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Frequently Asked Questions for the Mac and Other Apple Products

Answers to the most common questions about Apple, the Mac, and using a Mac.

How to Zip and Unzip Files and Folders on a Mac
The ability to zip or unzip files and folders is built into the Mac. All you need to do to take advantage of these compression/decompression services is a bit of mouse clicking. This guide will show you how to compress and decompress files and folders on your Mac.

What Are Aliases, Symbolic Links, and Hard Links in Mac OS X?
Do you wonder which file system shortcut is the right one to use? This FAQ explains the difference between aliases, symbolic links, and hard links.

How Do I Install Apple OS X Updates From the Mac App Store?
Apple changed the way software updates are performed, but don’t worry; you can still perform a combo update, as well as the quicker basic software update, through the Mac App Store.

What is USB 3?
USB 3 is now available on the Mac. This FAQ explains what USB 3 is and how to use it.

What Really Happens When You Put Your Mac to Sleep?
Putting Your Mac to Sleep: When I use the Mac's sleep mode, what really happens? Is sleep the same as safe sleep? Are sleep or safe sleep modes really safe? Are there any security concerns? And can I change the Mac's method of sleeping?

What is Thunderbolt High Speed I/O?
What is Thunderbolt High Speed I/O?: With the introduction of new MacBook Pros in early 2011, Apple became the first manufacturer to use Intel's Thunderbolt technology, which provides a high-speed data and video connection for computing devices. Thunderbolt was originally called Light Peak, because Intel intended the technology to use fiber...

How Can I Repair My Hard Drive If My Mac Won’t Start?
My Mac won’t start. How can I repair my hard drive? The Mac has three good options for emergency startup and repair: booting from a different device, Safe Boot, and Single User Mode. All three options allow you to run various types of disk repair utilities that should get your Mac going again.

Drive Icons Missing From Your Mac’s Desktop?
Hard Drive Icons Not On Your Mac’s Desktop: It’s the Finder’s job to display the desktop and all of its icons, including those for hard drives. The problem is that a default install of OS X renders the desktop without the drive icons.

How Much Free Drive Space Do I Need?
How Much Free Drive Space Do I Need: What's the minimum amount of free drive space that I need? My Mac is starting to operate slowly, taking a long time to boot or to launch an application. It also seems unstable, sometimes giving me the rainbow cursor for very long periods of times, even locking up completely.

Upgrade the Hard Drive in a Late 2009 iMac
Upgrading the hard drive in an iMac is a DIY project that has always been a difficult, though not impossible, task. With the advent of the late 2009 edition iMacs, there’s a new twist that limits how you can upgrade the iMac’s hard drive.

Can I Upgrade to Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6)?
Thinking about upgrading to Snow Leopard and wondering if your Mac can take it? The quick and dirty answer is, if your Mac uses an Intel processor then you can upgrade to OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard). However, there is much more to know before you make a final decision.

How Can I Fix an Application That Fails to Launch?
You can use Disk Utility’s Repair Permissions feature to fix a problem with applications that fail to launch, or have features that seem to have stopped working.

How Do I Right-Click With My Mouse?
Right-clicking with your mouse may be as simple as changing the mouse button’s function or using the Control key while you click.

My Browser Does Not Display a Web Site Correctly
My browser is not displaying web sites. When I use my browser to visit a web site, it sometimes fails to load a web page or only displays part of the page. Sometimes I see timeout errors, yet at other times the site loads fine. What’s going on and how can I fix this problem?

Do You Need to Defragment a Mac’s Hard Drive?
Do you need to defragment a Mac’s hard drive? About: Macs explains how your Mac is capable of defragmenting your hard drive on its own, without any intervention by you.

Do I need an anti-virus program for my Mac?
The Mac has a longstanding reputation as a secure operating system, with no known successful virus attacks in the wild. With a rich history of being virus free, do Macs need anti-virus protection?

What are the Windows keyboard equivalents for the Mac's special keys?
Almost any Windows keyboard that has a USB interface will work with a Mac. The only catch is that some of the keys on Windows keyboards have different names than those on Macintosh keyboards. This FAQ covers the Windows keyboard equivalents for the Mac's command, option, control, delete, and return keys.

How do I use my mouse to right-click on a Mac?
Because the Mac OS supports multi-button mice, right-clicking an object is a common shortcut for Mac users. If you have an Apple Mighty Mouse, you may need to activate the multi-button option in the OS before it will work correctly.

My Mac displays a question mark when it boots. What does that mean?
If your Mac displays a flashing question mark after you turn it on, it may be a temporary hiccup or it may mean your Mac can't find a bootable operating system.

How do I eject a CD from my Mac?
Unlike many PCs, Macs don't have a manual eject button on their CD/DVD drives. You can eject a CD or DVD from a Mac using one of three methods: the eject key on the keyboard, the F12 key on the keyboard, or an application's eject command.

How Do You Back Up FileVault User Accounts With Time Machine?
Time Machine and FileVault User Accounts: I've started to use FileVault to encrypt my user account on my Mac. I've noticed that since turning on FileVault, Time Machine no longer seems to be running any of its backups. Can Time Machine be used to back up FileVault-protected user accounts?

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