MacFixIt Answers

MacFixIt Answers is a feature where we answer questions e-mailed to us by readers.


MacFixIt Answers is a feature where we answer questions e-mailed to us by readers. This week, we have questions on how to install OS X to old Macs that do not have DVD drives, Time Machine missing files, managing small text size on MacBooks, and managing system slowdowns after booting to Safe Mode.

Question: Installing older OS X versions on Macs with CD-ROM drives

MacFixIt reader "Serge" asks:

I've been trying to load Mac OS 10.4 that I got on a DVD (Apple) , to my iMac 500MHz who only have a CD reader. It is now impossible to get a CD from Apple. Any suggestions, how to do that?


That iMac should have a couple of FireWire ports on the side of it. You should be able to boot the system into "Target Disk Mode" by holding down the "T" key at bootup and attaching it via the FireWire cable to another Mac (one that has a DVD drive). Doing this will allow you to use the other computer to install OS X 10.4 to the iMac's hard drive from the DVD. However, keep in mind that you will need to use a PowerPC computer for the installation, since the OS X 10.4 installer will most likely be PowerPC-only.

Beyond this, you can attach an external Firewire DVD drive and use that for the installation. I do not believe the USB ports on that computer support booting, but they may also work.

Question: Time Machine missing files

MacFixIt reader "Bruce" asks:

[There is] a problem I've seen with 10.6.3 where I noticed that Time Machine has missed backing up certain files that I moved off my desktop, or deleted. I never saw any TM discrepancies under 10.5. I just got a new MacBook Pro that already had Snow Leopard installed on it...When I ran Time Machine manually, yes, it did record the file system changes, but the automatic hourly ones missed the changes for most of a whole day.


Sometimes Time Machine will not grab files until it does a "Deep Traversal" of the hard drive. For the most part it relies on the fsevents data to grab files for backup, but when there has been heavy modification to the filesystem it will instead go through the directory structure file-by-file to log changes. This can take a long time, which is why it is not used for every backup, but doing the backup manually should cause it to check and perform a deep traversal if necessary. The system should eventually do one though, so even if the files are missing temporarily they should get backed up sooner or later.

Question: Small font sizes on MacBooks

An anonymous reader asks:

Why is the text too small to read on an Intel MacBook?


The system font size can be increased in the Finder's "View Options" for a particular folder, and also can be increased Safari by holding down the command key and pressing the "+" button. Other browsers may also have shortcuts for increasing text size. You can set a minimum font size to use in Safari by going to the "Advanced" preferences and checking the box to "Never use font sizes smaller than ___ " and set the minimum according to what you want. Other applications may also have custom zoom and font resizing settings.

Question: System slow after booting into Safe Mode

MacFixIt reader "Alex" asks:

It takes approx 5 seconds for my Mac to reboot by it's self with no intervention from me after I shut it down. I'm stumped on why it's doing this.

Upon asking if an SMC reset and Safe Boot help, he replied:

Well I tried the (hold the Shift key at startup) and it seemed to work, but...after rebooting into normal mode it seems that every app is slowwwwww loading. It cured the problem but created another one. Any idea's why?


Try running through a few restarts and boot into Safe Mode again a couple of times, which will hopefully clear and refresh some of the system's temporary boot items. You can also use Disk Utility to run a permissions fix, or also use a third-party maintenance utility like OnyX to run some cleaning and maintenance routines. Hopefully that will speed things up. Generally slowdowns like this are only temporary as the computer rebuilds caches and other more optimized locations for temporary items.

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