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Top 10 Mac Troubleshooting Tips

Gray screen - Top 10 Mac Troubleshooting Tips

This collection of Mac troubleshooting tips covers common problems encountered by users, some general tips that can fix many different types of problems, and a few tips that can help you prepare for trouble before you get into it.

Be Prepared Before Disaster Strikes
Macs Spotlight10

1Password 4: Tomís Mac Software Pick

Saturday April 19, 2014

1Password 4 from AgileBits is a password manager that makes keeping track of all the passwords you use just about as easy as it can be. 1Password comes with extensions for all the popular Mac web browsers, so you can integrate it into your favorite browser for seamless access to current web site accounts. It can also save login credentials for new accounts that you create.

1Password 4: Tom's Mac Software Pick

1Password 4

1Password isn't just a web login utility. It encompasses a stand-alone app that allows you to store logins, secure notes, credit card info, identities, passwords, software licensing information, bank accounts, and just about any other type of information that needs to be kept in a secure encrypted environment to prevent prying eyes from viewing it.

Keeping all of your personal data behind an encrypted gatekeeper is a great idea, provided you can make use of the information quickly and easily. 1Password makes retrieving the information a breeze, at least for the rightful owner of the information. With the use of a master password, you can unlock 1Password for a session whose length you define. Once the session is finished, 1Password locks itself back up, preventing further access unless you supply the master password again.

1Password has won numerous awards, including our own Readers' Choice Awards in 2013. 1Password works with Macs, Windows PCs, and iOS devices.

1Password 4 is normally $49.99, but it's available for $24.99 for a limited time. A demo is available.

See other software choices from Tom's Mac Software Picks.

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Weekend DIY - Customize the Dock With Recent Application Stacks and Dock Spacers

Friday April 18, 2014

This weekend's project is a good one if you want to add functionality to your Mac's desktop via the Dock. With a bit of Terminal magic, you can add a capability to the Dock that allows you to keep track of apps and documents that you've recently worked with.

Weekend DIY - Customize the Dock With Recent Application Stacks and Dock Spacers

Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

Once you finish adding the Recent Applications stack, you can use the same technique to add a Recent Documents stack.

Now, with all the new Dock features you've added, you may want to consider reorganizing your Dock; you know, move the Dock icons around to place them into groups that make sense to you.

As part of the Dock shuffle, you can add Dock Spacers to help make your groups of icons really stand out.

Add a Recent Applications Stack to the Dock

Add a Dock Spacer to Your Mac

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Rumor: Mac mini Undergoing Dramatic Changes

Thursday April 17, 2014

The Mac mini is getting very long in the tooth; October 2012 was the last time it was updated. On average, the Mac mini is updated just a tick less than once a year. It's now been nearly a year and a half since the last update, which makes me wonder what Apple has been doing with the Mac mini during that time.

Rumor: Mac mini Undergoing Dramatic Changes

Courtesy of Apple

The Mac mini is not only the least expensive desktop Mac, but also a popular choice for many businesses and former PC users who want a powerful Mac, but who don't want or need the added cost of an iMac's built-in display, or a Mac Pro's raw processing power.

Mac pundits, including myself, expected an updated Mac mini sometime in early 2014, which would have met the normal upgrade cycle. Apple could easily throw in a new Intel Haswell processor upgrade, and Intel Iris or Iris Pro graphics, without breaking a sweat. This hasn't happened, so what's going on?

Apple may be giving the Mac mini more than just a basic upgrade this time around. Looking at recent Apple designs, and the direction they point to, here's what I think Apple will do with a new Mac mini.

Apple could just drop the model altogether; after all, desktops aren't the moneymakers they once were. But the Mac mini could be part of a new direction in Apple's desktop designs, one that started with the 2013 Mac Pro. That includes updating the storage system to SSD only; no mechanical spinning drives of any type. Instead, the new Mac mini would have a PCIe-based SSD, as seen in the Mac Pro and current MacBook Airs.

Without the need for a mechanical hard drive, the Mac mini could shrink, and I mean in a big way. There is no reason why a Mac mini couldn't be the size of an Apple TV, or perhaps a puck shape, a smaller take on the Mac Pro's cylinder design.

The only interface needs are power, HDMI, Thunderbolt, and USB 3. The number of each type of port depends on how small Apple wants to make the Mac mini. I would expect to see four USB 3, two Thunderbolt, and one HDMI. Of course, there would be the required Bluetooth and AC Wi-Fi, but perhaps no Ethernet port.

As for processors and graphics, Haswell and Iris Pro will likely be the choices. There could be a model with a higher-end graphics card to provide a bit of a GPU boost to overall performance.

What do you think a new Mac mini will look like? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

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Don't Worry, It's Only a Mac Kernel Panic

Wednesday April 16, 2014

If you want to know what strikes fear into the heart of Mac users, it's the kernel panic image that a Mac displays when the OS throws its hands up and simply stops working.

Don't Worry, It's Only a Mac Kernel Panic


Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

As strange as it may sound, if you see the kernel panic image, it's time to relax, because there's nothing you can do to remedy the problem. It may be of little comfort, but when there's nothing you can do about a situation, the best thing to do is take a deep breath and move on.

Feeling better now? Ready for a bit of good news? A very high percentage of kernel panics are caused by one-time events that you may never see again. Kernel panics are usually the result of two or more poorly written apps vying for the same computer resource at the same time. This isn't supposed to happen, but sometimes it does.

A kernel panic can also occur because of a memory leak, once again caused by a poorly written app (or plug-in or add-on). In this case, the misbehaving app keeps using more and more memory until there's none left, and poof, your Mac crashes.

How about more good news? Restarting your Mac will probably bring you right back to the desktop, with no problems other than losing unsaved data from any apps that were open when the kernel panic occurred.

If you restart your Mac and run into problems, our guide to Troubleshooting Mac OS X Kernel Panics should get you going again.

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