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High Sierra's Disk Utility does not recognize unformatted disks (tinyapps.org)
121 points by miles 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 88 comments

I don't understand why we had to lose the old disk utility GUI. The new one is so underpowered and buggy that you need to use shell commands to get anything done. Things like this erode the benefits of MacOS as a lovely GUI environment over a strong UNIX backbone and make me tempted to just switch to some Linux distro.

I've seen this with many app redesigns: the version that I initially downloaded and installed was a joy to use albeit a little rough around the edges in terms of appearance. In some subsequent update, the appearance changes to look very appealing, but after navigating around to find some previously killer function, it is nowhere to be found. A subsequent web search confirms my findings and fears that the feature that I previously relied upon no longer exists.

I'm not sure how to describe it: the best that I can come up with is that as something gains mass market appeal, the power users (on average the most vocal) are neglected by those they helped succeed in the marketplace.

There is also this idea that some people (designers / product managers) prune away features that they feel confuse the user, but I don't know how factually true that actually is.

It’s certainly true, but normally it’s based on real data rather than feelings. It turns out us computer experts are a tiny minority of computer users so things we want to do are often hidden. Better than my dad finding the options though.

Too many product managers these days who don't actually understand or engage with the product and instead think they can create from reading metrics tea leaves alone.

It appears that Apple are following the Gnome philosophy, which is ironic because the Gnome philosophy was trying to emulate what they believed was the Apple philosophy.

Wouldn't the simpler explanation be that Gnome was correct in their belief of what Apple's philosophy is? :)

Or, maybe they just seemed like they disappeared because of atrocious GUI design.

When I finally updated to the “improved” GarageBand a couple years ago, I went literally months believing that certain features had been entirely removed by the “upgrade”. Then one day I accidentally resized my damned window and entire features reappeared. It turns out that Apple actually has panes HIDING things when they won’t fit, instead of having scroll bars or fading or some hint that there is more.

I still have a copy of the old AirPort utility as well so I can make adjustments that the new utility can't.

I thought they were going to slowly improve the new one to have feature key coverage, but so far nada.

Best to judge someone by their actions. The actions of the corporate person Apple are far less developer friendly of late than Apple ca. 2010. It's like Apple is turning into the Microsoft of the early 2000's. (Stylus tablet computers? Check! Foisting their own development environments on everyone? Check!)

Are you under the impression that you have to use Xcode to create Mac or iOS applications? Or do you just mean that Apple provides an IDE?

You pretty much have to use Xcode or Apple provided toolchain for building iOS apps.

You do not have to use Apple toolchain for building macOS apps, if you are content with the fact, that your binaries might be broken in future macOS releases. With point releases, even. For a case study, see golang.

I buy an iPhone. How do I create and publish an app for it?

Work gave me my first smart phone, an iPhone. I thought it was great at first. Then I started to use it, transfer photos, etc. Then I saw the number of hoops you had to jump through to make an app and get it on your phone. That was enough for me. It was a while ago, but I have my doubts that it was much easier. I try to steer people away from an iPhone if they don't have a mac. They just don't play nice with others. Development is the same. I never did make an iPhone app because I didn't have a mac.

My next phone was one I bought, a Nexus device from google. Want to get an app on it? Download the SDK and tools, fire up hello world, throw it on your phone and it works.

> Download the SDK and tools, fire up hello world, throw it on your phone and it works.

This is exactly how it is done on iOS too from iOS 7/8. You don't need a Developer Account anymore to put your own apps on your own phone. You need a Dev. Account only if you want to push the app on App Store.

Do you need an Apple machine to do it on?

For typical iOS development using Swift/Objective-C yes, you will need an Apple machine. Some people are using VMs instead but the experience is (usually) terrible. There are also cloud services where you can rent a macOS VPS, I never tried this approach.

Is there a way to create iOS applications without XCode and MacOS? I've been looking for a way to compile apps on Linux.

The original airport express cannot be managed by newer airport utility, and you cannot run the older airport utility on newer versions of macos. facepalm

Maybe a hint that it's an out of service obsolete product?

Is it really reasonable to expect users to buy a new router every 2-3 years? 50mbps 802.11g is still plenty sufficient for casual web browsing and streaming, especially considering the fact that most people still don't even have internet connections which are that fast.

My $20 TP-Link router that I bought around 2010 or 2011 is still quite healthy and providing more than sufficient service to my parents' house and is only now starting to fall behind their connection speed (their connection recently got bumped up to 100/5, after being 30/3 for close to a decade)

If you're still running 802.11g, please make damn sure you've turned down the transmit power as much as possible. It's a big waste of airtime compared to 802.11n, so please do everything you can to make sure your low-speed broadcasts aren't getting in the way of other wireless networks that have to share the 2.4GHz band with you.

How is the security patch situation with that router, though? One reason a router upgrade is necessary so soon is just that the manufacturer abandoned it that soon. And then you're part of a botnet before you know it.

The latest Airport Extreme was released June 2013 and the most recent firmware update for it was Dec 20 2016. That's a longer lifespan than most consumer routers, and I expect the Airport will continue getting firmware updates for quite a while.

I just finally got an AirPort Extreme like a year ago, it's a fantastic router. What new features am I missing out on?

The old airport utility for example could send the syslogs to a remote server, set the level of information to be logged and configure SNMP.

It's not a matter of 2-3 years. That product dates from 2004. It's very very very old. He's talking about the original Airport Express.

>Is it really reasonable to expect users to buy a new router every 2-3 years?

For the affluent Apple's end of the market, yes.

Sure. shrug It just feels like it would have been relatively trivial to carry over the management code for the older devices into the new application. The Airport Express was my favorite traveling companion back when wifi was harder to come by, and you'd better believe 802.11g is fast enough for most hotel internet connections :)

Option-clicking on most UI elements in the new Airport Utility gives you the more complex dialog boxes from the old version, not the new wizard/walkthrough ones.

Lots of debug/admin related stuff is hidden behind the Option key in macOS. Try clicking on the volume or wifi menu extras to see some examples of this.

Yeah I feel like I am playing "Where's Wally", randomly Option-key clicking various different things to see what I can do. I guess that's fun for some people, but in my opinion a Menu, is supposed to layout all the options.

The current version of Airport Utility straight up doesn't work with some of the older Airports. IIRC Lion or Mountain Lion won't let you install the older versions, so you have to muck around with the pkg installer to even get the app.

... and when you get bored of Option-clicking, give Shift-Option clicking a try. Pulls up even more debug choices in Wifi/Bluetooth among others.

I'm in the same boat. I have to keep Airport Utility 5.6 around in order to configure two of the Airports on my network. Fortunately, I have an old iLamp that I use for the task, and also as a media server.

How does one obtain an old version of these utilities? Do you mean you just have an old mac running old OS X somewhere?

You can download 5.6.1 from Apple:


You will need to manually unpack it via pkgutil/tar. However, it will won't run under 10.12 since it requires an older version (Mountain Lion) of Apple80211.framework. Assuming you have a copy of the older framework, you can make it work.

Fortunately, someone has already done this work:


you can just run the application if you have an old OS installation on another volume.

Quicktime 7 is one of the first things I install on a new mac because it still opens a bunch of files and does things that Quicktime X cannot.

Quicktime X can't even open a plain .mov file without "Converting" it.

I do too. However, the new one is significantly upgraded from its first version if memory serves - I recall new settings being added all over the place which didn't exist previously.

yeah, Gnome tends to do the same thing...which is really annoying as well. Why not just wait until you have feature parity until nixing the old versions?

I thought they were sunsetting Airport devices and would be surprised if they kept putting software development into them.

macOS isn't just a GUI translation of a UNIX environment, though (that'd be your average Linux Desktop Environment.)

macOS is instead a consumer-electronics abstraction layer for non-technical users, that relies upon and integrates with a UNIX backbone.

Which is to say: Apple (unlike Microsoft until PowerShell) has always assumed that the people who want to get fiddly technical stuff done, know how to use a command line. macOS's "power tools" are CLI tools. macOS's GUI programs, on the other hand, are for the 80% use-cases of regular users. They don't expose niche use-cases, because that functionality was already exposed just fine by a CLI tool, and power users can just use that CLI tool.

Another example of this: a lot of things that would be exposed as checkboxes in some arcane MMC snap-in in Windows, are just exposed as "defaults write ..." in macOS. Why bother building a GUI for a rarely-changed, technical setting, when the CLI is already a perfectly good one?

And yet they are removing command line utilities... High Sierra just removed 'telnet' and 'ftp'. Crazy that Windows ships with a telnet client (you have to enable it, but it's in the standard distribution), and a UNIX-derivative like OS X doesn't.

With good reason, they are both out dated and insecure.

So? 99% of my use of ftp or telnet are for internal network use. And if I must telnet somewhere, I know to use a tunnel. Or my traffic doesn't need to be encrypted.

Why not remove netcat, as well? It opens unencrypted sockets. Or perhaps wget, since it lets you download unencrypted http? Even git has a built in ftp client.

There's nothing at all obsolete about ftp or telnet. They both implement their respective protocols fully and properly.

New devices shouldn't implement ftp or telnet, but that doesn't mean that having the ability to connect to them is no longer something that happens.

Every time an app gets redesigned a designer gets a promotion.

Their soul, however, goes straight to hell :-)

> I don't understand why we had to lose the old disk utility GUI. The new one is so underpowered and buggy that you need to use shell commands to get anything done.

I see it the other way as I'll use a shell command by default over a GUI program because it's usually far easier. Typically the GUI programs are the baby ones for the most common cases. But as you add more and more options, the chance for the user to fail to understand what's going on (even the sophisticated user when the number of features shoots way up -- think of MS Word) increases non-linearly.

So in this case: most Apple users buy mass market packaged disks already formatted for Windows, which are easily recognized and reformatted for the Mac. Frankly this distinction here is great: if you bought a bare drive you probably know what you want to do.

FWIW I'm a Mac user myself, though as noted above most of my usage is in the Terminal.

Seems to be their new approach. Strip all features then slowly bring some of them back over time (or never).

Apple has been doing that for as long as I have been a Mac user - Quicktime 7 -> X, iMovie 11 -> 13, iPhoto -> Photos.app, iWork '11 -> '13, Final Cut Pro 7 -> X ... etc.

They generally seem to have few qualms releasing a reboot that does not have feature parity with its predecessor.

And mac.com -> me.com -> iCloud.com. E.g. me.com had keychain sync and it took them two years or so to bring it back in the form of iCloud Keychain.

One thing that I learned over the years is: let Apple provide the hardware and the OS, but prefer third-party software of proven vendors (Agilebits, Omni Group, etc).

Demolishing Disk Utility or Airport Utility was bad, because of the limited possibility of a 3rd party replacement.

Me.com! I had already almost forgotten about that.

I know that iOS devs hated stuff like Core Data with a passion, but from where I'm sitting, iCloud has been so painless and trouble-free over the years that I have almost forgiven them their earlier attempts at services.

It makes me wonder how Logic Pro has survived this long.

This brings to mind the ridiculous mess that is Windows 10's settings menus, which mix important configurations between the old control panel and the new UWP settings ui. What's with this apparent challenge updating core management features in the GUI of new OS releases?

Reminds me of the time they removed the feature of configuring NFS mounts from disk utility. (Admittedly it was this separate thing accessed through a menu, but it was useful.)

I agree entirely, however don't forget that most people who buy them don't know what UNIX even is.

I can only imagine they do this because the old versions are using deprecated libraries/frameworks, and needed to be updated to use the latest stuff- not just for aesthetic purposes, but for maintainability and security.

Does the old disk utility run on the new OS?

I'm still on El Capitan and have the previous version (i.e. pre-redesign) app, but it had to be hex-edited to remove the version check that made it refuse to run on El Capitan. No idea if it runs on Sierra or later, but I could upload it if needed

edit: see http://www.insanelymac.com/forum/files/file/480-disk-utility...

When Apple rebuilds apps it usually takes a few iterations but generally the capabilities return.

The previous capabilities of Quicktime, Airport Utility, Disk Utility, and Pages did not come back. The "new" Quicktime was introduced 8 years ago.

The pattern we've seen is Apple decides to re-write a utility because reasons. The new version comes out as part of a major OS release. Then nothing further happens.

The exceptions are the major apps like iTunes, Safari, iMovie, and iPhoto. Also the "discoveryd" re-write is extremely noteworthy in that it was fully withdrawn and replaced by its predecessor.

The loss of codec support in Quicktime was probably related to improving battery life by forcing use of H264, which is hardware accelerated.

Whether this is wise is a different question.

But no you're right, there is a definite pattern of feature loss going back to iMovie HD 5. I'm still using Pages '09 because it does what I want and feels snappier.

Also the entirety of Quicktime Pro, which enabled full transcoding control was lost.

True. Except for the old "Dial via Bluetooth" feature. It used to be a Service accessible system-wide. You could highlight any numbers and right/command-click to dial a paired phone. This disappeared when the iPhone was first released, and never returned.

There is a call with iPhone feature as part of the Handoff functionality. So can then conduct the call via your Mac or switch to your phone.

So in typical fashion a redesign with a more Apple centric feature set.

Not via Bluetooth, but you can make calls via iCloud-paired iPhone, either using the phone as a relay, or using WiFi calling on supported carriers using a similar workflow.

I would argue the exact opposite is true. Can you cite examples?

This is two bugs:

1. By default Disk Utility shows only volumes. Click the view toolbar button and select Show All Devices

2. The Show All Devices setting doesn't properly take effect until you quit and re-open Disk Utility.

If you leave Disk Utility in "Show All Devices" mode then you shouldn't run into this problem.

In a related bug, if you've just enabled the "Show all devices" setting then trying to format the disk will give an error saying it's unable to unmount the device. (Temporarily switching off "Show all devices" is another way around this if you don't want to restart)

Thanks very much, xenadu02! Just updated the blog post accordingly.

There is a little "view" dropdown in the upper left corner that toggles between "Show Only Volumes" and "Show All Devices".

Tried that - raw disks still do not appear. Tested on three different Macs. Will update the animated GIF to show clicking on View > Show All Devices.

UPDATE: Just posted a new animated GIF here showing the problem persisting after clicking View > Show All Devices: https://tinyapps.org/screenshots/high_sierra_disk_utility.gi...

(Had to clear my browser cache to see the new image.)

Thanks for checking. I didn't have time to wipe a spare disk and check myself, but I knew that feature was very subtle. This definitely diminishes the utility of Disk Utility.

My pleasure!

But please see xenadu02's comment[0], which explains that one needs to quit and relaunch Disk Utility after selecting View > Show All Devices for it to take effect.

Sorry to have missed that; I ran into the problem on three different Macs while installing High Sierra and unfortunately went straight to the command line rather than testing more extensively. My apologies.

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15386547

Maybe they’ll fix it in 2-3 years. This generation of OSes and developer tools is considerably lower in quality. But let’s release 5 new iPhones next year like clockwork—clearly the software teams can handle it.

And cue in the Apple apologists that will tell you how OS X Snow Leopard also had that one famous bug, so it’s not all bad. Please.

I tried formatting an external SSD as APFS and the gui disk utility was extraordinarily buggy. It certainly appears that nobody tested this before High Sierra was released.

I filed a bug with apple on how broken Disk Utility was in Sierra; I included a screen capture giving a complete movie showing how deliriously broken it was. Apple closed the bug with "not enough information."

Submitting Radar reports now is a complete waste of time, they go straight to the trash. Maybe if you're a recognizable name you'd get an engineer involved, but I doubt it.

Sad that I hear something complained about on certain Apple podcasts and that little qualm of that host is fixed magically a release or two later while real users are ignored.

Is High Sierra in early beta or something? With everything I've heard, it seems to be getting close to Vista levels of bad.

Ran into this the other day when trying to replace a bad hard drive. Was planning on starting from scratch, wasn’t able to do network recovery, had to do network recovery of lion to reformat the hard drive and then restart the high Sierra network recovery.

I think we'll see a few bumps as we transition to APFS. I ran into quite a few edge cases trying to rebuild from a bootable backup after having my laptop serviced. All is well now, but I definitely got my cursing in for the next few weeks.

I don't understand how Microsoft and Apple are so bad at partitioning.

I've never used a partitioning tool as stable, easy to use, or featureful as GParted; not for lack of trying. A long time ago, I concluded that a simple live cd with GParted is the only sane way to do any partitioning, and I have yet to find any evidence to the contrary.

I found this out the other day while trying to format a floppy! For way too long I thought it was just the drive misbehaving.

Cannot tell if joking or serious, but mad props to you either way! If you really are still using floppies, would you mind sharing how and why?

I am serious, though I was just going through a stack of old floppies to see what was on them. I just decided to try to format one for fun!

I ran into this adding an external disk. You just need to initialize with the prompt, and then close and reopen the disk utility, it will show up.

Can somebody test if disk encrypted Truecrypt (I use NTFS) are not working anymore on High Sierra? Or is this only affecting Disk Utility??

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