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Archive for November, 2016

by Tom Nelson

The 2009 Mac Pro (model identifier MacPro4,1) was introduced in March of 2009, and was discontinued with the arrival of the 2010 Mac Pro in August of that same year. The 2009, 2010, and 2012 versions of the Mac Pro are still sought after as they represent the last truly user-expandable Macs.

They offered easy access to the interior, where users could add RAM, access four built-in drive bays, and easily add or change PCIe expansion cards, including graphics cards.

 macprodrivetray1

Photo © Coyote Moon, Inc.

They also offered access to the optical drive bay, which many used as a fifth storage bay. The processors were mounted on easily removable trays, and could be upgraded by the end user.

However, the 2009 version of the Mac Pro has a few things going against it. While the processors could be upgraded, they require the use of special Xeon processors that have no metal lids. This was done so the mammoth heat sinks could be attached directly to the CPU die. Finding compatible processors can now be a bit of a scavenger hunt.

On the plus side, there is a firmware hack available online that can allow the older 2009 Mac Pros to make use of 2010 or 2012 Mac Pro processors.

With the above as a bit of a background, let’s take a look at the original buying guide for the 2009 Mac Pro.

Read more on Lifewire: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

It seems every version of Mac operating system that you install may have a few issues that pop up. Now, we’re not saying you can expect to experience all or even any of the issues we outline here. In fact, the vast majority of users upgrading to macOS Sierra won’t have these problems.

But if you do experience an issue after upgrading, it’s probably going to be one of the issues we mention here. Not to worry; we’ll show you how to resolve it.

sierrainstallprogress1280

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

macOS Sierra Freezes During Install

There are two common freezing issues; one can occur during the install process, the other when your Mac reboots after the install is complete.

Freezes After Restart: Let’s start with the easier of the two issues to fix: when your Mac seems to stall during the final reboot of the installation. At this point, you’ve selected the target drive for the Sierra install, agreed to the licensing, and your Mac was displaying a progress bar with an estimate for time remaining.

The screen goes black, and your Mac reboots. So far, so good. The next step is for your Mac to finish the restart and display the Setup Assistant, for finishing up any needed details before the login or desktop is displayed. Instead, your Mac seems to be frozen on the dark screen, or perhaps with a wait icon spinning away.

The problem is that your Mac failed to restart correctly, but because all the install guides warn you that the first restart can take a long time, you don’t know how long to wait. To be on the safe side, a half hour is more than long enough, and if your Mac hasn’t brought up the Setup Assistant by then, you can give your Mac a figurative kick in the pants.

Force your Mac to shut down by pressing and holding the power switch. After your Mac shuts off, you can go ahead and power it up again. Your Mac should power on and display the Setup Assistant, letting you finish the installation of macOS Sierra.

Read more on Rocket Yard, The MacSales.com Blog

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by Tom Nelson

Like many applications, Safari lets you tweak its interface to suit your preferences. You can customize, hide, or show the toolbar, bookmarks bar, or favorites bar (depending on the version of Safari you’re using), tab bar, and status bar. Having each of these Safari interface bars configured to meet your needs can make using the web browser a lot easier, and fun. So go ahead, give the various Safari toolbars a once over.

You can’t hurt anything, and you may find a few new features or capabilities you didn’t know Safari had.

safaritoolbarlifewire

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Customize the Toolbar

  1. From the View menu, select Customize Toolbar. Click an item you want to add to the toolbar, and drag it to the toolbar. Safari will automatically adjust the size of the address field and the search field to make room for the new item(s). When you’re finished, click the Done button.
  2. Nifty tip within a tip: You can quickly customize the toolbar by right-clicking in any open space in the Safari’s toolbar, and selecting Customize Toolbar from the popup menu.
  3. You can rearrange icons in the toolbar by clicking and dragging them to a new location.
  4. You can delete an item from the toolbar by right-clicking it and selecting Remove Item from the pop-up menu.

Some of my favorite toolbar items to add include iCloud Tabs, to easily continue browsing sites right where I left off when using other Macs and iOS devices, and Text Size, so I can quickly change the size of text on a page.

Read more on Lifewire: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

The refurb store has replenished stock of 2016 MacBooks. The 2016 MacBooks haven’t been in stock for a while, so if this is a model you’re interested in, you may want to check out the store and see if any of the models is the one you’re looking for.

Of course, some Mac models seem to be slipping away, and that’s the story of the MacBook Air, with only some 11-inch base models in stock. I don’t actually recommend any Mac with only 4 GB of RAM, which is how the 11-inch MacBook Airs currently in stock are configured. If you really want a MacBook Air, I recommend waiting for a model equipped with 8 GB of RAM.

2014MacMini

Image courtesy of Apple

Deals of the Week

A 2014 Mac mini with 8 GB of RAM, a 1 TB Fusion drive, and a speedy 3.0 GHz Dual-Core i7 processor make up our first deal this week. That’s a pretty nice configuration that can be used for a wide variety of tasks.

Our second deal also takes us back to a 2014 model; this time, a 27-inch Retina iMac with 8 GB of RAM, a 4.0 Quad-Core i7 processor, and a 1 TB Fusion drive. This Retina Mac also makes use of an AMD Radeon R9 M290X, and can be quite the workhorse for a budding graphics professional.

Read more on Lifewire: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

Safari, Apple’s web browser, is one of the best browsers for the Mac. Out of the box, Safari is fast and can handle just about any type of website.

As is true of most browsers (and some other software programs), you can expand Safari’s feature set by adding modules called plug-ins. Plug-ins are small programs that can add functionality that a software program lacks; they can also enhance a program’s existing capabilities.

safariplugins

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Plug-ins can have a down side. Poorly written plug-ins can slow down Safari’s web rendering performance. Plug-ins can compete with other plug-ins, causing stability issues, or replace a program’s built-in functionality with methods that aren’t as, well, functional.

Whether you want to add functionality or fix a plug-in problem, it’s a good idea to know how to find out what plug-ins Safari is currently using, and how to remove the ones you don’t wish to use.

Read more on Lifewire: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

Starting up your Mac is usually just a matter of pressing the power button and waiting for the login screen or the desktop to appear. But once in a while, you might want something different to happen when you start your Mac.

Startup Keyboard Shortcuts

Using startup keyboard shortcuts allows you to change the default behavior of your Mac when starting up. You can enter special modes, such as Safe mode or Single-User mode, both of which are special troubleshooting environments.

Or you can use startup shortcuts to select a boot device other than the default startup drive you usually use. Of course, there are many other startup shortcuts, and we’ve gathered them all here.

Using a Wired Keyboard

If you’re using a wired keyboard, you should use the keyboard shortcut combinations immediately after pressing the Mac’s power switch, or, if you used the Restart command, after the Mac’s power light goes out or the display goes black.

If you’re having problems with your Mac and are using the startup keyboard shortcuts to assist in troubleshooting, I strongly recommend using a wired keyboard to eliminate any Bluetooth problems that may prevent the Mac from recognizing the use of keyboard shortcuts. Any USB keyboard will work in this role; it doesn’t need to be an Apple keyboard. If you’re using a Windows keyboard, the article Windows Keyboard Equivalents for the Mac’s Special Keys can be helpful in figuring out the proper keys to use.

applewirelesskeyboard

Image courtesy of Apple

Using a Wireless Keyboard

If you’re using a wireless keyboard, wait until you hear the startup sound, then immediately use the keyboard shortcut. If you hold down a key on your wireless keyboard before you hear the startup chimes, your Mac won’t correctly register the key you’re holding down, and will likely boot up normally.

Having trouble hearing the startup sound? You can adjust the volume using the tips in Adjust the Volume of Your Mac’s Startup Chime.

These startup shortcuts come in handy if you need to troubleshoot your Mac, or you just want to boot from a different volume than usual.

Read more on Lifewire: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

Startup items, also commonly referred to as login items, are applications, documents, shared volumes, or other items you wish to automatically start up or open when you boot or log in to your Mac.

loginitems

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

A common use for startup items is to launch an application that you always use when you sit down at your Mac. You may, for instance, always launch Apple MailSafari, and Messages every time you use your Mac.

Instead of launching these items manually, you can designate them as startup items and let your Mac do the work for you.

Read more on Lifewire: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

With each new release of the Mac OS, there always seems to be new features that change how you work, the removal of a feature or two that forces you to rethink how you work, or just plain bugs that make working on your Mac not quite the pleasant experience it used to be.

To put it simply, “macOS Sierra broke my favorite feature; now what do I do?” We’re going to take a look at some of the features that Sierra broke, and show you easy ways to fix them. (Related: How to Fix Scary Issues That Can ‘Possess’ a Mac, Affect Performance)

Safari Doesn’t Display Some Web Sites

As part of Apple’s concerns about web page security, and the wish to promote HTML5-based content, Safari disables some Safari plug-ins, including Flash, Silverlight, QuickTime, and Java.

The result is that when you visit a web page that relies on these older technologies, you may be greeted with just a black page, or a black page with a dropdown sheet asking if you wish to use Flash or one of the other disabled plug-ins on the specific website.

safariflash1280

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Although the wording can change slightly depending on the plug-in involved, you have the choice of activating the plug-in just this time for this website, always for this website, or to leave the plug-in turned off.

Your choice isn’t permanent; you can change the selection at anytime within Safari Preferences.

  • Select Preferences from the Safari menu.
  • Choose the Security tab.
  • Click the Plug-in Settings button.
  • Select a plug-in from the displayed list, and a list of websites you’ve visited that use the plug-in will be displayed. You can use the dropdown menu to change whether a plug-in may be used on the site.
  • You can select Off, On, or Ask. You can also specify the default for the plug-in’s use when visiting new websites.

You may be tempted to just turn the plug-in on for all websites, which would make browsing the web easier. But that choice comes with issues, including security concerns involving plug-ins, such as Flash, that seem to have a never-ending supply of vulnerabilities. Instead, we recommend using the Ask setting, which will cause Safari to ask what you wish to do each time you visit a website. This way, you’ll always know which sites are using antiquated technologies.

Read more on Rocket Yard, The MacSales.com Blog

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