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Q&A: MacFixIt Answers

Why would network pings respond when stealth mode is enabled, and where did the iTunes Genius bar features go? Here we answer these and other questions from MacFixIt readers.

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

This week people wrote in with questions about the OS X Firewall's stealth mode failing to work properly, the iTunes genius bar no longer being available in iTunes, and how to increase text size in both Mail and the Mac App Store. We welcome alternative approaches and views from readers, so post your own suggestions in the comments!

Question: OS X Firewall's stealth mode failing
MacFixIt reader Tony asks:

I have the "Enable Stealth Mode" set in the advanced settings of the OS X firewall. This is supposed to foil hackers by not responding to PING requests. This does not work. When I use the GRC ShieldsUP! website to test, I get a FAILED message stating that a PING was received! Is there a way to fix this?

The Web site might be pinging your router instead of your Mac. Stealth mode will block ping requests to your computer only, so if you have a router as your gateway to the Internet, then it will have a publicly accessible IP address that can be pinged or otherwise targeted for communication requests. Your computer running on the router's private network should not respond to pings from within the network, or from those that the router forwards to your system. To test this, set up another computer to access the Internet through your router and then use it to try pinging your main computer.

Most modern routers have similar stealth-mode options that can be configured for added security, though you will have to consult your router's manual or its developer to see how to enable these.

Question: Where did the iTunes Genius bar go?
MacFixIt reader Denise asks:

I want the iTunes Genius sidebar back. I used this for inspiration for my music and am so disappointed it's gone. How do we ask Apple to reinstate it?

The Genius sidebar has been replaced with the iTunes Sidebar, which serves a similar purpose. If you select a song in your library and open the sidebar, then when you click the Genius button at the bottom right of the iTunes window (next to the sidebar button), you will see the Genius recommendations appear in the sidebar, which you can then preview, or view in the iTunes store to purchase.

Question: Increasing text sizes in the App Store and Mail
MacFixIt reader Jeanette asks:

Do you know a way to increase the text size in the App Store? The text is atrociously small so I am constantly zooming the screen which is a real pain, especially when I want to just surf the newest apps because I have to constantly unzoom to find the navigation buttons.

And while we're at it, how about viewing larger text in the Mail app? I know when I read an e-mail I can enlarge the type, but not when I am composing a message. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Unfortunately the App Store text size is fixed, so there is no easy way to do this.

For Mail, you can go to the Preferences (in the Mail menu) and then choose Fonts & Colors and change the Message Font option to a larger font size. Or, when you compose a message, at the top you should see a section for adjusting font properties, including the typeface and size of the font. These settings will work for the current message only, whereas the ones in the preferences will be global. Do keep in mind that the larger font size will be sent with the message so the recipient will also get it at the larger size.

Questions? Comments? Have a fix? Post them below or e-mail us!
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