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Q&A: MacFixIt Answers

Readers ask about attaching multiple drives to a Time Capsule, managing photos in both iPhoto and the Finder, and dealing with black MacBook screens.

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

This week, readers asked about using drives attached to a Time Capsule as separate shared backup destinations for Time Machine, how to deal with managing photos both in the Finder and in iPhoto, and managing a completely black MacBook screen.

I welcome contributions from readers, so if you have any suggestions or alternative approaches to these problems, please post them in the comments!

Question: Using multiple shares on a Time Capsule for Time Machine backups
MacFixIt reader Gregg asks:

I was wondering if I could use the USB port on my 2TB Time Capsule instead of the USB port on my MacBook Pro to add more hard drives for Time Machine to back up to.

I was thinking of getting a USB hub with five USB ports and connecting five USB hard drives to my 2TB Time Capsule.

Can Time Machine use these five USB hard drives together to back up to? I mean, will it alternate through all five USB drives connected to my Time Capsule?

This is not something I have tried, but I do similar things with network shares, so my guess is it should work. Time Machine will back up to a shared drive over the network, regardless of its origin, so if you have two shared folders from the same system available on the network, then it should treat each as a different backup destination.

With the Time Capsule added as a standard backup, share the attached hard drive. Then connect to this folder from your Mac and supply the appropriate credentials (optionally, you can save them in your keychain). With this folder mounted, go to the Time Machine preferences; you should see it as a separate and available backup destination. Configure it as such, and the system should alternate between the Time Capsule and its shared folder.

Question: Managing photos through iPhoto and the OS X Finder
MacFixIt reader Jon asks:

I have a question that has been bothering me for quite some time now. How can I delete a photo from iPhoto and have it delete from my hard drive (Finder) at the same time. I don't want to manage two trash cans. Or if I want to delete from Finder, it should delete in iPhoto as well.

iPhoto manages the photo collection in its library, where it has a structure of folders that hold the original photo, edits to them, and metadata and other information about the photos. When you import photos from the Finder to iPhoto, they are copied to this library, so if you delete those in iPhoto, the ones in the Finder will not be touched. There is no way to extend iPhoto's reach to also remove and manage those in the Finder.

Additionally, as it is a proprietary library structure, though you can view the library's contents in the Finder and see the photos in there, if you remove or edit them, you may see odd behavior in iPhoto, so it's best to only let iPhoto manage the photos in here.

This ultimately means that if you use iPhoto, you will be managing a trash for it, separate from the Finder's trash.

However, since iPhoto copies photos into its library, once you import them, simply delete the originals you have imported; from there all photos will be managed through iPhoto. This approach will have you only using the iPhoto trash for your photos.

Question: Troubleshooting a completely black MacBook screen
MacFixIt reader Hema asks:

I have a 2008 laptop. My computer screen suddenly went black 2 days ago. I've tried shutting down for a long time, restarting, etc. nothing is helping. Any suggestion?

Try resetting the SMC on the system by performing the steps in this article. In addition, if you are able to hear the boot chimes when you press the power button on your computer to start it up, try resetting the system's PRAM by following the instructions in this article.

If the problem persists after that, then you will have to take the system in for servicing. In the meantime, you can try using an external monitor with your system to see if that will give any output and at least let you work on your system.

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