Frustrations, Oh the Frustrations!

My computing life since Yosemite arrived has been a HEADACHE!

Did you notice that I did not say “since I installed Yosemite?”

My problems cannot be blamed on Yosemite. Instead, I will blame myself, some bad luck, and some unsafe downloading and some bad timing!

If I were to write about the whole thing, I suspect you would read a page or two and loose interest. So instead I’ll tackle a problem or two at a time.

We’ll begin today by talking about critical software. My critical software probably won’t be your critical software. But, if you have software that you depend on, make sure—double sure, it will work in the new operating system software.

For me, and for Dr. Mac Consulting, our critical software is Mac Helpmate. If you are our client, you probably have Mac Helpmate installed on your computer. It is the application that allows us to see and control your computer. While we can also use screen sharing via Apple’s Messages application, it can be difficult to set up, especially with novice users.

Since there was a public beta of Mac OS 10.10 Yosemite, I signed up and gave it a try, but not a great try since I do not have a recent Mac that is not in critical use. I did install the beta on a flash drive—and I ran it (slowly) several times. I did download Mac Helpmate — and it seemed to run.

However, after upgrading to Yosemite, I found out it just would NOT run. We’ve been working with Dean Shavit for over ten years. Mac Helpmate had been bullet-proof software — it just worked. We occasionally had server issues, but those can be expected, especially in the late afternoon and evening hours when everyone is using Netflix to clog up the web.

Dean’s company is very small. When there are only a few people who do the programming, it is reasonable that it can take a week for new software to be completed. However, that week was one of frustration!

I have a large SSD card in my MacBook Pro. It is possible to make a partition on a working hard drive and it is possible to run Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks on one partition while running Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite on the other. It is not possible to run either one when the SSD drive gets flaky.

I don’t know what happened. I don’t know why. I don’t even want to know how, but I have some advice for you. If your drive is reporting block count errors in Disk Utility, even if those errors can be fixed, there is a problem! It is time to back up the drive and prepare for a day (or more) of working on your Mac—not fun work, just hours and hours of backing up, formatting, installing, configuring, downloading, updating and re-copying.

I did it. I survived. It wasn’t pretty. Mac Helpmate is working—and working beautifully. I am back to helping clients. I’m happy!

If you have not upgraded to Yosemite, make sure your hard drive or SSD drive is in good condition. Make sure your critical software will work. Then download Yosemite. The interface is a bit different than Mavericks, but it will quickly grown on you! If you need help, we at
Dr. Mac Consulting are around and ready to help!


Cleaning up your Desktop

I am a very visual person. I like to be able to see the files that I am using for my current projects. Since I do so many computer projects, it doesn’t take long for my computer desktop to get very cluttered.

I also give quite a few computer presentations. When I will be sharing my computer screen with an audience, I need for it to be clean and uncluttered. My solution is to make a new folder on my desktop. I use the current date to name the folder and then I drag all of the files on my desktop into it.

My screen quickly looks clean and uncluttered, ready for visiting eyes. Computer experts will tell you that your computer will now be a bit faster because it does not have to spend as much time keeping track of the location and position of all the files on the desktop.

Of course, I also need to take care of the clutter that I just hid -- and that is the real reason for this blog post.

When I first open the folder’s window, I put it into the list view, with the contents sorted by name from. In this view it is easy to see if there are any files that are duplicates

Notice that We Rule "Hire your Friend"?.webloc and We Rule "Hire your Friend"?-1.webloc were created at the same time and they are also the same size. The only difference is that the second file has “-1” added to the file name. A quick check of the file on the web confirms that they both lead to the same web page, so I can eliminate one file.

When a two files have the same name except that they have a dash and then a number, it is a sign that they are probably duplicate files. We often find similar files in the Downloads folder. If they are the same size and the Date Modified is the same, then they are duplicate files and you probably do not need both of them.

Webloc files are made when you drag the favicon from a web page to your desktop or a file folder. In essence, it is a quick web bookmark.

As I surf the web, I often drag these .webloc files to my desktop so that I can quickly find the page links to use in emails or blog or Twitter posts.

I often forget to throw away these files when I have finished using them, so sorting the folder by Kind makes it easy to group them for quick disposal.

I tend to find quite a few photos and illustrations on my desktop. Using the Cover Flow view of the finder window allows me to take a quick look at these files to determine what I need to do with them.

The Cover Flow view is also useful for quickly scanning some document types.

You can hover your cursor over some documents to view the contents. Clicking on the arrows in the pdf file shown above would give me a preview of each page.

My favorite way to put files away is to open two windows. I open a window on the left side with my folder in the list view. On the right side of the screen, I open my Home folder in the Column view.

I also click on the “jelly bean” in the upper right corner of the window to cause the sidebar and toolbar to disappear. This makes it easier to drag my files to the right folder without dropping them in the wrong place.

Cleaning up your desktop makes it easier to find thin, just like the counters and tables in your home.

While computers can make our lives easier, there is a lot to learn. At Doctor Mac Consulting, we can show you how to make your computer easier to use in a tutoring session. The cost is $60.00 per hour and we use our special software to “see” your computer.

While tutoring sessions are calm, unhurried and relaxed, sometimes you need quick help to fix a problem. We call those Troubleshooting Sessions. We take a look at your computer, fix the problem, and get you back to work as quickly as possible. We can fix most computer problems in 15 to 30 minutes. The cost of troubleshooting is $120 per hour, billed in 15 minute increments. The cost of most troubleshooting sessions is $30 to $60. We do not bill you for the time needed to install our software to see your computer and if we cannot fix the problem, you are not billed for our time.

Send a note to or call us at (408) 627-7577 for further information.



Safari: Tabs - More Tricks

Who would have thought there is even more things that can be done with Safari’s tab feature?

Yesterday I did a special presentation for the Falcon’s Landing Apple Group. I used Safari: Using Tab as the basis for the presentation. When I was reflecting on the day, I decided to look for a few more features. I can often find hidden commands and little-know tidbits in the View and Windows menu of application.

While the View menu didn’t yield much, the Window Menu was full of things to explore:

If you look at the bottom of the menu, you can see that I had seven different windows open in Safari:

If you look at the upper left corner of my screen, you six of the windows, but one is completely hidden. Unless you go to the Window menu, it’s easy to miss something that you have opened.

This is a time when it would make sense to move all of those windows into one--and there is a command for that!

If you use the Merge All Windows command, the seven windows will suddenly become this:

Merging all the windows into one is certainly efficient. Now, let’s explore some ways to navigate around tabs. In the same Window menu are the clues.

The Select Next Tab command ends with two symbols and the Select Previous command adds a third. I have learned that most Mac users don’t know what those little symbols mean, so here is a cheat sheet:

So, using this chart, to go to the next tab you would press Command - Tab. To go to the previous tab, press Command - Shift - Tab.

If you would like a copy of the list of symbols above, just drag the graphic to your desktop or press and hold the Control key while clicking on the picture to see this pop-up menu:

You can find even more Apple keyboard shortcuts by clicking on the words.

There are two more command that you might find helpful. Pressing Command - T will make a new tab in you current Safari window.

The second command in very interesting. Look carefully at the two screenshots below.

When I made the first screenshot, I had a Safari window open with no tabs. The command to close the window was Command W. The Close Tab command was grayed out. Now look at the second screenshot, In this case, the Safari window had at least one tab. Using Command W would close the active tab. If I wanted to close the window, I would need to press Shift - Command - T.

It is the little features like these that show how much thought and effort has gone into the programming of Safari. Kudos to Apple for all the little, useful details!

If you would like to learn even more about Safari, book a tutoring session with Doctor Mac Consulting. We can show you how to make your computer easier to use and we can see where you are having problems. The cost is $60.00 per hour and we can use our special software to “see” your computer. Send a note to or call us at (408) 627-7577 for further information.



Safari: Using Tabs

There are so many features in Safari that are not turned on when it ships. These are features that make Internet surfing faster and easier. It’s difficult to understand why Apple does not enable them when it ships Safari.

Here is a list of recent posts about Safari features on MacMousecalls.

Another Safari feature that I really like and use every day is tabbed browsing. When you first use Safari, the top of the window looks like this:

The Show Tab Bar command in the View Menu…

will add a tab bar in the Safari window:

When you are on a web page with links to other pages , hold down the Command key as you click on the links.

Tabs will appear along the tab bar and the web page will load on the tabs.

If you click on a tab you will see that web page, but your original page will not disappear. You can click the tabs to view the different web pages.

If you want to close a tab, hover your cursor over the favicon (icon) on the tab. An x will appear.

It is possible to re-arrange the tabs by dragging then along the tab bar.

To move a tab into a separate Safari window, click and drag down on the tab:

If you try to close a Safari window that has multiple tabs, it will warn you that you are about to close multiple web pages:

While I like the way Apple has configured tabs to work, you can modify those actions in the Safari Preferences.

To get to this window, go to the Safari menu and choose Preferences. Be sure to select Tab in the toolbar at the top of the window.

Sometimes it is difficult to learn new things, even with all of these pictures. If you would like one-on-one help, consider booking a tutoring session with Doctor Mac Consulting. We can show you how to make your computer easier to use and we can see where you are having problems. The cost is $60.00 per hour and I can use our special software to “see” your computer. Send a note to or call us at (408) 627-7577 for further information.



Safari - I closed the window!

Oops! I just closed my Safari window instead of sending it to the Dock.

Does this ever happen to you? It occasionally happens to me--and there is a way to re-open the window.

Go to the History menu. Choose "Reopen Last Closed Window".

While the window will reopen, the items under the Back icon have disappeared. Use the lower part of the History menu to find those items.



Safari - Know where you are going

Safari 4.0 made a few changes in the toolbar at the top of each web page. Some of the changes were easy to accept, while others caused more than a few negative comments.

One thing that disappeared was the blue progress bar that showed in the URL or address window at the top of each page. I don't particularly miss it. Perhaps that is because I did not pay too much attention to it. Instead, I use the Status Bar that can be added to the bottom of all Safari windows.

There is a good chance this piece is missing in your Safari window.

Check your View menu. If it says, "Show Status Bar," then you will not see it at the bottom of each window. If it says Hide Status Bar, then it will be present in each window.

This Status Bar can show you the address for links:

And it can show you the progress made in loading a web page:

Sometimes, the page will have stopped loading, but the count of completed items will indicate that the page did not completely load. This is usually called a server error." You can attempt to load the rest of the page by clicking the Reload icon that shows at the end of the address bar. Sometimes that will cause the missing items to appear. If they don't you may want to check the page with a different browser or later in the day.

While the status bar is pretty small, it can be very useful in web surfing.


Safari homepage - Make it yours!

Yesterday I blogged about the Safari toolbar. If you read that post, hopefully your toolbar contains at least a few extra icons.

Another thing that I see as I work with client's computers is the default Apple homepage. While it is not terrible, it is pretty useless. Your homepage should be something that you WANT to read when you open Safari.

For many years, I used a page from Excite. Other similar pages include and iGoogle, These can be personalized to include things that were of interest to the reader.

Recently I have been using Google News. Once again, it can be personalized and its content changes frequently throughout the day.

Some of my clients prefer a large newspaper such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, or the Houston Chronicle. Other favorites include the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle or even the San Jose Mercury News. Still others prefer the Wall Street Journal or the Financial Times.

For the real geek, you might enjoy MacDailyNews, The MacObserver, Macworld, or The Loop. Let's not forget Macsimum News, TUAW, ArsTechnica and CNET. A great page that aggregates these and even more is MacSurfer.

If you have a favorite hobby or special interest, think about a page with daily new content.

First, open the page that you have chosen. Open the Safari > Preferences > General menu to make your choices.

Click the "Set to Current Page" button to change the page.

Some Mac users would prefer to use something other than a homepage. Click the "New Windows open with" button if you would prefer something else:

The nice thing about being a Mac user is that there are lots of different choices available--and you can make new choices easily.

Happy Web Surfing!


Safari Toolbar - Make it yours

I see lots of Macintosh computer users using Safari. And I see lots of them using the Safari toolbar just the way it came.

We all know that Apple is a minimalist company when it comes to esthetics--but minimalism doesn't make Safari easy to use. It is bare! There is no home button, no print button, no resize button.

This is my Safari tool bar. Look at all those strange icons. Those strange icons make it so easy to really use Safari.

So, how did I put them in my toolbar? I used View > Customize Toolbar…

This is window you will see:

At the bottom of the window you will see the default toolbar. Above it, you will see lots of icons that you can add to Safari. Drag the icons up to the Safari toolbar. Click the Done button in the lower right corner when you are finished. While you may not want to add all of them, here are several that you may want to add.

First, add the Home button:

Click it and you will return to the page that first opens when you start Safari. That can be any page you like--and that will be the topic of another blog post!

The Zoom button is very useful:

It allows you to instantly make not only the text, but also the graphics bigger (or smaller) on a web page. Now that my eyes are over 40, I find this to be very useful.

Two more icons that I find to be very useful are the Mail and Print buttons:

Since I do most of my news reading on the web these days, and since I frequently want to send a web page address to someone, this Mail button is very convenient. It opens a new message window in Mail with the subject and the web address already in place. I only need to address the message and write a quick note:

The Print button opens the Print window. While I could just print the page, instead, I usually make a PDF of the page and file it away in the appropriate place on my computer.

If your Print window looks different than mine, you need to click this disclosure triangle to see the really useful Print window shown above:

There are lots more buttons that you can add to the Safari toolbar. Do some more exploring. You can always go back to the View > Customize Toolbar… window to add or remove them.


Printing from blogs and other long pages

I gave our old PowerBook to my 90 year old aunt several months ago. This has been a true adventure for her as she had never really used a computer before. Actually, I gave her the computer, an older AirPort Extreme, a printer and even an iSight camera. Aunt Lee lives in California--and I am in Virginia, so we have used iChat screen sharing many times as I teach her more about her computer.

The other day I sent her a link to one of my favorite blogs, Bakerella. If you have not seen it and you enjoy baking or cake decorating, this is a wonderful site. Aunt Lee discovered a recipe for Lemon Bars. Of course, she needed a printout to use while she cooked.
Click here to

Capturing YouTube Videos

The emergence of a new star in the Britan’s Got Talent show last weekend has captured the imagination of the entire world. Susan Boyle has won the hearts of fans everywhere and many of us want to share her story with friends and family.

There are several ways to capture YouTube videos. While some are geeky and complicated, CosmoPod, an inexpesive software package, makes the task quick and easy. Click here to read more...