Recently a civilian asked Murphy about finding duplicate files on their computer. Folder names had been mangled and made no sense. Files had been duplicated over and over again, many of them with different names. It was a mess.
I remembered writing up a Mac app a long time ago and dug deep into the Murphy Mac archives, where I found Tidy Up. As soon as I watched the screencast I remembered being impressed with the results of the app, and its power, despite not truly having a need for it. Because Murphy files everything just so.
Anyway, I decided to take a look at some tools for finding duplicates and asked the developer for an updated version, which I received.
One thing that really impresses me about Tidy Up is the safety features designed to prevent deletion of the last copy of a file. For example, if a search finds six copies of foo.jpg there’s an option to display all but one copy. Then you can delete the five duplicates from within the Tidy Up interface.
Let’s run through an example and look at one way Tidy Up might help you achieve your goal. Let’s say you have two folders that both have files. Some of the files have duplicates with different names. Sometimes the dupe is in the same folder with the original, sometimes it’s in the other folder. And sometimes the dupe has the same name but it’s in a different folder.
Take a look at the screenshot showing our example files.
Click image for larger version
The files are in two folders, named here and there. My goal is to end up with one file for each airport code. Also, notice there are three files containing the code mia. Additionally, I’d prefer to end up with the files that don’t have the word “copy” in their name. Think of it this way: Maybe you have a bunch of files and you named some of them with a convention like winter2011 001.jpg, winter2011 002.jpg and so forth. But you have duplicates of those files with names like DSC001.jpg and DSC002.jpg. You might prefer to have the DSC files eliminated as the duplicates instead of the winter ones.
The first step with Tidy Up is to add the two folders we want to search for duplicates. In our case, the folders named here and there. In the screen shot below the folders are shown in Tidy Up after we simply dragged them in from Finder.
The two folders we want to search for duplicates
Once we run the search Tidy Up presents us with a list of files that have duplicates. There are a number of containers we can choose from to limit which files are displayed, but the default is to show all copies of any file that has a duplicate. Files without duplicates in here and there are not displayed. Screen shot below. Notice that the mia file has three copies, and two of them have the same name.
The full list of duplicates. Each file is color coded red or yellow to indicate its folder location.
Remember, we wanted to preserve files that didn’t have the word copy in the name if possible. To do this, we’re creating what Tidy Up calls a Smart Basket to identify all the files with the word “copy” in their name. Then we’ll use Tidy Up’s label feature to mark these files with the blue label.
Take a look at the next screenshot. Notice the container selected is called “has copy in name”. That’s our smart basket. We’ve selected all the items in the basket and applied a blue label to them.
A blue label has been applied to every duplicate file with the word “copy” in it.
We could have just deleted all those files there, but instead we’ll go back to the container called All Items Found and verify that our labels were applied as we expected. In that container we’ll also sort by label, so all the blue label items are listed first and are easy to select.
The search results have been sorted by label, resulting in all the files with “copy” in the name listed first. Notice that cdg doesn’t have a file without the word “copy” in it.
One of the great things about about Tidy Up is that it tries to prevent you from accidently deleting the last copy of a file. In other words, when you’ve performed a search and selected files to delete you may have selected all copies of a particular file, as is the case in the previous screenshot with regard to cdg. When we use the delete tool within Tidy Up we’ll get notified that one file was not deleted because it was the last copy. See below.
Tidy Up warns when you’re about to delete the last copy of any of your search results. That’s good.
If we look at our search results now there are only two files left. Remember, we told it to only delete selected files, and we only selected files with “copy” in the name. So our mia duplicates still exist. We could continue on and delete any remaining duplicates from here. Let’s take a look at the Finder to see what we’re left with after running our delete job. Notice below there’s one file left with the word “copy” in it, but that’s because we only had files for cdg with the word copy in them. Notice as well that we have two copies of mia. That’s because we didn’t bring the full power of Tidy Up to bear yet. More on that after the screenshot.
Our situation has improved. There is still one duplicate to be dealt with. And one file is left with the word “copy” in it. But both of those things were to be expected.
There’s one other feature of Tidy Up I should mention. Even if you only search one folder there’s a very powerful feature. Tidy Up has the ability to show all but one file for each set of duplicates it finds. In the two screenshots below there’s a file in the search results that has nine copies. When we select All Items Found we see all nine. But when we select All But One Item of Each Duplicate Group we only see eight. The ninth is being hidden from view so we can safely delete the eight and still have a copy left.
All duplicates displayed
Only eight files are displayed. The last copy of the duplicate set is automatically not shown so we don’t delete it.
There’s a lot more to Tidy Up. It has special features for iTunes and iPhoto. It has all kinds of options for dealing with very granular file details and customizing your search extensively. There’s no shortage of tools for this task, but Tidy Up makes it very straightforward. The interface is clean and makes it easy to see where your duplicates reside.
Here’s another Murphy Mac post about Tidy Up, including a screencast.
Tidy Up is available for $30 There’s also a thorough user manual (pdf).
For a long time I’ve used scripts that were kicked off by incoming mail on my Mac. As long as the mail was from me and the subject matched a keyword the script would run. There are plenty of tools enabling remote control of your Mac. But for some things I still find it easier to kick off a script than to manually take control of the Mac. SSH takes longer, and so do remote desktop apps.
There were some problems with the Mail.app scripts. Sometimes Mail wasn’t running. Sometimes they didn’t kick off for some unknown reason. When things don’t work every time you tend to stop relying on them.
I’ve got a new way to kick off scripts by sending a text message to If This Than That. IFTTT receives my message and writes a text file to my Dropbox account named after the message content. My Mac sees the file and a Folder Action script runs, performing whatever task I requested.
There are a couple I use frequently:
- Mute my Mac
- Launch iTunes
- Reboot my Mac
- Kill and restart EyeTV
- Turn on Require Password in System Preferences
I’ve assigned a one letter code to each of those things. When I send the letter in a text to IFTTT I’m done. My Mac goes silent or iTunes launches for my Apple TV or whatever it is I need happens. Less steps than SSH or some kind of remote desktop.
My mind is starting to go so it’s hard to remember which letter does what. Every once in a while I text #m to IFTTT and they text me back a canned text message I prepared with the key to my commands. Their reply to #m looks something like this:
a. mute b. iTunes c. restart EyeTV
The thing I don’t like about this method is giving IFTTT access to my Dropbox account. Not that I have an issue with them specifically. I’m just hoping that the protocols to allow interaction between various online services become more granular so you don’t have to grant so much access for whatever you want to do.
I’ll post some more information over the next few days detailing the AppleScripts themselves.
Acrobat.com on your iOS devices allows you to upload camera roll content from Safari.
The other day I found myself wanting to extract full quality, uncompressed video from my iPhone. I didn’t have a Mac or PC handy, and I wanted to move the video to my iPad so I could work on it with iMovie.
I looked for apps first. Transfer Big Files was most prominent in my searches. It got mixed reviews and I never got around to trying it. I moved on.
Then I stumbled into something by accident: Acrobat.com. From http://files.acrobat.com in Safari on my iPad or iPhone I can upload items from my camera roll, including uncompressed video files. The web interface is clean and simple to use on an iOS device. You’ll need a free Adobe account.
I tried to do the same thing with Dropbox. On my iPhone I couldn’t navigate the desktop version of Dropbox. On my iPad Dropbox only offered to upload a compressed version of the video.
Box.com let me upload uncompressed versions of video files the same way Acrobat.com did. I had to load the desktop version of the site in iOS.
Once the video was uploaded from my iPhone to Acrobat.com I opened the Adobe Reader app on my iPad. The app let me save the video file to my camera roll. Using this workflow I can shoot video with my iPhone and wirelessly transfer the uncompressed full quality file to my iPad for further processing with something like iMovie.
It’s not an exercise for the impatient. If you’re doing this kind of stuff a lot I’d look into another solution, like the USB camera connection kit. That link has other solutions as well.
Acrobat.com has a file size limit of 100mb. You’ll get there fast with uncompressed iPhone video.
The free version of Acrobat.com provides 5GB of storage.
This Adobe document says you can’t upload .mov files. But I’ve been able to. Maybe they can’t be shared.
The 31 second uncompressed video I uploaded was 68MB.
I only tried Safari, not other browsers on iOS.
Uploading uncompressed video with Safari
The inside of my MBP, before replacing the drive.
A few weeks ago I realized I was going to need a dedicated laptop for a client I’m working with. I thought about taking Mrs. Murphy’s first-gen Air off her hands – but it seemed pretty pokey and I quickly lost interest. I looked at buying a new Air and realized that by the time I configured some customizations it would be more than I wanted to shell out for a machine that would get limited use.
Then I remembered a Macbook Pro sitting on a shelf in my office. It used to be our DVR until I got a top-of-the-line iMac last year. The MBP hasn’t done much since – partly because the battery bulged about a year ago and a laptop without a battery is somewhat limited.
The MBP is a 3,1 for those of you who know that sort of thing. For the rest of us: it’s a model that was introduced at the end of 2007. Five years ago. A little less for this particular serial number, which according to Powerbook Medic was stamped out in early 2008. It shipped with 2GB of RAM and a 5400RPM hdd, 160GB of storage. It’s a 2.4ghz Core 2 Duo. Back in 2008 it was a mighty fine Mac.
The problem: After years of use I had little faith in its reliability going forward. The drive had worked hard recording HD television shows and football games and converting them to m4v files using a Turbo.264 USB hardware encoder. The drive sounded a little tired. Whether it actually was or not didn’t matter, I didn’t trust it. So I started reading up on SSD drives. I didn’t, and still don’t, know much about them. Mrs. Murphy’s Air is the only machine we’ve ever had with an SSD. In hindsight I should have gotten one for my iMac, without a doubt. The hdd is clearly the bottleneck on that machine.
Anyway, I did some reading about SSD drives in an effort to find one compatible with my MBP’s SATA support. After a lot of reading at Newegg and Amazon I settled on a Crucial M4. I got it from Amazon for $99. Like I said, I don’t know much about SSDs so I wasn’t 100% sure it was compatible.
The tricky part was installing the SSD. I’d only opened up a MBP once before. Apple opened one for me once to repair a fan, and they never got the case back on properly. It was bent in the front and the trackpad button was never quite right, it had a dull or non-existent response every time you clicked it. More on that later.
If you’re patient and you have the right tools the MBP isn’t horrible to take apart. The screws are tiny and uncommon and there are a lot of them. But if you have a container to sort them in it’ll make things much easier. I labeled each group of screws and placed them in a divided sorting box. Ice cube trays would work well too.
The hardest part: separating the top case housing the keyboard and trackpad from the lower case along the front edge. There are hidden clips that you need to release without bending. If you get past that you’re golden, all the other sides use screws and are already separated when you go after the front edge.
Inside the laptop the hdd is wedged in pretty tight. Mine was a tiny bit different than the description at ifixit, where I found the instructions. Still, it was a fairly straight-forward procedure to remove the old drive and install the new. Work slow, be careful, be patient. And make sure you have the right tools. There’s a ribbon cable glued to the drive that needs to be gently pried away.
I also got 4GB of RAM ($54), doubling what I had and maxing out the machine’s capacity. Finally, I got an Anker replacement battery for $69. It seems to hold a couple hours of charge. I’m just happy to have the machine stay powered when the MagSafe gets disconnected.
I didn’t open the RAM or the battery packaging right away. If the SSD surgery had gone south I probably would have sent them back. So the next step was installing OS X.
I opted for Snow Leopard and simply installed from the DVD. For a while I wasn’t sure it was going to install, some people reported having trouble getting OS X running after installing an SSD. The install froze for a long long time, saying it had 28 minutes left. I believe it said that for over twenty minutes before finally moving on and finishing the install.
I powered up the machine, ran through the first-time setup, and everything was fine. In fact, it boots from powered off to a user desktop in about 24 seconds. I installed my new RAM and battery, no issues.
Here are the instructions I followed, at iFixit. As someone noted in the comments there’s a step where you’re told to disconnect the drive’s ribbon cable from the logic board, and it seems unnecessary. I skipped that step, and see no reason to do it unless you have trouble freeing the drive.
Anyway, the upgraded machine is fantastic. So incredibly responsive. I’m not pushing it really hard. I’ll be using it for administrative tasks, not Photoshop or Final Cut. I had to install Windows on it too. I went with XP, and it’s running fine using Boot Camp. I thought about using Fusion, but thought I’d suffer with only 4GB of RAM and no way to install more.
Windows doesn’t boot in 24 seconds, it’s more like 37 to the login screen.
Now I’ve got a 15″ laptop that’s over four years old, based on a model that’s five years old. I can install Mountain Lion on it. And it’s as snappy as can be. Applications open in an instant. The boot time is great. It’s silent. The battery, the SSD, the RAM – all for less than $225.
**Back to that MBP that Apple never got reassembled right: this machine was a free replacement for that one. The original’s fan went bad with only days left on the warranty. Then there were a few trips back to the store: the dull trackpad, the keyboard wouldn’t light, the case wasn’t reassembled correctly. At this point it was no longer under warranty. But Apple had started working on it while it was under warranty. They honored that detail and handed me a brand new machine with a new warranty. My original was a Core Duo. The one they replaced it with was a Core 2 Duo, along with other upgrades.
A track deleted from iCloud but still present in the local library.
Murphy’s obsessions come and go. Recently it was the wrong album art showing up on my iPhone. Fixing my Pretenders album art only to see it revert to the wrong image a few minutes later got frustrating quickly. Until I realized the cloud-based Match versions of my album art were coming down and overwriting my locally stored tracks.
If you don’t know how iTunes Match behaves you could run into some problems. Here’s what worked for me:
- Sign into a Mac or PC with a local user account that does not have your music collection stored locally in iTunes. You could create an additional user on your Mac (or PC) or do what I did: sign into a dummy Windows account running on a virtual machine.
- Open iTunes. Ideally there won’t be any local music stored there.
- Sign into iTunes using the AppleID used for iTunes Match.
- You should see all your music that resides in the cloud. Delete the song that needs the artwork updated. This will delete the version stored on Apple’s servers.
- Once you’re done with the previous step you can sign off the dummy Mac or PC user account.
- Sign into your Mac or PC account where the local copy of your music resides.
- Fix the album artwork by selecting the track or tracks you want to update, then right-click the track(s) and select Get Info.
- You can delete the existing artwork on the Artwork tab and add a different image. Close the info panel.
- Right click the corrected track and select Add to iCloud. Done.
Once the artwork has been fixed you can send the track back to iTunes Match.
Why do we need to use the dummy PC or Mac account? Because the process for deleting a cloud-based copy of a song presents a complication when there’s a local version of the track. ITunes forces you to delete the local copy of a song before it allows you to delete the cloud-based version. You might not want to delete the local version – doing so would wipe out meta information like the play count. By deleting only the cloud version our local track and its meta data are preserved.
The obsession with album art has passed for now. When I see some pixelated album covers on my phone again it’ll be back, but for now it’s forgotten.