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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 people wrote in with questions on trashing documents requiring an administrator password, Safari not being able to find or use Mail or another e-mail client, and why "sudo" terminal commands can't be run from a standard user account. We continually answer e-mail questions, and though we present answers here, we welcome alternative approaches and views from readers and encourage you to post your suggestions in the comments.

NOTE: The "contact us" box for e-mailing us will hopefully be back soon, but until then please use the contact links at the bottom of each article to send in your questions.

Question: Trashed documents requiring administrator password
MacFixIt reader Javier asks:

I have run into a problem after updating to the 10.7.2 update to Lion.

Now whenever I drag items to the trash from the desktop or anywhere else, I automatically get prompted to authenticate in order to trash the items.

I have checked my Finder prefs and do mot have the "Empty Trash Securely" checked, so it should not be asking for authentication.

Any ideas of what might have caused this after this update?

When you are prompted to authenticate, do the items get removed immediately, or do they get stored in the trash as expected? If the latter is true, then it's possible that your trash folder does not have the proper permissions settings. To reset them, its easiest to just remove the trash folder and have the system recreate it, which can be done by opening the Terminal utility and running the following command:

sudo rm -rf ~/.Trash

Be very sure to copy the command exactly as I typed it; when run, it will ask you for your password (type it, even though it will not be displayed), and then remove the trash folder. When this is done, then try moving files to the trash again.

Question: Safari cannot find e-mail application
MacFixIt reader Vince asks:

If I try to email a page or link from Safari to my friends it tells me:

"An email message can't be created to send the link because Safari can't find an email application. You can use the Mail application included with Mac OS X to send email. To do so, you might need to install Mail using the Mac OS X Install discs."

I have always used Mail. Any ideas?

If you go to Mail's preferences, do you see Mail listed as the default e-mail reader (this should be the first option in the General section)? If so, then it might be that your system's launch services are corrupted and need to be rebuilt. To do this, open the Terminal and run the following command:

/System/Library/Frameworks/CoreServices.framework/Versions/A/Frameworks/LaunchServices.framework/Versions/A/Support/lsregister -kill -seed -rfv -all user, system, local

Copy all of that to one line in the Terminal, and when you press Enter it will clear out and rebuild the launch services database. After doing this, launch Mail again to inform the system that you have it as an e-mail client installed, which should register it with launch services and allow it to be used as the default e-mail client.

More information and options for resetting the launch services can be found here.

Question: Invoking the "sudo" terminal command from standard accounts
MacFixIt reader Donald asks:

I remain perplexed by the problem of running sudo [Terminal commands] in a standard account. Why can't this be done?

In order to run "sudo" commands, the specified account needs to have administrator access. Standard accounts don't have this, so they can't use the "sudo" command directly. If you need to use a sudo command from within a standard account, you will first need to log into the Terminal with administrator credentials. There are a couple of approaches you can take to do this:

  1. use the "login" command:
    In the Terminal, type "login" and then provide the credentials of an administrator on the computer. This will create a new terminal shell instance (within the current shell), in which you are logged in as admin. From here you will then be able to use sudo.

  2. use the "su" command:
    Similar to the login command, you can type "su USERNAME" in the Terminal, where USERNAME is the short name of an administrator account. After authenticating this will substitute user identity (or "Switch Users") and allow you then run the sudo command.

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