Mac 911 - Dec. 2006

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Short-name shortcut

I recently bought a new 20-inch iMac. Unfortunately, not long after I bought it, my partner and I parted ways. We had been sharing an old Power Mac G4, so I had to transfer my files and information from it to my new iMac. That worked fine except for one glitch: My user account on my new iMac assumed the name of my ex! How can I get the iMac to use my name instead of hers?— Via the Internet

Every OS X user account gets two names: a long one and a short one. The long one is easy to change. First go to System Preferences: Accounts and make sure the lock icon is open; if it isn’t, click on it to pull up the Authenticate dialog box, and enter your password. Then, on the Password tab, select the account name you want to change, and enter a new long name in the Name field.

Changing the short name is trickier. You can do it yourself, but it’s not easy; see the Apple Knowledge Base article for details. Or you can use the free ChangeShortName utility, from James Bucanek and Macworld’ s own Dan Frakes. If you opt to use this utility, just be sure to read the Read Me document, which explains the risks involved, as well as how to deal with issues such as reactivating third-party Dashboard widgets and reestablishing contact between iPhoto and its picture library.

Streaming radio on Intel Macs

I’d like to listen to a favorite sports radio station (560 WQAM, out of Florida) on my Mac, but its Internet stream requires a media player that doesn’t work on my Core Duo MacBook. Is there any way to work around this?— Richard Myerly

That particular station, as well as many others, streams its content in the Windows Media format. Trouble is, Microsoft abandoned Windows Media Player for the Mac. But all is not lost, because Telestream has stepped in with its free Flip4Mac WMV QuickTime plug-ins, which allow you to play and stream most Windows Media files on both PowerPC and Intel Macs. Download and install the Flip4Mac WMV Player, and you should be good to go.

I say “most Windows Media files,” however, because even after I installed the Universal version of Flip4Mac, I couldn’t stream WQAM’s feed on my Intel Mac mini. So I resorted to another time-tested trick for getting stubborn apps to run on an Intel Mac.

Quit Safari, select its icon in the /Applications folder, and press Command-I. In the resulting Info window, enable the Open Using Rosetta option in the General section (see “So Near, Yet So Safari”). Then try listening again.

The biggest problem with this workaround is that Safari will probably run more slowly on Rosetta than it does natively. So when you want to resume your regular browsing, you might want to quit Safari, turn off the Open Using Rosetta option, and then relaunch Safari. Or you could choose to run one browser on Rosetta (Firefox, for example) for listening to that stream, and use another for your regular browsing.

A slimmer hard drive

I just a got a MacBook, and the OS and the default set of apps take up almost a third of its hard drive. I noticed that the /Library/Printers folder alone took up almost 4GB. As I understand it, this folder contains profiles and drivers for a variety of printers (Ricoh, Sharp, Toshiba, and so on), many of which I’ll never use. Can I safely toss some of these printer folders?— Bruce Bigenho

Sure you can. Just navigate to /Library/Printers and move the folders for the printer families you won’t need to the Trash. But don’t be too cavalier about it. Hang on to folders for printer families that you might someday consider for purchase or that are used in your office—just in case. Though printers ship with their own drivers, OS X’s versions of those drivers are often more up-to-date. (You have no idea how long that printer’s box may have been sitting on the shelf.) And some vendors don’t even include an OS X driver in the printer box.

While you’re cleaning house, you don’t need to stop at printers. If you’ll never need some of the obscure language resources that ship with OS X and other software (Klingon, anyone?), you can selectively remove them with J. Schrier and I. Stein’s free Monolingual utility. In addition to letting you toss support for languages (see “Limited Vocabulary”), Monolingual can strip unwanted languages from OS X’s Input menu and remove unnecessary architectures—for example, Intel support if you’re running applications on a PowerPC Mac.

But wait, there’s more. For example, if you have no plans to use GarageBand, go to /Library/Application Support and toss out the GarageBand folder, which contains many, many gigabytes of loops and songs. While you’re in Application Support, and if you won’t be using iDVD on your computer, dump the iDVD folder, which weighs in at nearly 2GB.

Other and the root user

When I log in, I see Other in my list of users. What’s up with that, and is there any way to get rid of it?— John Bruhl

That entry can appear when you enable the root user, a special user account with read and write access to all areas of the file system. Unless you really need such privileges, you should disable the root user—and doing so will get rid of the Other entry.

Log in as a user with administrator privileges, navigate to /Applications/Utilities, and launch NetInfo Manager. In the resulting window (which should have the header local localhost - / ), click on the lock icon, enter your password at the prompt, click on OK, and choose Security: Disable Root User. Enter your password again when prompted and click OK. Quit NetInfo Manager and log out.

If your system is configured to display the list of your computer’s users at login (instead of automatically logging in or showing blank Name and Password fields) the Other entry should be gone.

Synchronize Mail’s junk-mail settings

I have an iMac G5 and a PowerBook G4, both running OS X 10.4.7. While I use Mail’s junk-mail filter on both machines, I’ve spent more time training the filter on my iMac about what is and isn’t junk mail. I would like to have the PowerBook use the same filter settings. Is there any way to synchronize the two junk-mail filters, or at least copy the trained filter’s settings from my iMac to my PowerBook?— Jorrit Dijkstra

There sure is. First, on your PowerBook, quit Mail, navigate to your user folder /Library/Mail, and find the LSMMap2 file. That’s where Mail stores its junk-mail training data. Move that file to the desktop for temporary safekeeping.

Now, on your iMac, go to the same folder and make a copy of its LSMMap2 file. Using a network connection or portable hard drive, move that copy to your PowerBook and put it in the PowerBook’s your user folder /Library/Mail folder. When you launch Mail on your laptop, it should have the same filtering savvy as Mail on your iMac.

Editing OS X’s spelling-checking dictionary

Do you know how to synchronize, review, and/or edit user additions to OS X’s built-in spelling-checker dictionary?— Michael Glotzer

Sort of, yes, and yes.

If by “synchronize” you mean “replace the spelling-checker dictionary on one Mac with the dictionary from another Mac,” here’s how: On the Mac that has the dictionary you want to use, go to your user folder /Library/Spelling, and make a copy of the en file there. Put that copy (using either a network or a portable drive to move it) into the same folder on the second Mac, replacing the old one. (As usual, before you replace the en file on that second machine, make a copy of the file and put that copy in a safe location, just in case something goes wrong.) After you log out and back in to that second Mac, you should have access to the dictionary from the first Mac.

If you don’t see a Spelling folder on the second machine, you probably haven’t added any words to its spelling-checker dictionary. If that’s the case, open a TextEdit document and type a word that isn’t likely to be in the spelling checker—

, for example. Next, control- or right-click on the word to call up the spelling-checker contextual menu, and select Learn Spelling. The Spelling folder (and en file) should be automatically generated.

To review additions you’ve made to the spelling-checker dictionary, you can use Bare Bones Software’s free TextWrangler. Open the en file in TextWrangler and choose Edit: Text Options. In the resulting sheet, enable the Show Invisibles option and click on OK. The additions you’ve made to the dictionary should now be indicated by a red upside-down question mark.

Now that you can see the user additions, you can delete or edit them or add new ones. If you’re adding new entries, just be sure to copy one of those upside-down question marks and paste it between each entry. When you’re done, save the file, log out, and then log back in again for the changes to take effect.

And now that you know how to edit the en file, you can combine two different dictionaries by copying the contents of one en file and pasting them into another.

Revealing Network Diagnostics

I’d like to use Tiger’s Network Diagnostics tool to trouble-shoot a problem I’ve been having with my home network. But I can’t figure out how to launch it. I’ve seen a button that starts the utility in Safari when I can’t connect to the Internet, but otherwise I have no idea where to find it.— Via the Internet

The word Network in Network Diagnostics gives you a hint. One way to launch it is to open the Network preference pane, click on the Assist Me button, and then click on the Diagnostics button in the sheet that appears (see “Doing Diagnostics”). (Clicking on the Assistant button next to the Diagnostics button launches the Network Setup Assistant.) The other way to enable this utility is to go to /System/Library/CoreServices and double-click on the Network Diagnostics icon.

So Near, Yet So Safari: Forcing Safari to run on Rosetta can solve streaming problems.Limited Vocabulary: Don’t speak Byelorussian? Don’t need your Mac to? Monolingual will help you rid your computer of support for unnecessary languages.Doing Diagnostics: Network troubles? Let the hidden Network Diagnostics application lend a hand.
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