Our utilities update report is a list of updates for Mac utilities that have been released in the past week. Though a utility can be any tool that helps you perform a routine task (including image manipulation and synchronization), our focus in this column is on bringing you those tools that help in troubleshooting Mac hardware and software problems. This week there were only a few updates to troubleshooting utilities for OS X.
It is always preferred to shut a Mac down or restart it by using the options in the Apple menu. This allows services to be stopped, settings and documents to be saved, and hardware to be cleanly unmounted and put in a state where it's ready to be shut off. However, there are times when a hard reset may be necessary, which besides obvious kernel panics, includes system freezes and hangs. These are generally characterized by the following behaviors:
Kernel panics: When these happen, the screen darkens and instructs you to press and hold the power button.
System freezes: … Read more
One question that has been brought up recently is which disk-checking practice is best when performing maintenance on your system. When a Mac either has problems booting, is experiencing slowdowns, or has just recovered from a crash or power outage it's good to at least verify that the file system structure has not been compromised.
There are several common ways to do this, which include booting to Safe Mode, Booting to Single User mode and running "fsck," or booting to the installation DVD and running Disk Utility. The question that has been brought up is, what is … Read more
Readers periodically ask about antivirus recommendations for OS X, especially given some of the past rhetoric about Macs not having any viruses. Though it is true that OS X has been relatively free of viruses and other malware, in large part this has been because the small Mac market share has made the platform an insignificant target for malware developers; however, the landscape is steadily changing. Recent reports have shown Apple's market share in the U.S. to be one of the fastest growing, leaving the company just shy of 10 percent market share by some estimates. As the … Read more
Normally users should be able to add items to the Dock and move them around, but sometimes (especially after installing some third-party software) people may find that the Dock will become locked and they can neither move items around nor add or remove them.
There may be a few reasons why this happens, including faults with the Dock preference and database files in addition to odd settings that may be added to the Dock when you install applications.
The first thing you should do if this happens is to locate the Dock's settings files and check that they are … Read more
On rare occurrences people may find that after updating their Macs the system will not boot. Sometimes the system will hang at a specific boot screen such as the gray Apple, or at a blank blue screen. At other times, the system may not boot at all and show a blank screen even though the fans are spinning.
If this happens, there are a few steps you can take to try to clear the problem before taking the computer in for servicing:
Strip the Mac Sometimes interference from third-party hardware can cause odd boot problems, especially when the OS configuration … Read more
A few Mac users who have installed the latest OS X 10.6.6 update have found that a few applicaitons, especially iLife applications like iPhoto, will no longer launch. The programs may bounce once or twice and then quit with no indication of a problem. Affected people have tried repairing permissions and starting in Safe Mode, but have not been able to get the programs to work with these methods.
There are a couple of things people can try if their applications are not working.
First check in the Mac App Store to see if the program is available … Read more
The new Mac App Store can be a useful way to find software for OS X, but a few people have expressed their dislike of the store and prefer to not have it on their systems. Some have even avoided updating to OS X 10.6.6 to prevent the store from being put on their systems. While this is one way to avoid the store, doing so will also prevent you from benefiting from the latest security and bug fixes that future OS updates will bring.
The requirement of OS X 10.6.6 for the Mac App Store … Read more
Disk images can be convenient ways to securely package and distribute files; however, there are a few issues that can crop up when using disk images. One of these is that depending on how the images are stored and used, they may automatically mount during normal system use.
When this happens it is likely because a file that is being stored on the disk image is being accessed. OS X will access a file by its full path, and if that path is to a disk image, then when opening the file path the system will try to open the … Read more
As mentioned in an earlier article by MacFixIt's Topher Kessler, users may encounter issues when attempting to download Apps or App updates from the Mac App Store. Apple has now posted a knowledge base article describing a likely solution for most users.
When clicking the updates icon at the top of the Mac App Store window, the application may become unresponsive. This issue could be related to third party NTFS software including partitions with certain Windows NTFS file systems.
To alleviate the issue, navigate to System Preferences > Spotlight and click the Privacy tab. Add any of your NTFS … Read more