apple-mail-iconI recently started experiencing an issue with Apple’s Mail application – every time I would select an email with an attachment, Mail would freeze for a few seconds before shutting down with the standard “unexpected quit” error dialog. I originally suspected corrupt emails, thinking back to issues with corrupt emails crashing Entourage if the Preview pane was enabled. Except that this time Mail would crash on EVERY email with an attachment – & there was no way that every email coming in was getting corrupted.

I cleared caches, rebuilt the mail index, removed Mail’s plist, even repaired permissions – all for nothing.

I finally stumbled onto a thread on the Apple Discussions forum suggesting that Mail might not be the correct version for the OS that I was running (10.5.7) & that the 10.5.7 combo updater should be re-installed.

Sure enough, here’s the version I was running when Mail was crashing:

Mailv3

And here’s the version that SHOULD be running under 10.5.7:

Mailv3.6How does this happen?

I had recently performed an archive & install on my laptop & being my overly cautious self, I hadn’t deleted the old System files (the Previous System folder). Turns out that when I ran the 10.5.7 combo updater after doing the archive & install, the combo updater actually updated the files in the previous System folder, not the newly installed System files!!!

The fix? Move the Previous System folder to the trash & re-run the 10.5.7 combo updater. Suddenly Mail is v3.6 & everything runs flawlessly again!

Thanks to Ernie Stamper on the Apple Discussions board for identifying this deceptive (& peculiar) bug!

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iphone_homeI recently ran into some serious issues getting a client’s Shaw email account configured on their new iPhone. Using the settings copies from Mail, sending or receiving email on the phone would hang, sometimes taking the better part of 15 minutes & sometimes never sending at all. Often the the entire send/receive process would hang, requiring a reboot of the phone.

A bit of research (& a call to Shaw tech support for confirmation) revealed that Shaw has particular settings for use with mobile devices and that the standard settings used with desktop email applications will not work. More importantly, using Shaw’s own SMTP servers is not recommended by Shaw – for best performance, Shaw recommends using the SMTP server provided by Rogers or Fido.

What is frustrating about this arrangement, however, is that my experience has shown that even when using the SMTP server from Fido or Rogers, if wifi is enabled & connected to a wireless network, sending mail still takes so long as to be virtually unusable. In fact, in a thread posted on eh-mac.ca, a user states that Shaw tech support recommended disabling wifi when sending email – something which I confirmed provides a dramatic improvement in performance sending email.

Sigh.

On that note, the following are the settings to be used for setting up Shaw email on your iPhone. Please be aware – if you lan to configure a Shaw email account on your iPhone it is HIGHLY recommended that you disable wifi before sending email!

Setup Shaw email on the iPhone:

  1. Touch Settings
  2. Touch Mail, Contacts, Calendars
  3. Touch Add Account
  4. Touch Other
  5. Acount & Password are your Shaw email account & password
  6. Select select the POP tab
  7. Username is the part of your email before @shaw.ca
    1. ie: for name@shaw.ca would be name
  8. Host: pop.shaw.ca
  9. Outgoing Mail Server: gprs.fido.ca (Fido) or smtp.rogerswirelessdata.com (Rogers)

Remember! If you have trouble sending email over wifi, turn your wifi OFF & resend!

Shaw’s Residential Email Service Details (external link)

wgmCreating network home folders for users in Open Directory is typically a fairly painless task using OS X Server. What can be a little more painful is trying to figure out how to create a clean, locally cached home folder on a client workstation. The only obvious options for home folders in Workgroup Manager are None & the creation of an AFP or NFS share that’s stored on the server.

While leaving the settings in WGM set to None does result in the home folder getting cached on the local machine, it’s a less than perfect solution. For starters, the profiles get cached in the root of the drive, under a directory labelled 99. Plus the home folders it creates doesn’t have the usual directory structure – they only contain a Desktop and a Library folder. Not quite what we’re looking for. Ideally, the home folder would get created in the /Users directory, using the standard home folder template just like a local machine account is.

The fix to this is to make sure the NFSHomeFolder attribute is set for all your network accounts. That’s what happens when you select an AFP or NFS share – the path to the network share is written to the NFSHomeFolder attribute in the LDAP directory. When you leave the home folder setting at None, the default value is assigned to NFSHomeFolder – a value which happens to be 99 (hence the 99 directory that appears in the root directory on client machines whenever a user without a specified home folder logs in).

Set Network Account Home Folders to the Local Users Directory (/Users):

  1. Launch WGM & login to your Open Directory server
  2. If the Inspector tab in WGM isn’t visible, enable it in the Preferences
    1. Check the box next to “Show ‘All Records’ tab and inspector
  3. Select a network user account & click the Inspector tab
  4. Locate the NFSHomeDirectory attribute – it should read 99 – & change this value to ‘/Users/username‘ where username is the shortname of the user.
  5. Save your changes.

remote_desktop_128Using kickstart to activate ARD is something that I do all of the time, yet I can never seem to remember the syntax. I figure I can’t be the only one in this situation (plus this post should save repetetive googling…) so I thought I would post it up where it’s easily accessible. The following commands work with ARD v2 & later. For earlier versions of ARD, see this knowledge base article.

You need SSH access to the computer you would like to enable ARD on (obviously) & you need to login as root or run the command with sudo. Services are started using the kickstart utility, located here:

/System/Library/CoreServices/RemoteManagement/ARDAgent.app/Contents /Resources/kickstart

To activate Remote Desktop Sharing, enable access privileges for the user “admin” with full privileges and restart the ARD Agent:

$ sudo /System/Library/CoreServices/RemoteManagement/ARDAgent.app/Contents /Resources/kickstart -activate -access -on -users admin -privs -all -restart -agent

Deactivate Remote Desktop Sharing:

$ sudo /System/Library/CoreServices/RemoteManagement/ARDAgent.app/Contents /Resources/kickstart -configure -access -off

To additional examples and more detail, see the complete knowledge base article.

entourage_mac_2008_iconWhen Entourage runs its Send & Receive routine, it copies data from the Exchange server to the local workstation. It’s not uncommon for this local cache to get corrupted, which typically results in erratic synchronization. The end result is users that don’t receive new emails or the emails they send never reach the recipient. Even more frustrating for users is that the problems are usually random – some mail comes & goes fine, some doesn’t. A critical clue is that when using the OWA web interface, there aren’t any problems sending or receiving mail.

Fortunately there’s an easy fix – clear the cache in Entourage. You can clear caches on specific folders, or for the entire account. The process deletes all the data that’s stored on the local workstation, then connects to the Exchange server & downloads everything from scratch. Think of it as a kind of reset button for the user’s Entourage account. Instructions for clearing the Entourage cache are below. If you’re interested in a little more info on the subject, check out this post. For instructions, read on.

Reseting the Exchange cache in Entourage

  • Right-click on the exchange identity (or sub-folder) & select Folder Properties

ExchangeIdentity.jpg

  • Under the General tab, click the Empty button in the section titled Empty Cache. NOTE: Any local items (calendar events, etc) that have NOT been synced with the Exchange server will be lost.

EntourageWarning.jpg

  • It may take some time to download all of the users data from the Exchange server. Be patient.

entourage_mac_2008_iconAccessing shared folders & calendars is one of the handiest features of Exchange services. Unfortunately, Entourage doesn’t handle shared folders quite as gracefully as some would like. When trying to access folders or calendars shared through MS Exchange accounts, it’s not uncommon to receive the following error:

The user’s folder could not be found. Entourage could not find a mailbox for the user User_Name

This error occurs even though the mailbox does exits & the user followed Microsoft’s directions to the letter – as found here.

There are a couple of potential causes for this error, but the most consistent workaround is to point Entourage directly to the URL of the shared calendar or folder rather than leaving Entourage to try & find the path itself.

Note: You may need to contact you system or exchange administrator to get the full URL of the calendar or folder in order to complete the steps below…

Use the full URL to open the shared calendar

  1. Click File, and then click Open Other User’s Folder.
  2. Click Find user.
  3. Click Advanced.
  4. Enter the user name & email address for the calendar you would like to access.
  5. Type the full URL to the user’s account and Exchange server.
    1. (The URL should be in the following format: https://exchange.<ServerName>.com/exchange/<EmailAddress> )
  6. Click OK.
  7. On the Type menu, click Calendar, and then click OK.
  8. It typically takes some time for the calendar to fully synchronize with the events on the server. Be patient.

More detailed information on this issue can be found in the following Microsoft knowledge base article (The article refers to Office 2004 but is still valid for Office 2008).

keychainThe Keychain Access utility in OS X is possibly one of the most helpful & most underrated applications in OS X. No one likes trying to remember passwords, much less having to type them in every time we visit a website or check our email. And thanks to Keychain Access, we don’t have to.

But what happens when you realize that you need to access that website from another computer, or someone else needs access to your wireless network but it’s been nearly a year & you have no idea what the password is anymore?

Here’s where Keychain Access comes to the rescue again. To dig up that long-forgotten password follow these four quick steps:

1. Open Keychain Access (located in /Applications/Utilities), and click Show Keychains if the keychain list is hidden.
2. Select your keychain from the list in the left-hand pane
3. Locate the entry associated with the password you need to recover & double-click it to open the Attributes pane.
4. Check the “Show Password” button & enter your password when requested.

Done!

compresspdfworkflow1Last post I mentioned how Apple had moved the options for compressing PDFs from the Print Dialog to inside the Preview applications Save Dialog. While the process certainly works, it adds a number of additional steps that can end up being a bit of a pain if you make more than a few PDFs in a day.

Fortunately, Skycoast Pictures has created a workflow that restores the “Compress PDF” option to the Print Dialog. Simply download & install the package & you’re back to 1-step PDF creation!

You can find the package at Apple’s download site.

compresspdfworkflowOS X 10.5 does not exhibit the “Compress PDF” workflow on the Print dialog that used to appear in OS X 10.4. This has caused more than a little confusion and headache trying to get documents down to an appropriate size for emailing, etc.

The feature’s not lost, however. Apple (in their wisdom) has just decided to move the process into the Preview application. Here are the steps for compressing a PDF, as listed in Preview’s Help documentation:

To compress a PDF file:

Step 1

Open Preview, in your Applications folder.

Step 2

Choose File > Open, select the PDF file to compress, and then click Open.

Step 3

Choose File > Save As, choose Reduce File Size from the Quartz Filter pop-up menu, and choose a name and location for the new PDF file.

Step 4

Click Save.

Quite a few steps more than before, I know. Check out Part 2 for a return to 10.4-style PDF compression.