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Archive for the ‘Mac Hardware’ Category

by Tom Nelson

Target Disk Mode has been a feature of the Mac OS since the PowerBook 100 (pictured below) was released way back in 1991. This handy feature allows you to connect two Macs via FireWire ports, Thunderbolt ports, or USB-C ports, and then share the contents of the Target Disk Mode Mac’s internal drive.

Target Disk Mode can be used for quite a variety of purposes:

  • Copying files from one Mac to another without having to set up file sharing or create a local network.
  • Troubleshooting the drive of a Mac that can’t boot to the desktop.
  • Using an optical drive on the Target Disk Mode Mac as if it were attached to your Mac.
  • Using the Mac OS operating system on the Target Disk Mode Mac to boot a second Mac.

As you can see, Target Disk Mode can be pretty darned versatile, and may be able to solve a problem you’re having that relates to accessing or sharing data from one Mac to another.

What You Need
The list is short, but essential.

  • Two Macs. That may seem obvious, but it makes sense to point out that Target Disk Mode only works between two Macs; you can’t chain multiple Macs together. All of the connection types (FireWire, Thunderbolt, and USB-C) support hot connecting, meaning you can connect a cable between the two Macs while they are powered on. We recommend shutting down both Macs before proceeding, however.
  • An appropriate cable to make the connection. Ideally, you should connect similar ports; that is FireWire to FireWire, Thunderbolt to Thunderbolt, or USB-C to USB-C. There are, however, exceptions. Using adapters to connect Thunderbolt to FireWire will usually work, as will Thunderbolt to USB-C. But not all adapters are known to work correctly in Target Disk Mode, so if you can, connect directly to the same port type. If you need a specific cable or adapter, MacSales.com has a wide selection of FireWireThunderbolt and USB-C cables and adapters available.
  • AC power. While it’s possible to run a notebook Mac off of its battery while in Target Disk Mode, you forgo any monitoring of the battery power levels. This could lead to the Mac in Target Disk Mode shutting down unexpectedly. It’s best to always power portable Macs from an AC source when using Target Disk Mode.

Read more on Rocket Yard, The MacSales.com Blog

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by Tom Nelson

What can I do with my old Mac? That’s a question we hear quite often, and it indicates a desire to do something more with a Mac than simply send it off to the landfill when it comes time to consider replacing it.

I’m old enough to vividly remember the first Earth Day in 1970. Organizer Denis Hayes said 20 million Americans participated in a demonstration of support for environmental protection. Back then, we spent the day picking up trash and attending seminars about alternative energy sources that we should be developing. Today, MacSales.com is using a wide variety of green energy sources, such as wind, solar, and geothermal. We’ve come a long way since those heady early days.

Image courtesy of MacSales.com

While I don’t remember any specific concern back then about electronic waste and the damage it could do by leaching toxins into the environment, it has become a major concern in subsequent years. And why not, considering all the electronics we see in use every day.

There’s always something we can do to help, no matter how small. In this article, we’re going to look at how you can extend the life of your Mac to help keep it out of the landfill. And when the time comes that it no longer serves a useful purpose, we’ll tell you what you can do to recycle its components.

Upgrade Your Mac
One way to keep your Mac out of the landfill is to consider upgrading it with improved components instead of retiring it and replacing it with something newer. This approach has quite a number of advantages for you, including an overall lower cost than replacing your Mac, and an impressive environmental effect, one that not only eliminates the impact of tossing your Mac out, but also reduces the impact of building new replacement Macs to fill the void.

I have to admit I’ve been using the upgrade process for years. I tend to hang on to my Macs for a long time, mostly by upgrading components and peripherals as needed, as well as finding a new use for the older Macs. You can find out more about the latter in a bit, but right now, let’s look at upgrading your Mac.

Read more on Rocket Yard, The MacSales.com Blog

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by Tom Nelson

Disk Utility, the all-purpose tool for working with storage devices connected to the Mac, has long had the ability to create partitions and manage the resulting volumes. It has been the go-to tool for formatting a Mac’s drives, erasing data, securely wiping information, and creating multiple partitions.

With the advent of OS X Leopard, Disk Utility picked up a much-prized feature: the ability to non-destructively resize existing volumes and partitions. Before OS X Leopard, you needed to fully back up all the data on a drive if you intended to alter the drive’s partition map in any way. That’s because changing the partitions, by adding, removing, or resizing, resulted in the loss of all data on the volume.

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Thankfully, you can now resize a partition without losing data, provided you follow a few basic rules.

Resizing was pretty straightforward with OS X Leopard through OS X Yosemite, but starting with OS X El Capitan, Disk Utility underwent a user interface makeover that altered how partitions were resized.

We’re going to look at how to resize a partition without losing data with the new (OS X El Capitan and later) version of Disk Utility.

Read more on Rocket Yard, The MacSales.com Blog

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by Tom Nelson

Disk Utility, a free application included with the Mac OS, is a multipurpose, easy-to-use tool for working with hard drives, SSDs, and disk images. Among other things, Disk Utility can erase, format, repair, and partition hard drives and SSDs, as well as create RAID arrays. In this guide, we’ll use Disk Utility to erase a volume and format a hard drive.

diskutility

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Disk Utility works with disks and volumes. The term ‘disk’ refers to the drive itself; a ‘volume‘ is a formatted section of a disk. Each disk has a minimum of one volume. You can use Disk Utility to create a single volume or multiple volumes on a disk.

It’s important to understand the relationship between a disk and its volumes. You can erase a volume without affecting the rest of the disk, but if you erase the disk, then you erase every volume that it contains.

Read more on Lifewire: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

Question: How do I eject a CD or DVD from my Mac? I inserted a CD into my Mac, and now I can’t figure out how to eject it. Where is the eject button?

Answer: It’s been a while since Apple has offered Macs with built-in optical drives that could make use of a CD or DVD. The last models were the 2012 Mac Pro, which could actually accommodate multiple optical drives, and the mid-year 2012 non-Retina 15-inch MacBook Pro.

Apple first removed the optical drive in the 2008 MacBook Air, but as of the end of 2013, when the Mac Pro was replaced with the newer model, all optical drives are gone from the Mac lineup, at least as built-in options. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a demand for optical drives or the CDs or DVDs that are used in them. That’s why external optical drives have been a popular peripheral for many Mac users.

Which brings us to our question: How do you eject a CD or DVD from a Mac or an externally connected optical drive?

The Mac doesn’t have an external eject button on its CD/DVD drive. Instead, Apple made use of the ability of optical drives to respond to an open or close command sent over the drives electrical interface. By using the open and close commands the Mac offers several options for ejecting a CD or DVD.

Read more on Lifewire: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

Once in a while, for no apparent reason, you may encounter the SPOD (Spinning Pinwheel of Death). It’s that multicolored pinwheel mouse pointer that signifies a temporary delay while your Mac tries to figure something out. In this case, your Mac is trying to think but nothing happens, so the pinwheel keeps spinning, and spinning, and spinning.

Luckily, the SPOD is rarely a sign that your Mac is freezing up.

It’s more likely that a single application is stalled or frozen. If that’s the case, bringing another application to the front or clicking on the desktop will likely bring the Mac back under your control. You can then force quit the offending application.

There’s a good chance, though, that the next time you try launching the application that caused the SPOD, you’ll end up seeing the spinning pinwheel again.

Read more on Lifewire: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

One of our favorite pastimes is predicting what new Mac-related goodies will be coming down the pipeline from Apple. Let’s start with an obvious prediction: Apple’s Campus 2 will definitely open in 2017. Then we’ll finally be able to say the mothership has landed.

The nickname comes from the main building on the campus. It’s going to look as if a spaceship has landed and nestled itself into the surrounding terrain.

applecampus2
Image courtesy of Apple

Apple expects Campus 2 to be up and running sometime in 2017. I imagine Tim Cook would love to give a few tours of the facility after WWDC 2017 so the summer developer’s conference may be a soft deadline for a ribbon cutting at Campus 2.

Read more on Lifewire: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

There’s a new port in town and it plans on replacing all other ports your Mac may currently have. Yes, I’m talking about the USB-C port first introduced with the 12-inch MacBook, and then later, the 2016 MacBook Pros.

The 12-inch MacBook currently supports only USB 3.1 Gen 1, which allows the port to be used for charging, video out, and USB 3 data. While the use of the USB-C port was slightly innovative, it’s the version on the 2016 MacBook Pro that you’ll be seeing on new Macs to come down the road.

The new USB-C ports support Thunderbolt 3 connectivity standards.

Thunderbolt 3

Thunderbolt 3 can carry 100 watts of power, USB 3.1 Gen 2, DisplayPort, HDMI, VGA, and Thunderbolt data at 40 Gbps, all over a simple little USB-C port connector. I guess you can say this is the one port to rule them all, and it means an end to all the ports we’re used to seeing on our Macs, and for that matter, PCs as well. Another interesting tidbit: This is the first Mac, ever, to not include a proprietary port from Apple.

Most of us who already have a collection of peripherals, from printers, scanners, and cameras, to external drives, displays, iPhones, and iPads, are going to need some type of adapter to make the connection to the new Thunderbolt 3 ports.

Note: I’m going to refer to the new port as Thunderbolt 3, and will mention the specific signal type only when needed for clarification.

Read more on Lifewire: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

I have to say that seeing a Mac’s display suddenly appear distorted, frozen, or simply not turning on is one of the worst problems to come across when all you want to do is work on your Mac. Unlike most other Mac issues, this is one you can’t put off to deal with later.

Having your Mac’s display suddenly start misbehaving can be scary, but before you start wondering how much it will cost to fix, take a moment and remember: many times a display glitch is just that; a glitch, temporary in nature, and not necessarily an indication of continuing troubles to come.

macossierrainvert

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

For example, I’ve seen my iMac display suddenly show a couple of rows of distorted color; not quite a band of distortion, since it didn’t show edge to edge. A few other times I’ve had a window that I was dragging suddenly leave a seemingly permanent trail of smeared images behind as it was dragged about. In both cases, the graphics issues were temporary, and did not return after a restart.

One of the more frightening display problems I’ve run into was when the display never turned on, remaining black, never showing a sign of life. Happily, this turned out not to be a display issue but instead a peripheral that was causing the startup process to freeze before the display was initialized by the system.

My point is, don’t think the worst until you’ve run through these troubleshooting tips.

Before you start the troubleshooting process, you should take a moment to ensure the graphics problem you’re having is indeed a graphics issue, and not one of the many startup issues that manifest themselves as a display that’s stuck in a gray screen or a blue or black screen.

Read more on Lifewire: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

Many Mac users want more speed out of their Macs and there are many ways to go about increasing the performance of your Mac, including:

Not all of these options are applicable for every Mac model, but even if you can’t upgrade your Mac’s RAM, and upgrading your internal storage requires surgery to gain access, there are still steps you can take to improve overall performance without having to spend money on updates.

Of all the items included in the list above, the first thing you should do is to ensure that you have an excess of free space on your Mac’s startup drive. If you can’t achieve a reasonable amount of free space by removing unneeded or unwanted apps, documents, and data, then you may want to consider moving your user folder to an external drive to free up some space.

Read more on Lifewire: Macs.

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