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Ask TUAW: tracking your iTunes purchases, quitting processes, doing a clean OSX install and more


Once again, it's time for another edition of Ask TUAW: the place where we try to answer all of your Mac and Apple-related questions. This week we're taking questions about tracking your total iTunes purchases, forcing processes to quit, doing a clean install of OSX and more.

As always, we welcome your suggestions for this week and questions for next time. Please leave your contributions in the comments for this post. When asking questions, please include which Mac and which version of OS X you're running. If you don't specify, we'll assume you're running Leopard on an Intel Mac.

Dima asks:

I would like a way to require a password when the computer wakes from sleep, but not to require a password for just the screensaver. Is there a way for me to accomplish this?

The only way I know of to accomplish this would be to modify the plist file for the screensaver via the Terminal. However, unless this is really important to you, I would not advise doing it. If you want to do it, proceed at your own risk.

Either way, here's the command to enter in the Terminal if you want to try it.

defaults -currentHost write askForPassword -int 0

This will set it so the computer only asks for a password after waking from sleep and not after the screensaver.

Frank asks:

In my finder window, next to my drive's name, there's a number in parentheses. it used to be a (2), but recently it changed to a (3). What does this number mean?

Most likely this is caused by an error in File Sharing. If you have more than one Mac with the same name in the File Sharing Prefs Pane, OSX will append a number in parentheses to the drive name in the Finder window. To see if this is your issue, go to System Prefs > Sharing and turn File Sharing off.

Then, give your Mac a new, unique name in the space next to "Computer Name." Then you can turn File Sharing back on and your issue should be resolved as long as the name you selected is different from any other Mac on your network.

Seisto asks:

Is there a way to view my entire iTunes Store purchase history and total money spent?

Sure, just launch iTunes and click in the upper corner where your Apple ID is shown. When you click there a window will come up asking for your password. Once you enter it click on the button that says "View Account."

That will take you to another screen where about half-way down there will be another button that says "Purchase History." Click that to access your entire purchase history in iTunes with that account. If you have multiple iTunes accounts you will have to log into each one in order to see your purchase history.

Pandaboy asks:

How can you force quit an application (when it beachballs) that doesn't appear on the dock but lives on the menu bar at the top?

Go to Applications> Utilities and then double click on "Activity Monitor" to launch it. Once its open you can see a list of all processes (including Applications) that are running on your Mac. Select the one you want to quit and then click the "Quit Process" button at the top of the window.

Be aware that quitting a process when you don't know what it does can cause your Mac to have unforeseen issues and may require a restart to correct (for example, quitting WindowServer will log you out abruptly). Quit processes and applications using this technique at your own risk.

Ejota asks:

My MBP running 10.5.6 is taking a lot longer to turn on and turn off. I would like to do a clean install of OS X. How can I make sure my programs (especially the ones I paid for) still work when I erase and reinstall OS X? I would like to keep my settings and my licenses for everything.

If you are performing a "real" clean install of Mac OS X (i.e. you are erasing the drive and installing it fresh) then there isn't really a way to preserve your installed programs if they use hidden license files for authorization. Adobe Photoshop is one example of a program that has this problem. You may be installing from the original media and licensing information for those apps.

However, some other programs have files and folders in various places (such as in Users> User Name> Library> Application Support or Users> User Name> Library> Preferences) that can be backed up to an external drive and then copied back to your boot drive once the install of Mac OS X is complete.

Really, if you're going to go to the trouble of doing a clean install of Mac OS X, I usually recommend and follow a procedure whereby I remove and deauthorize all programs that require it, erase and reinstall Mac OS X, and then replace my applications and other programs by reinstalling them again. It's more time-consuming this way, but ends up yielding superior results.

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