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Mac hints and tips

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Start up in Safe Mode (10.4/5)

If you are having problems with your Mac and it is not running properly or starting up correctly, you might not be able to access any tools or functions to try to fix the problem. What can you do? Just start up in Safe Mode.

The concept will be familiar to Windows users where things frequently go wrong, but many Mac users aren't aware of a similar facility, probably because it is so rarely needed. Switch on the Mac and then hold down the Shift key immediately after the startup tone is heard. Release the key when the progress indicator is displayed (the spinning gear). Don't worry if it takes twice as long to start OS X, this is normal.

When the Mac is started in Safe Mode, only the essential programs and features are loaded, which means that some things you are used to with OS X won't work (like wireless networking for example). This is by design though and the aim is to prevent troublesome software from loading on startup. By starting with the bare minimum there is less to go wrong and you can then use various fix-it tools to solve the problem you were having.

Eject discs on startup (10.4/5)

If there is a CD or DVD stuck in the drive and you cannot eject it, try powering off. Switch on the power again and hold down the mouse button to eject the disc.

View status messages on startup (10.4/5)

If you are havong problems with your Mac, you could try a verbose startup. This starts OS X in the usual way, but in addition to this it also displays lots of messages as it loads all the various components of OS X. You might be able to spot the cause of problem among these messages. You can also try a verbose startup if you are simply curious as to what OS X is doing when it boots up.

Hold down Command+V as the Mac starts to see all those wierd messages. You'll see another list of messages when you shut down too.

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