Reverting to an older version of Safari Technology Preview

Apple try to make it impossible to revert to a prior version of Safari Technology Preview (STP) – and they also try to force updates to the latest version immediately, without user consent. This is bafflingly hostile behaviour for what is supposed to be a beta version of the browser that users voluntarily, out of charity, help Apple debug.

It’s also highly problematic when new versions are flat-out broken. Starting with around STP 124 I started experiencing consistent crashes on some websites, making them completely unusable in STP. For the time-being I chose to use them separately in regular Safari, on the assumption that these egregious issues would be quickly fixed in the next STP version. Well, three versions later and those bugs have not been fixed. Not even close.

Now, with STP 126, it crashes on launch. Every time.

Well, thankfully there are places where you can obtain the prior versions, even if Apple won’t provide them. My preference is The Wayback Machine – you can start with this calendar, from which you can pick a date and (with any luck) the download page for that date will point to the version you want. You then download the disc image, delete the current copy of STP from your Applications folder (otherwise the pkg installer for the older version will refuse to work), and re-install the older version.

Once you’ve done that, make sure to turn Automatic Updates off in System Preferences, otherwise Apple will just trash your working version with the broken one again.

If you appreciate that – I certainly did; I like having a web browser that doesn’t crash on launch – remember that The Wayback Machine is run by the Internet Archive, a non-profit group, and they can always use monetary support as well as volunteers.

P.S. Yes, I’m aware that their donation page is sadly a bit janky. If you’re a web developer or designer, maybe you could volunteer some of your time to improve it? šŸ˜

Truly deleting ‘removed’ files from Lightroom

When you tell Lightroom to deleted rejected photos, it pops up a dangerous dialog box:

Screen shot of Lightroom dialog asking if you want to actually delete rejected photos, or merely lose track of them

Though it does explain itself well – i.e. if you want to actually delete the photos, you need to click “Delete from Disk” – the default option is that misleading “Remove” button, which doesn’t really remove the files at all – it merely makes Lightroom lose track of them. They’ll still be there on disk, wasting space forever.

And, you can’t directly undo this operation, so if you hit return a little too quickly, or misread the dialog at any point, you’re seemingly pretty screwed (if you have a Lightroom catalog of any significant size).

Luckily, there is a way to find these undead files – that doesn’t require you walking through every single file on disk one by one & comparing against Lightroom’s view of the world.

1In the left-side panel, under the “Folders” section, select all the folders and right-click on them (if you have multiple volumes listed under “Folders”, you’ll have to do this one volume at a time as Lightroom won’t let you select folders across multiple volumes simultaneously). You’ll get a contextual menu:

Screen shot of the contextual menu from right-clicking on an entry in the 'Folders' section of the Lightroom left-side panel

2Click “Synchronize Folderā€¦”. A dialog will appear:

Screenshot of the "Synchronize Folder" dialog

You probably want to uncheck “Remove missing photos from catalog” (if it’s not already disabled) and “Scan for metadata updates”, as those are unrelated to the purpose here and have their own ramifications. Instead, just select “Import new photos” and “Show import dialog before importing”. Then, click “Synchronize”.

3Lightroom’s standard import dialog will now appear, and will slowly sort through all the files in the folder(s) you selected, filtering them down to just those that exist on disk yet are not tracked in Lightroom – e.g. all those rejects you accidentally “Removed” but didn’t really remove previously. You can now review those and see what you’ve got – it’s possible you’ll find in there media you didn’t intend to delete, but rather were somehow misplaced by Lightroom at some point.

You might want to, in the import dialog, change your preview generation setting to ‘Minimal’ in order to minimise import time & wasted preview generation. You could also choose to add some keywords to the imports, e.g. “to be deleted” or “recovered” or “undead”, if you’re not going to just immediately delete them anyway.

In any case, you can now import some or all the undead files. Importing them might seem counter-productive, since the goal here is to delete them – but it’s necessary for the final stepā€¦

4Once they’re imported, you can now immediately mark them as rejects and delete all rejects again – this time correctly choosing “Removing from Disk”.

So while it’s a bit roundabout, it does get the job done pretty quickly and easily. Now if only Lightroom would fix that stupid dialog to make the default option the one that actually does what you told Lightroom to do to begin with. šŸ™„

iCloud ā€˜Optimize Mac Storageā€™ breaks the Mojave installer

Yet another example of a really bizarre macOS bug that’s pretty inexcusable as a test escape, given it occurs with the default installation settings on a completely clean OS install.

In short, the Mojave update installer does not work (on High Sierra at least) if you have ‘Optimize Mac Storage’ enabled for iCloud Drive (System Preferences > iCloud pane > iCloud Drive Optionsā€¦ button > Documents tab > Optimize Mac Storage checkbox).

Specifically, the installer reports:

Installation requires downloading important content. That content can’t be downloaded at this time. Try again later.

ā€¦and indeed fails to download the actual Mojave update files (the installer app as ‘installed’ via the App Store is merely a 22 MB bootstrapping app, that downloads the actual image only after you run it & start the installation).

Even more obnoxiously, if you use the dosdude1 Mojave Patcher Tool to force-download the entire installer, as soon as it completes the 6.5 GB download and produces the ‘Install macOS Mojave’ app in /Applications, the system deletes the downloaded installation files out from under that app, rendering it just as broken as the official App Store version. Infuriating.

Aside: to be clear, turning off ‘Optimize Mac Storage’ enabled me to produce – and keep – a working installer as downloaded by dosdude1’s tool. I did not verify that it also fixes the regular installer as downloaded via the App Store.

I also ran into the “The recovery server could not be contacted” error message even before all the above, but thankfully that was fixable via the means normally prescribed online – running “sudo ntpdate -u time.apple.com”.