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Q&A: MacFixIt Answers

This week, readers sent in questions about the stigma surrounding the MacKeeper utility, and more.

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

This week, readers wrote in with questions about managing contact images in Address Book, the lowdown on the rather negative community reaction surrounding the MacKeeper utility, and errors in gathering Application information in the System Information utility. I welcome views from readers, so if you have any suggestions or alternative approaches to these problems, please post them in the comments!

Question: Managing the Recent section for contact images in Address Book
MacFixIt reader Lars asks:

Is there a way to get rid of the cache of "Recent" photos that appear in the left-hand column of the address book photo picking program? There seem to be so many "recent" photos in the app that I have a hard time finding what I am looking for. If you can help me delete that cache of photos it would be great.

This can be done by selecting them and pressing the Delete key to remove them from the list. However, if this does not work you should still be able to clear the recent images by removing the contents of the following directory:

Users > username > Library > Containers > > Data > Library > Images > Recent Pictures

Question: The lowdown on the stigma surrounding MacKeeper
MacFixIt reader Janu asks:

I want to know, is it safe to use MacKeeper? Many of my friends are saying that it is malware.

The issues surrounding MacKeeper stem from it starting out as a poor conversion from a utility called PC Keeper for Windows systems, one that didn't work very well on the Mac OS. This coupled, with rather aggressive (to say the least) marketing tactics and customer service, caused many in the Mac community to avoid it and recommend that others do the same.

The software has been updated quite significantly since its initial versions and I've installed it without any problems on several systems. With regard to safety, any software package may contain bugs that can adversely affect a system. As a result, my stance on it is that MacKeeper is not the malware that some people describe it as, but whether or not it is necessary or beneficial -- or stable -- on any given computer is another matter.

MacKeeper ultimately offers many of the same features that are already available in other programs (many of which are free and arguably have used better coding). As a result, while I do not see a problem with the software itself, I dont necessarily recommend people either gravitate to it, or blindly avoid and uninstall it as has become the common recommendation by the Mac community.

My guess is that not all, but many, people in this community who are recommending avoiding or uninstalling MacKeeper are simply reiterating advice from others based on the software's poor initial track record, as opposed to truly testing and making an objective assessment of the latest versions of the software.

Question: Errors with gathering information in the System Information utility
MacFixIt reader Dany asks:

When I open System Information and go to Software > Applications, I get "There was an error while gathering this information". Can you help me to solve this issue, please? (iMac mid 2007 - OS X 10.8.2)

Many of the features in the System Information tool rely on an intact index of the hard drive. The Applications list also relies on the "pbs" service, which reads application attributes and associated services they offer in OS X. Try opening the Terminal and running the following commands to clear these components so they'll be rebuilt, then restart the system and see if the problem persists (it may take an hour or so for the system to rebuild these services):

/System/Library/CoreServices/pbs -flush
mdutil -E /

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