Category Archives: macOS

Prevent Steam on Mac from starting automatically

I’ve recently installed Steam on my Mac for the first time. I made sure to disable the auto startup option from the menu as I hardly use it on this underpowered machine (under Steam – Preferences – Interface). There’s no tick box there!

Imagine my surprise when I restarted my Mac a couple of days later, only to be greeted by the familiar window showing “Updating Steam”. Bad software design at its best: do the opposite of what the user has selected. Good job, Steam!

This being a Mac issue, there’s about 0 threads on the web on how to tackle this issue. It took me a moment to remember that there’s built-in Mac option under Preferences – Users – Login Items. That’s where Steam was hiding, and as such, it is started no matter what. Untick that box, and Steam will no longer start on your Mac when you boot the system.

Fixed: macOS reports incorrect disk space usage

I had a weird issue on y MacBook today: after being low on space for what felt like months, I bit the bullet and deleted 50% of stuff from hard disk. I freed up about 250GB of files, emptied the trash, and checked under About this Mac – Storage. Sure enough, I finally had space again.

But when I tried to install something, which instantly told me I only had 14GB available, and that’s just not enough. I thought, “pardon?” 🤔

I double-checked on the command line with df -h, and the output corroborated the statement of the application I wanted to install: 98% disk space used. I thought perhaps Disk Utility would bring clarification, perhaps via a First Aid run. But sadly it only confirmed what the df command saw: my disk was nearly full, and whatever 250GB I had deleted were somehow still lurking around. How? Why? What was going on here?

Thankfully I found this StackExchange thread discussing the same issue. Apparently this weirdness is caused by local Time Machine backups that have not been relayed to an external disk. I do recall that my MacBook has been telling me that no backups could be made for some time. Either way, the magic command looks like this:

No administrator privileges are necessary. It takes a moment to run, but apparently this radically clears up local backups. I had this problem with macOS 10.13.6 High Sierra. Maybe this helps anyone with similar issues.

Thanks to Tetsujin for making this excellent suggestion.

How to setup AirPods (1st generation) with a MacBook Pro (2011)

I really like my first generation AirPods. I use them on my 2012-2018 devices all the time, but I had never tried them on my old MacBook Pro from 2011. I had always assumed they probably use some low-energy version of Bluetooth 4 or whatnot, expecting they won’t work. But I was wrong! They DO work – it’s just that the setup process is slightly different than on my other devices.

Here’s how I could connected them successfully.

What usually happens

Ordinarily, iCloud seems to take care of spreading the connection love. That is, AirPods connected to my iPhone will automatically be “seen as available” by my iPad and my Desktop Mac. All I have to do is to head over to the little speaker icon on the Mac, then select my AirPods from the list.

On my MacBook Pro 2011 that doesn’t work. There’s no AirPods entry. I had to pair them manually.

Make the 2011 MacBook see the AirPods

So what we need to do then is this:

  • switch Bluetooth on (obviously)
  • put the AirPods in their case
  • open the lid
  • press the pairing button on the lid and leave it open
  • take the AirPods out (but leave the case open)
  • wait a moment to hear the connection beep

Now we can close the case and listen to the AirPods. The pairing process takes a little longer, and oddly enough there’s no AirPods entry to select in the list of audio devices. Be that as it may, they are indeed connected and can be used to listen to audio now.

Why that is I do not know – and perhaps I don’t need to either. All I know is that they’re working fine under macOS High Sierra. Hope this helps!

UPDATE: After restarting my MacBook, the AirPods did indeed show up in the Bluetooth menu, so now it behaves just like my Mac Mini. Even Macs need restarting every once in a while.

Creating New Emails in Split View on macOS

I’ve discovered that when I respond to emails on my Mac Book, the default Apple Mail programme started opening my new message windows in a split screen view. Previously this wasn’t happening, and instead a new message would be presented as an overlay on top of the whole mail window (I believe they called it a Modal Dialogue).

Don’t get me wrong, I like the split screen thing – but I always wanted to know where this setting was, and why it was now magically switched on since I wasn’t involved in this design decision. I’m a bit of an stick-in-the-mud sometimes and a tad pernickety about preserving my user experience.

Thankfully it’s easy to find – but in case you’re stumped, here’s where to enable/disable this experience. In Apple Mail, head over to Preferences – General (the first tab). At the bottom you’ll see a tick box labelled prefer opening emails in split view when in full scren.

Continue reading Creating New Emails in Split View on macOS

Pairing an Apple Keyboard with Windows 10

In this episode I’ll show you how to successfully pair an Apple Wireless Magic Keyboard (first generation, MC184B/A) with Windows 10 (Version 1809). I’ve found so much conflicting information on the web, so I’m showing you what worked for me – in May 2019.

I’m using a HP Z800 Workstation here, with a no-frills Belkin F8T013 (early millennial vintage).

Installing Windows 10 on a MacBook Pro (2011) without Bootcamp

I love my old MacBook Pro. It does everything I want for a portable coding, writing and occasional editing device. I’ve had it since 2011 and it’s still going strong.

Apple however doesn’t want to suport it anymore. I’m stuck with macOS High Sierra, without an option to upgrade without shadowy patches. Even if I could keep up with Mojave and beyond, the hardware might just not be fast enough anymore to give me an enjoyable experience.

So I thought, perhaps I’ll put in a new hard drive that I had in another old laptop and install Windows 10 on it. Apple’s recommended way is to do all this from macOS, using their own Bootcamp setup. However, being the hacker that I am, I thought perhaps I’ll try the “Windows Only” experience.

I did this in two live streams the other night, and continued the process over the following days – and now I’ve got a (more or less working) Windows 10 installation on my MacBook Pro (early 2011 Edition). I thought I’d take some notes on how I did this step by step, and give you my opinions if this was an adventure worth undertaking.

Continue reading Installing Windows 10 on a MacBook Pro (2011) without Bootcamp

The macOS Installation couldn’t be completed. Now what?

My MacBook Pro (2011) recently developed an issue after I had tried upgrading it to the latest version of High Sierra. Some security patch came along, and after bugging me for several weeks, I finally gave in and installed it.

Sadly, after macOS tried to restart I got a message like this:

I tried restarting several times, but without luck. The message varies slightly at times, often accompanied by an error log and a more explicit message that something went wrong, but not with simple solutions on how to rectify the situation.

What worked for me to a certain extent was to start macOS with the ALT key held down, which would give me a selection of the boot drive. There are usually two drives: the “boot partition” and the “regular drive”. Clicking the latter will boot macOS without applying the update, and everything went fine again. Booting into the former would try to apply the updates, but since it failed every time, I either had to remove this behaviour or fix the underlying problem.

I looked into it and found these tips on how to proceed:

Boot with SHIFT (Safe Mode)

According to Apple’s Support Website, Safe mode can be initiated by holding down the SHIFT key while booting. This will take absolutely forever, during which time your Mac will do the following:

  • Verifies your startup disk and attempts to repair directory issues, if needed
  • Loads only required kernel extensions
  • Prevents startup items and login items from opening automatically
  • Disables user-installed fonts 
  • Deletes font caches, kernel cache, and other system cache files

On large drives, this does take a while. Mine is a 500GB SSD and it took my MacBook Pro several hours to do this. Sadly, without fixing the problem mentioned above.

Boot with CMD+R

Another nifty trick is to bring up the Disk Repair Tool. Start your Mac and hold down CMD+R until you see the Apple Logo. At that point you can let go of those keys. This will launch something called macOS Utilities. Note that your trackpad may behave slightly differently that you’re used to (for example, tap to click will be disabled), that’s just because none of your configuration preferences have been loaded. It’s all default, and booted from another portion of your hard drive.

Once everything has loaded, select Disk Utility. Run the First Aid option and see what happens. This will attempt to repair your disk by looking through every sector and fix any mishaps that may have been caused by files not closing properly. It will either tell you that everything is fine, or that it detected issues and how fixable they were.

Check Incompatible Login Items

Another item on the agenda to check is what login items are selected. Those are processes that start after your Mac has booted into macOS. Examples include cloud service sync services like Dropbox or Creative Cloud, or things like Discord and Spotify. I’m a big believer of starting those myself if and when I need them, but over-eager installers like to sneak them in there sometimes. Some of those items may not be compatible anymore after a software update and hence interfere with both the update and the new version of macOS.

To check what’s being started with your Mac, head over to System Preferences – Users & Groups – Current User – Login Items.

Click the little lock icon at the bottom left, then select what you dislike from the list and hit the minus button below the list. This will remove said login item and – hopefully – make your Mac start as it’s supposed to.

I’m still in the middle of my investigation and have a few more items to check, but I’ll report back with what worked well for me, and what else I find. Stay tuned 🙂

Where is Stream Deck profile data saved

I wanted to move my Stream Deck Profile Data over to another machine. I had previously setup several shortcuts and actions and wanted to sue the same setup on another system.

Turns out Elgato’s Stream Deck software saves such data in a similar location as OBS Studio does. Here’s the full path:

Windows

On Windows 10, you’ll find those files in the following location. For this example, imagine your user name is “you” and replace it with your correct one.

  • C:\Users\you\AppData\Roaming\Elgato\StreamDeck

macOS

On macOS, you’ll find those files in the following location:

  • ~/Library/Application Support/Elgato/StreamDeck

The Tilde Symbol means “your home folder”. If my user name was “you”, then the full path to the OBS Settings would be

  • /Users/you/Library/Application Support/Elgato/StreamDeck

Note that for either profile to work on another system, make sure all applications and their respective settings are also replicated. For example, if you’re switching OBS Studio scenes with your Stream Deck, both OBS Studio and the scenes/collections need to be configured the same was as before.

How to connect from your Mac to your Windows 10 Computer

Networking sucks, particularly when Windows is involved. I’m not actually sure why, but I guess it has to do with the fact that deep down, manufacturers and software developer really don’t want us to connect arbitrary devices to suit our needs. It’s just a fact of technological survival I guess.

I’ve recently re-installed Windows on my desktop, and now my Mac cannot connect to Windows anymore. I had to set this up again from scratch. While I remember how to do it, here’s how it (once) worked for me:

Continue reading How to connect from your Mac to your Windows 10 Computer

How to add files to a ZIP archive on the Command Line

Before submitting ZIP files to various third parties, I often have the need to ether remove superfluous files from my archives. Until today I’ve never had the need to add a file to such archives. Had that happened in the past, I would have probably just deleted the whole archive and crated a new one from scratch.

Today I felt adventurous and researched a way to add files to existing ZIP files and found a (not-so-obvious) solution to this puzzle, using the -r switch.

Let me show you how it works:

According to the man page, the r switch actually replaces an existing file in the archive, so this command can be used to update files in the ZIP file too. I’ve added the v switch for convenience (it means “verbose” and can be omitted.

Works on Linux and macOS.