Monday, 6 May 2019

Apple News and Stocks apps are running in the background. Just try to delete them...

I live in Scotland, and was surprised to know that apparently the British royal family had a baby. You can imagine my joy... I couldn't care less about the royal baby to be fair. But I do care that Apple seems to think I do and thought it appropriate to interrupt me to let me know, using an application I'd never really used before.

I've recently had Mojave installed on my Mac (when I really needed to upgrade) and until now saw no issues with it. But I don't want unnecessary applications running in the background while I'm trying to deal with 50 megapixel images in Capture One or 4K video rendering in DaVinci Resolve. Sometimes I need my Mac to do only what I want it to do.

Trying to delete News doesn't work like any other Mac OS application that I've come across before, because trying to delete it does this (there's no workaround with the Option key pressed either):


Bit harsh for an app that's only supposed to report news, don't you think? This is in my opinion a bit Orwellian, and the message is likely a lie (another major annoyance) so I got to work.

Remember, this is for OSX Mojave. I'd suggest making a compressed copy of the News app (and Stocks app) before you do anything (right click the app and select compress "News"), and a system backup (Time Machine) would be good if you really aren't familiar with Terminal.

Thanks to Reddit for providing part of the solution:

1. Hold down Command+R as you restart the Mac (start pressing both and hold after hearing the bong noise) and let go when you see the slow loading bar. If you don't get to your normal login screen (try again) you're now in recovery mode.

2. Ignore the utilities window that shows up and click Utilities on the menu bar, selecting Terminal.

3. In Terminal, type "csrutil disable" ignoring the quotes around that command and press enter/return.

4. In the Apple menu, select restart and login as usual.

5. Find the Terminal application that's located in your Applications/Utilities folder and start it.

6. Become Super user - type "sudo -i" and enter your administrator password. If this doesn't work, try looking at this: https://support.apple.com/hr-hr/HT202035
Still confused, ask the youngest member of the family or the local IT expert.

7. Now to find the offending app(s) in question and delete - the following commands should work in the right order (ignore the Stocks app section - the second set of 4 lines - if you want to keep it):

cd /
cd Applications
cd News.app
rm -fr Contents
cd ..
rmdir News.app

cd Stocks.app
rm -fr Contents
cd ..
rmdir Stocks.app

exit
exit


8. Reboot the machine into recovery mode again as shown in steps 1, 2 and then similar to step 3
in Terminal type "csrutil enable" ignoring the quotes again.

9. reboot as normal. Your apps should be history. Big Brother has been disconnected.


Side note: yes I could make the commands above much shorter. But typed this way makes it impossible for someone who doesn't know Terminal to delete the wrong application by accident! :)


The most interesting thing about looking into removing the News application was discovering that there are only language files for English_UK and English_Australia (Stocks is translated in lots of languages/locales). Seems a tad suspicious as to who Apple might have partnered with?

Makes me wonder too if this isn't going to result in a class action suit akin to the old "Microsoft Internet Explorer vs EU" days. Scary.

Enjoy. 

Usual disclaimer - if you don't know how to use Terminal, ask someone who does to do this for you. This information is furnished as-is. I'm not responsible for your losses, but reinstalling OSX isn't difficult. Upgrades will likely restore this application...


Addendum...

Since writing and publishing this, I discovered that Apple News is currently only installed in the USA, Canada, UK and Australia. So why has Apple lied and said this application is required by macOS?

Yes I understand that Apple has implemented a "System Integrity Protection" framework to protect a novice from accidentally ruining the installation and making it unstable. But Apple have implemented this in Mojave for Chess, iTunes, Facetime, Mail, Notes, Photo Booth, Photos, Quicktime, Stocks, News, Home and Safari too. This is ridiculous, and stinks of the same market dominance constraints that Microsoft were guilty of with Internet Explorer.

There is every reason for Apple to protect a user from deleting a required application, but Chess! Seriously Chess! Chess is a required application in macOS? Idiotic. None of these applications are required. But if you remember to the days when Internet Explorer was an "integral" part of Windows 95, you'll recall the same excuse.

If you have no smart devices in your home and you don't use Siri (one of the three major "Telescreen" implementations available at the expense of your personal privacy) then you have no reason to use Home. If you don't want to be interrupted by the news selection chosen by Apple (does Siri listen in to know what to pick?), then you have no reason to be required to use News either. What if you looked for a product in Safari - does it presume you must want to know how that same company who made it is doing on the stock market?

To put bluntly, Apple have extended the need for System Integrity Protection into controlling your environment by forcing their choice of applications on you. Think about who ultimately benefits from this, especially after discovering the overreaching use of demographical data on us. Is this all to make Apple have the same power with our information that Facebook has?

I do like iTunes for storing the thousands of CD's and LP's I've bought and ripped, purely for convenience. Much like iTunes, the rest of these apps such as Safari, Mail and Photo fall into the category of "most folk would probably use them unless they intentionally installed an alternative". To be honest, I've never really used Safari or Photos and it has only been quite recently that I started to use Mail (for reference, I ditched Windows for OSX in 2003!).

To conclude, all of these protected applications SHOULD be optional, not enforced. They also should not be able to send notifications or run in the background by default either.

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