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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 there were questions on creating conditional behaviors for the OS X trash, managing a corrupt Google Chrome profile, preventing windows from reopening after reboot, black screen issues on an iMac system, and installing older OS versions on newer Mac hardware. We continually answer e-mail questions, and though we present a few answers here, we welcome alternative approaches and views from readers and encourage you to post your suggestions in the comments.

Question: Creating automatic and conditional trash behavior
MacFixIt reader "Ted" asks:

Is there an application that can automatically delete files from the trash based on how long the file is in the trash and the file type, such as Mac application, iOS app, Word doc, etc?...Do you know if there is a file attribute that stores the date the file was moved to trash? I [may try] to see if I can write an applescript to selectively delete trashed files based on the file extension.

There used to be an AppleScript application called Trash Tender that could do this, but it has not been updated since 2002 and will likely not work in the latest OS X versions. I am not sure of any others that can do this. While you can definitely develop a script that can do this, it will take a lot of troubleshooting to get it just right.

Moving a file to the trash is just like moving it to any folder, so there is not a special attribute for this that you could use. Your best bet for this would be to create a folder action script for the Trash that detects when new items are put there, and then renames them to append a current date tag or perhaps adds the date to the file's Spotlight metadata field. Then have another script periodically run in the background that filters through the items and removes them (without using the system's "Empty Trash" command) if they have this date tag, and if the tag is dated before a given range.

An approach for managing the file extensions would be to create an inclusion list of filetypes (i.e., a text document that lists ".txt", ".pages", ".xls", and other file types), and then have the script parse this list out and check to delete files based on what is in this list. With that setup you can then just add or remove new filetypes in the list to have the script dynamically change what file types it targets.

Question: Handling Google Chrome profile corruption
MacFixIt reader Larry asks:

Hi. I recently noticed this message that appears every time I open my google chrome browser. It say that my Profile could not be opened correctly and that some of the functions may not be available. At first i just ignored it, hoping that i could fix it in the system preference or search some answers online. I noticed that all of my bookmarks on my bookmark tabs turned so weird. The real icons were gone and were replaced by (gray globe) icons. My history options are gone, and the predictive text of websites you currently visited when you type in the address bar were all gone. Please help. Thank you.


This is likely because the profile directory has some corrupt items in it that cannot be properly accessed or configured. Try going to the /username/Library/Application Support/Google/Chrome/ directory and remove the folder called "Default." Then relaunch Chrome (you may have to set up some aspects of it again) and see if the problems persist. If you cannot find the Library folder in your home directory, press the Option key and select it from the "Go" menu in the Finder.

Question: Preventing windows from opening on restart
MacFixIt reader Doug D. asks:

I tried all of the tips [for preventing windows from reopening at restart], including locking files and using system preferences, and none of them worked! The windows still open up automatically on restart. What a pain!

For now the only way to prevent the system from opening windows at restart is to uncheck the option to do so in the dialog box that appears when you restart or shut down the system.

Question: Black Screen issues occuring on an iMac system
MacFixIt reader Heith asks:

[The black screen at bootup issue] is happening with my iMac. It sometimes takes 4-5 power-off/power on cycles before I see the monitor light up. Had the hard drive replaced, but no change. Apple store folks can't seem to figure this out.

This may be a software issue, but at least for MacBook Pro systems that are experiencing this, the problem seems to be a hardware problem, since replacing the logic board fixes it. Unfortunately I am not too familiar with this problem happening on iMac systems, but it may not be the same problem that is affecting MacBook Pro systems and could be rooted more in the OS configuration than in hardware. Hopefully an OS update (10.7.2 is due out very soon) may help, but this is not guaranteed. Is your system a new one under warranty? If so then pressure Apple to either fix it or have it replaced. Even if it's not under warranty if you raise enough of a fuss they will likely help you out in one way or another.

Question: Installing OS X 10.6 on a Mac that came with OS X 10.7
MacFixIt reader Bob asks:

I've been unable to install OSX 10.6 on my iMac that came preinstalled with Lion. The system has a kernal panic when trying to install with a factory Snow Leopard install disk. I connected a USB drive with Lion installed and then used Disk Utility to erase the lion partition on the iMac. Still could not get the snow leopard disk to install. I know that the mid 2011 iMac originally shipped with Snow Leopard so I know it should be able to work. Evidently there is still some firmware on the HD that prevents the downgrade. Apple support says that it can't be done. Do you have any tricks to erase this firmware short of installing a new HD. I was thinking of putting together a Snow Leopard system on an external drive, erasing the iMac Lion system and then then cloning it over to the iMac.

Unfortunately this cannot be done, or at least cannot be done safely. You would need to downgrade the firmware, which is an unsupported option for your system and could result in a dead computer if you tried. The firmware is not on the hard drive, but instead is on the system's logic board so you will not be able to simply erase the firmware by replacing or formatting the hard drive.

While cloning may work to get the OS loaded on an internal drive, it will likely result in a similar kernel panic when you attempt to boot the system off of it.

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