MacBook

Why your MacBook runs like crap

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I use a MacBook Pro as my my main computer, plugged into a desktop set-up. Like any right-thinking geek with such an arrangement, I removed the laptop’s battery to prevent it suffering from being charged all the time — the MacBook Pro is never used away from mains power and can’t be accidentally unplugged.

I only switched to Mac OS relatively recently (I ran Windows XP via Boot Camp for a spell), but in the few months I have been using it, one constant complaint has been about speed. Mac OS X 10.5.X seemed very slow in some circumstances and I was seeing the spinning beach ball far more often than I would see the hourglass in Windows (when simply switching to an open Firefox tab, for example).

After simply blaming this on the vagaries of Mac OS for a few months, something occurred to me this morning. I vaguely remembered reading a while ago about how MacBooks run slower when the battery is removed. Since I wasn’t a Mac user at the time, I didn’t follow the story that closely and assumed it only affected the new unibody MacBooks (which were launched around that time). I was wrong. (more…)

How to swap left and right speaker output in Mac OS X

My MacBook is set up as a desktop computer — it’s plugged into a Dell 22in LCD monitor (E228WFP) and sits on a fabulous Rain Design mStand so that I can use its screen as a second monitor. I have a pair of Logitech speakers plugged into the MacBook’s headphone socket, but since the MacBook sits on the left of my desk and the headphone socket is on the left of the MacBook, the (short) audio cable that runs to the right speaker is stretched rather tightly.

A simple 3.5mm male to 3.5mm female speaker cable would solve this, but I already have enough cables behind my desk, so I figured that it wold be easier to simply swap the speakers around so that the right one was nearer the MacBook. This would also reverse the speakers’ stereo image, of course, so I’d also need to swap the L-R speaker assignments in Mac OS X. Is such a thing possible? Fortunately, yes — here’s how. (more…)

How to make an external monitor the main display on a MacBook

mac-dual-displaysRunning a dual-monitor set-upon a MacBook is easy enough — just plug in the monitor and go to System Preferences > Displays to configure it. The first thing you’l need to do is click the Arrangment button and drag the external monitor so that it’s position is Displays matches that on your desk — so that it sits to the right, left or wherever of your MacBook screen, in other words. But if you want to use the external display as the main display, how do you move the menu bar and Dock from the MacBook screen?

Easy. Just drag the white menu bar from one monitor in the Arrangement pane of Display preferences from the display it’s on to the display you want it to appear, and the Menu bar and Dock will follow. Oh and don’t forget to disable ‘Mirror Displays’ if you want a different image on both displays…

How to enable hibernate mode on a Mac

SmartSleep.prefPaneUnlike Windows, Mac OS doesn’t offer a hibernate or deep sleep mode – selecting Sleep from the Apple menu just puts a Mac into a low-power state (suspend to RAM) that, while quick to resume, still keeps the contents of memory in memory.

This isn’t much of a problem on a desktop Mac that’s plugged into the mains, but it is a problem for MacBooks that are being used on battery power.

A MacBook in sleep mode still draws power, which means if you close the lid (the standard way to trigger sleep mode on a MacBook) and put an unplugged MacBook aside for a few days, you may come back to a flat battery.

As it turns out, more recent MacBooks do actually enter a hybrid sleep mode when you close the lid. Apple calls it Safe Sleep (much like that used in Windows Vista) and the contents of memory are written to disk before the MacBook enters its low-power sleep state. This is an insurance policy for those times when leave a MacBook in sleep mode away from the mains until the battery runs flat. When you power on, the MacBook will still resume to where you left it, but it will take a little longer as it’s restoring data from disk rather than RAM.

So, if Mac OS already has a hibernate mode, why can’t it be activated manually? Well, it can… (more…)

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