Read and Write to NTFS for Mac in OS X, Or Use ExFAT Instead

Learn how you can use NTFS for Mac with an formatted Windows drive.

If you recently switched from Windows to Mac OS X you may have a NTFS drive with some files lying around. We have several solutions available for making the drive work in Mac OS X with full read / write support.

Make sure you have ejected the NTFS drive from your Windows computer correctly before removing the USB / FW cable. It can be done by right clicking the drive in My Computer and select eject. If the drive is an external one.

Get back to your Mac OS X computer where you first have to download and install MacFUSE. This application will allow Mac OS X to extend the supported filesystems with 3rd party drivers.

You can get MacFUSE here: http://code.google.com/p/macfuse/ After installing you will have to restart your computer.

After the reboot go here: http://mac.softpedia.com/get/System-Utilities/NTFS-3G.shtml and download the ntfs-3g driver.

Install the driver, and when everything is installed you can plug in your NTFS formatted drive with full read / write support !

You also have a commercial solution here: Paragon NTFS for Mac, I have used it myself and it is really fast and stable. Highly recommend it. 

You should be aware that the above instructions about macfuse and ntfs-3g are beginning to be a bit out of date. As far as I know there is no free NTFS for Mac solution in development.

Know that if you only are going to read from your Windows drive you don’t have to install anything extra. OS X can read from an NTFS drive without any driver. But not WRITE to it.

Consider Using ExFAT Instead

One of the reasons for using NTFS and not FAT is because NTFS can hold files that are larger than 4GB. It is also a more stable filesystem. We have another option though and that is using ExFAT instead of third party software. If you use an up to date Windows 7 / 8 OS or the latest Mac OS X version this would be a good choice if you often move large files between Windows and OSX. This is a partition format that works natively in both Windows and OSX.

To format a drive with exFAT you fire up Disk Utility and select ExFAT in the tab where you create a partition on your disk.

exfat

And it should be read/writable in both os without having to buy or use some third party application.

exFAT Windows 7

Annoying Mac Battery? Try Resetting, Calibrating

Having problems with your Mac Battery?

You know, you have to take care of your MacBook battery, you know that, right? You got to this page somehow and I assume you have some kind of problem with your it. This page will try to help you out and tell you how to do a Mac laptop battery reset.

It all depends on what type of problem you have. Did you remember to calibrate your battery the first time you got the computer? If not learn how to calibrate your battery first before moving on. This is the same as doing a Mac laptop battery reset. This can help if you suddenly experience a huge drop in available charge. The battery may not charge correctly, or the computer just shuts off without any warning.

Internal MacBook Battery

Calibrate Using These Instructions:

With a little battery care you can maximize the performance and life of your mac battery. Most of the notebook batteries today are lithium-based which provides the best performance for your device. We see this technology in many products today. Everything from cameras, mp3 players and of course the Apple laptops. Compared to nickel – based batteries lithium gives us longer battery life in a lighter package.

First charge:

You will probably notice that your product comes with a little charge in the battery already. The first time you use the product you have to fully charge it. It is not recommended to keep the device plugged in constantly, lithium batteries like to be drained a bit and charged again. If you use your laptop mainly as a stationary computer it is recommended to discharge and recharge the battery at least once a month. This way you keep the battery in shape even if you seldom move your computer.

Long term storage

If you are planning to take a six or seven month trip around the world and in the same time leave your MacBook at home. It is recommended to store the battery with about 50% charge. If you store the battery fully discharged it could enter a state where it wont charge at all anymore. Also if you store the battery fully charged it could experience a loss of capacity over time. Leaving you with a shorter battery life. Remember, battery care is important to keep it in shape!

Calibrating the Mac battery (MacBook Battery Reset)

If you are experiencing a loss in charge or just feel the battery should perform better you can try to calibrate the battery. It is quite easy to do this MacBook Battery Reset but it takes a little time. What you need to do is the following:

  1. Plug in the power adapter and fully charge the laptop until the light turns green.
  2. Keep the power adapter plugged in for about two hours, you can still use the computer during this.
  3. Unplug the power adapter and keep using the computer until the computer enters sleep mode. Remember to save important work before the battery runs out!
  4. Turn the computer off, or let it rest for five hours or more.
  5. Connect the power adapter again, let it fully charge without interruption.

Now hopefully you may experience your battery performing better or lasting longer because of your battery care. Results may also depend on how old the battery is and how much it is used. You may have to do this calibration several times. (3 – 5).

If the battery is deformed there is not much you can do software wise. You need to get the battery replaced. It is EXTREMELY important that you dont try to fix it yourself or puncture it. It could explode if you do that.

Playing Diablo 3 On Mac

Blizzard announced Diablo 3 in June 2008 although the development of this game first started in 2001. It was first released in 2012 and at the same time setting sales records for computer games. Over 3.5 million copies sold during the first 24 hours. This says something about the anticipation.

Reaper of Souls, the first expansion came out 25 March 2014. This expansion fixed some issues the game had. Removal of the auction house, changing the looting system and a lot of other changes made the game much more fun to play.

Blizzard have a proven track record of making great games that often exceeds expectations. They are also true to the Mac platform by releasing their games for Mac users.

Gaming on Mac or Windows?

Recently I have tried playing this game (the RoS expansion) on a MacBook Pro (Retina Late 2013) with 16GB ram and the GeForce GT 750M. In my opinion the game is pretty much unplayable in OS X if you don’t turn down absolutely everything to low. However when I reboot into Windows using bootcamp the gaming experience is much more enjoyable for the first 30 minutes, before the computer starts throttling due to heat, even with fans at max.

I really wanted to play this game so I caved and did an experiment. I wanted to try building a really low end PC that still would beat the expensive retina mac I use gaming wise. But I didn’t want to use a lot of money on that PC because I usually just use it for some casual gaming. Also I didn’t want to have an expensive rig collecting dust in the corner. So I decided to buy a cheap Intel Dual Core CPU (G3220), cheap 4GB ram, mini-itx motherboard with a cheap cabinet and PSU. Combined with GeForce GTX 750 TI OC 2GB which I over clocked some. I didn’t think the CPU would be able to run this game but it certainly does and it delivers 60 stable FPS in the standard HD resolution.

So there you have it, I don’t game graphic demanding games on my Mac. It just doesn’t work that well.

A Great Game

diablo-3-screenshot

I think Diablo 3 is a worthy successor to the previous games. Metacritics high score makes this one of the top PC games today. You may read that some of the hard core fans is disappointed, maybe they expected too much but for me this is a high quality game with lots of fun gameplay. Not to mention the replayability with different characters and difficulty levels. Even the environment changes so you never really know where to go.

Readying Your Apple Mac Computer

Your apple mac computer is usually good to go after you have completed the initial setup and entered your details. Tweaking and adjusting things is not really the Apple way.

Still, there are some things I like to do when I set-up a new Mac and I am going to share this with you here. You have a big family? Setting up iCloud family sharing is one of the first things we do so you can use the calendar on your Mac and/or iPhone. Maybe not the must fun thing to do but useful for people in families like me.

Step 1 – Apple Software Update

app store icon

All Macs Apple make get their updates from the App Store. You should make sure to check for updates because they can contain not only updates for the OS but also firmware / EFI updates that can solve potential problems. It doesnt hurt to check  and its good to just do it now and be done with it. Do it now.

app store updates

Your Mac now contacts Apple over the Internet to check if there are any updates to your Mac Computer. Do not be surprised if you indeed have some updates to install, even if you just got your Mac. Updates are released fairly regularly and it is always smart to install the latest ones. You may get a window that asks for your password, you need to enter your password to continue. This is safe to do. Your Mac could restart during this update process, this is also normal behavior.

Step 2 – Word Processing

If you come from a Windows world you are probably familiar with Microsoft Office. You can also get it for Mac, or perhaps use the alternative supplied by Apple. Here Are Some Office For Mac Alternatives, Free Ones Too.

Step 3 – Use Spotlight

spotlight search

Spotlight is an extremely powerful searching tool for your Mac. If you ever need to find anything, and by that I really mean anything. Just type in what you are looking for and it will search through all of your documents, files, e-mail, contacts and even applications. Everything you can think of. It is really fast because it makes an index of your hard drive in the background. And when you make changes to files Spotlight will update the search index too. You never have to think about that yourself. It all happens automatically. You can also use it as an calculator, try typing 10+10 and see what happens.

Step 4 – Backup Your Stuff, Now!

TimeMachine Backup

In Mac OS X Leopard Apple introduced something called Time Machine. What this application does is to backup your entire hard drive. Imagine all of your images, documents, music lost. Forever. Cant put a price tag on memories can you? If so … go out and buy one of those cheap external hard drives. Plug the hard drive into your mac, and let time machine use that drive to backup your disk. Do not worry on how to set this up, it will ask you when you plug the drive in. Remember hard drives can fail, even the hard drive in your Mac can fail. It would be wise to be prepared for hard drive failure.

I also would like to add that if you have a Mac with flash based storage this is even more important. If an mechanical older hard drive fails theres a chance to be able to recover the data. Although costly, it can be done in some cases. If your flash drive fails however, this is more difficult or almost impossible.

Step 5 – OS X Scroll Direction

OS X Scroll Direction

For some strange reason Apple decided to change the scroll direction when you use the mouse-wheel to scroll in documents or web-pages. Or when you use the two-finger scroll on the trackpad.

Change it back by going into System Preferences -> Mouse and untick the box you see in the image above.

Anything More?

You are just touching the surface on what you can do with your new Mac Computer. My switch guide will also show you some basics surrounding the use of OS X. Enjoy your new Mac Computer and I hope you get many entertaining and productive years from it. I certainly do.

Apple TV (third-gen) Review and Encoding How-To!

Ever since the Apple TV came out I’ve had a love-hate relationship with it. It works great if all conditions are met. Do you have all your media stored in your iTunes library and want to watch that on your TV? Great! Just buy this device and stop reading here now. It will work great. No I am serious, stop reading and buy it. Go now!

You have movies or media stored outside iTunes wondering if you ever are able to play them without having to do some kind of apple TV hack? One option is to go for a Mac Mini HTPC Setup with software like XBMC or Plex. This works great however the cost is higher compared to the new Apple TV. What if you are on a budget or just don’t want to bother with another computer?

Hello Apple TV Conversion

This is the hard truth. Something needs to be done to your movie files so they are playable in iTunes. If it is playable there it should be able to play on your TV as well.

If you are below tech savvy, finding information about how to do this can be difficult. If you search for something like “convert to apple tv” in your favorite search engine you will get a lot of people wanting to sell you conversion software. How should you know what is best? Also, is it worth investing money into it?

Some times you don’t even need to convert anything or even pay for software, just change the container and/or audio format using freely available software. Yes that means without paying anything. (Subler, scroll down)

Writing about this topic and at the same time making it easy to understand is.. difficult. I will give you some examples of software that will help you with Apple TV Conversion but it is impossible for me to explain absolutely everything in detail. The first software suggestion will be the easiest way for you to get your media into iTunes. The best paid software I have tried. The next two suggestions after that are a bit more complex but the software does not cost anything.

(Paid) iFlicks – Keeping it simple

iFlicks

iFlicks is the most easy, straight forward conversion application I have tried. Easily explained: it takes your video file. Automatically downloads cover artwork and metadata from the Internet. Encodes the video and gives you a file compatible with the preset you have selected. There are presets for iPod, iPhone, iPad, ATV 3. generation and more.

This app will re-encode the video file and that use up a lot of resources from your computer. I usually start the conversion process at night when the computer is unused anyway. It can take many hours to encode just one movie but, the end result is often really good.

If you want to go for something simple that just works, iFlicks is for you.

(Free) Handbrake

handbrake screenshot

If you ask others, this is the application most people recommend and theres a reason for it because its really good, free and available for Mac, Windows and Linux. Under the hood it relies on known good encoders and produce great end results with the default presets. If you want to make your own settings you are free to do so but, read up on the subject first.

For the iPad 3 and ATV 3 use the “High Profile” preset. If you encode regular DVDs leave the RF slider to 20. If you encode high quality HD content (720p / 1080p) you could set the slider to around 22. Read more about Constant Quality at the handbrake wiki.

Get HandBrake.

(Free) Subler

Subler

Subler is great because it re-packages your video file without doing any re encoding. Lets say you downloaded a movie from some shady place .. Those are usually distributed in MKV format. Not that good for your device or iTunes. You could just take this file and throw it to iFlicks and be done with it. It would work but it takes some time. Subler takes a fraction of that time because it changes the container to a supported format and re-encodes the audio if you need it to. The video is not re encoded and that is one of the reasons this is faster. Of course, the MKV file have to contain a video stream that is supported by the Apple TV.

Subler (just like iFlicks) downloads metadata for you. Meaning you get cover art and information about the movie you are processing. This is really a neat feature! Makes it nice and tidy in iTunes.

Get Subler.

Conclusion

If you just want to watch some movies, following the instructions above should be enough. I am a bit more positive to this device now because the third generation finally supports 1080p output. The footprint of it is really small and, it just works fine if you pair it with iTunes. As of this writing there was no way of hacking the third generation but I am sure it will be possible soon.

I am currently using the Apple TV myself and for the price ($84) its really nothing to think about: Apple TV MD199LL/A at Amazon.

Mac Role Playing Games

Steam for Mac opens up possibilities for more Mac role playing games. If you haven’t downloaded the Steam client I recommend to do so now.

Torchlight 1 & 2

torchlight

You should check out a game called Torchlight. It’s an action RPG game developed by people who previously have worked on Diablo, Diablo II, Mythos etc. The music is composed by the original author that made the music for Diablo.

Somewhat cartoonish graphics but it works, and the game isn’t so demanding for your computer. You don’t need the most high-end gaming rig to play this game. I have played the game and it is pretty nice. You can download it from the Steam client.

Torchlight 2 is also out soon.

Eschalon: Book I and II

eschalon

Eschalon is an old-school style fantasy RPG. The game-play perspective is in third person. You guide your character around towns and dungeons. Fighting monsters and picking up treasures while all other elements of a good old RPG are there. Many reviewers give this game high ratings. This is not an old game, it is just developed in that particular style.

Diablo III

diablo-3-screenshot

Who doesn’t know about this game? The highly anticipated third installment of the Diablo series is available for Mac users.

MacBook Pro SD Slot, Use It As An Boot Device

Boot With The MacBook Pro SD Slot using Sandisk SDHC 16GB Card

The recent update to the MacBook line we saw from Apple introduced the MacBook Pro SD slot. You can use it for many useful things.

The 13 Inch and 15 Inch MacBook Pro got this upgrade. They replaced the ExpressCard slot. Many of you probably have an camera at home. Having this slot available means you wont have to look after the cable if you want to transfer your data. Just plug in the SD card and you are set.

The MacBook Pro SD Slot also give you other options, you can for example boot Mac OS X from an SD card. It is nice to have this possibility to boot a fresh system if something would go wrong with your Mac. I had to do this once. Although I did it with an USB memory stick instead. The process is the same and pretty simple.

SanDisk SDHC 16GBWhat you need is the Mac OS X installation disc that shipped with your computer or the install file from App Store. For SD card I recommend using an Sandisk SDHC 16GB Card. If you can afford it get the SDHC version. It is a lot faster. I recommend this one without doubt: SanDisk 16GB Extreme® III 30MB/s Edition SDHC High Performance Card. It is a bit pricey but hey, it is fast

Formatting this card is a quick operation. The installation of Mac OS X is what is going to take the longest time. Make sure you have an hour or so set aside to this project when you begin. When you are finished you will get back the time invested!

Check out the video below from Macworld.com. They will instruct you in the formatting and installation process. It is quite simple to do.

Thats it, now you have an mobile and fresh installation of Mac OS X, quite handy to have if your computer suddenly wont boot. It will definitely reduce your troubleshooting time significantly.

Use the SD Slot as permanent storage

Check out http://www.niftydrives.com/ for adding a permanent storage solution to your Mac.

Mac Stopped Booting After Removing BootCamp Partition

Using Bootcamp is a great way for using native Windows applications and if you need all available horsepower in your computer for Windows. This utility will partition your hard drive and in essence make your Mac a PC with Windows. In some cases you could get by using virtualization instead though. It depends on what you are planning to do.

BootCamp Mac Problem And Solution

I decided to write this little article because I stumbled onto some problems when removing the bootcamp partition. I hadn’t used Windows in many months so I decided to delete the partition and gain some more hard drive space. It is easy enough to do. You just browse to the utility folder in OSX and start up the bootcamp application where you can delete the partition and reclaim your hard drive space. I have done this many times with other Macs and it worked flawlessly.

This time it didn’t really work but! I didn’t notice anything until I had to do a reboot. And that can take several weeks before I do. What happened is that the Mac wouldn’t boot at all. I hear the boot chime sound but after that a flashing folder with a question mark appeared.

This error is telling you that the Mac have problems booting from the hard drive. To make a long story short.. I had to start up the Mac with the non booting hard drive in target disk mode and connect it to another mac using firewire cable. The other Mac detected the drive but couldn’t initialize it. It could at least detect it so thats a start. If it asks you to format the hard drive select NO! do NOT do it.

So you think you should download an expensive hard drive repair application, do you? Nope, try something called TestDisk. This application will read the hard drive and enable you to re-apply the correct partition table without damaging anything. It is a bit fiddly because there are no real GUI and the work is done in the terminal but it works. At least it worked in my case. I suggest you read the manual in this case.

You may have other problems preventing your Mac from booting. But this article was written for those who had specific bootcamp issues.

Age of Mythology For Mac

Age of Mythology is a RTS (Real Time Strategy) game available for Macs. If you are interested in mythology and like a good strategy game this is a safe bet gaming wise for your Mac. Metacritic gives a score of 89 for this game. This is considered very good.

Many reviewers talk warmly about the great gameplay, voice acting and storyline. The game is getting older but still worth playing. It is simple and easy to understand and gets more rewarding when you master it.

age of mythology for mac

The game came out in 2002 / 2003 and even if you have a new Mac, compatibility shouldn’t be a problem. Universal binary patches for the game is found here: Age of Mythology for Mac – Patches

You play one of nine ancient civilizations to greatness by commanding many aspects of your empire: gathering resources, raising massive armies, waging war against enemies, establishing profitable trade routes, building new settlements, enhancing production or military might, exploring new frontiers, and advancing through four distinct ages.

age of mythology 2

During the struggle for supremacy, you can use mythological creatures like Minotaurs and Cyclopses to boost your armies’ strength. Call upon the gods for help in flattening enemy towns with meteors or scattering opposing troops with lightning storms.

The game use a 3D engine developed by Ensemble Studios and brought to the Macintosh by Westlake Interactive. Although this engine is a bit dated today reviewers like the developers attention to details in this game. Also, this game doesn’t demand much power from your computer so it could easily be played on mac laptops available today.

With that said another option is to get the Windows version and play it in a virtualized environment such as parallels desktop. Due to the relative low system requirements it should be playable with a somewhat modern Mac even while virtualized.

Apple 85W Magsafe Power Adapter, MacBook Charger

The Apple 85W MagSafe Power Adapter is important for powering your Apple Laptop and to charge its battery. When you look at this MacBook Charger it is clear that Apple use resources to design something as simple as a power-supply. The design thinking is mainly noticed in the actual power-plug called: MagSafe.

What is MagSafe?

MagSafe is the name of the special type of magnetic power plug Apple uses on their macbook chargers. The magnets makes it easy to plug-in the power cable and hold it firmly to the computer. One of the best features is that if you are so unlucky to trip over the cable, it will detach from the computer without taking the entire computer with it. Potentially saving you from an expensive repair…

The plug itself have a small light that indicate if your laptop is charging or fully charged. Orange when charging, green when fully charged.

Apple 85W Magsafe Power Adapter (Retail Packaging)

Apple 85W MagSafe 2 Power Adapter (for MacBook Pro with Retina display)

85w MagSafe Power Adapter

The Apple 85W MagSafe Power Adapter is the most powerful one Apple have. It is designed to power the MacBook Pros. Although it can be used with all portable Intel Macs if you want. You also have smaller versions of this macbook charger. 60 Watt for the MacBook and 13 Inch MacBook Pro and a 45 Watt charger for the MacBook Air. Where the 85 Watt is biggest and 45 Watt smallest in size.

MagSafe to MagSafe 2 Converter

MagSafe to MagSafe 2 Converter

MagSafe 2 was introduced when Apple released the retina MacBook Pro in 2012. Due to its smaller size they had to shrink the power plug. They made an adapter so that you can use your old charger if you wish. Its available on Amazon.com for about $14 US. I use this adapter myself at work and it works just fine. I could use my old 85watt adapter at work and the magsafe 2 version at home.

Is A Third Party Charger Safe?

Using third party stuff is always a gamble. It could work alright but the next day fry your entire computer if you are unlucky. If your computer is still within warranty I would buy the original charger. A lot of the people we hear about that have batteries that explode and whatnot have in some cases used third party adapters. I wouldn’t gamble with safety, but again. A third party one could work just fine. Its your choice.