Apple offers several alternative boot environments for OS X that can help you troubleshoot problems you might be experiencing, which can be invoked by holding various key combinations at startup. Of these, Safe Mode is perhaps the most common; it offers a limited boot environment and can be started by holding the Shift key. In addition there is Single User mode (Command-S) for a command-line interface, Apple's hardware diagnostics tests (the "D" key), Target Disk mode (the "T" key), and holding the Option key will bring up the boot loader for choosing a startup disk.… Read more
If you watch commercial DVDs on your Mac, you may encounter a rare bug that causes the video to appear corrupted, with a blocklike pattern covering its output. This can occur regardless of whether you're using Apple's provided DVD Player application or a third-party player such as the popular cross-platform VLC media player.
When this bug occurs, even though you may hear audio and see movement, the garbled output makes the video for all intents and purposes unwatchable. Generally when such corruption occurs it indicates a problem with processing the data stream, which can indicate an issue with … Read more
Passware Inc. is a forensics security company that develops investigation software kits to reveal passwords on seized computers. Last year it released a version of its kit that allows an investigator to reveal the passwords of Apple's FileVault encryption technology, along with those for similar technologies such as TrueCrypt, PGP Disk, and BitLocker. Recently the kit has gained more features and now has the ability to snoop through a system's hibernation file for Google and Facebook account passwords.
MacFixIt Answers is a feature in which I answer Mac-related questions e-mailed in by our readers.
This week, readers wrote in with questions on how to read older AppleWorks documents in newer versions of OS X, how to get files to all open in a specific application, recovering a Mac Mini's files from a system that will not boot, and whether or not cleaning utilities are useful. I welcome views from readers, so if you have any suggestions or alternative approaches to these problems, please post them in the comments!
Question: Managing old AppleWorks documents MacFixIt reader Don asks:… Read more
A rare but potentially frustrating issue you might run into after upgrading to OS X 10.8 or after applying an update such as the most recent 10.8.2 release is that a number of applications in the system may start crashing when launched. This does not happen to all programs, and those affected may appear to be a bit random; however, it is likely they share common ground in all being 32-bit programs.
If this happens to you, a potentially quick way to manage it is to reboot the system into Safe Mode by holding the Shift key … Read more
Unlike other cloud storage services like Dropbox, Apple's iCloud synchronizes documents in use by a specific application so, for instance, in Apple's Pages program you can save a document to iCloud and have it be immediately available for editing in Pages on your iPad or on another Mac. While convenient, this setup does have a restriction in that the documents for one program will only be made available for that program.
While this is not an issue for programs like Apple's Pages and Numbers that have a specialized document format, and may even be useful at times … Read more
When you install memory in most Mac systems, provided everything went well, the computer will simply boot with a new memory capacity. However, on the Mac Pro you might see a tool called Apple Memory Utility launch to indicate a new memory configuration has been detected.
This tool should show only once and state whether or not the installed memory is in the recommended slot configuration for optimal performance. In some cases, however, this tool may load every time you boot the system after upgrading. While it can be dismissed by pressing the OK button, having it load each time … Read more
Apple's Spotlight offers a quick way to find user files and resources like applications or system preferences. However, it does not locate items in the system folder or in hidden folders, though at times you might need to access them. This limitation may be especially cumbersome to deal with if you are troubleshooting a problem in OS X or helping someone do so, meaning you may need to ask them to locate a specific hidden file and remove it or modify its contents.
For some system resources you can simply navigate through the Finder; however, in its default view … Read more
If you use popular computational programs such as spreadsheet workhorses Microsoft Excel and Apple Numbers, you might run into an issue in which, when using large number values, the system will appear to truncate the values of numbers entered.
For instance, if you open Excel and enter the value "12345678901234567890" into a cell, the program will change this to "12345678901234500000," where every value past the 15th character is set to zero. This happens in Apple's Numbers spreadsheet and other programs as well.
While the significance of the last numbers is perhaps questionable, it does limit … Read more
9to5Mac is reporting an issue involving Apple's AirPort utility and Time Capsule updates released last week. A number of Mac users who use IPv6-based tunneling to connect to their devices have found they can no longer do so after installing the latest firmware and updates to their AirPort and Time Capsule devices.
This problem mirrors similar past issues with firmware updates on Apple's router devices, and is likely from a small configuration bug in the firmware. Unfortunately the issue likely can only be fixed with a supplemental update. In the meantime, if you use IPv6 tunneling and are … Read more