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Sunday, 06 February 2011


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Mike, it may have to do with it being a demo. They probably had lots of stuff on it before you got it. If you go from box stock new, its not much of an issue.


You could still buy the NEC monitor as a second screen for exacting proofing of images.

As for organizing the new toy, why not just start from scratch, loading all programs you are using now. Keep the old box around on ethernet, and move files etc. over as you need them.

Most people these days use a disk array for file storage that is redundant and separate from their computers.

Hope this helps!

No, sorry, I wasn't clear about that. I returned their demo to them and bought a new one.


Colors are most pleasing (relaxing, even) seen on my Windows HP. Don't do anything rash.

I like the colors! Dont change the design, it's fine.

Thank you Apple for Time Machine, Migration Assistant and Applecare.

My two year old iMac 24" died by degrees and finally gave up the ghost a few weeks ago. Repairs were covered by Applecare (new hard drive, new display, new optical drive, new power supply), which would have cost almost as much as a new machine (and since Apple no longer carries the 320 MB hard drive that was in the iMac, they twisted my arm into letting them put in a 500 GB drive).

With the hard drive fried, I had to restore everything to the repaired machine from a Time Machine backup using Migration Assistant. 2 hours after powering up the machine, everything was as I left it before it died.

As for housekeeping, I don't think there are any books -- at least I haven't seen any. Basically, keep applications in the applications folder, keep documents in the document folder, etc. I use subfolders for particular projects or other documents that need to be grouped together. I keep all my photos on external hard drives (which are backed up with Time Machine).

I sometimes need to keep incremental versions of documents I work on. In those cases, I put the date (e.g., 2011-02-06) in the file name. If multiple versions on the same day, I also use v2, v3, etc.

Mike, to me (Mac Pro with Apple monitor) the TOP colors look just fine, as they did on your old displays....don't change a thing just yet!


Dont' worry about "organizing" the files except to make them easy for you to find (and to follow certain standard layouts, like the Applications folder). The machine will either find them for you or make access reasonably efficient. Modern systems are pretty adaptive that way.

As for Applications inside Applications, it's not clear why that would have happened unless it was like that on the old machine. I think.

Go to the colorvision site and you can find software for the original spyder. It's in the unsupported software site. It worked last time I tried it - but that was with 10.5. I got a 27" iMac last yr. Like you I can live with the color screen.
I hope I can that game streaming somewhere (eg veetle.com), as we don't have a tv and our son wants (needs) to watch it. Photo related - I did go out the other night and take photos of the packerdome here in Madison.


First, Congratulations !!!

Second, When I upgraded to Win7 and asked for an updated SW for my Spyder2 Express, I go the answer that it's not compatible with shiny glass surface. Fortunately the SW works with Win7 and I have a matte screen so it wasn't an issue.

Hope it helps.


System preferences, displays, color ... click on the calibrate button, if you can't get the syder to work. Better than nothing.

Organization, hah!

Congrats Mike,

Fresh teeth and a new super computer! 16GB RAM, what the hell are you doing, moonlighting as a missile designer for Raytheon?


how to organize your files on the Mac?

1) don't worry,
2) use Spotlight to find files,
3) don't fix problems you think you have, fix problems when they are really problems,
4) the one thing to be most careful about is backups (unless you can accept hard drive failures as cleansing experiences)

this is the approach toward which i am gravitating, despite being a software developer and a mild obsessive (i still have MacPaint images i created in 1984); i'm sure you can get away with it

« I hear there is a football game being televised today, which partly explains why I feel so free to maunder on about my computer: no one is reading this. »

well, I usually read from the RSS, but I came over today to catch up at the site.

not only is the game to be ignored, but there is dreadful thing happening in San Francisco: low 70s (22ºC in the shade), making this day "hotter than July." this is absolutely intolerable for those that seek refuge in the coastal fog.

The IMac screen is so bright that many calibration probes give incorrect results even with it set as low as possible-- not to mention that it can be uncomfortable if you are working in subdued lighting like I do. There is a nice utility called Shades that allows you to lower the IMac screen brightness to where you won't have to squint : http://www.charcoaldesign.co.uk/shades
Good luck with your new machine. I sure like mine (although I haven't upgraded the OS to Snow Leopard for fear of breaking something).

TOP looks just fine on my MacBook Pro. I zoomed in on the photo of your new Mac and it looks very close to what I look at every day.

Unless you need to expansion capability you got the best Mac out there.
There aren't many easy ways to do what you want other than roll up your sleeves and start examining old files. Sometimes just looking at folders in list view you can find dozens of duplicate files, and if version numbers are in the Get Info data you should be okay dumping the old versions.
If you have music on iTunes Migration Asst should have managed that, but if you had some multiple drives those files can appear missing so double check. iPhoto can pull the same stunt, so double check your files.
There are some (reputedly decent) Spring Cleaning type APPS, and you might try the new APP Store for those ditties (now under the Apple Menu).
Later, and congrats

BTW on my Mac your site's color scheme looks exactly as you thought it should.

"On the as-yet-uncalibrated iMac11,3 screen, the text appears on a sickly yellow background that has a greenish cast, and the sidebar color is a lurid, bright, grotesque yellow."


I don't mind, really -- it reads well enough.

What is in your applications folder - the one that is inside your applications folder?

Has the folder within the applications folder got a tiny black curved arrow in one corner?

Congratulations on your new machine. I doubt whether you need 16gb of ram unless you plan to be photoshopping a lot of massive, multi-layer files.

I advise you to download and run regularly a little piece of software called Yasu2 (Yet Another System Utility 2). It will keep your new machine running like clockwork. A little faster than clockwork, of course.

I have a 2008 20" iMac, calibrated with a Spyder 3 Pro. the text on TOP is on a slightly pink tinted beige, and the sidebar is a flat lightish yellow. Yeh, maybe a touch of brown. Looks fine. If asked, I wouldn't have been able to tell you the colour the text is on without looking, so it must be right.

The Magic Mouse is just luvvly. I used someone else's old Mac today with a non Apple mouse. It was horrible.

I, too have my problems with these devices. I've only just got round to sorting out the mess where most of my document folders were duplicated, but not with every file. All my fault, I reckon.

Incidentally the previous device, an ancient PC, was just about able to open one image from the Pentax before rolling over on to it's side and lying there breathing heavily like someone who has been in an eating competition and lost.

*I'm* reading this, as I'm one of, I imagine, several billions not remotely interested in Mercan mutant rugby. Yet, horror of horrors, the B B C (!!!!) is showing *your* big game over here in Yurp. Butta whyyyie?

Can't suggest a book for you that wouldn't be too simple. Maybe your local Steve could sit down with you and get you sorted.

And the colours of the site look just dandy ...

And look how narrow it looks on the monitor too. Time fer a widenin'.

"the text appears on a sickly yellow background that has a greenish cast, and the sidebar color is a lurid, bright, grotesque yellow"

You mean it is not supposed to look like that? That's how I've been seeing it on my perfectly uncalibrated iMac all along. ;)

For your information, the site looks here exactly like it looked on your old computer. And this is an uncalibrated Windows netbook. So I guess it's your new computer...

BTW, whn I set up a new computer, it's the programs I know I'll need and which I remember immediately. Then the address book (possibly old mails, too) and bookmarks.*

Everything else goes on the computer when and if I remember it. If I don't remember a program, it means I don't need it. No Migration Assistant can tell me what I need.

* Of course, I've got gigabytes of old writings and such stuff. But that's copied as a matter of fact.

Hi Mike,
Congratulations on the new Mac. Your site colours look good to me on my calibrated NEC.
Love your weblog, look at it everyday.
A Dedicated Fan.

"B&H sells more Apples...". Can't be... every one they sell is sold to them by Apple... unless they're making them in the back room at B&H.

Plus, Apple sells all the computers that are not sold by B&H, either directly, or through other retailers.

What you may have meant is that B&H sells more than Apple does in its own stores.

"Does anyone know of a book or a site that tells how to most efficiently organize one's files on a Mac?"

But Mike, it's a Mac. I understand that's all intuitive. Or I did understand that until I bought one.

"Has the folder within the applications folder got a tiny black curved arrow in one corner?"

Yes it does...what does that mean?


Looks like a nice computer... I can't think of a book that covers "housekeeping on a Mac", however Googling that brought up a few items. Yes, rumor has it that theres a football game on the little screen today... down the road also as I live here in Dallas, but I'm not watching as football never has intrigued me... guess thats why I'm reading posts on new computers. I've had my MacBook Pro for about a year and I love it, although I do wish I had a larger monitor... perhaps someday...

Hey, I thought the site color was green and gold . . only saying

Keep going Packs!

I use an app called Screenshade.
This dims the mac scren further - and in my opinion makes it bearable without my eyes being seared at night! I have to start it manually every time but as I normally put my iMac to sleep rather than shuttin down it doesn't bother me too much.

Another usability tweak is the startup sound preference pane. this lets you mute or just reduce the volume of the loud bong made when it starts. Very handy if starting late at night...

Mike, Good for you. I've had the glossy screen on my MacBook Pro and never really saw the issue. Got the matte screen on the next MacBook Pro and think I might go back to the glossy screen, given the choice.

Mike, on my screen (an Eizo FlexScan L767 attached to a Windows Vista computer with Internet Explorer 8), your site looks just as you described it should. I find it attractive and easy on the eyes.

As you might guess, I'm not a football fan.

Just read your post as half-time begins. The TOP colors are fine, don't worry. What you're seeing is local to your setup.


"the B B C (!!!!) is showing *your* big game over here in Yurp"

I'm not at a Super Bowl party, but I am definitely watching the game. In fact I have stripped to the waist, painted my upper body and face in team colors, and donned a giant foam Cheesehead to watch the game in my living room.


P.S. I'm lying.

For what it's worth, the site looks like it should, per your description, on my computers, both Macs.

Also, I have been a very happy customer of OWC for years. They do a great job!

There's a game on?

I always thought your site colors were quite nice, matching your description of what it was like on your old displays. No greenish cast and no luridness. But I'm on an uncalibrated 23" Viewsonic, so maybe that's why. :)

Congrats, Mike!

I've got the same computer and I agree on the glossy monitor - it is much better in my office than in a bright, shiny Apple Store.

The brightness does need to be turned WAY down for accurate color - center the dot of the 'Brightness' slider between the 'i' and the 'g' in 'Brightness.'

Then click 'Color' then 'calibrate' and check 'Expert Mode' and run the routine when your eyes are not too bleary from watching aforesaid football game.

That should get you pretty darn close.

Best of luck and Congrats again.

Enjoy the new machine! I can't help you with the applications, save throw away everything you don't need.

I could not get my 24" iMac to calibrate properly. Apparently it is a known problem in that the display cannot be "dimmed" enough. Hope your 27" iMac doesn't have the same problem! A search might be in order to see if others have had a problem. I ended up buying a Macbook Pro. :-(

There may be newer software available for the Spyder.

I'm not a MAC guy (yet), but I'm a networking guy and run an Airport Extreme. Wish I could be there to help. If you have a rats nest, a set of on-site eyes might be necessary.


There's definitely tradeoffs to migration assistant. I usually skip it and just deal with the pain of reinstalling simply because it's a nice way to clean things up. Did you know about targeted disk mode? It allows you to transfer your files over firewire between the two machines. On the other hand, I'm afraid I'm no help about keeping your files organized. I'm organizationally challenged!


The folder with a curve arrow is an alias, basically a pointer. It's existence should create no problems.

"Has the folder within the applications folder got a tiny black curved arrow in one corner?"

Yes it does...what does that mean?

The tiny black arrow means it is an alias - i.e. just a pointer to the Applications folder. Delete it. There is nothing "in" it.

Your colors are as you want them on my iMac.

I can recommend Time Machine for combo router and auto backup -- also a portable Clickfree for what I call "bubu" (back up back up) of photos, music and docs and back up while traveling with my laptop. Cheap and easy.

Are you sure that you have a sub-folder in Applications named Applications and not an alias?

I do keep a few sub-folders in Applications for Games and Utilities so that they are not mixed in with the rest.

It certainly would be nice to start a discussion on organization and file organization, including images.

I continue to believe that more than one backup of everything is to be preferred.

Football game... did I miss a football game? I thought the season was over once the Pro Bowl game was played...

(I jest. At least I can type, my voice is shot from the jumping and screaming. I can finally replace my worn out sweatshirt from 1997!)

Ironically i returned my 27" iMac to my dealer here in Burlington Ontario just after Christmas. Found the display way too big for my purpose.
Already had a fifteen inch Macbook Pro,
which for me is ideal and had thought the larger screen would be eeasier to use. Not so, for me. Traded the iMac for a cash deal.
Ironically find the iPad to be equally useless, it's a computer that really has not matured.

May i strongly suggest to MJ to purchase the extended warranty, it's worth every
cent if something goes wrong. Three years on top of the liberal initial purchase warranty!

>>"Has the folder within the applications folder got a tiny black curved arrow in one corner?"

Yes it does...what does that mean?


It means it is a alias, apointer the the orginal folder. you should be able to trash it. Ask Ctein .

>"Has the folder within the applications folder got a tiny black curved arrow in >one corner?"

>Yes it does...what does that mean?

It means it's an "alias" to the Applications folder and can be discarded. An alias is a shortcut you can put into the file system to take you to the object that the alias is an ... alias for. You might use this to put a shortcut to the Applications folder (say) on your Desktop or in your dock. It's a strange and confusing form of indirection in naming that is all too common in computers.

Also, for what it's worth, the migration assistant is by far the best thing about setting up a new Mac. There is nothing worse than spending two weeks reinstalling everything you used to have on your old machine and making sure you didn't forget anything.

Mike, I have had a 27" iMac since January 2008, I switched from 20 years of using a PC and it was the best computer decision I have ever made. Even though it's probably considered elderly in terms of computer age it has never given me a moment's trouble and the PC nightmares I experienced in the dark ages are now only dim memories. Yes, the monitor is bright but manageable and my photos look great on it. I use a Huey calibrator and it seems to do the job for printing. I initially had trouble getting a good driver for an Epson printer ( the one thing my PC was better at) but now it's working OK,I use the time machine for backup and that has been brilliant also - I've only had to retrieve something twice and each time it was found.I have found this site to be helpful with maintenance which is not often needed. http://www.macattorney.com/ts.html

Just adding my tuppence worth to the responses. Colours look fine on my iMac, as you described them on your old one - and I have, virtually, the same machine as you. It's been calibrated (EyeOne), but it looked fine before that as well.

Agree about glossy screen, I don't have a problem with it, although viewing conditions will make a difference

Agree about screen brightness - I have mine turned down almost half way using the simple Mac controls, and that seems to work for my printing purposes as well as for general viweing

Or... you could have had Migration Assistant fail, as it did for me when I got a new Mac Pro two weeks ago... and have to do all the moving manually (with the old Mac connected in FireWire target disk mode, as Mark recommended). Then it was helpful to search online for a Step by Step Guide to Manual Mac System Migration. I kind of preferred that, as it allowed me to do cleanup and reorganization – just like house moving. But it was tedious. Good thing I do that only every seven years or so.


Funny, I always thought the disorganised clutter was just a reflection of my own mmind's operating structure. Your site looks fine on my Mitsubishi Diamond Pro crt.


Mike -- congratulations on your new machine.

File organization is pretty personal, but a few basic rules make sense to me. Keep all your applications in Apps, or Utilities as appropriate. Keep your documents in documents, movies in movies, etc., unless you've got a great reason not to.

Photo management is, of course, a hot potato topic. I subscribe to the "let Aperture do it" school of thought.

Some applications will probably not work anymore, say if they worked in Classic, or if they're quite old. Just trash 'em, nothing special to it.

Back up is more important that file-weeding: be sure to get Time Machine running, and I'd also look into duping your drive with SuperDuper, so that you've got a "hot spare" in case your boot drive goes south.

You might try taking a look at some of the "Take Control" e books, which are pretty comprehensive. E.g., http://www.takecontrolbooks.com/maintaining-mac

If nothing else, the author begins that book also talking about dentistry.


With the airport extreme, sometimes the machine wants you to reboot everything downstream from it (router, cable modem, etc.). Maybe this renews DCHP leases or does some other kind of internet voodoo -- it usually does the trick if the airport extreme is working but not getting the internet. Good luck.

Is there anyone belonging to the anti-Apple camp out there? I can fully understand Mike with his request for a book or something to help with organizing within the Mac OS. I've been using PC (the wrong side of the camp, I know) half my life (I was born before the transistors) and I know exactly where is everything in my computer, I even ventured into the registers and stuff. I had 2 MacBooks - a 13" MacBook and a 17" MacBook Pro. I had forced myself to use them as they are intuitive and should release me of all the frustrations with using the Windows OS.
OK, I can tag along and use the OS without problem, but it is never an experience I'll call intuitive. For one thing, tell me how can I maximize an application window (sorry, wrong word, I know) with just a click or a command? I mean I am only using one application on the Mac and I want to make full use of every pixel available on the monitor, how can I do this? OR, is there anyway I can delete one word with ctrl+delete? May be there are really simple solutions, I just don't know. If that's the case, I promise I'll jump ship.

Mike, don't trust that old spyder. I had one which worked fine on normal lcd's but when I bought my iMac and tried calibrating it the colors went further from the truth than ever (truth being calibrated prints made on my previous system). Turned out it was a known issue with glossy screens. Maybe your Spyder is a bit newer than mine was and works fine, but be sure to doublecheck. Enjoy the new iMachine!

My organizational shortcomings are platform-agnostic, I can tell you. It's just a skill / ability I lack.

I had to laugh when my friend Nick said, "How could your computer be disorganized? There's not even any work to do. You just click and drag and put the folders where they belong. It couldn't be any easier."

Or words to that effect.

That's when I realized our organizational skills or lack of same are in our brains, not in our houses, closets, filing cabinets, computers, etc. You can see my lack of organizational ability just in the categories list for this site. I have about three times too many of them, and yet many posts don't fall neatly into any one category. I am pathologically unable to use filing cabinets. They just don't make sense to my brain. Papers put into a filing cabinet might as well be burned, for all they help me retrieve them when I need them again.

I think my friend Gabi was in her 30s before she realized that her formidable organizational abilities represent a skill that not everybody possesses.

There's crap on the floor of my office not because I'm too lazy to pick it up, but because, once I pick it up, I just don't know what the heck to do with it.


Thanks to everybody who clued me in about that alias folder! That's what it was all right.


Mike wrote:

"Has the folder within the applications folder got a tiny black curved arrow in one corner?"

Yes it does...what does that mean?

It means that the applications folder situated within the proper applications folder is only an alias (the one with the arrow on, that is), and can be deleted. It only points you to the main applications folder, and as it is already in that folder, and only visible when you open the proper applications folder, it is of no use.

You may have created it accidently, which is easy to do, or some little gremlin may have made it. If you google 'alias applications folder on a mac', you do get a lot of hits, and discussion.

Ray Kinnane

"Has the folder within the applications folder got a tiny black curved arrow in one corner?"

"Yes it does...what does that mean?"

It means it's an "alias", which is an icon that points to another folder or file but has no content itself. You can trash it and it won't harm anything.

Also, if you don't like the way your initial setup worked out and you have the time, just do a "clean install" of OS X and the included software applications from the disks that came with the computer, and then start over with either the migration assistant (in the more selective mode where you choose exactly what to migrate) or, if you have the original software disks (or access to downloads online) just install the software you want on this computer and run updates on it. It is more time consuming to do it that way, but you will end up with a computer with only those applications and files you want on it.

Heh Mike:

Right off the top of my head, I don't know of any books about housekeeping on your Mac but I suggest getting one of your son's friends to take a look at it. I may be off base on this but you might be able to trade photo tips for Mac tips and a knowledgeable, "geeky" kid will be able to really give you some pointers and shouldn't cost too much, especially if you trade.

Mac's pretty much run themselves - just be sure you have a good backup! I recommend SuperDuper! and Apple's built in Time Machine.

Wasn't that a really fine game - as long as you were rooting for Green Bay?

Spend some time with that new mouse..it can do all kinds of tricks


Window maximization depends on the application. In Mail, Aperture, and Firefox, clicking the green '+' button will make the window fill the screen. In Safari, on the other hand, clicking + will fill the screen top-to-bottom, but only widen enough to fit the webpage you're looking at. I'm guessing the idea here is not every app can actually make use of the whole screen - most web pages aren't designed for a wide screen, for example, so it's left to the app to decide. If the app you're using doesn't do what you want with that + button, there might be an alternative that does.

"There's crap on the floor of my office not because I'm too lazy to pick it up, but because, once I pick it up, I just don't know what the heck to do with it."

Yes! Finally, someone else who admits to the same problem I have. If you find a solution, please let me know.

Off topic... Strange. Why the aliases would be inside the folder they point to? Windows can have shortcuts (ie. aliases) to programs up the wazoo, but they are not inside the Program Files (ie. Applications) folder.

You can setup someone else (Ctein) to take over your machine from theirs - like a screenshare. Services like logmein.com do it for free. It is often alot quicker for your friendly expert to see exactly what is going on. I do it for my elderly parents (US->UK), save alot of frustration.

As you've no doubt gathered Mike, the site looks fine, so it may be that the iMac's colour management needs working on.

Getting the colours right may not be as simple as just a monitor profile and calibration; as you say that photographs on your site look OK but not the field colours.

If you are using Safari, I'd recommend doing a full reset or at least delete the cache (Safari menu>Empty cache). No doubt there are similar options with Firefox etc. That might help.

And on another point…
I don't want to belabour the glossy screen issue but, to paraphrase your previous president," Ya don't know what ya don't know". In other words, you don't know what is happening in those shadows and saturated colours because the glossy screen is ramping up the perceived contrast and resulting dynamic range in those areas, and at the same time, burying detail and tones behind a veil of gloss.
No amount of window-blocking, black-shirt wearing, counter-veiling measures is going to change that. And you won't know about the file's tonal scale until it's printed.
Those who predominantly just view photos on their monitors, or whose own photos tend to look dull and uninspiring appreciate the extra punch that the glossy screen creates. However, for image creators who print or supply photographs to others, if you have a glossy screen you are no longer in control of how that image progresses from the mid-range through to the shadows. You simply can't see it until you go to print it and the result just doesn't match, no matter how much you profile your printer, monitor and workflow.
That said, I feel that the iMac is probably the best reasonable choice for any serious photographer who isn't into computer geekery. I'd recommend you demo a decent (non-glossy) monitor on the iMac to see what you are missing. It might cost the price of a root-canal but will be money spent.
Three years ago I chose a NZ$4500 Eizo monitor and a Macbook instead of a new MacPro with my existing Samsung monitor. Best decision I ever made. Especially so as most of my work is supplied as digital files for offset printing and publishing with no room for error. My files have to be bang-on or my reputation for consistency and quality is down the gurgler.

Re: the organisation issues.
Don't mess with the Mac's folder structure, especially the home folder.
Ideally, install your applications instead of Migrating everything and install a brand-spanking new system from the disk then do a Software Update.
Annoying though because you have to set up all your preferences and settings from scratch.
But, a much leaner, cleaner,faster machine.
If you are using Lightroom or Aperture then only manage your photos from that application. And, as others have noted, it makes sense to put them all onto an external hard drive; backed up of course.
I recommend the 'Big Bucket' approach and without getting too anal about the folder names for each import. A generally descriptive yet consistent naming approach is far more useful than a dated folder. Can you remember what you photographed on the 17th of September 2008? Heck I can't even remember what I photographed last Wednesday. For me, I use the Client name, followed by a searchable description of the content. That same name is also used for all the filenames of the photos in that folder, along with the original file-number suffix. Lightroom automates all that on import, and more importantly at any later stage, you can easily organise and search for them by any criteria, including the date they were taken.

Good luck and enjoy the wondrous new-toy new-tech aura-ness of the new Mac.


Dear Mike,

Just want to add my voice to the chorus. Once you have the display properly profiled (not merely calibrated, PROFILED) I am entirely confident you will see the colors you expect to be seeing. That's what I see on my 27 inch iMac, my 24 inch Apple Cinema display (old fluorescent tube technology), and my iPad display, all of which have been profiled. The sidebars are a soft butterscotch yellow; the main column is tan, and the headline is a slightly warm brown.

Also, unless your system is misbehaving, you should have no problem running the screen brightness from so bright that you could use it in a sunny room all the way down to dim enough that it's barely readable under dim room illumination. And everything in between.

My primary organizational tip? Set aside an hour of your time (that's about what it will take) and use the installer DVD that came with the computer to install a copy of MacOS on your Time Machine drive. Just the minimum configuration, you don't need all the bells and whistles and print drivers and all that nonsense. When all is said and done it won't eat up more than 10 GB of hard drive. What it will do is give you a drive that you can boot off of no matter what happens to the hard drive in your iMac.

If you own any maintenance or diagnostic tools like DisK Warrior, Data Rescue, Tech Tools, etc., install them into the OS on your Time Machine drive.

Trust me, this will prove incredibly handy if your machine ever becomes, ummm, “confused” for any reason.

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

Hi Mike,

as others suggested above, the best way to organize a computer does not exist, as a general term. It is up to you, and if you belong to the messy band, your computer will remain messy, no matter how many books or suggestions do you take.

My suggestion: try to stick to the standard organization of Mac OS X. In your user folder, you have a number of categories: try to keep every kind of material over there (documents, pictures, apps, music, etc).

Another suggestion, for the next time you switch to a new Mac: forget about the automated files transfer. It is very easy but I think it is a bad idea, precisely for the reason you mentioned: it transfer ALL of your files, including the clutter, the duplicated ones, the useless, those who were in wrong folders, etc etc.

I'm in charge of a network of Macintosh in my work, and we recently upgraded several iMacs. In all cases I suggested to the owners to transfer manually the old files, and although it takes a bit longer, the new computers are neat and clean as never. In this very case, I think the comfort is enemy of the efficiency.

Finally, about housekeeping the Mac: no particular app to suggest, as there is none needed. The order depends only on you, and no app will sort out your stuff if you put everything randomly scattered along your hard disk. So the only advice would be: try to stick to a structure of folders that you like (or the one made by default in the computer, as I said), and then try to clean up your stuff every month or so.

@Mark L. Power: Thanks for the Mac Attorney link. Great stuff!

Any Colorunki with a spectrophotometer inside it (like the ColorMunki Photo) will do a good job on that iMac screen. I'm not impressed with the performance of the Spyder and Spyder 2 on modern displays. That's a well specced iMac, BTW — a good choice.


You may find this video posted a few days ago by Carl Rytterfalk on his blog useful. It shows how he calibrates his mac monitor



Mike, the web image looks great on my 30" 5 year old apple monitor. 40-40-40 across the board.

Don't know what OS version you were running before but it is worth bearing in mind that Snow Leopard 10.6 runs a native gamma of 2.2 now, rather than the traditional 1.8 for Macs. This may contribute to your "new" colours.


@ Mike: "You can see my lack of organizational ability just in the categories list for this site"

Me too. Every computer I've ever owned or used at work has had a "Stuff" folder. If I'm not sure where to put a file, or it could be put into different folders according to my mood that day then never be found again, into Stuff it goes. I once had a folder named More Stuff when the original Stuff folder got a bit big. More Stuff just had more recent stuff in it. Makes perfect sense to me!

Also, I never noticed the little black arrow before! Ahah!

On my calibrated Windows 7 system at home and my uncalibrated XP system at work, the colors look rather like you say they're supposed to look. The beige the text is on does not have a greenish tone, and the yellow sidebars are moderately muted, not intense yellow.

The site would IMHO benefit moderately from an overall redesign by a good designer. I'm not at all sure a service from the hosting site would reach that level, though. (Which is to say that it's not bad now. Somewhat plain, quite functional, a bit busy but that's from the large ads you sell, which contribute directly to the site continuing to exist.) (I am not a good designer; having worked with some at MultiLogic from 1996-2000, I have a deep appreciation for what good ones can do. For that matter, I got better myself, but I'm still a software developer, not a designer.)

Ctein's atoms may not be at your side as you fiddle with your new toy, but via a screen-sharing/remote-control application he could be providing advice & consent from his home to yours. As a bonus, if you recorded some of your remote-help sessions (with Camtasia, or other screencasting tools), we could all eavesdrop on your experiences.

Gee, maybe the two of you could remotely discuss/analyze a photograph or two (while recording those discussions), then we could all learn from your conversations?

About organizational skills... I would counsel reading (or re-read in our digital age), "Lila" by Robert M. Pirsig !
I'm quite sure that M.O.Q. (Metaphysics of Quality) would blend well with T.O.P.


Mike, I'm sorry I didn't have time to read all the comments so if this is duplicated elsewhere I apologize. Clean My Mac is a program I have used and has worked very well to get rid of unused and redundant system junk. The company name is MacPaw.

This wont help with the organization of your file system but it is a start.

Housekeeping on the Mac ?? Delete what you don't want. Keep what you do want. Place what you keep where you want to keep it. Probably place applications in "applications", movies in "movies", documents in "documents', pictures in "pictures" IF this is not where they already are, just to keep things simple.

"Has the folder within the applications folder got a tiny black curved arrow in one corner?"

Yes it does...what does that mean?


The one with the little arrow is an alias. If you open it, it looks like all the stuff in your Applications folder is in there, but the alias folder is just a reference file.

You could trash it and it would not delete your applications.

To test what I say before committing to doing it, you could make a folder somewhere on your hard drive and copy something into it. Highlight the folder, then go to file/Make Alias.

Drag that alias folder to the trash and empty the trash.

You will see that the original folder and its contents still exists.

@ Ctein, and other kind Mac experts,

I'm intrigued by the idea of a bootable OS on the Time Machine disk (my TM disk contains only what TM defaults to include). I'm not a computer expert, far less a Mac expert, so could you please amplify on this idea?

Say my internal iMac HD fails. How do I boot from the TM+Bootable disk?

Once booted externally, does my iMac work normally from the TM disk?

And finally, how do I make a bootable disk on the TM external drive?

James: You'd have to partition it first. One volume gets chosen for Time Machine, another for the OS install. You'd only do this if you didn't have another physical drive from which to boot from in an emergency. And spare drives are friggin' cheap.

Stuff like the excellent SuperDuper! and Carbon Copy Cloner can easily make bootable backup (and cloned) drives. Time Machine is best if you need versioning---access to your Mac's state last hour, last afternoon, last month etc.


"Say my internal iMac HD fails. How do I boot from the TM+Bootable disk?"

Hold down "option" at boot, and you'll get the "Startup Manager", which lets you chose which volume you want to boot from. See http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1310

"Once booted externally, does my iMac work normally from the TM disk?"

Yes, with caveats. Ctein recommends installing a bare-bones OSX install on the TM volume, as this is just an emergency boot volume (the idea is to preserve the most amount of disk space for TM, not for this seldom-used OS install.) Therefore, things like printer drivers shouldn't be/won't be in place. The point of having an emergency boot volume is to then fix the real boot volume's problems, perhaps with some of the utilities he's outlined also installed.

Finally, an external USB drive will make for a really slow boot drive; it's not ideal for anything other than emergency maintenance.

"And finally, how do I make a bootable disk on the TM external drive?"

The install of OSX (the operating system) on the TM drive makes it bootable, that is, makes it a viable start up volume.

Dear James,

Mac OS has never had a problem with there being multiple bootable systems on different drives or drive partitions. They can even be different versions of the OS: for example, I have OS 10.4.11 installed on the second partition on my internal MacBook pro drive, because some minor software got broke going from Tiger to Snow Leopard-- if I need it, I boot off of that partition.

Apple doesn't use any activation or registration schemes with the OS, so it's possible to create boot volumes wherever you need or want them. I even installed 10.6.x on a 16 GB thumb drive, along with all my repair tools, that sits in the bottom of my travel bag, just in case I need to to a major psychiatric exam on my MacBook pro when traveling.

Making your TM drive a bootable disk is exactly as easy as I said. Stick your MacOS Installation DVD in your computer. Start the installer. Just follow the on-screen instructions and tell it to put a copy of the system on the TM drive. An hour later, you're there.

Once you have more than one system available, there are two ways to choose which system your machine boots off of. The most immediate is to hold down the option key when you start up the machine. Instead of booting off your main system, you'll be presented with a row of drive icons you can boot off of and a description of what OS is on each one underneath it. Just use the cursor key to select the drive you want, hit return, and you're off and running.

The other way, when you're already running in Mac OS, is to pull up the Startup Disk control panel in System Preferences. It'll provide you with the same choices. Pick the system drive you want and the machine will reboot into that.

Your Mac will run perfectly normally off of any system you choose. Of course, not all your software will be available if it's not your main system-- many (not all) apps stick their registration or configuration information in the system user library. Boot off a different system, and they don't have that information. That (and for repairing a damaged volume) is why I recommend installing any repair tools you own in your secondary boot systems as soon as you've created them. TM, of course, is built into the OS, as is Disk Utility. But third-party tools aren't.

You can make a perfect, bootable duplicate of your main system volume using Carbon Copy Cloner (it's free, Google it). Then everything that works when you boot of your main system will work on your secondary one. CCC makes a complete copy of the system volume-- all your apps, all your data, etc., so you don't want to be using it to create boot volumes once you've loaded down your machine with stuff. But if you have a brand, new, minty-fresh Mac, it's the fastest and easiest way to create OS copies on other drives. Just use it first thing after you've got your new machine configured and before you install any other third party stuff.

pax / Ctein
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com

Dear Erlik,

Creating an alias on a Mac is a simple two-key shortcut-- I've occasionally created aliases by accident and not noticed until much later. The alias gets created in the same location as the source, and then you drag it to wherever you want. Ive occasionally mouse-bobbled and dropped them in the wrong place, not discovered them for ages.


Dear Andy, and others,

Calibration is NOT the same as profiling. All calibration does is insure that your monitor has the correct overall brightness, contrast and color balance. It does not insure that individual tones and colors are correct.

Not sufficient for a serious printer, like Mike.

pax / Ctein


"For one thing, tell me how can I maximize an application window (sorry, wrong word, I know) with just a click or a command? I mean I am only using one application on the Mac and I want to make full use of every pixel available on the monitor, how can I do this?"

Historically, the Mac OS has only made an app's window only as large as the content within it uses---anything more is simply wasted space. Maybe it's a good idea if you really just hate seeing your desktop wallpaper? This will change when 10.7 is released, as the Mac OS becomes a little more iOS-like and enables a "full-screen view" for apps that dont already have it.

Each open window has 3 buttons placed together up in the left portion of the title bar. The left one closes the window (doesn't quit the app, because windows aren't tied to an app's ability to do something as is MS Windows). The middle one minimizes the window to the Dock. The right one flips between two previously set ... user-set ... window sizes.

OR, is there anyway I can delete one word with ctrl+delete?

You'd want to select the word first, by double clicking it. Hit the Delete key. "There is no Step 3."

re: LogMeIn

I prefer TeamViewer. Free to use if it's not a part of your regular job. The host user launches it and tells the client user the passkey. The client enters that and then has control. Better than having to actually use (and know!) the host's user account password.

To all who are interested in a bootable backup on a Mac, I'm using and recommend SuperDuper, which creates a bootable duplicate of your drive on an external drive.

When my previous iMac's HD died, I just found myself in exactly the same place but running from the external. Nice.

++ to the previous suggestions of screen sharing, it's a great tool.

@Edwin, I'm not clear what you're asking about control-delete. Option-delete will delete the word immediately to the left of the cursor, command-delete will delete from the cursor to the beginning of the line. But the whole "intuitive" thing is non-sense, none of it is intuitive until you've spent some time learning the conventions, Mac, Windows, Linux, whatever. Hell, the command line is "intuitive" once you've spent a few dozen hours using it. :)

Screen brightness control is here:

Go to the upper left of your screen to the Apple icon. Click on it and it reveals a pull down menu.

Click on "System Preferences."

Click on "Displays."

Use the "Brightness" slider to adjust the screen's brightness.

Close the window.

James: You can install Mac OS X on any external Firewire HD. Later, if you need to boot from that HD, plug it to your computer. Then restart the computer while holding the Option key and it will start from the OS installed in the Firewire HD.

You can also boot from an external HD connected by USB, as explained here:

I just upgraded my home computers, an iMac G5 and PowerBook G4, with one MacBook Pro. At first I did the same thing you did, and most of it worked fine. But after 11 years of upgrades, transporting all manner of unknowns from computer to computer, I decided it was time to stop. I got out the install disks, wiped the drive, and started over.

There's no Rosetta yet on my pure Snow Leopard machine, and I'm doing my best to keep it that way. I also went with Pages and Numbers instead of allowing a single bit of Microsoft software on here. It's not that I'm anti-Microsoft. I still use and like Windows on other computers. The point was to not spend the money on yet another version of the same old Office that does the same old thing, just to avoid installing Rosetta. And there's nothing wrong with installing Rosetta, either, far as I can tell, but once I got it in my head to start new, I decided to stick to it.

Congratulations on the new computer. I'm sure there are folks who can help you with your question, by the way, but starting fresh was the only way I knew without wasting a lot of time trying to figure out the best way. I suppose it's years of experience using Windows.

A few months after buying my refurb 27 inch 2.66 GHz i5in 2010 (basically the same as yours - but cheaper) I upped my RAM to 12 GB (leaving in the 4 and adding 8 more). I did this as, if I wanted to up to 16 GB, the max allowed, I would have to pull the 4 GB that came with it and wanted to avoid that unless necessary. Changing RAM in this iMac is easy. A little hatch is under the Apple. I got mine from whoever was cheapest at the time. Check DealRAM to start.
As it turns out, 12 is plenty. I run way too many Safari AND Firefox windows open at the same time AND Aperture AND Mail AND iCal AND Twitter (free via the Mac App store, which you will like) and today, I even have InDesign open. Add to all of that, as needed, Preview, Calculator, a password program, Pages, Keynote, and Address Book. But usually not all at once and with InDesign too.
BTW: adding more RAM did help with having too many browser windows open but Safari has its limits at about 40 sites at once. Similar with Firefox.
12 is plenty for PS, Aperture/Lightroom, and one or two others used heavily all at once.

Thank you David, Timo and Ctein.

I'm going to buy a 16 GB USB drive, and make it my emergency boot disk. The reason I'm choosing this path is that my TM disk is a La Cie RAID 1 disk (well, two disks) and I don't know enough about computers, still less about Macs, and still less again about RAID to start trying to get clever and double up on partitions. USB may be slow, but it's probably quicker and certainly easier to "keep it simple". I'm not actually planning to use the thing, but if I have to, speed is not the critical factor.

LensRental rents calibrators: http://www.lensrentals.com/rent/nikon/accessories/calibration/colormunki among other wonderful things.

I sincerely hope you're not intending to network your new mac with a pc running Vista or Windows 7. I've been trying to connect mine to my home workgroup so as to use the family printer for two days now, and the quest has taken over my life...... The irony is that I bought it so as to be able to edit and print my photos with ease......

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