to commonly asked questions.

Stuck CD in iMac

we have a cd stuck in a home iMac. Is that something you can help with?

Yes, I can remove the CD from the iMac but before you schedule me to do that, have you first tried the simple fix of turning off the computer, then booting it up with the mouse button held down? If could require a wired mouse but worth a try. If the CD player was just confused via software, this may eject it. However if it is actually physically stuck then the next steps are applying a small amount of pressure with a thin piece of plastic like a credit card. This may dislodge the stuck disc. If all else fails then I can disassemble the computer to get it out.

Computer won't boot after Big Sur update

Hey Scotty!

My iMac has been super slow the past couple months, especially after I put Big Surr on it. Today it was frozen so I tried to restart it, but it was stuck on this screen screen (below). 

So then I tried to started by holding in shift R, and then it ultimately came up with the screen with a
🚫 instead of the 🍎. I then restart it and now it’s back stuck on the on the screen pictured below again. 

I’m assuming I need to reinstall Big Sur? Any advice?

90% of the time, these are indicators that a SATA hard drive is failing. I don’t know what type of drive is in your Mac but boy those SATA drives are terrible. 3 types of drives:

SATA (spinning)
Solid State (no moving parts, very reliable and very fast, never see them fail)
Fusion drives (hybrid mixture of the two above. Can still fail but not as often)

On to your issue, if it’s not physical then here are a few things to try next:

Boot into recovery mode and run disk utility repair
Boot holding down shift to prevent any possible 3rd party extensions from running
Boot into Single user or Verbose mode to watch the start up process through the command line to get a possible idea of where the startup is hanging.

My guess though is that it’s the hard drive. If I’m right, then reinstalling macOS 11 will only further stress an already dying drive.

Message about iClloud archiving

Two things: is this library suppose to be saving into the iCloud?
So I bought more  iCloud space and then got this message.



Buying more storage was the correct move. It's common for our generation to have over 200 gigs of content therefore pushing us up to the next tier plan (2TB). Younger people have less pictures and are fine with the lower amount of storage.

The second item is also fine. Apple did not implement the documents/desktop iCloud syncing as seamlessly as I would hope so you'll see these confusing messages from time to time about "iCloud Drive archive". Nothing really to worry about.

GPU availability during covid

my question is regarding GPUs do you have any connections/knowledge/anything I bought my son one for Christmas and it never came in and we’ve been waiting six months and not sure I’m just trying to use every single resource I have thank

By “GPU” I assume you mean Graphics card for a Windows PC. Since I’m specifically an Apple Consultant I’m afraid I can’t help you there. I do know that since covid, all gpu’s have been massively constrained. Tons of kids were sitting at home and all decided at the same time to increase the power of their computers to play games. That’ very likely why you never received one. Other than that, I’m not really of any help to you.

I don’t recommend buying one via offerup, eBay or craigslist right now because those prices will be massively inflated.

How do I remove unwanted remembered email addresses?

I don’t understand why this is so difficult - I need for the display to be exactly the same as it appears fo __________ Interiors - it has nothing behind the email address still - please see below. Can you PLEASE fix this?


aka: When I start typing an email in to send to someone in Apple's mail program, I see email addresses I don't want to. How do I fix it?

n Mail, under the word “Window” in the menu bar, select “previous recipients”.

Next, search for the word “studio”

Select any studio@ result then hit “remove from list.

Big Sur needs a lot of space.

Why am I seeing this?


Your computer is telling you that in order to do that particular update, you’ll need to free up space. In other words, your internal hard drive is full. I’m guessing you’re trying to move to the latest OS “Big Sur”. Big Sur is 12 gigs large and you only have 16 gigs available. So you would need to find items that you no longer need in order to free up space. It’s possible we may be able to remove iTunes movies or TV shows, old iPhone backups, etc… that could be taking up space you no longer need.

Continue to beware of scams

please continue to be cautious with all the different scams out there. Unfortunately I deal with a few clients each week that have fallen victim to the (very advanced and convincing) trickery out there. From a website trying to convince you to install what they call “flash” to someone telling you they have your password and you must pay them etc…. Then there’s the old “you will be receiving a delivery mistakenly sent to you this week. Please send it back to the address provided.” Many of these are easy to spot but some are extremely convincing to people who may not be expecting it.
So here are a few tips to stay safe:
  • Never enter your computer’s password if prompted unless you understand why you’re doing it.
  • Never join open non-password protected wifi networks when traveling.
  • Check your bank statement regularly and be able to explain any transactions (even very small ones) to yourself. This is especially important when considering subscriptions of any kind.
  • If you feel something is actually legitimate and you are concerned, get a case number then call the company back yourself.
If you do feel something is fishy, please feel free to either forward to me the email or take a screenshot (command+shift+4 then drag around the area) of whatever you’re concerned then send it to me via email. I’ll try to answer you back within 24 hours. You can also check the answers section of my website where I chronicle many of the schemes going these days. I have an area dedicated to exactly this topic.

Big Sur is good to go.

Now please keep in mind that before ever upgrading your operating system, it’s always best practice to make sure you have a good time machine backup.

After a bit of a rough launch in late November, Apple’s newest operating system, Big Sur, has advanced from 11.0 to 11.2.3. That means Apple has sent out several improvements and fixes so at this time I’m letting you know, if you haven’t yet, I’d say you are clear to move forward with upgrading to Big Sur.
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How do I find what version of the application I'm on?

How do I find out what version of a piece of software I have on my computer?

You can right click on the application choose "get info" or open a finder window, selection column view, select the applications folder, select the app then view its details to the right as seen below:

Buying advice for my elderly parent.

Clearly my father is in need of some upgrades - I would like to hear what you think might best suit his needs - (and if you might be able to walk him through set ups etc-
He is truly only using the machines for day to day tasks- but he is struggling with the password security and honestly I don’t think he understands what an APP can do for him.

We have always used Macs and I know that he will be a tougher sell on other products but I would like to know what you think might be the easiest and user friendliest

Currently he has a tyrannosaurus Rex desktop, a stegosaurus laptop and a mircro raptor iPad-

Trying to convince him that he no longer needs both a desk top and a lap top-
I think one basic function machine and an iPad would be more than enough - possibly might even think an iPad with a keyboard -
Curious on thoughts of the Microsoft systems as options?

I complete understand the struggle of trying to find the best technological fit with your parent. Keeping him happy and comfortable would be my main priority. Even when I think something might work better for them, sometimes it’s best to let them live in their comfort zone. If you push something new (and even easier onto them) they will blame you for whatever ever small thing goes wrong and you will never hear the end of how the old computer was so much better. I speak from personal experience with both family and professionally.

All that out of the way, yes an iPad with a keyboard would most likely serve 90% of his needs. The question then becomes: is he willing to let go of the traditional computer model. While I do not think it is a good idea to throw him into the windows world, you could consider either of the following:

Hand down an old iMac or laptop from yourself personally and buy yourself a new computer.
Or purchase a modest Mac like the entry level 21” iMac or entry level MacBook Air. Both are great machines and less expensive at around $1000 each. I think it’s a good idea for him to have an iPad in tandem with the computer. If he does, he’ll most likely find his own way to seeing that’s all he really needs. Especially considering the mobility benefit of an iPad.

He definitely doesn’t need both a desktop and a laptop. That’s certain.

Those are just a few of my thoughts.

How do I disable messages on my laptop?

I would like to disable my messages and emails on my laptop since that is a work laptop, my text and email notifications keep popping up when others are using the laptop.

Open the Messages app on your computer then go to preferences (located under the word "Messages" in the menu bar next to the black apple in the top left of your screen.)

Now you can either uncheck "enable this account" if you'd like to quickly turn it back on sometime OR just Sign out completely. This will not remove your previous texts from the message app. Only prevent future ones from coming in.

Can I recover emails from a backup?

Quick question. I'm wondering if it's possible to pull up deleted emails from 2018. Any chance those would be on my hard drive? Also deleted texts, but I know those are harder to get I'm sure.

If you have a time machine backup dating back to the approximate time you think those emails existed then there’s a good chance we could restore them. To check to see if time machine currently includes that range open the hard drive in a finder window then:

Select the folder called Backups.backupdb
Next select the name of your computer ex: “John's iMac”
Next select Macintosh HD

From there, you’ll hopefully see a long range of backup folders with dates ex: 2.21.2018 etc…

If you are able to see some backups in the range you are thinking about then chances are good we can recover those emails.

How do I change my email password?

How do I change my passwords in the mail accounts? I got a notification that someone might have sold my passwords on the dark web. From Life Lock so it’s real

I believe your email address is hosted with Godaddy. If so, you'll need to log into your godaddy account via their website at There are two types of email services offered by Godaddy. Office email (exchange) and Workspace email.

If Office:

Next, under "My products" select "Email & Office."

Select User Accounts then select "Manage". From there you'll see the password reset tool.

If Workspace email:

Select "workspace email" then manage your password from that area.


What is the deal with Time Machine formatted hard drives and Big Sur?

This is so confusing. What is the deal with time machine formatted drives and Big Sur?

Prior to Big Sur, Time Machine used "MacOS Extended Journaled" or "MacOS Extended Journaled Encrypted" (if you were using file vault, to backup your internal computer to an external hard drive. Even though solid state drives were APFS, Catalina and earlier still used Journaled format for backup.

Now that Big Sur has landed, Apple wants to use APFS across the board. So now, if you are using Big Sur, your Time Machine drive will prefer to use APFS or APFS ecrypted if using file vault. Note: I don't recommend using file vault.

Further explanation from Apple:

Yes of disks to be used:

Encrypt or unencrypted:

Why won't my iPhone show up on my computer?

Quick question (I hope) Why when I connect my phone to our iMac
it immediately shows up in
Apple Music but wife's iPhone 10 won’t
show up-anywhere? I’m trying to back it up on our
iMac which I used
to do regularly and now I’m having a helluva time!

You may have seen in the past when you plug up a phone, you may have been prompted with "trust device". It's possible that the second phone may have been select to "not trust" the computer. To reset the device so you'll see that prompt again, on the phone go to Settings/General/ then scroll to the bottom to the Reset area. Next, select to "Reset Location & Privacy". After that is complete, reconnect the phone to the iMac and you should be prompted to trust the computer.

Also, keep in mind that as of Catalina forward, the phone now shows in a Finder window instead of in Music like it had always been since the beginning of time. All devices are now managed in the finder window. They show up in the left column just like a hard drive. Once you select the device, you'll see a window very similar to the window seen previously in iTunes. From there, you can select various sync commands.

How do I wipe my computer?

How do I wipe my old computer?

Depends on whether you want it to be useable after it's wiped or if you just want it wiped for recycling.

Wiping for recycling:

Holding down the option and R keys, power on your Mac and you'll boot into what is called "recovery mode". Once there, select Disk utility from the window that shows up.
Once in disk utility, select the hard drive on the left hand column and choose "erase" then follow the prompts. After the erase, the computer will not be bootable to an operating system. It's now ready to be recycled with none of your data on the machine.

Wiping to pass it on to others for future use:

Open system preferences and select "Users and Groups".
Click the lock in the bottom left corner and enter your computer's password.
Click the plus sign on the bottom left to add a new user.
Add a new user by selecting "admin" instead of "standard"
Choose a simple name like "admin"
The second field should automatically fill in with the same name as you entered above.
Enter a simple password twice and include a hint so the next user will see it. I make it obvious. Example: pw is "password". Tip: you can't include the password in the hint field unless it is in quotes.

Next step is to log out of your user and log into the newly created user.
Once in the newly created user, go back to system preferences/Users and Groups
If locked, click to open the lock again (bottom left corner)
Next, select the old user(s) in the left column then hit the minus button below.
Depending on the size of the user, you may have to wait during the next step for a couple minutes but eventually you'll see a drop down window. Select the third option which states "delete home folder immediately"
Do that for each user on the machine other than the newly created user.

Lastly, in system preferences, open "Sharing". In the name field change the old name to something generic like "iMac".


How do I know how big a drive I need for my new computer?

I recently bought too small a hard drive for my new computer. How can I avoid this problem in the future?


This is a very common mis step. Best way to avoid this problem is to first check the amount of storage you have and are currently using on your old computer then go from there. To do this, go to the black apple in the top left corner of the screen, choose "about this Mac" then select storage.

The bar graph will show you the total capacity of your internal hard drive as well as how much space is being used. If you have a 1TB drive that's 1000 gigs. But if you are currently using 750 gigs of that 1TB drive then you would probably want to consider going to a 2TB drive. In general I don't really recommend anything below 1 TB these days. But there are exceptions to this rule of course. I 16 year old probably doesn't need that space yet in their lives. But an adult might. You are welcome to send me those numbers and I'll recommend a drive size based on the type of computer you buy of course.

Can I use an old iMac as a display?

I am wondering if I should get an iMacPro Lap Top and use my desk top old iMac SCREEN for a larger screen option. You, Neal and Joe all suggested this to me originally and at first I was against it. Now I am wondering if this whole issue with wrong computer ordered is a sign for me to go this route.

I would only want to get a Mac Lap Top IF AND ONLY IF I can use my big screen on old iMac - Is this possible? Or is my Desktop iMac old one going to die soon and that is not going to be an option for long.
I was trying to figure this out myself and found this article but still not sure of answer.

Can you help me?

Using your iMac as a second display is a massive massive headache. It is a miserable experience and I would rather walk over hot coals than to deal with what it takes to make it work. Here's why:

1. You can only use a very specific year range of the old iMacs. It doesn't work for all iMacs.
2. Apple will eventually stop support for doing this with a future update just because they don't care about this feature.
3. You actually have to have an active user running on the old iMac and logged in so it's not really just a display. It's a user running that you can then basically push your video over to.
4. It doesn't work half the time and the other half of the time it works for about 5 minutes.

Short Answer: Forget about it. You are better off buying a second display and just using that. You can go cheap like around $150 or kick it up a little more to around $300 and get a really nice display.

Backing up encrypted disks with unencrypted Time Machine

It says this, which from what I researched seems to say it doesn’t help me if they are encrypted. I’m confused what this means.
Is there a way I can remove the encryption? Should I?


I've never been a fan of "File Vault" which is what Apple calls its built in encryption. The proper way apple wants you to execute this is to have an encrypted backup drive to backup your file vault protected internal drive. Problem is…don't use file vault. Yes, it's extremely secure and would be great if you travel a tremendous amount and you're carrying the secret launch codes but other than that it's really not necessary for normal people. So you have two choices.

1. Ignore it.
2. Encrypt your backup drive which would require reformatting it to MacOS Extended Journaled Encrypted.
3. Decrypt your internal drive. Aka: turn off file vault.

I vote for number 3. To do this go to System Preferences/Security/File Vault. Turn it off and plug the computer up. It will take a very long time for the decryption to complete. 9like many hours)

How can I get more detail on my mesh network?

We recently upgraded to Verizon Fios here in DC and I just had an issue which has a few proposed fixes from online research, one being to keep your software up to date for connectivity reasons. We bought our own mesh network system (Asus), and while we have a strong signal with impressive speed test results, it seems we have a signal problem. I just did my first zoom call on the new fios/Asus configuration and even though the signal showed strong my service kept dropping, I was freezing and getting dropped off the call over and over. My husband just disabled something called “smart connect” in the mesh system, thinking it might have been kicking me off looking for a better connection, but who knows if that will fix it.

Wifi can be chalenging to deal with for sure. Couple of things.

1. If you hold down the option key when clicking on your wifi bars in the menu bar you’ll get a list of technical information. The most important number is the TxRate or Transmit Rate. That number represents how strong the potential wifi signal is coming from the router. That doesn’t mean your ISP is giving you that. It just means that’s what the router wifi can push to you. Transmit rates over 75 or so are descent but should be much much higher depending on the environment.

If you want to get a better look at what’s going on in your house, I recommend buying Wifi Explorer from the App Store. It runs on a Mac and if you put it on your laptop, you’ll start to gain a better understanding of how your wifi network is performing.
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