Fix stuttering Bluetooth audio on your MacBook Pro with Sierra

This tip from OS X daily fixed a problem that has been plaguing me for ages with my MacBook Pro and Bose bluetooth headphones – stuttering audio.

Simple, simple fix … hold down Shift and Option, click the Bluetooth menu, select the “Debug” popout menu and then “Reset the Bluetooth module” option.

It disconnects all Bluetooth devices but they reconnect a second later, and bingo — flawless Bluetooth audio.

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How to fix stuck Mac OS X clipboard – won’t copy/paste anything new

Something has been bugging me with OS X for a while — sometimes the OS X clipboard (officially known as “pasteboard”) gets stuck and won’t accept any new ‘copied’ content. Instead, when you ‘paste’ in any app, the clipboard always pastes back the last thing you successfully copied.

One solution to this is to reboot the Mac, but since Mac OS X is generally so stable and doesn’t need to be periodically rebooted as a matter of course, rebooting a machine with many open apps and windows can be a hassle.

Searching for this issue online provides a lot of bad advice (one website I saw said “repair permissions and if that doesn’t work, reinstall the OS”… terrible advice.)

Other websites incorrectly advise to kill the PBS process and restart it.

Apple’s manual page for PBS notes it is not related to the Pasteboard process. Instead, the correct process to kill is PBoard.

So, to fix a stuck clipboard (pasteboard) problem, you simply need to:

1. Open your application folder

2. Open the utilities subfolder

3. Open the Activity Monitor app

4. Type “pboard” into the search box at the top right

5. In the search results below, there should only be one result — a row listing the “pboard” process. Highlight it by clicking on it.

6. Click the “x” button at the top left of the window which represents ‘quit this process’

Once you’ve done that, OS X will kill the faulty PBoard process and re-establish it with a fresh one automatically. Your clipboard should be back to normal.

I have a suspicion that this stuck clipboard is a bug in OS X Mavericks 10.9 – I don’t recall it happening before I installed that. It is still an (infrequent) current problem as at 10.9.2.

Word 2011 for Mac gets blank dialogue boxes, then crashes

Anyone else see this problem with Word for Mac?

Often, when I am using Word for Mac 2011 on Mac OS X (I’ve seen the problem since 10.5 Leopard, 10.6 Snow Leopard, 10.7 Lion and 10.8 Mountain Lion), Word starts putting up blank dialogue boxes — e.g. literally blank white, with no buttons or text.

Soon after, Word crashes.

The following errors are logged repeatedly in the Console shortly before Word crashes.

WindowServer[109]: map_shmem_internal : vm_map(3: (os/kern) no space available) : Cannot map memory
Microsoft Word[16338]: bind_window_backing: cannot map backing data shmem
Microsoft Word[16338]: _CGSLockWindow: Unable to lock window

The other long-standing bug with Word that drives me crazy is that when you’re using it on an external monitor, with the lid of your Mac closed, and then you disconnect the external monitor, the Mac sleeps, and you later resume the Mac, all the Word document windows are blank, but all with random bright coloured backgrounds. I don’t know if the problem is related.

Screen-Shot-2012-11-26-at-12.21.57-PM

I’ve seen these problems on my MacBook Pro which had 8GB RAM and my current MacBook Air with 4GB RAM. Problem occurs whether I’m using discrete NVIDIA graphics or the built-in Intel graphics.

How to tweak OS X Lion to disable window zooming and other eye-candy

lionDon’t like Mac OS X 10.7 Lion’s annoying window zoom effect for new windows? Thanks to Tomas Franz, you can disable it. Open Terminal (Applications > Utilities > Terminal) and copy and paste the following line:

defaults write NSGlobalDomain NSAutomaticWindowAnimationsEnabled -bool NO

You then need to restart any apps that are running for them to get the new setting.

Hurrah! Snappy window performance again.

Also, if you want to restore CMD+D to being “don’t save” as it was in previous versions of OS X, you can do that with this command:

defaults write NSGlobalDomain NSSavePanelStandardDesktopShortcutOnly -bool YES

How to backup your iPhoto library to Dropbox – and resize images to save space

how-to-backup-iphoto-to-dropbox

iphoto-library-finder-infoIf, like me, you took Steve Jobs at his word when he said iPhoto 6 onwards could support up to 250,000 images, and you’ve been piling them in ever since, you’ve probably got a very large iPhoto library.

Mine is currently sitting at 66,431 images and is 220GB on disk. It’s so big that it convinced me to part with $1800 (Australian) to get the 512GB SSD Apple is making an option with the latest MacBook Pros. Obviously, at that price, it’s a ludicrously overpriced option at $3.50/GB compared to smaller, cheaper SSDs, typically around $2.50/GB, or mechanical hard drives at about $0.14/GB, but I wanted to have a boot drive on which I could have my full iPhoto library so I could work with pictures much more quickly (and boy, does it make a big difference.)

However, one problem I’ve been seeking an answer to for years now is how to backup my photos off-site, in case a house fire takes out both my MacBook Pro and my Time Capsule backup. (Or, if my house was burgled and both the MacBook Pro and Time Capsule were stolen — which actually happened to a family member of mine.)

Simply dropping the iPhoto library into an online backup program like Carbonite or Mozy isn’t viable, because uploading 200GB of data takes so long that it basically never completes — or the backup system gets so far behind that you’d be losing a lot of new photos if your house burned down.

The ‘ideal’ solution I had in mind was to do Time Machine backups constantly to my Time Capsule, as well as a fallback backup of downscaled resolution photos to an online backup location. I like Dropbox (my referral link included in that link) because it works so quietly and reliably in the background, but you could use any online backup service. Although some people might say that backing up the full resolution photos is important to them, to me, the most important thing is making sure those frozen memories don’t get lost — and if I downscale them to fit within 1920x1920px, then I still have a high definition, albeit not camera-resolution, version of the photo.

I’ve now figured out how to do it! Full details after the jump.

Continue reading “How to backup your iPhoto library to Dropbox – and resize images to save space”

HOW TO: Fix Bluetooth A2DP audio quality on Mac OS X

If you’ve paired a Bluetooth audio device with your Mac, even if it supports A2DP, you might have noticed how awful and rough the sound quality is. I’ve always put this down to Bluetooth being a rubbish standard when it comes to sound, but I noticed how good a set of Motorokr Bluetooth headphones sounded when I connected them to my Blackberry tonight, even though they sound awful on the Mac.

Turns out that OS X uses a horribly low bit rate for Bluetooth audio by default — who knows why. Perhaps it’s to allow for maximum compatibility with all devices.

The easy way to fix it is to copy and paste this line into your terminal:

defaults write com.apple.BluetoothAudioAgent "Apple Bitpool Min (editable)" 40

The “40” is the quality — depending on your Bluetooth headset, you can adjust it up for higher quality, or down if you have connection problems. 40 worked for me with a Motorokr S9 headset.

HOW TO: set disk spindown time for hard drives in a Mac

I’ve recently installed an MCE Optibay with 750GB WD HDD into my new MacBook Pro, alongside the 512GB SSD I got from Apple, providing me with a beautiful 1.25TB of total storage in a slim MacBook Pro. (The MCE Optibay replaces the optical drive in the MacBook Pro, allowing you to install a second 2.5″ hard drive of your choice securely in its place.)

I’m planning to use the 750GB Optibay drive for storing music and video files, since they don’t need high performance, and the drive can be allowed to spin down when I’m not listening to music or watching videos, which seems like an ideal arrangement from a power efficiency perspective.

However, by default OS X seems to take about 10 minutes to spin down the drive after it was last accessed. I found a great tip on MacOSXHints.com which describes how to set the system spindown time — you just open up a Terminal shell and type:

sudo pmset -a spindown 1

(where 1 is 1 minute; 0 disables entirely).

So now, my Optibay drive spins down one minute after it was last used — perfect! (Especially good since my MBP is near-silent with the SSD just in use, thanks to Apple’s really quiet fans when running at their default 2000rpm, and the WD hard drive in the Optibay is actually quite noisy — it’s an audial relief when it spins down!)

The same tip above can be used to disable spindown if you don’t want it to happen.

The only thing I’m wondering is what effect a spindown has on an SSD, if any. The value set using this tip is system-wide, affecting all hard drives, so if a spindown did happen to put the SSD into some sort of powersaving mode that might not be ideal, however, I haven’t noticed anything yet.