Ah, July, a lovely month in the Northern Hemisphere. A month when we can enjoy the pleasures of outdoor dining, risk setting the neighborhood on fire with an errant bottle rocket, and smile broadly at the wonders revealed during the East Coast installment of Macworld Expo. And speaking of eating, burning, and beaming, that’s exactly what we’ll discuss in this month’s Mac 911.
Q. My hard drive is shrinking right in front of my eyes! I thought I had 3.5GB of available disk space, but my Mac now tells me that I have less than 1GB. What’s up?
“Brucefpa” Macworld.com forums
A. At first blush, this is indeed a scary problem, Brucefpa (Fulsome Podiatrist’s Assistant? Feverishly Pulsing Acquaintance?). Thankfully, only a couple of factors can make disk space disappear in this way, and the tools for putting things right are only a download away.
Disk space doesn’t just disappear–a file or group of files has scarfed up those gigabytes. More often than not, the scarfer in question is some kind of invisible temporary file. Adobe Photoshop 6.0 is notorious for creating enormous temporary files and failing to give them the boot once the application shuts down. Likewise, Microsoft Word and the classic Mac OS (version 9 and earlier) can create–and neglect to dispose of–their own invisible temporary files.
There are a few ways to get rid of these disk-space thieves. You can use Sherlock to find the invisible files on your hard drive and delete them by hand, but I wouldn’t recommend it; before I trash invisible files, I want to know a bit more about them. So my first line of attack is SearchWare Solutions’ Eradicator ( www.swssoftware.com ). This simple–and free–application reveals the contents of the invisible Temporary Items and Cleanup At Startup folders and allows you to selectively delete files within them. If you’d like more control over what you trash and what you keep, check out MonkeyBread Software’s $15 Ghost Hunter ( www.monkeybreadsoftware.com ). Ghost Hunter allows you to see all the invisible items on your Mac’s hard drive and to move, trash, and make these files visible from within the program.
Be careful when vaporizing files: unless you know what you’re doing, it’s best to delete only those files inside the Temporary Items folder found at the root level of your hard drive. And do this only when other applications aren’t running–otherwise you could kill a file that another application is using.
If Photoshop 6.0 is overwhelming your hard disk with undeleted temporary files, you should be able to solve the problem simply by downloading the free Photoshop 6.0.1 update ( www.adobe.com/products/photoshop/main.html ). This update reportedly kills the temp files that Photoshop 6.0 leaves behind.
Finally, Bruce, there’s another possible explanation for your disappearing disk space. Maybe, like me, you’ve installed Power On Software’s Rewind ($80; 800/344-9160, www.poweronsoftware.com ), a utility that can restore your Mac to a previous state. Rewind causes disk space to disappear when it’s updating its invisible cache file. If you leave your Mac idle for ten minutes, that drive space should be restored to the level you set in Rewind’s preferences. On a couple of occasions, however, Rewind never did relinquish the disk space on my PowerBook, and I had to uninstall the program to purge its gargantuan database.
Disc Burner Doesn’t
Q. I can’t seem to make my Yamaha CRW8824S internal CD-RW burner work with Apple’s Disc Burner. It’s on the Disc Burner compatibility list, so what’s the problem?
Beth Gorton San Antonio, Texas
A. I can easily clear this up, Beth. The letter S that follows the drive’s model number indicates that it’s the SCSI model, and despite Apple’s claims of compatibility, you won’t be able to use Disc Burner’s Finder interface to burn data CDs. As you’ve no doubt discovered, when you attempt to install Disc Burner on your Mac, an error message waggles its virtual finger and tells you that Disc Burner is incompatible with your Mac. Your SCSI CD-RW drive is sufficiently compatible to burn audio CDs from within iTunes, but for data CDs you’ll need to use the copy of Toast that was undoubtedly bundled with your burner.
Q. I just got a new PowerBook G4 and would like to use its IrDA port to print to my old HP LaserJet 5MP. How do I set this up?
Ted Lancaster Akron, Ohio
A. Funny you should ask, Ted. It just so happens that a friend who dropped by the house the other day posed the very same question. He had come by to gloat over his new Titanium PowerBook G4, and, spying the infrared port that adorns the HP LaserJet 5MP printer sitting in my office, he asked, “Do you suppose I could print from my PowerBook to that printer via infrared?”
Explaining that such a procedure is devilishly difficult to set up, I persuaded the poor sap to leave his PowerBook with me for a few days. After spending those days playing Oni with his Titanium portable and relishing every double punch and flying kick, I realized that if I didn’t actually demonstrate how to print via infrared when he returned that afternoon, he’d know I’d hoodwinked him. Here’s how simple this operation really is:
Open the AppleTalk control panel and select Infrared Port (IrDA) from the pop-up Connect Via menu. Now launch the Desktop Printer Utility–it’s inside the Utilities folder, which is in the Applications (Mac OS 9) folder at the root level of the PowerBook’s hard drive. In the New Desktop Printer window, select Printer (Infrared) from the list of printers and click on OK.
Move the PowerBook to within three feet of the printer’s infrared port (making sure that the two machines’ infrared ports face each other), and click on the Auto Setup button in the resulting window. After a fair bit of cogitation, the Desktop Printer Utility may ask you to select a PPD file if it doesn’t find a native HP printer driver. Select a basic printer description such as LaserWriter, click on OK, name your printer, and save it to the desktop. When you next wish to use this printer, just choose AppleTalk’s Infrared setting, point the PowerBook at the printer, and proceed as you normally would.
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