Apple miscellaneous

This page contains a selection of miscellaneous tricks and tips for OS X (Mac and Macbook) computers.


This page gives miscellaneous guidance related to OS X, particularly for those who might be more familiar with Windows.


Some useful pages on Apple's website

  • To download Apple updates, that are also available outside of the automatic Software Update, visit Downloads page.
  • Mac startup key combinations for entering Recover mode, Safe mode, booting the Startup Manager and various other maintenance and repair tasks.


Not version specific

To find out how to diagnose and remediate slow OS X computers visit the wiki's Slow OS X computer page.

You can identify a MacBook Pro model from this support page. Older models won't support the latest versions of OS X. A useful compatibility chart allows you to see which versions a particular model supports. The EveryMac website is also a useful resource to identify Apple computers, their specs and what OS they support.

You can find installers for previous versions of MacOS (as app, dmg, iso, pkg) and firmware (ipsw) using this tool.

This OSXDefaults script shows many default preferences. You can copy and paste preference settings you want to set in a terminal window or create a script of your own based on this one. You may want to check the actual value of a preference on your system before changing it so you can reverse the change if you need to.

OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard is no longer maintained, but some security fixes have been published independently:

OS X 10.10 Yosemite

Continuity features

Yosemite's continuity features (Handoff, Instant Hotspot, call transfer and Airdrop) require Bluetooth 4.0 to be activated. Not all Macs have Bluetooth 4.0 hardware. Some of these Yosemite features can be activated in earlier Macs either by using an external dongle or by replacing the internal Airport card with compatible hardware. In some instances an activation patching software is also needed.

  • The Continuity Activation Tool web page maintains a chart listing the compatibility of most Macs and what hardware and/or tool are needed to activate the continuity features.

Note that as the MAC address of the Airport card is used to identify the computer to authorise it with iTunes, prior to changing the Airport card you should 'Deauthorize This Computer' in iTunes, and afterwards 'Authorize This Computer' (this is in the Store menu). Also you will need to recreate any Bluetooth pairings you had set up as the address of the Bluetooth interface will also have changed.


When it all works, here's how to use these features: Connect your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac using Continuity.

Old unsupported scanners

It is possible in many cases to use old unsupported scanners. Here are some useful pages documenting how to achieve this:


Checking batteries

You can find information on the battery and power systems in the System Information (accessible in the top left Apple menu when pressing Alt) / Hardware / Power tab. However the donation-ware Coconut Battery utility provides much of this information in a much more user friendly manner and also allows you to compare your battery history with that of others.

Booting Linux

The Mac Linux USB Loader is as its name suggests a USB boot loader for running Linux from a USB key on a Mac.