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MacFixIt Answers

MacFixIt Answers is a weekly feature in which we answer questions e-mailed from our readers. We welcome alternative approaches and views from readers and encourage you to post your own suggestions in the comments.

MacFixIt Answers is a feature in which we answer questions e-mailed from our readers. This week we have questions on Web browsers not loading Web pages, trackpads and mice getting stuck in a "clicked" mode, and Safari not being able to load PDF files. We continually answer e-mail questions, and while we present a few here, we certainly welcome alternative approaches and views from readers and encourage you to post your suggestions in the comments.

Question: Browser not loading Web pages or connecting to Wi-Fi hot spots

MacFixIt reader "Philippe" asks:

Until last week, [my daughter] could connect to her school wifi hotspot without any problem, using Safari and/or Firefox. Now, she cannot reach the hotspot portal in order she can sign in and get access to Internet. Airport works fine.

At home, I tried also to connect to my Internet Access Provider, "Free Wifi". It is possible to connect (through Airport) to FreeWifi, but, when I launch my browser, it stays on a blank page. I tried with my PC, it works correctly, using Firefox.


This may be a problem with the DNS settings on the system. If the Wi-Fi connection is being established, and she is receiving a strong signal, then either she is not getting an IP address or the DNS servers being used to resolve URL names are not working.

Go to the Network system preferences and see what the IP address of the computer is when she is connected to Wi-Fi (choose the Airport connection to see this). If the IP address says self-assigned or is blank, click the Advanced button and choose the TCP/IP tab. Then click "Renew DHCP Lease" to see if that helps.

For the DNS settings, in the same Advanced window choose the DNS tab, and make sure there are no custom entries in the list of DNS servers (you may see some gray uneditable entries).

Question: Trackpads and mice getting stuck in "clicked" mode

MacFixIt reader "Paul" asks:

I've noticed for the last month that both the trackpad and the magic mouse go into 'extend select' mode. What I mean is they start selecting something and no matter what I do - what I click, where I move the cursor, the selection is being extended over the screen. It is highly inconvenient. I can stop it for a while by going to the System Preferences for the Mouse or Trackpad and change the first setting or two (then change them back). But sometime later, the whole problem will kick off again.


Have you tried any hardware resets such as resetting the PRAM? If not, then try this by rebooting and holding down the Option-Command-P-R keys all at once. Allow the system to cycle through a few resets while holding these keys, and then release them and allow it to boot normally.

Question: Safari not opening PDF files

MacFixIt reader "Steve" asks:

My Safari won't open pdfs and I can't seem to find a fix. Any help greatly appreciated. I'm at the latest version of everything. Maybe a plugin?


Do you have the Adobe Reader plug-in installed? If so, then go to the /Macintosh HD/Library/Internet Plug-Ins/ folder, remove it, and try loading a PDF in Safari again. If not, then one option is to go ahead and try installing the Adobe Reader plug-in, which should then enable this feature, albeit with Adobe's technology instead of Apple's built-in PDF renderer.

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