• In 2020 President Biden saved democracy by defeating Trump. Now he is continuing to save democracy by passing the torch.

  • A deer in my back yard.

    Photo of a deer behind a deck - about 20 feet from where I was standing behind a screen door.
  • Once again the Supreme Court reminds us why we need to keep Trump out of office.

  • iOS Home Screen Personalization and Alternate Icons

    iOS 18 lets each app supply a light mode, dark mode, and tinted version of its icon. iOS also allows an app to let a user choose an alternate icon – letting customers personalize how an app appears on their home screen. While both capabilities are great, this combination of features does not appear to mix well.

    If an app has several icon options that vary only by color combination, it seems natural to let the user choose one option for light mode and another for dark mode. But there is no way to do this without providing n2 app icon entries in the asset catalog. It also seems like the tinted icon should be the same for each option when they only vary by color combination. But the only way for several icon options to use the same tinted variant is to copy the same PNG into each app icon asset catalog entry.

    My ideal solution to this would be a new setAlternateIconName method on UIApplication that accepted 3 different parameters: a light mode icon name, a dark mode icon name, and a tinted icon name. Alternatively a setAlternateIconNameForDarkMode method and a setAlternateIconNameForTinted method could work. I filed FB13999626 requesting this.

    For context, this is Unread’s screen letting the user choose an alternate icon. There are 32 different options that vary only by color scheme. I ideally want to let the user choose one for light mode and one for dark mode, and have the tinted variation be the same regardless.

    Unread screen letting user choose alternate icon
  • I am excited about text entry suggestions in AppKit.

  • CocoaHeads Boston will meet via Zoom tomorrow (Thursday) evening at 7:00 PM Boston time. New participants and participants from outside the Boston area are always welcome. www.meetup.com/cocoahead…

  • Preparing for the macOS Beta

    As soon as the new beta of macOS is out, I want to install it and use it as much as possible. But I also want my Sonoma installation to remain intact with my data – as a fallback, and because we will probably be unable to submit Mac apps from the beta to App Store Connect.

    It took me some time to determine how to set this up. I ended up doing this:

    1. Create a new APFS volume.
    2. Download the Sonoma installer from the Mac App Store.
    3. Install Sonoma on the new volume.
    4. Boot into the new volume, and use Migration Assistant to copy my data from the other volume.

    I now have a “Sonoma” volume and a “macos2024” volume.

  • Noah Martin is organizing a WWDC keynote viewing event at Shy Bird in South Boston.

  • Guilty on all counts. ⚖️

  • Interesting Bug Pertaining to NSTableView and Context Menus

    I am seeing what I believe to be an interesting bug on macOS 14.5 (23F79).

    If you have an NSTableView with a context menu, opening that context menu via right click while the app is in the background and then clicking elsewhere in the table view to dismiss the context menu brings the window to the foreground (as expected). However the table view will not respond to any clicks until the app is moved to the background and brought back into the foreground.

    I see this behavior in Apple Mail, the Finder, and in other apps including my own. To reproduce this:

    1. Check out this sample app using git clone https://github.com/jbrayton/ActivateBug.git. Observe that it creates a simple NSTableView with three rows. Run the app.

    2. Click the table view rows. Observe that they can be selected by clicking them as you would expect. Right-click in the table view and observe that you get a context menu.

    3. Open Safari. Keep the two windows next two each other on the same screen. Make Safari the active app.

    4. Right-click in the table view of the sample app.

    5. Dismiss the resulting context menu by clicking elsewhere in the table view.

    6. Try to select other rows by clicking them.

    Expected result: I would expect clicking a table row to select it.

    Actual result: Clicking in the table view has no effect.

    Possibly related: If the NSApplicationDelegate has an applicationDidBecomeActive method, I would expect it to be called when bringing an app to the foreground following these steps. It is not.

    This video demonstrates the issue with my sample app:

    This video demonstrates the issue using Apple Mail:

    I filed this as FB13806870.

    I can think of a couple possible workarounds, but neither is great:

    1. Create a local NSEvent monitor for .rightMouseDown events that calls NSApplication.shared.activate(). But this method “doesn’t guarantee app activation”, so this will only work sometimes.

    2. Similarly create a local NSEvent monitor for .rightMouseDown events that simply ignores right clicks by returning nil when the app is in the background. But that would result in context menus simply being unavailable when the app is in the background.

  • I won a copy of @patrickrhone’s book For You at Micro Camp (@camp). Thank you to Patrick and to the Micro.blog team!

  • Congratulations to Joe Fabisevich on the launch of Plinky. Plinky is a wonderful app for saving, organizing, and sharing links.

  • NSHappyHour will meet at The Lobster Shanty in Salem MA at 6:30 PM Wednesday. New folks are always welcome. Thanks to Geoff Bradford for organizing it.

  • This does not look ideal. I reported it to the electric company.

    Fallen tree being held up by electrical wires
  • NSHappyHour meets tonight at Bit Bar in Salem MA at 6:30 PM. New folks are always welcome. Thanks to @whitedonkey@mastodon.social for organizing.

  • I failed at Wordle two days in a row. Not April Fools, unfortunately. 🤦‍♂️

  • Saving to Safari Reading List

    Unread lets a user save articles and links directly to Safari Reading List, without going through the share sheet. This is a popular feature, but there are unfortunate limitations on both iOS and macOS.


    On iOS, SSReadingList lets an app save a webpage URL to Safari Reading List. This initially worked well. But in iOS 13.4 a confirmation dialog was added. Every time an app saves a webpage URL to Safari Reading List, the system displays an alert asking the user for permission.

    I assume this is intended to prevent rogue apps from filling a user’s Safari Reading List with junk. But there needs to be a way for a user to indicate that they trust an app to write to Safari Reading List without being prompted every time.

    I filed FB7573628 in February 2020 (over four years ago) requesting this.

    Honestly if the alert had existed when I first added the ability to save an article to Safari Reading List, I would not have added this functionality to Unread. The alerts are obnoxious.


    SSReadingList is not available to macOS apps, but an Add to Safari Reading List Sharing Service can save a webpage URL to Safari Reading List. On macOS this has the side effect of Safari coming to the foreground. The user experience would be much better if Safari stayed in the background. I filed FB13682568 with a sample project requesting this.

    Apple could make the experience of saving to Safari Reading List from an app much better by addressing these issues. I hope that they will.

  • Sharing via Email on macOS

    On iOS Unread has a Mail Content article action. This lets customers quickly compose an email with the HTML content of an article. It uses MFMailComposeViewController. MFMailComposeViewController has the unfortunate limitation of only working with Apple Mail, but it is otherwise great. The Mail Content article action is popular with my customers.

    macOS has a Compose Email Sharing Service, making it easy for an app to ask the system to create an email message with a recipient, subject, and message body. I was excited to find that this service works with the user’s default email client. It is not limited to Apple Mail.

    The Compose Email Sharing Service can accept either a plain text string, or an attributed string with formatting and embedded images.

    But after spending more time working with the Compose Email Sharing Service, I was disappointed by some of its weaknesses.

    Bugs Around Embedded Images

    When sharing articles as rich text, I found that embedded images often get moved to the end of the article. I was able to generate a simple test case – an attributed string with an embedded image at the beginning of it. If I share that attributed string with the sharing service, Apple Mail will generate a message with the image moved to the end. I filed FB13668576 documenting this.

    Plain Text Messages

    If Apple Mail’s Message format setting (under the Composing pane of the Apple Mail settings window) is set to Plain Text, outgoing messages created using the sharing service are converted to plain text. All formatting and embedded images are lost. Arguably that is the correct behavior because it honors the user’s message format setting.

    However a bigger problem is that there is no spacing between paragraphs. The resulting message for a multi-paragraph article is a wall of text. If Unread had a way to determine whether Apple Mail’s message format setting was plain text, Unread could add its own blank lines between paragraphs. But since I cannot find a way to get that information from a sandboxed Mac app, I can either share an attributed string with formatting and embedded images or I can share a plain text string with my own Markdown-like formatting. I cannot do both.

    Third Party Email Apps

    When the user’s default email client is something other than Apple Mail and an app sends an attributed string, the email client just gets the plain text. The plain text version of the string will also lack basic plain text formatting such as blank lines between paragraphs.

    Scripting Apple Mail Directly

    I considered trying to send an Apple Event to Apple Mail, hoping that I could simply tell Apple Mail to create an outbound email message with specific HTML content. However the sdef for Apple Mail states that setting the html content attribute of an outgoing message has no effect. The setting is deprecated. My testing confirms that setting that attribute has no effect.

    Feedback Reports

    I filed these feedback reports

    • FB13668659: .composeEmail NSSharingService - Multiple paragraphs, Plain Text Message Format
    • FB13669961: Formatting lost when sharing multi-paragraph attributed strings to third party email clients via the .composeEmail NSSharingService
    • FB13668576: When creating an email using the .composeEmail NSSharingService using an attributedString, images are moved to the bottom of the message

    I find using NSWorkspace.shared.open(URL) with a mailto: URL instead of the Compose Email Sharing Service to be about twice as fast for sending plain text email.

  • The Supreme Court must really be backlogged if they cannot hear the presidential immunity case until the end of April. President Biden should appoint a few additional Supreme Court justices to give them the capacity they need.

  • Voting FTW.

    “I Voted Early” sticker
  • At this evening’s CocoaHeads Boston meeting on Zoom, Ed Arenberg will discuss his experiences developing on the Vision Pro and show his game “Connect3D - Spatial” running on-device. New folks and folks from outside the Boston area are always welcome.

  • NSHappyHour meets at Bit Bar in Salem MA tonight at 6:30. New participants are always welcome. Thanks to @whitedonkey@mastodon.social for organizing.

  • I am excited to see that Castro is in good hands again.

  • A 30-day streak.

    A screenshot showing that I walked at least 10,000 steps on each of the past 30 days.

subscribe via RSS