Get your Mac disk in shape with these tutorials

I recently had to do some maintenance on my Hackintosh. In doing some research I came across a couple of good Disk Utility articles.

The first one talks about using the new streamlined features in El Capitan.

How to use Disk Utility in Mac OS X El Capitan – Features – Macworld UK If you were a regular user of the app in previous versions of OS X, you’re in for a surprise. The most obvious difference in Disk Utility in El Capitan is that it has been simplified. Its interface is cleaner and less intimidating, which can only be a good thing.

This one talks about how to use the Disk Utility from the command line. How to Verify & Repair Permissions in OS X El Capitan The Disk Utility app has long contained the ability to verify and repair disk permissions on a Mac, but in the latest versions of OS X this ability has been removed. That doesn’t mean you can’t verify permissions and repair permissions in OS X El Capitan 10.11 and later however, you just need to turn to the command line to do so. To be clear, verifying and repairing disk permissions has long been over assigned as a remedy to all sorts of issues on the Mac, most of which are rarely accurate or legitimate.


Do you have any cool DiskUtil tricks up your sleeve? Share them in the comments.

The Secret to Troubleshooting with Console

OS X Console IconOS X is a fairly robust operating system. People that switch from Windows enjoy the fact that they no longer see the Blue Screen of Death. It’s far from perfect however and when things go wrong you want to be able to track down your problems. Today we’re going to look at one of the tools that is included with OS X that will let you do this. The Console.

When a program runs on OS X it will keep a log of it’s activity. This often happens when it encounters an error. These logs are written to a special set of text files on your Mac in the /var/log folder. Rather than force you to look at some of the UNIX underpinnings you can use the Console.

Launch the Console by opening the [intlink id=”649″ type=”post”]Utilities folder[/intlink] on your Mac. On start up, OS X will inspect your log files and present them in Console window.

What you are going to see will likely not make any sense to you. However, here is the secret to the Console. It doesn’t necessarily have to! Here is how I troubleshoot problems using the Console.

All of the entries in the Console are time stamped meaning that everytime the program writes a log entry the date and time of the entry are recorded. I look through the log files occasionally looking for messages that are repeated often and at a high frequency. Sometimes the log will tell you which program in particular is generating the log. Sometime it won’t.

In either case, if you see some entries which you think are questionable copy the entry and paste it into Google. If it is an error of any significance it’s likely that someone else has encountered the problem and found the solution.

I ran into this problem not too long ago with the program Carbon Copy Cloner. It’s a backup program I demoed and removed from my system. However there was no uninstall program so the Mac was trying to load the program every few minutes in order to backup my Mac. I would never of known this unless I looked at the Console.

Check out the Console even if you are not a very technical user. It’s a great way to get a handle on what’s going on under the hood. It’s also a great way to spot problems.

The Utilities Folder

Utilities help fix your MacTucked away in the Mac Applications Folder is another folder, the Utilities folder. I like to differentiate applications and utilities like this. Applications help you get things done with your Mac and utilities help you get things done to your Mac.

The programs in the Utilities folder help you fine tune, troubleshoot and configure your Mac system. Some of these programs you will likely never use but it’s good to know they are there in case you run into problems with your system.

The programs are listed below. Some of the programs that you will use more often have their own article associated with them. Click through the links for more information.Continue Reading

Easily Rip Episodes from DVDs

I use [intlink id=”8″ type=”post”]Handbrake[/intlink] to rip DVDs into the Apple TV version 2 format. For a DVD this is generally a pretty straight forward process. For TV Shows this is a manual process and is quite a pain.

To further complicate things, I’m a fanatic about making sure my files are tagged properly so they show up in the correct categories in iTunes. If you go through this step then finding them in an Apple TV works really well. The problem is that you need to use another set of tools to tag your files. This is yet another manual step and is quite a pain.

I spent some time scouring the Internet for a solution. I knew someone had to have cracked this problem. I found it and it really rocks. There is a tutorial on this over at Mac Rumors. In a nutshell, the solutions is to use Automator to script the process of ripping DVDs, encoding them to the appropriate format and then tagging them. Here is the basic process.

Rip DVD Process with Automator in OS X

I’ve used these Automator workflows to begin ripping my collection and it works really well. I load the DVDs into my system during the day and then I run the encoders at night when I’m not using my Mac. The next morning I have fresh MP4 files ready to go to my media server.

I still have a few more steps to go. I need to write an Automator workflow to copy the files to my Media Server and then automate adding them to iTunes. I’m inspired by the scripts that the author wrote. It really shows how you how you can use Automator to build applications to solve complicated problems.

Note for OS X 10.5 Leopard Users

The author of these scripts built them for 10.6. If you are still using 10.5 you will need to make some changes. Most notably, you will need to move the automator workflows.

The workflows are in ~/Library/Services. They need to move to ~/Library/Workflows/Applications/Finder. Once you do this then you can click on a file or folder in the Finder and have the Batch Rip actions show up in the Automator window.

Easily grab screen shots from your screen

OS X Grab Screen CaptureThere are two ways you can grab screen shots from OS X. Through the use of built in shortcuts and by using the Grab utility.  I use this feature all the time when taking screenshots for Learning OS X. I’m also constantly using it to send images of error screens to customer support. It’s a great utility, it’s free and once you make it part of your arsenal, I guarantee you will use it on a regular basis.

The system short cuts for taking screen captures are

  • Shift+⌘+3 to take a picture of the entire screen and save to a file
  • Shift+Ctrl+⌘+3 to take a picture of the entire screen and save to the clipboard
  • Shift+⌘+4 to take a picture of a rectangular area and save to a file
  • Shift+Ctrl+⌘+4 to take a picture of a rectangular area and save to the clipboard

When they images are saved to a file, they are saved as a PDF or TIFF file to the desktop

I generally use the Control modifier to save them to the clipboard and then open Preview, paste them into the preview window and save the file.

Grab on the other hand is a Utility that you launch to allow you to take screen captures. There are a few cases where Grab is better for making screen captures then the system shortcuts.

  • Grab lets you decide whether or not to include the cursor when you take a screen capture. If you are using the OS X system screen capture, the cursor is hidden
  • Grab also lets you take delayed pictures of your desktop. This is useful if you need to setup a state before grabbing the image. You can do this by pressing Shift+⌘+Z

There you have it, two simple ways to grab beautiful screen captures from OS X. If you have any cool uses of Grab, let us know in the comments.