to commonly asked questions.

time machine

Don't encrypt time machine drives

My external backup drive is asking for a password and I don't know what it wants.

Looks like you may have chosen to “encrypt” the backup hard drive that Time Machine uses and may not know the password. I don’t personally recommend people use encrypted backups for this exact reason. Easiest thing to do here would be to just wipe the external drive and let Time Machine just start over again.

Setting up Time Machine

My new Seagate Time Machine arrived but despite me setting up a password several times, nothing is happening. Do you have some basic instructions?

Instructions differ based on which Operating system you're using. Go to the Apple in the top left corner of your screen and choose “about this Mac”. It will either say Big Sur, Monterey, Ventura, Sonoma.

For Sonoma, Open System Settings, select General then to the left, select Time Machine.

Next, select "Add Backup Disk". With all other drives you may be using, disconnected, select the new drive you just purchased. Once it's selected, you may be prompted to "erase" the drive. That is totally normal since you most likely just purchased it so there would be noting on that drive yet anyway. Once you've gone through that step, you should be good to go.

Note: If you are asked to use an Encrypted backup, say No. I do not recommend people use that option.

Is my time machine working?

I do have a time machine,Seagate Portable Drive…..How often should I update it? If I unplug the Seagate to travel, etc…..should I update each time I reconnect it?

Time Machine, if configured correctly, will update automatically every time you plug it in. You should plug it in to your computer as often as you floss your teeth. To check that it’s backing up correctly, plug it in then go to the small clock icon in the right side of the menu bar at the top of your computer screen. The drop down menu should show “last backup…..” If that date is recent you’re good to go.

Where's my hard drive?

Hi Scotty. Lately, whenever I have connected that cable to the external storage device and hit “backup now”, I get the error message that the backup disk cannot be found or is unavailable.
What to do?

If the drive is not mounting onto the desktop (it should be an olive green icon) then the first thing I would do is (if available) plug it up to another Mac. It will most likely not mount there either which would mean the drive needs to be replaced. However, if the drive does mount on a different Mac then we may just need to reformat the drive and allow it to start the Time Machine history all over again. You would loose the old backup history but it would be better than buying a new one.

If you hear it clicking when you plug it up, it's over. Let it go. However, if you can feel it spinning when you connect it, it may still be usable. You can open Disk Utility, which can be found in the Utilities folder inside the Applications folder, then select the drive in the left column then choose to erase from the buttons at the top of the window.

As I may have mentioned, for some ridiculous reason, Apple has chosen to make setting Time Machine up in MacOS Ventura HARDER than it ever was previously. You now have to format the drive on your own using Disk Utility. This used to be automatic prior to Ventura. With all other drives you may have connected, unplugged, go to the Applications Folder, find the Utilities Folder, then open Disk Utility. You should see the new drive which is plugged up, on the left column. Choose erase from the bar at the top and format it for either APFS or MacOS Extended Journaled. Now go back to Time Machine system preferences and try again. It should recognize it now.

If Disk Utility doesn't detect the drive then it's most likely gone. Drives don't last forever. They are spinning 7000 times a minute for their entire lives so it's extremely likely the drive is just dead. For most people, a 2TB drive is enough. If you would rather just buy a new one, here's the one I recommend.

Hope that helps.

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.

Time Machine seems very slow.

Seagate is finally downloading. Tells me it will take 14 hours for first completion. That seems impossible. I feel like there is some corruption. Promise this is last message.

Any suggestions are appreciated.

Screen Shot 2022-07-14 at 2.14.06 PM


In the last couple years, Apple has locked out other programs from having full access to things so something like Grammarly may hit a wall when the Apple Operating System blocks it from certain functions. That screen shot seemed to indicate that Grammarly was asking that you grant it permission for time machine use. That could have been why it took so long to complete. If you continue to have issues, you can schedule remotely and we can look at permissions issues within System Preferences. There may be something there slowing Time Machine’s process down.

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.

Swapping out Time Machine drives

I just got an error message saying no backups for 10 days.  Stupidly didn't look to see if backup icon was on desktop.  Just unplugged drive then plugged it back up.  There are six (6) backup entries on the 14th but zero after that.  So I'm guessing I need a new external drive?  Do we need you to do anything or do I just buy one and plug it in?  Happy to schedule wit you but didn't want to clog up your calendar if not needed.

I wouldn’t necessarily think you need a new drive although at around $60 it’s never a bad idea to replace them periodically. Reconnecting the drive to your Mac should automatically innate the backup to pick back up where it left off. You can find the most recent backups in the backup.backupsdb folder.

If you do decide to buy a new one, then you’d want to sever the relationship You would go into Time Machine, remove the old disk from the list then add the new one. Not too hard.

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.

How big should my backup drive be?

How do I connect a time machine drive? What drive size do I need?

If you have not yet started a new time machine backup you’ll need a spare external hard drive equal to or greater than the size of your internal drive. You can temporarily get away with a smaller drive but eventually you’d grow out of that size drive as time machine wouldn’t be able to back up the entire drive if the internal drive contained more data than the external drive was able to hold. So best to do it right the first time. Buy a drive equal to or larger than the internal drive.

Secondly, if the computer doesn’t prompt you to start using the newly connected drive as a TM backup, just go into System Preferences, Time Machine and select the new drive. It may ask you if you’d like to replace an old one. Say yes and let it run. Leave it connected and time machine will periodically backup your internal computer’s hard drive.

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.

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

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

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

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

Further explanation from Apple:

Yes of disks to be used:

Encrypt or unencrypted:

Backing up encrypted disks with unencrypted Time Machine

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


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

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

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

Can I backup my Photos library to an external drive

I’m tackling my photos and want to order a good external hard drive to begin the process. What do you recommend.
I don’t believe I will move all photos over but given that I have 20,000 plus in one library I want to make sure it is big enough.

The external hard drive I recommend most often is the Seagate Backup Plus. You can buy a 1 or 2TB drive. These days 2TB are more common. But there's more to consider in terms of your photos. In 2021 backing up your computer to time machine only means your pictures are going to be included IF you are storing the originals in Photos. So many people have small hard drive computers so they have to choose "optimize storage" which means your computer only shows reference thumbnails to the original picture files that live in the cloud. Further, the time machine backup drive would only be backing up the abbreviated version of your photos library if that is the setting you have in your Photos library. To check if you are optimizing photos:

  • Open Photos
  • Go to preferences
  • Select iCloud

So, if you are using Optimzie as seen above, then backing up is irrelevant. Your photos are backed up to the cloud only and not locally on your drive. If Originals is selected then you can certainly backup to an external drive with confidence.

Time Machine and Encryption

1. Following directions to set up a new backup disk...for some reason “select disk” is not an option here.

2. It appears to be set up properly to back up to the 8T backup ecm drive

3. Not sure if this encrypted stuff matters...


1. The "green" disk means that the computer already has a backup relationship with the hard drive. Olive green means already being used as a backup drive. Yellow means not yet used. So if you click on a green disk, the only choice would be to remove the disk as a backup since it's already being used as one.

2. Yes.

3. Yes, encryption does matter. Your computer's drive should mirror the backup drive so if your computer's drive is encrypted (via File Valut) then the backup drive should also use encryption. While you can backup an encrypted drive with a non encrypted backup, in my opinion it is best just to turn off encryption. It's just not really something the large majority of us need on our home computers.

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.

Advice on time machine backup drives

I guess I need to set up another appointment about the email, screen shot I sent you a couple of days ago while trying to set up my seagate back up. The error message about the back up being case-sensitive? Know we ran into that before.

But before I set it up, I want to make sure I have what I need to be “all set.” In the process I noticed that my existing 4 TB Seagate back up is very close to being full. SOOO if I want to active back ups feeling like I should replace that one as well? But perhaps go bigger? And would appreciate your thoughts on what to get. There is a 5 TB for $114 and an 8TB for $134. Thinking 8TB…


When we format drives, we do have to choose whether they should be case sensitive or not. That could be something I overlooked. I would not normally choose case sensitive as it’s just an additional hoop to jump through for security reasons that’s not really necessary in my opinion. But yes, let’s look at that.

That 4TB drive being close to max capacity: It is time machine’s job to fill up with data. The larger the drive, the farther back in time your backup can go. Another way to say it would be, the longer it can continue to backup unique data before it needs to make space for the redundant copies of data that will be inevitable. One way out is to just by a bigger drive and not bother with the old one that is full. Another solution to the problem is to erase the backup and start the process over again. In a perfect world, time machine should spend some time doing a little math then free up space based on how much data you are asking it to add to the already existing data.

On buying a new drive: an 8TB for $134 is pretty crazy cheap these days and as I’ve said previously, the performance of your backup drive is not really that important. It doesn’t have to be fast as you are not ever really accessing data on it for work. It’s just a safety measure. You could also always keep it disconnected while working if you felt it was slowing performance down. So overall, my vote would be to just buy a new drive. It would future proof you for a pretty long while I would think.

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:


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.

Why is time machine backing up?

After upgrading to Catalina, Time machine appears to be doing a complete new backup.

Any thoughts why it would be doing this?

Screen Shot 2020-05-14 at 10.48.28 AM

That's totally fine.

By Time Machine is not working.

Hey Scotty, my Mac has not backed up in 135 days. When I attached it ...I guess I hit the wrong button’s or something.

It may be time to start your Time Machine backup over again but first let’s try this:

With the backup drive plugged up, go into system preferences/Time Machine. Choose: Select backup disk. Choose: Add or Remove. Choose to remove the disk if it is currently listed. This will end the relationship with the drive if there was one. Next repeat the process but choose to Add. The should reestablish the relationship and the computer should begin backing up to the drive once again.
If that doesn’t work then there are a few possibilities.

1. The backup drive may not have enough space.
2. The drive may be failing/failed.
3. The drive may need to be reformatted and the backup drive started over again.

Can I schedule time machine to run?

Can I have it set up so that every employee’s Time Machine runs at midnight on their computer?
Do I need an adapter for Time Machine?

Oh, and can I use the one at home for my iMac, and also plug it into my laptop from time to time as well. In other words, can I use it for both?


If you have a modern USBC laptop then yes, you’d need a USB to USBC adapter. However some hard drives now come with USBC cables. Even so, it’s always a good idea to have a few laying around. They’re only like $4 a piece.

There is a time machine scheduler tool. You can use TimeMachine Editor. It’s compatible with Catalina so I assume it will continue to work for a while. I would think Apple might not like software that effects their built in process but it’s been fine for about 10 years now.

Yes, you can use one drive for multiple computers given there’s enough space. So iMac and laptop can share indeed.

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!

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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

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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.

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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.

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.

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 I recover only my Photos projects from Time machine?

Follow up to the Mac slowness issue. I’ve been running the Mac from the external drive for the past several weeks. Not much difference honestly as I still get the spinning beach ball a lot and overall system slowness for mundane tasks. I do notice it happens very frequently in Photos (I have a fairly large photo library of over 34,000 images but it’s all stored in icloud)
Which leads me to...all of my Photos projects are missing after reinstalling it on the new drive.  How do I go about finding them on a TM backup and adding them back?

First, as we may have discussed in the past, watching Activity monitor will reveal the painfully massive CPU intensive processes related to Photos. As Photos continues to identify objects, places, and people, it sometimes brings computers to a halt. These processes include, but are not limited to the following:


Keep in mind several of these processes will stop when Photos is open. But then your computer is dealing with caching the entire size of your library and it can struggle in that regard. In other words, dammed if you do, dammed if you don't.

Now to your more specific question. Your Photo projects are missing. Hmmm. You can't (to my knowledge) easily add only the projects to a photos library back exclusively and not touch the other items. Instead, you might be better off replacing the entire photos library. To do this, you may want to leave the current photos library in your Pictures folder but rename it because you'll be bringing in another full copy of that exact library, just an earlier version that hopefully contains the projects.

I don't use the "enter time machine" function Apple provides. Instead, open your time machine drive, navigate to backup.backupsdb/computer name/macintosh hd/users/you/pictures/ then pull a copy of the photos.library over to your computer in the same folder you just renamed the old photos.library.

Now before you do this, you may need to think about storage. You'd be temporarily duplicating your photos library which could cause space issues. If you can't afford the gigs then you can move the file you've retrieved from the backup drive to a different drive.

Now open Photos holding down the Option key. It will automatically find all the photo libraries (not contained in the time machine backup) and list them as candidates that you can open. So choose the new library you've dragged out and open it. If your projects are there, great. If not, delete that file then repeat the process but with an even earlier version.

Full Disclosure: I've never tried just using the "enter time machine" while Photos is open in order to recover projects. It's worth a try. You may find that time machine will allow you to restore just the projects. To try it, open Photos, go to the time machine icon in the menu bar, select enter time machine. Your screen will go into a funky star trek warp looking thing. Start scrolling back in time and keep an eye out to see if the projects reappear in the left column. I doubt it but worth a try before going through everything else.

Why does my time machine say it hasn't backed up in 56 days?

Hi Scotty I had unplugged the back up drive a while ago for travel and have since plugged it back in. Don’t understand why I’m getting this message?


One possible explanation (and this is Apple's fault for not paying attention to detail) is that when a person uses 2 drives to backup using Time Machine, while one drive is happy and working, when the computer has not seen the other drive, instead of displaying a message that should say "we have not seen your second backup drive in xx days" it says "we have not backed up in xx days." This is confusing because it makes us think no backup has happened.

That is the most common explanation. To see if this may be the case, you can open system preferences, go to Time Machine then see if two drives have been selected as backup drives in the left column.

Another way to see if the drive you actually have plugged in is backing up is to open it in the finder then navigate to backup.backupsdb/your computer name/Macintosh HD/ then you'll see several folders all with dates. The most recent completed backup should be very recently (like within a day or so if your computer has been on and the drive was plugged up).

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.

How can I get my Addressbook contacts from an old time machine backup from a different computer?

Hi Scotty,
I can’t find my old address book from the time machine backup of the tower drive.
I’ve searched for address book, contacts, vcards and .abbu files - nothing.
Any suggestions?

Yes. You won't find them with your current approach. They're there but a little difficult to get to. First the easy method: If the time the time machine backup is from the exact same machine you are looking for previous info from, you can just open Address book, enter time machine from the menu bar and back in time you go. Most likely however, you're trying to get address book info from a backup that belonged to a different machine. This is where it gets tricky.

Short answer:

It's possible. Here's how:

Using terminal, show invisibles
go to the backup drive backup.backups.db/Macintosh HD/Users/yourname/library/Application Support/Addressbook/
grab all the contents of that folder.

Now, if you are looking just replace the current contacts on your machine with the old machine's contacts, easy. Just go to the sister folder of the above mentioned folder located on your internal drive and delete those contents, then replace them with the contents you harvested from the old backup.

However, if you're looking to add the old contacts to your current contacts then you'll NOT want to use the above method. Instead, create a new user on any machine. Harvest the contents of that same folder, drop them into the internal sister folder, open address book. They they are. export vcard that contains all contacts. Do not export using address book archive. Select all contacts, then choose to export as a card. Now take that vcard back into the original user you're trying to combine with and import that vcard. It will combine them all.

Advice: always backup before you do this.

If you need a little more detail on how to accomplish this I'm happy to go into a more step by step method. There are some short cuts but it takes a little more knowledge. For instance, you can skip the terminal step to show invisibles if you know the exact file path name syntax and can use the Go to folder command in the menu bar. Most people are not familiar with this.

I may have left you more confused. It's not actually that hard or time consuming but if you aren't careful you can overwrite your current contacts if you make a mistake.

Time Machine won't complete backup

I have a question every since my migration now the 2nd back up is not working. So I find that unusual so I think something else is wrong and not that both backs ups have just failed at same time. It looks like it’s able to back up in the middle of the night but not during day so could it be a setting or a corrupt file or it will when I push back up now after unplugging otherwise I get the error message unable to complete back up, you thought it was the backup had failed and I don’t need 2 to interchange anymore because of icloud but now the other seagate is doing same thing

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One thing to try would be to erase the Black Seagate and completely start the backup process over again. Only do this option if you have no other data on the backup drive other than the backup itself. To do this here are instructions:

On your computer, search for "Disk Utility". Once open, in the left hand column, select "Black Seagate". Choose erase. You can now call the drive something else like "time machine" if you'd like. "MacOS Extended Journaled" is the choice in the dropdown menu.

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Now go back to system preferences and Time Machine just as you did in the first screenshot above. Choose "select disk". Now chose to add/remove a disk. Remove Black Seagate if it is in the list. Then add the newly formatted drive.

This process will allow the computer to start a new relationship with the backup drive.

Alternatively, you could also try just opening the backup.backupsdb folder in the black seagate. There you should see a list of dated folders, each representing a backup. One of those will be a folder without an icon that is called "in progress" or "pending" or "most recent". It will be the one at the end of the list. Delete that one item then see if the backup continues on.

Those are two methods to potentially solving the problem. Lastly, I can't remember if we tossed out the virtual machines folder in your documents folder. Time mahince sometimes has a problem with that folder. The issue however, is that folder contains all the information from your vmware windows environment. We decided to keep that folder just in case you felt you ever wanted to go back into it. However, if you feel you are 100% completely done with ever going into windows via vmware again, you can delete that "virtual machines" folder. That may also help the time machine backup complete. You can do this in addition to either of the methods described above.

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.  

Putting the time machine clock back in the menu bar.

Hmmm. I don’t have a small clock next to the time display! Is my computer backing up?

If you would like to backup time machine clock to appear in the menu bar at the top of the computer, go to system preferences then select time machine. Next check the box in the window that says "Show icon in menu bar." From there you can check your backup status right from the menu bar. You can also look at the status directly from the time machine system preference window while your there as well.

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.

Time Machine drive failing after migration to new computer.

I noticed that I got this error message from Time Machine "Time Machine couldn't back up to Time Machine"
You see the candy bar constantly preparing for backup. On that screen you see last backup was April 25th.

Do you have advice what to do or do you need to come to my house.

Sometimes, when migrating from a new machine, while the time machine is supposed to inherit the backup history of the old computer, it has a problem doing so. I might suggest erasing your time machine drive and starting the process over again. To do this, unplug any other external drives, open disk utility, (can be found by searching spotlight) select the time machine drive in the left column of disk utility, select erase and choose “OS X extended Journaled” as the format option. Give it a name like “time machine backup”. This will erase all the contents of the drive allowing a better chance for time machine to start writing data again. Important note: if you store other data on that time machine (which you shouldn’t be) then don’t erase the drive.

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Although, considering the amount of time it took to move the data from that LaCie drive over to your new computer, I believe I mentioned that the drive may be damaged and it may be time for a new one. If the damage is merely software related, then reformatting the drive through disk utility would most likely solve it. Otherwise, if it’s physical damage (which is most often the case) then it’s time to replace it.

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.

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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.

Setting up a backup drive as an insurance policy

Scotty, do you provide tech support via text messages?

This is a very good question. The number of technical questions via text has increased a great deal recently so I’m glad you asked.

I strongly prefer you send your questions via email. There are many advantages to this for me. If I glance at your email question during the day but don’t have time to respond right then, I can mark it as unread and come back to it later in the day. Also, it’s much easier for me to take the content of your email and post both the question and answer to my answers section (like you’re reading now) so that others can see it. Lastly, often, the answer to a question requires more space and resources than I can compile within texting on my phone. I often like to supply screenshots or provide links to other sites and texting does not work well for those elements.

If you send me a technical question via text, I may look at it when I get it, but I will have long forgotten about it by late that evening when I sit down to answer questions. There’s no way to mark texts as unread.

Along those same lines. I prefer you do not leave messages via the phone. I prefer you email me so I can respond to it via email or my website for the same reasons I listed above. Often, my day doesn’t end until later in the evening, past a time I consider appropriate to call back.

I certainly don’t mind if you text me about our appointment time if you’ll be late or last minute directions etc...but asking technical questions via text message will most likely be ignored. Keep in mind that I do also offer free support every Monday evening at 7pm via my town hall.

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.

Adjusting your screensaver and sleep times

the fan is running. I took a screen shot. What do I do?
Screen Shot 2014-02-02 at 11.37.22 AM

According to the great screenshot you took, no processes seem to be running that would cause a heavy cpu load to heat the processor to the point that the fan would need to activate. So it’s a mystery at the moment. You could sort within the memory tab as well although even if you had a memory hog application that does not generally cause fan craziness. If it’s driving your crazy that the fan is running but haven’t noticed a performance issue, you do have an option. You could download a little preference pane called HDD fan control. It could be a bad temperature sensor. This program allows you to set the starting temperature range differently. It’s a few dollars but could keep the fans running by increasing the temperature tolerance level. Check it out here.

If, however, you are noticing significant performance degradation when the fans come on, then this won’t help. There’s something else taking over. But given the screen shot you took, there’s no evidence of that.

Time Capsule Warning

Scotty, left you vmail.   My phone is beat up and failing.    2 years old, my company upgrades me.   I am going to buy a new 5S, but just need to know if my phone/music/etc is backed up and when I turn on new phone do I just restore from backup?   As I recall, my phone is not backed up to cloud.

When moving from one phone to a new phone, my favorite way to do it is to first plug your old phone up to your computer and allow iTunes to make a backup. After the backup is complete, under File in the menu bar, drill down to Devices and select “transfer purchases”. After all purchases have moved into iTunes from the phone, make another backup by right clicking on the phone in the left hand column of iTunes (or simply unplug and plug it back in and the backup will start automatically once again). Now go by your new phone and when you first plug it in to iTunes you’ll be prompted to restore from a previous backup. Now’s your chance. Choose the most recent backup and your data including accounts, music, apps, etc... will land on the new device. Unless you choose to encrypt your iPhone backups (and nobody does that) your passwords for your various accounts will have to be re-entered on your phone. Moving from one carrier to another when upgrading phones does not affect this process.

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.  

Erase the Time Machine drive on Time Capsule once a year.

Hi Scotty-
Every email that I have received recently has gone to my daughters email address even though I am sending them from my address. Any ideas? I have a google address...

You may be sending from her address and not be aware of it. To check what’s going on, go to Mail and select the preferences. Now look at accounts. Be sure your account is listed at the top. If it’s not, drag it to the top.
Screen Shot 2011-12-14 at 6.53.14 PM
While you’re checking things out, go to the “composing” tab within the same window and be sure that you have the setting you want in the “automatically send…” tab.
Screen Shot 2011-12-14 at 6.55.23 PM

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.

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

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.

It's time to erase Time Machine.

Wife does remote access to our office from that computer in the downstairs office. If I was to just replace that one with the iMac, could she still do that with the new Apple?
Is there anything the iMac can't do that the Dell can?


While a mac can run windows, looking to replace the current Dell with the Mac in hopes of running your remote software may be pushing it a little.  It can certainly work but in essence you'd be running an operating system inside an operating system inside an operating system.  Performance would be questionable.  If you really wanted to do it, you'd need to purchase a copy of Windows and a virtualization software like Parallels or VMware fusion.  

Conversely, you could also do it on the Mac via boot camp and it would be no problem.  This would just require you to restart your machine each time you wanted to boot into either operating system.  So yes, it can be done but you may want to use Boot Camp instead of virtualization.  It really just depends on how much she's doing remotely.  What kind of tasks, how long, etc...

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.


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.

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.

Ejecting drives properly


Do you convert tapes to dvd's?  i have about 30 tapes in length from 60mins to 120mins.  would like to have them converted to dvd's that i can watch as well as raw data that i can put on the computer to make my own movies.  

Thanks much,


Unfortunately, that's not a project that I would have the time to undertake.  30 tapes would take quite a while as they must be imported in real time.  There are companies out there that will do this for you but it will cost.  So I would shop around.  

Time machine warning....and....moving to a laptop

How do I sync my iPhone with this iMac.  It will not recognize it when I plug it in.

Most likely you may need to update iTunes so be sure you’ve run your updates for the entire computer. (including the operating system updates) Use “software update” under the black apple in the top left hand corner of the screen.

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.

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.

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.

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.  

Dropbox stopped or is it time machine?

Hey Scotty, I just went into my iphoto and discovered a huge portion of my pictures are in quatro form - i.e.  there are now four copies of everything!  Why is this so, and how do I fix it without having to hand delete them all (which I'm trying to do but it's not really letting me).  Thanks,


Ugh. This could be a problem. Several things to try.

1. Rebuild the iPhoto database. Holding down the option and command keys, you’ll be presented with the screen below.

Check the first 4 then rebuild. There’s a small chance this may work. iPhoto not allowing you to make changes to your library may be a sign of a permissions issue. The “repair iphoto library file permissions” check box may take care of this. I would suggest just leave you computer alone during this process.

2. The second thing you can try is purchasing Brattoo Propaganda Software - Products. It’s very slow but usually does the job. If there are four of each version you may be required to run it several times.

Time Machine failed backup ...MyBook sucks. 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.

Do you use Google Chrome at all or just stick with Safari 5?


While Safari 5 supports plugins (all-be-it, very scrutinized by apple as to what these plugins will do I’m sure) it does seem very fast and stable. But I have to say that Chrome has come on very strong lately. I find myself using both. With xmarks, I can sync bookmarks between the two in the background. So I don’t think anyone should be a one browser user. That being said, my current browser usage is probably along the lines of 85% Safari and 15% Chrome. Firefox is out of the race right now.

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.

10 year old Airport Basestation

Hi Scotty,
We seem to have issues with our condo printer-goes offline or idle and sends print data but doesn't print.  I have reset the printer, deleted it and re-added it a couple of times, no luck.
Any suggestions? This one is giving us fits-home one seems to work better. I see you have suggested printers on yoir website, we may go to one of those if this keeps happening. Let me know if you have other suggested printers.


You may try going into the printer driver folder and deleting that manufacturers folder then reinstalling with the latest drivers from the manufac. website. It’s located here:


You may also try reseting the print system by right clicking (or control clicking) in the printer window. You’ll see the following:

Blinking amber light on Time Capsule and Screen Recording

Hey Man,

I hope all is well as you're winding down the school year. All's well here.

So hey, I finally got time machine going. I got a 1Tb drive connected to my AirPort Extreme. I'm doing my initial backup right now. I'll let go all night. Will it only back up 'My Side' or will it back up both 'Users' (wife and me both)? Do I need to back hers up, as a different location?

Time Machine backs up everything. All users, apps, even the operating system. Although TM is not a bootable drive. You’ll have to reinstall the OS then import the data again if you experience HD failure.

Once it's done, I'm going to wipe my iMac and take it in to get a new DVD drive and have them look into 4 white "spots" near each corner. (When the screen is completely black there are 4 places that glow whitish.) My AppleCare is up in December of this year so I need to act fast. I also hear all kinds of digital noises (beeps, bleeps, buzzes, R2D2) when working in any audio program (Ableton LIVE, Sound Studio, etc). They told me it might be because the components are so tightly packed, but it sounds like BS to me. The laptop doesn't (didn't) make any noise when I worked with audio in it. Could it be a Core Audio issue?...the card? Anyway, I figure I'll go for broke with this thing. Get it all parted out just before the warranty ends.

I would say it’s probably the audio port itself. If you can hear it via earphones and external speakers as well then it could be the audio port. The Apple is very careful in their design to sheild the components with metal tape or mesh as to avoid these types of issues. One other thing that could be happening is that the hum you are hearing could be caused by either bad (brown or dirty) power or an external device. My LCD projector renders my audio unusable due to the non grounded flow of current when I connect a second display to my macbook pro. You can try unhooking all external drives, mice etc... and seeing if the sound persists or also try a second power outlet in another part of the house to eliminate that cause. The more trouble shooting steps you have to show you’ve tried to resolve the issue the more likely the genius bar will be to look at other causes.

Can I hook up 2 drives to the Extreme and use one with time machine and the other to just store random stuff? Do I need to get a hub or chain the drives together? I have a LaCie 250G drive and the new LaCie d2 quadra (1Tb).

Yes. The USB port will support up to 127 devices including hard drive. You’ll just dedicate one to TM and the other can be storage.

Alright, just send me a bill after the 20 questions! Take it easy and let me know if and when you make it down this way and have some leisure time built in. Tell the fams hello! Talk to you later.


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.  

Multiple backups with one drive in Time Machine

MobileMe Syncing seems to have been down a bit over the weekend. Many clients have reported syncing issues. Apple states they were running maintenance on the sync servers and all services have been restored but I don’t think that’s the case.

Apple - Support - MobileMe - System Status Recent History

Don’t trust this:
Apple - Support - MobileMe System Status

My advice, wait a few hours and maybe we’ll all be back online. In the meantime, manually force the sync from the menu bar icon.

Reseting permissions on External Time Capsule drive

Hi Scotty,

Hope you are well and warm today. I broke my phone and got a new phone with husband’s upgrade. I have been trying to download some apps I had on my old phone like the weather channel. It says my password and id # are incorrect. I looked through the info on the internet and nothing helped me. When I try to create a new account for my phone it says the email address is already in use DUH!! My computer app still work


The first thing to verify is to check what itunes account you’ve been using to log in and sync your phone. Here’s how to do that.

Go to iTunes and select “itunes store” in the left hand column.
Next view what email address it states in the top right hand corner of the window as shown here:

Now select that address to login to be sure you know the correct password. Now that you’re on the same page with iTunes go to your phone and select settings, general, store. Be sure that you are signed in as the same account as shown in itunes. That should do it. If not, try logging out on both devices then logging back in again.

If there’s a certain app that will not load (or song) then you can right click on the app or song to show more info and that information window will tell you what account it was purchased under as well. as seen below:

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?

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

Wireless time machine without time capsule

What's your favorite brand of internal drive?

For a favorite brand...I decided about a year ago to track the most commonly failed brand of drive and one year later I haven't seen any one drive failing more than any other.  So frankly I usually just purchase whatever is on sale from newegg at the time.  

This is very different in terms of enclosures however.  I have seen a tremendous failure rate in MyBook drives from western digital.  But it's no the drive that dies, it's the enclosure.  My favorite external drives are the G drives followed by the Lacie drives.  But every drive dies so it's only a matter of time.  

Why won't my computer backup?

Hi Scotty,
My computer is
very slow in connecting to Safari, opening new windows, sending mail, opening mail.  To load my home page, it takes 3-4 minutes.  Is this something I can fix or would you like to come?  
Thank you,


Ok, to solve the Safari problem I would suggest first looking into the following folder: user/library/Safari then (while safari is quit) remove all the files in that Safari folder except the bookmarks file. Then restart Safari to see if that helps.

Your email issue may be related and if it is then the above fix will most likely not help. There are so many things that can cause email outgoing server issues there are too many to list here. If you would like to schedule a session you can check my calendar on the site here.

Time Machine delayed on Snow Leopard So, should we just re-install Leopard?

Hey Scotty!   Any tips for a good all in one  color laser printer?


I see a lot of printers at work in a lot of homes and businesses and I would have to say the most reliable color laser printer for the cost in my opinion is the HP Laserjet series.

You just have to decide what features you want and what price range you're in.

HP printers

The CP1518 is my personal favorite at the moment.


How about a bluetooth?  Jet and full blown laser all in one?

I'd say stay away from bluetooth.  

1. the standard will probably be changing again soon.
2.  The range is just not that great for printers to be useful.  

I'm not sure what you mean by jet and full blown laser. But printers are usually only inkjet or only laserjet.

Can't escape time machine

User wants to create a bootcamp partition.

1) how much HD space does she need?
with the newest versions of both VMware and Parallels, you can expand the virtual hard drive image after setup but overall, I'd start with about 8 to 10 gigs of dedicated space to the virtual OS then increase later if she needs more.  However if she's using bootcamp then you'll only be able to make that choice from the very beginning.  I would then suggest about 20-30 gigs dedicated to Bootcamp.  

2) will you need to wipe the drive? I will make sure that she backs up everything before you go to work.
The drive does not need to be erased.  Since around 10.4, we've had the ability as users to partition drives without losing data.  However, with two partitions that contain two completely different file architectures, it would be best to set it then leave it.  

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 Machine and virtual machines

Set up a group for wife in MobileMe. Went to send email to group and  couldn't select it, only could check/ select indivdual addresses. Been  all over Apple/Me.Com help to no avail. Any solutions for the  knowledge challenged ? 
I'm affraid I may need a little more information.  But I'll assume you mean you set a group up within address book.  Once you've set up a group within address book, all that should be required is to begin typing the group name within the "TO" address field in Apple's  (The stamp) If you are using an application other that Mail, then address book's groupings may not work.  

You could also open address book, select the group then right click (or control+click) to send a bulk email to the group as well.  

See, I told you so.



Damn that Webkinz! Yes, it happens. Sometimes Safari has problems just like any other application and it just decides to stop working. I would guess it had something to do with Webkinz’s flash functionality within the site itself. By using the key command option+command+esc you’ll get a dialogue box to force quit the application. Choose to quit Safari and go back to the site. If you still have the same issue then obviously it wasn’t a fluke. There are other problems then. You may need to update the flash engine inside safari or safari itself. I can help more in person if you need. For the short term, if you’d like you can just use Firefox.

Time Capsule errors (as usual)


is there a way to move my folders/emails from entrouage to mobile me. I want to do this so I can have access to them when i travel for work. Thank you


A few things to do. First, choose to import mailboxes from apple’s under the File menu then select Entourage.
Next, after the mailboxes are imported, you’ll need to drag the mailboxes into your mobileme email address on the left hand column of You could create one new mailbox within your mobileme account by hitting the plus button at the bottom of the page however, you’d want to select that folder to live not on your mac but within the mobileme cloud. See below:

Replacing a Time Warner router

My youngest is going to college starting next month. She wants a Mac
laptop. Other than size and cost is there a difference between the13 &
15 inch models. Anything she needs beyond the basics? Can you Sync her
ipod desktop and laptop for her?


I don't see her needing anything beyond the standard macbook.  And yes, we can move her music over to the new computer and sync her ipod to the new laptop as well.  

Is time machine backing up everything?

Scotty thank you for your help.  There is a glitchy thing in System Preferences with Desktop/screensaver.  It crashes almost immediately I have had to perform a force quit every time - which is many!  I've never been able to set up the screensaver.  It worked fine when I connected the mac book directly to the monitor.  Any ideas?  

update: Problem occurs in second user as well.

Next step is to try to isolate if it's one screensaver module in particular.  Does it happen if you switch to a different screensaver within the system preferences?

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!

How to set up time machine

Hi Scotty... do you know why I movie or i dvd from I life 08 will not install on my PowerBook G4?  It must have never installed from when you reconfigured the harddrive because when I go to reinstall it from the disk... it gives me some error message... maybe don't have enough memory on this computer?? That seems unlikely... but do you know of any other reason??



Yes, iLife 08 and later only supports intel Macs. Power PC G4’s are left out. This pertains to iMovie and iDVD. You can still use the original iMovie6 HD. Downloadable here:iMovie HD 6.0.3

time capsule not completing

Hi Scotty,
Got your card from a rep at the apple store. Need some advice- for which we will pay- about my daughter's macbook pro. We purchased it before she left for school in Boston last June and have had a lot of problems. She has had $1000 worth of repairs due to - they said- being dropped and liquid spilled on. My daughter said she did not drop it or spill on it but they would not believe her and would not honor the warranty, hence the repairs out of pocket. Now home from school she tells us the disc drive is broken again and I am in a quandry as to the next step for us. Do we try another repair or buy a new one. She absolutely needs a pro for her Tv and video work at school but never had any problems with her old apple plastic notebook. Are we crazy or just jinxed???
Thank you.


Well this would be a slightly difficult question to answer. If the computer is performing well otherwise I would say it may be fine to have the CD drive repaired. But I would really need to see visually what type of condition the computer is in. I’m sorry to hear that the previous repair cost what it did. I know that Apple’s position that the problem was caused by accidental damage put you into a difficult position. I would say it comes down to what type of condition the computer is presently in. If it is in good condition then you may want to go ahead with the repair. I would be happy to give you a quote on the CD drive but I would prefer to first have the actual model of macbook pro. I’ll send the estimate in a separate email.

Misc. mobileme syncing and what I think about time machine

Can you email me steps I need to take so I do the back up correct?


Problem: Time Machine is not completing it’s backup wirelessly from macbook to time capsule.

Next step: Let’s try connecting via ethernet directly.

  1. turn off airport under the airport icon in the menu bar
  2. connect with the ethernet cable
  3. test the internet connection (you should still be online...just open a page in Safari)
  4. Go to airport utility and select time capsule disk. You’ll want to erase the incomplete backup currently living on the time capsule drive
  5. go to system preferences and open time machine preferences
  6. Select the time capsule drive and click done

time machine should begin it’s backup now directly over gigabit ethernet.

Time Machine creates a new image after hard drive replacement

Good Morning,

I have a quick question. If we wanted to, could we host our website from our server here at the office?


You could certainly host your own site however, there are a few things to consider.

1. You would need what is called a static IP address. Most internet service providers give you a dynamic IP address which means that your address to the internet changes occasionally. But if you are hosting your own site then you need an address that never changes. This is Static. These are more expensive. Check with your ISP for pricing.
2. You would need to consider how many visitors you would get monthly. ISP’s will charge for increased bandwidth usage. If your site is very very popular it could end up being expensive for bandwidth costs but if you’re only dealing with a select set of clients then your costs would be minimal.

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.

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