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MacBooks without batteries severely throttled #

/mac | Nov 15, 2018

Best Linux distro for a 2009 MacBook Pro? #

See also Breathing new life into a 2006 MacBook and Apple's New Hardware With The T2 Security Chip Will Currently Block Linux From Booting

With OS X 10.11 El Capitan no longer receiving security updates1, unsupported but otherwise excellent hardware like the MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2009) can be revitalized with Linux.2

After some false starts with the usual suspects (namely Linux Mint 19 (both Mate & XFCE), Elementary 5, Fedora Workstation 26, and Pop!_OS 18.04 LTS), I decided to give Manjaro XFCE 17 a try after seeing it regularly mentioned in HN comments.

After struggling with previous distros, Manjaro was a dream: boot and shutdown times were halved (at least), the boot splash screen displayed properly (rather than just displaying a black/blank screen like so many others), WiFi and video drivers working right out of the box, and there was no screen flickering or taskbar weirdness. In short, Manjaro presented the most polished experience, from start to finish, of the bunch.

However, during install, Manjaro requires creating a password for the root account, which is subsequently enabled. If you prefer to disable it after installation is complete:

$ sudo passwd --status root
root P 10/29/2018 -1 -1 -1 -1

$ sudo passwd --delete --lock root
passwd: password expiry information changed.

$ sudo passwd --status root
root L 10/29/2018 -1 -1 -1 -1


$ su
su: Authentication failure

To reenable root:

$ sudo passwd root
New password: 
Retype new password: 
passwd: password updated successfully
$ sudo passwd --status root
root P 11/01/2018 -1 -1 -1 -1


  1. Why doesn't Apple just come out with an official macOS support policy? It's clearly and consistently been 3 years from release on modern versions, why not share that with consumers? Speaking of which, why not warn them when they are running an unsupported and unsafe version (something even Microsoft, hardly renowned for its stellar consumer support, did for Windows XP)? Within the last week or so, I've had two different people contact me with problems which turned out to be caused by running OS X 10.7 and OS X 10.8 respectively! See also No more security patches for OS X El Capitan, time to upgrade and Apple has released Mojave 10.14.1 update, and Security Updates for Sierra and High Sierra.

  2. There's also Collin's kind patcher collection of course (macOS Sierra Patcher Tool for Unsupported Macs, macOS High Sierra Patcher Tool for Unsupported Macs, and macOS Mojave Patcher Tool for Unsupported Macs) if you don't mind disabling SIP, limited WiFi support, and trusting third-party, closed source software with deep access.

/mac | Nov 01, 2018

# Mojave - Where did DVD Player.app go? #

It's been moved from /Applications/ to /System/Library/CoreServices/Applications/. Due to SIP, "Make Alias" is not available from the Finder's context menu in that directory, nor does the new Make Alias keyboard shortcut (Ctrl+Cmd+A - really, Apple?! Cmd+L does not appear to have even been reassigned!) work.

If you'd like a Finder alias for DVD Player in the Applications folder*, one can be created via AppleScript like so:

tell application "Finder" to make alias file to (POSIX file "/System/Library/CoreServices/Applications/DVD Player.app") at (POSIX file "/Applications")

* To its credit, Apple still provides the "CDs & DVDs" preference pane, which offers an option to open DVD Player when a video DVD is inserted, but some may prefer another action or to launch DVD Player manually to play VIDEO_TS files, etc.

/mac | Oct 23, 2018

OS X / macOS printer drivers #

As reported by Howard Oakley, Apple has stopped maintaining its printer compatibility list and is apparently only supporting AirPrint going forward.

I scoured support.apple.com for the final printer driver versions, preferring to archive them locally rather than rely on Software Update. The inconsistent naming conventions and system requirements sections have been preserved intact:

/mac | Oct 19, 2018

Contacts.app: Batch add existing contacts to group via text file and AppleScript #

tell application "Contacts"

-- Path to file containing list of contacts (one per line) to add to group
set groupList to "Macintosh HD:Users:foo:grouplist.txt"

-- Read lines from groupList
set groupMembers to paragraphs of (read file groupList as «class utf8»)

-- Add each name to a pre-existing Contacts.app group named "Friends"
repeat with i in groupMembers
set aMember to (first person whose (name is i))
add aMember to group "Friends"
end repeat


end tell

-- Any mismatch between names in grouplist.txt and Contacts.app will return an invalid index error along with the errant name, resulting in no names being added to the group.

-- Tested in macOS 10.12 and 10.13

-- Hat tip: mklement0's script and Tetsuro Kurita's AppleScriptHTML

/mac | Sep 12, 2018

Microsoft Office 2016 for Mac Activation Woes #

Recently there have been activation errors with Microsoft Office Home & Student 2016 for Mac and Microsoft Office Home & Business 2016 for Mac product keys:

  1. Buy product key
  2. Associate product key with a Microsoft account
  3. Download Office 2016 installer from Microsoft
  4. Install Office 2016
  5. When prompted, enter Microsoft account credentials used in step 2 above
  6. Attempt to activate Office 2016
  7. Activation fails
  8. Telephone activation also fails


  1. Download and install all Office 2016 updates
  2. Reboot Mac
  3. Launch an Office 2016 app like Word
  4. Activation errors resolved

UPDATE: Sadly, the activation notification returned 24 hours later, counting down from 14 days. So far, have had to get a tier 2 tech at Microsoft resolve on their end in the dozen or so cases I've seen, but What to try if you can't install or activate Office 2016 for Mac offers troubleshooting tips for the following activation issues:

/mac | Aug 12, 2018

Hard wrap text to window width #

Metapad has a handy feature called Commit Word Wrap which inserts carriage returns into text based on the current window width (the command to remove them is Unwrap Lines).

The same functionality was available in TextWrangler 4.0.1 (download) but removed as of 4.5. Here's how to use it:

/mac | Jul 15, 2018

What keeps me on macOS #

despite apple's waning attention and nominal concern:


  1. The Windows version is much clunkier. Reportedly, 2016 is the final desktop version for Mac. (UPDATE: Just learned from an Intuit customer service rep that a 2019 version for Mac is planned.) Still available at a discount from Intuit via this curiously-obscure page.
  2. Yes, it's available for other platforms as well, but without Sublime Text I'd be sorely tempted to jump ship.
  3. Other platforms also enjoy plenty of virtualization options, none of which run OS X / macOS guests easily and/or legally.

/mac | May 09, 2018

Resizing videos in OS X / macOS #

For years, I used Stomp for resizing videos under OS X. However, in addition to recently being retired, it has had trouble processing a number of formats of late, either hanging altogether or displaying lengthy time estimates (e.g., ~6 hours to scale a 6 minute video by half).

Happily, ffmpeg makes quick work of scaling video while preserving the aspect ratio, e.g.,

$ ffmpeg -i in.mp4 -vf scale=640:-2 out.mp4

UPDATE: To optimize for web streaming, add -movflags faststart. To optimize existing videos for streaming without have to reencode, use ffmpeg -i in.mp4 -movflags faststart -acodec copy -vcodec copy out.mp4

/mac | Apr 28, 2018

Only old calendars appearing in iTunes #

This post is for the scattered few who still sync calendars between their Mac and iOS device via USB, and find deleted calendars appearing in iTunes, despite those calendars not appearing in iCal / Calendar. Backup before proceeding. The iOS calendar(s) will be overwritten.

  1. Disregarding the absence of desired calendars or presence of undesired calendars within iTunes, select Sync Calendars > All calendars, check "Replace information on this iPhone" next to Calendars, sync, then quit iTunes.
  2. Open iCal/Calendar on the Mac and delete any unwanted calendars that appeared after syncing (yes, despite having selected to overwrite the iOS device, old, deleted calendars may reappear).
  3. Even if you've never used it, open Reminders.app on the Mac and delete any old, unwanted calendars.
  4. Open iTunes and head back to Info > Sync Calendars - only current calendars should appear.

Similar reports:


/mac | Apr 08, 2018

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