fixed : MacBook’s external monitor screen stays black

Question :

In my office, I am using an external monitor as my main screen for my MacBook Pro. Today, the screen didn’t respond when I connected my MacBook however : the screen stays black and nothing appears on-screen. So I opened up my MacBook and used the built-in screen to figure out what’s wrong, but so far I haven’t found any indication in the Displays Preference Panel that my MacBook even detects the second screen…

What can I do ?


Answer :

In such situations you should always do this first :

Remedy #1 :

  • make sure your monitor is switched ON
  • then hit the SPACE-bar on your external keyboard several times (maybe once, usually about 5 to 10 times…)
  • the monitor should now appear and show the inlog panel to unlock your screensaver
  • then login

if this works, you’re good, if not, try Remedy #2

NOTE : if you have a Benq monitor (especially the BL2420TP), try this first :

fixed : Benq monitor stays black when MacBook is switched on

Remedy #2 :

  • unplug all cables between the monitor and your Mac ( DisplayPort / Thunderbolt / HDMI / DVI / VGA  and also USB, UTP, FireWire and PowerAdapter )
  • shut down your monitor
  • shut down your MacBook
  • reconnect all cables and double-check if they’re properly connected on both the Mac and the monitor
  • switch on your MacBook
  • switch on your monitor

if this works, you’re good, if not, try Remedy #3

Remedy #3 :

  • on your MacBook, open Apple [main menu bar top-left] –> System Preferences
  • in the System Preferences window, select “Displays”
  • in the Display Preferences window, see if there is a button marked “Gather Windows” bottom right
  • if there is no “Gather Windows” button, press the ALT-key on your keyboard and a button marked “Detect Displays” appears ; click on it when it appears

if this works, you’re good, if not, try Remedy #4

Remedy #4 :

  • on your MacBook, open Apple [main menu bar top-left] –> System Preferences
  • in the System Preferences window, select “Displays”
  • in the Display Preferences window, see if there is a button marked “Gather Windows” bottom right
  • if there is a “Gather Windows” button, click on it
  • then you will see 2 Display Preference windows on your MacBook screen
  • select the Display Preference window that has 3 tabs on it marked “Display”, “Arrangement” and “Color” (not the window that has “Display” and “Color” only)
  • first, press the ALT-key on your keyboard and a button marked “Detect Displays” appears where the “Gather Windows”-button used to be ; click on it when it appears
  • if your monitor switches on, you’re good, if not…
  • click on the “Arrangement”-tab and in the next window put a checkmark at “Mirror Display”
  • if your monitor switches on now, uncheck the “Mirror Display” option again and close your MacBook… you should be good now…

if this didn’t work, try Remedy #5

Remedy #5 :

  • unplug all cables between the monitor and your Mac ( DisplayPort / Thunderbolt / HDMI / DVI / VGA  and also USB, UTP, FireWire and PowerAdapter )
  • shut down your monitor
  • shut down your MacBook
  • reconnect your Mac to your monitor using a different type of cable then you normally would choose (e.g. if you normally use a DisplayPort/Thunderbolt-cable, use an HDMI or DVI cable now)
  • switch on your MacBook
  • switch on your monitor
  • if your monitor wakes from sleep now, open Apple –> System Preferences
  • in the System Preferences window, select “Displays”
  • in the Display Preferences window, see if there is a button marked “Gather Windows” bottom right
  • if there is a “Gather Windows” button, click on it
  • then you will see 2 Display Preference windows on your MacBook screen
  • now, remove the monitor-cable that you have just used to connect your MacBook to your monitor
  • then, reconnect your MacBook to your monitor using all cables you normally use to connect the two
  • if your monitor now wakes from sleep, you’re good
  • if it doesn’t, restart your monitor
  • it that doesn’t help, restart your Mac

normally your issue should be resolved by now…

if still the monitor stays showing a back screen, I’m sorry to inform you that your screen probably has a hardware problem… if so, get an authorized Mac-repair-centre to fix it, get the Apple Store support-crew to fix this…

that’s it !

enjoy 😉


fixed : quickly free up disk space on MacOSX 10.6.8 Snow Leopard

Question :

My son alarmed me today that his ‘good old’ Mac gives a “your startup disk is full” warning at startup. He has our old Intel CoreDuo MacBook that can only run MacOSX 10.6.8 Snow Leopard.

What is the easiest way to free up the much needed harddrive space ?


Answer :

There  are various programs that can do the job of identifying which files are cluttering your harddrive and deleting unneeded files.

If you have an older Mac that can not run the latest version of OSX, I would suggest using the DiskWave application to do so, because of 4 reasons :

  1. DiskWave is very small in size (only about 1MB), so you can even install and run it on an extremely full harddrive
  2. DiskWave is able to manage external drives, so you can also run it on a newer/faster/other Mac and connect the problematic Mac as an external drive [ in so called “Target Mode” by restarting the problematic Mac with the T-key pressed and connecting it to the other Mac with a FireWire-cable ]
  3. DiskWave is available for various old versions of MacOSX
  4. DiskWave is FREE to download and use

Using DiskWave is rather straight forward. A quick instruction video can be seen here :

DiskWave instruction video

Getting hold of DiskWave might be problematic however, as the developer’s website (Aymeric Barthe) seems to be down :

Aymeric Barthe website

And the DiskWave app is NOT available from the Mac AppStore either… [ beware not too be fooled into thinking it’s the same as the iDiskWave app ! ]

A secondary problem is that the best available version (DiskWave 0.4) does not support any pre-Core2Duo. For now, all (older) versions of DiskWave can be downloaded here :

download any DiskWave version at

Note that DiskWave 0.3.2 is the latest version of DiskWave to run on PowerPC (G3/G4/G5) Macs and 1st generation Intel (CoreSolo and CoreDuo) Macs.

And if those links stop working also, you can download DiskWave 0.3.2 here :


[ !! after downloading, replace the .doc file-extension by .dmg to get the installer !! ]

Enjoy !

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fixed : use internal SATA hard drive in LaCie “Mac mini”-form factor housing

Question :

I have an old, square-ish Mac mini (2005 through June 2010), which back-ups to a LaCie FireWire 400 harddrive with the same square-ish form-factor. This morning however, the harddrive inside the LaCie mini has died…

I could just get a completely new external hard drive (with a different design) for my backups now, but I really like the square-ish housing of the LaCie mini together with the Mac mini, so I’ve decided to replace the internal hard disk.

However, it turns out that the internal hard disk of the LaCie mini is an IDE (ATA) hard disk, which are increasingly harder to get than the current Serial-ATA (SATA) hard disks, and generally even more expensive.

Is there a way to use an internal SATA hard disk inside the LaCie mini housing ?

Answer :

Yes, there is.

What you need is this :

– a high-capacity internal 2.5″ laptop SATA harddisk (it is possible using a 3.5″ desktop SATA harddisk, but that is not recommended as explained at the bottom of this post), like a Hitachi TravelStar 1TB SATA harddisk

– a 2.5″ to 3.5″ bay converter-frame, or preferably just the Digitus 2.5″ to 3.5″ bay converter-brackets or alike

– a Wintech SAK-65 bi-directional SATA-to-IDE converter (because of the limited space inside the LaCie mini housing, most other IDE-to-SATA converters will be too bulky too fit in one direction or another)

Note : the Wintech SAK-65 comes with all cables to connect a SATA hard disk to the LaCie mini IDE/ATA-internal

When you have all these parts, the build-in is rather straight forward, especially if you use the manual provided with the Wintech Converter. In short :

1- unplug the LaCie mini form the power and FireWire cables, then remove the white plastic triangular feet from the LaCie mini housing (the are sticker-type feet, so temporarily stick them to a clean smooth surface to store) and unscrew the  screws you find beneath them

2- gently open the housing, unscrew the broken iDE/ATA-hard drive, and take it out

3- gently disconnect the ATA-to-ATA cable, and take it out also

4- then put the new SATA-hard drive in and screw it into place

5- then connect the Wintech converter as outlined in the instruction manual (so, set it’s switch to “Device” and do not forget to connect it to the power using the provided Molex extension cable that includes an extra power connector for the Wintech connector)

6- then connect both Wentronic cables to the hard disk on one end and on the other end to the Molex cable and the Wintech connector

7- then make sure the Wintech connector is slightly twisted in such a way that it is a flat on the hard drive as possible and gently close up the housing (don’t forget the plastic feet)

8- reconnect the power and FireWire cables, and then the LaCie mini will be recognized as and ‘unreadable’ drive by your Mac mini

9- use OSX’s Disk Utility-app to format the drive to “Mac Journaled” format, and it will appear as a healthy drive on your Mac (ready for use, for Time Machine backups or alike)

That’s it



If you really want to build a 3.5″ SATA harddisk into this LaCie mini housing, it can be done, but it will fit so extremely tight that it comes with some extra things you need to address :

1- you will NOT need the 2.5″ to 3.5″ converter brackets

2- the provided cables will not fit in such a way that the housing can be properly rebuilt, so you will also need :

– a Wentronic 4p-Molex-to-angled-15p-SATA power cable (none of the cables with a regular straight SATA-connector will fit, and even most of the angled SATA-connectors will be too bulky too fit, and even this one leaves less than a mm of room for the housing) to extend the “Molex-with-an-extra-power-wire-for-the-converter”-cable

– a Wentronic SATA-to-angled-SATA data cable (most of the other angled-SATA connectors will be too bulky, but the Belkin SATA-to-angled-SATA data cable will fit as well), but you will even have to strip a little extra off the angled connector to enable the cable to make a ‘near-360’-corner

3- the Wintech SAK-65 bi-directional SATA-to-IDE converter needs to be used stripped of it’s plastic housing as it’s too bulky, and you will need to extend the IDE Master/Slave-cable (the wide and flat cable that looks like a lot of tiny wires next to each other) by opening the connection on the converter and putting the original one from the LaCie mini housing in it’s place (after having taken off the connector of that one also)

4- make sure you don’t adjust the 3.5″ SATA harddrive using the screws, just put it ‘on the floor plate'(to make a little extra space)

5- …and then you will have to puzzle quite a bit to fit all of that into the housing

As mentioned before : using a 2.5″ SATA harddrive is far more convenient and straight forward !

Whichever solution you choose :

Enjoy !


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fixed : “No Volumes Found in backup”-error

Question :

I was trying to get Migration Assistant-app to put all my data on my new Mac, but when I select the sparsebundle backup-file from Time Machine in Migration Assistant, I get an error : “No Volumes Found in backup”.

How can that be ? I’ve made a new TimeMachine-backup just minutes before, and I didn’t get any errors there… what is wrong ?

What can I do to fix this ?

Answer :

Time Machine is great. But there seems to be a bug in the backup-software that causes this “No Volumes Found in backup”-error you’ve encountered. Normally, this error-message should only be displayed when a sparsebundle backup-file is corrupt (for some reason), but it turns out that it is now also displayed when a sparsebundle backup-file is incomplete…

This is probably due to a disconnection from the backup-disk during the TimeMachine-backup process (for instance because of shutting down the Mac, or switching from WiFi- to Ethernet-connection or vice-versa, during backup).

If the original files are still available on your Mac, the solution is rather simple : just go back to your Mac and use Time Machine to make a new backup. If you want extra insurance to prevent this error, either make a new Time Machine backup to a new/fresh harddrive (preferable an external USB- or FireWire-harddisk), or follow the backup-routine outlined in this post.

If the original files are no longer available on your Mac (e.g. your Mac is stolen, sold or you’ve just done a clean install on it, wiping off all of it’s data), you are in trouble…

…in that case, you could try using Disk Utility to repair the sparsebundle-file. If that works, you are in extreme luck… if that doesn’t help, you have very few options other than using the Terminal-app or a specialized expensive retrieving app like DiskWarrior (the cheaper knock-offs turn out not to work in most cases… too bad…).

I will be posting instructions on how to use the Terminal-app for this shortly (in a new post).

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tip : make sure your TimeMachine-update is useable

Question :

While doing a regular check on my Mac with Disk Utility, it just informed me that I have a potential hardware failure, should save a many data as I can and reinstall.

So I was planning on doing a TimeMachine-backup and disk-reformat, followed by a clean install of OSX and copy-back from TimeMachine.

But… I recently found reports on a bug in TimeMachine, that might prevent TimeMachine from recognizing the latest backup…

Is there a way to make sure that my latest TimeMachine-backup is useable ?


Answer :

This bug seems to occur with unfinished TimeMachine-backups, either due to disconnection, unplugging or switching from WiFi to Ethernet or vice-versa…

As with all things in life, nothing is 100% sure or secure…

But if you want near-100% assurance that your latest TimeMachine-backup will work after a ‘clean install’, do this :

– make sure your Mac is connected to your TimeMachine-backup-disk in only one way, so if it’s an external harddisk disconnect the Ethernet-network cable and set AirPort/Wifi to OFF, to have the connection ‘only via USB’ or ‘only via FireWire’ and if your TimeMachine-backup-disk is a NAS or TimeCapsule, disconnect from AirPort/WiFi (and preferably connect the Ethernet-cable from the NAS or TimeCapsule straight into your Mac, and if possible, stop all other network-connections over Ethernet, by disconnecting all cables, and shutting down AirPort/WiFi) to have the connection ‘only via Ethernet’

– do a new “Back Up Now” in TimeMachine, and make sure it finishes completely before you do anything else (preferably, shut down all other apps before backing up also)

– then startup the Migration Assistant-app (from the Utilities folder in the Applications folder), and type your Mac’s administrator-password when asked

– in the first window, select “From a Mac, Time Machine Backup or startup disk”, and click “Continue”

– in the next window, select the disk that your TimeMachine-backups are on (if you’re on a Time Capsule, you will need to type your TimeCapsule-password when asked), and click “Continue”

– in the next window, a list of all backups (a.k.a. sparsebundles) available on the disk will be displayed ; now you will have to wait a little for each sparsebundle to display what the date is of the backup-version that can be retrieved… if that date matches today’s date, you have a perfect backup available, and you can exit the Migration Assistant-app by repeatedly clicking the “Back”-button

…but if the date is different, or the “No Volumes Found in backup”-error is displayed, your backup is useless for easy recovery ; you will have to exit the Migration Assistant-app, and start over the entire backup-routine explained above, and then check again in the Migration Assistant-app …you have to keep repeating this entire routine until you get today’s date displayed below the backup’s name

If you do not do as described above, you are in serious, enormously time-consuming trouble…  (even though this doesn’t always mean that your personal data is lost… everything might be lost, but… it could also mean you will have to repair the sparsebundle-files and/or it could also mean that you will have to copy everything back ; folder-by-folder or even file-by-file… either in the Time Machine-app or in the Finder ; and all applications will have to be manually reinstalled again…)

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