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Ask TUAW: Windows Printing, AutoFill, FireWire HDs, MacBook power adapters and more

Mat Lu

It's time again for Ask TUAW, our weekly feature where you ask the questions and we make up the answers... er, I mean carefully research and determine the optimal solution. This week we'll be tackling questions about printing from OS X to a printer connected to a Windows box, AutoFill in Safari, problems with a FireWire hard drive, using a MacBook Pro power adapter with a MacBook, and more.

As always readers' suggested answers are most welcome! Please leave your questions for next week in the comments.

Aaron asks

How can I get Safari to save my password for comments on your website? Opening Mail just to copy and paste is really starting to become bothersome.

Well, in principle it should do it automatically, but I know that Safari's AutoFill is not always reliable. If it's not already on, you may need to turn on AutoFill in Safari's preferences. If it's already on, try deleting the TUAW entry and then putting it in again (go to the site, put in your password, etc.). Of course, if you want to go for something more reliable there's always 1PassWd, but that's $29.95. Like one of your fellow readers, I use ClipMasterCM for saving web passwords and it's free.

Mack asks

I just recently bought a friend's iBook G4 as a way to transition into the Mac OS, and so far, I love it. I have 2 Windows PCs, with a printer hooked up to one of them. All the computers are connected via a wireless network, so I was wondering if it's possible to print from my Mac laptop to the printer wirelessly over the network.

Well basically that depends on which printer it is. Macs are able to print to SAMBA shared printers (which is what Windows uses), but only if they have drivers for them. There are way too many possible variables to give you specific advice but I can point you in the right direction. Check out these directions from I got something that this working a couple of years ago, but it took a lot of trial and error. You're probably going to have to be very patient to get it working, but generally it is possible.

If you're willing to spend a few bucks, David posted about Network Magic earlier this week; it may also handle the print sharing tasks for you with less aggravation.

Jennifer asks

In an attempt to get caught up on my podcast listening, I created a smart playlist where genre is podcast and play count is zero. When I look at the results, there are several podcasts listed that I apparently deleted some time ago. They don't show up in the Podcast section of iTunes (7.2) nor as individual listings in Music. Do you know why this is happening and how I can get rid of them?

I'm just guessing here, but I suspect what happened is that when you deleted them you did not actually move them to the trash. When you delete podcasts manually you'll get a dialog box like this. Be sure to choose "Move to Trash." As far as getting rid of the ones you already have in you Library, you can easily delete the file itself by right-clicking each one and selecting "Show in Finder." This will open a Finder window with the original file which you can delete as normal.

Adam asks

Is it safe to use a MacBook Pro's 85W magsafe connector with my MacBook? A co-worker leaves an extra at the office, and I'd love to leave mine at home when she's on vacation.

Yes, it's fine. The wattage rating refers to the capacity of the adapter. The computer will only draw as much current as it needs, so you should have no problem connecting a MacBook to an 85W MacBook Pro adapter. If you want some independent confirmation of that, both Alex King and this Apple Discussion thread offer the same advice.

Alex asks

I'm having a lot of trouble running a Firewire HD on my Macbook. Both the computer and the drive are fairly new, within a couple of months, and they were peacefully co-existing until suddenly the entire system began freezing during read/write operations to the drive. The system will sometimes freeze on startup, with the little spinner beneath the Apple logo stopping, until I disconnect the drive. All the data is backed up, so I'm only interested in getting the drive usable again - formatting hasn't helped. Can this be fixed? And, if I end up RMAing the drive, how can I prevent this from happening again?

It was most likely a hardware defect with the drive and there was likely nothing you could have done. Just be sure to eject the drive each time you want to unplug it. If you've done that, I would just say return the drive and assume it's just a bad one. If it happens again with a new drive you might possibly have a problem with your FireWire port on the MacBook (e.g low voltage). If that were the case you'd need to seek help from Apple and/or use a self-powered FireWire drive.

Zachary asks

Is there a way (system preference or plugin) to make the yellow minimize button in the window border hide the window instead of minimizing it to the dock? I know I can just type Command-H or select the entry from the applications menu, but I'd rather do it with the yellow button because I never actually use the minimize built-in minimize functionality.

No, there are different paradigms. Hiding refers to all the windows of an application. Minimizing refers to just that particular window. Unfortunately it would introduce some inconsistency in the GUI to allow the yellow gem to hide rather than minimize. That said, I completely sympathize with your request. I'm the same way--I hardly ever minimize and I hide all the time. So let me make a suggestion. What you really want, I take it, is an easy way to make an application hide with a mouse click. I think of a couple of ways to do that. If you have a multi-button mouse you could use your mouse driver to assign the Cmd+H to one of the buttons. If that option isn't built-in to your mouse driver you could use a third party mouse-driver like SteerMouse ($20). Alternatively, you could set up a mouse trigger in Quicksilver or a CornerClick to invoke a Hide AppleScript like this one.

JWS asks

I live off my 4gb thumbstick. What's the best way to sync this drive with my OS X iMac? Note - I'd prefer software that just sync's the changed files and, obviously, free is better!

ChronoSync ($30) is my default syncing recommendation. Now if you really want free, you can roll your own solution with rsync (as described here), but that will be much more complicated. Whichever route you take, you'll probably want to pair it with Do Something When to automate the syncing when you plug in the drive.

This information is provided for your entertainment. Neither TUAW nor this author can be held responsible for any problems arising from the use of the information provided here.

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