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Ask TUAW: Target disk mode, energy saver prefs, iTunes sharing and more


Welcome back to Ask TUAW, our weekly Mac troubleshooting Q&A column. This week we've got questions about target disk mode, energy saver prefs, Safari file issues, iTunes album artwork, iTunes sharing and more.

As always, your suggestions and questions are welcome. Questions for next week should be left in the comments. When asking a question please include which machine you're running and which version of Mac OS X (we'll assume you're running Leopard on an Intel Mac if you don't specify). And now, on to the questions.

computergeeksjw asks:

I have an old iMac Blue G3. The fliesystem failed, but I can't reformat because there is a disc in the slot-loading drive. I tried the tricks I know like Open Firmware (gives me a weird error) and holding in the mouse button (I hear the drive spin up but nothing else happens). I have a newer G4 Quicksilver. Will it be able to boot up into Target Disk Mode even though the filesystem is damaged? (Then I can try to repair with Disk Utility or reinstall from there) or will it fail like a normal boot does?

Depending upon the nature of the damage, you should be able to boot into Target Disk Mode with no issues because the disk that is damaged is not a startup disk and only needs to be mountable on the desktop of the G4 system. If the damage to the file system prevents it, or for some other reason you can't boot into Target Disk Mode, try holding down the "Option" key on the keyboard of the iMac when you turn it on.

That should give you a screen which will allow you to eject the disk in the CD drive and put in an OSX install disk to try and repair the file system of the iMac. Also, you could try booting the iMac from an external firewire drive that has OSX or OS 9 installed on it. That way you could attempt a repair of the iMac's drive as well.

Jeff Clark asks:

Is there a way to change display preferences when you plug in an external monitor? For example, I want my display to never dim or shut off, nor my screensaver start, when I'm connected to a projector.

I'm not aware of a specific setting for projectors, but you can set your screen to never dim or turn off via System Prefs> Energy Saver. Simply set the "Computer Sleep" and "Display Sleep" slider on "Never" and your computer will never dim or go to sleep.

Or, you could use a program like Caffeine to quickly switch your computer's settings for sleep and screen dim on and off.

zyzzyx26 asks:

Every now and then when I download a file Safari renames it - sometimes adding an extra file extension, others renaming it completely. It appears to be the site's server not handling MIME-types properly. However, that doesn't happen when I'm on Firefox. So, to my question, is there a solution for this odd file handling problem for Safari?

According to my Apple support sources, this is a problem that Apple is aware of. While they wouldn't get into specifics, it seems a solution may be forthcoming. Although, when that is is anyone's guess. In addition, they had no real alternatives or solutions to present at the moment. So, if it doesn't happen in Firefox and it really bothers you, just use Firefox until Apple provides a solution.

Andy asks:

The music and video files of my iTunes collection are stored on an external NAS hard drive in my flat. The iTunes library files reside in the music folder on each separate computer and direct iTunes to look at the external disk for the files. This allows both my machines access to the files without filling hard drives but does mean I have to import new files in both versions of iTunes to be able to see them. With the new home sharing and file management features of iTunes 9 are there some easier options for me?

My feeling about questions of this nature is usually I will ask people why they feel they need to make a change. If a system is working for you, I usually advise users to just stick with it and don't make sweeping changes you don't have to make -- especially with something as important as your iTunes Library.

That said, the Sharing features in the latest version of ITunes do allow you access to music and video files across your own internal network so, in essence, you could have one Library serve ail of your Macs. This works pretty well with the new version of ITunes but as the software is still relatively new, it requires further testing to be sure there's no problems that crop up.

Or, you could also do what I've done in the past and have your entire iTunes Folder exist on the external NAS and just provide an alias of it in your User's Folder that points to the NAS. That way, when iTunes opens on machine it will access all of your music, video, etc. from the NAS and eliminate the need to import things twice.

Thomas Beck asks:

In iTunes 9, is there anywhere to uncheck sync Album Artwork? I always had that unchecked because I have a fifth generation iPod, so I don't really care if the artwork is there or not, except that without it, I get an extra 300 MB. I'd really like to be able to get that space back.

If you don't want the artwork at all simply uncheck the "Automatically Download Missing Album Artwork" box located in iTunes > Preferences > Store. That way, no artwork will be downloaded when you import songs so you won't have to worry about syncing it or not.

Santiago Pena asks:

I was wondering if there is a way to convert all iWork '08 into iWork '09 with automator. The new file types of iWork are much easier to share with other people, so I would love to have a way to be able to convert all my old files to the new format.

Unfortunately, after speaking to several colleagues, it doesn't seem such a thing exists. However, perhaps one of our intrepid TUAW readers can shed some light on this question, which is the reason I've chosen to include it it this week's column.

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