November 2002: Mac 911

I'll bet that when Apple's marketing mavens gathered to pitch slogans for Mac OS X, they discarded the motto "All the gnarlyness of Unix!" in about two ticks. But let's face it, an indisputably challenging operating system lies beneath OS X's Aqua surface. With this in mind, we examine various OS X arcana--such as force-quitting Classic, renaming directories, commanding Terminal, and formatting with Unix File System--and look at some factors that will determine whether using OS X all the time makes sense for you.

A Classic Case

Classic often fails to quit when I shut down; when this happens, I have to invoke the Force Quit command from the Apple menu. Is there a way to do this from the Dock?

-- Fred Sandsmark, forums

By default, no. When the Classic environment first launches, an OS 9 icon appears in the Dock, but don't be fooled. This icon doesn't represent the Classic environment; it represents the Classic Startup application, which can be found at System: Library: CoreServices. Once Classic has fully launched, the icon disappears.

Of course, selecting Force Quit from the Apple menu is not terribly inconvenient, and pressing 1-option-escape to conjure up the Force Quit Applications window is just as easy, but if your deepest desire is to force-quit the Classic environment from the Dock, there is a way--the $8 Classic? V2, from XGadgets (www Once you install this utility, you can launch, restart, shut down, and force-quit Classic from the Classic? V2 icon in the Dock or from the Classic? V2 menu. (You can choose to install the dockling, the menu, or both.) Classic? V2 also provides access to Classic's control panels and allows you to rebuild the Classic desktop.

As for your general problem of an uncooperative Classic during shutdown, updating your version of OS X may help. I had a similar problem with early versions of OS X 10.1. That problem no longer occurs when I run OS X 10.1.5.

Legal Name Changes

If I change the name of my hard drive, will iTunes and iPhoto forget the location of their respective libraries?

-- Kathy Thomas, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

No. Although it's true that your Mac performs best when you refrain from renaming any folders created by Mac OS, renaming a volume or hard drive won't cause iTunes or iPhoto to lose track of their respective libraries.

What will seriously mess with OS X's mind is renaming the Applications, Library, System, and Users folders at the root level of your OS X volume (and if you don't have root privileges, you won't be able to rename these folders from within OS X). Likewise, if you rename the Utilities folder inside the Applications folder, applications such as Print Center won't be able to do their jobs. If you rename the Pictures folder inside your user's folder, iPhoto will launch with nary a photo in its library. And if you rename the Library folder in your user's folder, you'll lose preference settings for OS X and its applications.

Typical Terminal Commands

Is it possible to launch a program from Terminal?

-- Julian Wai, forums

Sure. Just use the Unix open command. If you want to launch the Calculator application, for example, you'd type open /Applications/

The / characters denote directories (or, if you want to think of it graphically, the folder hierarchy). What this command really says is "Open the Calculator application in the Applications folder at the root level of the OS X volume."

Note the space between open and /. Without that space, the open command--or any command that moves you to another directory--won't work.

You can use the same command to open a folder: open /Users/chris/Pictures, for example, whisks me to the Finder, where my open Pictures folder awaits (a quicker way to do the same thing is to type open ~/Pictures--the ~ character is a shortcut to your users folder).

There are several other useful, easy-does-it Terminal commands you can type after the prompt:

cd (change directory) followed by a path moves you to a new folder: for example, cd /Applications/Utilities moves you to the Utilities folder inside your Applications folder at the root level of your OS X volume.

cd / takes you to the root level of your OS X volume; cd without any following character transports you to your user's folder--Users: chris, for example.

pwd (print working directory) reveals the full path to your current location. For example, if I've been rummaging around in my user's folder, pwd displays /Users/chris.

ls (list) lists all the files in your current location. If I type this command while in my user's directory, all the folders found in a user's folder--Applications, Desktop, Documents, Library, Movies, Music, Pictures, Public, and Sites--are displayed, along with any other files I may have flung into my chris folder. To list the files in a different location, type ls and the path to the location you desire. ls /Applications, for example, shows you the contents of the Applications folder at the root level of your hard drive.

man followed by a command name produces the electronic manual pages for that command. For instance, typing man ftp produces line after line of instructions on using ftp with the flavor of Unix underlying OS X.

Never Clone Alone

I work in a college environment where I need to clone over 30 Macs with the same disk image that I created for the Mac lab. Is there an application that will allow me to do this?

-- Howard Yong, forums

There are ways to do this in both OS 9 and OS X. Let's start with OS X:

In OS X, you can manage this kind of thing with Mike Bombich's donationware utility, Carbon Copy Cloner (www This valuable tool allows you to clone an OS X volume to another volume or drive (including an iPod)--though you can't clone to a CD-R or DVD-R disc.

To begin, just launch Carbon Copy Cloner, choose a source and a destination drive, and then select the items you'd like to copy from one volume to the other (see "Send in the Clone"). In a matter of minutes (up to around 30 minutes if you have a lot of files selected), the utility will create a bootable OS X volume that contains those items.

In OS 9, if the image is smaller than 640MB, you can simply burn the material you want to a CD-R and then copy the contents of the CD-R to each Mac. If you want this image to contain a System Folder that, when copied to each computer, will boot that Mac, turn to OS 9's Disk Copy application, which you'll find in the Utilities folder inside the Applications (Mac OS 9) folder.

Choose Create New Image from Disk Copy's Image menu, select 663,000K (CD-ROM 12cm, Full) from the Size pop-up menu in the resulting Save Disk Image As dialog box, give the image a name, and click on Save. When the disk image mounts, you'll be asked to initialize it. Do so using the default Mac OS Extended format. Now insert the OS 9 installation disc, run the installer, and select the disk image you just created as the destination for the installation. Add the other material you want to the disk image and then burn the contents of the disk image to a CD-R. If the data you want to copy exceeds the capacity of a CD-R, copy the material to an external hard drive and move from Mac to Mac, copying the data from the drive to the Mac's start-up drive.

Usable File System?

The OS X installer offers me the option to format my hard drive in the UFS (Unix File System) format. Are there any circumstances under which I'd want to do this?

-- "palomino," forums

Regular ol' Mac users will find a UFS-formatted volume more hindrance than help. When Mac OS X is installed on a UFS volume, AirPort won't work. Nor can you change a hard drive's name. Nor will the Classic environment function the first time it's opened on a UFS-formatted volume. Nor will a UFS volume appear on your Mac's desktop when you boot into OS 9. Nor can you use the type and creator codes beloved by all right-thinking Mac users to associate a file with an application.

Given all these nors, there's no reason on earth to format your drive as a UFS volume, unless you're developing Unix applications on your Mac. For that, UFS is the format you're likely to choose.

X Stands Alone

I purchased a new iBook, and I'm thinking of partitioning the hard drive and reinstalling OS X only. Can I do this and partition OS X using the installer CD, or must I install OS 9 and then install OS X?

-- Nadrell Evans, forums

To address your specific question, yes, you can partition your iBook's drive with the OS X installation CD and install just OS X--there's no need to install OS 9 if you don't care to. But your question brings up a broader question: Can modern Macs now function in a completely OS X environment?

Perhaps. Whether you can dispense with OS 9 and the accompanying Classic environment depends a great deal on what kind of duties your Mac performs. Run-of-the-mill Mac users who use their Macs for e-mail, Web browsing, moviemaking, music playing, and word processing can function quite well with OS X-native applications such as OS X 10.2's Mail; Entourage (part of the $459 Microsoft Office suite; 800/426-9400,; Qualcomm's Eudora (free with ads, $40 without ads; 858/587-1121,; any of a slew of OS X-native Web browsers; Apple's iMovie, iTunes, and $79 AppleWorks (800/692-7753,; and Microsoft Word ($370). And Adobe's (800/833-6687, OS X support in applications such as Illustrator ($400) and Photoshop ($600) will keep most graphic artists happy in a completely OS X environment (though an unsupported scanner or printer may force these users into OS 9 from time to time).

On the other hand, if you depend on QuarkXPress ($900; 303/894-8888, to get your pages to print, you're still staring at OS 9's Platinum interface. Likewise, musicians seeking a wide variety of OS X-native professional sequencing and digital-audio tools have a while to wait.

Inconsistent FireWire Booting

I recently purchased a portable FireWire hard drive and would like to use it to boot my Mac, but sometimes it boots and other times it does not. What can I do to consistently boot from this drive?

-- Kent Holubar, Redwood City, California

My fervent prayer is that by the time you read this, booting from a FireWire drive will no longer be an inconsistent exercise. Among its many wonders, that hepcat OS X 10.2 (Jaguar) allows a wider variety of FireWire devices to boot your Mac. Previous OS X versions had a problem doing this because some FireWire-bridge chip sets--for example, the Texas Instrument chip set found in SmartDisk's FireLite drives ( interrupt the boot process and keep the drive from mounting. Those drives using the Oxford 911 chip set often had greater success booting OS X 10.1.

If you haven't upgraded to Jaguar and your Mac has problems booting from a FireWire drive, try unplugging the drive when the Mac seems incapable of booting (you'll see a broken folder icon), wait about five seconds, and then plug the drive back in. That five-second pause is crucial: failing to wait may cause the Mac to crash with a kernel panic. I've been able to boot my Titanium PowerBook G4 running OS X 10.1.5 by following this procedure.

Unsolicited Advice

Apple's QuickTime Pro 6.0 ($30; 800/692-7753, includes the Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) codec, developed by Dolby Laboratories--AAC can make audio files smaller and higher in quality than files produced using the MP3 standard. As we went to press, Apple's iTunes couldn't encode tunes with this codec, but it could play them.

To automatically bring AAC-encoded songs into iTunes, just download and run a copy of Doug Adams's $5 Make Mine MPEG-4 AppleScript ( or Scott Nichol's free AACelerator (

You may also want to try the manual method, which is also the general procedure for converting and encoding any QuickTime movie. Learn it, and you'll have a good idea of how to convert a MIDI file to AIFF, an AVI file to MOV, or a MOV file to WAV.

Insert an audio CD, launch QuickTime Player Pro (the free version of QuickTime doesn't allow you to encode files), select Import from the File menu, and navigate to the audio file you want to import. Now select Export from the File menu, and in the resulting Save Exported File As window, select Movie To MPEG-4 from the Export pop-up menu. Click on the Options button in this window; then click on the Audio tab in the MPEG-4 Settings window that appears, and move the slider so that 128 Kbps is selected (this bit rate sounds remarkably good yet keeps file size down). Click on OK to dismiss the MPEG-4 Settings window and then on Save to begin encoding your file.

Moving your AAC-encoded files into iTunes is a simple matter. Just launch iTunes and either select Add To Library from the File menu and select your files, or drag the encoded files to the iTunes Library window.

Tip of the Month

When I choose the Open or Save command in OS X, I'd like to quickly navigate to the hard drives that appear on my desktop, as I can with OS 9. Unfortunately, the Desktop panes in the Open and Save dialog boxes don't contain volumes. To access them, I must instead scroll the window all the way to the left. Here's a way around that:

Create aliases of your volumes in the Desktop folder (in your user's folder)--this places icons of the volumes on your desktop and in the Desktop portion of Open and Save dialog boxes. To eliminate the duplicate icons, select Preferences from the Finder menu and deselect the Hard Disks option under Show These Items On The Desktop.

-- Peter A. Hillman

Beneath his crunchy exterior, Contributing Editor CHRISTOPHER BREEN is the oh-so-sensitive author of Mac 911 and Secrets of the iPod (Peachpit Press, 2002).

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