Q&A: MacFixIt Answers

What options are available for an encrypted drive without a key or password, along with other questions answered.

MacFixIt Answers is a feature in which we answer questions e-mailed in by our readers.

This week people wrote in with questions managing a persistent warning in Web browsers about local storage when browsing YouTube, what to do about an encrypted hard drive for which you do not have the recovery key or password, managing a bluetooth mouse that keeps losing its connection, and a reader suggestion for a file quarantining bug in OS X Lion. We welcome alternative approaches and views from readers, so if you have any suggestions or alternative approaches to these problems, then post them in the comments!

Question: Browser asking for more local storage
MacFixIt reader John asks:

Recently, when I surf YouTube and then click on a video, I get a pop-up asking if I want to allow Java access to more resources. I believe the current configuration shows 1Kb, or 1Mb, and then says the application is asking for 10Kb, or 10Mb. I can't remember if it's K or M bytes. In either case, I click "No" because I'm not sure why I'm getting this pop up now, when it didn't ask this before. The video will play for about 20 seconds and then end.

Is this related to the 2012-003 Java update? I assume if I surf YouTube often and want this to stop I can go to Preferences > Java and kick up the allocation? Any comments or suggestions would be appreciated.

Answer:
That warning is a local storage warning for the content you are running. In essence it is allowing the system to cache more information so you will have a smoother viewing experience. However, YouTube does not use Java and instead uses Flash and HTML5, so you might be confusing this warning with that for Flash. When you click on ads in YouTube you might be redirected to a new Web page, and some of these might have Java-based content, but this would be a rarity since most pages still use Flash or basic HTML for displaying content.

To adjust the amount of space allowed for Java applets you can go to the Network section of the Java Preferences utility and drag the slider or set the specific amount. You can also do this for Flash-based content by right-clicking some Flash content (such as the YouTube video itself) and choose Settings. Then click the tab that has a small folder with a green arrow, and you will see a slider where you can set the amount of local storage to use for Flash. You can also click the checkbox to never have the Flash player prompt you for requesting more storage.


Question: Encrypted drive without recovery key or password
MacFixIt reader Penelope asks:

I have an encrypted hard drive on my Mac. Apple have said the answers I am giving them are incorrect and they won't provide a recovery key number. They say I have to wipe the system and set it up again, thus losing 2 years of video on iMovie and thousands of pictures on iPhoto. I am not very technical but need to find someone who can unencrypt my PC so I don't lose all of my pictures.

Answer:
Unfortunately if you do not have either your system password or the encryption key written down, or if you cannot get the key from Apple, then you will not be able to decrypt the drive. There is no workaround for this, and without these options your drive is already essentially formatted. This is the purpose of Filevault and other encryption routines -- so nobody can recover the files without the proper key or password.

My only recommendation is that you retry getting the keys from Apple or try to remember your password. If you are in the middle of a dispute with Apple over this, then you can at least use your system by getting another hard drive and using it in place of your current one until you are able to figure things out with Apple.


Question: Bluetooth mouse continually loses its connection
MacFixIt reader William asks:

I'm running a Mac Mini (late 2009) with OS/X 10.7.3. I was using the Apple bluetooth keyboard and bluetooth magic mouse. The keyboard works flawlessly, but the magic mouse keeps losing the connection. I've already tried one solution that I found on the Web -- go into Bluetooth preferences and make it a "favorite." This worked for a while but lately its started to lose the connection again. Any suggestions?

Answer:
Some troubleshooting steps include checking whether the connection remain stable if you disable Wi-Fi on your system, since in many cases Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are on the same controller card and as a result may interfere with each other (either in software management or hardware function). Have you tried clearing out the Bluetooth devices from your system and then repairing them? You can try doing this in the Bluetooth preferences, but you can also do it by locating the file "com.apple.Bluetooth.plist" in the /Library/Preferences/ folder and removing it from this folder, followed by restarting your system.

Another user who had similar problems with Apple's magic mouse wrote in with a suggestion to remove the mouse's battery cover and keep it off. You might give this a try to see if it helps (thanks to MacFixIt reader "Joan" for this suggestion). Along these grounds you can also try moving the mouse closer or further from your system to see if the dropouts increase with distance. If so, then try changing the batteries and removing other electronic devices from the vicinity, as they may be interfering with the signal.


Reader comment: Workaround for quarantining bug in OS X Lion
Earlier this year I discussed a quarantining bug in OS X Lion that would tag edited files with a quarantine flag, and thereby cause any scripts or other executable files from working if edited with TextEdit or other similarly sandboxed applications. While workarounds for this included using alternative editors, disabling quarantining altogether, or manually removing the flag from these files, MacFixIt reader "Pete" wrote in with another workaround (which he outlined at StackOverflow) that is likely more feasible to use--simply change the file's format temporarily:

The problem was that if the file data is plain XML format data, MacOS mistakenly displays the reported message (I think this is because it wrongly assumes that the file is a script). If I change the file format to be an alternative that clearly isn't XML, the warning disappears. The file is still saved with the quarantine bit set, however!

So this is definitely due to an issue in MacOS, but there is a relatively easy workaround -- just change your file format!


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About the author

    Topher, an avid Mac user for the past 15 years, has been a contributing author to MacFixIt since the spring of 2008. One of his passions is troubleshooting Mac problems and making the best use of Macs and Apple hardware at home and in the workplace.

     

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