Creating A macOS Sierra Bootable USB Flash Installer

Using Apple’s “Terminal”, you can create a macOS Sierra bootable USB installer. This installer can be used to perform a clean installation of macOS Sierra on a compatible Mac.

First, download the most recent version of macOS Sierra from the App Store. While you may have retained a copy of macOS Sierra from a previous upgrade, you’ll want to download a fresh copy to ensure you have the latest version. If you use an older version, you may need to install a series of macOS Sierra updates later on.

Once you have downloaded a copy of macOS Sierra, the macOS Sierra Installer will be located in the “Applications” folder of your Mac HD. The file will be called “Install macOS Sierra”. Leave the macOS Sierra Installer in its current, default location. This is important for later on.

Next, connect a USB Flash drive to your Mac. The USB Flash drive should be at least 8GB or larger. Make sure the USB Flash drive does not contain any files or documents you wish to keep. As part of the process to create a bootable USB Flash installer for macOS Sierra, the USB Flash drive will be formatted (all data will be erased). Once the USB Flash drive is connected and has mounted onto your desktop, change the name of the drive to “Untitled”. Again, this is important for later on.

Launch “Terminal”. You can do this by going to Finder, select “Go” from the menu bar then “Utilities”. Within “Utilities” double-click on “Terminal”.

Copy and paste the command line below into the “Terminal” window (make sure to copy the command line in its entirety):

sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Sierra.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia –volume /Volumes/Untitled –applicationpath /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Sierra.app

After pasting the above command line into “Terminal”, press the return key on your keyboard. “Terminal” will prompt you for your computer password. Enter your password then press the return key on your keyboard.

“Terminal” will ask you to confirm that you want to erase the USB Flash drive. Enter “Y” for Yes then press return on your keyboard. “Terminal” will format the USB Flash drive and then proceed with copying over the macOS Sierra Installer files and make the Flash drive bootable. Once the process is complete, “Terminal” will display “Copy Complete” followed by “Done”. If there are no error messages, you can close out of “Terminal”.

Your macOS Sierra bootable USB Flash drive should now be ready. You can test the USB Flash drive by restarting the Mac and holding down the Option key during restart. On startup, you should be prompted to select the drive that you want to boot from (either the internal hard drive/SSD or the USB Flash drive). Select the USB Flash drive to make sure the drive works properly. After the USB Flash drive boots successfully into the macOS Sierra Installer, you can exit the installer, restart the Mac and boot normally to your internal hard drive/SSD.

Additional Notes:

  • After downloading the macOS Sierra Installer, make sure to leave the installer file in its default location (Applications folder). The Terminal command line will not work if you move the installer file.
  • Make sure the USB Flash drive is renamed to “Untitled”. The Terminal command line will not work if the flash drive is named differently.
  • If you are having problems creating a macOS Sierra bootable USB Flash drive using the current USB Flash drive, try a different flash drive. Some USB Flash drives may be problematic.

A look at the MacBook (13-inch, Late 2009) . . . in 2017

MacBook_Late2009

The white polycarbonate unibody MacBooks are officially no more with Apple dropping support for the MacBook (13-inch, Mid 2010), the last of this series, along with several other older models including the 13-inch MacBook Pro (Mid 2009), 15-inch MacBook Pro (Mid 2009) and 15-inch MacBook Pro 2.53GHz (Mid 2009). The end of support means Apple will no carry inventory/parts for nor make repairs to these models should you experience any hardware issues. However, you may be able to find third-party repair shops capable of making repairs albeit potentially expensive repairs.

While these models are considered older, outdated and obsolete by today’s standards, some can still run well if kept in good physical condition and with a few upgrades. For instance, let’s look at the MacBook (13-inch, Late 2009) series.

At the time of release, the base model MacBook (13-inch, Late 2009) came with a 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of RAM (upgradeable to 4GB* of RAM), NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics processor with 256MB of shared memory, a 250GB SATA 5400RPM hard drive (upgradeable to an optional 320GB or 500GB 5400RPM hard drive) and Mac OS X v.10.6 Snow Leopard. Additional features included: 8x Dual-Layer SuperDrive, Gigabit Ethernet, Built-in Airport and Bluetooth, Built-in iSight, Mini DisplayPort, two USB 2.0 ports, 3.5mm audio jack, Kensington lock slot and MagSafe with 60-watt power adapter.

Our MacBook (13-inch, Late 2009), which I coincidentally am using to write this post, was ordered to the base model configuration but customized with 4GB of RAM instead of 2GB of RAM. It’s currently running 8GB* of RAM, a Sandisk 240GB Solid State Drive (SSD) and Apple’s latest operating system, macOS Sierra v.10.12.

While the upgraded MacBook (13-inch, Late 2009) is a bit slower than the new MacBook product lines (and quite a bit heavier), it still performs quite well and gives our MacBook some new life. From running the latest applications to surfing the web, streaming audio and video, social media and so forth, the MacBook (13-inch, Late 2009) can still deliver and get the job done. And of course, if you need the SuperDrive and all those traditional ports, they are available on this model.

 

*The MacBook (13-inch, Late 2009) can support up to 8GB of RAM. The 4GB of RAM limit is based upon Apple’s official specifications at the time of product release. When upgrading to 8GB of RAM (2 x 4GB modules), verify that the RAM modules have been certified to work in the MacBook (13-inch, Late 2009). Some RAM modules may not be supported in the MacBook (13-inch, Late 2009) at the 8GB limit.

A Look at Apple’s MacBook 12-inch (2016) – Part 2

MacBook 12-inch

After spending some time working on the Apple MacBook 12-inch (2016), I remain quite impressed with its overall performance. Keep in mind that this is the base model running a 1.1GHz dual-core Intel Core m3 processor (Turbo Boost up to 2.2GHz), 8GB RAM and 256GB PCIe-based flash storage and not a unit that has been upgraded to an Intel Core m5 or m7 processor.

Display

The Retina Display is certainly a significant upgrade. The Retina Display on the MacBook 12-inch makes visuals rich, vivid and vibrant. The color depth and resolution are welcomed upgrades especially for users of the MacBook Air who have long awaited a Retina Display.

The 12-inch screen size may take a little getting used to if you’ve been using a a 13.3-inch or larger display but it’s doable. While you do lose a bit of the screen real estate, it’s certainly not a deal breaker.

Audio

The audio from the built-in speakers on the MacBook 12-inch is fantastic. The sound quality is a major improvement and you can tell the difference immediately. To put it in perspective, think of it as the difference between listening to audio using a MacBook Air’s built-in speakers vs. attaching an external speaker (ex: JBL, Bose, Beats). With the MacBook’s speakers, you won’t need to attach an external speaker for great sound.

CPU/Processor

Whether it’s e-mail, surfing the web, streaming audio and/or video, multi-tasking or so forth, the Intel Core m3 processor handles pretty well. I haven’t run into any spinning beach balls or significant performance lags. Again, I wouldn’t recommend it for Adobe Creative Cloud or audio/video editing and/or exporting (go with a minimum of a MacBook Air and opt for the Core i7 processor . . . MacBook Pro would be ideal) but for every day tasks, the MacBook 12-inch does a decent job.

Battery

I haven’t done any aggressive battery tests but running off the battery, I will say that battery life seems pretty good. Using the MacBook 12-inch in similar fashion to a MacBook Air 13.3-inch, the battery charge did not appear to drain any faster on the MacBook 12-inch than on the MacBook Air 13.3-inch. While the MacBook Air should give you a couple extra hours of battery life over that of the MacBook, the MacBook should still provide solid battery life.

Keyboard

Apple replaced the traditional scissor mechanism on the MacBook keyboard with a new butterfly mechanism. The new butterfly mechanism does make the key press feel quite different than the traditional scissor mechanism; butterfly mechanism keys do not depress as far down as traditional scissor mechanism keys. This does require some adjustment.

When typing on the MacBook keyboard, I found that I would periodically fail to strike a key properly and would need to go back to make corrections. Again, not a deal breaker but it will require some time to make the adjustment.

USB-C Port

With thin and light comes the trade-off of a single USB-C port on the MacBook 12-inch. It would’ve been nice if Apple decided to add a second USB-C port to last year’s MacBook refresh; however, there are enough USB-C adapters out there that you should be able to find one that can accommodate your needs.

The Satechi Slim Aluminum Type-C Multi-port Hub Adapter with Type-C Charging Port, 4K HDMI Video Output (30 Hz) and two USB 3.0 Ports has worked flawlessly thus far. While it may be a bit inconvenient to have to pull out an adapter every time you need to connect a USB device or charge the MacBook while connecting to some other port, it’s bearable.

FaceTime Camera

One trade-off that isn’t quite as bearable is the 480p FaceTime camera especially when the MacBook Air (11.6-inch and 13.3-inch) and MacBook Pro (13.3-inch and 15.4-inch) models come with a 720p FaceTime camera.

The 480p FaceTime camera’s image quality is quite choppy and pixelated. Hopefully, Apple will give the FaceTime camera an upgrade in the next MacBook 12-inch model.

Fanless Design

With the thin design and Intel Core M processors, Apple was able to make the MacBook 12-inch fanless which allows it to run extremely quiet. While the unit did get warm on the underside after prolonged use, it did not feel unusually warm.

Price

Starting at $1299, the MacBook 12-inch may not be the most “bang for your buck”; though, it’s still a good investment if you are considering it for the right reasons.

A Look at Apple’s MacBook 12-inch (2016)

Last year, Apple gave its MacBook 12-inch model a nice refresh. While the outside remained the same, the refresh did provide improvements to the CPU/processor, RAM, flash storage and battery life.

While the MacBook 12-inch model may not meet the needs of power users, it will meet the needs of those looking for a lightweight (around 2 lbs.), small form factor laptop with a Retina Display and decent performance for e-mail, Internet access, productivity applications (ex: MS Office), social media, streaming music & video.

MacBook

Testing a MacBook 12-inch (2016) base model with a 1.1GHz dual-core Intel Core m3 processor (Turbo Boost up to 2.2GHz), 8GB RAM and 256GB PCIe-based flash storage, the MacBook performed well throughout the initial setup, installation of applications, web surfing, streaming music & videos and file transfers. The general performance was quite impressive and counter to what I thought I might experience (ex: spinning beach balls). While I wouldn’t recommend using the MacBook 12-inch model for Adobe Creative Cloud, audio/video editing and exports (even if you upgrade to the Intel Core m5 or m7 processors . . . though feel free to experiment at your own discretion); for most day-to-day computing needs, the MacBook should work well.

Of course, the starting price of $1299, the single USB-C port and the need for a variety of USB-C adapters to work with existing peripherals and devices may influence your decision on whether to go with the MacBook 12-inch model. Keep in mind that the new 2016 MacBook Pro models also utilize the USB-C ports (either 2-ports or 4-ports) so adapters will still be necessary should you opt for the new MacBook Pro. Apple is still offering as an option the previous generation MacBook Pro in both 13-inch and 15-inch models with the traditional ports as well as the MacBook Air.

MacBook Accessories

If you do opt for a MacBook 12-inch model, there are accessories you may want to consider. While there are certainly plenty of accessories available, here are just a few to consider.

Mosiso Polyester Fabric Sleeve for MacBook 12-inch (Color: Black & Hot Blue)

Mosiso

The Mosiso sleeve is a nice, well-padded sleeve for the MacBook. The material feels both soft and durable. The black & hot blue color is very nice. There is an external zippered pocket to store accessories like the 29W USB-C power cable & adapter and USB-C adapters. The sleeve is available on Amazon for $12.99 – http://amzn.to/2okjsIm.

Satechi Slim Aluminum Type-C Multi-port Hub Adapter with Type-C Charging Port, 4K HDMI Video Output (30 Hz) and two USB 3.0 Ports

 

The Satechi USB-C hub adapter is a portable, easy-to-use, plug-n-play accessory. Connect it to the single USB-C port on your MacBook and it will give you a USB-C passthrough port for charging, two USB 3.0 ports for your USB devices and a HDMI port (30 Hz) for video output. Note: The Satechi USB-C hub adapter does not support the Apple SuperDrive.

The Satechi USB-C hub adapter comes in four colors (silver, space gray, gold, rose gold) which correspond to the four color options of the MacBook. While this hub adapter will not solve all your USB-C adapter needs, it’s a nice place to start. The Satechi USB-C hub adapter is available on Amazon for $59.99 – http://amzn.to/2nCurQl.

Apple has a series of USB-C adapters available at discounted prices for a limited time. Note: The discounts apply to USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 accessories for a limited time. For $49.00, you can get the USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter (which includes a USB-C port, HDMI port and USB port) or the USB-C VGA Multiport Adapter (which includes a USB-C port, VGA port and USB port) to name a few. For a complete list of USB-C adapters, visit Apple’s website at http://www.apple.com.

Tech Tip: Pointers for Upgrading Memory (RAM) on Macs

Operating Systems (OS) and applications require a minimum amount of RAM to function and a recommended amount of RAM for performance. While system performance is not solely tied to RAM (it is also affected by the CPU/processor, hard drive, OS build, etc.), RAM is one of several crucial components.

New Macs utilize onboard RAM. As such, you will need to decide on how much RAM to have installed at the time of purchase. You will not be able to upgrade the RAM later as the RAM is built onto the motherboard. While having more RAM is a good idea, the trade-off is that the cost of the computer will go up so plan and budget accordingly.

If you are running an older Mac, it will utilize traditional memory modules which are typically user accessible and replaceable. A portion of the memory could be onboard with one or more memory slots available for add-on memory modules.

A few pointers if you plan to upgrade RAM:

  • Determine how much memory is currently installed on your Mac. You can do this by going to the Apple menu then “About This Mac” and then go to the tab for “Memory”. Note: The aforementioned steps may vary depending on the version of OS X/macOS that you are running. Take note of how much memory is installed (capacity), how many memory slots are available (total slots), how many slots are in use and how many are free.
  • Determine the maximum amount of RAM that can be supported on your Mac as well as the type of RAM the Mac requires. First, go to the Apple menu then “About This Mac” and then go to the tab for “Overview”. The Overview tab will tell you which Mac series you have (ex: MacBook (13-inch, Late 2009)). Next, go to “System Report” and then in the “Hardware Overview”, locate the “Model Identifier” (ex: MacBook 6,1). With this information in hand, go to the Apple site and search for the technical specifications for your Mac. The Apple site will provide you with the requisite specifications. You can also go to one of the memory manufacturer sites (ex: Crucial, Kingston, PNY) and use their memory configurators to obtain this information. Note: Some memory configurators may report inaccurate memory specifications so it is important to utilize multiple sources to obtain accurate memory specifications.
  • Once you review the memory specifications for your Mac and have determined that the RAM can be upgraded, go to one of the memory manufacturer sites (ex: Kingston, Crucial, PNY) and use their memory configurator to find compatible memory for your Mac. Do some comparison shopping as memory prices are constantly changing. You will also want to do some additional research and read customer reviews on the memory modules before you make a purchase. Some customers experience problems with certain brands of memory running on certain types of Macs so due diligence is warranted.
  • Once you have the memory upgrade modules available, you can get instructions on how to install the modules from the Apple website. Tip: Before you purchase any modules, review the instructions for installing memory modules for your Mac. If you are unfamiliar or uncomfortable opening your Mac to install memory modules, consult with an IT professional.

If you checked the Apple site and determined that your Mac already has installed the maximum amount of RAM supported; there is one more thing that you should do. The memory specifications posted on the Apple site typically represent the factory default specifications at the time the Mac was produced and tested. The maximum amount of RAM supported by the Mac is based on the firmware available, memory limitations and availability, and other factors at the time the Mac was produced and tested. As time goes by, new firmware and memory modules become available which may allow computers to support more RAM; however, quite often, the factory default specifications will not be updated to reflect this because new computers will become available and replace their predecessors.

A company called OWC (Other World Computing – https://www.macsales.com) which manufacturers and sells its own memory modules and other products, also does testing on the Mac line of products in conjunction with their memory modules to determine if the Mac line of products will safely support RAM above the factory specifications. Through their website, you can use the Mac information gathered earlier to find your Mac and see if your Mac supports additional RAM above the factory limits. If your Mac does support additional RAM above the factory limits, be sure to purchase OWC certified modules as OWC tests, certifies and warrants their memory modules to work safely and properly in those respective Macs. While you can go to another memory manufacturer for similar modules, keep in mind that those modules, unless stated, may not be tested and certified to work with your Mac above the factory default specifications.

Let’s use our MacBook, 13-inch, Late 2009 edition (MacBook 6,1) referenced earlier as an example. If you pull up the official Apple specifications for this series, the MacBook 13-inch Late 2009 has two SO-DIMM slots which support up to 4GB of RAM (2 x 2GB). By today’s standards 4GB of RAM is quite inadequate; however, the factory specifications state that 4GB is our maximum. If you head over to OWC’s site and look up this Mac, you’ll discover that OWC has tested this series and determined that this series will support up to 8GB of RAM (2 x 4GB). Using certified OWC compatible RAM modules, our MacBook 13-inch Late 2009 upgraded successfully from a factory max of 4GB of RAM to 8GB of RAM. The MacBook is stable and running smoothly. While not every Mac will be able to support RAM above the factory specifications, if you are looking to upgrade your RAM and have found that you have reached your factory limit or want to know if it supports additional RAM above the factory specifications, check out OWC’s site.

Tech Tip: Apple iOS – Messages app displaying contacts by phone number instead of by name

If you find that the Messages app suddenly displays existing messages and texts by phone number instead of by name AND the affected contacts are in your iOS “Contacts”, there are some steps that you can try in order to resolve the issue.

Tip: Be sure to backup your iOS device via iTunes or iCloud before making any changes to your device.

Note: You may need to adjust these steps depending on the version of iOS and the iOS device that you are using.

  • Turn your iOS device OFF then ON – Turn off your iOS device by holding down the power button for several seconds until the “Slide to Power Off” button appears then slide to power off your iOS device. Wait a couple of minutes then turn on your iOS device by holding down the power button for a few seconds. After your iOS device starts up, check to see if the issue has been resolved.
  • Reboot your iOS device – You can reboot your iOS device by holding down the power & home buttons simultaneously until the Apple logo appears (for most iOS devices) OR by holding down the power button and down/lower volume button simultaneously until the Apple logo appears (for iPhone 7/iPhone 7 Plus). After your iOS device reboots, check to see if the issue has been resolved.
  • Toggle Messages Off/On – In iOS 10, go to Settings | Messages. Toggle the iMessage button to the off position, wait 10-15 seconds, then toggle the button back to the on position (On = Green). Check to see if the issue has been resolved.
  • Toggle Contacts Off/On – In iOS 10, go to Settings | Contacts. Go to Accounts and select the account(s) for which your contacts for the Messages app are connected to. Within that (those) account(s), toggle the Contacts button to the off position, wait 10-15 seconds, then toggle the button back to the on position (On = Green). Check to see if the issue has been resolved.
  • Update a Contact – Go into your Contacts and update a contact then check to see if the issue has been resolved.
  • Reset Network Settings – In iOS 10, go to Settings | General | Reset | Reset Network Settings. Follow the iOS prompts to reset the network settings on your iOS device. This will reset the network settings for your iOS device including resetting Wi-Fi, cellular and VPN settings. After the reset, you will need to restore your network settings. Once your network settings have been restored, check to see if the issue has been resolved.
  • Delete all existing texts and messages from the Messages app – While this may not be an ideal situation, consider this a “last resort”. Delete all existing texts and messages from the Messages app then ask one or more of the affected contacts to send you a new text or message to see if new messages are properly displaying the names of your contacts vs. their phone numbers.

Experimenting with GarageBand: One Year Later

It’s been over a year since I started experimenting with Apple’s GarageBand, initially playing around with smart instruments using the auto-play control and eventually building up to creating, editing, arranging & producing full tracks in GarageBand using only smart instruments on auto-play and royalty-free Apple loops (both included with GarageBand).

While I don’t expect to win any awards for any of these tracks nor do I intend to be an award-winning composer by any degree, I will say that this has been a truly fun, rewarding & educational experience. I am extremely pleased with all the tracks that have been created & produced over the past year.

Jam Sessions Collection

The Jam Sessions collection is a “preview” of the kinds of tracks that can be created using GarageBand’s smart instruments on auto-play. When using the auto-play control in conjunction with smart instruments, you can access a series of preset chord progressions. The chord progressions will vary depending on your key/chord selections and the smart instruments you choose. How you edit, arrange, and utilize these smart instrument chord progressions in your own tracks is completely up to you and is only limited by your own creativity.

The Jam Sessions collection is not only a collection of “preview” tracks; it also serves as the building block for the forthcoming On The Road collection. Many of the chord progressions previewed in the Jam Sessions collection are incorporated into the On The Road collection.

Check out the Jam Sessions collection below:

Countdown, Discovery & Countdown Revisited

GarageBand also includes a library of royalty-free Apple loops which you can similarly use to create your own unique arrangement or get more sophisticated and throw in some smart instruments on auto-play.

Countdown & Discovery were the first two tracks I created, edited, arranged and produced in GarageBand using royalty-free Apple loops and smart instruments on auto-play. Countdown became one of my favorite tracks that I ended up revisiting the track and arranging a new version, Countdown Revisited.

Check out Countdown, Discovery & Countdown Revisited below: