Q&A: MacFixIt Answers

MacFixIt Answers is a feature in which we answer e-mailed questions from our readers. This week there were questions on upgrading OS X for use with iLife, transferring bookmarks from Safari to Firefox for the iPad, increasing the size of interface elements in OS X, and managing blinking question marks when installing OS X. We continually answer e-mail questions, and though we present a few answers here, we certainly welcome alternative approaches and views from readers and encourage you to post your suggestions in the comments.

Question: Upgrading Mac OS X to run iLife MacFixIt reader "Henry" asks:… Read more

Skip this uninstaller

Simnet UnInstaller 2010 is a free utility for uninstalling programs from Windows PCs. It's compact and easy to use, and removes programs as completely as the Windows uninstaller. However, it does less than the Windows uninstall tool and similar free uninstallers. It also offers to help you manage your programs, but it only uninstalls them.

Simnet UnInstaller shares a similar interface with the developer's other tools, a compact, colorful dialog with buttons marked About, Status, Programs, Settings, and Help. The Settings are limited to check boxes for automatic updates and creating a System Restore point before uninstalling software. … Read more

Boy swaps third-gen iPod Touch battery for $8.59

A couple of months ago, I noticed that my third-generation iPod Touch (32GB) was having trouble holding a charge. After using it for a few hours, the battery was at about 30 percent, and if I left it sitting on my desk overnight, it was invariably dead in the morning, even after I turned Wi-Fi off.

I looked into getting a replacement battery and found out that Apple charges $79 (see complete chart of iPod repair pricing). Now I like my iPod Touch, which serves both as a Sonos remote and a remote for an old Roku player that I … Read more

Addressing failing software installations in OS X

On rare occurances, people may find that installing software from an installation CD, DVD, or downloaded installer may result in a failed installation. Sometimes the install will either hang or crash, but other times an error may be presented. Some of these errors can be cryptic-looking codes, but others might be more general such as the installer stating the software "cannot be installed on the system, please contact the developer."

System requirements

The first thing to do is to double-check the system requirements for the software. While many installers will run a program that ensures the hardware and … Read more

OS installation problems? Check boot drive partition scheme

Sometimes people may have issues either with installing OS X where the installer may not show the drive as a valid installation source, or in the case of cloning from a previous boot drive the system will not boot. This likely happens in cases where people have acquired a system second-hand, or are reconfiguring a system that has had multiple drives and partitions on it, but can also happen if a current system has crashed to the point where the OS needs to be reinstalled.

While people might try using Disk Utility to format the hard drive to the recommended &… Read more

iLife '11 installation DVDs not working

A few people who have purchased retail copies of the latest iLife '11 suite from Apple have complained that the installer will not work. When installing using the DVD, the installer may hang halfway through its progress, or stop with an error stating that the manufacturer (Apple) should be contacted.

A number of people are finding that this appears to be from the media the software is being distributed on. There may be a problem with the drives being able to read certain sectors of the media, at least for a standard installation of the drive.

If you are affected … Read more

How to install old system software on new Macs

Periodically, people will ask about the options for installing different versions of OS X on their systems. Though installing a newly released version of OS X is possible and recommended (at least by Apple) for all supported Macs, there may be problems if you decide to install a version of OS X that was released before your Mac was issued.

Many times OS X will come with machine-specific driver modifications that will not be present if an older OS is installed, and therefore even if the OS boots properly you may have problems getting the system or its components to … Read more

Install Win 7 on MacBook Air from a USB drive

So you've gotten yourself the sleek new MacBook Air and your first thought is to install Windows 7 on it. OK, that's my first thought. The problem is the laptop has no optical drive, meaning you'll probably have to buy an accessory that costs around $80 to do the job.

Well, unless you're reading this. Yes, it's totally possible to install Windows 7 (or Vista) on the MacBook Air without a DVD drive. All you'll need is a computer running Windows 7 (that has a DVD drive), a 4GB or larger USB thumbdrive, a Windows 7 installation DVD, and about an hour of free time.

Note: make sure you back up the contents of the thumbdrive as they will be completely erased during this process. Also, the actual work is a lot shorter and less intimidating than the look of this article.

Here are the detailed steps.… Read more

Volt home charger: $490 to buy, $1,500 to install

GM debuted its Level 2 in-home charger for its soon-to-be released Chevrolet Volt, which will be priced at $490. That doesn't sound bad, considering the average price of gas is $2.73 (as of Oct. 4) and a full battery can get you 40 miles before the engine turns on. But factor in the installation costs for the in-home charging unit and you may face sticker shock at the plug.

The Voltec is expected to cost around $1,500 to install, depending on the region and amount of electrical work required to install the 240-volt charger. The upside on … Read more

Font friend

Some fonts are better suited for certain projects than others, but it's not always easy to preview and compare fonts to make the best decision. FontViewOK is a lightweight font viewer that lets you do exactly that. It's nothing fancy, but it's a great way to easily see what fonts look like in a variety of styles.

The program's interface is plain, consisting mostly of just a list of fonts. You can enter custom text with which to preview the fonts, and can also see what the fonts look like bolded, italicized, struck-through, and underlined, as … Read more