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Force the system to find a 'lost' optical drive Other Hardware
I had the very unpleasant experience of a DVD drive seemingly dead with a DVD inside: I inserted a DVD in the drive, but it didn't mount and I couldn't eject it. I restarted the Mac while pressing the mouse button down (both the track pad and then a USB mouse). Nothing. I restarted again and pressed Command-O-F followed by eject cd. Nothing. More worrying: System Information wouldn't see the DVD drive at all. I restarted several times with no more luck. It looked like it was the end of the DVD drive, right?

Wrong. I just had to put the Mac to sleep by closing the lid of the laptop. When I woke it up, the drive woke up as well, the DVD appeared, and I was able to eject it. I thought this hint, albeit totally straightforward, would be useful because I was very close to running to the nearest Mac support store. I would never have believed that putting the Mac to sleep could be the solution! I'd be interested in any rational explanation of this behavior.

[robg adds: Note that this is a different issue than this one, which dealt with discs stuck in optical drives. In this case, the media's not stuck, it's as if the drive itself has vanished from existence. Similar to the last hint, though, I've not had this happen to me, and would be curious to know if others have had their drive seemingly vanish.]
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A keyboard-only method of pairing a Bluetooth mouse Other Hardware
My Mighty Mouse has never automatically connected. It's a favorite, and I've removed it and added it back. It still will not automatically connect when I turn it on. The Bluetooth keyboard automatically connects with no problem. At work, I connected an external screen for daily use, then took the MacBook Pro back home at the end of the day. It thus became very important to find a way to tell the computer to connect to the mouse with nothing more than the keyboard. The following is how you can connect to your mouse with nothing more than the keyboard if your arrangement is like mine.

First, navigate to the Bluetooth System Preferences panel. Make sure the last option (Show Bluetooth status in the menu bar) is enabled. That should put the Bluetooth icon in the right side of the menu bar. If I now press Control-F8, the system will select the far right menu bar option, which is my wireless connection. I then use the left arrow to get to the Bluetooth icon, then the down arrow to open its menu.

Since Browse Device... is closer to the bottom of the Bluetooth menu, I use the up arrow to start from the bottom, and hit it again until the Browse Device option is selected, and then I use the Enter key to select it. Listed under Device is my Mighty Mouse, so I use the down arrow until it is selected. Then I hit the Enter key so that it will try to search for available files on the mouse. Naturally it isn't able to browse and spouts an error message at the bottom,, but the result is that the mouse is now connected. Sometimes I have to repeat the selection of the mouse and hitting Enter to make it try to find files on the mouse for it to connect. Either way, this is much preferable to me over carrying a wired mouse around with me.

I have yet to see anybody give a real answer to solving the favorites issue with my Mighty Mouse, however. I hope this workaround helps others.
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Make Wacom tablet settings apply system-wide Other Hardware
I have a Wacom Tablet, it's behaviour configured exactly the way I like it. When switching users, one must configure the behaviour on a per user basis. This is extremely annoying, especially with my childrens' restricted accounts. In restricted accounts, there is no way of opening the Wacom Tablet preferences, and thus they are set to default. One would actually have to remove the restrictions, log in with each account, change the prefs, log out, log back in and reset the restrictions, for each and every account.

I found it much easier to log in as root. I deleted all the Wacom preference files from all accounts (/User » Library » Preferences » com.wacom...), as well as the files inside /Library/Preferences/Tablet/. Then fire up the Wacom preference pane and set the preferences as you would like them to be. These settings will now applied system wide.

[robg adds: I would think you could do something similar by using sudo -s in Terminal open a root shell, then copy the preference files from one account to another, but I can't easily test that theory. Root is disabled by default, so if you're going to use this approach you'll have to enable it. There's a really old hint that talks about enabling root, but I haven't tested it in the last six years or so, as I've not had the need to enable root. If you enable root to do this, I would recommend disabling it again afterwards -- there are some comments about that in the linked hint.]
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Stop Griffin iCurve laptop typing bounce Other Hardware
For all those people out there annoyed with their 'bouncy' Griffin iCurves, I discovered a great little way to dramatically reduce your Apple Mac laptops' bouncing away while you type or bump the table: Turn the iCurve upside down!

That means the curvy part faces the top, not the bottom. It will still sit at the same angle and still provide the same amount of grip.

[robg adds: It looks like Griffin has redesigned and renamed the iCurve; now it's the Griffin Elevator, and the curved base is gone. If someone else has an iCurve out there and can confirm or reject this tip's functionality, please post in the comments.]
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Record video from a Motorola DCT 6412 PVR Other Hardware
You can use your Mac to record from the Motorola DCT-6412 Personal Video Recorder. Most of the ports on the DCT-6412 are not active (Ethernet, USB, etc.), but the FireWire ports are still active on some cable systems (Shaw and Comcast, for example). Using that knowledge, here's how to record stuff from the box to your Mac. You'll need the following:
  1. OS X10.4.9 (only version I tested; it may work on others)
  2. FireWire SDK #23 from Apple's Developer website (free account required to download).
  3. VLC (Video Lan player for Mac) or MPEG Streamclip
Read on for the step-by-steop directions...
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Prevent SkyMACMate software from filling console.log Other Hardware
It is a pretty well known bug that those who use SkyMACMate to allow Skype to connect to regular phones have their hard drives fill up with gigabytes of data written to the console.log file by the SkMACMate software.

For a while, I kept Console open and cleared the log every other day or so. This sort of worked, but eventually the Mac's performance slow dramatically. I tried to configure an AppleScript to clear the log, with no success. Then one day, while just fiddling around, I launched Tiger Cache Cleaner (TCC) and told it to "Clean System Log Archives." I thought that if that if it cleared the console.log file, I could let TCC automatically do that every day.

What ends up happening is that, if the Console app is open, TCC does away with the log and the entry for the console.log file just displays "Log File Does not exist," and nothing gets written to it. I have let this run for several weeks now, with no ill effects -- SkyMACMate runs fine, my hard drive does not fill up, and the slowdown has stopped.

Seems like an inelegant workaround, but until SkyMACMate fixes their flaw, this seems to work.

[robg adds: I don't use SkyMACMate, so I can't confirm the log file issue, however it was raised by another macosxhints reader in the comments to this article.]
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Use EyeConnect to access Mac media on a PlayStation 3 Other Hardware
Since Sony released the firmware update 1.80 for the PlayStation 3 (PS3), the PS3 can now display images and play music or video files that are stored on a personal computer or digital video recorder with DLNA Media Server functionality over a network.

The only way I actually found to access media files stored on my mac from my PS3 was to install EyeConnect from Elgato Systems. They have a fully-functional 30-day demo on the above-linked page, so you can test it out for yourself. It works great with my setup.

[robg adds: Dear Macworld requisitions department: It seems I need a PS3 to fully test hints such as the above ... please FedEx ASAP. Probably not, eh? :) ]
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Wireless mouse dead? Use Universal Access Other Hardware
I have a wireless Apple bluetooth mouse on my iMac. I have periodically lost access to the mouse for various reasons, such as when the batteries die. (This happens too often, since I usually use my laptop and the desktop sits and sleeps for long periods. Turning the mouse off manually is a pain as I have to let it pair before doing anything). I usually have a wired mouse connected or nearby for such cases, but I found a neater and quicker solution in the Universal Access preference pane in the System Preferences. Under the Mouse or Mouse and Trackpad tab, the first item listed is "Mouse Keys". This needs to be turned on of course, but I prefer not to have this enabled all the time.

The trick here is to check the next box, "Press the option key five times to turn Mouse keys on or off".

With this enabled, the next time you lose mouse connectivity, you just have to press the option key five times to enable the mouse keys, then control the cursor using your number-key pad. Mouse clicks are with the 5, click and hold with the 0, release click and hold with the 5.

[kirkmc adds: If you do use a wireless mouse, make sure to use rechargeable batteries; it's a waste to use throw-away batteries.]
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One way to watch videos from external drives on AppleTV Other Hardware
I found the following very helpful, as I have too many videos to keep it on my internal hard drive. So what I wanted to accomplish was to keep all my videos on an external drive, but still be able to watch them through my AppleTV.

The problem is that AppleTV can only read files through iTunes (or by making a physical hack to your AppleTV). I came up with a very simple solution. First, I made sure all of my videos were on the external drive. Then, in the Finder, I went to that drive, selected all the videos, held down Command and Option, and drag and dropped them onto iTunes. Even if iTunes doesn't show you the little arrow indicating that it is going to make a shortcut to those files, it will do so.

After doing this, iTunes and AppleTV will want to sync. Cancel the sync, and then go to your movies in iTunes and uncheck them -- this way, you will be sure iTunes won't try to sync them again.

In your AppleTV, go to Sources and find your computer. (I assume your are trying to read the files from the same computer you use to synchronize to AppleTV. If not, you have to have previously authorized it to use with AppleTV.) Now you will see there all of your media. I am using an Apple AirPort (the one with the UFO form factor) in an 802.11g network, and it works great to stream videos from my external drive through iTunes.

[robg adds: I haven't tested this one, and there may be other ways of accomplishing this trick -- and now that I know how to get my AppleTV working properly with my router, I will be testing this later.]
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Sort Playlists displayed in AppleTV Other Hardware
I created an iTunes playlist for my young daughter who enjoys The Wiggles, Laurie Berkner and perhaps a few 311 songs. After loading her playlist with a couple hundred songs, and synching them to AppleTV, I was finding it very odd and quite difficult to navigate her seemingly-disorganized content.

I went back to the main source computer, selected her playlist in iTunes, and clicked the Name header to sort by content Name. Then I re-synched with AppleTV ... ah, all songs are now sorted by Name on AppleTV as well, and much easier to navigate. This may be old news by now, or obvious with respect to the AppleTV instructions, but I'm an engineer, and always throw away the instructions immediately after purchase.
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