Fix repeating iTunes prompt to accept incoming network connections.

Do you want the application iTunes.app to accept incoming network connectionsDo you want the application ‘iTunes.app’ to accept incoming network connections?

If you get this prompt every time you start iTunes, it’s probably an issue with the application contents vs the application’s code signature.  Users seem to be encountering this sort of problem more frequently since Apple’s introduction of additional code signing, sandboxing, and GateKeeper functions in Mountain Lion.

Normally, this terminal command:

$ codesign -vvv /Applications/iTunes.app

should result in this:

/Applications/iTunes.app: valid on disk
/Applications/iTunes.app: satisfies its Designated Requirement

If not, then the application package contents are probably mucked up.  I recently encountered this situation as the command results showed a lot of extra files in the package.  Probably leftovers from an update.

Most of the recommending fixes involve deleting iTunes and reinstalling from a fresh download.  However, Mountain Lion won’t let you delete iTunes… say’s “can’t be modified or deleted because it’s required by Mac OS X.”

Some folk have had success by simply running the installer anyway.  But in my case, the extra files weren’t removed.  Instead I found I could right click on the /Applications/iTunes.app package, and “Show Package Contents“.  Once inside the package, I could delete the contents.  I simply deleted the entire “contents” directory, and then installed iTunes using a new download from the website.  The terminal command “codesign” then generated the correct results and the Firewall prompts stopped repeating.

 

FYI. This occurred after a clean re-install of OS X 10.8.2 Mountain Lion on a 2012 MacBook Pro.  I did a re-install to clean up problems from a number of app testing sessions and restore things to clean settings.  After running available software updates from the App Store the iTunes / Firewall prompts began occurring each time I started iTunes.  Most likely there was some issue with the App Store update for iTunes not cleaning up old files correctly.

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When iTunes doesn’t move deleted items to trash

check iTunes Preferences, the Advanced tab, the settings for “iTunes Media folder location” and “Keep iTunes Media folder organized“.

iTunes media folder preferences.
iTunes preferences for Media Folder and organization.  For some reason* the location had been lost as this field was blank.

If you have your iTunes library configured to keep everything under a preferred folder location and to let iTunes automatically organize the items in the library, then deleting an item should provide a prompt asking whether the item should be moved to the Trash or kept in the media folder.

iTunes move to Trash prompt.
  When media folder organization is enabled, iTunes should prompt when deleting items.

I recently noticed that iTunes wasn’t prompting to move deleted items to the trash anymore (resulting in left over cruft taking up disk space).  After checking several things, I found the preference settings had been lost.   After correcting (restoring) the settings iTunes did prompt to organize the folders and appeared to do a quick scan thru the media there (a couple minutes), but it finished quickly and everything seems to have returned to normal.
*I can only guess the setting problem cropped up a couple days ago when I had some problems with external USB devices and had to forcefully disconnect and shut everything down.

iTunes version 11.0.1 (12) on OS X Mountain Lion 10.8.2  iTunes Media Library is location on an external 1.5TB USB3 HDD.  I’ve been using external storage for iTunes for about 4 years now, so that of itself wasn’t the source of the problem.

Xcode 4.4.1 update is 47.48MB from app store.

Today’s new Xcode update 4.4.1 (for production usage) comes as a 47.48MB update from the Mac App Store.

After the update completes, checking the Xcode preferences for components and documentation indicated “Command Line Tools (143MB)” was the only portion needed additional updating at this time.  It appears the simulators and documentation did not change. 

Sorting collections of library items in iTunes U

Most of the “Collections” in my iTunes U library sort just fine.  However, I’ve had one collection which seemed to defy logic.

The collection contains about 50 iTunes U videos.

  • Each title is prefixed with an unique session id number.
  • Each has the exact same “release date”.
  • And each has a timestamp for “Date Added” which fall into the same sequence as the session id (since I downloaded them in that order).

Seems obvious all of these items should be sorted by the session id numbers in the titles. But the sort order always seemed to be random.

Turned out to be a problem with the “Track Number” for each item.  I had reviewed the tracked numbers through the “Get Info” option, and the fields were blank.  However, when I turned on the iTunes library Column Browser option to show Track Numbers in the iTunes U library window, I discovered most of the items did indeed have track numbers and the sequencing was all wrong.

Rather than edit the track numbers for all 50 items, I simply selected Get Info for the entire collection and cleared the existing track numbers by selecting the check box next to that field and leaving the value blank.  iTunes updated (removed) the old track number values for each item in the collection.  Since all of the titles contain sequential session numbers, they immediately sorted correctly.

Apple ID account management – password resets, purchase history, iCloud, etc

Unfortunately Apple still hasn’t provided a “one stop shop” for managing all aspects of an Apple ID and a customer’s relationship with Apple.

Personally, I find myself periodically needing to review or update account related information in up to five different places.  Here’s a summary of what’s in each area and how to get there quickly:

note: this article assumes you already have these accounts are only provides a quick refresher on how to navigate back to various areas to update or verify things.

1.  The Apple ID:  your Apple ID is the root anchor of your relationship with Apple.  There are numerous paths you can navigate to access this information, but the simplest seems to be visiting this URL from a web browser:  appleid.apple.com

From this location, you can manage your password, the email address for your account, and your contact information.  For most websites (where the relationship is much less involved), I usually stuff these data fields with bogus information.  However, I do purchases things from Apple and they use the information here to as part of that purchase process.  So it becomes necessary to enter correct information.

note:  If you’ve grown tired of receiving the Apple emails each week about the latest thing they have for sell, the “Language and Contacts Preferences” is the location to turn those off.  A portion of the URL for these settings is automatically generated during each login session, so I cannot provide a direct link.

2. The iTunes Account:  your iTunes account is intimately linked with your Apple ID, but to manage the additional account information, the best location is within the iTunes desktop application.  (You can also do this from an iOS device, I’ll cover that what’s possible there and how to do it in another article.)

Within the iTunes desktop application, navigate the iTunes Store (from the list of things in the left side navigation bar – usually just below your Library).  Assuming you’re logged in, the upper right corner of the iTunes window should show your Apple ID (email address).

Placing your mouse/cursor at the end of the email address provides a drop down menu.  Select “Account“.

From this area, you can manage:

  • payment information
  • computer authorizations
  • iTunes in the Cloud devices
  • purchase history
  • Ping (if you use that)
  • and some additional Settings

Some of my iTunes transactions are business related, so the purchase history is very helpful for retrieve receipt information for my reporting needs.

Additionally, the “iTunes in the Cloud: View Hidden Purchases” is helpful now that iTunes: Purchased allows you to hide previous items from display.

3. The iCloud Account: Most of iCloud is best managed from an iOS device.  If you login to the web interface at http://www.icloud.com the primary management feature is an option to reset the photo stream.  Click your user name in the upper right corner, and select Advanced from the pop up menu.  For now, Reset Photo Stream is the only option presented.  There is also an URL Link to the Apple ID account management web page described above.

To manage you iCloud Account from an iPad:  start by launching the Settings icon and find the menu option for iCloud.  At the top of the detail view window, select Account (it already should be displaying the email address for your iCloud account).

From here you can manage your iCloud password, your Storage Plan, and (if applicable) your iCloud Payment information.

For most folks, this will be the same payment information as your Apple ID above (you’ll be asked to authenticate with that Apple ID login).  However, some us who had previous .MAC accounts have ended up with two Apple IDs… and won’t necessarily have the same login or payment information as our primary Apple ID.  Although it seems to work ok most of the time, some day “It’s complicated”.

While you’re in the Settings | iCloud menu window, you can also turn various features on or off.  And you can use the Storage & Backup selection to view numerous options.

If you’ve elected to utilize the iCloud backup feature for your iOS device, this is where you find the option to omit various applications from being backed up.  This is particularly helpful if you’re trying to stay within the free 5GB quota.

4. The Apple Store Account:  This is the account for purchasing physical products.  From a web browser, visit this URL:  http://store.apple.com/us/account/home

The primary things to do here are tracking orders and viewing previous order history.  Unlike Amazon, Apple only provides 18 months of order history.  So if you need to reprint invoices for tax receipts or such, don’t delay to long.

These pages also link to the information for your Apple ID.

5. The MobileME Account:  Although I’ve migrated from MobileME to the iCloud service, I still have access to the remainder of my iDisk service subscription.  I’d like to hope that Apple will provide an iCloud equivalent before they completely turn down the MobileMe iDisk service; but I’m not really expecting them to.

Apple has set June 30, 2012 as the last day for the MobileMe services.  I’ve already moved my web hosting and pictures from the service.  And only use iDisk for limited (and short term) things at this point.

Within the MobileMe web interface, move your mouse over your user name (in the upper right hand corner) and click on Account to view settings, options, and account information.  If you still have data, photos, or web pages in MobileMe, it’s time to start finding a new home for them.

Footnote:  When I started writing this note, I thought it would be a short reference containing links to the Account tools for Apple ID, iTunes, and iCloud.  As I verified everything, the note continued to grow and grow.  I really hope someone from Apple is paying attention this problem and working on a solution to simplify how we maintain our relationships with their products and services.

It’s slightly ironic that I need more management interfaces for my Apple account than I need remote controls for my home theatre setup.

deleted iTunes library still appearing on Apple TV 2’s lists

Some of the iTunes U and Podcast items I’ve previously deleted from my iTunes library were still appearing on my Apple TV 2.  It turned out that the iTunes library (on my desktop) had not completely deleted it’s references to those items.

To cure the problem…

create a new iTunes Smart Playlist and set it to match on “mediakind    is    iTunes U”  (substitute whichever media kind is given you phantom appearances after deletion).

If you find the offending item displayed in this smart playlist, you can confirm that it’s really gone from your hard disk with a right click & get info.  An error would indicate that you’ve already deleted it from disk.  After NO on iTunes offer to locate it for you, iTunes will then display the last information it had in the library database (which will include the last file path location).

Now that you’re sure you’ve found the phantom entry, you can permanently remove it by selecting the entry in the Smart Playlist and using OPTION + DELETE.

The item should now be gone from the display lists on your Apple TV 2.

iPad documentation and user guides

Note:  When the new iOS 4.2 operating systems is released (and the subsequent wave of application and accessory updates follows) some of the features and UI (user-interface) patterns will change.

Each iPad came with a small white packet.  That packet contains a couple stickers, a sim removal tool, and a standard FCC type product pamphlet.  It also contains a 3×5 type card with a photo of the device.  The front of that card points out the physical controls; the back of that card lists the initial 4 steps needed to get started as well as the URLs for more information.

If you install the free iBooks application, there is an available iPad User Guide (free from the bookstore).  It’s a 309 page e-book, and fully searchable.  Also, the iBook application includes the ability to set bookmarks.  This would be the best solution for the TSD folks to set up, as it would ensure the users always have a complete reference guide available with the device regardless of their connectivity situation.

Apple’s website has video guides to all of the features:  http://www.apple.com/ipad/guided-tours/

There’s also a more “traditional” type user guide in the form of a 19MB, 154 page PDF.  This PDF can be loaded into the iBooks application’s “library” (printing it out would kinda defeat the purpose of having a technology like the iPad).

The Apple iPad Enterprise Deployment Guide might be of interest to the IT folk, probably not so much for the users.  It is a 1MB, 90 page PDF.  In our organization, most of what is covered in this document is being done via the centralized McAfee EMM (formerly Trust Digital) platform.  While this document would provide an overview of what iPad features can be managed, the IT folk should not try using the configuration tools/profiles described (as that would create conflicts with the TrustDitigal server).

And, yes, there is an “iPad for Dummies” title on Amazon.  The Amazon page also identifies several other similar books.

Install an alternate version of iOS via iTunes

iOS install via iTunes
 alternate version of iOS
click –>  “option key + iTunes Restore button “

Install iTunes on Windows, without installing Bounjour, Quicktime, or Auto Updates.

Some folks would prefer that iTunes not automatically install additional items such as Bounjour, Quicktime, or AppleSoftwareUpdates.

For organizations which have software distribution and management solutions, it’s usually preferable to turn off the auto-update features of some 3rd part software packages.  Additionally, one of my customers have created some Quicktime extensions and need to carefully manage their version updates (to avoid Monday morning chaos and confusion from an unexpected Apple update).

Here is one solution.  Run the iTunes installation with these command line options:

C:\%PATH%\ iTunesSetup.exe NO_QUICKTIME=1 NO_BONJOUR=1 NO_ASUW=1 SILENT_INSTALL=1 DESKTOP_SHORTCUTS=0 ALLUSERS=1 ASSUME_MEDIA_DEFAULTS=0 ASSUME_QT_DEFAULTS=0 

I tested this using a virtual instance of Windows XP virtual over in our VMview Lab.  It wasn’t completely silent, and the default display window makes you think it might be doing a full install anyway… but when it completed there was no trace of QT, Bounjour, or AppleSoftwareUpdate apps or services on the machine.  A support call to Apple might turn up whether there are any other available command line options.  Post installation, the iTunes registry settings can be managed with AD/GPO tools.

The Apple document, Deploying iTunes (HTML or PDF), provides additional information about managing the installation process and configuring application options for iTunes.

All of the “Restrictions” available in the iTunes application preferences window can be managed using typical Windows system management tools (such as login scripts or GPOs).

How much disk space will iTunes use for iPad backups?

These #s can vary wildly depending on usage.  I’m advising most of our users to ensure their machine have minimum free space of 2GB, and recommending 10GB to accommodate updates, library contents, and backups.

Normally, iTunes only keeps the most recent backup.  On MAC OS X, users can let TimeMachine collect multiple backups for them.  On WinOS users can manually copy the backup folder which is created under their “my docs” profile folder.

My personal iPad syncs with a MAC; even though that iPad has about 30GB of content, the backup is only 303.6MB

Content currently loaded includes 74 apps, 1358 songs, 5 movies, 2 tv shows, 416 books, and 4074 photos.

The work issued iPad currently has about 6.7GB loaded.  Contents include 44 apps, no music movies or tv, about 1100 books, 40 photos.  This iPad syncs with iTunes on Windows and a backup is ~5GB.

Why the difference?  Why does backing up to iTunes on a Windows machine require so much more disk space?

Mac OS X is very efficient at utilizing symbolic links (these are sort of like a shortcut reference to a file or object in another location).  When running on a MAC, iTunes can build a list of symbolic references for the objects in your iPad (or iPhone).  This enables a backup to contain a list of the original files at their real location combined with only the unique iPad data not already on your desktop computer.

On Windows, the operating system doesn’t provide iTunes a mechanism to make these symbolic link references.  So iTunes needs to backup everything on the device.  It will try to compress what it can, but most media content is already in a compressed format.

If you’re setting up a new iPad and iTunes installation for someone who is likely to sync a lot of multi-media content to their 64GB iPad, should probably plan to see 100GB to 200GB of disk space consumed by the iTunes library and the iPad backups.

Fortunately most new laptops come with a hard drive capacity of 300GB to 500GB.  Folks who maintain larger media library (lots of movies, tv shows, video podcasts, etc.,) will either need to look at larger external disk drives (1.5TB to 2TB) or maybe even a storage array.   Considering the cost of obtaining content, it’s also a good idea to plan for a second drive or array for backups.  MAC OS X Time Machine works quite well when using a single large external drive as a backup target, but folks with multi-terrabyte media collections will need to investigate more complicated storage and backup solutions.