I'm always so pleased when I find a way round some exasperating computer problem that I thought I'd share my moments of triumph ...

Tuesday 25 November 2014

Yosemite - MacBook Pro unusably slow, now fixed

I installed Yosemite on my MacBook Pro only to find it almost unusably slow. My MacBook Air had been fine with Yosemite, better if anything.

Ha! I have now managed to restore it to a good speed.

MBPro, 13 inch, mid 2012, 4GB memory, 2.5 GHz processor, 500 GB hard drive of which 108 GB free.
Air: 11 inch, late 2010, 4 GB memory, 1.6 GHz processor, 120 GB flash storage of which 18 GB free.

You'd think the MacBook Pro would be better, but no, the MacBook became so slow it was unusable, while the Air was fine.

So to fix the MacBook Pro, an online search found this useful advice:  http://www.hightechdad.com/2014/10/23/13-tips-optimize-mac-yosemite-installation/

The HighTechDad (cheek! listen to this HighTechMum) had found the same slowdown as me, and his was a higher spec. MacBook Pro. He suggested 13 possible steps, this is my experience with the most useful ones:

1), 2) Repair permissions and Check disk for errors, run Onyx. Download here. This free tuneup programme will check your hard drive, repair permissions, delete temporary files and generally clean up your system. Running Onyx improved things but the laptop was still unusably slow.

3) Reset the System Management Controller
"I believe that this (in conjunction with a few other things) truly fixed my issue. If your fans on your MBP are running all of the time, it’s probably worth doing this. Read this Apple Support Article that tells you how to do it on different Macs – http://support.apple.com/kb/ht3964. Basically, here are the steps you can do on a MacBook Pro:
  1. Turn off your Mac
  2. Plug in your Mac power cord into the wall socket
  3. Hold down the Left Shift + Option + Control + Power Button, simultaneously, for about 10 seconds
  4. By holding these keys pressed, your Mac won’t power on but the reset will be done.
  5. Release all keys after about 10 seconds and turn on and run your Mac like you normally do."
4)  Reset PRAM
"Here is the Apple Support Article for Yosemite – http://support.apple.com/kb/PH18761. I believe this helped with my issues. Here are the basic steps:"
  1. Turn off your Mac
  2. Press the power button and at the same time -
  3. Press Command + Option + P + R in combination, all together
  4. Press and hold all these keys until you hear the startup Boing - wait to hear it twice, this means the PRAM has been reset
  5. Release the keys
  6. The computer will finish restarting and your PRAM reset should be complete.
5) Reduce transparancy
No, I don't know when it uses Transparancy ... but apparently this takes up graphic processing time, so worth a try. Apple menu > System preferences > Accessibility then check Reduce transparency.

6) Turn off File Vault
I don't use that but if you do, apparently it can slow things down a lot so switch off if you can. Apple menu > System preferences > Security & Privacy > File Vault.

7) Reduce Spotlight items.
I don't use Spotlight, I prefer just Cmnd + F from the desktop, a simpler Find window. But if you do, go to Apple menu > System preferences > Spotlight and you can switch off any of the items it searches for that you don't think useful.

Certainly improved but not enough, so finally, I bought 16 MB of RAM from Crucial Computers (cost £122) and installed it myself (go on, it's really easy, but you might want to order the fitting kit at the same time to get the Phillips 00 screwdriver).

Two days later - my MacBook Pro is fine, really speedy. A long struggle but a moment of triumph.

Friday 14 November 2014

Apple OS 10.10 Yosemite - get rid of DropBox green ticks

I've finally decided to install Yosemite - I skipped Mavericks to allow a few bugs to be eliminated.

Now to customise it to what I prefer - that is, the best of the old with the best of the new.


If you depend on DropBox, as I do, you will instantly see that your list of files has acquired a column of garish bright green ticks, indicating that DropBox has synchronised the file. What a horrible idea!
Here is how to get rid of this distracting feature. Thanks to the Apple user discussion, referencing this link: http://www.mrh.is/writing/about/how-to-get-rid-of-the-new-dropbox-checkmarks
  1. Download the latest DropBox app, from the DropBox website. Follow instructions to install it.
  2. Open your Applications folder and find the DropBox app. 
  3. Right click on the DropBox app and select Show package contents.
  4. When the folder opens, click the down arrow to show the files and folders. Find Plugins and click to show what's in that.
  5. See garcon.appex and again, right click to Show package contents and open the Contents folder.
  6. Then in the Resources folder, click the down arrow to show the contents.
  7. You will see the offending green tick, named overlay-uptodate.icns
  8. Rename that file either by right clicking on it, or by clicking slowly,  - I called it overlay-uptodate-old.icns .
  9. Close all those folders. 
You might need to restart your computer, but the green ticks will be seen no more.

Monday 10 November 2014

How to revert to iTunes 11 if you don't like iTunes 12

Some reviewers think iTunes 12 is "Apple's worst software ever" because of the visually incoherent way it presents information on your media collection - in particular, the complete lack of the sidebar, where media were listed by category.

I agree - but luckily, if you have accepted the iTunes 12 "upgrade" you can fairly easily go back to iTunes 11. Here are very clear instructions, from MacWorld repeated on the LifeHacker blog.

First off, download copies of AppZapper and Pacifist , backup your computer, then create an installer with Pacifist. (Pacifist allows you to unpack .dmg installation packages and extract individual files and folders. Not something one needs to do every day! but in this case it's just the job.)
  1. Quit iTunes 12 and launch AppZapper
  2. Open AppZapper's preferences and uncheck"Keep Apple Applications Safe"
  3. Drag the iTunes 12 icon from the Application folder to AppZapper and click the "Zap!" button
  4. Download iTunes 11 - from the Apple support site
  5. Open up Pacifist and drag the iTunes 11 DMG file into it. 
  6. Select "Contents of Install iTunes" and then click "Install"
  7. Navigate to your iTunes folder. Within that find the iTunes library and then find the iTunes LIbrary.itl file. Drag it to your desktop or to the trash.
  8. Launch iTunes 11.
- Actually, not quite! Where is my iTunes music and media? Apple support gives the following instructions for retrieving it:

Re-creating the iTunes Library file

Note: After re-creating your library, any devices that you sync with iTunes (Apple TV, iPod, iPhone, iPad) will see your iTunes library as a new library and will completely resync. The next sync with such a device will take longer and may reset some options since your rebuilt library isn't familiar to the device.

1. Quit iTunes.
2. Locate your iTunes folder (this is the folder that contains the iTunes Library and iTunes Library.xml files).
Operating System Default location of iTunes Folder
Mac OS X /Users/[your username]/Music
Microsoft Windows XP \Documents and Settings\[your username]\My Documents\My Music\
Microsoft Windows Vista \Users\[your username]\Music\
Microsoft Windows 7 \Users\[your username]\My Music\
3. Open your iTunes folder.
4. Drag the "iTunes Library.xml" or "iTunes Music Library.xml" file to the Desktop. If neither is available, learn how to add files back to the Library (because the XML file is not available, playlists and other information will not be available).
5. Drag the following file from your iTunes folder to the Trash:
Mac OS X "iTunes Library" or "iTunes Library.itl"
Microsoft Windows "iTunes Library.itl"
6. Open iTunes.
Important: Do not add any content into iTunes at this point (such as by purchasing something from the iTunes Store).
7. Choose File > Library > Import Playlist.
8. Navigate to the "iTunes Library.xml" file on the Desktop.
  • Mac users: Click Choose.
  • Windows users: Click Open.
If your Podcasts list in iTunes is empty after following these steps, learn how to add them back into iTunes.

Hooray, it's all back.

Doubtless Apple will try to "upgrade" you to iTunes 12 with every software update. Click Details instead of automatically accepting and you'll be able to avoid the horrid thing.

Tuesday 4 November 2014

Locked out after Mac OS update

Every time I update Mountain Lion and restart my MacBook Air it refuses to recognise my password.

If this happens there is a long way round to get it to open up and a quick, short way. Yes, guess which I tried first:
1. Boot in Recovery system. Press and hold the Command and R keys while you start or restart.
2. When restarted, click Utilities in the top menu bar and select Terminal from the dropdown menu.
3. When Terminal starts, type
and press Return.
4. Then respond to the dialogue boxes to reset your password. You can use the one you had before if you can remember it.

Okay, what's the easy way?

Try to Restart using the restart button in the usual way.

When you get the choice of user identities click on yours and enter your password. If it's refused three times you'll be offered the chance to reset it using your Apple identity. Easy!