All posts tagged icloud

→ Recovering deleted iCloud Drive files

I didn’t realize this was possible, but I am glad it is.

Easy(ish) iCloud Access

Ben Brooks recently linked to a few tips about how to get iCloud in your Finder sidebar. The problem I have with those methods is that they create a link to the iCloud folder directly and that folder contains horrible, ugly-to-look-at directory names1. My alternative is to create a folder called “iCloud” somwehere else, fill that folder with nicely named symbolic links2 to the applications I use, and then add that folder to the sidebar. Here are the current contents of my iCloud folder with the symbolic link command3 I used to create each one:

  • Byword

    ln -s ~/Library/Mobile\ Documents/N39PJFAFEV~com~metaclassy~byword/Documents/ Byword
    
  • iA Writer

    ln -s ~/Library/Mobile\ Documents/74ZAFF46HB~jp~informationarchitects~Writer/Documents/ iA\ Writer
    
  • Numbers

    ln -s ~/Library/Mobile\ Documents/com~apple~Numbers/Documents/ Numbers               
    
  • Pages

    ln -s ~/Library/Mobile\ Documents/com~apple~Pages/Documents/ Pages    
    
  • PDF Pen

    ln -s ~/Library/Mobile\ Documents/7PKJ6G4DXL~com~smileonmymac~PDFpen/Documents/ PDF\ Pen
    
  • Pixelmator

    ln -s ~/Library/Mobile\ Documents/4R6749AYRE~com~pixelmatorteam~pixelmator/Documents  Pixelmator
    

  1. Not to mention that you have to click into the “Documents” sub-folder in each directory to actually get to your documents 

  2. If you need more information on symbolic links, this tutorial from Mac OS X hints is a good place to start. 

  3. Depending on your screen width, the command might be longer than you are actually seeing on the page. Combine that with hidden scroll bars in Mac OS X and you might not realize that the command extends beyond what is plainly visible. Just keep that in mind if you are copying and pasting the various commands from the webpage into a terminal window. 

→ The State of Instacast Syncing

Martin Hering on the state of syncing for Instacast:

I thought about this problem very hard for a long time. I would like to have a reliable syncing solution that works instantanously, is fast and doesn’t suffer from erratic glitches. I’ve come to the conclusion that these goals are not achievable with iCloud at the moment and may not be for the forseeable future.

Based on my experimentation with various podcast apps, I agree with Mr. Hering. It seems that iCloud is just not the right solution for this type of podcast syncing. Mr. Hering goes on to discuss alternatives to using iCloud. My favorite is:

The other alternative would be to find another server provider specialized in data syncing across devices. The advantage would be that I don’t need to maintain server reliability and security and that I don’t need to reinvent the syncing wheel. The disadvantage of course is to give up control. Luckily I found a service provider that looks very promising. First tests have shown that their sync works amazingly well and is very fast and quite reliable. I am talking about Simperium, the guys behind Simplenode. They took their syncing experience and created an awesome service. I am very impressed and at the same time very disappointed by Apple that they are not able to achieve what a small team of four guys did. The service is powered by Google App Engine, so the servers are really reliable and the transfer speed is awesome.

I have used SimpleNote for quite awhile and their syncing has proven to be extremely reliable. I think this would be a great option for Instacast. I would be willing to pay a subscription fee for that.

Dealing with iCloud’s Current Shortcomings

I love of the concept of Apple’s iCloud: a system where all my documents and settings are instantly available on any device, without me having to think about configuring sync. If that was how iCloud worked, would be amazing. Unfortunately, Apple’s execution does not equal the syncing utopia I was hoping for.

Problems

My two major problems for iCloud deal with (1) document management and (2) reliability. Document management can be summed up by the “Open from iCloud” dialog box in many iCloud-enabled applications: a list of files in some order.1 My hope is that Mountain Lion’s new folder system will allow slightly better organization for my documents, than a simple list, perhaps with some kind of search functionality.2 For now, however, I am constantly faced with the simple list.

My second problem comes from reliability. I have been a paying member of Dropbox3 for a number of years now and I have never had a problem. When I go looking for ale I expect to be in one place, it’s always there.. With iCloud, however, I have not always had such success. I’ve left work with my iPad a few times, figuring I’d do some work at some other location, only to find that iCloud had not properly synced either the latest version of my document or, sometimes, the entire document itself. This normally means using either Screens or FileConnect to connect to my computer and get the document I need to work on.

Workarounds

In order to work around iCloud’s limitations, I have had to delve into the location iCloud stores documents:4:

 ~/Library/Mobile Documents/

In this directory, there are a number of sub-directories that contain the iCloud documents for individual apps. For example, iA Writer is located in:

~/Library/Mobile Documents/74ZAFF46HB~jp~informationarchitects~Writer

Though the names can look confusing, it is not terrible difficult to figure out which folder refers to which application. Inside the application-specific folder, there is a sub-folder called “Documents” and inside that folder are those documents that are stored in iCloud.

Knowing the location my iCloud documents are stored means that I can create Hazel rules that operate on the folder. These rules are usually fairly simple. For example, I have Hazel sync all text files I create in iA Writer into my nvAlt folder, That way, I can use nvAlt’s full text search functionality to figure out the document name I need to open back in iA Writer. I also use Hazel to create a series of backups of my iCloud documents,5 which gives me a little piece of mind as to whether or not my documents might get lost in transit during an iCloud sync. In total, this series of Hazel rules makes my iCloud experience much more comfortable.

Over the Horizon

Though my Hazel rules have helped me settle into using iCloud for a number of different apps, my hope is that Mountain Lion will mean that they are no longer necessary. Thankfully, I only have to wait another couple of weeks to find out if that is the case.


  1. Most recently edited is the ideal order for me, however, I’m partially okay with there beany order. The applications that seem to just dump the files randomly get deleted from my system rather quickly. 

  2. Byword (affiliate link, as are the rest of the app links in this article) is an example of an application on the Mac that has basic search functionality built into the open dialog box. 

  3. Affiliate Link (the kind where I get additional free space if you sign up) 

  4. This is section is related to how iCloud operates in OS X Lion. My hope is that this workaround becomes obsolete with the enhanced iCloud support in Mountain Lion. 

  5. To my Dropbox account, unsurprisingly.