A cure for too many contacts

Reader Frank Wu knows way too many people. He writes:

I have about 18,000 contacts and neither the Address Book or Contacts app have synced in the last three years, when I had about 10,000 contacts. What is the maximum number of contacts these apps can hold? And if I’m past the maximum, what should I do?

I don’t believe there is a practical limit. Contacts (and Address Book before it) uses an SQL database to hold this information and, as far as I know, it’s unlimited for this kind of use. However, there may be only so many contacts that syncing services can manage.

Read more »


Finding yourself when your Mac can't

Reader Chris Jenkins is searching for himself. He writes:

I have an older Mac Pro running OS X Mavericks. When I launch the Maps app the Location icon is grayed out so I can’t ask Maps to pinpoint my location. How can I get this to work?

I’m afraid you can’t with your Mac's current hardware configuration. Early Mac Pros shipped without an AirPort card (you could add one as a build-to-order option) and Maps depends on a Wi-Fi connection to tell it where it is. You could always add a Wi-Fi connection by either ordering and installing the original AirPort Extreme Card or you could purchase a USB Wi-Fi adapter. With one of these on board your Mac Pro will use Wi-Fi triangulation to approximate its location and pass that information along to Maps.

Read more »


How to set up a replacement iPhone

Reader Stephanie Johnson has a question regarding an old and new iPhone and the apps they hold. She writes:

I have a 64GB iPhone 5, and there’s a recall to fix a fault sleep/wake button. Apple says it will give you a 16GB loner for the few days it takes to repair. What’s the best way to create a temporary, scaled-down version of your phone to use on the loaner, while keeping your app organization structure intact when you revert to your original phone again?

As you’re assuredly aware, the difficulty you face is that your 64GB phone likely has more stuff stored on it than a smaller-capacity phone can handle so you can’t simply back up your current phone and then restore it to this new device. Although you could approach this by setting up the loaner phone with your Apple ID and retrieving just those apps you need, I'm going to suggest instead that you use a tethered iTunes connection as you can more easily get to your existing data and apps. The result will be a phone that has the apps and data you need in the short-term, but not a fully restored copy of your old phone.

Read more »


Mavericks and the ancient AirPort base station

A reader who wishes to remain anonymous has a simple question about Mavericks and an older version of Apple’s AirPort Utility. That question reads:

Now that the older AirPort Utility doesn't work in Mavericks, how do people administer their older AirPort Extreme and AirPort Express base stations?

I answered a question similar to this in regard to old base stations and Mountain Lion and that technique still works—provided you’re running Mountain Lion. With Mavericks, nuh uh.

Read more »


Revealing Mavericks' hidden screensaver images

Reader Anna Howarth seeks to beautify her desktop. She writes:

I love some of the images that appear in Apple’s Aerial screensaver collection. Some of them also appear as Desktop backgrounds, but not all of them. Is there some way I can use them as my Mac’s background pattern?

There is. In the Finder choose Go > Go to Folder (Shift-Command-G), enter /Library/Screen Savers/Default Collections/, and click Go. In the resulting window you’ll see four folders—1–National Geographic, 2–Aerial, 3–Cosmos, and 4–Nature Patterns. These folders hold all the images for the screensavers of the same name.

Read more »


How to share iTunes content with your family right now

Reader Frank Stillman has a question related to a feature recently announced by Apple. He writes:

I’m interested in Apple’s announcement of the Family Sharing plan, where you can share iTunes media with other people in your family. Is there any way my family and I can do something like that now?

[Insert sounds of hesitation here] Well, sort of. A common misconception is that you can use a single iCloud account per device for everything that device does. For example, once you configure an iCloud account within Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars, that account will be tied to not only your email account but also purchases from the iTunes and iBooks stores. This isn’t the case. Your iCloud account and iTunes/App Store/iBookstore account can be different (though, for many people, they're often the same thing).

Read more »


How to identify VPN protocols in OS X

A reader who wishes to remain anonymous requires more information about a VPN connection than OS X is willing to provide. The reader writes:

I’m helping out at my spouse’s small office and want to help configure her colleagues’ Macs with the same VPN configuration I somehow successfully set up for her many months ago. The problem is that I can’t remember which protocol I originally used—L2TP, PPTP, or IPSec—and nothing in System Preference’s Network preference tells me. How can I tell the difference?

When you first set up a VPN connection by opening the Network preference, clicking the plus (+) button near the bottom-left corner of the window, choosing VPN from the Interface pop-up menu, and selecting the kind of protocol you’ll use from the VPN Type menu, the Service Name field will display the protocol in parentheses—VPN (L2TP), for example. Of course, if you change that service name (as most people would) you lose the broad hint OS X provides. Fortunately, there’s another way.

Read more »