How to resurrect a Fusion Drive from a destroyed Mac

Christoper Bender wrote in with a problem related to his Fusion Drive that seems ironic given his last name:

A very long story short, but I’ve an iMac that suffered catastrophic damage in shipment. I’ve extracted the 1TB hard drive and the 128GB SSD from the carcass of the machine, but the rest of it (save the RAM and processor) is rubbish.

Apple’s Fusion system is a combination of a high-capacity hard disk drive and a low-capacity but superfast SSD. You can uncouple them and reformat them, but this problem was new to me. He tried mounting the hard drive, but it’s unrecoverable separate from the SSD.

Read more »


More ways to convert rich text to plain text on the clipboard

Recently, I explained how to use special paste options in several programs to remove rich-text formatting when you just want to paste the actual letters and symbols you’ve copied from one place to another, rather than preserve the font choice, type size, and other parameters. Readers had a load of suggestions for more ways to make this simple.

Create an AppleScript and assign a keystroke

Sage Humphries wrote in with this AppleScript that converts text after being copied to the clipboard into plain text. If you’re not using a program to trigger AppleScripts, here’s the easiest way to get started: install FastScripts from Red Sweater Software, which allows free use for up to 10 script keystrokes. It’s $10 to unlock unlimited keyboard shortcuts.

Read more »


Oops! You can't play most protected digital video on an external Mac monitor

Many years ago, High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) was born because the film industry freaked out over releasing digital movies that would flow digitally—rather than through analog conversion—across a cable to a monitor or television. The standard requires a cryptographic handshake between the software in a dedicated player or on a computer or mobile device and the display. Without that handshake, no video would flow.

I wrote about HDCP most recently in March, offering a variety of troubleshooting advice for people trying to sort out why their software on a Mac wouldn’t allow them to playback any video on a connected display, or why they received a warning about degraded content because an HDCP handshake wasn’t happening.

We’ve received a spate of additional emails since then, and I’ve been researching the issue further. I discovered that I was wrong about a fundamental part of the question. I’ve provided a corrected explanation below.

Read more »


How to move the Dock about and where it will never, ever reside

The mighty Mac OS X Dock was a thing of ridicule in its very early incarnations, when the otherwise reserved Steve Jobs seemed to have approved a thing that used lavish, unnecessary animation to show when apps were hidden or when the Dock was hovered over—perhaps this was to show up OS X’s superior graphics capabilities?

It calmed down. Settings that required Terminal fiddling were replaced with selectable options. Did you know you can hover over the separator bar at a bottom-placed Dock at the right or left/right-placed Dock at the bottom, right-Click, and access those options? You can also use the Dock system preference pane.

mac911 dock preferences

You can access all the Dock settings in a preference pane.

Read more »


A mysterious stranger appears in Mail’s To field

I was innocently checking the Mac 911 inbox and answering messages, when I noticed the To: field in Apple’s Mail app for OS X had changed. Instead of it showing, an address I hadn’t put in my local Contacts list and given an associated name to, it showed the name of a recent correspondent. Let’s call her Amber Raptor.

So it appeared like: To: Amber Raptor via This was perplexing. Had Mail munged its settings? Had I clicked the wrong doodad and added Amber to my address book?

It does look like a bug, not an error on my part, as that person didn’t show up in my contacts list. However, I did find her in Previous Recipients, a list you can bring up from the Window menu. You may not know this list exists; colleague Jeffery Battersby explained how to manage the list last August. Previous Recipient helps in terms of filling out the names of correspondents, and also bypassing spam rule checking for someone you’ve emailed before (see Mail > Preferences > Junk Mail).

Read more »


How to make Sidebar shortcuts for removable drives

Glenn Ruga asks:

All of my Sidebar shortcuts go to folders on an external hard drive where I keep all my working files. I use shortcuts to these folders often, but when I disconnect the hard drive to pack up my laptop on the go and reconnect my external hard drive, the shortcuts are gone. Is there any way to save the shortcuts and reinstall them?

Apple treats its Sidebar shortcuts differently than the aliases you can make in the Finder for the desktop. Even though the document describes them as an alias, they’re a different sort of creature, because when you eject a volume on which a Sidebar shortcut exists (whether the drive itself or anything on it), the shortcut disappears instantly from the sidebar.

Read more »


iPhone users: Avoid battery apps. They aren’t useful

Frederick Benn wrote in suspecting that malware had infiltrated his iPhone:

While running a battery app on my iPhone 6, it showed an invisible Chinese program running!

After some back and forth and a bit of research, I found that the free app he’s using, Battery Doctor, doesn’t have a useful purpose and doesn’t offer accurate information. The app claims that it can help with battery management and usage, including providing per-app details about power consumption, and helping—somehow magically—prevent an overcharge of an iOS device’s lithium-ion battery. All nonsense. It is free, however!

Read more »