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Category Archives: Apple

An RSwitch user, lcolladotor filed a most-welcome issue letting me know that the core functionality of the switcher was busted 😱. After testing out the 1.5.1 release candidate I had made a “harmless” & “clever” change to reduce some redundancy in the code that handled with switching which resulted in busted symbolic link creation. Tis fixed, now.

To somewhat make amends for said error James Balamuta’s excellent “R Compiler Tools for Rcpp on macOS” resource ( as been added to the available web resources links.

I’ve also setup a mailing list for RSwitch over at sourcehut where you can signup directly w/a (free) sourcehut account (signup by just email) and see archives. The RSwitch menu has a new link to the mailing list.

There’s also a new blog category for RSwitch which has it’s own RSS feed ( to make it easier to keep up with RSwitch-only updates.

“Check for updates” will get you to the new release or you can grab it directly from the RSwitch site.

RSwitch is a macOS menubar application that works on macOS 10.14+ and provides handy shortcuts for developing with R on macOS. Version 1.5.0 brings a reorganized menu system and the ability to manage and make connections to RStudio Server instances. Here’s a quick peek at the new setup:

All books, links, and other reference resources are under a single submenu system:

If there’s a resource you’d like added, follow the links on the main RSwitch site to file PRs where you’re most comfortable.

You can also setup automatic checks and notifications for when new RStudio Dailies are available (you can still always check manually and this check feature is off by default):

But, the biggest new feature is the ability to manage and launch RStudio Server connections right from RSwitch:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

These RStudio Server browser connections are kept separate from your internet browsing and are one menu selection away. RSwitch also remembers the size and position of your RStudio Server session windows, so everything should be where you want/need/expect. This is somewhat of an experimental feature so definitely file issues if you run into any problems or would like things to work differently.


Kick the tyres, file issues or requests and, if so inclined, let me know how you’re liking RSwitch!

A minor update to RSwitch has been released. Apart from some internal code reorganization there are three user-facing changes.

First, RSwitch is now notarized! That means you won’t get a notice about it being from an “unidentified developer” nor will folks on Catalina see a warning about unable to check the download for malware. You can use {macthekinfe} to check out the application signature and notarization info:

check_sig("/Applications/") %>% 
## # A tibble: 25 x 2
##    key                         value                                                               
##    <chr>                       <chr>                                                               
##  1 Executable                  /Applications/                    
##  2 Identifier                  is.rud.bob.RSwitch                                                  
##  3 Format                      app bundle with Mach-O thin (x86_64)                                
##  4 CodeDirectory v             20500 size=1342 flags=0x10000(runtime) hashes=33+5 location=embedded
##  5 VersionPlatform             1                                                                   
##  6 VersionMin                  658944                                                              
##  7 VersionSDK                  659200                                                              
##  8 Hash type                   sha256 size=32                                                      
##  9 CandidateCDHash sha256      efa512a9daabfb9402af8a91697f008b89ffa81e                            
## 10 CandidateCDHashFull sha256  efa512a9daabfb9402af8a91697f008b89ffa81ea014452821e39a5365d80fe6    
## 11 Hash choices                sha256                                                              
## 12 CMSDigest                   efa512a9daabfb9402af8a91697f008b89ffa81ea014452821e39a5365d80fe6    
## 13 CMSDigestType               2                                                                   
## 14 Page size                   4096                                                                
## 15 CDHash                      efa512a9daabfb9402af8a91697f008b89ffa81e                            
## 16 Signature size              8968                                                                
## 17 Authority                   Developer ID Application: Bob Rudis (CBY22P58G8)                    
## 18 Authority                   Developer ID Certification Authority                                
## 19 Authority                   Apple Root CA                                                       
## 20 Timestamp                   Sep 1, 2019 at 08:46:41                                             
## 21 Info.plist entries          26                                                                  
## 22 TeamIdentifier              CBY22P58G8                                                          
## 23 Runtime Version             10.15.0                                                             
## 24 Sealed Resources version    2 rules=13 files=26                                                 
## 25 Internal requirements count 1 size=212
## # A tibble: 4 x 2
##   key         value                                           
##   <chr>       <chr>                                           
## 1 application /Applications/                       
## 2 status      accepted                                        
## 3 source      Notarized Developer ID                          
## 4 origin      Developer ID Application: Bob Rudis (CBY22P58G8)

Note: you may (I’m working on installing it in a fresh Catalina VM to know definitely) need to ensure RSwitch is granted “Full Disk Access” in System Preferences -> Security & Privacy -> [Privacy] tab to ensure it can operate where it needs to:

Next, since it’s possible to have an old set of just package libraries at a given /Library/Frameworks/R.framework/Versions/#.# path but no R binary in said locations, the script now does what the R Core RSwitch app (Simon was kind enough to forward that R-Forge SVN web link) does and performs some extra validation to see if a given R version directory is, indeed, switchable to. Directories that aren’t switchable are shown but grayed out (as in the image, below) and marked as “incomplete”. You probably should clean out those old paths.

Finally, in the same image keen observers will see a few more relevant links have been added to the “bookmarks”. I added them because I frequent them as I work on R-related things.

Folks who are running 1.4.0 should be able to use the “Check for update…” menu item to get to the releases page. You can also get it from the RSwitch landing page or download it directly via:


RSwitch feels feature complete so the pace of development and releases will likely slow a bit. Some spiffy folks have offered both a new app icon and a request to make it easier to switch between running RStudio/R GUI instances and I’m working on incorporating both of those ideas into the app. If you do have a problem, question, or feature request, definitely file an issue on your favorite social coding site. Links to where RSwitch source code can be found to file said issue(s) are at the bottom of the RSwitch landing page.

Swift 5 has been so much fun to hack on that there’s a new update to macOS R-focused mebubar utility RSwitch available. Along with the app comes a new dedicated RSwitch landing page and a new user’s guide since it has enough features to warrant such documentation. Here’s the new menu

The core changes/additions include:

  • a reorganized menu (see above)
  • the use of notifications instead of alerts
  • disabling of download menu entries while download is in progress
  • the ability to start new R GUI or RStudio instances
  • the ability to switch to and make running R GUI or RStudio instances active
  • additional “bookmarks” in the reorganized web resources submenu
  • Built-in check for updates

To make RSwitch launch at startup, just add it as a login item to your user in the “Users & Groups” pane of “System Preferences”.

The guide has information on how all the existing and new features work plus provides documentation on the how to install the alternate R versions available at the R for macOS Developer’s Page. There’s also a slightly expanded set of information on how to contribute to RSwitch development.


As usual, kick the tyres, file feature requests or bug reports where you’re comfortable, & — if you’re macOS-dev-curious — join in the Swift 5 fun (it really is a pretty fun language).

At the bottom of the R for macOS Developer’s Page there’s mention of an “other binary” called “RSwitch” that is “a small GUI that allows you to switch between R versions quickly (if you have multiple versions of R framework installed).” Said switching requires you to use the “tar.gz” versions of R from the R for macOS Developer’s Page since the official CRAN binary installers clean up after themselves quite nicely to prevent potentially wacky behavior.

All the RSwitch GUI did was change the Current alias target in /Library/Frameworks/R.framework/Versions to the appropriate version. You can do that from the command line but the switcher GUI was created so that means some folks prefer click-switching and I have found myself using the GUI on occasion (before it stopped working on macOS Vista^wCatalina).

Since I:

  • work on Catalina most of the day
  • play with oldrel and devel versions of R
  • needed to brush up on Swift 5 coding
  • wanted RSwitch as a menubar app vs one with a dialog that I could easily lose across 15 desktops
  • decided to see if it was possible to make it work sandboxed (TLDR: it isn’t)
  • really wanted a different icon for the binary
  • couldn’t sleep last night

there was sufficient justification to create a 64-bit version of this app.

You can clone the project from any of the following social coding sites:

and, you can either compile it yourself — which is recommended since it’s 2019 and the days of even remotely trusting binaries off the internet are long gone — or build it. It should work on 10.14+ since I set that as the target, but file an issue where you like if you have, well, issues with the code or binary.

Once you do have it working, there will be a dial-switch menu in the menubar and a menu that should look something like:

The item with the checkbox is the Current alias.


Kick the tyres, file issues & PRs as you’re wont to do and prepare for the forthcoming clickpocalypse as Apple nears their GA release of Catalina.

Apple has run the death bell on 32-bit macOS apps and, if you’re running a recent macOS version on your Mac (which you should so you can get security updates) you likely see this alert from time-to-time:

If you’re like me, you click through that and keep working but later ponder just how many of those apps you have. They are definitely going away, so knowing if your favourite app is on the chopping block is likely a good idea.

You can get this information via the “About This Mac”͢”System Report” app and sorting via one of the table fields.

R folks are data folks and we know we can do better than that. But, first we need to get the data. Thankfully, we can get this via the system_profiler command-line utility since it can both display user-friendly information in the terminal and also generate an XML version of the information to work with. We won’t need to head to the terminal for this work, though, since there are many ways to execute the command from R and read the generated output.

Executing System Calls from R

Base R provides two core methods for issuing a system call:

  • system()
  • system2()

Note that there are other functions provided with a base R installation that can also issue system commands and process the “piped” output, but we’ll focus on these deliberate invocation ones.

Functions in two other packages can also assist with this task and we’ll include a look at:

  • processx::run()
  • sys::exec_internal()

as well.

Why leave base R for this task? Truthfully, we really don’t need to, but both sys and processx have other tasks which do make them handy tools in your package toolbox. Having said that, keep reading since we’re going to end up not choosing the built-in functions for this task.

This is the command line we need to execute:

system_profiler -xml -detailLevel full SPApplicationsDataType

Let’s load up all the packages we’ll be needing and execute this command-line all four ways, then briefly discuss the differences:


  command = "system_profiler -xml -detailLevel full SPApplicationsDataType",
  intern = TRUE
) -> apps_system

##  chr [1:10665] "" ...

  command = "system_profiler",
  args = c("-xml", "-detailLevel", "full", "SPApplicationsDataType"),
  stdout = TRUE
) -> apps_system2

##  chr [1:10665] "" ...

  command = "system_profiler",
  args = c("-xml", "-detailLevel", "full", "SPApplicationsDataType"),
  spinner = TRUE
) -> apps_processx_run

## List of 4
##  $ status : int 0
##  $ stdout : chr "XML STRING THAT prism.js won't let me show"
##  $ stderr : chr ""
##  $ timeout: logi FALSE

  cmd = "system_profiler",
  args = c("-xml", "-detailLevel", "full", "SPApplicationsDataType")
) -> apps_sys_exec_internal

## List of 3
##  $ status: int 0
##  $ stdout: raw [1:331133] 3c 3f 78 6d ...
##  $ stderr: raw(0) 

The core difference between system() and the rest is that you need to shQuote()? for system() whereas that’s taken care of for you by the others (so they’re a bit safer by default since you’re more than likely going to forget to shQuote()).

You can definitely notice the main differences in return objects. The built-in functions just give us the character data from the standard output stream (stdout) and the last two return a more structured object that provides more explicit information about the job we just executed. The base ones can provide this detail, but it’s a twisty maze of remembering which options do what vs the more (IMO) straightforward approach both processx and sys take.

You’ll also notice a difference in stdout between processx and sys with the latter giving us a raw vector vs a character vector. This gives us a great deal of power and flexibility. It also turns out to be a great choice for processing command-line-generated XML data. Here’s why:

  sys = xml2::read_xml(apps_sys_exec_internal$stdout),
  processx = xml2::read_xml(apps_processx_run$stdout)
## Unit: milliseconds
##      expr      min       lq      mean    median        uq      max neval
##       sys 4.086492  4.60078  9.085143  5.508814  5.906942 207.6495   100
##  processx 9.510356 10.98282 14.275499 12.054810 13.292234 163.9870   100

It turns out xml2::read_xml() makes much quicker work of the raw vector data (though, I mean, really—are we really going to care about those ~5ms IRL?).

We’ll move on to the real reason for the post, but definitely explore both sys and processx since they are both super-handy packages.

“Can we please just find the 32-bit apps already?”

No problem. Well, actually, there is a minor annoyance. These are property list XML files and I’ll confess that I truly hate this format. There are “dictionary arrays” of key and value nodes, but those nodes are siblings vs directly associated pairs. So, we have to use the sibling relationship to work with them. It’s not hard, per se, just (again, IMO) suboptimal.

Let’s take a look at it:

apps <- read_xml(apps_sys_exec_internal$stdout)

xml_find_all(apps, "//array/dict")
## {xml_nodeset (476)}
##  [1] \n  _SPCommandLineArguments\n  \n     ...
##  [2] \n  _name\n  Sublime Text\n  h ...
##  [3] \n  _name\n  System Preferences\n   ...
##  [4] \n  _name\n  Google Chrome Canary\n ...
##  [5] \n  _name\n  Google Chrome\n   ...
##  [6] \n  _name\n  Dropbox\n  has64B ...
##  [7] \n  _name\n  Keypad\n  has64Bi ...
##  [8] \n  _name\n  Garmin WebUpdater\n  < ...
##  [9] \n  _name\n  LaTeXiT\n  has64B ...
## [10] \n  _name\n  CocoaPacketAnalyzer\n  ...
## [11] \n  _name\n  Janetter\n  has64 ...
## [12] \n  _name\n  VMware Fusion\n   ...
## [13] \n  _name\n  Photo Library Migration Utility ...
## [14] \n  _name\n  Setup Assistant\n  \n  _name\n  Siri\n  has64BitI ...
## [16] \n  _name\n  Software Update\n  \n  _name\n  Spotlight\n  has6 ...
## [18] \n  _name\n  Stocks\n  has64Bi ...
## [19] \n  _name\n  SystemUIServer\n  \n  _name\n  UniversalAccessControl ...
## ...

Let’s look at a sample record using xml_view() from the htmltidy package:

xml_find_all(apps, "//array/dict[key='_name']")[1] %>% 

Be wary of using xml_view() on giant XML structures since it’ll freeze up RStudio for a bit and even slows down Chrome since the resultant, composed DOM object can get ginormous.

Now we know we can use has64BitIntelCode for filtering once we get to the data. Let’s read in all the apps, cherry-picking the fields and then just look at the 32-bit apps:

xml_find_all(apps, "//array/dict[key='_name']") %>% 
      name = xml_find_first(.x, ".//string") %>% xml_text(),
      path = xml_find_first(.x, ".//key[.='path']/following-sibling::string") %>% xml_text(),
      is_64bit = xml_find_first(.x, ".//key[.='has64BitIntelCode']/following-sibling::string") %>% xml_text() 
  }) %>% 
  filter(is_64bit == "no") %>% 
  arrange(name) %>% 
## # A tibble: 30 x 2
##    name                      path                                           
##  1 AAM Registration Notifier /Applications/Utilities/Adobe Application Mana…
##  2 AAM Registration Notifier /Applications/Utilities/Adobe Application Mana…
##  3 AAM Updates Notifier      /Applications/Utilities/Adobe Application Mana…
##  4 AAMLauncherUtil           /Applications/Utilities/Adobe Application Mana…
##  5 ACR_9_10                  /Library/Application Support/Adobe/Uninstall/A…
##  6 Adobe Application Manager /Applications/Utilities/Adobe Application Mana…
##  7 adobe_licutil             /Applications/Utilities/Adobe Application Mana…
##  8 Audacity                  /Applications/                     
##  9 COCM_1_0_32               /Library/Application Support/Adobe/Uninstall/C…
## 10 COPS_1_0_32               /Library/Application Support/Adobe/Uninstall/C…
## # ... with 20 more rows

The Adobe helper apps are longstanding 32-bit “offenders”. Many of these death-row apps fall into the “helper” category and will hopefully get some attention by their developers. I do find it amusing that Apple kinda wants us to prod the developers to get their collective acts together.


This exhaustive search finds all of the 32-bit apps residing on your system. If you just want to see the one’s you’ve executed and macOS has kept track of, you can drop to a command-line and do:

sudo Rscript -e 'knitr::kable((dplyr::select(dplyr::tbl(dplyr::src_sqlite("/var/db/SystemPolicyConfiguration/ExecPolicy"), "legacy_exec_history_v3"), responsible_path)))'

You need elevated privileges to access those files, so please read that whole line to make sure I’m not having you rm -rf /.

Remember to take some time to explore the sys and processx packages and perhaps bundle up the salient bits of this post into a script so you can occasionally check to see the 32-bit eradication progress.

An R user asked a question regarding whether it’s possible to have the RStudio pipe (%>%) shortcut (Cmd-Shift-M) available in other macOS applications. If you’re using Alfred then you can use this workflow for said task (IIRC this requires an Alfred license which is reasonably cheap).

When you add it to Alfred you must edit it to make Cmd-Shift-M the hotkey since Alfred strips the keys on import (for good reasons). I limited the workflow to a few apps (Safari, Chrome, Sublime Text, iTerm) and I think it makes sense to limit the apps it applies to (you don’t need the operator everywhere, at least IMO).

I can’t believe I didn’t do this earlier. I use R in the terminal a bit and mis-hit Cmd-Shift-M all the time when I do (since RStudio is my primary editor for R code and muscle memory is scarily powerful). I also have to use (ugh) Jupyter notebooks on occasion and this will help there, too. If you end up modifying or using the workflow, drop a note in the comments.


Apple made the @justgetflux folks remove their [iOS sideloaded app]( due to the use of private APIs (which are a violation of the Apple Developer agreement). The ZIP archive has been pulled from their site (and it really has, too).

This “sideloading”—i.e. installing directly to your device after compiling it from source—_was_ an interesting way to distribute the app. I visually scanned the source code before sideloading (I code for iOS in both Objective C and Swift) and there seemed to be nothing nefarious in it and it works _really_ well. HOWEVER, I’m 100% sure an Xcode project ZIP archive of f.lux is going to hit the torrent and file-sharing sites pretty quickly. But, I’m also 99% sure that folks who want to do Really Bad Things™ to and with your iOS devices will gladly add some code to that Xcode project and most folks won’t take the time (or do not have the knowledge/experience) to validate the veracity of the code before using it.

So, first I implore iOS users to _not_ grab this sideloaded project from torrent or file-sharing sites since you will be putting your devices at risk if you do so.

Since some folks (but not very many, I suspect, since it does involve real work) will no doubt leave my warning unheeded, *please* run:

shasum -a 256

from an Terminal or iTerm2 prompt. If you don’t get:


as a result *DO NOT SIDE LOAD THE APP*. It means the good/safe f.lux source code/project has been modified by someone since November 11th, 2015 and that you are putting your device (i.e. the confidentiality, integrity and availability of your private data) at risk by installing it. You can also post it to [this site]( (I verified that it produces the correct result).

And, please, do not jailbreak your devices. You take a relatively safe operating system and pretty much turn it into an Android (check out the [2015 DBIR]( for more info on iOS vs Android security based on real data vs hype) .