tip : OSX’s built in password generator

Question :

It seems like I have to come up with a new password for each new device and each new  web service I’m using. My inspiration for new passwords has dried up. Can you help me ?

Answer :

There is a random password generator already built into OSX that is free for you to use.

It’s called Password Assistant and you can access it by opening the Keychain Access app and clicking on the ‘+’-icon in the lower menu bar, then in the pulldown window that appears, click on the ‘black key’-icon ; that will open up the password generator window of Password Assistant.

In Password Assistant, you can choose from 5 types of passwords : Manual, Memorable, Letters & Numbers, Numbers Only, Random or FIPS-181 compliant. Then it will tell you the quality (strenght) of your password in a colored status bar, and if your not satisfied with the suggested password, you can click on the ‘black triangle’-icon and you will be shown some alternative suggestions.

If you’ve found your ‘ideal’ password, select it and copy (press ‘CDM’+’C’) and paste it onto the desired location.

When you’re done, click the CANCEL-button to exit and close Keychain Manager.

but… since this very helpful function is rather hidden within OSX, someone called CodePoet has written a FREE launch script (back in 2006) that you can install and use just like a regular application. Too bad that for some reason CodePoet’s website has stopped working, so all download links you will find will get you nowhere.

Luckily, a Dutch website called appletips.nl is hosting a mirror of the download (and they’ve added Dutch language support) – Thank you apple tips.nl ! Since there was no icon, I’ve added one myself and renamed it into OSX Password Assistant Launcher, a name that better suits what the script actually does (but you can change that yourself if you don’t agree). And now you can download it here also :


Note : the file will have a .zip.doc-extension after you’ve downloaded it, please change that into a regular .zip-extension manually and then unZIP the file


fixed : getting the Places location-tagging to work in iPhoto 9 (iLife ’11)

Question :

Since my digital photo camera doesn’t support GPS, I was using the Places function in iPhoto 8 to add the locations to my photos. But since I upgraded to iLife’11 and iPhoto 9, I can’t get any photo to accept the location I’m trying to add to it when in Places-mode ; I type the location, then my entry immediately disappears and nothing happens. How can I fix this ?

Answer :

iPhoto 9 versions 9.0, 9.1 and 9.2 have a bug which prevents you form adding locations to individual photos, so there’s only 2 solutions :

1- upgrade to iPhoto 9.3 (because in this latest update this bug seems to be fixed… this is by far the easiest solution)

2- or you can use use this workaround, which is based on the fact that in iPhoto 9.0, 9.1 and 9.2 you can still use the Places-functionality on complete Events :

– in iPhoto, go to Library (on the menu on the left) –> Events

– open the Event in which the photos are that you want to tag with a location

– select all photos (and only those) that were taken in one specific location

– go to Events (on the menu bar on top) –> Split Event and you will then have a separate Event containing only these photos

– then select this new event, and click on the ‘black circle with an I’ icon (a.k.a. Info) in the lower right corner

– now the Faces & Places pane will slide in from the right

– now select ‘Assign a Place…’ just above the map, and type in the name of the location that you want to tag on these photos

– if one of the suggestions that come up in the pull down menu is the location you want, click it – else, just leave it at the name you’ve typed yourself (FYI- iPhoto gets these suggested locations from Google and form the locations that you have previously assigned)

– now make sure that the flag is on the right place in the map

– then correct the name that is indicated for that flag to the name that you would like to remember this location by and press the ENTER-key to validate

– now your photos have the right location tag to it (check this by selecting one and seeing where on the map the Places-flag is)

– then go back to the Events-view by clicking on the black All Events arrow in the upper left

– then select the ‘untitled event’ and drag it (back) onto the event that these newly-location-tagged photos used to be in, to merge the two events back together (you might need to set the ‘Key Photo’ event-icon again)

– then go through this process again for every location that you want to tag…

…as I mentioned before : this is just a workaround, upgrading to iPhoto 9.3 is far easier…

tip : Mac games that will no longer run under OSX Lion

Question :

I’m thinking about buying some Mac games for my children to play with. But I’ve noticed that some of the games we played under OSX 10.6 “Snow Leopard” do no longer startup under OSX 10.7 “Lion”. How do I know if a Mac game will work under OSX 10.7 “Lion” before I buy it ?

Answer :

Since OSX 10.7 “Lion”, Apple does no longer include the “Rosetta” engine that enabled software that was originally developed for PowerPC/PPC-Macs to run on Intel-Macs. That is why a lot of ‘old’ software that used to run fine even under the Intel-only OSX 10.6 “Snow Leopard” do no longer startup in OSX 10.7 “Lion”.

In “Lion” the game’s icon will have a grey ‘no entry’ sign over the icon to indicate that the software is not compatible.

Alas… there’s no definite way to be sure about any game before you buy… even games with indications like “Mac”, “X”, “Mac-compatible” or even “MacOSX-compatible” can turn out incompatible with Mac OSX “Lion”…

But you have some options :

1- if the info on the game says “Mac compatibility : Mac OS 9.x and Mac OS X 10.x” or something like that, rest assured that this game won’t run under OSX 10.7 “Lion”

2- if the info on the game says “Mac compatibility : Mac OSX 10.6 or newer”, you can be sure that the game will run under OSX 10.7 “Lion” (too bad though that even now very few games have this indication…)

3- if the game is available in the Mac App Store, it is compatible with Mac OSX 10.6 “Snow Leopard” and Mac OSX 10.7 “Lion”, as the Mac App Store is not compatible with earlier versions of Mac OSX (this does however say nothing regarding the compatibility of the game itself with earlier versions of Mac OSX…)

4- look up the game on the website of the publisher (not on any other site) to see if they have any info on Mac OSX 10.7 “Lion” compatibility in specific before you buy, in that case you are 100% sure that if the game still turns out not to run, you can have the problem solved or the product refunded

Note : info on a resellers website is often incorrect (and never 100% surely accurate), and user reviews are a always an interesting general indication (but they’re never 100% accurate either…)

5- search on the internet to find any info on compatibility, but keep in mind that even though “incompatible” will mean it won’t run with about 99% certainty, the opposite is NOT TRUE ! “not incompatible” does never mean “definitely compatible” !!!


I’ve made this list of games that I had running under MacOSX 10.6 “Snow Leopard”, but will NOT run under MacOSX 10.7 “Lion” any longer :

3D Cartoon Studio

Airbust Extreme

Atomic Betty – Het Kosmos Complot (Atomic Betty – Intergalactic Conspiracy)



Dora the Explorer – Backpack

Dora the Explorer – Lost City

Engie Benjy – Kom op Team! (Engy Benjy – Time For TeamWork!)

Disney/Pixar’s Finding Nemo

Laura’s Ster (Laura’s Star)

LEGO – Star Wars (demo) * [ a.k.a. “LEGO Star Wars 1” ]

Matchbox – Crosstown Heroes

Noddy (Noddy and the Toyland Fair)

Noddy en de Magische Klok (Noddy and the Magic Clock)

Pluk van de Petteflet

Disney/Pixar’s The Incredibles

Disney/Pixar’s The Incredibles – Rise of the Underminer

Disney/Pixar’s The Incredibles – When Danger Calls

ToySight Game (demo)

Traffic Jam Extreme

* Note : LEGO Star Wars 1 was published by Aspyr, contrary to all later similar LEGO games that were published by Feral Interactive (these include LEGO Batman, LEGO Star Wars II, LEGO Star Wars III Clones Wars, LEGO Star Wars Complete Saga, LEGO Indiana Jones The Original Adventure, LEGO Indiana Jones 2 The Adventure Continues, LEGO Harry Potter Years 1-4, LEGO Harry Potter 2 Years 5-7, etc.)  – to my knowledge, all LEGO Games by Feral Interactive are compatible with Mac OSX 10.7 “Lion” and most of them are even available on the Mac App Store 

Some games that used to run fine under Mac OSX 10.5 “Leopard”, but haven’t tested under either Mac OSX 10.6 “Snow Leopard” or Mac OSX 10.7 “Lion”, so they might or might not run… :
Burning Monkey Solitaire 4
Disney/Pixar’s Cars (a.k.a. “Cars racing game”) [ note : the installer won’t work, but the game will run ]
Disney/Pixar’s Cars – Radiator Springs Adventure
Mac Donald’s Dragons
Kung Fu Panda (demo)
Disney/Pixar’s Ratatouille [ note : the installer doesn’t work, but the game will run ]
Disney/Pixar’s UP
Disney/Pixar’s WALL•E
Note : if you need any info on how to install any of the above games under Mac OSX 10.6 “Snow Leopard” or earlier (which in some cases is not straight forward)… please ask 😉

fixed : how to delete undeletable files

Question :

I have recently cleaned up my Mac by putting a lot of old and unused files into the Trash (after backing them up to an external hard drive). But now, when I try to empty the Trash, some files remain, they seem undeletable… I even get a warning I can’t delete them… even a Forced Empty-ing of the Trash doesn’t work… but I’m completely sure I want to get rid of these files…

Isn’t there any way to delete them ?

Answer :

Yes – there is.

These ‘undeletable’ files are so-called “system immutable”, which basically means they cannot be changed or deleted even by the Root (super user) in the Terminal. Even switching to “Single User” mode and attempting to remove them won’t work.

Here’s what to do :

– restart your Mac in “Safe Boot” mode (press the SHIFT-key during startup ; as soon as you notice it takes a lot longer to boot than usual, you can take your finger of the keyboard, but even then it may take some time for you Mac to completely startup, so be patient…)

– now, log in as an administrator (i.e. using the/an account that has Administrator-rights)

– then, empty the Trash…

…that’s it. Done !

Thanks to SpiderJay for sharing this solution (he also found this solution somewhere on the internet), he originally posted it on his blog :


…but that link doesn’t work anymore, that’s why I’ve now posted it here 

fixed : upgrading the firmware on a Seagate Momentus XT hybrid drive

Question :

I’ve heard that upgrade in the firmware on my Seagate Momentus XT hard drive will vastly improve the drive’s speed and stability. But… how do I do that ?

Answer :

Here’s a little tutorial :

– put OSX Lion installer on a 4GB USB stick, instructions can be found here :


– burn the Seagate firmware update on a CDrom and printout the instructions :


– shut down and completely unplug
– plug in the USB stick
– put the firmware upgrade CDrom in the drive
– startup pressing the ALT key and choose the “EFI Boot” (USB installer) to boot from
– then install the basic OSX EFI
– continue and open Disk Utility
– select the 500.11 GB Seagate disk and Erase to a “Mac OS Extended (Journaled)” format (to get a one-partition OSX HFS+ formatted drive)
– then click on the “Info” button and write down the name exactly and completely (e.g. “Seagate ST…..AS Media”)
– exit and restart pressing the ALT key
– now choose the CDrom called “Windows” to reboot from
– when you’re done reading the README, press the ESC key
– press the right key on your keyboard to install the firmware that is right for your model (as outlined in the instructions you’ve printed)
NOTE : in my case the firmware is refusing to upgrade because I have TD27, and that can’t be upgraded to SD28… [*]
– restart normally (booting from the internal drive) ; done !

[*] update : I found a way to upgrade in that case also, go here for more info :

fixed : update firmware TD27 to SD28


Some extra info on the firmware revisions :

v28 is the newest, fastest and most stable to date (June 2012)

v27 was never released as an upgrade, it just came preinstalled on some drives ; since it cannot be upgraded to v28, chances are that is nearly the same as v28

v26 wasn’t released as an upgrade either, it also came preinstalled on some OEM-drives (OEM = Original Equipment Manufacturer ; which in this case means “separately sold as a spare part”)

v25 was also never released as an upgrade ; it is even doubtful if it was even preinstalled on any OEM-version

v24 was the previous upgrade version, but it turned out to be problematic in some cases

v23 was the upgrade version before that, which also had stability problems and erratic behavior

about firmware versions v22 and earlier very little is known

info : Seagate Momentus XT hybrid drive – is it a good upgrade to your Mac ?

Question :

I’m thinking about upgrading the internal HD of my MacBook Pro. At this moment I have a 2.5″ 250GB HD 5400rpm SATA-1.5GBps, and I would like something that’s preferably both faster and bigger. Is the 500GB Seagate Momentus XT hybrid drive my best choice ?

Answer :

The jury’s still out on that one…

Expericences with the Seagate Momentus XT vary, though most bad experiences are from people that have firmware versions older than v24 (the current version is v28).

Let me start out by saying that, when your older MacBook Pro is at least a ‘late 2008’ model (which has a 2.5″ SATA II / SATA-300GBps transfer rate) your options are pretty much these :

1- a regular 2.5″ 500GB 5400rpm SATA II harddisk, will go for about €65 (so about €0,13 per GB)

– This is probably your best choice if low noise level and low(est) price are your main reasons to buy. And it will be slightly speedier than your old one, because this SATA-interface is twice as fast

2- a regular 2.5″ 500GB 7200rpm SATA II harddisk, will cost you about €75 (so about €0,15 per GB)

– This is probably your best choice if you primarily want a low price and secondarily the highest speed. Even though these could be a little noisier than 5400rpm drives, the 7500rpm drives are more interesting if have a more intensive usage, like doing a lot of video editing for instance.

3- a hybrid 2.5″ 500GB 7200rpm + 4GB SSD (Flash-memory) SATA-3GBps like the Seagate Momentus XT will cost you €100 (so about €0,20 per GB)

– This is probably your best choice if you primarily want high speed and secondarily the lowest price. The noise level is about the same as a regular HD, and the speed is notably faster (but still no way near SSD-speeds)

4- a 2.5″ 256GB Solid State Drive (a.k.a. SSD ; Flash-memory only) SATA-6GBps like the Crucial M4 will cost you about €210 (so about  €0,82 per GB)

– These ‘drives’ are way faster than any hard disk, and also completely silent, but they’re completely overpriced compared to regular hard disks, so this is only a good solution if you have money to burn… (mind you, this one doesn’t gain any storage capacity compared to your old HD, and the 6GBps SATA-speed has to be geared down to 3GBps since the ‘late 2008’ MacBook Pros don’t support this latest SATA-speed)

To have an indication of the speed increase I herewith include my test scores, based upon benchmarking results from two different benchmarking program.

The benchmarking softwares I’ve used are iBench and NovaBench. They can be downloaded for FREE here :



(NovaBench can also be downloaded from the Mac App store)

the benchmarking-scores I’ve measured are :

the original version : MacBook Pro 15″ ‘late 2008’ with 4GB RAM and 250GB @4500rpm ; iBench score = 3.31 ; NovaBench score = 346

the same, only with doubled RAM-memory, MacBook Pro 15″ ‘late 2008’ with 8GB RAM and 250GB @4500rpm ; iBench score = 3.37 ; NovaBench score  = 389

the same, but both with doubled RAM and doubled HD-capacity (using a Seagate Momentus XT) ; iBench score = 3.38 ; NovaBench score = 402

so… the Momentus XT is a really good step forward from the old internal hard drive, but it’s speed increase is not dramatic.

NOTE : if you need to upgrade the firmware on a Seagate Momentus XT disk from MacOSX, look here :


fixed : installing a new hard drive (option 2)

here’s another way of installing a new HD in a Mac :

in this example a new HD was placed in a MacBook Pro (end 2008) running OSX 10.7 Lion

1- prepare

– put OSX Lion installer on a 4GB USB stick ; for instructions, look here :

make sure you have a new DVD-writable or a completely empty 4GB USB-stick, download Lion Disk Maker and follow the instructions that come with it :

– printout the instructions on how to replace a HD on a MBP 2008/2009 from iFixit


– make a TimeMachine backup

2- replace the HD

– shut down and completely unplug
– use the directions from iFixit to get your current HD out, and the new Momentus XT in

3- install a fresh versions of MacOSX and add your data from TimeMachine

– plug in the USB stick
– startup pressing the ALT key and choose the “EFI Boot” (USB installer) to boot from
– then install the basic OSX EFI
– continue and open Disk Utility
– select the new harddisk and Erase to a “Mac OS Extended (Journaled)” format (to get a one-partition OSX HFS+ formatted drive)
– install a new version of OSX Lion
– during this installation, you are asked to migrate from a TimeMachine ; do that (and make sure you’re connected to your TimeMachine backup-disk through a cable – Ethernet/UTP, USB or FireWire)
– when the install is done, restart normally (booting from your new internal harddisk)
– then update your mailbox (this will be asked and done automatically)
– then goto Software Update (under the Apple logo in the upper left corner) and install all available updates
– restart and boot from the USB stick (“OSX EFI”)
– open Disk Utility and Repair Disk Permissions on your new internal harddrive
– restart normally (booting from the internal drive)
– again, run Software Update to install all available updates (in my specific case, there was a ‘rather important’ EFI update a this point)
– repeat Software Update once more to make sure there are no extra updates
– shut down
– restart normally ; done !

Note : if you’re looking for an other way to upgrade your harddirve, look here :

https://macmanusnl.wordpress.com/2012/06/12/installing-a-new-hard-disk-1/ ‎