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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 how to embed multimedia in PDF documents, clarification on the version numbers for iPhoto/iLife, items on the desktop rearranging themselves, and using a HDTV as a monitor for a Mac Mini. 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: Embedding movies and audio in PDF documents

MacFixIt reader "ngroves" asks:

I need to convert a Powerpoint presentation to a PDF and upload it to a podcast site. The final product needs to include embedded audio and video. I can create the A/V in PPT, but the files don't survive the conversion to PDF. I'm using Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro and MIcrosoft PowerPoint 12.2.7. The Mac is running OSX 10.6.4. Microsoft help says this is impossible, but I know other people who've done it--just now how.


You can do this, but it is relatively limited in function and implementation. First, the movies and audio supported are limited to Flash video and audio, and second is that this can only be done using the Adobe PDF specification, whereas Apple's implementation to making PDFs is based on the open-standard version that does not include Flash support. Therefore you cannot, for instance, create a multimedia-rich document in Pages and then print it to PDF and have the movie and audio be embedded.

To do this, you will need to use Adobe's tools, such as Acrobat Pro for creating the PDF and embedding the video, and then using Adobe Reader to read the PDF (Preview will not show the audio or video).

Here is a nice tutorial video on how it's done (made on Windows XP, but the tools should be similar on the Mac).

If you have Adobe Acrobat installed, Microsoft has supported using it to export Office documents to Flash-embedded PDF documents using Adobe PDF technologies, but I am not sure if this has been implemented in the Mac versions of Office (my guess is it has not).

Question: Confusion about version numbers when upgrading to iPhoto '11

MacFixIt reader "Mike" asks:

I have iphoto 9, Version 8.1.2. When I try to download 9.01 update, before I install iLife 11, it tells me that I first need iPhoto 9 to to this.


The update for version 9.0.1 is for iPhoto '11 and not for any prior versions, so you may have the wrong updater. If you are trying to install iPhoto '11 and have downloaded the very latest update for it (recommended to avoid some of the upgrade problems people have had), then you will first need to install iPhoto '11 (version 9.0.0) and THEN install the 9.0.1 update to ensure the program is at its latest version before you actually launch the it for the first time.

  1. iPhoto '08 is version 7.x.x
  2. iPhoto '09 is version 8.x.x
  3. iPhoto '11 is version 9.x.x

Question: Items relocating themselves on the Desktop

MacFixIt reader "acmank" asks:

Over the last week, the hard drive icon which was always in the upper right corner of the desktop "relocates" itself to about the midpoint of the desktop when the system boots up. I then move it back to its corner, only to find it back in the middle next time I start up. No changes have happened - that I am aware of. Any guidance for me?


This is likely because you have a corrupted window settings file for your desktop. To change this, you will likely need to delete the settings file and have the Finder re-create it. To do this, run the following command in the Terminal (copy and paste it):

rm ~/Desktop/.DS_Store

If you get a "permissions denied" error or some other warning, then run the following alternate version of the same command:

sudo rm ~/Desktop/.DS_Store

This will require you to provide your password and will run the command with full administrative privileges enabled (it forces the command to complete). After this is done, log out and log back in. You may need to change icon size and placement again, but this should clear stubborn icon placement settings.

Question: Using an HDTV as a monitor for a Mac Mini

MacFixIt reader "Roy" asks:

I am moving soon, into a much smaller space and have a small problem.

I have a Mac Mini and at present a 22' Monitor. the place I will probably move into (its free to me) will be very very crowded with my Monitor and a TV.

My question is this, I have found several HDTV's in the 19" to 26" range which also have VGA hook up so they act as both a Monitor and HDTV.

Do you have any information on how well these work and are there any problems that you Know of with any of them.


As long as the monitors have a standard implementation of the VGA ports and protocols, then there should not be a problem. Granted there is always the chance that there is a slight incompatibility that could cause some waviness or other odd output, but this would be model-specific or even unit-specific, and would also be a very rare and unexpected occurrence.

The only problems I've seen in the past with using TVs as monitors is the dot pitch for the pixels is usually a bit higher for TVs since they're viewed from a greater distance, so the pixels are a little farther apart, which may result in some slight difficulty in viewing details like small text. TVs also tend to be brighter and set to higher contrasts than monitors, which can make the individual pixels stand out more; however, this has been my experience on older displays and modern TVs may have overcome this since they're cramming more pixels into the same view area for HDTV experiences.

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