Category Archives: Software

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.


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


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.

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Why do I get a second Firefox dock icon?

One thing that really annoys me about Firefox on Mac OS X is the way it spawns a second dock icon for itself after it applies any sort of update to itself (including plugin updates).

Here’s a screenshot of the offender in action (I removed some icons from the middle of the dock to make it easier to see:


For those of you who might assume I am a moron, no, I don’t have two copies of Firefox, and no, I am not running one copy of Firefox from a DMG or anything like that.

Nobody on the web seems to have found a solution for it yet — as far as I can tell from Googling. There are several bugs on Mozilla’s Bugzilla system related to it, and the main one seems to be bug 432520, which is unfortunately not yet assigned to a developer for resolution.

One of the big problems has been that nobody’s been able to define a clear set of steps to reproduce the problem. I believe the second dock icon appears after Firefox auto-updates an extension at startup time, and then silently restarts itself to allow the extension update to take effect. However, it’s difficult to test because the hypothesis requires an updated extension to be available — which only happens every now-and-again.

Anyone else got ideas?

Oh, Adobe Updater (the new one) how I hate thee

This is the -new- Adobe Updater that’s supposed to be less annoying than the old one. Except it’s a big, fat fail whale.

For the record: nothing about my installation of Acrobat is non-standard, and all the previous updates with the old updater have worked fine. I have not run any language or PPC-code stripping utilities on my apps.


Need Mac keyboard shortcut advice!!

Can anyone tell me what the Mac keyboard shortcuts for the following are…? I haven’t been able to figure them out myself, and they are the ONLY things I miss about Windows (after 10 years of using Macs)…

– Move to the top of a document
– Move to the bottom of a document
– Move to the start of a line
– Move to the end of a line

That’s it!! It should be so easy, but using Apple’s very cut-down keyboards, I can’t figure out how to achieve it — even after Googling numerous times for it.