10,001 Mac questions answered

Version 54
Last Modified: Jul 22, 2013 1:30 PM

Hello and welcome to my user tip.


This is just a general list of repeated questions we get around here, not near 10,001 but perhaps one day.



Q: How do I connect a memory stick from a camera, GPS or other device to a Mac?


Use a SD, a SDHD, a MicroSD etc., to USB adapter and plug it into a USB port on your Mac.


Some have many different ones, some just a few and some are for just one type of memory stick.


Like all external media, you have to select the desktop item and press eject or drag it to your Trash (turns into a Eject) to safely unmount it before you physically remove it from the machine.


Also it won't really delete files unless you use Empty Trash after placing files you want deleted into the Trash Can.


Also it really won't scrub the deleted files off any Solid State Media unless you  overwrite it completely with random data.


To the Mac it might look empty, but to a PC it will show all the deleted files as well.




Q: Why does my file requiring an ActiveX cannot run in my Apple computer?


ActiveX is chiefly a Windows > Internet Explorer browser based function and there is no Internet Explorer for OS X.


The only way you can run this ActiveX script on a Mac is install Windows into Apple's BootCamp dual boot partition solution or by running Windows in a virtual machine program in OS X itself.


Windows in BootCamp or Virtual Machine?




Q: While in Windows in BootCamp how do I take a screenshot, there is no "print screen" key.


The "Fn-Shift-F11" set of keys works like the "Fn-print screen" function on a PC.



Q: How do I stop the programs from reopening when booting up?


Apple menu > System Preferences > General >


Uncheck “Restore windows when quitting and re-opening apps“




10.8 users control or right click to "Open" the app to approve through Gatekeeper.



Q: How do I open a .rar or other compressed/archive?


The free UnArchiver





Q: My screen inverted or is blown up, how to fix it?


Apple Menu > System Preferences > Universal Access or Accessibility



Q: What is Growl?


Growl is a fourth party software that third party software makers use and install on your machine to provide notifications on your screen from their software.


It's harmless, but because it works across many other programs, it's separate and may require a occasional update.





If you wish to uninstall it, why it's installed or reinstalling...





Q: How do I open a .AVI or other audio/video file Quicktime doesn't play?


The free VLC Player






Q: How do I find the model of my Mac and specifics about it?


Apple menu > About this Mac > More Information


Look for "MacBook Pro 3,1" or similar description.


Download the free MacTracker and search those results.





Even more here:  How to reformat a used Mac



Q: Video on website won't play, says I need Adobe Flash Player/update?


Don't follow the links on the web page, quit and restart the browser for security reasons.


Install/Uninstall Flash browser plug-in this way for safety, you'll see why.


How to install Flash, fix problems



Q: How do I uninstall/install Silverlight?


Uninstall Silverlight: https://www.microsoft.com/getsilverlight/get-started/install/removing-silverligh t-mac.aspx


Reinstall Silverlight: https://www.microsoft.com/getsilverlight/Get-Started/Install/Default.aspx



Q: What is a good app cleaner or program remover?


How to uninstall/install software on your Mac



Q: Lion or Mountain Lion is terrible/slow etc., won't work with my software, can I go back or install Snow Leopard?


Yes if your machine originally came with/or had 10.6 Snow Leopard.


Yes if your Early 2011 Mac originally came with 10.7, but it's complicated to do.


Read through these  links.


How to revert your Mac to Snow Leopard


How to erase and install Snow Leopard 10.6


Snow Leopard partition on 10.7+ Mac



Q: What is a browser plug-in, add-on, or extension?


A browser plug-in is a third party software that installs onto your computer and allows all web browsers to play web media content directly in the browser itself.


Examples are: Adobe Flash (many sites use it), Microsoft Silverlight (for Netflix mostly) and Oracles Java (avoid at all costs)


Usually only Flash is needed by most users.


A browser add-on or extension is a third party piece of software that enhances the browsing experience for that particular browser only.


Examples are: Ad Block Plus, Web of Trust, Ghostery, HTTPSEverywhere and BetterPrivacy.


There are thousands of add-ons and extensions, depending upon what web browser you prefer. Firefox has the most.


Firefox also has persona's and themes, to customize the web browser anyway one wishes.


Mac maintenance steps


Q: Safari is hard to see/read and use, what can I do?


Use Firefox instead and install the NoSquint and Theme & Font Size Changer add-ons.


Web browsing for hard of seeing users



Q: Should I install MacKeeper?


No. This explains how to uninstall it.


http://applehelpwriter.wordpress.com/2011/09/21/how-to-uninstall-mackeeper-malwa re/



Q: How come there is no boot disks, how do I reinstall the operating system?


Likely your machine came with 10.7, 10.8 or later, look under the Apple menu > About this Mac to confirm.


If so you have a bootable section on the boot drive called a partition, it's name is Recovery HD. (Mac OS X Base System in Disk Utility if you see it.)





If your operating system is 10.6, you can call Apple for replacement 10.6.3 or 10.6 machine specific disks.


Mac's that originally came from factory with 10.6.2 or earlier can use the 10.6.3 retail disks. 10.6.3 or later require the machine specific versions.



If your operating system is 10.5 and it's a Intel processor machine, then you need to upgrade to 10.6.3 via retail disk.


OS X 10.4/10.5 need to upgrade, 10.6.8 ok still


PPC processor machines can only run 10.5 and Apple doesn't supply those disks anymore, you'll have to shop around.


How to erase and install Snow Leopard 10.6


How to reformat a used Mac


Erase, formatting, OS X installs on Mac's




Q: What is a Cat 5 Ethernet cable and what does it look like?


Looks like a larger phone cable and it transmits data, can be gotten at any computer or office supply store.


Longer amounts can be gotten at home improvement stores, however the ends have to be put on which isn't easy.


Tip: Use a fine tooth comb to keep the wires in the specified order.



Q: How do I reset the password on my Mac?


See Step #6 here


Step by Step to fix your Mac


Snow Leopard 10.6 password reset, no disk method



Q: Is it true that I have to pay to upgrade OS X every 1-2 years or no longer receive security updates?


Yes. But this can hobble some older machines or Apple won't allow them to further update.


Apple in the past has only supported the last two OS X versions in circulation for security updates.


But currently 10.6, 10.7 and 10.8 are receiving updates, so that might have changed. 10.4 and 10.5 are not.


OS X 10.4/10.5 need to upgrade, 10.6.8 ok still



Q: Is it true if my Mac operating system can't be upgraded, but the Mac still works fine, that I won't get security updates?


Yes. But you can harden your Mac, install DeepFreeze, anti-virus and make timed bootable clones to restore with prior to the malware attack.


Harden your Mac against malware attacks


Most commonly used backup methods



Q: When shouldn't I upgrade OS X to a later version?


Any Mac that is not covered in the three year AppleCare is vulnerable to out of pocket repair if the OS X upgrade bricks the machine.


Any Mac that is not covered in the one year warranty is also vulnerable to out of pocket repairs if the OS X upgrade bricks the machine.


In my opinion, only the higher end iMac's, MacPro and top end 15" MacBook Pro's won't suffer as much in performance degradation with newer, more feature rich OS X versions after three years.



Q: Can I install OS X on my Windows PC?


Not legally or easily. Can't give that sort of advice on this forum.



Q: Why doesn't Apple release OS X for PC's?

Because Apple is a hardware company and bundled software/operating system is just a fancy paint job on the hardware.


Apple is currently on a 1-1.5 per year new OS X release cycle, which may require paid upgrades to third party software.


If your require more stability in your operating system and third party software/hardware, I suggest you buy a Windows 7 machine.


Microsoft supports Windows for about a decade  on average. Make System Restore disks/images., install anti-malware. Ugly and more complicated, but fine.



Q: How do I install Windows 7/8 on a Mac?


Only Windows 7/8 is supported by Apple in Bootcamp at this time, however you can install any Windows or Linux into virtual machine software.


Newer OS X versions might be supporting Windows 8 in BootCamp now.


Windows in BootCamp or Virtual Machine?



Q: Which Mac is good for 3D gaming?


Top of the line 15" MacBook Pro and iMac, and the MacPro will give you about 2-3 years of 3D gaming, then the lack of being able to upgrade the video graphics will come to haunt you in regards to new games and upgraded ones.


If your serious about online competitive 3D gaming, a Windows 3D gaming tower is your answer, that's the sad honest truth.


3D gaming on Mac's, what you need to know


Why is my computer slow?



Q: Can I upgrade the processor, etc., on a Mac?


No. Most all Mac's are nearly 100% sealed, no user upgrade parts. Open the machine you may violate your warranty/AppleCare.


Some  Mac models the RAM and/or the storage drive can be user upgraded, as long as nothing is broken the warranty/AppleCare coverage holds, but won't cover the new part.


I highly advise getting AppleCare for 3 years of hardware coverage.


Why is my computer slow?



Q: My computer is telling me my startup drive is nearly full, how to I make room?

See "Storage Drive" here:


Most commonly used backup methods


Why is my computer slow?


Drives, partitions, formatting w/Mac's + PC's


If if it won't boot, try holding the Shift key upon rebooting (wired or built in keyboard) and moving some files to a external storage drive.


Also see: Create a data recovery/undelete external boot drive



Q: How do I clone my boot drive?


Most commonly used backup methods



Q: How do I make a TimeMachine drive?


Get a blank powered external drive larger than your boot drive and connect it to the Mac.


TimeMachine software will ask if you want to make it so, allow it a lot of time and let it rip.


Updating a TM drive is automatic while it's connected.


Most commonly used backup methods




Q: How do I make a recovery disk?


On 10.7 and above there is a Recovery HD partition on your boot drive and Internet Recovery (newer machines), no OS X boot disks anymore.





This method here is used to install OS X on a external drive if you have a non-bootable boot drive need to perform data recovery efforts.


Create a data recovery/undelete external boot drive



If your boot drive is good and you want to make a hold option key bootable clone, then Carbon Copy Cloner is your baby


Most commonly used backup methods



If you have more extreme data recovery needs, see your options here


My computer is dead, is my personal data lost?




Q: Do I have to defrag my Mac?


No. OS X auto-defrags most small files on the fly as it writes it to one contiguous space on the hard drive instead of breaking it up to fit into every tiny space.


So most OS X users don't have to defrag at all. (solid state drives no need). However that doesn't mean a Mac's hard drive can slow down over time with deoptimization that occurs when the slower second half of the hard drive sectors are used more often than the faster first half.


To fix this and the "BootCamp can't create a partition" type issues on hard drives see this link


Why is my computer slow?


How to properly defrag a Mac's hard drive


Mac maintenance steps



Q: I've Emptied Trash something that I need it back and I don't have a backup of it!


If it's hard drive you deleted from (not a SSD) and you didn't use Secure Empty Trash or have Filevault enabled, there is a good chance of recovering the trashed data provided you stop using the computer as it writes new data to the hard drive all the time.


With hard drives data is not erased right away, just the file(s) space is made available for new data.


If your able to follow these instructions and purchasing $100 recovery software + another external hard drive, you can do it yourself.


Create a data recovery, undelete boot drive


If your not, then shutdown the computer from the Apple menu and call a local PC/Mac repair that does data recovery, as Apple doesn't.



Q: Mac lost or stolen, what can I or Apple do?

Apple can't do much, it's more of a pre-preventative action on your part.


But you can get the serial number here.






Q: Do I have to run anti-virus on a Mac?

It's complicated.


1: Yes if your place of work or school requires it, or if you work with a lot of Windows files/emails.


Always on/at boot/restrictive anti-virus combined with the last two OS X versions in circulation can be problematic as Apple changes things under the hood which can break anti-virus software and cause problems. Use a run as you need it type anti-virus instead like ClamXav.


2: Yes. Older OS X versions (10.4/10.5) I do advise running a more restrictive anti-virus constantly as Apple doesn't issue security updates.


3: Yes. You will need anti-virus if running Windows in a virtual machine or BootCamp.


4: No. Currently if your using one of the major OS X versions in circulation, (and none of the above apply) are applying your software updates as Apple will usually issue a fix themselves. Because Mac malware is rare and not many anti-virus companies are looking for it, and when one does happen to find one, they don't immediately share the "signature" or details with other anti-virus makers or they don't necessarily update. So even with anti-virus installed, doesn't mean your protected against new malware vectors.


5: No. Apple installed OS X anti-virus in OS X 10.6, 10.7 and 10.8 is your fully Software Updated (under the Apple menu) however this is for OS X malware only, for Windows malware on their files you get and can transfer to another Windows user, you need the free ClamXav at least or a problematic always on solution if your dealing with a lot of Windows file transfers.


6: Maybe. Confused yet?


However a scan once in a awhile with ClamXav is a good idea, since it's free/donationware. Also if your running virtual machines, it may find malware in those.


One can learn how to "harden" their Mac for a better defense.


Harden your Mac against malware attacks


Security Issues Warning List



Q: My computer did this....what is it?

Screen came down and said to restart my computer.... A: Kernel Panic


You need to restart, panic report assistance


Computer boots to Apple logo and spinning gear, no access and stays.... A: Gray Screen Issue


Gray, Blue or White screen at boot, w/spinner/progress bar


Computer boots to folder with flashing question mark.....A: Firmware can't find a bootable operating it was assigned or it forgot.


Folder with question mark issue


Step by Step to fix your Mac


Computer booted and a bar progressed across the screen.....if it occurred after a update, it's likely a firmware update.


If it occurred while holding the Shift key down by accident, that's "Safe Mode". Just reboot normally again.


If it occurs each time you reboot the machine, you need to backup your data and fix it. See the Gray Screen link above.



Q: My Mac won't open .exe files?


A .exe is a Windows program file format and OS X can't run Windows programs unless in BootCamp or via virtual machine software w/Windows installed.


Windows in BootCamp or Virtual Machine?



Q: I have a stuck disk in the drive, how to get it out?


Shutdown the machine and hold the trackpad button / left wired mouse button and the option key down (wired or built in keyboard) , now boot the machine.


If the trackpad/left mouse button trick doesn't eject the disk, then when you reach Startup Manager ( a row of icons to choose to boot the machine with appears) then press the eject key on the keyboard.


This is a combination tactic of two methods to save a reboot process.


Usually the trackpad/left mouse button trick works, but if it doesn't then the Startup Manager trick can work.


To get out of Startup Manager, simply click the arrow icon of the OS X boot volume.


Only stick full sized cds/dvd's in the Superdrive slot, not cd mini's or flash/SD media, if those get there, the machine will need to be opened up by Apple.



Q: How do I stick my SD or camera media card into a Mac?


You will need a Media Card to USB adapter, then connect that to one of your USB ports.



Q: I can't write to SD card?


See if it's locked. Drag the SD card icon to the Trash can to unmount it, remove it from the machine, then check the side for the tiny lock on the side.



Q: What are the Mac screenshot shortcuts?


Key CombinationResult
Command+Shift+3Capture entire screen and save as a file
Command+Control+Shift+3Capture entire screen and copy to the clipboard
Command+Shift+4Capture dragged area and save as a file
Command+Control+Shift+4Capture dragged area and copy to the clipboard
Command+Shift+4 then Space barCapture a window, menu, desktop icon, or the menu bar and save as a file
Command+Control+Shift+4 then Space barCapture a window, menu, desktop icon, or the menu bar and copy to the clipboard



Q: I downloaded and ran a program from the Internet, but when I reboot my Mac it's gone?


When the download occurred a file (A) was placed in the Downloads folder next to the Trash can on the Dock.


These  files (A) can automatically open a dmg "volume" (B) window in OS X (with a (B) icon on the desktop), which a self contained program (C) appears.


If you doubleclick and run the program (C) from the dmg volume (B), when you quit and reboot the Mac, the volume (B) is unmounted, thus it appears the program (C) has disappeared.


The original  downloaded file (A) is still in the Downloads folder, doubleclick it to open the dmg volume window, but this time drag and drop the self contained program (C) to your Applications and/or Utilities folder, then launch the program copy (C2) from there. You then can drag (C2) icon from there to the Dock to make a icon copy > "shortcut" or "alias" of (C2) to make it easier to run in the future., (C2) remains in it's original location.


How to download and install programs



Q: How can I save images off websites?


Some web sites it's possible to drag a copy of the picture off the site and drop it onto the Desktop area, thus making a file which can be Imported into iPhoto's Library or used elsewhere.


Some web sites the images are part of the background area and thus can't be removed, but you can use


Command Shift 4


to draw a rectangle around the image and click, a screenshot file will appear on the Desktop.




Q: I don't have a backup system, what do you recommend?


1 TimeMachine drive per computer often or always connected for more rapid updates and undeletes.


1 bootable clone per machine, rarely connected just for updates, before OS X changes/program installs, should be stored in a safe/secure place on/off site.


Burn data DVD's of your most precious files occasionally, date and labeled them, store off site in a very secure location like a safe deposit box.


If the boot drive is getting full, then external storage drives for extra files and clones of each of those stored off site and updated occasionally as needed.


Redundancy is key, protect against fire, theft, malware, acts of God etc. Be consistent in your backup days, mark a calendar or something to remind you.


Date and label all drives on the outside as well.


Most commonly used backup methods


Mac maintenance steps




Q: Transfer files between user accounts on the same machine?


Combine two+ Users Accounts on the same machine



Q: My laptop is plugged in to power and the battery still drains while using it


Disconnect other items on the same circuit drawing current or move the computer and charger to another room with little items plugged in.



Q: What's my Internet Protocol (IP) and MAC addresses?


Open Utilities > Terminal. Copy, paste and press enter:


For your computers Ethernet (wired) MAC address: ifconfig en0 | grep ether


For your computers Airport (wireless) MAC address: ifconfig en1 | grep ether


These two are permanent and hardwired to the machine, can be traced to you via records kept at Apple, however they can be masked or "spoofed" with another.



For your local Wide Area Network (WAN) IP given by your wireless router which can change under DCHP, open your System Preferences > Network > Airport and you should see it.


For your IP that connects your modem or router/modem to the Internet Service Provider, click this link





For your routers MAC address you need wireless sniffing software like KisMAC, or it might be on the manual or device.


Diagnosing network issues




Q: How do I delete data off the computer?


How do I securely delete data from the machine?


Secure erase data on a Solid State Drive?



Q: Where do my photo files down load to when iPhoto imports them?


It goes into a Originals or Masters folder inside the iPhoto Library "package" which is really a folder designed not to look like one so people don't open it up and mess with it's insides.


Normally you can manage your photo's in iPhoto and export copies from there, but in emergency or bulk copy cases you might have to access the iPhoto Library directly and copy from there instead.


To open this, Users > Pictures folder > iPhoto Library "package", right or control click on the iPhoto Library and "Show package contents"


Be sure to only Finder > Duplicate and move original files out and don't mess around there as it will them mess up your iPhoto Library.


If your having trouble with iPhoto, you can reset the database: https://support.apple.com/kb/HT2638


If your still having trouble, run through these Steps: ..Step by Step to fix your Mac


Backup your photo's to a external storage drive in addition to TimeMachine as it may fail to restore: Most commonly used backup methods