How to format a hard drive for Mac OS X

This video post was inspired by two conversations I had with (on the subject of Time Machine backups) and (with two video files that wouldn’t copy onto a drive), so be sure to thank them if this helped you!

Here’s the video:

Here are the steps:

  1. Connect the drive to your Mac and power it up.
  2. If there is data on the drive, copy it to another drive. This will erase the data on the drive.
  3. Launch Disk Utility, either by using Spotlight, or by using Finder’s Go menu, selecting Utilities, then double-clicking Disk Utility.
  4. Click on the drive you wish to reformat.
  5. Double-check that the drive is indeed not a Mac OS formatted drive.
  6. Click the Erase tab up at the top
  7. Select either Mac OS Extended (Journaled) or Mac OS Extended (Case-sensitive, Journaled) if you will want to use case-sensitive file names. (Eg: AwesomeVideo.mp4  and awesomevideo.mp4 would be considered the same under Mac OS Extended (Journaled).
  8. Give the drive a new name.
  9. Click Erase, then a warning will appear to remind you of possible dataloss. Click Erase.
  10. The drive will be re-formatted and should be available quite quickly (usually less than twenty seconds)

That’s it! If you have any other things you’d like demoed, let me know!

Quick tip: How to find out where a photo was taken using Preview.app

Today, many people are using smart phones instead of cameras, or have cameras that can record GPS information. Getting access to that GPS information is easy. Here’s how:

  1. Open the photo in Preview.app
  2. Open the Inspector (⌘-I) and select the More Info (icon is an I)
  3. Pick the GPS tab, and at the bottom on that window, click Locate
  4. This should open up your default web browser, and display the GPS location in Google Maps.

See? Easy!

Spring cleaning my Mac Pro

(Or, how to install Final Cut Studio on your Mountain Lion Mac)

If you have a shiny new Mac that you’d like to install Final Cut Studio onto, this is pretty much a how-to for you (other than using Migration Assistant to move everything off one machine to another).

Mountain Lion (10.8) Fresh InstalledMy MacPro is my daily driver, and I’m quite busy at the moment, so when Final Cut Pro and a critical plugin (RedGiant’s Primatte) stopped working (crashed FCP on use), after going back and forth with their support staff, I decided I’d use this as an opportunity to clear the machine off and start clean.

Considering my extensive backup system, I did consider reverting to an earlier backup – but decided that doing so might only buy me some time before failing again.

The catch with Final Cut Studio (FCS) is that the installer application for it doesn’t work in Lion or Mountain Lion.

So, I figured I’d document what I did to get my system back up to spec.

  1. Ran a full backup using SuperDuper (just in case).
  2. Booted off the Snow Leopard (10.6) DVD, launched Disk Utility, erased the drive and zeroed it out.
  3. Installed Snow Leopard.
  4. Attempted to install FCS – failed due to glitch with graphics card.
  5. Ran System Updates, did all patches and software upgrades to 10.6.8.
  6. Installed Final Cut Studio from the DVDs.
  7. Installed Quicktime 7, Quicktime MPEG Playback component, and other miscellaneous bits that need 10.6.
  8. Ran System Updates to get the latest updates for FCS
  9. Made disk image of install with SuperDuper
  10. Installed Mountain Lion (10.8)
  11. Ran Updates, installed my App Store Apps, along with a few others
  12. Installed the Primatte & tested in FCP – Success!
  13. Made disk image of this (working) configuration) so if what happened before happens again, this is my new starting point, saving many hours.
  14. Started to copy my email, photos and other data over from backup drive
  15. Installing other applications, prefs etc
  16. Installed Dropbox and let it LAN-sync off my MacBook Pro.
  17. Create Time Machine backup on the Time Capsule
  18. Create bootable backup for dropoff at bank vault.

As you can see, this is a boat-load of todos. Now, I probably *could* have debugged FCS to the point that Primatte would start to work again, but I’ve been in the mood for a fresh start, sweeping away everything to start with a clean slate.

You’d be surprised how many applications I had – over 350!  I’m down to less than 80 now.  I’ll reinstall other applications as I need them.

While the Mac Pro was busy being reinstalled, I also took the opportunity to look through my Dropbox account and remove any un-needed data there too.

This fresh start is also my nuclear option for moving any unmigrated passwords into Agile Bit’s 1Password, an app I’m constantly recommending and yammering on about.  Safari, Chrome and Firefox will no longer store *any* of my passwords.

After a bit of digging, the previous install dates back to Tiger (10.4), back in 2007. Six years  of cruft, I guess.

This kind of extensive spring cleaning isn’t for everyone, nor is it something I’d recommend you do regularly.  I did it because I felt I’d spend less time doing this than trying to debug the FCP/Primatte problem, which was the case.  Even though the list is long, each item only took a minute or two of my time, while I continued to work on my laptop.

Dropbox LAN Sync speedAddendum:

One thing I forgot to account for was the speed at which Dropbox syncs over LAN. My 232 GB Dropbox (~77% full) will apparently take two days to sync, with the Mac Pro and Mac Book Pro to the router by gigabit ethernet.

Good thing I cleaned up in there first, eh?

Quick tip: How to enable the guest user account on your Mac

In this video, I show you how to enable your Mac’s guest user account, which is helpful for when one has visitors over, and you’d like to let them use your computer without having access to your stuff, as well as protecting them – when they log out, all data is erased.

The guest user account is also useful for helping to debug problems on a Mac. For example, if an application is acting strangely, logging into the guest account and running the application there is a simple way to see if the problem exists within your preferences.

  1. Open System Preferences – (via Apple menu or Spotlight)
  2. Go to Users and Groups
  3. click on the padlock on the bottom left, and enter your password to unlock the preferences
  4. Select the Guest User from the list of users
  5. Click “Allow guests to log into this computer”
  6. Select Login Options near the bottom left, and turn on Show Fast User Switching – this makes it easy to move back and forth between users.

Then take a minute to test the guest account. Go to the fast user switching menu on the right side of the menu bar, select Guest, and your mac will log into the guest account. You can test a few things then log back out.