Secure-erasing your Mac’s disks is no longer secure, Apple says

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secure erase
Encrypting your disk is way safer than trying to 'secure' erase it.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

In the olden days, when you wanted to replace your hard drive with a bigger one, you’d run a “secure erase” on it to completely remove any personal data. This would write zeros to the entire disk, overwriting anything already there.

But now, thanks to advances in storage tech, this no longer does the trick. (Not that you can change your own Mac SSDs now anyway.) The new secure-erase, says Apple, is to just encrypt your disk.

Check out these secret (and super-useful) settings for your Mac

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JPG screenshot location
Dust off your Terminal to use these great hacks.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

By using commands in your Mac’s built-in Terminal app, you can quickly change settings you probably didn’t even know existed.

Some of these Mac settings are just shortcuts — you can enable them in the usual way, using the mouse. But Terminal makes things simple. Instead of opening the System Preferences app, then finding (or remembering) a setting you want to change, and then searching further until you actually find the right checkbox, you can just type (or paste) a command, then  hit return.

Most of these are secret settings, though. They are impossible to change without Terminal. Let’s check them out.

5 super-useful Terminal tricks for total noobs

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terminal tricks
Where the hell are you supposed to begin?
Photo: Cult of Mac

The Mac’s Terminal is at once scary and powerful. It’s like a whole other computer living underneath the pretty interface of macOS. Sometimes, it’s convoluted. Other times, it seems laser-focused, offering a much quicker way to get things done. Instead of clicking and dragging your way through multiple screens, you just type a line of text.

However, the Mac Terminal is pretty intimidating if you’re not used to it. Today we will learn five super-useful Terminal tricks that make getting around much easier.

Pro tip: Automatically save your Mac screenshots in iCloud

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JPG screenshot location
Screenshots can be saved anywhere, including iCloud.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Pro Tip Cult of Mac bugOn your Mac, screenshots are pretty automatic. You hit the shortcut of your choice, and the resulting picture is saved to your desktop as a PNG image file. But what if you want a JPG? We’ve already covered that. How about saving the image to somewhere other than your desktop. Like iCloud maybe? Today we’ll see how to change the Mac’s default screenshot location to an iCloud folder.

How to add a stack of recent documents to your Mac’s Dock

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recent documents stack
Like a tidy stack of documents, right in your Dock.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Left to its own devices, the Dock on your Mac is little more than a list of running apps, plus a trash can. You probably already know that you can force apps to stick around in the Dock for quick-launching, and that you can drag any folder to the Dock and just click it to see inside. But did you know that you can add special folders that show you your recent documents, applications, your favorite items, and more?

The recent documents folder is worth the price of this tip alone (which is $0 BTW), because it keeps track of all your recently-used documents, anywhere on your Mac, and gathers them into one place. If you’re the kind of person who has a desktop cluttered with pretty much all your documents, then fast access to that file you were using one moment ago — and you swear it was right here, oh God where has it gone — is a lifesaver.

Here’s how to add it.

Huge security flaw leaves macOS High Sierra open to attack

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macOS High Sierra
Apple let a major security flaw slip through the cracks.
Photo: Apple

A serious security flaw in macOS High Sierra has been exposed that allows anyone to gain full access to affected Macs without knowing the computer’s administrative password.

The bug appears to let someone log into the admin account on a Mac by simply typing “root” as the username while leaving the password field blank. Attackers could potentially exploit the bug to access locked Macs and gain access to personal information.

How to make JPEG screenshots the default on your Mac

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JPG screenshot location
You'll have to dust off the Terminal for this tip. Seriously, though, kids, don't let your computer get this filthy.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

By default, any screenshots you take on your Mac, iPad or iPhone get saved as PNG files. That’s great, because PNG files are pixel-perfect, and they support transparency (for those neat floating-window shadows).

But they’re not JPEGs, which means they’re not universally supported. Luckily, you can easily make JPEG screenshots the default, at least on the Mac.

How to try Ubuntu Linux without risking your Mac

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Ubuntu running on my Macbook Pro -- beautiful.
Ubuntu running on my Macbook Pro -- beautiful.
Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Have you ever wanted to try out a different operating system on your Mac? Ever since Apple started using Intel chips in their computers, it’s been super simple to run Windows and even popular Linux distributions via Boot Camp, virtual environments like Parallels and VMWare Fusion, and the like.

The problem is that you need to use up precious system resources to run these things on your Mac. Even virtual machines take up disk space, as does running Boot Camp and partitioning your main Hard drive. What if you just want to test something out on your Mac before fully committing?

Turns out it’s fairly easy to run Linux on your Mac without using up any bit of your hard drive. Using a flash drive and some Terminal commands, you can check out a distribution like Ubuntu running right on your Mac without having to sacrifice a thing. Here’s how.

How to make your Mac look like Fallout 4

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Terminal never looked so post-apocalyptic.
Terminal never looked so post-apocalyptic.
Photo: Cathode

If you’re like me, you’re playing Bethesda’s post-apocalyptic RPG Fallout 4 a lot lately. And that probably means you’ve stumbled across a lot of retro CRT monitors that have quasi-Unix systems running on them.

OS X? It’s also a quasi-Unix system. It runs off of a Unix base, which is accessible through the Terminal app.

And if you want Terminal to look like Fallout 4? Just download this app.