Category Archives: Tech Tip

CLI – history

CLI – How often have you gone to the command line to run a command, one you just ran a few days earlier, but you don’t remember all of the options that gave you that perfect result? One way of being able to peer back at those commands you have entered at the command line is through the history command.

Just enter history at the command line and on a macOS system the last 512 commands entered will be shown in your terminal window from oldest to most recent. This is a command built into the default bash shell. With so many commands listed you will probably want to pipe the output of the history command into more or tail or grep to more easily find what you are looking for:

  • history | more
  • history | tail
  • history | grep <search term>

To learn a lot more about how to use apropos, take a look at “Linux history Command Tutorial for Beginners (8 Examples)“. Yes, this is a Linux article, but the history command as implemented on macOS is fundamentally the same.


See my other CLI and macOS articles


 

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CLI – top

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If your system seems to be slow or there are running Apps (processes) that you want to know more about, you can enter top at the command line to see more. This command is part of almost every Unix, Linux, and macOS system.

This is similar to the Apple Utility “Activity Monitor”, though there are options you can invoke at the command line to give you more control over what you are seeing. This is a good tool to use if you are wanting to know why your Mac seems to bog down (which process is consuming CPU cycles and/or memory).

The macOS man page for top says:

The top program periodically displays a sorted list of system processes. The default sorting key is pid, but other keys can be used instead.  Various output options are available.

To learn a lot more about how to use top, take a look at “Linux top Command Tutorial for Beginners (8 Examples)“. Yes, this is a Linux article, but the top command as implemented on macOS is fundamentally the same.

See Apple’s Mac OS X Manual Pages for further command details.


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Mac Keyboard Shortcuts – Screen Capture

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Tech Tip – Capturing part of my Mac screen is not something I do every day, but it is something I do every week. Apple has made this easy with three different keyboard shortcuts to capture the screen, a window or a region.

Your entire screen – To capture the screen, hit the SFT + CMD + 3. This will capture your entire desktop (even if you have multiple monitors) and save it as a .png file on your desktop.

A region of your screen – To capture a region of the screen, hit the SFT + CMD + 4. That changes the mouse pointer a cross hair. Move that crosshair to the start point, then hold the mouse button down to drag the crosshair to select the area of the screen you want to capture. When you release the mouse button the designated area will be captured to a .png file that is saved to your desktop.

A Window –  To capture an entire window, hit the SFT + CMD + 4 like you were going to capture an area. Before doing anything tap the space bar. The icon will change from a crosshair to a camera. Use that to click on any window to select it. Then click the mouse button to capture a .png file of it to your desktop.

Reference:

  1. How to take a screenshot on your Mac

See my other Mac and Keyboard Shortcut articles


 

Travel tip – Always carry a ‘Cheater Plug’

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Tech Tips – On my international travels, I have stayed in hotels that, for the convenience of travelers from the US, have 110 V. outlets installed. These are really great to have, but generally, they are only non-grounded receptacles. This was the case recently when I was in Tokyo, Japan. I was traveling with my MacBook and the power cable includes a ground pin making it incompatible with the provided 110V outlet.

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This is where having a ‘cheater plug‘ can save the day. The ‘cheater’ is simply a 3-prong to 2-prong adapter that allows grounded plugs to be used in non-grounded receptacles. Having heard about Akihabara Electric Town, we dropped in while out exploring Tokyo. After asking in a few shops we found and purchased a few of these adapters to add to our travel kit.

Back in the States, we could easily have picked them up almost anywhere. Looking at them on Amazon they are about $4 or less each. If you are going to be traveling with any electronics that has a 3-prong grounded power plug, adding one of these ‘cheater plugs’ to your travel kit may be just what you need to keep yourself in operation.

Mac Keyboard Shortcut – Print

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A keyboard shortcut that I use, probably most everyone uses, frequently is the keyboard sequence to print:
CMD + p.

I probably don’t need to include this shortcut, but for completeness I have. In just about any App that has printable content, the CMD + p sequence will open up the Print dialog screen and let you print it.

This doesn’t save a huge amount of time, but again it is one of those quick keyboard sequences that will save you a few seconds each time you use it. Every little bit helps when you are trying to make your day more productive.


See my other Mac and Keyboard Shortcut articles


 

Are Your Mac Apps All 64-Bit?

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Tech Tip – Apple will soon be taking the next step in their transition to all 64-bit Apps. When macOS 10.13.4 comes out, users will get a one-time alert when they open any 32-bit Apps. Users will be cautioned in that alert that the 32-bit Apps will be blocked at some point in the near future when Apple completes the transition to an all 64-bit App space.

Until the transition is complete (on a date yet to be announced by Apple) users can still use the 32-bit Apps. However, if you are using a 32-bit App as part of your daily workflow, you need to be prepared to replace it if the developer does not update it.

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So how do you tell if an App is 32-bit or 64-bit? This is easy. go the Apple icon in the top left of the menu bar and click on “About this Mac”. In the “Overview” category, click on “System Report”. Scroll down to “Software: Applications”. It may take a few seconds to populate the window. At the far right side, there is a column labeled “64-bit (Intel)”. Any Apps with a “No” in this column is a 32-bit App. To make it easier to find the Apps you are looking for, click on the column header. That will sort the entries so that all the Apps with a “No” will be at the top of the list.

As you can see in the image above, my MacBook currently as six 32-bit Apps installed. Now I either need to find replacement Apps, hope the respective developers will upgrade their Apps, or take some action and contact the developers asking if they will soon release an update.

 

Reference

  1. 32-bit app compatibility with macOS High Sierra 10.13.4

See my other macOS related articles


 

Upgrading My Mid 2010 MacBook Pro

I have had a mid 2010 MacBook Pro for a while. It works well, but it is sluggish. Rather than invest in a new MacBook, I chose to make a fairly quick and simple upgrade.

To make my MacBook more useable I upgraded it (similar to what I did to my 2010 Mac Mini a few years ago) with a new SSD.

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It already has 8GB of RAM, so I decided to replace the hard disk with an SSD. I purchased a new SanDisk 250 GB SSD when I found it on sale a few weeks ago.

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I had purchased a 2.5″ external drive case from OWC a while back. I used the interface contained in the drive enclosure to attach the SSD to my MacBook. After formatting the SSD as an APFS drive, I used Carbon Copy Cloner to ‘clone’ (make an exact copy) my boot drive to the SSD. Fortunately for me, this didn’t take too long as the 320 GB hard disk was less than half full – less than 4 hours.

Once the drive had been cloned, I rebooted my Mac selecting the SSD as the boot device (depressed the Option keep when the Mac chimed on reboot and selected the new SSD as the boot drive). I verified that the SSD was working as it should, then shut down my MacBook.

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I removed the screws on the back cover, then removed the screws holding the hard drive bracket. I was then faced with removing the Torx screws that held in the drive. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a T6 Torx screwdriver available. That necessitated a trip to a nearby Lowe’s. There I picked up a “Kobalt 14-in-1 Precision Driver Set” for about $10 that included the needed T6 head (second from top on left in the photo above). Equipped with that, I easily removed the screws holding the drive in place, then gently disconnected the SATA ribbon cable from the drive. With nothing holding the drive in place I was able to remove it from my MacBook.

I attached the SATA cable to my SSD, placed it into position in the Mac, then refastened the bracket in place. I closed up my Mac, then fired it up. As expected it booted in a fraction of the time previously required with the hard disk. The operation of macOS is now much snappier. Apps boot faster. Alfred works quicker. For the investment of less than $100, I have a drastically improved MacBook.

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As a final step, I mounted the old hard drive in the external chassis. I haven’t reformatted it yet, but if there are no hiccups in the operation of my MacBook I will soon reformat that drive as APFS and will have an external 320GB drive to use.

If you have an older Mac, this is a relatively easy and low-cost way to bring new life to it!

 

References

  1. How to upgrade your MacBook Pro with an SSD
  2. How to select a different startup disk

See my other Mac and OS X articles


 

Keyboard Shortcuts – Show Color Palettes

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A keyboard shortcut that I use frequently is the keyboard sequence to pull up the Color Palettes:
SFT + CMD + c.

I use this to quickly bring up the color palettes so that I can color code entries in Notes. I don’t use this every day, but I have entries color-coded in some of my Notes files, particularly my “ToDo” list. This also works when you are working in Pages and RTF Textedit files.

This doesn’t save a huge amount of time, but again it is one of those quick keyboard sequences that will save you a few seconds each time you use it. Every little bit helps when you are trying to make your day more productive.


See my other Mac and Keyboard Shortcut articles


 

World Backup Day 2018

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I can’t really say much more than I did last year, so I am reposting the article I wrote for Backup Day 2017.

If you have an electronic device (computer, phone, tablet), chances are that it can be backed up. Today, World Backup Day, serves as a reminder that you should be backing up those devices on a routine basis.

Backing up your data means making a second (and a third copy is recommended) of all of the data on your device. The 3-2-1 strategy is best – always three copies of your data, data stored on two different media, and one copy off-site.

You should backup because losing data is not as uncommon as you might think. Devices can be lost or stolen. Or they may simply suffer a hardware failure. Increasingly too there is the threat of the data on your device being held for ransom.

Start a habit today of making routine backups. You can even go to the World Backup Day website and take the pledge to back up your data.

One new thing I would like to add is this quick video by Bob “Dr. Mac” Levitus:

Keyboard Shortcuts – Shutdown System

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A keyboard shortcut that I use all the time with my MacBook is the shutdown command. The keyboard sequence in the case is:
CTL + OPT + CMD + eject.

I use this to quickly shut down my MacBook when I have finished working on it. This doesn’t save a huge amount of time, but again it is one of those quick keyboard sequences that will save you a few seconds each time you use it. Every little bit helps when you are trying to make your day more productive.


See my other Mac and Keyboard Shortcut articles