if you’re trying to help your mother, sister, uncle, co-worker, fellow Rotarian, or Game Center buddy sync contacts between devices, create a shared calendar, filter email before it hits the iPhone, and so forth, Joe has ferreted out the details you need to solve their problems.

iCloud is no longer new, and the dreaded transition from MobileMe is long past, but updates and ongoing issues have made “Take Control of iCloud” our top-selling book of the past few years. Keeping it fresh and accurate – this is our fourth free update! – is like playing Whack-a-Mole. Sometimes it seemed that nearly every page had some detail that needed checking and tweaking. Even though Apple doesn’t share inside information with us about what’s happening in iCloud’s troposphere, things Joe has had to track down and explain since just the last version of this book include iOS 6, iTunes 11, the Notes and Reminders Web apps, Shared Photo Streams, numerous tiny changes to iCloud’s Web interface, and more. 

As always, thank you for supporting the Take Control series!

cheers… -Adam & Tonya Engst, Take Control publishers

Bugs & Fixes: PDF’s fail to open by Ted Landau

Recently, I tried something that had always worked before. This time, it didn’t.
Using Safari, I clicked a link to a PDF file. After the PDF opened in a browser window, I selected the Save As… command from Safari’s File menu. So far, so good. Next, I double-clicked the saved file sitting on my Mac’s desktop. Normally, this opens the file in Preview. This time, however, I was greeted with
the following error:
A similar message appeared if I tried to open the file in Adobe Reader, rather than in Preview. I next tried saving the file from Firefox
instead of Safari. It made no difference.
Returning to Safari, I selected the Print command. From the Print dialog, I selected to save the file as a PDF. This too failed to save a viable copy.
I finally discovered a route to success. If I clicked my trackpad when the pointer was over a PDF page in Safari, a toolbar overlay appeared. One icon in the toolbar was a floppy disk (really!). Clicking this icon saved a copy of the file that (at last!) opened in Preview with no errors.
The problem was not restricted to a particular PDF file saved from the web. It happened with any one I now attempted to save. PDFs that did not originate from a web page continued to open just fine.
I wasn’t certain why the problem had first popped up when it did, nor why one particular method of saving worked while other similar ones did not. However, I was fairly certain as to the culprit: I suspected the Adobe .plugin files used for PDF viewing. Two such files resided in my /Library/Internet Plug-Ins folder: AdobePDFViewer.plugin and AdobePDFViewerNPAPI.plugin. If I removed this pair from the this folder, Safari reverted to its built-in (not Adobe-based) method of viewing PDF files. After I did this, problems with saving PDFs from Safari vanished.
To be clear, removing these plug-ins did not eradicate problems with previously saved files. It just prevented symptoms going forward.
My next step was to check if there was a more recent version of these plug-in files that fixed this problem. At first, the answer appeared to be no. As I knew these files get installed as part of Adobe Reader, I launched the app and selected Check for Updates. It said I was already using the latest version (10.1.5).
Not ready to give up, I also checked Adobe’s website. Contradicting the Reader app, the site listed a newer (11.0.01) version as available. After I updated to this newer version, the PDF saving bug was gone!
Unfortunately, the update introduced a new bug. Now, when I select to save a PDF file from Safari, I have to save twice. At the second instance, I am asked if I want to replace the file I just created a moment before. While a minor irritation, it’s been enough to get me thinking that I would be better off giving up on Adobe’s plug-ins altogether.
Normally, I wouldn’t devote a column to a bug that is resolved merely by updating software. However, I suspected that many users would not realize that the Adobe plug-ins were the culprit. Even if they did, they might not realize that these files originate with Adobe Reader. Even then, they would likely be stopped by Reader’s erroneous update message. Not to worry. If you have this bug, you now know what to do.