to commonly asked questions.


iPhone and iCloud are caught in a loop

Scotty, I updated all devices. I deleted the iCloud backup from the 1F5A5️. Regarding hard drive storage, my iMac has 32 gigs of photos. MacBook Pro has 18 gigs of photos. iPad Pro has 15 gigs of photos. iPhone has over 600 gigs, which seems to be the issue.

I have Photos set to optimize on all devices, but all goes back to the original issue of the photos refusing to sync and convert to optimize on my phone.


So you’d want to tread carefully here. Based on the information you’ve provided, it sounds like the problem is a communications loop of some sort between the phone and the cloud, specifically regarding pictures. In a normal situation, your iCloud space tells you exactly how much space is being used for your full resolution pictures and videos but the other devices have the option to “optimize” or abbreviate the resolution, therefore taking less space. For example, an average person in their 40’s might have 100 gigs of pics and video that sits permanently in the cloud but that space would be optimized down to say 8 gigs of space on the other devices.

I sent out an email about this topic a couple months ago where I mentioned I prefer that people who have enough hard drive space, store their pictures on at least one computer in full rez versions. In your case, keeping the originals downloaded on your iMac would be useful here. However, you mentioned that optimized is turned on on your iMac. If that is the case, we need to think this through a bit more. This would mean that the only place your pictures truly are would be in the cloud. And even in the cloud, they’re screwed up because of the communication problem between iPhone and cloud. This means we wouldn’t have a current reliable copy of your pictures to start over from.

This best way to move forward would be to first: make a backup of your photos regardless of the mess they’re in. The way one would do this would be to ensure there’s enough hard drive space either on the entire iMac drive or by pointing Photos to an external, then restarting with a new library on the iMac set to Originals from the beginning. After many many hours, you’d then have all 600 gigs of messed up photos on a local drive.

Second: After turning off syncing on your computer, you’d delete every photo from the cloud until you have no photos in your life in both the cloud and iOS devices.

Third: you’d make a backup copy of the iMac 600 gig library and then remove duplicates in that library, therefore bringing your library down to the more logical size of around 100 gigs or so.

Fourth: restart photos syncing and the healthy smaller library should now push over to all devices after many hours of reuploading the pictures to iCloud from the iMac.

Above all, you want to make sure you back up copies as you go along so you don’t lose everything. Time Machine doesn’t help a person who only has optimized checked. Time Machine will not back up something that was never there in the first place and iCloud doesn’t make a backup of itself.

Big project ahead it sounds like. But essentially, it seems like the phone and the cloud got into a revolving conversation and just started filling the other up with repetitive data. That’s my guess.

If Time Machine was running at that time, there's a good chance you'll be able to recover it. Two methods to using Time Machine… 1. Apple's space warp interface way. 2. Manually looking for it. I prefer 2. Although it will require you have an idea of where you would have kept the file. Open the Time Machine hard drive and you'll see one folder "backups.backupdb". Drill down in that folder until you see a very long list of dates. Each date represents a backup. Pick a date close to when you think you still had the document in your possession. Next, drill down into whatever folder you think it may have been stored in. If you don't see it in that particular folder, try going to an older folder. Repeat the process until you've found the file. If option 2 doesn't work, then it's up to Apple's silly space warp interface. With the old drive plugged up, select "enter Time Machine" from the menu bar under the Time Machine icon. On the right side of the weird space window, you'll see a time line. Go back to the date you may have had it and it will scroll back in time with whatever window is open. Usually a finder window is all you'll need. Search for the file name or term within the file and Time Machine may detect where the file exists in its history.

I am looking for an old document… likely 2014 or 2015 and I have the old external drive Time Machine back ups from then. How hard would it be to find an individual document on those?

If Time Machine was running at that time, there's a good chance you'll be able to recover it. Two methods to using Time Machine…

1. Apple's space warp interface way.
2. Manually looking for it.

I prefer 2. Although it will require you have an idea of where you would have kept the file. Open the Time Machine hard drive and you'll see one folder "backups.backupdb". Drill down in that folder until you see a very long list of dates. Each date represents a backup. Pick a date close to when you think you still had the document in your possession. Next, drill down into whatever folder you think it may have been stored in. If you don't see it in that particular folder, try going to an older folder. Repeat the process until you've found the file.

If option 2 doesn't work, then it's up to Apple's silly space warp interface. With the old drive plugged up, select "enter Time Machine" from the menu bar under the Time Machine icon. On the right side of the weird space window, you'll see a time line. Go back to the date you may have had it and it will scroll back in time with whatever window is open. Usually a finder window is all you'll need. Search for the file name or term within the file and Time Machine may detect where the file exists in its history.

What does this message mean?

I ordered the hard drive you recommended and got the cord fixed. This morning when trying to backup computer this is the message that appeared. I have no idea what this means. The back up isn’t starting.



Every hard drive comes with its own (crappy) software. I usually erase the drive before using it with time machine. However, time machine will do this for you. Open system preferences, go to the time machine pane, then choose select backup. Once you select your new drive (as long as it’s plugged in) it will reformat it for you, therefore removing all the garbage software that came with it.

How do I eject my time machine drive?

Scotty…..I have this box in upper corner of my deck top computer screen. ( Eject” Seagate Portable Drive” before disconnecting or turning off) Don’t I always keep the hard drive connected to my desk too? If I need to turn off my computer and then turn it back on for any reason, do I unplug the hard drive, then once computer is up and running again reconnect it? What happens of the electricity fails and the hard drive is connected…I would think it would be OK?

Also I am traveling/flying in a couple of days….do I need to keep the hard drive connected to the lap top at all times?

You don't need to keep your time machine backup drive connected ALL the time. Really just at least every few days for it to have a chance to record all the things you've added to your computer within the last time.

The box in the upper corner of the screen is a message the computer is displaying that is basically saying the drive accidentally disconnected. It's no major issue. You really shouldn't even have to see that message.. The computer just prefers that you eject the drive properly. It's really no big deal if it doesn't.

The proper way to eject the drive is to either:

A: drag the hard drive icon (usually olive green) to the trash which becomes an eject icon as soon as you start dragging it or…
B: right click the external hard drive icon and choose eject.

There are other ways to eject but these are the easiest two methods.

No need to worry if the electricity goes out. The time machine software is very good and usually has no problem just picking right back up where it last left off with the backup.

Did I buy the right hard drive for backup?

I ordered the back up device you recommended — I Plugged it in today and here is the message I got. Did I order one that isn’t MAC compatible?


That drive is totally fine. You don’t want to use the the software that came with it. You’ll want to go into System preferences then select “Time Machine”. Then choose backup disk. It will ask you if you’d like to reformat the drive (aka: erase) Yes, you will want to do that. Then the time machine software will be the backup method.

Most drives come with a crappy backup software just like this. Time machine is way better. Let me know if you have any issues. Happy to quickly assist if needed.

Moving an old iTunes library from a time machine drivwe

I'm bringing my old iTunes music into my new computer from an old backup. What do I need to look out for?

As Apple has transitioned from using the word “iTunes” to instead using the obligatory term “Music” (way to go Apple) the folder names have changed slightly. Since you’ve not yet opened “Music” on your new Mac, just drags the old “iTunes” folder from your TM backup drive into the “Music” folder on your Mac and then open the new Music app. The application should find the old files and upgrade those files to the new music library format.

This will be the largest potential for problems from your data recovery. The music folder contains both music AND some important files that apple uses to build your playlists and other groupings. These .xml files and such need to be present and in the correct place in order for your old playlists to show up. If, for some reason, you open your Music application and see all your music but none of your playlists, you’ll need some assistance again. But hopefully those files are all in the correct place and everything should just work. If not, happy to assist. You know how to find me.

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.

Where did my emails go?

I closed my email account and can no longer find my old emails. It was an old work account that I no longer have access to. How can I prevent this from happening in the future?

When storing emails here are a few strategies.
a. Leave them in the inbox which builds up over time obviously. These however, are tied to the cloud so if you stop that particular email account, you would eventually lose access to your inbox.
b. Move them to a folder associated with the email address. These will also live in the cloud and are subject to the same potential fate mentioned above. For instance, if you have a yahoo account and your store emails in a folder (aka. Mailbox) located on yahoo’s server, if you end the yahoo account you will eventually lose access to those folders.
c. You could make folders (aka Mailboxes) that reside “On my Mac”. Dragging an email from the inbox to one of these folders will remove it from the cloud and place a permanent local copy of the email. Disadvantage here is that these “on my Mac” folders will not show up on other devices like iPad or iPhone.

Backup before moving to Big Sur

My fingers on the trigger…still January before upgrading?

Big Sur released late November with 11.0 and was soon updated to 11.0.1. As always I discuraage all users from any .0 release. YESTERDAY Apple release 11.1 so I'd say you are much more safe to upgrade. As always, have a good backup drive before any major upgrade. Just ask the computer I'm currently working on….


Ran updates, didn't have a backup. All is lost.

How should I backup my computer?

Can I backup to the cloud before I send my computer to Apple for repair?

Backing up to the cloud is not a good way to think of backing up when it comes to the full complete picture of your computer. Having an external hard drive dedicated to backup is the way to go. I recommend the Seagate Backup 1 or 2TB. You can get one from Amazon.

Time Machine wants to erase my new drive!

Scotty, trying to back up on my new back up plus portable. Stopped because it said ... are you sure you want to erase...
Help please


Yes it is fine to Erase it. You just bought the drive so there is nothing on it that is important to you. Time Machine wants to reformat it so it can use it the way it would like. Reformating a drive means the drive must be erased in the process. Since the drive is brand new and you just took it out of its packaging, there is nothing on the drive that belongs to you. Go ahead and select "erase". I try to always mention this step to people because it's very common to be concerned when seeing such a seemingly scary message.

Finding items from your Time Machine backup drive

Hey Scotty, I did a big cleaning but now it appears I lost some things I need. Can you walk me through going into my backup sometime soon?

Two ways to recover items from your backup drive.

1. Use Apple's space warp interface by selecting "enter time machine" from the menu bar.
2. Do it manually.

Which method you choose depends on what you're looking for. Individual emails or pictures, best to open your mail program or Photos then enter time machine and scroll back to a time you remember having them, then select to restore. You can also open a specific folder in the finder then enter time machine and it will allow you to look back in time to how the contents of that folder changed. But for most everything else, I like to just go in manually. Here's how.

With you backup drive plugged up, go to the "Backup.backupsdb" folder. It should be the only folder on the backup drive. From there, navigate to the following:

Macintosh HD//date of a recent backup/ Users/your user/

You'll see a very long list of dated folders. I usually like to go about 1 week prior to the latest backup. Do not use "latest backup". If you don't find what you're looking for in that folder, go to an earlier version. Eventually you should be able to find what you're looking for. Sometimes you jump back too far and get an outdated version of a document so keep looking in different dates until you're happy with the version you find. From there, just drag the item(s) back to the desktop and file them away where ever you'd like.

Manually looking through the backup folder does not work for individual emails, addresses, calendar events or pictures that only lived inside Photos. For those issues, it's best to use the Apple Space warp interface. Open the program you want to reover entries from like Address Book (now called Contacts) then enter time machine.

Do I need the seagate for my backup drive?

Should I set up an appointment to remove the Seagate Backup Plus? And how can I check to make sure we are still getting backed up by Time Machine?

While you don't necessarily need an appointment to deal with your backup, I can't completely and clearly answer your questions without more information. First some vocabulary:

Seagate is the hard drive you may be using to backup your computer. The Seagate drive is being used by Time Machine.
Time machine is the software that runs on your computer that backs everything up periodically. Time machine needs an external hard drive in order to do its job.

The seagate drive and time machine are co-dependent unless you have a different drive. To make things sometimes more complicated, it is possible to use the software that came with the seagate drive (western digital does this also) to backup. I do not recommend anyone use that software. I prefer time machine.

So let me know if this helps clear things up and/or if you feel you need assistance you can schedule a remote session and I'm sure we could take care of any additional issues.

What hard drive do I need and do I need one per computer?

When I sent it off to repair they asked me if I had backed it on a hard drive. What should I get for a hard drive?

A simple $60 hard drive from Amazon is really all you need. You can get a Seagate 2TB for about that. They’re great.

and does each computer need their own hard drive?

No but humans are lazy and we tend to forget to use drives when sharing between computers so in the long run, each having its own drive is better.

My iPhone is blinking and my computer won't start.

My iphone 10 started blinking then went black Sunday, ive had no cell phone since. Apple tech attempted to help me and wanted me to update Catalina, well in that process... the desktop Mac crashed and nonlonger works. I spoke with several levels of Apple folks. They suggested it could be spectrum. I had to levels of spectrum techs come out and they say it’s all good.... on their devices. Ours still read downladn100ish and upload 20.
Apple is saying I need to erase and upload from hard drive. But not to do it as long as it’s slow speed and poor service. And I can’t backup phone and reload until that is done.

In the meantime my moms been admitted to hospital and I just moved parents to Charlotte. So I’m needing my phone desperately. As my husband needs his desk top for work, desperately. 
I know originally I was going to conf call you. But since I’ve spent so much time on phone with apple at this point...
What would you recommend would be the fastest remedy.

Btw, when we try to update Mac, it freezes. We power off and on, if goes to login and freezes.  Time after time. 

Sounds like there are different issues going on here. Your phone was having issues and Apple wanted you to restore/update the phone using the computer maybe but in the meantime they discovered that you were behind on your computer operating system. Then in the process of trying to update your computer, its issues have expounded.

Not exactly sure what you’ve discussed with Apple but here’s my guess. Your phone “blinking” is most likely a hardware problem that will not be fixed by updating the phone. If the phone screen is “blinking” then that is most likely a physical issue with the screen. Updating or restoring it would not solve that.

Restoring a phone. (If you did actually want to) There are two ways to restore a phone.
1. Via a computer.
a. In macOS Catalina 10.15 the restore happens in the Finder window.
b. In all operating systems prior to 10.15, the restore happens in iTunes aka: Music.

2. Restoring via a reset from the phone itself.

If the phone was not responsive then it would make sense that Apple would have you try to connect the phone to the computer to try to restore it, thus starting you down the path of updating the computer. I doubt however that would have even solved the issue. I would need more info like does the phone actually turn on? Does the screen respond or even light up at all? That sort of info.

Secondly, the computer issue. I don’t recall what year you may have mentioned your computer was but as we had discussed last week, it was hard to isolate whether your speed issue was the fault of internet or the computer itself. After you mentioned you feel your internet is ok, that puts us in the direction of computer. Hard drives, especially iMac 2015 and earlier hard drives, are simply prone to failure. SATA drives are spinning drives that often give out due to the fact that they never stop spinning. Since it’s a moving part, they are more likely to break over time. Drives often fail when updating an operating system since that is when it’s being asked to do even more than usual. Common characteristics of a failing hard drive are as follow:

computer slow to boot
slow to open folders when looking inside documents folder, applications, music, etc…
spinning wheel and no response to force quit
boots to black screen
boots to icon of folder with an exclamation point

None of those are related to internet. Not being able to actually touch your devices puts my diagnosis at a disadvantage. Sort of like a dr trying to tell a patient what they have from the sound of their voice over the phone. I may be completely wrong.

You may have an automatic backup of your phone in iCloud. Most people have iCloud backup turned on these days.
You may also have a backup drive backing your computer up. Always a good idea to have a external drive that Time Machine (the automatic backup software on your computer) uses to keep your internal hard drive data safe.

I’m sorry I can’t be more specific. I’m really just throwing darts here.

How do I find the backup folder?

How do I find the backup.backupsdb folder in Time Machine?

Open a finder window. Select your backup drive from the left hand column. You should then see it. Ex:


Backup not Encrypted

I just got this notice on my screen. Let me know what you think.

Screen Shot 2020-06-25 at 1.00.41 PM

In my opinion, not encrypting your backup is actually a good thing. I don’t like encrypting drives as they tend to slow things down and if you ever forget the password (which many many people I work with do) then the data is gone forever anyway. So that message is fine with me. It means that you are using FileVault on your computer but not using it on your backup. I do prefer they both be the same but it’s not worth changing at this point if I were you.

Why won't my Western Digital drive work?

I am having trouble mounting my external drive. It is an older Western Digital My Book, and I am running Catalina on an iMac. I contacted support for Western Digital, after much troubleshooting and downloading updated software, it still did not work. They said I could try to run it on a computer with a lower version (He thought Catalina could be the issue), which I do not have. I really just want to get the photos and videos off of this external drive. Actually, I’m not 100% sure what, if anything, is on it but I need to find out for sure.

This is why I don't like Western Digital drives specifically. Sorry to hear of the issue you're having. The ability to access data on this external drive should be irrelevant to what OS your computer (given that it was formatted for the Mac in the begging) is using. Also, I strongly urge no one use the "WD" software that comes with the drive. It's crap frankly. If you are using the drive as a backup drive, just use time Machine software that comes on every Mac. If you are using it as a media storage drive for pictures or videos for example, then in the future make sure the media drive is being included in the Time Machine backup (which would be running on a separate external drive.

Moving on to the actual question, in my experience with Western Digitals, it's usually the plastic enclosure that dies before the hard drive. So if your main goal is to get the data so you can transfer it to a different drive, it may require opening up the enclosure to get the drive in hopes of circumventing the plastic. If you did actually use the "WD" software (I'm really hoping you didn't) to encrypt your data, then all may be lost. But seeing this is rare among my clients.

So first step: open a program on your Mac called "Disk Utility". Located in the Applications/Utilities folder. (Or search for it with spotlight search-magnifying glass in the top right corner of your screen.). Once disk utility is open, can you see the hard drive (given that it is powered on) on the left column? If so, select it and try to use the mount button within that same window.

Side note: Have you heard any clicking coming from the drive. Like the sound of a very loud pencil tapping on a table? If so, the drive is basically toast and beyond my ability to assist. There are data recovery companies that handle physically broken drives but they are $$$$$.

Next step: I'd be happy to attempt to recover the data if you were not using the WD encryption software and it's not been clicking. Worth a shot. You can just schedule a pickup/dropoff. I would attempt the recovery and have it back to you usually the next day. Or at least be able to pronounce it dead if that were the case as well.

How do I know if my external drive is being backed up.

I have a Samsung Portable SSD T5 where I store all my photographs. I want to make sure that it is backed up.

I have an automatic backup system for my computer that saves data onto an external hard drive. You helped me install the automatic backup system the last time we worked together. Will the automatic backup system on my computer also backup this Samsung Portable SSD T5 if it is plugged into my computer?

Or do I need to manually copy the information on the Samsung SSD T5 onto a backup drive myself?

The external backup drive that Time Machine uses will backup other drives that are plugged into the same computer however Apple has made a very non intuitive choice in how this works. The drive would have to have been removed from the "do not include in backup" section of Time Machine preferences. Before going into detail on that, the easiest thing to do to check is to open the external backup drive then look in the backup.backupsdb folder. From there, choose a recent backup from the list of backups. Inside that folder you should see MacintoshHD as well as the names of any other drives that time machine drive is backing up. If you see the external photos drive listed there, that means it is being included. If you do not, let me know and I'll give you further ways to ensure it's included in the future.

Note: for a drive to be used by time machine to backup, it can not be formatted for windows. I doubt yours is either.

I lost all my photos

I have put my photos in the trash and I don’t know how to undo what I did, it would probably help if I knew how I managed to do this?

There are a few things we might be able to do. If you deleted your pictures, there’s a chance they may just be in the trash folder and will reside there for approximately 30 days before being completely lost. Look on the side of Photos for a folder called “Recently Deleted”. If you don’t see them there then perhaps you’ve been using a time machine backup hard drive. If so, we should also be able to get them back from the external drive. It backs up automatically as long as the user has been plugging it in from time to time.

Which backup drive should I buy?

I’m looking to get one (or many if you suggest) and not need another one for many years. There isn’t a computer at my firm bigger than 4TB, so I’m thinking at least 5TB.

  1. Me - Can I get just 1 and plug it in at home to capture all computers I work on (since most everything I do is in the cloud)?
  2. Other Employees - Even though everything is on the cloud, some may not be and I can’t stop it. Should I get one for each person’s iMac at the office and mandate that it’s plugged in at all times for auto-save?
  3. Which one?
  4. ___________

1. It’s always a very good idea to have a backup drive (controlled via Time Machine) connected to your computer either full time or as often as you charge. That way you are guaranteeing not to lose data. I have high confidence in Time Machine as a reliable piece of software for backing up. So that then leads to the question of what type of drive to use.

2. A backup drive doesn’t have to be expensive or fast. It need to only be reliable. No need to ever buy a solid state drive for backups. The backup data will write at its’ own pace anyway so always use a spinning SATA drive unless you just have a massive amount of money to spend without care. Then the question becomes, do I buy a 3.5 drive or a 2.5 drive? The difference is that the 3.5s have to be plugged into the wall as they are powered over AC. The smaller 2.5 drives can power over USB. Pros/Cons. The 3.5s are usually larger and faster. The 2.5s are cheaper with a little less space but hold the advantage of a smaller footprint on the desk and portability. Honestly, either choice is fine. Just whatever you prefer.

3. It’s a good idea to have one backup drive per computer. While you can share drives between computers, humans are lazy and we forget to move drives around. Just buy one per computer and be done with it.

4. Seagate always over WD. I’ve had way more problems with WD than any other brand drive. Every drive dies, but the Seagate drives seem to die less often.

5. The larger capacity a backup drive has, simply the farther back in time it will be able to keep data. So the bigger the drive, the more history you have. That may not be important to you. I personally am more interested in just having a backup of my computer rather than the ability to find data from long ago.

Backup drive not detected

I am getting a pop up that says my computer has not been backed up by Seagate Backup Plus Drive for 27 days...

Any messages from Seagate can be ignored as you should be using Time Machine to manage your backup. That being said, eventually we would want to remove the Seagate software. It’s not hurting anything now other than just bothersome. Most drive manufacturers have their own versions of backup software, none of which would I ever rely. Time Machine is what I highly recommend.

You may also be describing a very common issue where you've associated two different external hard drives to Time Machine but are only currently leaving one connected. To see if this is the case, open system preferences, then time machine, then choose "Select Backup Disk".

If you see two drives that are colored an olive green, then you'll want to select the older drive you are no longer using and choose "remove disk". That should take care of the problem. This has been a mistake on Apple's part that when a computer backs up to two different drives, if the drives have not been swapped out in over thirty days, instead of seeing a message that states "we haven't seen the OTHER drive in more than thirty days" it instead says "you haven't backed up in thirty days" which is extremely misleading.

Time Machine is giving an error.

I am getting new messages that my "backup" is not going through. You fixed it last time but not sure it is a problem.

While time machine is a very good backup method, sometimes it needs a little love to get back on track. There are many things that could be causing your backup issue. No way of knowing what the actual cause is. Some possibilities are:

1. Drive needs to be reformatted and backup started over.
2. Backup drive has failed.
3. Your Mac may be wanting to back up to two separate drives and it hasn't seen one of them in more than thirty days.
4. Drive is not mounted. May need to be unplugged and reconnected.

Don't use software that came with your external drive.

I got my new Seagate Backup Plus today but cannot for the life of me install it. The instruction manual says "For Time Machine, the hard drive must be formatted HFS+ for Mac" but it doesn't tell me how to do that at all. I followed the steps but got nowhere. I set up something called ToolKit but it even failed. So I googled it and the support video shows a screen that has you download a driver to convert it, but I never got that option. I attached all the photos of the steps I went through, along with a video. Any help is greatly appreciated!

Screen Shot 2020-01-18 at 5.40.46 PM

It's a lot easier than that. Forget about any seagate software or other tools. You already have what you need on your computer. It's called "disk utility".

1. Unplug any other external drive other than the one you plan to use for time machine. (Just to be safe that you don't erase the wrong drive.)
2. Open Disk Utility (located in applications/utlities or spotlight search for it).
3. Select the new external drive in the left column of Disk Ultitity.
4. Choose "erase"
5. You should be able to choose either APFS or Mac OS Extended Jounaled.
6. After disk utility has erased the drive, open system preferences

Screen Shot 2020-01-18 at 6.01.00 PM

7. In system preferences open "time machine".
8. Choose "select backup disk" then select the drive in the drop down menu.
9. Choose "use disk".
10. You're done.

Screen Shot 2020-01-18 at 6.06.25 PM

OR…even easier, just start at step 7. Time Machine software will do it all for you automatically.

Lot's of people get caught up in the drive manufacturer's instructions. Just throw them away.

Word documents lost and time machine doesn't have them.

I appreciate so much that you tried so hard to retrieve my papers. Your positive energy helped me to keep going after a difficult day. I’m still crushed to think I might have to start over again with the 870 paper, but it looks like I’ll probably have to.

I tried your suggestion, but it didn’t work. Some of the documents didn’t allow me to click onto that area, but others did. Also I noticed that some of the documents that seemed to be affected had that little yellow bar at the top with a message starting with “read only” and I’m not sure what that means or if that is pertinent.

Interestingly, as I was trying to upload the forms for an incomplete, my WiFi (only for my computer) would not stay on. I tried everything, and then finally I unplugged my external hard drive and it immediately came back on. Coincidence? Or do you think it is somehow “corrupted”? I haven’t checked this morning to see what the situation is. And I’m wondering if it’s a problem with my computer.

The read only remark means that you were most likely looking at a copy on Time Machine. Time Machine drive doesn’t allow you to edit a backed up copy. Unplugging an external drive would, in no way, affect wifi availability so that would have been a coincidence. I do realize that people often see connections during desperate times but in this case these would not be related.

With all the evidence before us currently my theory would be that some Microsoft update corrupted the two open word documents therefore not allowing us to view or edit. What confuses me however, is our inability to recover any older version from time machine. I do not have an explanation as to why we wouldn’t be able to go back into previous backups and simply start from there. I do that all the time with time machine. Perhaps Office’s way of storing a word document no longer lends itself to how time machine works. Meaning, having one original base copy of a document then recording only the changes or additions to that document going forward (incremental backups). Since that is what time machine has always done, Office’s new feature to do the exact same thing (revert to older version) may conflict with time machine’s efforts. Seems like a stretch but currently it’s the only explanation I have.

How do I configure Time Machine?

I bought the new Seagate back up drive and can’t remember what you told me to do once I plugged it in. Can you please advise?

Once you unpackaged the new drive, plug it up to your computer. If your computer is not currently associated to another external drive, you'll see a message asking if you'd like to use the new drive as your Time Machine backup drive. If this is the case, say yes. It will ask you if it's ok to reformat the drive (therefore erasing all the data on the drive). This is also ok since it's right out of the packaging and no one has copied any unique data onto it.

If however, your computer is currently associated to another time machine drive no longer being used, you'll need to plug the new drive up then head over to system preferences/Time Machine. System Preferences can be found under the black apple at the top left corner of your screen. From there, select time machine then "Select Backup Disk". From the drop down window, now select the new drive listed then select "Use Disk". You may be asked to "replace or use both". Select to replace then just leave the drive connected for around 2-3 hours as it has a chance to make the first complete backup.

From this point forward, you'll want to connect the drive as often as possible. Otherwise, it will not backup.

Backup has failed.

I just realized I have not been backing up to anything but Backblaze. Both my time capsule and seagate external drive (which is full (4 T) have not backed up since 3/13/19.



As you know, I’m a big fan of Time Machine. You may want to reformat the time machine drives and just let the backup process start once again from the beginning. You could also re associate the drives to the computer and hope that it inherits the backup history. Third option is just to get new backup drives. I do not approve of Time Capsule. It is unreliable.

What backup plan do you recommend?

I use iCloud for my whole family, and that is working well.
I also use Crash Plan. I used to have their family backup service, but they cancelled their home back up and went “business” back up only. Since then, I have had my families 5 computers backing up to Crash Plan's business back up, but it is $50/month.
I have been looking at others to see if there are any less expensive that allow a family to be backed up.
Do you have one you recommend? iDrive, Back Blaze, stick with expensive Crash Plan, use another one as a “small business”-I just don’t know what to use!


I've never been a fan of those cloud backups. When it comes time to recover your data from any of the cloud services mentioned, it's usually a very lengthy mess. What I do prefer is good organization and a larger range of services. Using Dropbox for all of your important text documents then iCloud for your pictures and videos shot with your iOS device leaves one category unbacked up: home movies. Other that that category everything else makes it way to the cloud. However, what supersedes all other backup strategies is good old fashion Time Machine. Having two dedicated Time Machine drives that your rotate several times a year will ensure you don't lose your data. Keep one plugged in and the other offsite.

Has Time Machine completed yet?

Hi. Back up drive still yellow after being plugged in all day yeaterday.

Often, looking at the color of the hard drive icon on the desktop is not the best way to determine if the backup has completed. Instead, go to the menu bar and click the counterclockwise circle near the time in the top right hand corner of the screen. The drop down there will tell you the time machine backup status. It will either say "last backup" followed by a time or it will say "backup in progress.". If backup is in progress then you need to consider how long the backup has been going. If the backup has been running more than 12 hours and still not completed then it's time to reformat the backup drive and start completely over again.

Another consideration is to perhaps just get a completely new drive. External drives are very fragile things and I don't put much faith in their longevity. $60 (the price of a new drive) buys a lot of peice of mind when backing up your computer.

How do I recover files from Time Machine with different users?

1) Mac’s slowness never seems to be related to CPU. It’s always very low (<5%) even when I’m getting spinning beach ball or general slowness.
2) When I kill Photos and all those processes, still no difference. The system will hang if I click to open an email for example, or click somewhere in an already open app. It’s maddening. No idea what’s causing it.
3) As for the missing Photos projects, I tried your idea about entering TM while Photos is open and seeing if they show up in the sidebar. Two issues that arose from that.
a) When I enter TM with Photos open, it just opens a Finder window and gives me all the past backups of Finder windows. No way to see Photos.
b) It only has backups showing (when I enter TM) going back to when I started using the external HD as the startup drive. I think it’s because when I did that, I mistakenly named my user account differently that what it was previously. It’s now fullname, but it used to just be firstname. Can I change that? Files are all still on the TM drive, but not available when I enter TM.

I would use Time Machine manually. In other words, instead of going through the Apple "space warpy" interface, just open a finder, navigate to your time machine backup. From there, you have to choose the correct path. If you didn't choose to inherit backup history when you went to the new drive, then it's possible time machine has two different backup folders; one for each drive. If it doesn't have two drives then there would definitely be two users as you described. But since you'd be in the finder, you'd just navigate to the older full name user and then go into the pictures folder. You would then pull the entire photos.library file out onto a different location, hold down the option key when booting Photos and tell it to open that library.

Another problem you could possibly run into would be permissions conflicts. If you get a message that says something like "you don't have permission to access" that file, then you would need to apply a different set of permissions. I won't go into that at the moment. But long story short, I never use Apple's space warp interface. I always just use the finder and find what I'm looking for within time machine's history manually.

Can we export mailboxes?

Hi Scotty,
I didn’t want bother you for an office visit, but we’d like to back up our emails on a jump drive. I wanted to click on “Export Mailbox” but I got nervous that this would move it or delete it somehow. Can you quickly advise us how to back up our emails using the exchange email?

Using the export mailbox should be totally fine. It will place a copy of the selected box or boxes on the desktop or where ever you choose for them to go. They will be in the form of "mbox". This does not allow for individual emails to be browsed within the Finder. Instead, if you ever need those emails again, you would choose to import the mailboxes back into Mail and then you'd be able to see the individual emails once again.

Precaution before erasing an external drive.

In trying to delete files on my WD back-up drive, I deleted the last back-up (permanently), but that only freed up a couple of hundred GB. I.e. the drive still shows over 600 gb of used space (about 200 of this is a photo back-up, the rest is system files and other). I have downloaded the EaseUS ghost program and I am inclined to reformat WD back-up drive and then endeavor to use ghost to do a system back-up. Make sense?

Since you are not 100% sure what other files may be living on the drive, I would choose caution over economics meaning that it's a far safer bet to just buy a new $60 external drive to ensure peace of mind that you have not lost any data. However, if you choose to use the current drive instead…

You just want to make sure you have all the photos on another drive as well and you are willing to say goodbye to any remaining files on that device. As we discussed, a common misconception related to backup drives is that people think they can store unique information on the external drive without it also being somewhere else as well. That is not the definition of a backup drive. If you keep your photos on an external drive as your main library, then those photos should also be on at least one more drive in addition to that drive. Perhaps not answering your question but I always err on the side of caution when it comes to photographs. System files are replaceable. Photos are not. In short, if you are completely sure you have copies of all the photos off of the WD external drive, and those pictures are also on yet another drive, then wipe away and use the old WD drive as your clone backup.

How do I backup my pictures?

Are my pictures backing up? How do I backup my pictures?

I like for people to have 2 backups of their photos. One on an external hard drive handled by Time Machine (the software that lives on your computer) and the second backup would be offsite. This can either be an additional hard drive or, in most cases, people use iCloud to backup their entire iCloud photo library. I feel having two backups (time machine as well as iCloud) while redundant gives us peace of mind. I’m an old man and I don’t trust the cloud completely.

To see that your recent time machine drive has completed, click on the clock in the top right area of your computer and you should see a date stating the most recent backup.

To see if your pictures are in the cloud, there are several settings you need to check first.

1. on your phone and/or iPad under settings select your name at the very top. Then iCloud. Then photos. You’ll want to have iCloud Photo library turned on. Optimize storage turned on. Photo Stream turned on. Photo sharing turned on.

2. On your Computer, open Photos. Go to preferences under the word Photos in the top left of your computer and select iCloud. Be sure iCloud Photo library is checked, Download Originals is on, Photo stream is on. iCloud Photo sharing is on.

Screen Shot 2018-09-26 at 7.53.33 AM

Using iCloud photo library would require you to have enough space in the cloud if you choose to use this service. 50 gigs for $12 a year. 200 gigs for $36 a year. etc… However, if you prefer not to pay for cloud storage then time machine is just fine as a backup. Some people do run into the issue that they don’t have enough space on their computers to store their entire library of photos and therefore either have to fully trust the cloud, buy a new computer with a larger hard drive, or get an external drive dedicated to media (photos). I don’t think you are in this market. I just like to mention it for other readers as well. (this answer will be posted on my website as well).

Feel free to send specific pictures to me and I’ll narrow down what’s going on.

How can I tell if time machine has completed?

How can I tell if Time machine is finished?

To see when the last backup of Time Machine was completed, you can click the small clock in the top right corner of the menu bar. It will tell you the last time a backup was completed. Sometimes you’ll see “in progress” or “preparing backup”. If you’d like to see the actual backup, you can open your time machine drive usually found on the right hand side of your finder window or you may see its icon on the desktop either yellow or olive green in color. Open it and go to backup.backupsdb/The name of your computer/Macintosh HD. From there you will see a list of folder which contain backups relating to the time the folder is named.

iCloud Storage almost full message

Can you please tell me what I need to do? Won’t the tm backup be enough for the photos? I thought I would have plenty of space? I am very confused.



There are two types of space we have to deal with when it comes to these devices. 1: the onboard space. The amount of space we purchased when we bought our iPhones or iPads. This space is usually 32gigs, 64 gigs, 128 gigs or 265 gigs. This space can not be increased. To see how much space you have and are using on your device, go to Settings/iPhone Storage. This is not what the message your getting is referring to.

2: iCloud storage space. This is space we rent from Apple and can be increased or decreased as needed. This is what the message you are getting is referring to. Most of the time, we accidentally fill this space up by choosing to backup our phones or iPads or both to the cloud. This often leads to multiple backups in the cloud. Most of which are unnecessary due to their age. To remove older obsolete backups, go to system preferences on your computer and select iCloud.

Take note of what your bar graph shows on your own account. For instance, my iCloud space is 200 gigs (2.99 per month) and is taken up mostly by my photos. Next select Manage. My first guess is that in your case, backups are taking up the majority. Especially if you are on the 50 gig (.99 a month plan).
Screen Shot 2018-08-26 at 8.23.47 PM

Select the old backup in the list and Delete. That should free up space and you wouldn't see that message until later when you fill your iCloud space up once again.

There are two ways to solve this issue. 1: remove data in iCloud that doesn't need to be there. 2: buy more iCloud storage space.

Note: Pictures can play a confusing role in iCloud storage. When iCloud Photo Library is enabled, only thumbnail versions of our pictures are stored locally on our phones but full rez versions of our pictures live in our iCloud storage. Therefore, if a person has a very large photos library like I do, they need more iCloud storage space if they choose to use iCloud Photo Library. The other option is to not use that service and manually sync your pictures from your phone like we used to prior to 2012. Check your backup first. That's most often the reason we fill our iCloud storage up. Let me know what next questions you may have.

I think My Grandpa deleted all my files.

Help. So I'm an idiot and hadn't backed my computer up yet (which I know you told me to do).. and somehow when I opened my computer today after not using it for a week, every single file on it has disappeared/been deleted. My grandpa recently took my old laptop, which didn't have any of the files from my current laptop on it and has been deleting files and clearing it out so he can use it. I don't know if it's related but I'm not sure how it could be since none of the files deleted were on it. But I'm wondering if you can tell me if there's any chance of getting them back or not.

Often people accidentally log into the Guest account and since that account is empty, they think all their data is gone. Hopefully that's all that's going on. To check to see if you're in the guest account, go to the black apple at the top right corner of your screen, click on the black apple. If you see "Log out of Guest" at the bottom, you'll know you're in the wrong account. If you see your actual name instead, then things are a little more serious.

If your Grandfather took a computer that was logged in to your iCloud or Dropbox account and you kept all of your documents in your iCloud drive or dropbox, then there is a possibility that him deleting files could also cause the files to fall off of your own computer. We may still be able to recover them but we would want to act quickly. Dropbox only keeps deleted items for 30 days.

There is also another completely reasonable possibility that the files may just be in a folder we aren't aware of. Either way, I feel pretty confident that we can recover what you're looking for. But we would need to move sooner rather than later on that.

Can I recover windows files from Time Machine?

Hey Scotty - I can set an appointment, but wondering if you can help me with Quicken that is (or should be running) in my Windows Fusion side? It doesn’t seem to find any backups, and am wondering if anything has gone on my external backup or not.
Can you help?

So windows in VMware Fusion is pure windows so not sure how much help I could be there. However, if worse comes to worse, it might be possible to restore the entire virtual machine folder in your documents folder from a time machine backup and maybe find the data that way. Time machine doesn’t care about backing up anything inside windows, but does backup the entire windows image.

Backup drive says it's full.

Scotty I got a pop up message that my seagate back up hard drive says FULL.

What do it do now? Last backup will be this morning

In a backup scenerio, there are two size factors. The source and the target. Your internal computer drive is the source. Your external backup drive is the target. The source should ALWAYS be equal to or greater than the target. If the target is smaller then you can sometimes see that message. If there is other data on the drive in addition to the backups.backupdb folder (like some stuff someone drug over to that drive) then this could also not leave room for the full contents of the internal to backup.

Time machine's job is to fill the drive so this is normal for the external to be full. I would check the backup.backupsdb folder and scroll down to the bottom of the long list. Make a note of the date of the last backup. Go back tomorrow and do it again. If you have a new folder at the bottom of the list with a newer date, you're fine. If the dates of folders stopped several days ago or so, then it may be time to move to a larger drive. We could always also wipe that drive and just start the process over again but it's just nicer to just move to a newer, larger drive.

Apple says the same thing here.

What HD can you recommend?

What drive should I use to backup? Can you recommend one?

I prefer the Seagate drives.

Use time machine to recover old email

Hi Scotty,
I had used your consulting services awhile ago, and now I have a friend who may be in need.  I said I would reach out on his behalf to ask if you might be able to assist.  Then, we could use your site to schedule an appointment and appropriate timeframe, based on how my friend wants to proceed.

My friend has been using Time Machine to do backups, and is now in need to checking for email from this year 2016 as an email appears to be deleted and the files that were it in, not saved/ download as he thought had occurred.  When he goes to Time Machine for the start of October 2016…the emails are only returning 218 messages and they are from 2014.  He’s not sure how to confirm that emails from this year (September/October ) are available or how to get to them.

Are you able to help with retrieving backups for emails?  Does it involve restoring the full email inbox, or can certain emails be retrieved?  For this type of activity, is a short appointment sufficient or is the hour and half likely needed.

If you can let me know, I can share the details and your website for scheduling.  I know he was trying to google more information, so he might try this first, but I recalled how you assisted me so wanted to ask a few questions.


Good questions.  Time Machine is SUPPOSED to allow you to retrieve individual emails within the history of backups but it doesn’t always work.  So, what I might suggest is we use a test computer to restore the entire email contents to a fresh unused user.  Then your friend may be able to find the specific items he was looking for.  Worth a shot.  Not an easy task but possible.  I would say 1.5 hours to be safe.  If time machine has a healthy set of backups dating back over a year or so, there’s a good chance we can get what they need.  We would then just have to move or forward the emails to his current account.  

How to restore from a time machine backup using migration assistant.

How do I restore from a backup after a hard drive replacement? The operating system and a new user have already been created.

Go to the Applications folder then into the Utilities folder. Applications/Utlitilites/Migration Assistant. There you'll find "Migration Assistant". (You can also spotlight search for migration assistant.) Open it with your backup drive plugged in.

Select Continue and enter your admin password. All other applications will quit and you'll be presented with the choice of restoration sources. Select Time Machine backup. From there you'll be able to select which users you want to restore. Select everything. (Users as well as applications.) Once the migration is complete, keep in mind you still have the original admin that you'll want to delete.

To delete the temporary admin user, log in to your now restored old admin user. Open system preferences. Select Users and Groups. Unlock the screen using the lock in the bottom left corner. Select the user you wish to delete and hit the minus button in the bottom left corner. Select to delete the folder immediately. (the third choice). You're done.

Screen Shot 2016-12-12 at 7.21.27 PM

Is online backup a good idea?

I am thinking of using an online backup service for my Macs and Windows computers and family phones.  Someone has mentioned iDrive.  Do you have any experience with iDrive or other online backup services?  What is your take on cloud backup services?  Thanks

I'm not a fan of online backup services such as iDrive, BackBlaze, Mozy, Carbonite, or Crashplan. Here are my reasons:

Slows traffic on your home network as it uploads data constantly via your wifi router.
Takes a longer period of time to restore your data if you have a hard drive failure.
Not as easy as time machine to restore the entire contents of a drive.
Permissions on files can be effected. (gets a little technical)
You are constantly paying a fee.

What I do like and trust completely is a physical hard drive connected to your mac using the built in software called Time Machine. Not to be mistaken with Time Capsule which is a wifi router Apple manufacturers. I do not like that product. But the software Time Machine is very good in my opinion and it's very rare that I ever see a failure of any type to retrieve data as long as time machine was running. Leave your drive connected. If you'd like to use an online backup service in addition to time machine then I wouldn't dissuade you. But every person I work with should have a time machine drive connected to their computer at all times. In a perfect world you would have two that you rotate every month. But I realize that may be asking a bit much for people to be expected to go to those lengths.

In addition, using dropbox, google drive, or icloud drive to store documents and iCloud photo library to store your pictures is a great way to double up on backup.

However if online backup services are the only things you'll use then it's better than nothing.

My computer hasn't backed up in over 30 days

Hey Scotty,

My Time Machine says it’s not backing up for 30 days… it says… "check that it’s available to select a new disc… "
I cannot figure out what to do.  Do you think I need to schedule a session?

May be nothing. When we choose to have time machine back up to more than one drive, for instance: a home backup and an off site backup that we rotate, if you do not rotate the other drive back in within 30 days, your computer will display the message "your computer has not backed up in over 30 days". This wording is poorly written. What it should really be saying is "we haven't seen the other hard drive you're backing up to in over 30 days". So this may be the issue if you were using 2 different drives to backup. One way to see if your current drive is doing its job with Time Machine is to select the small clock in the menu bar (right hand side near the time display). You'll see a "Last backup" and then a time. If the time is very recent you're fine. If it says pending or failed then it's time to explore other possible issues. Those could include that your backup drive is too small for the amount of data on your computer, or that the drive has failed. Check those issues out first then schedule if you feel you still need to go further.

Can I get a deleted text message back?

Urgent-is there a way to retrieve texts kids have deleted? School is involved And I need them thx

If their phone was backing up to iCloud then it may be possible to restore an older phone using that iCloud backup. It depends on how long the text message sat on the phone. You could also contact the phone provider but it's not easy. The FBI can usually subpoena to get them but they don't normally just retrieve them for customers. So restoring from an older iCloud backup is your best choice. Problem being that if the message was not on the phone very long, chances are it may not have been included in an iCloud backup since those only happen over wifi.

Time Capsule fails infinity

I am confused because I have a 3 (?) terabyte seagate back up drive that it is supposed to be backing up to. It tells me there is a problem connecting to my time capsule and to contact my administrator? Is that you? 😄 Should I schedule time?

That’s great that you’re using the seagate.  That’s your true backup.  Sounds like maybe the computer is still trying to connect to your time capsule drive thinking it needs to back up to that as well.  And it’s fine to use Time Capsule as a secondary backup, just not the primary one.  Try going into system preferences/Time Machine and selecting “select disk”.  Then select the time capsule drive and choose “remove disk” if that’s an option.  

Another sparse image bundle failure

What does this mean?
Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 4.51.54 PM

I can’t tell you how little faith I have in Time Capsule.  My week is filled with troubleshooting this failed implementation from Apple for a wifi backup system.  It’s even number 6 on my least favorite products list for exactly the reason you’ve come across here.  I even put on the front page of my web site from time to time “don’t trust time capsule”.  As a router, it’s great but as a backup system, the method that apple chose to encapsulate your data is called a sparse image bundle.   And that is the cause of the problem.  This method is very fragile and prone to failure.  While there are ways to resolve it, I’ve found the easiest thing to do is simply reformat the drive and start the backup all over again.  However, I strongly encourage you to take the same opportunity to go out and buy a good old USB drive for backup.  

Time Capsule problems (shocking)

Hello Scotty,
I keep getting this message that Backup Failed "Thrr backup on "Time Capsule " is already in use"   I cannot figure out what to do.. Help!

A few of things to consider. The computer needs to reestablish a relationship with the time capsule hardware. It has to first forget it then meet it again. Try this.

1. restart the time capsule router and after rebooting, try to connect once again.
2. See if you can use the finder to select the time capsule in the left column and unmount it by choosing “eject” in a right click.
3. Go to keychain access, delete the entry associated with the time capsule, restart and re-enter the time capsule password which most likely either the exact same password as your wifi network or the word “public”.

In the end, as I’ve stated many times on my website, while I am a big proponent of time machine as a backup strategy, I am not a fan of Time Capsule as a hardware solution. I strongly prefer a good old USB hard drive plugged directly into the computer. It is extremely common to see Time Capsule issues throughout my week.

Backup failing

Hi Scotty
Not sure if you will respond to this - but one of my backups worked the other one keeps failing.  Any suggestions?

I always start by saying every hard drive dies so it would not surprise me in the least if even a backup drive has died. With that in mind, to see if the drive can still be used, I would suggest disconnecting all other external drives then open disk utility. You can find it by using spotlight search in the top right hand corner of your computer. After opening disk utility, select the problematic drive in the let column then choose to erase. Be sure to choose Mac OS Extended (jounaled) in the format dropdown.

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 10.57.44 PM
If the drive erase is successful, go to system preferences and in to time machine settings. Now reechoes that disk as a second backup drive.

best way to migrate to a new phone


I'd like to get the new iPhone 6+ before two or three weeks. Do you have any recommendations of where I should go, seeing that I am in uptown? Also, will they take my old iPhone and give me any $ for it?
The biggest q is what do I need to do before turning it in. I don't believe all my stuff is backed up, especially my 5k+ pics. 

You can always go to the Apple Store south park in the a.m. They have an inventory that usually gets sold out daily. The folks there would have more info. Some cell carriers do have buy back offers but those may have expired. You can also check for what the going rate is on your model iPhone. They buy back phones also.

The easiest way to transition to your new phone is to first plug the old one up to iTunes, make a backup. (that should be found under the summary tab in iTunes after the phone is connected and selected in the left hand column of iTunes.) Then after you’ve purchased your new phone, connect the new phone to iTunes when you get home and choose to restore from a previous backup. (the one you just made) I find this method more thorough faster and reliable than the wireless iCloud method. By the way, you may want to consider getting those 5k pictures off the phone and into iPhoto eventually. Here’s more info on how to do that.

Does iCloud backup my Pictures?

Hello. I am trying to backup my desktop on my netscape account. When I click on icon on the top it says that backup failed. I get a screen that says that Time machine is also on.  IS that what should be on? How do I correct it? It has not backed up since the end of August. My startup disk on my laptop is full again. What do I delete? I have not added any photos.  Also, shouldn't everything except photos be backed up in the Icloud too?

Time Machine is the software that Apple provides for use in backing up your computer. It does require a second hard drive to be connected to your machine. I’m not sure what you mean by “netscape account” but if time machine is working properly (in other words, there is a healthy external hard drive connected) then you should see a last backup time when clicking on the icon in the menu bar. In your case, it sounds like time machine isn’t finding a healthy drive connected to the computer.

In regards to your hard drive being full, this is something that many people encounter. Mostly people who have small drives like you may find on an older mac or a macbook air for example. Despite what almost everyone thinks, iCloud does not back your computer up. I repeat: iCloud does not backup your computer. It is true that about the most recent 1000 pictures can be find in your iCloud accout, but as of 10/4/2014 iCloud is only used to transfer these pictures to iPhoto or share the most recent pictures between devices. It is not iCloud’s job to backup your pictures. It IS iCloud’s job to back up your contacts, calendars, and documents you create within certain applications such as Pages, Keynote, Numbers, and Text Edit but it does not keep copies of your pictures permanently.

As far as what to remove from your hard drive in order to free up space, I’m afraid I can’t answer that with out a longer conversation and being in front of your computer.

Where does my backup go?

Scotty – I have been meaning to ask you a question for awhile…
Do you recall the big black box (Seagate-Desk Adaptor) I was to hook up once a week to the computer as to have ALL files backed up? 
Since your last installation/removal of computer equipment there is no place I can see to hook it up.
Did you fix our system to backup everyone's files in another way?  I have the smaller blackbox (Seagate-FreeAgent GoFlex) that I hook 
up a couple times a week – does this now copy everyone's files?
Thanks for you help,

I assume you are referring to a time machine drive.  It’s an external drive that you can connect periodically and the software on your computer will copy all the newest files to it automatically.  There are two types of drives.  Portable ones that can power just by plugging it in to USB or a larger (book size) drive that requires power from an AC outlet.  It sounds like you are continuing to use your portable seagate go flex but may not be using the larger on.  Just a guess.  Your mac (an in your case your mac mini server) should have the ability to back up to multiple drives.  So you could probably plug the second drive up to the back of the mac mini USB ports and it would backup using the time machine software.  

Time Capsule doesn't have enough room to backup

My time capsule says that the backup is too big. I think that I need to delete the content and start fresh or somehow get it to delete old backups. What do I do?

Several ways to go about this. You could erase the time capsule drive and start the backup over again by going into Airport Utility, selecting disks, then erase from there. You’ll then need to re add the time capsule drive as a time machine drive via system preferences.
Another way would be to mount the time capsule drive from the finder window then select the sparse image bundle (my arch nemesis) then delete it, followed by emptying the trash. That would also free up space. It’s possible that deleting one sparse image bundle made from another computer backup may from up enough space to allow your own computer to back up as well.
Another solution (although short term) would be to exclude many items from backing up (system preferences/time machine/options). This would allow for only the most important items to be backed up. i.e.: iPhoto library or documents folder. Not the best choice here either.
The thing not to do, is mount the sparse image bundle, therefore revealing your backups.backupdb folder then selecting a range of backup folders and deleting them. I do not recommend that method.

Which drive should I buy?

Should I get a back up hard drive for Time Machine? And where in Charlotte is the best place to look and which one would you recommend.

A backup drive for your computer is the most important thing you can have.  I personally prefer the Seagate brand drives.  They fail the least often.  Every drive dies, or at least we should assume they do so we are not surprised when it does happen.  You can get a Seagate Backup Plus at any Best Buy.  

Why I hate Time Capsule

I am at wit's end trying to install Windows 8.1 on my 2009 iMac using Parallels Desktop 9, and the new virtual machine will not accept my product key and suggests I check my installation media. Are you familiar with this issue?

That can be a problem.  Yes, I’ve encountered it before.  I see you’ve made a phone appointment for tomorrow.  I suggest you first get on the phone with Microsoft.  There is a 1-800 number you should be able to find on the Windows 8.1 packaging.  If you’ve used the install before on another machine that can be an issue.  There is however, a way to (over the phone) be issued another install key.  You can answer a couple questions, one of which is something like “are you reinstalling Windows after a hardware failure”.  If you say yes to that, you are usually issued the new product key.  You’ll have to jump through their hoop of writing down an incredibly long series of numbers and letters before they issue the new key.  It’s a total pain but then again, that’s why Microsoft is in the position they’re in at the moment.  By the way, Windows 8 is very difficult to use on a non-touch device.  it’s basically a failure.  It works fine on touch devices but is difficult to use without a touch screen.  If you can stick with Windows 7, I would encourage that.  Just my opinion.

The above scenario is only one possibility.  It’s also possible your version of Parallels doesn’t yet support Windows 8.  If you’re moving to Windows 8, you need to be sure you have the latest version of Parallels and all the updates have been run.

I have been on the ph with Microsoft 3x now in the last 7 days and no one will just give me a new activation code, much less speak English I can actually understand. I get passed from person to person and the issue does not get resolved. I have Parallels Desktop 9 so I think it will run Windows 8.1. My ultimate goal here is to be able to run a version of Quicken that isn't made for Mac (Quicken Home & Business) that meets my needs. Happy to use Windows 7 which I suppose means I have to get a refund for Windows 8.1. That's my only purpose for having Windows at all. 

Overall, I think you would be happier in Windows 7 however I don’t believe it will be easy to return open box software (windows 8).  When you try to install you should be presented with a phone number to activate over the phone.  Microsoft has many phone numbers depending on the software you’re trying to activate.  Here are a few articles Microsoft provides that may or may not be of use:

Why can't I activate Windows? - Microsoft Windows Help

Activate Windows on this computer - Microsoft Windows Help

Unfortunately, being Microsoft, I can’t guarantee that I’ll be able to solve your issue in this case.  But I am willing to try.  Microsoft is just so hard to deal with.  Let me know if you’d like to keep our scheduled session later today.


attached are screenshots of what goes on. It is an iOS file as you can see in the attached within Parallel Wizards window. Link to my login provided.

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 4.05.05 PM

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 4.03.03 PM

Just the link is not going to work.  I would actually need your login email and pw.  But the picts you sent look like you are doing everything correctly.  Can you tell me how large the ISO file was?  select it and hit command+i and it will tell you file size.  

I doubt this is a Parallels issues.  This looks to be a Microsoft issue where the key is simply invalid.  There is a possibility that the ISO is an update only and not the complete OS.  The file size will give me a better idea of that.  Another option would be to burn the ISO to a disc then install that way.  Although it’s probably not going to make any difference.  I’m going to do a little more research on the price you paid.  $119 seems low to me.  

When you hit next after the product key fails, does it give you the option to authenticate over the phone?

I feel your pain.  I’m sorry you’re having to deal with this.

Price looks right for the basic version of Windows 8.  This seems to be a simple case of an invalid product key.  Microsoft is going to have to issue you another key.  Simple as that.  I bet that will solve the issue.  The problem is getting them to issue you one.  If you use the “activate over the phone” option during the install and the product key you have is rejected over the phone, then you’ll have to contact support via email I’m guessing and describe your case that way.
You could also try downloading the ISO again however just in case the original download was corrupt but I doubt that’s the case.  I’m just reaching now.  

There’s also the possibility that Parallels is expecting a Windows 8 Pro product key but you have a standard product key.  Did you make sure you are selecting the standard Windows 8.1 install and not the Pro option.  Also, make sure that all Parallels updates have been run.  Use “check for updates” within Parallels.  Windows 8.1 was just released and that could be an issue.  Parallels may be expecting 8 but you have 8.1.  Just sharing possibilities.  

Don't trust drive manufacturer's backup software

When you came here you transferred our iTunes library from our old computer to our new one.  For some reason, the music did not get transferred.  Can you email the steps to do this?

If your music was not transferred, the easiest way to accomplish this would be the following:

  1. connect a hard drive to your older computer
  2. drag the “iTunes” folder located in the music folder to the connected drive
  3. connect the hard drive to the new machine and drag the “iTunes” folder into the music folder on the new Mac.
  4. There may already be an iTunes folder there that iTunes created if you’ve opened iTunes prior to moving the music. If there is no music in iTunes currently, you can drag that to the trash. But to be safe, if you are unsure, you can create a folder on your desktop and call it something like “old music” then drop the old iTunes folder into it.
  5. Now when you open iTunes, it should automatically recognize the music from the new folder you’ve just moved from the external drive.

There are many other factors to consider in this process. This is only a general description of the process. You may consider throwing away the file from the user/library folder. This folder is hidden by default and can be revealed by holding down the option key and selecting “Go” from the finder window.

I suggest you join us on Monday evening for Town Hall at 7pm and I can more easily walk you through the steps.

Where did my backup drive go?

Will you replace my broken screen?

No. I do not do physical (out of warranty) repairs at this point. I am software support only with hard drive replacements being the exception.

When was my last backup?

How do I completely wipe a hard disk on Mac to sell?

There are several ways to accomplish this. If your goal is to simply remove your personal data then you can do the following:

  1. Go to system preferences/Users and Groups.
  2. Hit the plus sign in the bottom left corner to add a new user.
  3. Choose a name for your new user and password.
  4. Be sure you’ve given the new user admin rights.
  5. log out of the user you’re currently in.
  6. Log in to the newly created user.
  7. Go to system prefs/Users and Groups once again
  8. Select the old user(s) and now hit the minus button.
  9. Choose to delete the user immediately. This will instantly remove the old user without going to the trash.
  10. Lastly, go into the applications folder and delete any applications you do not care to move along to the next user. MS Office, Photoshop, Quicken, etc...

None of your personal data is in the above mentioned apps. This is only to adhere to the licensing agreement. You may want to just scan over the hard drive’s application one more time to make sure you didn’t drop any personal file there. Most likely there’s nothing personal in the applications folder like a stray word document but it doesn’t hurt to look.

There are other ways to erase the computer completely including the operating system but if you’re planning on selling the machine you probably want to leave them an OS to use.

Time Capsule backup was interupted

How do I set up a second time machine drive?

It’s a great idea to setup a second drive to allow time machine to use then get it out of your home in case of a theft or fire. To setup a second drive is backing up follow the following steps:

1.  Assure it’s plugged in via USB in the back
2.  Open system preferences
3.  Go to time machine preferences and choose “select disk”
4.  You should now see a list of drives.  Choose the new drive and select to “Use Disk” below.
5.  You’ll be prompted with the following dialog box…


You may be warned that a “reformat is required”. If this is a new drive, don’t worry about it. Allow the reformat and continue. This simply means that out of the box, it was a windows drive and your mac wants it to be a mac drive. If this is an older drive you’ve had for a while, stop and go buy a new one. You don’t want to erase something on the old drive.

That’s it.  The first time machine copy does usually take a while but as I said, you can rely on the other backup drive for now.  The second drive is an “insurance policy” against theft or fire. After it’s finished, get it out of your house and bring it back periodically and just plug it back in. Time Machine software will do the rest. Then get it back out of the house again.

Turning off iCloud backup on your iOS device



This annoying “1” has appeared on the calendar icons on all my computers after updating to Mavericks.  It looks like the kind of thing that is intended to warn or notify me of something.  However, I haven’t been able to figure out what I am supposed to do.  Can you tell me what I need to do to make it go away?


The one on the calendar in the dock is letting you know that a date or event needs your attention in the main calendar. It could be an invitation or a reminder. Open your calendar on your mac and look in the top left corner. There should be a small symbol near the top left corner letting you know what the event is. By clicking that area, you’ll see what event wants your attention. Most of the time it is an invitation to a shared event between two people. After clicking it, you’ll be asked to accept the event or decline the event. After you’ve done that, the number should go away.

Backup questions

Installed latest update and this is what I am looking at for 2 hours. any ideas?
There are many reasons for this.

The update went bad during installation.
hard drive died during installation.

First thing to try is just holding down the power button forcing the computer to shutdown the try to restart. If that doesn’t work, you’ll next want to boot into the recovery disk partition and check the disk if you can. You may have to reinstall OS X from there.

How do I setup Time Machine?


My laptop recently has been starting up differently. Have you seen this before, if so, what does it mean?

photo 2

Bad video cable.  There's a video cable that runs from the main chasis of the computer to the screen.  Every time you open and close your computer, that cable is bent slightly.  After many many many times opening and closing the screen, that cable can become damaged.  Imagine bending a coat hanger over and over.  It eventually breaks in half due to the continued flexing of the metal.  Your video cable can work the same way.  

It could also be a bad graphics card.  Either way, it's hardware.  Time to call AppleCare.  If it is within AppleCare, they will most likely cover it.  

Restored to wrong user

I had a crash the other day and this was the error message - I screen captured it, attached below.
Is my mac dying?

Screen shot 2012-05-30 at 9.15.22 AM

It’s very hard to tell without looking at the entire log. Console has the ability to email a crash log and you are welcome to do that if you’d like. I would recommend checking the disk by running disk utility and “verifying disk”. Overall however, the best way is to check the disk from an alternate boot method. If on Lion, you could hold down option while booting and you could boot to a recovery partition that would allow you to more effectively check the disk but even then you are still checking one partition from another on the same disk. The best way would be to boot from an external hard drive that already has a copy of a known good operating system on it then run disk utility. Of course it goes without saying you should back up everything before doing anything.

Most common issue I see is hard drive failure. However, with Mac Pro’s considering all the PCI slots that can be involved it could be a third party additional hardware that is causing the problem. If the problem persists, unplug all third party devices and see if the problem goes away. If not run from an external drive for a while with the internal drive(s) disconnected. If the problem still doesn’t go away, then that is a strong indication that the logic board is at fault. And that’s what you don’t want. $$$$$.

That’s troubleshooting 101.

Backing up before iCloud transition

Hi Scotty,
hope everything is well!!
I am getting ready to buy the new iphone and remembered
that you told me I would need to upgrade to operating system lion.
I can not figure out how to download it to my computer, I feel like an idiot : )))

Please help!!

From the Mac App store on your computer you’ll find Lion available for $29.99. To get to the app store look in your dock to find the following icon:

Pasted Graphic
If you don’t see it there then you’ll find it in your applications folder as long as you are running Snow Leopard 10.6.6 or higher.

My mac isn's seeing my backup drive


I read your Oct 13 Q&A posting re Do I need a new Mac for Lion. Please look at my hardware overview below and tell me if I'd be wise to spring for a newer MacBook before upgrading to Lion. I'm uncertain about whether I meet the cutoff you used in your posting ie, "2 Duo 2.2 or higher". You kindly upgraded my hard disk a while back.

My MacBook Pro will be four years old in January. Since I got an iPad, I've never untethered the MacBook Pro for use as a portable device. Therefore, I would probably replace it with an iMac of maximum in-store disk, memory and speed. I'd ask you to specify the description and whether I should look to you or to the Apple Store to help port my programs and data over to the iMac. I'm a heavy user of Microsoft Office for Mac 2004 Edition and read your posting that I'd need the 2008 Edition to work best with Lion.

I'm upgrading today from iPhone 3 to the 4S and want to switch as soon as sensible to iCloud from MobileMe for syncing my data in iCal, Address Book and Safari bookmarks to and from iPhone and iPad. Must I install Lion on my MacBook Pro before converting to iCloud?

  Model Name: MacBook Pro
  Model Identifier: MacBookPro2,2
  Processor Name: Intel Core 2 Duo
  Processor Speed: 2.33 GHz
  Number Of Processors: 1
  Total Number Of Cores: 2
  L2 Cache: 4 MB
  Memory: 2 GB
  Bus Speed: 667 MHz
  Boot ROM Version: MBP22.00A5.B07


I guess I need to be clear. My recommendation to really only move to Lion if you have a 2.2 or higher is only my opinion. Apple states that the oldest supported processor is any Core 2 duo. This is the bare minimum. More requirements can be found here. There are other factors to consider as well. Mainly: what type of graphics card does one have? You are using a MBP whose Graphics care will do an adequate job of handling all of Lion’s new transitions and effects such as creating a new email or switching to full screen mode. The processor and the graphics card, along with how much ram you have, all come together to produce the experience Lion gives on a given piece of hardware. Your machine’s 2.33 processor is fine but you would definitely want to increase the amount of ram you have. 2 gigs was fine for Snow Leopard and earlier but Lion requires at least 2 which means you have no head room for programs to run. Yes, they would run with only 2 gigs but they will feel sluggish.

Office 2004 will not run on Lion. No PowerPC based program will run under Lion. Lion only supports software written for intel processors and Office 2004 is not one of them. Therefore, Office 2008 or 2011 is required. I’m not sure of Apple’s position of data transfer at this point so I can’t really speak to what they can and can’t do and what time frame they will quote. I would be happy to assist if you feel you’d like assistance moving data.

Lion is required to take advantage of iCloud services.

What is the default password for time capsule hard drives?

I will wait to update the iCloud but should I go ahead and download 10.7 Lion?  Last time we discussed this you didn't like the iCalendar and I was hesitant to change for no apparent reason because I use the Ical quite frequently and I was not looking forward to the  unfavorable changes so I never updated iCal or to 10.7 Lion.

Go ahead and go to Lion. It’s inevitable. I’m still not a big fan of the calendar or address book but you’re going to need to get to 10.7 sooner or later. The calendar and address book are not great but they’re not deal breakers. Update away.

What 750 gig 2.5" drive do you recommend?

Hi Scotty
Hope you are well.  You helped me a few years ago install Parallels on my mac so that I could run Windows.  All is working fine for the most part (it does not move at lightning speed but I have learned to live with it).  I have learned though that if I want to run Face Time I need to upgrade my operating system to Snow Leopard.  Do you know if this will have any impact on my Windows environment, etc.?  Please let me know when you can.

First, to address the slow speed issue, check to see how much ram you have. If you are running Parallels then you’ll want to increase the amount of ram to the computer’s maximum. Check out to order the most ram you can.

Now, I would need to know a couple of things”

1. how much hard drive space to you have left
2. how much ram does your computer have (or will have)
3. what version of parallels is running

Depending on those factors, I could then safely say yes to moving to Snow Leopard or not. Parallels Desktop for Mac - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia states that even up to Parallels 7, you can run 10.4.11 Tiger and still be able to use Parallels so you should be ok. Looks like most builds of Parallels will run in Snow Leopard.

Pages auto backup

Although upgrading to 500 GB would buy us another year or two of time before reaching that capacity, we figured that (with the rate that we are continuing to load and store additional large photo files on our computer)  going to the largest hard drive that is made to fit in our Macbook Pro might be advisable?  Do not want problems with the new drive, that is for sure!  Our time machine back-up external drive is 3TB I think, so no limits there with how much we can back-up.  

1. and 2. below are the products I came up with when I searched the WD Caviar Black internal hard drive you mentioned our possibly ordering.  Neither sounds correct and the WD Caviar black series does not seem to be offered at all in the necessary 2.5 size for our computer~ only in a 3.5 size.  

Could not find any internal G drives, only external.  Did find 3. below.  Is this the best quality hard drive for us to order?

Still unsure what to order before proceeding with our appt.  If the 500 GB replacement internal drive you mention having in stock is the very best quality/reliable option existing out there over any available 750GB replacements, then I suppose we could go with that ~ but we would really love to go higher to around 750GB when doing this (if you think a really good quality replacement hard drive exists for our MacBook with that much storage).  

Will look forward to hearing your thoughts and any recommendations as to how we should next proceed/what to order.

First and foremost, when dealing with drives never trust one.  I can't overstate this.  No matter what the age or make of the drive, you need to be prepared for it to fail at all times.  And don't be shocked when it does.  If you are prepared (by having backed up) then you can be at peace with the idea that your drive will die.  

Here are the two I would recommend. - Western Digital Scorpio Black WD7500BPKT 750GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache 2.5" SATA 3.0Gb/s Internal Notebook Hard Drive -Bare Drive - Seagate Momentus ST9750420AS 750GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache 2.5" SATA 3.0Gb/s Internal Notebook Hard Drive -Bare Drive

I've seen them both fail but these fail less often than most other drives.  

Online backup not so hot

For some reason my iPad apps never transferred.   What can I do without buying them all over again. It is still sncy and it is on photos

You won't have to repurchase any of your apps.  iTunes now allows you to re-download any previously purchased items at any time on any device.  However, any apps you had in the past should have synced over.  With iPad connected and iTunes open, be sure you have selected which apps to sync under the "Apps" pane at the top in iTunes.  

Screen Shot 2011-10-05 at 11.48.14 PM

If the apps you are looking for are not listed then you'll need to re-download them from the app store.  (at no cost of course.)

Erase your Time Machine drive once a year.

Hi Scotty
Appointements from a year ago are popping up on my ical  - what is going on?  Should I get you over here?

My first guess would be that these events are set to repeat annually. Double click on the event in question and see if it has a “repeat every year” setting. Try that first and if that’s not it, let me know and we can look more closely at it.
Screen Shot 2011-08-22 at 10.47.44 PM

Two drives is better than one


We are now at the point that we need to have a spreadsheet that multiple people can work on simultaneously. We tried to share it via iwork and this did not work for us.
I was working on part of the spreadsheet while my co-worker was working on it also she sent it to me but my changes of course were not there.
I really need this to work to manage a big international project.
I have searched the apple website to no avail at this point, but I am still looking.
Is there a way that multiple people can work on a spreadsheet at the same time?

Google Docs should do the trick. it will allow multiple users to edit the document at the same time. iWork may support this feature in the future with their iCloud service but that doesn’t roll out for a month or so and there’s no guarantee this will be supported. Office has a similar feature but I’ve not seen anyone use it. Google docs is the way to go.

What external drive to you recommend?

Can I transfer my own data from my older macbook to my new macbook pro?

Yes but you’d need a firewire 400 to 800 cable to transfer data during the initial setup. Otherwise you can do it using the migration assistant with an ethernet cable later.

Archiving your Time Capsule

Scott, my new airport/time capsule that we set up in guest house is blinking amber -- frankly i don't how long it has been that way because using my new macbook has been without issue or warning sign. The internet works fine. In fact, i should be sending this message through it. Perhaps amber means it is not backing up...?What steps do you recommend? I am not getting any warning signs...?
When you see the “amber light” on the time capsule or airport extreme, it’s obviously trying to tell you something. Sometimes it’s as simple as needing to be updated. There are other errors that I commonly dismiss. Here’s what you need to do to find out what it’s trying to say...

Open airport utility and double click on the icon to the left that represents your time capsule or airport extreme. Now click on the amber light and it will state the error. It’s possible that you’ll see a list of a few “errors” that have been allowed.
Screen shot 2011-06-03 at 10.34.49 PM
Among those I sometimes allow are Double NAT, default password, unsecure network (under certain conditions). There are more serious errors that need to be addressed. Ethernet unplugged means it’s not getting a connection from the router for instance.

Time Machine...time to erase and start over.

How to get iCal in 10.5.8 back to syncing after the mobileme upgrade:

Go to iCal’s preferences.
Now select accounts
Now add account by clicking the plus button in the bottom left corner.
Now enter mobileme for the name of the account
enter your full mobileme email address and password

Now for the trick part, select the toggle triangle in server and enter the following: https:/

Your mobileme calendars should appear in the left hand column. Hope that worked.

Missing discs and backup drive is too small.

How do I transfer the info from my old mac to my new one?

Transfering data from one mac to the next is easy. When you first turn on the new mac, you’ll be asked to transfer info. You will select “from another mac”. At that point you’ll be prompted to boot the old computer with the T key down then connect it to the new mac via Firewire. You’ll need a firewire cable. Newer macs use FW 800 will older macs use FW 400. If you have an older machine that only uses FW 400 then you’d need a 400 to 800 cable. Those are a little harder to find. Next, plug up the cable then move forward with the transfer.
If you don’t want to transfer the info right at the setup then you can always use the “migration assistant” in the applications folder inside the utilities folder later. But be careful. If you’ve created a new user on your computer that has the exact same name as a user on your old computer then you’ll have trouble. Best is always to transfer data right at the beginning. By the way, if you choose to use the migration assistant, you’ll want to use ethernet at that point as wireless would be way too slow.

Data is exceeding Time Capsule capacity

As we collect more and more data these days, Drobo’s mass storage is becoming a more frequent player in the home.

Am I backing up correctly?


I need some help. I have 2 iPods with stuff on them that both need to be transferred. Any recommendations?

Try irip.  

iRip 2 – iPod and iPhone music transfer software for Mac or PC – The Little App Factory


Thanks, it was quite easy and did the trick. For 20 dollars I was able to transfer about 70 gb of audio and 80 gb of video. Fun Stuff, time consuming, but nothing was lost.

Time Capsule failed again. Do I have to use the ATT router?


Per your suggestion I have my external hard-drive connected 24/7. The question I have pertains to mobile-me and the external iphoto and itunes backed up automatically on both? I noticed that on mobile-me preferences that iphoto and itunes were not listed.

Since you are using time machine (apple’s built in backup system) all your data including pictures and music is now being backed up to the external drive. MobileMe’s main goal is to move contacts, calendar, and bookmarks to the cloud (servers controlled by Apple outside your home). So as long as you continue to use time machine you’re in good shape. The program use used to use called “Backup” which was the one with the umbrella as it’s icon, was a horrible program that failed more than it succeeded and I can’t recommend anyone ever use that.

Your MobileMe account has about 20 gigs of storage space online Apple calls iDisk. Usually iDisk, even with 20 gigs, is not enough to backup your pictures or music.

Recovering Addresses using Time Machine


I have a friend who is wanting to know about Anti Virus software for a Mac. What are your recommendations? 

Don’t bother. I equate it to paying someone to guard your house against a dinosaur attack. One day they may come back but I wouldn’t put any effort into guarding against it for now. The more important thing to consider is to not click on links in emails you weren’t expecting. Those are often fishing scams trying to get personal information.


Lost Pictures...always backup

Scotty -
I have an Imac with Microsoft Office for Mac on it. My wife has a Verizon Blackberry and would like to be able to sync her calendar, contacts, etc., preferably wirelessly and automatically. On a different topic, 4 of us share this machine and I would like it configured such that all music downloaded/purchased on itunes to any user account goes to my account as well, but not vice-versa. Can you help us with these issues and are they very involved? I will check your calendar for availability. Thanks.

Syncing music across multiple itunes libraries can be easily accomplished via “home sharing”. Mac or Windows, it won’t matter. The Blackberry however, ugh... Your best bet is to use
Blackberry Desktop Manager (free) to sync although it won’t be automatic and wireless may be unreliable. Blackberrys are said to be able to sync to the mac using bluetooth but my experience says don’t bother. Stick with the cable. Blackberrys can sync google contacts and calendar via exchange support. Google offers exchange as part of your account. But you wouldn’t use a mobileme account. (I doubt you have one anyway.)

Great Time Machine Article

Hey Scotty thanks for the info, and I actually enjoyed reading your post. We are eagerly anticipating the info from Verizon but Uli has a question maybe you can answer. Blackberry has free messenger between blackberries and we were wondering if anything like that exists on the iPhone.


I would say that answer to that is yes. The iPhone has facetime that, when connected over a wifi network, you can see each other as you talk. ala Dick Tracy style. Skype also has this feature and works over 3g but there’s a fee there. Maybe one day soon, the iphone will be able to facetime over 3g with apple’s software built in. There are work arounds that will allow it but not apple supported yet. Otherwise, you are texting. You can text via third party programs and not use up your ATT texts. But that usually is limited to WiFi as well. Either way, ATT is counting your data unless you’re on WiFi.

MyBook hard drive dies again

He Scotty,
Hope you are doing well.  I wanted to check with you and get your opinion on Quicken for mac.  I am running 2007 and know that it is time to upgrade; but I not sure which version to go with.  I have tried to read reviews - but they are not much help - too confusing!  If we need to set up an appointment to do this - I will be glad to do that.  Please let me know.


I’ll tell you that most of my clients have abandoned Quicken along with myself. They just took too long to get it right. The last version was in 07 like you said but they drug their feet trying to get a new version out that would take advantage of all the features the operating system had to offer. So they fell way behind. Meanwhile, companies like iBank and Moneywell came on strong and gained a good bit of ground. But it’s all pointless because they’ll all been destroyed by Mint is now my favorite way to keep up with my money. It auto categorizes my transactions which is wonderful. It will text me if I spend too much. It has limits you can set on certain categories and notifies you if you go over. Mint is so good, that Intuit (the company that produces Quicken and Quickbooks) just bought them. So expect to see some sort of merged software in the future. In the meantime, try out Mint. It’s free so you can use it along with anything else you want and it won’t effect anything.

Removing old time machine data

Thanks for your help y'day. I am having a problem with my mail. I click the stamp on the bar at the bottom, mail show up on the bar at the top, but the window never opens. I have no trouble opening safari, iTunes or others. 
Not sure what I have done. Any ideas?


A few things to try and be aware of. First, try going under Window in the menu bar and select “message viewer”.

If that doesn’t bring up your main mail window, try quiting mail. Sometimes mail gets “stuck” with its communication to the cloud and sort of hangs. You’ll know mail is in this state if you choose to quit mail under Mail menu bar but “quit mail” is greyed out then it’s time to force quit.

To force quit applications you’ll find “force quit” under the Black apple in the top left hand corner of your screen. Select it and select mail. Then select to force quit. Mail should quit and you’ll now be able to reopen mail ...hopefully better behaved this time.

One more thing to try, use command + 1 to bring up your inbox.

Transfering the flag!

Something doesn’t seem to right if the Time Capsule is full.
Also, I’m having trouble getting on the computer (Marcia is a heavier user than I anticipated). I am really interested in expanding my photographic editing skills. I had always presumed I would get another iMac but am wondering whether it is possible to commit to a good laptop. Ie, do I really need the bigger screen to be proficient. There is something appealing to having all the pictures I might want to work on with me when I travel.
Your thoughts?


First, Time Machine’s job is to fill the drive with historical data so everything is normal here. I would suggest checking the box for “do now show this warning again” and move on. It’s perfectly fine.

Next, considering a laptop as your flagship computer is extremely common now. You may consider moving to a macbook pro and also purchasing (or getting your hands on) a second montior. That way, when you get home you can plug up your laptop and gain a second display. The macbook pro is plenty powerful enough to push both screens. This is exactly what I do and it works wonderfully. Just remember that you need to continue to backup. Especially with a laptop that is more easily damaged than an iMac.

Hard Disk is getting better do something very soon.

So YOUR email address has shown up in another contact’s info....

To edit contact information in Address Book, use the “edit” key then delete the info in the first contact. Now re-click the “edit” button to close the card. Now go to your own card and add the email in just as you did on the other card by using the edit key. If you have not assigned your card to be you, you can do so while you have it selected by going under “card” in the menu bar then select “make this my card”. This will tell the computer you’ve selected that card to be yours.

Time Machine failing backup

This was helpful and I recorded the i-movie to a high quality Memorex 4.7GB high quality DVD yesterday. When I played it on our DVD player the picture was blurry. Do you have a remedy for this? The original disc was HD picture perfect.
Again, thanks for your help.


I’ve seen this before and there are a couple of things that could be the cause.

1. When you imported the material from the original disc, it’s possible that the screen resolution the program you used to import was set to a lower resolution than what you wanted. This sometimes happens if the program used to import wants to reduce file size.

2. The format you chose when you created the imovie project was set to 4:3 but the original video was shot in 16:9 or vise versa.

There are other causes as well. Just not sure unless I was in front of the computer.
Hi Scotty,

Time Machine not completing the backup

Scotty -

I'm working on things to be addressed when I book another session w/you, but I'd like to know how to separate my AOL account from my Road Runner Account - you combined them on my mail site and it just doesn't work for me - I want no AOL mail to come in on the mail site - only on AOL when I sign onto AOL.  Can you please tell me how to do this so I can take care of it right away.

Thank you.


To remove an email account from your Apple mail program (the stamp) it should be simple. Go to Mail then to preferences. Next, you’ll select the accounts tab and that will get you to the area that lists all accounts currently managed in mail. Simply select the account you are interested in deleting then hit the minus button on the bottom left hand corner of the screen. This will remove all the email associated with that email account. Since you are talking about AOL, it is IMAP based which means it will not alter your email on the AOL server at all and it should continue to come in where you were previously checking your AOL mail as always.

FW mode and time machine help

How do I get my all my contacts that were saved in my outlook email?  They all are gone.


User is running Parallels and has two installs of Windows...

They're not gone remember.  They are over in the other windows universe.  "Windows 7".  Go over to that virtual machine and export them using outlook into a .pst file.  It will be a selection to export within outlook.  Drag that over to the mac's desktop area.  Quit Windows 7 and now open the virtual machine Win Seven.  (I think that was the name of it.)  Now drag that .pst file into the Windows area and choose to import that pst file into Outlook.  That should do it.  

Time Capsule not archiving


Is switching to QB for Mac a good idea? We are getting an iMac for the office.

I would have to say that based on the opinions of the majority of clients I’ve worked with who’ve made that switch, no. Most of them absolutely hate the lack of features in the Mac version compared to the Windows version. You may want to also consider the online version of Quickbooks. That’s where it’s all headed anyway. Limited features compared to the Windows version also however. So overall, if you are used to the Windows version of Quickbooks and use it in depth, there’s a very good chance you will be disappointed in the Mac version.

Here’s a useful comparison chart.
Online Accounting Solutions and Professional Internet Accounting Software - QuickBooks OE | Compare to QuickBooks for Mac

How to get to the Archive Utility in Time Capsule


I have been synching my iPad with my iMac. I need to shift it to synch with my work laptop. Is there a way to do that without losing all of the apps?


You can set the iPad into a manual sync mode. (available under the info tab in iTunes) This will allow you to manually manage certain parts of your content like movies and music. This will not allow you to manually manage applications. The iPad remains married to the first computer. You can transfer apps to the new computer then sync to that one but that would be come a pain moving back and forth. You would select “transfer purchases” under “File” in the menu bar. This copies all the apps into the new computer including free ones then you can begin syncing from that computer. Note: You will also lose all pictures.

Online Storage and Backup


Thanks for your note

If you look at the succession of screen shots, I think I know what the problem is-The passport is already "full" and my iMac wants to send all my files, not just the new ones.



That's exactly right.  The target drive has to be at least the same size and have at least an equal amount of free space available.  If the passport drive is an old archive drive then there shouldn't be anything wrong with erasing the drive using disk utility (with the drive connected directly to your computer) then trying again.  However, if there is data on the passport drive that is important then that can not be done of course.  You'd need a different drive.  

Good call.  

How many drives do I need to backup?

I am going to get a new imac desktop tomorrow (tax free no less).  My though was to get the 21.5” but wanted your insight again on the benefits/tradeoff of the more powerful vs less powerful system.  For roughly $300 more, I can get the 3.2GHz vs 3.06 and 1TB drive vs 500GB.  You know the differences and how we use our computer.  My plan would be to have this computer for 5 years but allow for the need to upgrade sooner given technology changes (we’ve had the current system for 6 yrs).


congrats on the new purchase.  This is the perfect time to buy.  If for some reason they don't have what you want in stock then you can still order it online and get the same tax credit but they'll do that at the store with you as a last resort.  The only reason I mention this because if you don't get the computer we would need to postpone our session.  I'll confirm it in a separate email coming up in a few minutes.  
 I think the larger question here is screen size.  The 27" may be overkill for you but it sure is sweet.  But given your normal use and needs I think the $1199 base model is super.  I don't see a compelling need for you to move to the next tier up unless you are lusting for 27" vs. 21".  I do wish they still offered the 24" which is what I use currently.  So to answer your question, I don't think you need to move up.  Stick with the $1199 and you'll be happy.  

Time Capsule archive

Do u know any tricks if the mouse is frozen on a Mac laptop? Turned it on & off a bunch?

Well there are many reasons as to what’s going on. First you need to figure out if the mouse or the computer. Try another mouse to see if the issue is still there. If so, it’s the USB port. Try another USB port. If it’s still there, it may be the mouse. Try the mouse on a different computer. etc... It’s probably a very simple reason but knowing the answers to the previous troubleshooting steps will help us to move forward with diagnosing the actual problem.

The browser is "frozen" on home page. Won't move. Have cut off the computer and powered on, but still the 'arrow'/browser won't move.

We still need to know if the computer will respond via keyboard commands like command Q for quitting the application or command W for closing the window.  Not being in front of the computer, I can't determine if it's just a mouse problem or the entire computer is freezing up.  I would be very good to know the answers to the previous questions in the post concerning the mouse on another computer, other USB port etc...

Mouse and trackpad not working or by mouse, do you mean trackpad?

My kid is going to college. What computer to buy?

Also, this portable hard drive shows "video 09" on the screen. Is that supposed to mean something. Also, when I bring the HD to work for safekeeping, is there any way to view the contents, I was unable to last time (though I was able to ascertain that a lot was stored).
Thank you.


video 09 would be personal information.  Most likely that was drug over manually.  The computer did not put that there automatically.  You should be able to see the files within the TM backup.  You'll look inside a folder on the hard drive called backups.backupdb  You may first have to expand the image file.  Mac often compressed or packages large images.  Simply double click on the sparse image bundle and you should be able to see the data you're looking for.  It would most likely be in a series of folders related to days of the year as Time Machine backed up.  

Lost Financial data...did she backup?

this is the error I rec'd:

Time Machine could not complete the backup.
FIles cannot be copied onto the backup disk because it appears to be Read Only.
You may need to repair or reformat the disk using Disk Utility.  If the disk can't be repaired, you must use a different dicks for backups.  


I can't quite recall where the hard drive was used first.  This can occur if the drive has been connected to a windows machine and permissions were changed.  We should be able to solve the issue.  Hopefully the drive is healthy and this is only a software issue.  If you can afford to loose the data on the drive then the best and first option would be to erase the drive using disk utility then reformat it as a Mac OS extended Journaled drive.  Time Machine will need this format to function correctly.  Reformatting the drive will also clean the permissions of the drive and start you back at the beginning.  

If erasing the drive is not an option then there are alternatives.  First, get info on the drive by control + click or right clicking the hard drive icon.  Now, you may be able to select to ignore ownership and permissions on the drive.  It's a little geeky.  I apologize for not recalling exactly your skill level as this is not the easiest thing to ask someone to do.  Also, be sure that the drive is not locked by assuring the "lock" check box is unchecked.  However, if the drive is already formatted for time machine, then these options should not be available anyway and we have to go to the next step.  

The next thing to try would be to go into the backups.backupdb folder on the hard drive and remove the "inprogress" backup file.  That may give you a fresh start at time machine trying to backup.  

Oh but wait, it's all coming back to me are using the Western Digital MyBook.  I recall you have two of them if I'm not mistaken.  Case closed.  Don't trust that drive.  Take the warning's advice and try another drive.  

Now there is always the possibility that some data on the computer is corrupt and time machine is having a difficult time backing up the data but those occurrences are usually few and far between.  Replace the MyBook drive.  

Slow backup process on Time Capsule

Hi Scotty,

 It's been a while since I'v needed you,
but I need your help now. Road Runner tells me my mailbox is nearly full,
and i don't know how to empty it.  I tried their live chat support, but it
just didn't work for me. Would you be able to come over at your convenience?


This should be a simple fix. A couple of things to consider. Using RR as your primary email means that you don’t really have much server space for your email to sit so RR would prefer you remove it from their server from time to time. If I’m correct I believe they only provide 100 megs which is really not very much by today’s standards. Gmail’s free email service offers 7000 megs. Yes, 7000. You can sign up at if you are interested. But are a few things we can do to help the situation.

1. Log on to in your account and select email then delete it from there. You may then want to empty the trash as well.

2. Go to your own mail program (the stamp) on your mac and go to the preferences (should be under “Mail” in the menu bar -upper left hand corner) After you select the preferences, next choose your POP account on the left hand side. Be sure to select “remove a copy from the server after retrieving a message” and select “immeadiately”.

What that will do will be to tell RR that it’s ok to remove a copy after your email program (the stamp) has gotten its copy.

Hope that helps.

What hard drive do you recommend?

As mentioned, I am going to get wife a laptop for Mother's Day (what she wants).  I am leaning toward the 15" Mac Book Pro.  Would you recommend the Intel core i5 or i7 chip?  Is there a reason to have that given our standard uses?  Although I would like to plan for a machine I could keep functional for several years, not sure the difference between those chips will matter even in 12 mos.
Also, is there any additional (non-standard) software that you think I should add that you find particularly useful or that you think wife would enjoy?
Thanks and see you next week.


If you want to save some money I would just go with the i5 chip. Those things are way more than enough power for your general use. The i7 is really only going to be attractive to video/graphics guys and people who just have to brag about having the absolute best even though most of them don’t need it. It’s plenty of power and the i5 chip, being so new, has plenty of shelf life ahead of it. You’ve definitely gotten your money’s worth out of that PowerBook G4 you’re replacing!

As far as software goes that she may enjoy, the
iWork suite is really nice. It’s Apple’s version of Microsoft Office. Easy to use and could be a nice lead in to your kids as they begin to start creating on the computer.

Folder dissapearing

hi Scotty

Can dropbox work between three users, two on a mac and one on a PC?
If the one on the PC makes changes to a document will it mess up the mac users?



Yes Dropbox will work between mac and pc.  You will want to consider what application is being used.  For just regular documents this should be no problem.  However, if you are using dropbox to work on files pertaining to an application then there is a chance the file formats would vary and not work.  It's more of a case by case basis.  

Permissions wrong on external drive

How can I switch between the Mac and Windows within Boot Camp?


In order to get to the mac practice software on the Mac side of the Macs in the office it's pretty simple really.  I've discussed this with Dr. xxxxxxx and he is familiar how to do this as well.

With the machine completely off, turn the machine on with the option button held down.  You will see grey screen showing you two hard drive icons.  One representing Windows and one representing the  Mac.  Next select which operating system you want to boot into.  You can use the mouse to double click on the desired hard drive.  The computer will now boot into the chosen operating system.  You should now be able to get to all the data within Mac Practice on the Mac just as you did before.  When you are ready to go back into Windows, simply follow the same directions once again.  Shut down the machine and reboot holding down the option button.  Then select the Windows hard drive icon and you are back to Windows.  

Time Machine with Multiple computers


When the girl who works for me and I share Quickbooks via dropbox each time there is a new file which seems to be most recent.
Is this supposed to happen? I thought it would update it automatically?



I would like to get a better look at the longer versiion of the file name that QuickBooks is saving it's QB file as. In the screen shot the file names were collapsed. I'd like to know if these are time stamped within the file name. If so, it is most likely saving a backup file in the same location. QB is designed to keep about 8 or so redundant versions of it's backup file and that may be what is happening. Is this a question for curiosity or are you having a problem with two users accessing QB via dropbox?

Computer in the shop...hard drive alternatives

THE password we agreed on yesterday and you registered does not work when a sign drops
down asking for a "keychain password".


Keychain access password issues often arrise when a user changes the password of their computer but does not unlock the login keychain within keychain access. It's more of Apple's fault for a poor warning system. What we are left with is a constant reminder that the old password is still required.

I would suggest deleting the login keychain (seeing how your computer is so new) and restarting. You can do this by going into Users/yourusername/Library/Keycahins/...then deleting the loginkeychain file then restarting.

Considering the level of newness that your at, you may have trouble following the directions. It's not hurting anything to leave it the way it is until we meet again after your trip. Just an annoyance.

The AppleCare phone support line can also help you with the issue over the phone as well. 1-800-MY-APPLE.

External HD for mac mini?

Scotty, Please tell me exactly what I need to do to copy her hard drive and set up her email (past emails, itunes, etc) and then get them active on her new computer. Thank you,

At startup on the new computer,you'll be prompted to transfer the data from another computer.  Choose to transfer data from another mac.  Next you'll be asked to put the other mac into target disk mode by holding down the T key while starting the older computer up.  After the new mac detects the older computer connected via a firewire cable, it will proceed to the next step.  In your case, you may need a firewire 400 to 800 cable unless the new laptop doesn't have firewire.  In that case you'll need to boot the older computer as usual then network the two computers via an ethernet cable.  This option is  selectable in the setup procedure on the new mac as "other computer over a network" or something close to that.  

You can always just set the computer up initially with a new user called "temporary" or something like that then use the migration assistant to move the data from one computer to the next by using an ethernet cable between the two.  Then delete the "temporary" user later.  

Helpful links:

Mac OS X 10.5, 10.6: How to use Migration Assistant to transfer files from another Mac

Mac OS X 10.3, 10.4: Transferring data with Setup Assistant / Migration Assistant FAQ

Backing up the Drobo Backup


I have had sucess running AutoCad on my macbook pro in bootcamp and am going to purchase an iMac. 
Is the iMac as strong in performance as the macboook pro (most comprehensive options) if I want to put autocad/windows
on it as well? Do I need all of these features:

  • 3.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
  • 8GB 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 4x2GB
  • 2TB Serial ATA Drive
  • ATI Radeon HD 4670 256MB
  • Apple Wireless Keyboard (English) and User's Guide
  • 8x double-layer SuperDrive

I am having a hard time accessing your calendar like last time- it shows more time available then I know you are.
I would like to buy the iMac and then have you come over and help me set it up, set up windows/autocad, transfer
documents and clean up the macbook pro, and file share. It will take a few hours.




Hi L,

The iMac should be plenty of horsepower for what you are doing. As far as needing "all those features", many of these listed are standard features and can't be downgraded. So it's more a question of which model of the 3 or so that Apple offers is going to be the right fit for you?

The first thing to consider is size. I have both the new 27" and the 21" and I have to say the 27" is easily the winner here hands down. With that in mind, you have a few options there as well. The most important in your case is the power of the graphics card depending on how you will run windows. You'll either be running via VMware or Parallels virtulization, or you'll be using BootCamp. Either way, it would be to AutoCad's advantage to have a strong graphics card at hand. But this increases the price point a bit.

The second thing to consider is not so much, internal Hard Drive space, but rather, how much ram you will want. I would suggest not having Apple increase it but instead, buying it later yourself and installing it yourself. You will save a bit more that way. is where I recommend for ram purchase.

Time Machine Full is a good thing

an you recommend a good piece of software that can make copies of my DVD's directly from one drive to the other efficiently?
I usually create an iso image or disk image of the DVD then burn that image to disk.  Disk Utility will take care of that and allow you to make multiple copies faster.  But if you want to go DVD to DVD then check out these products:

DVD Copy for Mac - Mac DVD copy software to clone DVD on Mac
DVD Copy for Mac: Copy DVD on Mac, clone DVD Mac tool

Macbook pro has a full hard drive

Can my son get the old version of iMovie HD . He loves the older app and is really wanting the old app.   Is a copy available for him somewhere?

Apple used to provide a link online for anyone to download iMovie HD but they've since taken it off. Your best bet is for me to install it off of the old iLife 06 DVD. We should be able to take care of it.

What's your favorite external hard drive?

Hi Scotty,

I'm having problems opening .doc files in Word 2004 for Mac. Actually, I've been having problems for a while but not until now do I really need to do something about it.

When I try to open any Word .doc, the program briefly opens then it automatically shuts down. I do get error messages when I open certain files (files that I haven't previously tried to open in a long time) saying "Word encountered file corruption while opening ___ file." It then asks if I want to try to recover some of the file.

I've updated my Word version to 11.5.0. After doing some more research it looks like the next step will be to uninstall Word 2004 and reinstall it. But I don't think I have the CDs; I'm pretty sure we installed the version on my iMac through my old laptop. Does this make sense?

Have you experienced anything like this on Word 2004 before? What do you advise I do moving forward?


Yes, I've seen this in the past several times. The first suggestion I would make is to delete the plist files associated with Office. Go to your users folder/Library/preferences/Microsoft and delete that folder. For good measure you may want to also delete any of the microsoft.plist files as well. When you next start any of the Office applications you may be prompted as if it were the first time you were launching the program. Not to worry...the product key is stored in a different location.

If that doesn't help....

If you are not using Entourage (and I hope you're not) then you could also toss out the Microsoft User Data folder inside your Documents folder. Then restart Office. You'll be prompted to create a new identity. If you are using Entourage however, then do not take this step as you'd be deleting your email accounts within Entourage. Therefore the problem would be a little more complicated to solve than I would answer here.

Hope that helps.

Where to get an extra external drive

I am getting the same "error while printing" message I showed you on your last visit. I deleted it from Mac HD but Epson download failed several times/ What can I do?

I have spoken to epson and they tell me that the reason i cannot download the driver is that I am not the system administrator. I then went to and to reset the administrator's password I need a disk, which I do not have as, I bought the computer used. Any suggestions?

I have been able to download  the printer utility..but when I try to print the "print" icon is not lit up and I cannot print.
Any ideas?


I would suggest going to your print settings inside system preferences then holding control + click down to bring up a menu that allows you to choose to reset the print system.  It looks a little different in Tiger 10.4 which is what you are on but should still be there.  Select to reset the print system then reinstall the print drivers again.  I don't know why the printer keeps losing it's connection.  It's most likely something very simple that we're missing.  Often times, especially in the older operating system, if a printer had a hick up of some sort for instance:  a paper jam, low ink, or even if the printer simply ran out of paper, the printer would then tell the computer "hey, I'm offline until someone comes to help me".  The printer would then show an exclamation point on the left hand side of the listing when you went to print something and therefore the printer would not print.  If the printer failed to respond then there would be a red dot next to the printer icon in the print utility.  If the dot is green then the printer should be working normally.  I would be interested in finding out what the printer is reporting within the print window.

(screenshot taken in 10.6.1 Snow Leopard)


You may not really have to reset the print system. You could also select the printer in the left hand column and hit the "minus" button on the bottom left hand area then re-add the printer once again by clicking the "plus" button on the bottom left hand area of that window.

This would be a great item for us to look at on my Sunday night town hall sessions.  

Seagate Free Agent pretty good drive


how do i sync anne's laptop to the mac for photo's.  We want to transfer all the photos over but i forgot how to do that.

can you give me step by step instructions on how to do that?


There's no really easy way (yet) to sync photo libraries across multiple computers.  There are work arounds however. Here a few options you can explore. You can transfer the entire library of one computer to another computer but that could potentially overwrite the original library. iPhoto does have the ability to open multiple libraries so if you named that library something other than "iPhoto Library" then by holding down the option key during iPhoto startup you could choose between libraries. But this is not exactly what you want to do. You want to SYNC them so that they are the same.

Currently I use a program called Chronosync to sync my iPhoto libraries across my computers. However, I can't really recommend this as it is very difficult to use and has the potential of failure quite often by overwriting files you didn't expect to overwrite. I only mention it so you know there are programs that claim to do this but you really have to know what you're doing.

So we come to the best option in your case given your level of experience on the mac. Use the sharing feature within iPhoto itself. Open both iPhoto libraries and select the preferences under iPhoto in the menu bar. (you can also get there by holding down the command key and the comma key). Next you'll want to check out the sharing section. From here you can select to have iPhoto look for other iPhoto libraries on the same network and also share your own library. The next thing you'll want to consider is what folders or "albums" you'd like to share. Considering the size of your iPhoto library, you may want to be selective as to what albums you share. This will speed the interaction up quite a bit over the wireless network in your home as you share pictures back and forth. Otherwise, sharing the entire library over the network will be much slower as thumbnails of every picture would load.

Next, after you've checked the options you're happy with, quit and restart iPhoto on both machines and you should now see each other's library in the left hand column of each iPhoto.

Now all you have to do (after waiting for the images to load) is drag over the pictures you want to add to each library. It is not as easy as there are many steps but hopefully one day Apple will build in "syncing" into iPhoto over your home network. Be sure to provide feedback to Apple requesting this feature by selecting "provide iPhoto feedback" in the menu bar under iPhoto.

Adding a larger drive to a laptop

when I went to charge the computer it would not charge. The orange light came on . I then unplugged it and moved to the new apple set up. still the same. What do I do. Sorry to have so many questions after you left.


Not sure what you mean by not charging. I really think your laptop is fine and the orange light means it is in the process of charging. It will not go green until the battery has been fully charged. There are rare cases where new batteries fail but I do not think this is one of them. I would suggest allowing it to stay plugged in for about an hour. Be sure it's firmly plugged into the wall as well. You can also see the status of your battery's charge in the menu bar at the top of the computer by clicking on the battery icon shown below:

Recovering an Autosaved document

Hi, how do I take everything off old computer, I'm going to give it to my sister.

Put either the orginal install disc or a copy of Leopard or Snow Leopard in and boot from the disc by holding down the C key at startup.  Next you'll want to select an optional install called "erase and install". 

Another way to do it is to boot the computer into target disk mode by holding down the T key at start up then using a firewire cable to connect the computer to another mac.  Next go to Disk utility then select that hard drive and erase.  It will warn you that you are about to erase the disk.  After you select yes, the next step is to get a new operating system on it.  You can do that by using either the install disc that came with the computer or a copy of Leopard or Snow Leopard.  Tiger may work also depending on the age of the machine.  

Syncing documents and email over multiple computers

About a month ago I got the new 3Gs and this keeps popping up. What do I do?  Please help me! Thank you Scotty!

So it looks like at some point that iphone was connected to another iTunes library and that iTunes assumed ownership of the phone. This means that the iphone can't have a relationship with two iTunes libraries at the same time. If this computer is your only iTunes then I would suggest first transfering any purchased music off the phone then erase and sync to re-establish the relationship between your phone and itunes. But beware that the erase and sync will remove all data from the phone. This includes contacts, calendars, applications. etc....But those should be on your computer already.

External hard drive is locked

Scotty, you did some consulting work for me in the past.  I am still a mac novice and am need of some assistance again.  Such as, I got a new I Pod classic but it takes a MAC OSX 10.4.8 or later and I am still on version 10.3.9.  I can't seem to upload any photos anymore, I to back up my files, etc.  These are all minor issues to you but I would greatly appreciate your help + advice.  


Yes, 10.3.9 is pretty much "the good old days" at this point.  It's time for us to evaluate the computer you have and decide if it can move up to a newer version of the operating system or not.  It may require adding more ram as well.  Ram is the memory that a computer uses to run its programs.  I would be happy to assist you.  You can check my calendar on my website to find a time that may work for you.

Moving a user from old mac

Soory for all these questions.  My mobile me account is coming up on my
computer as "FilesyncAgent, your Mobileme account has expired"   It
should still be current till 1010. I went to www.mobleme/acctivate and
entered my me Activation code from the box and I get an error Activation
code are ready used.  What do I do?
I can use my mobile me account on my IPhone.

First suggestion would be to log out of mobileme in system preferences and relog back in.
You might also try going to "isync" application and reseting sync data. That may help.

In addition, here are a couple of helpful links to gain more info about filesync agent problems. Filesync agent has been known to hang as a background process and take up cpu cycles. To check to make sure filesync agent is behaving, you can open activity monitor and check all processes then sort by cpu load. This is a little geeky but is interesting.

other interesting notes:

Apple - Support - Discussions - FileSyncAgent going nuts on Leopard ...

External Hard Drive recommendations


I would love to join your Town Hall Forum Sunday night, but I am shy about it.  Plus it is probably already filled.


Please don't be shy about joining us on Sunday evenings.  You can mute your sound and never even be heard.  You can simply type a question and we'll discuss it.   There’s never been a full session yet. Please feel free to join us on Sunday’s at 8pm.

Time Machine Woes

here is my concern:  there is no place on the iPhone where I can enter information just for my use, i.e. "Memos" on Palm.  I need something that will sync with the computer.  IF I have Leopard, then "notes" will sync with the 2, so I assume I can cut and paste into "Notes" the info in my Memos.  However, I have been told (by you???) that Leopard messes up Windows XP.  I can't afford to do that.  Feel like I'm between a rock and a hard place - please help!  Thanks -


You can use the notes syncing feature to get done what you’re looking for. You are correct to be concerned about the Leopard upgrade and it’s affect on Parallels. However, I would recommend updating Parallels to the most current build of that version. You can do so directly from the Parallels application under Help in the menu bar I believe.

Next, you’ll want to choose to upgrade the operating system during install which is the default setting anyway. Overall I think you’ll be fine. If not, Parallels can usually be recovered if Leopard causes a problem. Most importantly, update Parallels before moving to Leopard.

Time capsule drive dissapeared

Here’s an interesting note from a client concerning the voice dial feature of the new iphone 3GS...


Dear Scotty,

The funniest thing about the iPhone is that when I give it a voice command, it usually returns something quite humorous!  Perhaps, I need to speak with a Cupertino, CA accent!  The verbal command "Johnny Cash" gives me the music from "CATS!"  I say, "Call HOME," and it calls Sue Jones!  Makes me laugh!

Thanks again!

pulling content from DVD's

I have a problem. After you left I changed  something to print a rotated file. Now everything is still printing items rotated 90 degreed and cannot remember how to get things to print vertically...can you help?


Yes, you’ll need to change the settings in the “page setup” menu back to portrait. It’s set to landscape right now. Here’s what you’ll do. Go to the menu bar under file. Next go down to “page setup”. Finally, select the appropriate orientation.

large backup file all of a sudden

Summary of the answers section placed here.

Where's my time machine?

Hey Scotty!

I searched your site but didn’t see anything listed about virus scans. I know we have discussed before, but I cannot locate any info you may have given me.

We tend to run a Trend Micro Housecall scan just to make sure all is Kosher on the machines. Lately either the scan crashes Firefox or just gets stuck. Is there a different free scan that you recommend for the Mac?


Good news. There are no viruses out in the wild for the Mac. Knock on wood. At the moment, there are many reasons for this. Low market share, Unix based Operating System, harder to write viruses on a Mac can’t get around admin privledges, etc... But that’s not to say we should walk around bragging about it. You still need to practice common sense.

1. Don’t open attachments from people you don’t know.
2. Don’t click on links inside emails you don’t know.
3. Don’t go to websites that require you to enter personal information.

These are not virus behaviors but rather items whose job is to harvest information from you by fooling you into thinking your bank account is messed up or you need to verify your eBay account info or your Social Security number may be wrong with your bank. Stupid to most people but there’s always 1 80 year old grandma who gets scared to death and gives up the wrong info.

Overall, don’t worry about a virus scanner. There’s nothing out there for the Mac worth any trouble you would go through. Virus scanning companies would love to make you think you need one for the Mac but you just don’t. Not in 2009 anyway. Ask me again in 2 more years. My answer may be different.

Backup getting full

Question. I made a talk. I need to burn a copy of the dvd and send to some people. How do I do that.

I called Apple support and they told me they could not show me how to do that. I don't understand I owned the dvd.

I know you can help me make copies of it.

Let me know.

Well this is a touchy subject. Apple was being careful because this subject is so taboo. However, there is a big difference between a dvd you own vs. a dvd you purchase. Purchased dvds have encryption that will not allow you to make copies unless you know how to circumvent it. This is illegal but there are ways to make it happen.

But you want to copy your own dvd so that’s a different story. One method to do so is to use disk utility. You can create an image of the disk from within disk utility then burn that image to another dvd. However it takes a few steps to make it happen.
How to copy previously-burned DVD-R video discs

Another way to do it is to use a paid program like popcorn. It makes the process as easy as possible. It’s a slow process and don’t be surprised when it takes around 2 hours.
Roxio Popcorn® 3 - DVD Copy - Overview

Time Machine error won't resolve

Any idea what this is on my desktop screen in the lower right hand corner?  It's just to sets of parallel lines.  It happens once in a while.  No specific timing.

That is most likely a graphics card issue. There is a small chance it’s a problem with the display itself but doubtful. Either way, it’s not good news. The graphics card on that iMac is embedded onto the logic board so it’s not an inexpensive repair. The entire logic board must be replaced. And as I think further about it, since you were able to take a screen shot that means it’s very unlikely that it’s the display. Any physical problem with the display would not show within the software process of a screenshot.

It’s probably the graphics card. If you have applecare, the store should be able to fix it at no cost.

Time Machine Problems

All of a sudden my calendar is wiped clean on my iphone. I don't know what to do. Thoughts?

Most likely you need to reset the mobileme syncing feature on your iphone. go to general prefs on your phone, then to mail, contacts, calendar, etc... then toggle the calendar mobileme sync button. You’ll be warned that all the calendar information on your phone will be deleted but since it’s not there, go ahead. Now turn it back on and it should redownload your mobileme calendar sync info and repopulate your calendar.

If that doesn’t do it, it’s not harmful to delete your mobileme account from your phone and readd it. Since your mail is IMAP, you won’t loose anything and your contacts and calendar are stored on the server so everything should return to normal.

Screen Sharing/Time Machine

Scotty, last night the back up indicated that it failed.  The time capsule lost signal and would not respond.  I tried to soft boot but needed a hard reset and I had to rename it in the process.  I am not sure that the back up is configured to run.  Thanks

Check your Time Capsule's backup process by clicking the indicator in the menu bar.  It should state the status there:

Common Time Machine error

How long would it generally take you to set up an IMac and transfer files from my old PC.

No problem.  Setting up AppleTV and Time Capsule should only take a few minutes however the more time consuming task comes when windows gets involved.  Since there is no reliable way to know how Windows will act at any given moment, the best case scenario for data transfer is usually one hour.  Moving files then importing them into the proper place can sometimes take around 2 hours.  

I always work as rapidly as I can but with Windows I've come to expect anything.  If the computer is in good health then we shouldn't have problems.  Most of the time, I usually pull the drive out of the windows machine then transfer the data directly therefore avoiding the hassle of networking the two machines.  It's the fastest way.

Time Machine not backing up

I just got a notice that my mac has not been backed up in Time Machine for 53 days. Not sure if this is my Air or Mac. What do you think?

Time Machine is a great backup method but can be problematic from time to time. You’ll often see errors from TM stating that a backup failed but these are usually self healing and within the hour they go away. However, your issue is more severe. Since TM has warned that the last backup had not been for 53 days, it may be time to go to your system preferences and reset where TM looks to backup. Since you are using Time Capsule as your backup, it’s possible that changes made to the router confused TM and we need to re-establish a relationship between your computer and the hard drive inside Time Capsule. To do so, go to system preferences/time machine and choose to “change disk”. Next select the Time Capsule drive (often labeled “Data”). Reinitiate the backup and hopefully that will solve it.

You stated that you weren’t sure which computer was not backing up. Whatever computer you saw the error on was the one that is not backing up. A quick way to check is to look at the icon in the menu bar and see when the last backup was.

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