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Ask TUAW: Emptying the trash, migration assistant, Safari bookmarks, Mac mini server and more


Welcome back to Ask TUAW, our weekly troubleshooting Q&A column. This week we've got questions about the Trash, Migration Assistant, Safari Bookmarks, Mac mini Server, Windows and Mac file 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 Snow Leopard on an Intel Mac if you don't specify). And now, on to the questions.

CL asks:

Is there any way to just delete a single item in the trash can? I only see options to empty the entire trash can?
Unfortunately, as they say in computer parlance "That's a feature, not a bug." At the moment, Apple only allows you to go for an "all or nothing" approach to emptying the trash. Of course, the best solution is to only put things in the trash you want to delete. But I'm sure you already thought of that.

Lamdavidortez asks:
I will be upgrading from my current February 2007 Macbook Pro that is running Leopard to a new October 2009 MacBook Pro that is running Snow Leopard I plan on transferring my data via the "Migration Assistant" but being that this is the first time I perform this type of operation ... I want to make sure that I do not run into any issues.

Are there any precautions I should take?
My other concern is that I backup my current 2007 MBP via Time Machine to my Time Capsule. What will happen to that data once I switch over to the 2009 MBP? Will I still have access to that data? Will it be rendered useless?
Migration Assistant has been around for several years now and has evolved and become better with each successive update. There was a time when I would never consider using it and did things the manual way by copying each and every thing I needed individually from an old Mac to a new one. Now, Migration Assistant is good enough and, more importantly, reliable enough to be used on its own. So, migrate away.

However, as you asked, there are a few precautions I would take before going forward. It sounds like you have a good backup of your data. That's the right thing to do. Now, go out and get another external drive and make another copy of your data using a different program such as SuperDuper!

I know it sounds excessive but you don't want to take any chances with your data. When you are migrating to your new computer things can still go wrong. Or, they will go perfectly and if you need to restore something from your only backup, something else can go wrong. Have two backups. With the price of external drives so low these days, make the extra effort and be extra safe.

Finally, there are ways to make your old Time Machine backup work with your new Mac but to be honest, I wouldn't go that way. Its better to just keep that one as an archive and start fresh with a brand new drive backing up from your new machine. This way, the chance of possible data or Time Machine problems is minimized.

I know it might seem like overkill, but there is no such thing as having too many backups of your data. Things go wrong and when they do you will be prepared to deal with them instead of experiencing data loss. Nobody wants that because believe me, it sucks.

Blaine Courts asks:

I am running OSX 10.5.8 and the most recent version of Safari. Is there a free application or Safari plug-in that will find duplicate bookmarks? Or allow you to sort bookmarks alphabetically?
There are utilities such as BookDog that will allow you to sort bookmarks in Safari alphabetically. I've also done it this way. Open the bookmark folder list in Safari. Make a new folder and then drag all your bookmarks into it. Next, drag that folder to the desktop of your Mac. Open it to see that the bookmarks are all now in alphabetical order.

Now, drag it to the "bookmark management" icon on Safari. The "ordered" folder will appear as a "tab" on the bar below the "bookmark management" icon. Then drag the "ordered" folder into the main bookmark folder list and, if necessary, delete the original. Now your bookmarks will be alphabetical in Safari.

A-Pow asks:
With the launch of the new Apple Mac Mini Server Edition, I'm wondering if this would be a good fit for me and my family. I currently have a website and we run email, we also share photos and such through Picasa. Would the Mini Server be a good fit for us since we are spread across 4 states and share lots of photos and trade emails and chat like crazy?
The first question to ask is if you actually need a server or not. From what you describe your use as it doesn't seem like a server would be something that's really necessary. Sending lots of email, running a website and sharing photos is not really a good reason to have a server. These are much more easily managed using existing providers, as it sounds like you are doing.

Plus, setting up and running a server, even something as relatively simple as Snow Leopard Server, is still not easy. It takes time and effort to set it up and get it running correctly and it takes time and effort to maintain it. Simply put, if what you are currently using is working for you, I wouldn't bother making any changes like getting a server. It seems like overkill in your case.

Wickedbliss asks:
In a windows network (client/server or peer to peer) a user can map a network drive to any node on the network. That mapped drive can then be fond under the user's "my computer icon" or "my network places" without the user having to re-establish connection.

Is there any way to have mapped network drives on a windows/mac network? Clicking "connect to server" under finder and then selecting the server/ share is a bit annoying.
It doesn't work exactly the same way as it does in Windows but my solution is to simply make an alias of any mounted Windows shares and then put them in either the Dock or just leave them on the desktop. That way, I can disconnect from those shares anytime I want and then just get them back by a simple double click on the alias. Once you do that, they mount automatically and you're in business.

SwissMac asks:
Seeing files on a Mac from a PC has been covered many times, but what about seeing files on a Windows PC from a Mac?
Really, it depends on the kind of files you are talking about. Most files will show up perfectly fine in either Windows or Mac, it just depends on the program that created them. For example, if a Mac user creates a document in Microsoft Word, a Windows user should be able to see it and work with it just fine if they also have a current copy of Microsoft Word.

Or, if you take a picture with your modern digital camera it will be readable on your Mac or your friends' Windows machine. A .jpg file is the same in Mac OSX or in Windows.

There are some files created with programs that are Windows only that will not show up on a Mac and the opposite is, of course, also true. But without more specific information, I'm not able to elaborate further.

If you're asking how to connect to a Windows PC from a Mac and see the files on it, I can also answer that one as well. The simplest way is to know the IP address of the Windows machine and go to the "Go" Menu at the top of the screen. Select "Connect to Server" in the list of choices and you will get a new window.

Now, simply type in the IP address of the Windows machine with this in front of it "smb://" (minus the quotes) and you should next get the opportunity to enter a user name and password that's on the Windows machine. After that, you should see a list of available shares. Select the ones you want and they will mount on your desktop. Now, share away.

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