Tag: Mac OS X

No matter how stable, awesome or bulletproof your operating system may seem, there may come a time when you need to start over. This may not happen with Mac OS X very often, but it can be real annoying when it needs to be done. I was asked recently what’s the best method for getting OS X clean on your computer, and the answer really depends on how fresh you want to start. You need to choose if you want to retain your current information or have a completely empty computer.

With that in mind, here is a small guide for installing OS X properly.


  1. Upgrade
  2. Archive and Install
  3. Erase and Install

The procedure for all of these operations is the same. Once you have booted from the Install disk, fill out the necessary options for customizing your installation and choose Options from the install location panel (where you pick which disk to install on). This window gives you an option to do any of the 3 procedures outlined here.


The fastest and simplest method for starting with a new operating system, Upgrade simply overwrites the system folder with a fresh one. If the Install DVD is older than your current system, it will revert to that number (ie. OS X 10.5.4 goes back to 10.5.0). This will not impact your personal data at all, and can be done in as little as 20 minutes (if you customize the install). When you receive a new OS from retail, this is typically the default method.

Though you should back up regularly regardless, it is especially important to back up before upgrading in this manner because there is slightly more risk involved than other methods.

Archive and Install

A popular method for Apple Geniuses to heal sick computers, archive and install means installing a new system folder overtop the old, but also moving that old folder into a safe place on your hard drive for backup. With this method, all your original documents, settings and applications are safe, as long as you select Preserve network settings and users, like the above picture. It offers more safety than the standard Upgrade procedure because it makes a single overwriting operation into two safer ones.

Erase and Install

Erase and install will wipe your drive clean and start fresh with a brand new system. Your documents, settings and applications will all be deleted for good, and you will not be able to access them unless you’ve backed them up before to a separate drive. This method shouldn’t be used unless you believe your computer needs to be cleared of everything in order to work properly. If you’re selling your computer, this is how you should prepare it.

If you choose to erase your drive completely but still wish to retain your data, all hope is not lost. In a case like that, you could clone your hard drive to an external drive, and use the Migration Assistant to transfer your files. The MA appears as the option Would you like to transfer files from another Mac? when you prepare your computer initially. Make the selection for Transfer from another partition on this Mac and choose the external drive. Wait for the files to transfer and you’ll be productive again in no time.

Apple makes installing their operating system very easy. With a little preparation you can reinstall OS X quickly and efficiently so you can get back to your work.

[tags]OS X, Apple, Mac, MacBook, installation, tutorial[/tags]

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Whenever a new operating system comes out, many people enjoy peeking around the internals to see what sort of treasures lie beneath the shiny exterior. Nerdy, yes, but in the case of Leopard, that searching yielded some very cool results.

You may notice from browsing around the site that I like to use illustrated icons with posts. These icons were all found in a single folder hidden among the Leopard system files. The folder contains high-quality 512×512 pixel icons of computers and nearly any image used in the OS itself.

I learned about this trick from MacOSXHints, and if you’re interested in checking out the icons yourself, here is where you can go.


This location can be copy and pasted into the Go to Folder window under the Finder Go menu, or can be navigated manually. CoreTypes.bundle actually appears as an application, so you need to right click it and choose Show File Contents. Open any of the icons in Preview and you can save them in any format you wish.

[tags]Mac OS X, Leopard, Preview[/tags]

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This was going to be a post about how to move your iTunes library from one drive to another (maybe after upgrading it) and have iTunes recognize it properly. I thought it was going to include XML editing to trick iTunes into thinking the media was somewhere it wasn’t before.

Turns out the solution is much, much easier than that.

Before I upgraded my MacBook’s hard drive, I imported iTunes TV Shows by storing them on an external drive and told iTunes not to copy media into the library. That of course meant that whenever I wanted to watch a show, I had to have the drive connected. Once I upgraded the drive, I had plenty of space to move the TV shows over, but I didn’t want to ruin my metadata (play count, playlists, etc).

On a whim, I tried importing the media again after changing the setting in iTunes that says Copy media to library. iTunes took over and copied the file into the library, and simply updated the existing record. That meant that instead of the file pointing to

/Volumes/External 1/TV SHOWS/Season 1

it pointed to

/Volumes/Macintosh HD/iTunes Music/TV Shows

and I could watch the media as before.

So if you ever have to move media from one drive to another and maintain the existing iTunes data, just import it normally and watch iTunes work it’s magic.

[tags]iTunes, Mac OS X, iPod, Apple, Mac[/tags]

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Front Row was a great addition to the iMac G5 when it was introduced in 2005. It gave a home theatre-like interface to some of the excellent applications that make up the iLife suite — iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, Garageband and iWeb. Using the included Apple Remote, users can sit on a couch and view movies, movie trailers, photos and listen to songs that are stored on the computer.

If you’re using an iMac, there’s no problem because the screen is likely large enough to view media nicely. But what if you’re using a MacBook or MacBook Pro and have it connected to a nice big HDTV? The problem is that Front Row only shows on the primary display, and if you’re using the portable in extended desktop mode, the interface will default to the internal screen.

The solution is to only use the external monitor. How? Simply close your MacBook to put it to sleep and use the remote to wake the computer. If you have a password to exit the screensaver you’ll need to open the laptop to type that in, but once you close it again, the computer only uses the external display.

Press any button on the remote, or even use an external keyboard while the computer is asleep and you’ll be able to enjoy Front Row in beautiful high definition on your big TV. Couple that with 5.1 surround sound and you’ve got a complete theatre experience.

[tags]MacBook, Leopard, Front Row, HDTV[/tags]

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It’s funny how solutions to problems come out of the blue. I was in the process of converting a number of .aif audio files to .MP3 with ffmpegX when I happened to pick up the April 2006 edition of Macworld and found a program that could speed up the process under the Tools of the Trade section. That program was called Max.

Max is a versatile, easy to use application does one job: convert audio. It takes in audio files of many formats — multiple files — and can convert them to many others. I was happy to find this program because it can convert to MP3. Other programs like Quicktime Pro and Audacity don’t have this ability.

To use Max and output to any format of your choosing, you open the preference panel and select the format you need. I only used MP3, but there are an abundance of other formats available.

After you’ve selected the correct format and output folder, it is a simple matter of draggin any audio file into the queue and pressing Convert. Max takes it from there and gives you a complete collection of your original tunes in their own formats. This batch processing ability makes it a tool that I will be using for a long time.

Max represents another excellent piece of software developed for the open source community, and does a terrific job at its designed purpose.

[tags]Max, audio, convert, import, Mac OS X[/tags]

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