Photos makes it easy to create and switch between libraries. That’s good when photos need to be kept completely separate. For instance, a real estate agent might want to keep personal photos separate from house photos taken for work. But too much separation is annoying—you have to keep switching between libraries, and it’s easy to import new photos into the wrong one.
If you struggle with multiple Photos libraries, never fear—you can merge them. Unfortunately, the process is slow, can require a lot of disk space, and may result in the loss of some metadata. You have three options: merging through iCloud Photos, using the PowerPhotos utility, and merging by exporting and importing. Each has pros and cons.
Merge through iCloud Photos
Apple’s iCloud Photos service offers the best solution for merging libraries. The trick is that whenever you designate a library as your System Photo Library, Photos automatically uploads all images that aren’t already present, adding them to the photos already in iCloud Photos. It also retains all the metadata surrounding your photos—titles, keywords, albums, facial recognition, projects, and more.
On the downside, using iCloud Photos almost certainly won’t be free unless you have so few photos that the combined library will fit within the free 5 GB of iCloud space Apple gives everyone. Almost everyone will have to pay for additional storage space ($0.99 per month for 50 GB, $2.99 for 200 GB, or $9.99 for 2 TB) for at least the month in which you’re doing the merge. iCloud Photos is a good service, so it’s likely worth paying for anyway.
More problematic is that the iCloud Photos way of merging will be very slow. If you haven’t already started using it, it could take a week or more to upload many thousands of photos. Plus, it will probably download the entire cloud-based collection of photos to each library whose photos you want to merge, so you may need a lot of local disk space too.
If you haven’t previously used iCloud Photos, go to System Preferences > iCloud and click the Options button next to Photo. In the dialog, select iCloud Photos.
Now, starting with the smallest Photos library and working up in size, follow these steps for each library you want to merge:
- Double-click the Photos library to open it.
- In Photos > Preferences > General, click Use as System Photo Library. (If it’s dimmed out, that library is already set as the System Photo Library.)
- Wait for photos to upload. Scroll to the bottom of the Photos view to see the progress. A Pause link will appear there during uploading—click it if you need to keep Photos from overwhelming your Internet connection. Once the photos have all uploaded, go back to Step 1 with your next Photos library.
When you’re done, the last Photos library becomes the one you’ll keep, and you can delete the others. Needless to say, make sure you have good backups first!
Merge with PowerPhotos
The $30 PowerPhotos from Fat Cat Software provides a variety of extra capabilities when working with Photos. It helps you to create and manage multiple libraries, copy photos between libraries, find duplicates, and—most important for this topic—merge libraries.
Because PowerPhotos is working entirely on your Mac’s drive, it’s fast and it doesn’t require huge amounts of extra disk space. Unfortunately, unlike the iCloud Photos approach, which brings in both originals and any edits to those photos, PowerPhotos can import only your original photos or the versions that you’ve edited, not both. Plus, it can’t merge facial recognition data, smart albums, or print projects.
PowerPhotos provides an actual interface for merging too—choose Library > Merge Libraries to start.
In the window that appears, you have four tasks:
- Choose source libraries. You aren’t limited to merging just two libraries; you can pick multiple sources.
- Choose the destination library. This is the library you want to receive all the photos. If you want, you can create a new one.
- Configure duplicate handling. PowerPhotos can import just one of several copies of duplicate photos, or you can bring in all the duplicates if that’s important.
- Choose options. PowerPhotos can merge album contents, create an album from each source library, and create a backup before merging. Most important, though, is the choice of whether to merge your original photos or the edited versions.
Merge by Exporting and Importing
This final option is conceptually simple. You export all the photos from one library and then import them into another. It’s even what Apple recommends. The main thing it has going for it is that it’s free, and it will be faster than the iCloud Photos approach. It could also be useful if you want to copy a subset of photos between libraries, rather than merging all photos.
However, as with PowerPhotos, you have to choose between original and edited photos, and you’ll need a lot of extra disk space. Even worse, you’ll lose even more metadata, including albums, faces, and print projects. And if you export as JPEG, your photos may also suffer a slight quality drop as they’re recompressed.
For those who want to use this approach, Apple provides detailed instructions. In essence, you’ll click Photos in the sidebar to see everything, and then choose Edit > Select All. Then you’ll choose File > Export and either Export X Photos (to get the edited versions of images) or Export Unmodified Original for X Photos (to get the original images). Once everything has exported, you’ll switch libraries in Photos and then drag the folder of exported images back into Photos to import it.
Our nod goes to the iCloud Photos technique, but PowerPhotos is a fine utility for those who aren’t perturbed by its limitations. Of course, don’t start any merging without making backups first, and if you need help, don’t hesitate to call us.
Social Media: If you want to merge Photos libraries to avoid having to switch back and forth, there are several approaches you can take, but each comes with pros and cons. See them all at:
Little is more frustrating than running out of space your iPhone or iPad. You can’t take new photos, you can’t download new apps, some things may not work at all, and iOS will nag you repeatedly about how you can “manage” your storage in Settings. Luckily, over the past few versions of iOS, Apple has significantly improved the options for clearing unnecessary data from your device.
To get started clearing space, go to Settings > iPhone/iPad Storage. At the top of the screen, a graph reveals where your space is going, such as Apps, Photos, Media, Messages, Mail, Books, iCloud Drive, and Other. You can’t do anything with the graph, but it will likely reveal the main culprits.
Next, iOS shows recommendations for quick ways to recover space. These vary based on how you use your device, so you will likely see other options here.
Some of the possibilities include:
- Offload Unused Apps: This choice is particularly helpful if you download a lot of apps that you later stop using. Enable it, and iOS automatically recovers space from unused apps when you’re low on storage. Each of these apps remains on your Home screen with a little cloud icon next to it, and when you next tap the app to open it, iOS re-downloads the app from the App Store. You won’t lose any documents, data, or settings associated with an offloaded app.
- Review Downloaded Videos: Some apps, like Netflix, can download videos for offline watching. That’s great for when you’re on a long flight, but if you forget to delete the videos, they can consume a lot of space. This option shows them to you and lets you swipe left on any one to delete it.
- Review Large Attachments: Photos, videos, and other files sent to you in Messages can take up a lot of space. This recommendation reveals them and lets you swipe left to delete those you don’t need to keep.
- “Recently Deleted” Album: When you delete photos in the Photos app, they go into the Recently Deleted album, where they’ll be deleted automatically after up to 40 days. This recommendation lets you remove those images right away.
- Review Personal Videos: Shooting videos with your iPhone or iPad can guzzle storage, so this recommendation shows you the videos you’ve taken in case you don’t want to keep them.
iOS’s recommendations are quite good and may be all you need to clear space quickly. However, if you need to dig deeper, you can look at the usage of individual apps.
Individual App Usage
The third and final section of the iPhone/iPad Storage screen lists every app on your device, sorted by how much space it takes up. Along with the app’s name and how much space it consumes, iOS helpfully tells you the last time you used the app. You may even see “Never Used” for older apps that you’ve carried over from previous devices but haven’t opened on this one.
When you tap an app, iOS shows more information about how much space the app and its documents occupy, and lets you tap Offload App or Delete App to recover its space. For some apps, mostly those from Apple, like Music and Podcasts, iOS also shows the data stored by the app and lets you delete any individual item (swipe left).
Focus on the apps at the top of the list—the list is sorted by size—since it will be a lot easier to realize, for instance, that you’ve never used GarageBand and recover its 1.59 GB of space than to sort through a long list of apps and their data.
With all these the tools from Apple, you should have no trouble making space on your device for more photos, videos, and apps that you actually want to use.
Social Media: Struggling with too little space on your iPhone or iPad? In iOS 12, Apple provides highly effective tools for clearing more space—read on for details!
Apple’s Messages app for iOS and macOS generally works well, but when it doesn’t, figuring out what’s wrong and how to fix it can take some doing. Here are a few of the most common solutions we’ve come across for problems with sending and receiving messages.
Help Android-switcher friends turn off iMessage
Do you have a friend who previously used an iPhone but later switched to an Android phone? People like that can confuse your copy of Messages, which doesn’t know if it should send to them via iMessage (no) or SMS (yes). If you text with someone in this situation, get them to deregister from iMessage.
Check device connectivity
If messages aren’t flowing when you think they should be, the first “is it plugged in?” thing to check is connectivity. Make sure that your iPhone has at least cellular service (for SMS) and cellular data (for iMessage) and that your iOS device isn’t in Airplane mode. In the case of a Mac, make sure it’s connected to your network.
Relaunch the Messages app
Force-quitting in iOS isn’t something you should do willy-nilly, since it slows down your device and hurts battery life, but it’s worth trying if Messages isn’t sending or receiving messages correctly. Double-press the Home button on Touch ID devices or swipe up and to the right from the bottom of the screen on Face ID devices, then swipe up on the Messages app thumbnail to force-quit it. On the Mac, just quit and relaunch Messages.
Toggle iMessage off and back on
Here’s an easy one. In iOS, go to Settings > Messages and turn the iMessage switch at the top off and back on. iMessage may take a minute or two to reactivate. On the Mac, go to Messages > Preferences > iMessage > Settings, uncheck Enable This Account, and then log in again.
Toggle Messages in iCloud off and back on
With the new Messages in iCloud feature, Apple syncs conversations through your iCloud account. If messages from one device aren’t showing up properly on another device, in iOS, go to Settings > Your Name > iCloud and turn Messages off and back on. On the Mac, go to Messages > Preferences > iMessage > Settings and uncheck and recheck Enable Messages in iCloud.
Verify your phone number and email addresses are correct in Messages settings
SMS relies on a phone number, and you can be contacted via iMessage via a phone number or email address. Make sure you can be reached at all the appropriate ones. In iOS, go to Settings > Messages > Send & Receive to check. On the Mac, look in Message > Preferences > iMessage > Settings.
If they’re not right, fix them in iOS in Settings > Passwords & Accounts > iCloud > Your Name > Contact Information, by tapping Edit in the Reachable At section. On the Mac, you add these addresses with the plus button in System Preferences > iCloud > Account Details > Contact.
Verify that SMS fallback is enabled
When you’re in an area with sketchy cell service, there may not be enough of a data connection for iMessage to work. In such a situation, SMS text messages are more likely to get through, but Messages will try to send to iMessage users via SMS only if you turn on Send as SMS in Settings > Messages.
Check text message forwarding settings
If you’re receiving SMS messages on your iPhone but not any of your other devices, make sure Text Message Forwarding is enabled for the relevant devices (they need to be signed in to the same iCloud account). On your iPhone, look in Settings > Messages > Text Message Forwarding.
When in doubt, restart
Restarting can resolve all manner of problems, so it’s always worth a try if all the settings and accounts are correct. On the Mac, of course, just choose Apple > Restart. For iOS devices with Touch ID, press and hold the top button until the Slide to Power Off slider appears. For those with Face ID, press and hold the side (iPhone) or top (iPad) button and one of the volume buttons until the slider appears.
Reset network settings in iOS
Finally, the most voodoo of the fixes we’ve seen work is to reset network settings in iOS. You don’t want to start with this option because doing so also resets Wi-Fi networks and passwords, cellular settings, and VPN settings. But if all else fails, go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings.
If none of these techniques fix your problem, let us know and we’ll see what we can do to help!
Social Media: Having trouble with sending or receiving in Messages? Read this article for solutions to common texting problems:
When Apple released iOS 12 in September 2018, the main change for iPad users was a revamped collection of gestures similar to those used by the iPhone X. As it turned out, these new gestures were in preparation for the release of the new 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models that dropped the Home button and Touch ID in favor of Face ID. Just as with the iPhone X, the elimination of the Home button requires new gestures.
Luckily, Apple did a great job on these, so once you learn them, you’ll probably find them even faster to use than before. And if you’re still using an iPad with a Home button, rest assured that it still works as you expect.
Show the Home Screen
Although those whose iPads have a Home button will likely stick with pressing it to return to the Home screen, there’s a new universal gesture that works on all iPads running iOS 12. Just put your finger at the bottom edge of the screen and swipe up with a quick, decisive gesture that goes about a third of the way up.
Show the App Switcher
Again, those with a Home button on their iPads are accustomed to double-clicking it to bring up the app switcher that displays large thumbnails of recently used apps. But if you want to retrain yourself to use iOS 12’s new gesture, swipe up from the bottom to the middle of the screen (more slowly than the gesture for returning to the Home screen) and pause briefly until the thumbnails appear.
Switch Between Apps
iOS 12’s new trick for switching back and forth between apps is slightly different depending on whether you have an older iPad or one of the new 11-inch or 12.9-inch iPad Pro models. On the new iPad Pro, swipe left and right along the bottom edge of the screen to switch between previously used apps. (This is exactly the same gesture you’d use on the iPhone X, XR, XS, and XS Max.)
On an older iPad, however, you need to swipe up from the bottom edge of the screen just slightly—not even enough to display the entire Dock—and then swipe right or left.
Open Control Center
In iOS 11, Apple combined Control Center and the App Switcher, but in iOS 12, Control Center gets its own screen and its own gesture, again mimicking that of the iPhone X series. To open Control Center, swipe down from the top right corner of the screen. You need to start the swipe in the rightmost 10% or so of the screen—if your finger is too far to the left, you’ll open Notification Center instead.
Bonus Tip about the Dock in iOS 12
OK, so this isn’t a gesture, but’s a new feature of iOS 12 that’s available only on the iPad. By default, iOS 12 shows a divider on the right side of the Dock and three icons to its right. What’s the deal with those right-hand icons? Two of them are recent apps that you haven’t already dragged to the left side of the Dock. The third one might also be a recent app, or it might be an app you’ve used recently on your Mac or iPhone, at which point it will have a little badge in the corner indicating which machine it comes from.
If you dislike either of these features, you can turn them off separately. Disable the recent apps in Settings > General > Multitasking & Dock, and turn off the Handoff app in Settings > General > Handoff.
It can be tricky to pick up new ways of working, but if you sit down and play with iOS 12’s new gestures, you should get the hang of them quickly.
Social Media: If you use an iPad with iOS 12, take note of the new gestures that are necessary on the recently released 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro and available to all older iPads as well. Plus find out what the deal is with those new icons on the right side of the Dock!
Are you happy with your iPhone’s battery life? If your iPhone regularly ends up in Low Power Mode or doesn’t always make it to the end of the day without extra juice, read on to learn how to determine when it’s time for a new battery.
It may be important to get to this soon because people with an iPhone 6, SE, 6s, 7, 8, or X can likely get Apple to replace the battery for just $29 through December 31st, 2018—the price will go up in 2019. (The cost is $79 for even older iPhones; non-Apple repair shops may be less expensive, but it’s generally better to stick with Apple’s parts and service providers.) That $29 price is thanks to a discount program Apple instituted in January 2018 as an apology for silently reducing the performance of the iPhone 6 and later in an effort to prevent them from shutting down due to weak batteries. See Apple’s A Message to Our Customers about iPhone Batteries and Performance for details.
Here are the top three signs that you need a new battery right away.
1. Your iPhone Is Bulging
This one is obvious and possibly dangerous. If the lithium-ion battery in your iPhone is defective or damaged, it can swell due to outgassing or other chemical reactions. In the worst case, a swollen battery can catch fire or explode—it’s why airlines are concerned about batteries in luggage.
If you notice your iPhone is swelling, you need to deal with it immediately. Power it off and place it in a fireproof container. Then take it to a repair professional or an Apple store right away, or call us for advice on how best to proceed.
2. Your Older iPhone Has Lousy Battery Life or Shuts Down Unexpectedly
Generally speaking, iPhone batteries last a few years without losing too much capacity. However, if your iPhone’s battery drains well before the end of the day, or if it shuts off unexpectedly, that’s a sign that you may need to replace the battery.
Before you do that, go to Settings > Battery and look at battery usage by app, which shows which apps have consumed the most power for the last 24 hours or the last 10 days. Tap Show Activity to see how many minutes the app was in use.
If anything near the top of that list seems odd—it’s not an app you use much or its background activity is excessive—consider force-quitting the app. (Open the app switcher by double-pressing the Home button on a Touch ID iPhone or swiping up and slightly right on a Face ID iPhone, then swipe up on the app’s thumbnail.) You might also disable that app’s switch in Settings > General > Background App Refresh.
But if your iPhone is more than a few years old, it’s probably time for a new battery. Batteries are consumable items, and Apple designs the iPhone to retain up to 80% of its original capacity after 500 complete charge cycles (from 0% to 100%, even if that comes over the course of several charging sessions). Don’t suffer with a weak battery—just get it replaced.
3. An iPhone 6 or Later Feels Sluggish
Starting with iOS 10.2.1, Apple changed things so the iPhone 6 and later would reduce performance to avoid peak power demands that could overwhelm an older battery and cause the iPhone to shut down unexpectedly. Not shutting down is good, but reducing performance is bad.
So if you have an iPhone 6 or later that feels poky, it may be iOS throttling performance to work around a weak battery. With iOS 11.3 or later on these iPhone models, you can go to Settings > Battery > Battery Health to learn more about your battery. iOS displays your maximum battery capacity and, under Peak Performance Capability, tells you if it has enabled performance management to avoid shutdowns. That’s a hint you need a new battery, and we’d be concerned about any maximum capacity under 90%.
iOS lets you disable performance management to avoid the throttling, but it’s nuts to do that and risk unexpected shutdowns. Just replace the battery and your performance will return to normal.
Apple will replace an iPhone battery for free under warranty only if its maximum capacity is under 80% and it has had fewer than 500 charge cycles. However, as previously noted, the company will replace an out-of-warranty battery in the iPhone 6 and later for $29 (plus $6.95 if shipping is required) through the end of 2018, so it’s worth taking advantage of the deal this month. In 2019, the price will go up to $49 for most iPhones and $69 for the iPhone X.
So hey, don’t suffer with an iPhone that’s working poorly due to the battery!