We bought Macs because they work. While our Windows-bound friends are continually hobbled by viruses, spyware, missing drivers, and bizarre incompatibilities, we’re cruising along making movies, sharing photos, publishing websites, and playing MP3s. Some of us are even creating eye-popping high definition video effects in real time.
In a certain context, this productivity is remarkable. As the Macintosh operating system has matured over the years, so has its complexity. Each Mac comes pre-installed with several hundred thousand files; each one intended to perform some task. Every layer of this system must work reliably from the basic hardware functions of the kernel, through the networking and file operations of the Unix core, to Aqua’s graphical interface, to the clicks and beeps of each particular program.
But when trouble strikes, this complexity makes troubleshooting pretty difficult. There’s much more that can go wrong, and yet more often than not, our Macs just work.
How to Accelerate iTunes 10 on both a Mac and PC
If you have installed iTunes to manage music on your computer, you’ve probably noticed that the software often caused delays and occupied many system resources. Apple’s share in effect assumes that you have an iPhone, an iPod and an iPad so that many services are enabled by default. Here is how to speed up iTunes and the ease by removing the services and features you do not use. This will also free up resources used in Windows and on a Mac.
For Both Macs and PCs (Mac instructions are in italics)
Removing Smart Playlists:
To alleviate iTunes and start more quickly, you must remove the smart playlists that constantly analyze your library. Here is how to do the same:
• In iTunes, click the right mouse button on a smart playlist, Music for example, and click Remove/Delete.
• Check the Do not ask me again and click Remove/Delete.
• Repeat with other smart lists.
Turn Off Genius:
If the Genius feature is handy for discovering new music, she also very resource intensive since it is constantly reviewing what you hear, compares your tastes with other users via the Internet, and Apple Store, etc..
• Click the Store menu and then click Disable Genius/Turn Off Genius.
• Click Disable Genius/Turn Off Genius.
If you have a large music collection, it is likely that you have pieces in multiple copies. you should remove them to free up iTunes and hence, to speed up. Heres how to do that:
• In iTunes, go to your library.
• Click the File menu and then click Show duplicate elements/Display Duplicates.
• Duplicate items are displayed.
• Click the right mouse button on the song you want to remove and click Remove/Delete.
• Confirm by clicking OK/Click Move to Trash.
Disable unnecessary services:
In order to disable all unnecessary services to speed up your iTunes 10, just follow these simple steps:
• Launch iTunes by double clicking its icon on the desktop or Start menu.
• In iTunes, click the Edit menu click Preferences.
• Open the Devices tab.
• Uncheck the boxes Allow iTunes control from remote speakers and remotes Search iPod touch, iPhone and iPad.
• If you do not use the networking features of iTunes for remote access to your library, open the Sharing tab and uncheck the box Share my library on my local network.
The service AppleMobileDeviceService.exe is a service that runs in the background of Windows, which allows the connection between iTunes and Apple hardware. If you only use iTunes to manage your library and you have no iPhone, iPad or iPod, you can disable this service.
• Simply click on Windows Start button.
• Enter the command services.msc and press Enter to validate.
• Double click on the Apple Mobile Device Service.
• Unroll the Startup type list and select Disabled.
• Click Stop and then OK.
The iTunesHelper.exe service also works continuously in the background of Windows. This service allows iTunes to be automatically executed when you plug your iPhone, iPad or iPod to your computer. By disabling this service will free up memory and your equipment will always be available in iTunes.
• Click the Start button.
• Enter the command msconfig and press Enter to validate.
• Open the Startup tab.
• Uncheck iTunes.
• The service will no longer run at next startup.
To connect with Apple hardware, iTunes goes through the service iPodService.exe. If you do not have an iPhone, iPad or iPod, you can disable this service. The problem is that iTunes on again each time you start it. Here is how to deceive iTunes and thus free memory by not charging more iPodService.exe. In order to perform this you need to display file extensions .
• First Close iTunes.
• Click the Start button. Enter the command services.msc and press Enter to validate.
• Double click the service iPod Service.
• Click the Stop button and click OK.
• In Windows Explorer, open the folder C: \ Program Files \ iPod \ bin.
• Click the file and delete iPodService.exe by pressing the Delete key. Click Continue.
• Click the right mouse button on an area of the desktop and click New then Text Document.
• Name the file iPodService.exe.
• Click Yes to confirm the extension change.
• Cut the iPodService.exe file.
• Paste it into the C: \ Program Files \ iPod \ bin. The service will still iPodService.exe executed the launch of iTunes, but uses more resources.
Backup your computer, you will.
It’s that dreaded clicking or whining we hear as our hard drive says it’s final goodbye. Like Murphy’s Law, it usually happens at the worst possible time, when an important work or school project is due, or you’ve just returned home from a cruise and can’t wait to share your vacation memories with friends and family.
While we cannot prevent the inevitable, we can be prepared. Corporations spend a lot of time and money preparing for a disaster, so there’s no reason why each of us can’t spend a few minutes and a few dollars to do the same.
The solution is simple. Back up your data!
Let’s take a look at a simple and inexpensive backup strategy for both Mac and PC users. The first thing to do is buy an external drive whose capacity is at least the same size as the hard drive on your computer. There are advantages to buying even larger drives and partitioning them for multiple uses, but we’ll address that in a different article. Good deals can be found at local as well as online retailers.
Time Machine was released in conjunction with Mac OSX Leopard in October 2007, so if you purchased a new Mac or upgraded to Leopard, Snow Leopard or Lion in the last 4 years, the software comes bundled with the Operating System.
Connect any compatible USB, Firewire or Thunderbolt drive.
· If you haven’t specified a Time Machine device yet, the first time you connect an external drive, Time Machine asks if you would like to use it for a Backup Disk. Click “Decide Later”.
· Format Disk (since most are formatted for PCs):
o Run Disk Utility (Applications/Utilities folder) – I like to keep a shortcut in the dock for easy access.
o Click on the icon of the disk you plan to use for backups.
o Choose Format: Mac OS Extended (journaled).
o Enter Name: Time Machine (that’s what I call it).
o Click the Erase button.
o Close Disk Utility.
Configure Time Machine:
· Click the “Time Machine clock” icon at the top of your screen.
· Click “Open Time Machine Preferences”.
· Click “Select Disk” and a window will pop up giving you choices.
· Select the new disk you just plugged in and click “Use For Backup”.
· Click the toggle button to the “ON” position.
· Close Time Machine Preferences.
Time Machine will run automatically and you can rest easy knowing that your data has been duplicated in the event of an internal hard drive failure.
Microsoft released Windows 7 in October 2009. It has a good backup tool bundled with the Operating System.
Connect a USB drive and take the following steps to configure and run the backup:
· Open up Computer from the Start Menu.
· Right Click on your local drive and select Properties.
· Then click on the Tools tab and click the “Back up now” button.
· In the “Backup or restore your files”, window click the link “Set up a backup”.
· Windows will search for a suitable drive to store the backup or you can also choose a location on your network.
· Select your new USB drive and click “Next”.
· In the window that appears saying “What do you want to back up?” click “Let me choose”.
· Select the check box for each item that you’d like to back up. I also recommend that you check the box “Include a system image of drives: (C:)”. This will create a bootable image that can be used to restore your system if the computer can’t boot from the internal disk drive. Click “Next”.
· Click “Change Schedule” and pick when and how often you’d like to back up your system. I recommend daily. Pick a time that your computer will be powered on, but not peak usage since it may slow the system down a bit.
· Click “Save settings and run backup”. You can monitor the progress of the backup if you’d like.
Backing up your computer is like buying insurance. You hope that you’ll never need it, but if something goes wrong, you’ll be glad that you have it.
Next time we’ll take a look at restoring data on both platforms.
Lost and Found
In the last article we talked about how easy it is to backup your data on both MACs and PCs.
You bought the external disk drive and set up your system to backup automatically. Awesome!
So now that you’ve prepared for the inevitable, what do you do when you or someone with access to your computer accidentally deletes important files/folder?
This article covers the steps necessary to restore deleted files and folders on both MACs and PCs.
• Open the folder that contained the files/folders you want to restore.
• Launch the Time Machine application from either the dock (single click) or from the Applications Folder (double click) on your hard drive.
• On the right side of your screen there should be a dateline.
• Click within the timeline to jump directly to a date/time (displaying the folder’s contents on that date).
• Click the file/folder to restore to select it.
• Click the “Restore” button at the right side of the Time Machine button bar. If you want to restore all the contents of the folder, click the “Restore All” button instead.
• Your files/folders will appear in their original location. Restore time depends on the amount of data being restored.
• Open up Computer from the Start Menu.
• Click “Control Panel”.
• Click “System and Maintenance”.
• Click “Backup and Restore”.
• Click “Restore my files”.
• Your choices are Search, Browse for files, Browse for folders.
• Now you can browse or search the most recent backup for your deleted files or folders. Select files/folders that you wish to restore.
• Next you can restore them back to the original location or choose a different location.
• Click Restore.
• The window will display “Restoring files” and a progress bar will display the status of the restore. Restore time depends on the amount of data being restored.
• Your files/folders will reappear in either their original location or the alternate location that you chose previously.
In the event of an actual hard drive failure, there are steps involved prior to restoring depending on the type of failure and severity of data loss. Some disk drives are user replaceable and others are not. You may also need to recreate the base OS (Operating System) on your computer. Please contact the manufacturer’s web site for details.
Meanwhile, aren’t you glad that you backed up your computer?
Mac OS X Repair Disk Permissions
OS X provided Mac users with a new modern operating system with the old foundation of UNIX. One of the benefits of UNIX is it’s multi-user capability. To manage the users of the system, UNIX uses file ownership and permissions.
Occasionally in OS X some key file ownership and permissions get changed for whatever reason by applications and more frequently, program installers. When ownership and permissions get changed, things just don’t work as they should. The symptoms might be programs quitting unexpectedly, preferences not being remembered, programs not launching, etc. This is where Repair Disk Permissions utility comes in. This utility, which is part of the Apple Disk Utility program, corrects the ownership and permissions according to Apple specifications. Frequently, this corrects many system and program errors. Repair Disk Permissions is a OS X specific utility and UNIX does not have such issues. Hopefully, this a concern and procedure that will go away in the future.
To repair permissions:
• Open the Disk Utility program found in the Applications/Utility folder on your hard drive.
• At the top of the Disk Utility window is a row of tabs. Click on the First Aid tab.
• On the left is a list of the disk and volumes mounted on your computer system. You will need to click on your boot volume to select it. Only boot volumes can have permissions repaired.
• If the buttons labeled “Verify Disk Permissions” and “Repair Disk Permissions” are grayed and not selectable, you have not selected the boot volume or you are not a system administrator. To allow system administrator approval to repair permissions, click on the padlock button on the lower left and enter a system administrators name and password.
• Once you have selected a boot volume and have system administrator privileges, you can go ahead and click on the Repair Disk Permissions button. You will see the process begin with messages in the center window and a progress bar below it. This process may take a while.
• Once done, you can quit the Disk Utility program. You do not have to reboot the system for the changes to be effective. It is recommended that you repair your disk permissions after installing new programs or once every month or so of normal usage.
Disable the Search Indexing Feature in Windows 7
Most Windows 7 users do few searches on their system. The Windows 7 Search Index keeps track of the files so that they can be found quickly when asked at some other time. This feature is useful only if you perform frequent searches on your system. For occasional file searches the Search Indexing service in Windows 7 is a resource hog. If what you need from Windows 7 is maximum performance, then I would certainly recommend that you disable this resource intensive feature.
To Disable the Search Indexing Feature in Windows 7:
◦ Right Click the “Computer” Icon in the desktop and select “Manage”.
◦ Click “Services and Applications” in the “Computer Management” window.
◦ Click on “Services”.
◦ You can see a lot of services listed there. Look for “Windows Search” in that.
◦ Right Click on “Windows Search” from the list and choose “Properties”.
◦ The “Windows Search Properties Window” will open up. From “Startup type” click on the drop down menu and choose “Disabled”.
◦ Click “Apply” then “OK” and that’s it. The Windows 7 Search Indexing Feature is now disabled.
◦ Restart your computer for these changes to take effect.
High Tech Germs!
In today’s article, we will discuss the different kinds of malicious software that can wreak havoc on your computer and what you can do to prevent them.
First, some definitions:
Virus – a program intended to cause damage to a computer. Viruses require human interaction. In the early days, this was often giving a floppy disk to a friend who then put it in his computer. These days it means double-clicking an email attachment or visiting a website.
Trojan – a malicious program that damages your computer system upon installation. The program claims to do one thing, such as pretending to be a game, but instead do something else when you run them. Some nasty Trojans will actually attempt to erase your hard drive. They were originally named after the historic Trojan horse used by the Greeks to conquer Troy because the first Trojan horse programs pretended to be innocent games or applications. Trojan horses have no way to replicate themselves automatically.
Worm – a program which infects the computers which are connected by some network. Worms slow down the network. Worms are completely autonomous. They actively scan the internet for new targets, immediately infect them and the new target starts scanning the internet for new targets. Worms can spread extremely quickly because there is no need for human interaction.
Spyware – any software that covertly gathers user information through the user’s Internet connection without his or her knowledge, usually for advertising purposes. Spyware applications are typically bundled as a hidden component of freeware or shareware programs that can be downloaded from the Internet. However, it should be noted that the majority of shareware and freeware applications do not come with spyware. Once installed, the spyware monitors user activity on the Internet and transmits that information in the background to someone else. Spyware can also gather information about E-mail addresses and even passwords and credit card numbers.
Adware – a program which delivers ads to your computer (generally in pop-up form). They consume your network, but are otherwise fairly benign.
Malware – a program with malicious intention. It can be damaging to your computer, spying on you or any other malicious task. Malware is a collective term that describes any malicious software on a computer system.
Scareware – a type of malware designed to trick victims into purchasing and downloading useless and potentially dangerous software. Scareware generates pop-ups that resemble Windows system messages, and usually claims to be antivirus or anti-spyware software, a firewall application or a registry cleaner. The messages typically say that a large number of problems (such as infected files) have been found on the computer and the user is prompted to purchase software to fix the problems. In reality, no problems were detected and the suggested software purchase may actually contain real malware. If the user falls for the scam, he will lose the money he paid for the useless software and he may also make his computer unusable. Frequently, the message window has a clickjacking feature that takes the user to the attacker’s Web site or initiates a malware download if the user clicks “Cancel” or the “X” to close the window.
Now that we know what evil is lurking, let’s talk about some ways to protect your computer.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been on the internet for five minutes or five years, you’ve probably thought about ways in which you can prevent a computer virus from entering your machine. A virus can compromise your personal information and even destroy your computer completely. Luckily, there are many low cost things you can do to protect yourself and stay one step ahead of hackers. Here are several things you can do to help prevent computer viruses from invading your computer.
The first 6 recommendations apply to both Windows and Macs and the last 3 apply to Windows only. Here is a good article from Apple that explains why Macs are less susceptible to viruses and malware.
However, if you run Windows on your Mac using Boot Camp, Parallels or some other means of virtualization, you should take all security precautions listed here in order to protect your system.
1. Avoid suspicious websites – A good virus protection program will alert you when you visit a website that attempts to install or run a program on your computer. Many less than reputable adult websites do this, so if you get a warning, don’t go back, you may end up with a bug you can’t get rid of.
2. Never Open Email Attachments Without Scanning Them First – The most common way viruses are spread throughout the Internet is still via email. Some attachments, like pictures, now display in emails and don’t require an attachment to be manually opened, but other documents do. Make sure you use an email client that scans all email attachments before you are allowed to open them. This will help prevent computer viruses from getting a foothold on your machine.
3. Watch Your Downloads – Part of the fun of the Internet is downloading music, movies and other items. However, since these downloads are so massive, it can be easy to sneak a virus along for the ride. Only download these files from trusted sites that you can count on, or, at the very least, scan them before you open them.
4. Updates, Updates, Updates – There is a reason why Windows has a feature called Critical Updates. There is an entire branch of Microsoft dedicated to staying one step ahead of the hackers out there so when they manage to fix a possible security loophole, you need to download the patch right away. Apple releases security updates along with other fixes, so allow Software Update to run at least once per week.
5. Know What To Look For – Even if you are just a casual computer user, you should have an idea of how your machine operates, what normal pop up windows look like and what popular viruses are out there, that way, when your computer begins exhibiting tell tale signs, you’ll know. You can help prevent computer viruses by staying updated and educated.
6. Stay Away From Cracked Software – It is no secret that you can download illegal, cracked versions of some programs online. As tempting as it may be, these files are almost always infested with advanced and difficult to detect bugs. Play it safe and get your software from the source.
7. Install a reliable anti-virus program – Even if you have a machine that isn’t hooked up to the Internet, a reliable anti virus program is a low cost and common sense addition to any machine. There are even free anti virus programs you can download that work almost as well as industry giants like Norton and McAfee.
8. Install anti-spyware and anti-malware programs – As good as the best anti-virus programs are, they sometimes need a little bit of help. Thankfully, many of the top anti-spyware programs are completely free. Spybot Search and Destroy and CCleaner are just two free programs that can help prevent computer viruses from doing any damage on your machine. As helpful as these programs are, however, you must update them and run them on a regular basis for them to do any good.
9. Set up Automatic Scans – Many of the top anti virus programs, as well as the best anti-spyware programs, now have settings that will let them automatically run during down times or in the middle of the night. Of course, your computer must be on for this to happen, but having daily scans run when nothing else is going on is a great way to prevent even the latest computer viruses from sticking around too long.
Moral of the story: have fun on the internet, but stay safe!
The Apple Web Site is loaded with useful tech tips.
Do you know how to boot an Intel based Mac from CD or DVD?
Are you thinking about upgrading to OS X Lion or Mountain Lion when it’s released? Make sure that the applications you use are supported before upgrading.
For our Windows friends, directly from Microsoft.
A useful list of shortcuts, directly from Apple.
Need remote access to someone else’s computer (Mac or PC)? Easy! Use iChat (Mac), Teamviewer or LogMeIn (supports both Macs and PCs).
Here’s a great iMessage tutorial from MacWorld. Do you know the difference between blue and green chat bubbles? Learn more about it here along with setup instructions and helpful hints.
Do you know how to sync your iOS device (iPhone/iPad/iPod touch) over wi-fi? Here are the instructions thanks to GottaBeMeMobile.
Here are 6 ways to Force Quit Mac apps thanks to Mac OS X Daily
How to take a snapshot of your screen in OS X Snow Leopard and Lion
How to create Playlists on your iOS device
In case your Mac is ever lost or stolen
Windows 7 – How to Cut/Copy/Paste
OS X Lion Tip of the Day:
Reverse Mouse/Trackpad Scrolling:
With Lion, Apple made a fairly controversial change regarding scrolling up/down on touchpads and mice: they reversed it. Any behavior that once scrolled you up now scrolls you down, while scrolling what-was-down now takes you up the page. The idea is that you’re now moving the content, rather than the scroll bar. Mouse-scroll down, page content moves down (while the scroll bar scrolls up).
Some love it. Some hate it. Do whatever feels most comfortable for you. Adjust it if you don’t like the default. One setting controls the direction of both mice and trackpads.
You can find the checkbox to set the scroll direction to what you’re used to under System Preferences > Trackpad > Scroll and Zoom. Look for the “Scroll Direction: natural” option.
Windows Tip of the Day, courtesy of Microsoft.
Windows 7 Screen Print:
To copy the entire screen:
Press PRINT SCREEN.
To copy only an active window:
Press ALT+PRINT SCREEN.
Mac OS X Tip of the Day, courtesy of OS X Daily.
Mac and iOS Tip of the Day, courtesy of OS X Daily.
Starting your new App from Launchpad:
When you purchase an app from the App Store, the download process places the new app in your Applications folder, and it is also accessible from Launchpad. Third-party apps (those not from Apple) appear in Launchpad on a secondary screen, not on the first screen (reserved for Apple applications) that appears when you enter Launchpad.
To access the additional screens in Launchpad, click the Launchpad icon in the Dock, and then do one of the following:
On a Magic Mouse, swipe left with one finger on the mouse surface.
On a Multi-Touch trackpad, swipe left with two fingers on the surface.
Click one of the small dots that appears near the bottom of the Launchpad screen, but above the Dock. The white dot indicates which Launchpad screen is currently visible.
Tap the right-arrow key to go to the next Launchpad screen, or tap the left-arrow key to return to the previous screen.
Mac Tip of the Day, courtesy of OS X Daily.
Mac Tip of the Day, courtesy of OS X Daily.
iOS Tip of the Day: How to add an icon/shortcut to your iOS device that allows you to access the full/desktop Facebook site.
1. Open up Mobile Safari.
2. Type “www.facebook.com” in the address bar and hit “Go”.
3. When it brings you to the mobile site, click the index button (3 white bars at the top left), scroll down and click “Desktop Site”
4. Click the “Send” button at the bottom center of the screen and select “Add to Home Screen”.
5. Type a name for it. (I call mine Facebook Full) and click the Add button.
This will display the same Facebook site that you see on your computer’s browser, which offers greater flexibility than either the Facebook app or mobile site.
Mac Tip of the Day, courtesy of OS X Daily.
Mac Tip of the Day, courtesy of OS X Daily.