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Ask TUAW: Display rotation, iTunes libraries, Time Machine backups, screen sharing and more

This time in Ask TUAW we'll be taking questions about screen rotation, managing iTunes libraries, transferring Time Machine backups to new machines, screen sharing, application deletion and more.

As always your suggestions are most welcome, and 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 OS X, as certain answers will vary between different Macs and Tiger vs. Leopard, etc. (we'll assume you're running Leopard if you don't specify). And now, on to the questions!

jakus asks

im going to be hooking up a second monitor to my powermac G5 (running leopard) and i want to be able to easily switch it from landscape to portrait mode, via a keyboard shortcut or something simple and quick? Also Will any monitor be able to be rotated or do i need a specific make/model?

Screen rotation is generally speaking a feature of your video card more than your monitor. Practically any modern LCD should support rotation if your video card supports it. The default way to change rotation is in the Displays Preference Pane, but fellow reader Ben pointed to the handy Display Rotation Menu which adds a menubar item and keyboard shortcut for activating the rotation.


Shiva asks

Is there a way to take time machine history with you to a new machine ? I'm on an old (relatively speaking) G5 2.1Ghz iMac. If I give in to my urges and upgrade, will I have to lose my time machine history?

This depends on what you mean by take it with you. The Time Machine backup disk can be browsed like any other mounted disk so if you plug your external disk into your new Mac you can browse that disk for old version of your files (or search for them with Spotlight). However, you probably will not be able to use the Time Machine interface to recover previous versions (unless perhaps you clone the drive from the old machine to the new one).


emjay asks

I have my iTunes library on a hard drive connected to Time Capsule. I do this so all my computers (iMac, MBP - both 10.5.2) have access to the library. Almost every time I launch iTunes on my MBP, it asks me to find the location of the library (I think it's when the drive is awaken from sleep). Is there a way to automate finding the library? I have the correct location in my iTunes preferences and I have the drive mount as part of my Login items.

If the iTunes preferences are correct I'm not sure why it's doing this. However, I do have a suggestion. Place an alias to the Time Capsule iTunes library in your ~/Music/ folder and change the iTunes preferences to point to that alias. Now as long as the remote disk is mounted it should transparently follow the alias (then again, I don't really know why it doesn't do that already).

Mike asks

I have a newer iMac 2.8Ghz running Leopard and have ordered a new Mac Mini. I'd like to be able to completely control the Mini from my iMac and not attach a monitor, keyboard or mouse. I see this referred to as "headless". There seems to be several ways to remote control the Mini from the iMac; Apple Remote Desktop and various VNC apps seem popular. Is it also true that Leopard in its native form (no add-in app) will also allow me to do this? If so, how do I set it up? Are there any limitations? What I'm ultimately after is to be able to run the Mac Mini in a "window" on my iMac with complete access and control just as if I was sitting at the keyboard of the Mini.

Yes this is built-in with Remote Management / Screen Sharing in the Sharing Preference Pane. There you can turn on control with a VNC client like Chicken of the VNC. MacFixIt has a handy tutorial that goes over the options (like iChat screen sharing) and will get you started.


Mok asks

I have a huge iTunes music library on a 500GB disk. It's getting full. I want to add another disk, but I can't figure out how to combine them so that iTunes sees both disks as one big library. How is this done? Is it possible? I don't like the idea of having to change the prefs to the other disk when I want to access the other half of my library...

One thing to do would be to make combine the two disks into a single logical volume (Concatenated Disk Set) with a software RAID using the Disk Utility. The downside to this, however, is that if either disk failed you'd lose the entire volume. If it were me, I'd buy a large enough second disk to copy over everything from the first disk and just use that one.


Jesse asks

Is there a way to completely delete an application and all of its support files without going through library to find them all?

There are several applications out there that do this. Perhaps the best known is AppZapper ($12.95) which requires you to drag the application into it. AppDelete is a donationware alternative. Personally, I use Hazel ($21.95) which automatically prompts you to delete support files when you drag an application to the Trash.


shiznit0587 asks

I remember there used to be a utility to have audio output sent out to different sources on a per application basis, such as Adium to system speakers and iTunes to headphones. I had it about two years ago, but cannot for the life of me remember what it was now. Any ideas?

Yes, it was Detour from Rogue Amoeba. Unfortunately, they have stopped development and it is only available for PowerPC machines running 10.3 and 10.4. I dearly wish it would be resurrected, but that's now apparently not possible.


Eric asks

Are there any programs that can make my HTML account work with Mail. The address is a website that runs through Squirrel Mail. I used to be able to receive my information on Outlook, but can't on Entourage or Mail. I prefer to use Mail, but would love to be able to get this @work email to function in the program.

So far as I can tell, SquirrelMail is a PHP client with "built-in pure PHP support for the IMAP and SMTP protocols." This means that your actual mail server is IMAP, and therefore you can set it up directly in Mail.app. You'll just need to get the server settings from your ISP or administrator.



This time in Ask TUAW we'll be taking questions about screen rotation, managing iTunes libraries, transferring Time Machine backups to new...