Monthly Archives: December 2011

need a manual for Lion?

Got a new Mac and feeling like you’re on a whole different planet? Providing user manuals with computers isn’t really very Apple somehow 😉 …after all, the OS is supposed to be so intuitive and easy to use we shouldn’t need one…

However, clearly more than a few have been having problems getting used to their new Lion installation as Apple are now prominently displaying two beginners help guides on the ASC support forum.

Have a look at Mac 101 if you’re new to computers in general or haven’t really used one for a while.

If you’re pretty computer savvy but have just switched over from a lifetime of Windows to your first Mac, then Switch 101 will clue you into both some of the major differences and how to accomplish familiar Windows tasks in your new Mac OS X environment.

To keep up to date, troubleshoot, or find answers to specific questions not covered in the above materials, be sure to visit You can also find this page from the  menu at the top left of your screen. Click

 > About This Mac and then ‘More Info…’:

Over on the right of the next panel, click the ‘Support’ button:

You can access both the online Lion manual (indicated in blue), and also a pdf manual (indicated in purple) for your computer from here.

Enjoy exploring! 🙂

Struggling with the basics? Don’t be shy, let us know in the Comments below! 🙂

featured picture The Close Light by *qaz2008

why is my mac running so hot?

I’ve previously covered one issue here about overheating macs, but kernel_task is not the only process that can get out of hand. For example, there’s a known issue with some releases of Parallels that can cause a process called prl_disp_service to run up to 99% too, leaving your mac sweating on the desktop even on a cold Winter’s eve!

In general, ‘hot’ issues can be found by looking at what’s going on in your Activity monitor, and solved by quitting (or force quitting) the process. Also, don’t wait to discover these by how hot your mac feels to the touch. Download and install a free copy of smcFanControl and have it running in the menubar. Now you’ll have a reliable means of seeing exactly how hot your mac is. 🙂

However, some processes may not re-start correctly after being quit in Activity monitor unless you reboot the machine or work a bit of Terminal magic. In the case of Parallels, for example, if you’ve identified prl-disp_service as the culprit, the correct solution is to first stop your VM and quit Parallels. Then, open and follow this procedure:

1. Paste this command into Terminal

sudo launchctl stop com.parallels.desktop.launchdaemon

Press ‘Return’. You will be prompted for your password. Note that when you type it in, your typing will be invisible. Press ‘Return’ again.

2. Now paste this command:

sudo launchctl start com.parallels.desktop.launchdaemon

and press ‘Return’.

3. You need to check that the process has correctly restarted before trying to start up Parallels, so one last command:

sudo launchctl list | grep com.parallels.desktop.launchdaemon

The output should look something like this:

36468 – com.parallels.desktop.launchdaemon

The number on the left will be different, but so long as it is anything except 0, you are good to go!

4. Finally, in Terminal, hold down the ‘control‘ key and press the ‘c‘ key at the same time. Now you can quit Terminal and get back to a cool Mac and your Parallels VM. 🙂

You can use these same ‘stop’, ‘start’, and ‘grep’ commands for other errant processes, but you need to find the correct name of the process. You can do this by first noting its name in Activity monitor, then in Terminal, paste:

sudo launchctl list

Look for a launchdaemon that corresponds with the name you found in Activity monitor. Then use the commands above but replace ‘com.parallels.destkop.launchdaemon’ with the name of the process you want to kill.**


**Warning: The sudo command gives you root privileges to the computer and can cause irreparable harm to your OS if used incorrectly. Never mess around with the sudo command unless you have a recent bootable clone of your system.

Related posts:
Why is my mac running so slow?
kernel_task at 103%!!

how to take a screenshot

We all like to take happy snaps at Christmas 🙂 , but there’s no need to buy expensive software to snap the wonders you or your family produce on your Mac computer screen. Mac OS X has a number of built-in ways to take screenshots. The simplest is to use the universal hotkey combination:


This will immediately take a snapshot of your entire screen and dump it on your desktop as .png file. Try it now and have a look!

If you want to select only a specific region, try this


Move your cursor, and you’ll see it’s turned into a cross-hairs by which you can select any part of the screen you want. You can also press the spacebar after you invoke this command, and the cursor will turn into a camera icon. This lets you accurately select individual windows for the shot, instead of drawing round them.

If you are taking the screenshot to immediately paste it into a post, email or document and you don’t particularly want to keep a saved copy of it, then add the control key to either of the previous commands (e.g., command-control-shift-3). This will dump the screenshot into the clipboard rather than save it as a file. All you do next is go to the window you want to paste it in, and hit Command-V.

Finally, if all these hotkeys are too much to remember for the occasional screenshot, remember you can always access screenshots through the menu (see main image above).

Happy snapping folks! 🙂

Here’s the summary of the main commands:

java not working on Lion

Unlike previous OS X iterations, Java does not come installed by default on Lion OS X. Instead, you need to download it and enable it.

First, check to see whether Java is installed by running this command in

java -version

If you don’t get a version number back, then you need to go here first and download the Java update from Apple:

Once Java is installed, then you need to enable it. In your Applications > Utilities folder, you should find the Java Double click on that, and in the ‘General’ tab, click the enable checkbox at the top (see screenshot above).

Java working! 🙂

maximizing screen space in OS X

If you don’t like full-screen apps because they hide the menubar, or you’re using Snow Leopard and you need to increase screen real-estate, here’s a few tricks you can try.

1. Try to maximize the app to take up all the rest of the screen space by clicking the green indicator light in the top left corner (there are three in a row, red, amber, green).

2. You can hide or collapse the toolbar (that’s the top part of the app that the indicator lights and other icons sit in) in some apps by clicking the elongated button on the far-right of the toolbar (if present). Alternatively, if there’s no button, look in the menubar at the top for ‘View > Hide Toolbar‘. While you’re there, look for ‘Hide Status Bar‘, which is the strip at the bottom of an application window.

3. Try either right-clicking or ‘control’ clicking anywhere on the toolbar and experimenting with the options. Some apps will let you hide the toolbars (like Office for Mac), while others give you options such as ‘use text only’ to remove icons which will reduce the size of the toolbar. Experiment to see what works best.

how to unfreeze your iPad

iPads are so easy to use, why bother with the manual? 😉 The chances are though, that at some point you’re either going to find that an app freezes on your screen or your whole tablet becomes unresponsive. Don’t panic, the answer’s simple:

First, be sure that it’s connected to a power source. The most common reason for iPads not working is people don’t realise they’re out of battery! Otherwise try these:

If it’s just a particular App that’s frozen on your screen:

— Hold down the ‘sleep/wake’ button (top right, back edge) for about 5 seconds until the slider appears. Release the ‘sleep/wake’ button. Now hold down the ‘Home’ button (bottom front, centre) until you see your Home screen.

If your whole machine is unresponsive, then do a restart:

— Hold down the ‘sleep/wake’ button for about 5 seconds until the slider appears. Slide it to ‘Off’. Then hold it down again until the Apple logo appears showing that the iPad is restarting.

If that doesn’t work, do a hard reset:

— Hold down the ‘sleep/wake’ button AND the ‘Home’ button simultaneously for about 10 seconds or until the Apple logo appears.

*For more serious problems with your iPad, such as continual restarting or no home screen, have a look here.

featured picture: ice crystals by Typen

why is my mac running so slow?

UPDATE: Please also see How To Troubleshoot Your Mac with FT2.

There can be various reasons why your Mac starts running slowly. Some of these can be app-related – especially if you are making multiple changes in programs that have autosave enabled. Other problems could be due to running processor-heavy apps that need more RAM than you’ve presently got. Before you dash off to Crucial to check out your RAM upgrade options, here’s a few basics to run through:

1. Applications > Utilities > Disk
How old is your HDD drive? Click on the top-most hard disk icon in the left column and check the S.M.A.R.T status at the bottom right of the window. Does it say ‘verified’? If it says anything else, back up all your important data and start thinking about buying a new hard disk. If the S.M.A.R.T status is verified, have a look at how much space you’ve got left. A nearly-full disk will slow you down. Generally, it is recommended that you have at least 10% free, but I’d work on getting that closer to 25% for optimum performance. If you have less than that, think about what can be archived onto a backup disk (or two..), such as photos, movies, and even your songs.

2. Applications > Utilities > Activity
What’s using all the CPU time? Is it something you need to be running? Select any obviously unnecessary resource hogs and hit ‘Quit Process’.

3.  > System Preferences > Users & Groups
How many apps are in your ‘Login Items’? Remove anything that is not absolutely necessary at start up time.

4. Have you downloaded MacKeeper or other Anti-virus software?
If so, remove it.

5. How recently did you upgrade to Lion and are you using Time Machine?
If you’ve only recently upgraded in the last day or so, or turned your Mac off not long after upgrading, perhaps Spotlight is still indexing (indicated by a dot in the middle of the ‘spyglass’, top right of your screen) or TM is still updating (indicated by the TM indicator spinning in the menubar). Either or these will eventually finish and return your system to (about) normal, but you should let your system run (leaving it in ‘Sleep’ mode will do the trick) for at least 24 hours if you’ve only just upgraded.

6. Did you repair system permissions after upgrading?
Even though the Lion installer should fix system permissions after an upgrade, if you then added any other 3-rd party apps or restore something from Time Machine, repairing permissions is always a good idea. Doing so is harmless, and rules out permissions as a possible factor of poor performance. Do Step 4 here. Unless any are indicted in red type, don’t panic about the permissions errors that come up in the ‘details’ window – many of these can be safely ignored.

7. Clear out your caches
Caches, in general, help to speed your computer up. However, if you’re a heavy internet browser and you’ve never cleared your caches or your history (I mean like in several months), then this is worth doing from time to time. You can clean out Internet caches in Safari or Firefox by choosing Safari > Empty Cache or Firefox > Tools > Clear Recent History > Everything. Your computer has other caches that can usefully be cleared out periodically, too: use OnyX to do so.

8. Is the system slow with just one particular program or while trying to open some particular window?
A couple of things could be going on here. If its your browser, try killing some of those extensions/add-ons – every one of them slows you down just that little bit, and many slow you down a lot. Another possibility is a corrupt ‘plist’ or preference file associated with a particular app. Curing this is a bit more tricky and requires knowing your way around the hidden Library folder. If you think this is your problem, leave a comment below to get further instructions.

featured picture Speedo ©2011 Phil Stokes

Related Posts:
why is my mac running so hot?
FastTasks – download the free OS X utility app from Applehelpwriter

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