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Q&A: MacFixIt Answers

MacFixIt Answers is a weekly feature in which we answer questions e-mailed in by 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 in by our readers. This week we had questions on Spotlight having problems indexing an external drive, the memory slot utility continually showing messages at bootup, keyboard brightness controls not working on external monitors, and DVD drives not playing audio CDs. We continually answer e-mail questions, and though we present a few answers here, we welcome alternative approaches and views from readers and encourage you to post your suggestions in the comments.

Question: Spotlight indexing hanging on new external drive
MacFixIt reader Kyle asks:

I recently upgraded to Lion and I bought a new external 1tb hard drive. I have Tuxera NTFS on my machine so i can read and write [to the drive]. My problem is that when spotlight is finishing/finished indexing the external drive, my machine freezes up and i have no option but to hold power button down till i can reboot! I have deleted the ds_store file frm the HD but still no luck. My mahine is an i7 2.66ghz, with 8gb of ram. Could it be because of tuxera ntfs?

Do you need the drive to be formatted to NTFS? If not, then format it to Mac OS Extended (HFS+). Since NTFS is not a writable format by default, it is not supported for Spotlight indexing and may show odd behavior if used for spotlight....The Tuxera NTFS driver is not supported by Apple, and while it was built to work on Snow Leopard, it may have a bug or two in Lion that could be causing this problem. It will likely just need to be updated by Tuxera in order to work properly again.

Question: Memory slot utility showing status messages at boot
MacFixIt reader Paul asks:

I keep getting the message (from the memory slot utility) every time I start up from my Lion drive that the "Memory modules are installed in the recommended slots". I know they are - how can I get rid of that message? I am using a MacPro, 12 GB memory.

This problem may be simply that the memory slot utility is trying to set a setting and cannot since it is not running as the "root" account. To fix this, try enabling the root user, logging in as it, close the memory slot utility when it opens, and then log out again. After this, disable the root user again. The root user can be enabled with these instructions.

Question: Keyboard brightness controls not working on external monitor
MacFixIt reader Doug asks:

I have an iMac 27" (3.4 Ghz i7), with a second monitor attached to the mini Display/Thunderbolt port with the Apple VGA adapter. I can adjust the brightness of the iMac using the keyboard F1 & F2 keys, but have not found a way to change the brightness of my 2nd Monitor (Dell E207WFP). Any thoughts on this?

Unless the monitor is an Apple display, then the brightness controls will not work, since the firmware on those monitors will not interface with them. The only way to do this on a third-party display is to use the display's brightness settings.

Question: DVD drive not playing audio discs
MacFixIt reader "mfilucci" asks:

My MacBook Pro plays movie discs just fine but will not play any music discs

This may happen if the DVD drive is starting to fail. Do music discs play in any other user account, or if you boot to Safe Mode (hold shift at bootup)? If not, then you will likely need to have the drive replaced. While cleaning the drive is not out of the question (puffing air into the drive's slot to clear dust and debris from the lens), if it is able to read DVD movies just fine, then it should read CDs as well. The inability to do so especially when booted to Safe Mode would indicate a hardware malfunction.

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