Q&A: MacFixIt Answers

This week readers e-mailed in questions about hiding the OS X menu bar, erasing hard drives, and creative uses of technology.

Topher Kessler MacFixIt Editor
Topher, an avid Mac user for the past 15 years, has been a contributing author to MacFixIt since the spring of 2008. One of his passions is troubleshooting Mac problems and making the best use of Macs and Apple hardware at home and in the workplace.
Topher Kessler
3 min read

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

This week, readers wrote in with questions about hiding the menu bar in OS X, a "formatter failed" error when erasing hard drives, alternative configuration possibilities for Apple's Fusion Drive technology, and whether or not a Mini DisplayPort cable can be used for Thunderbolt connections. I welcome views from readers, so if you have any suggestions or alternative approaches to these problems, please post them in the comments!

Question: Hiding the menu bar in OS X
MacFixIt reader Shawn asks:

How do I hide the menu bar on my Mac?

There is no way to just remove the menu bar, but it will be hidden if you use full-screen applications. Games and media players often have full-screen modes that will prevent the menu bar from being shown, and in Mountain Lion you can invoke the OS' built-in Full Screen in apps that support it and view them without the presence of the Dock, the menu bar, and other applications.

Question: 'Formatter failed' error when erasing hard drives
MacFixIt reader Nachiket asks:

I get the error below when attempting to format my 1TB OWC external HD via the command line:

could not mount disk2 with name (null) after erase
Error: -69832: File system formatter failed

If you cannot fix the problem by repartitioning the drive in Disk Utility, then my suggestion here would be to try formatting the drive on another system, specifically a non-Mac system like a Windows PC. It is very likely the drive is experiencing a problem that cannot be fixed, but perhaps using another system altogether may be enough to wipe through the problem and clear it. Then you can try reformatting it on your Mac to see if you're successful. If this does not work then I would recommend replacing the drive.

Question: Alternative configurations for Apple's Fusion Drive technology
MacFixIt reader Chris asks:

Can external hard drives (i.e., drives using USB ports) be used with Apple's new Fusion Drive technology?

External drives can be used to create Fusion Drive-type setups, but Apple does not support this configuration. Additionally, the relative slowness of a USB drive or even a FireWire drive would make using external drives for this purpose pointless; however, you can still combine them into one spanned volume that prioritizes storage to the primary drive in the group. To do this, follow the instructions in this recent article on how to set up CoreStorage spanned volumes in OS X.

Question: Using a Mini DisplayPort cable for Thunderbolt connections
MacFixIt reader Roy asks:

Can a MiniDP cable (male to male) be used in place of a Thunderbolt cable? I would like to connect a Thunderbolt HD to my MacBook Pro using the MiniDP cable instead of an Apple Thunderbolt cable.

No, this is not possible. While you can use such a cable to transmit the DisplayPort signal carried over Thunderbolt, the Thunderbolt connection itself requires active electronics in the cable and therefore specifically needs a Thunderbolt cable to work.

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