Q&A: MacFixIt Answers

This week, readers e-mailed in questions about Software Update, Notes, and how to record movies and video on a Mac.

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 Mac-related questions e-mailed in by our readers.

This week, readers wrote in with questions about a problem installing software updates from Apple's Software Update service, how to restore a deleted Notes application in OS X, and options for recording movies and video to your Mac. I welcome views from readers, so if you have any suggestions or alternative approaches to these problems, please post them in the comments!

Question: Unable to install software updates
MacFixIt reader Arthur asks:

A friend has an iMac (2008) running Leopard. She received notice that Apple no longer supports Leopard, so I upgraded her to Snow Leopard. Upgrade worked seamlessly with one problem--cannot get updates to work. It opens, moves a bit, then says cannot complete--not connected to Internet. We are connected; all programs open online with no problem and Mail has been updated to open. I get a message that there are 3 processes available--two with dates and one "automatic". I tried all 3 and am rebuffed on all. Message says Internet connection seems to be O.K. but Updates don't work.

Try removing the contents of the /Library/Updates/ folder and try again. In addition, try removing the system's cache. To do this, open the Terminal and run the following command:

open $TMPDIR../C

In the Finder window that opens, locate and remove the folder called "com.apple.SoftwareUpdate," and then try the software updates again.

Question: Restoring a deleted Notes application in OS X
MacFixIt reader Alan asks:

I opened Time Machine in the Applications folder, but restoring my missing Notes.app failed with the message:

"Notes.app" can't be modified or deleted because it's required by Mac OS X.

Go to the Time Machine backup drive and open the backups.backupdb folder. Then navigate to a backup instance that does contain the Notes application (likely a slightly older one). The backup instances should be listed by date, and each should mirror the file structure of your hard drive.

When you locate the Notes application, select it and press Command-C to copy, then open the Applications folder on your boot drive and press Shift-Option-Command-V to invoke the Paste Exactly command, which will have you authenticate and then should copy the file with root privileges from the source to your Applications folder.

If this does not work, then open the Terminal utility and run the following routine:

  1. Type "sudo cp -R" followed by a single space.
  2. Drag the Notes application from the backup disk into the Terminal window
  3. Now drag your Applications folder from your boot drive to the Terminal window (or simply type /Applications)
  4. Press Enter to run the command, and supply your password when prompted.

This should copy the entire Notes application from the Time Machine destination to your applications folder and restore it.

Question: Recording movies and video to your Mac
MacFixIt reader Pieter asks:

Yesterday I saw "Paranormal Activity 4" and in that movie they record everything on their computers. Now I want to know how do you do that?

I have not seen the movie, but you can record video to your computer using Apple's iMovie program, QuickTime Player, or Photo Booth. There are also several third-party programs that can do the same thing. You can set up a FireWire or USB camera and have the system record from those external devices as well, instead of only using the built-in iSight camera.

Keep in mind that continuous recording will fill up hard-drive space quickly, but some programs such as security software like Witness will provide continual recording options that will not fill your hard drive.

Questions? Comments? Have a fix? Post them below or e-mail us!
Be sure to check us out on Twitter and the CNET Mac forums.