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Ask TUAW: Auto-tagging music, iPhone VoIP apps, replacing a hard drive and more

Welcome back to Ask TUAW, our weekly troubleshooting Q&A column. This week we've got questions about VOIP apps on the iPhone, auto-tagging music, Boot Camp, replacing a hard drive and more.

As always, your suggestions and questions are welcome. Leave your questions for next week in the comments section at the end of this post. When asking a question, please include which machine you're using and what version of Mac OS X is installed on it (we'll assume you're running Snow Leopard on an Intel Mac if you don't specify). And now, on to the questions.

dvconnell asks

Last month AT & T finally allowed voip iPhone apps to run over the 3G network. Do you know if there are any voip apps in the app store that have been updated to operate over 3G? I have the Skype app but it has not been updated and still restricts calls to wifi. After some poking around on my own it appears that this is the case with other popular voip apps as well.

According to Om Malik the actual hold up now is Apple. Apparently some VoIP app developers have tried to add 3G support, but Apple has not yet allowed it. So I wouldn't hold my breath.


Unknown asks

I'm looking for some software that would go through a folder of mp3 files (unhelpfully named Track0001.mp3, Track0002.mp3, etc.), listen to them and identify them à la Shazam, and then rename the files and insert the appropriate metadata. Is there anything like this available? I'm running Snow Leopard on an Intel iMac.

If you'd asked this a few weeks ago I would have pointed you to the nifty free Pollux App. Unfortunately, its recent popularity has actually brought that app down (or more precisely the internet databases it depends on). There are some commercial alternatives, however, such as SongGenie ($39.95). I have not actually used SongGenie, but there is a trial version available, so you could actually dump the tracks into iTunes and then try SongGenie to fix the tags, etc.


Tacoman asks

I have a late 2008 unibody MacBook with Snow Leopard. I want to run Windows 7 using Parallels 5. I was wondering if I could use an external drive via USB instead of partitioning my MacBook's HD. Would that be easily done. I have never used Parallels so I am not sure if it lets you pick a drive. That way in order to run Windows 7 I would have to have my HD connected.

Unfortunately, you cannot do this via Apple-supported methods. This Apple Boot Camp FAQ bluntly states that you "can use Boot Camp to install Windows on any internal hard drive, but not on an external hard drive." The way Boot Camp works it must partition your main drive.

That said, if you're up for some major MacBook surgery there is a workaround posted over at MacRumors... it involves temporarily removing your internal hard drive, so it's not a trivial process.

Update: Yikes, I misread the question. Yes, it is possible to run a Parallels virtual machine from an external hard drive. All you need to do is save the virtual machine .hdd file to the external drive.


charly asks

When I reply someone using Mail, it tries to fill information of the contacting my Address Book but does this thing wrong so I finally get duplicated surnames in my Address Book or unwanted surnames. For example: "Dad" becomes "Dad Smith" or "John Smith" becomes "John Smith Smith". I think this is a "feature" (bug) of Mail.app and I want to disable it. Is there any way to get rid of this behavior? Is frustration to edit all my misspelling contacts manually.

I'm not entirely sure what's happening here. The first obvious question is: are all your contacts in the Address Book correct? If not, the first thing you should do is open the Address Book application and fix any incorrect information. That said, your autofill problem may not actually be from the Address Book database but from the Previous Recipients list. In Mail.app select Previous Recipients from the Window Menu. You can then remove misspelled entries from that list.


dux asks

I have a 1.5GHz PowerPC G4 that with an 80GB Ultra ATA/100 hard drive running Leopard that hasn't gotten much use as of late. The hard drive is full to the point where I can't even download and install the necessary software updates. I would like to replace the hard drive and put this thing back to use. What do you recommend as the best replacement drive with the most space? I want to do the work myself, so what tips can you give me?

Unfortunately, you're not going to find a lot of choice in a 2.5" Ultra ATA drive these days. I'd check out Newegg for options. That said, once you get the drive you want you'll probably also want to pick up an external FireWire enclosure. Put the new hard drive in the enclosure and format it (with Disk Utility) then use Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper! ($27.95) to clone your present internal drive to the external drive. Now you can remove the new drive from the enclosure and the old internal drive from your Mac, install the new drive into your Mac and start it up. Now you should be able to pick up right where you left off, but with the increased capacity of the new drive. You can then put the old drive into the enclosure and you'll have a spare external drive as well.


Faye asks

With the increase in Mac users (including recent switchers), is it paranoid or wise to install and maintain an antivirus application?

Well, this is obviously a judgment call. At this point, I would not say it is paranoid, but neither would I think it strictly necessary. The downsides of running anti-virus are the cost and the possibility slowing down your machine. Also keep in mind that if you trade files with Windows users on a regular basis it can actually be a nice thing to run antivirus -- not so much to protect your Mac but prevent yourself from inadvertently forwarding a Windows virus along to another user.

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