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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 turn off previews in Safari, the best format option to use when setting up a hard drive for OS X, and problems with updating Boot Camp drivers. We continually answer e-mail questions, and though 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: Disabling Safari previews

MacFixIt reader "P. Calderon" asks:

How do I [turn off Safari previews]?


If you are you referring to the initial page that shows the previews in a grid, then go to Safari's preferences and in the General section choose an option other than Top Sites as the page to show when you either create a new window or a new tab. The options available are your home page, an empty page, the same page as the current window/tab, or your Safari bookmarks.

Question: Best drive format to use

MacFixIt reader "Lolan" asks:

I've recently purchased a 2 Tb Western Digital hard drive and need to format it for Mac OS since it was originally formatted for Windows NT. My question is what is the differences between the formats (Mac OS Extended journaled, Mac OS Extended, Mac OS Extended Case Sensitive, and Mac OS Extended Case Sensitive journaled) and which one is the best for Graphic Artist. It's my external backup drive for my iMac, 2.8 Ghz Intel Core i7?


The drive formatting will rarely matter for the type of user applications run on the computer. It largely only matters for the type of operating system you are running. Case-sensitive filesystems are primarily used for Unix folks who will store and access file names based on their cases, for instance "myfile.txt" can be stored in the same folder as "MyFile.txt" or "MYFILE.TXT" and each will be treated as having unique names. For the standard Mac OS formatting (not case sensitive), having these in the same folder will result in name conflicts.

The journaling option is an extension to the format, which allows for file change tracking. The system writes potential changes to a journal file before writing them to disk, so if the computer crashes in the middle of a write, then at most it should corrupt only the journal, which can be rebuilt, and if the crash happens when the file is being written to disk, then the system can restore any corruption from the journal. Without this there is greater risk for corruption from an interrupted write process to persist and cause problems.

For most purposes, using the standard case-insensitive "Mac OS Extended (journaled)" format is the best and most compatible option.

Question: Updating Boot Camp

MacFixIt reader "John" asks:

I have problems installing Boot Camp [updates]. When I download the stand-alone update, the document comes as an .exec (a Win doc). Obviously, I can't install it when running the Mac OS X 10.6.5.

I am using the latest version of Parallels. When I boot Win XP Pro in Parallels and download the stand-alone update, it fails to install.

Does Parallels update Boot Camp with each release?

Do I have to do a direct boot of Win XP Pro using the Option key to select Windows?

Any suggestions you may have could help a lot of us.


Boot Camp will only update if you are booted directly into Windows (not running OS X at all). You can load your Boot Camp installation in Parallels so it will run within OS X, but this will load and use the drivers provided by Parallels (the "Parallels Tools" package) instead of the "Boot Camp" drivers. If you restart your system and boot directly into Windows, then you should be able to run the Boot Camp update directly.

"Boot Camp" is just a driver package for Windows that allows Windows to take advantage of all the Mac's resources (iSight camera, trackpad, graphics processor, power management, etc.). It requires this hardware to be fully present for the installer to run, and when Windows is booted in Parallels the virtual machine will show a different hardware configuration to Windows.

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