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#896: Solution For Forgotten Passcodes, Mavericks Keychain Access, Useful Commands for Terminal in OS X


Happy Holidays, Everyone!

Some of us just got through our holiday festivities, and some of us are just getting started. I have been to a couple holiday parties so far and while fun, they can be hectic, too. Sometimes I wish that getting ready and picking gifts to bring to these parties was as easy as operating an iPad or MacBook..

We have been seeing a lot of friendly faces over the last couple weeks as people get gifts for their loved ones and coworkers. Apple gave us a gift as well when they released the newly designed Mac Pro for sale. With its state of art design and jaw-opening specifications, it is going to be hard for people who want a Mac desktop to resist this buy, even with a starting price of $2,999.99!

Of course, we will keep you updated about when they are available in our stores! Enjoy your tech fix everyone and have a safe holiday!


  Solution For Forgotten Passcodes  

There seems to be an influx of customers who have forgotten the passcode on their iPod touch, iPhone, or iPad. Although this is an unfortunate frustration, the fix is relatively easy, and (hopefully) painless, provided you have your music/apps/other data backed up on your computer.

Warning: This fix will erase all data on the device itself. As long as everything is backed up on your computer, you have nothing to worry about.

Basically, you need to restore your iPod/iPhone/iPad in “recovery mode.” In order to get your device into Recovery Mode, you first need to turn off your device (hold the Sleep/Wake button until the “slide to power off” prompt can bee seen, slide it!). Now, that your device is off, make sure your USB dock connector cable is plugged into a USB port on your computer, but NOT plugged into the device. iTunes should be open during this process. While holding down the home button, plug your usb cable into the device, keep holding the home button until you see the “Connect to iTunes” screen (iTunes logo + USB cable).

You should now get an alert in iTunes that states a device in “recovery mode” has been detected. Click OK, and you are now able to restore the device, erasing the user added data, as well as the passcode.

  Mavericks Keychain Access  

As I mentioned in my previous article featured in Tech Tails Issue #883, Keychain Access is a very handy utility. It intuitively saves all your passwords in one location any time you log into a secure site and/or account. Appropriately, your passwords are essentially keys and OS X Keychain Access is…well, a keychain.

Forgetting your system admin password is equivalent to losing your keys, but resetting a password is very easy thanks to OS X’s new Recovery partition — steps I explain in article #889.

However, doing this does not change the default password that you’ve forgotten. Because of this, you will be prompted to enter a keychain password each time an application requires authentication that your (old) keychain would normally provide.

There is a solution to resolving this and it requires deleting the login keychain. Though not a very intuitive process in previous versions of OS X, Mavericks makes it much more clear for basic users.

If you don’t remember your original password, you’ll need to delete the keychain. Deleting a keychain also deletes all the password data saved in that keychain. This shouldn’t be a major concern, assuming that you remember all your passwords for your various accounts.

  1. In Keychain Access, choose Preferences from the Keychain Access menu.
  2. If available, click the Reset My Default Keychain button. This will remove the login keychain and create a new one with the password provided.
  3. If Reset My Default Keychain is not available, choose Keychain List from the Edit menu.
  4. Delete the “login” keychain.

The next time you log in to the account, you can save your current password in a keychain.

  Useful Commands for Terminal in OS X  

Terminal commands can sometimes do things much more quickly than finding and adjusting settings in the graphical operating system. Terminal can be found in Applications > Utilities. But the easiest way to open it (or any application not on your dock) is to click Command + Spacebar which opens Spotlight; then type in the first few characters of the application’s name (e.g. “term”).

Before following any of the commands below, be sure your data is backed up. Any command requiring sudo at the beginning is asking for elevated permissions and should be handled with special care. Also note that changes are made between OS versions and not all commands (there are thousands of them and their iterations) are compatible with every version of OS X.

Some tricks in Terminal include typing “clear” (no quotes) to clear everything currently on the screen. It’s especially useful in scripts, and you can usually break (stop) running processes by either typing Control-C or Control-Z.

Showing hidden files can be useful for troubleshooting or looking for hidden Library files that need to be deleted to reset preferences for a troubled application. Note that they are hidden for a reason; if others access a computer the hidden files should be re-enabled when you are finished.

defaults write AppleShowAllFiles TRUE

Change the default format for screen shots from .png to .jpg or .pdf if you prefer.
defaults write type file-extension
Replace “file-extension” with the three letter abbreviation of your desired file format, e.g. jpg or pdf.

Show drive labels for all mounted volumes even if they are not showing up in Finder or Disk Utility. This is useful if you have a CD/DVD, thumb drive or external drive that isn’t showing up Finder; you can at least see if the computer is recognizing the device on some level.

diskutil list

For more really useful options for diskutil, type “man diskutil” at the prompt and you can scroll through all the options. You can use “man” with any command to view all options for that command, it stands for manual pages.

Add a “Recent Applications” icon to your dock for apps that you may use but aren’t necessarily on your dock. It’s a convenient way to clean up your dock.

defaults write persistent-others -array-add ‘{ “tile-data” = { “list-type” = 1; }; “tile-type” = “recents-tile”; }’; killall Dock

For laptops and a little extra security, you can add your name and phone number as contacts if it’s found; for businesses you can add a message regarding your logon or security policies:

sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/ LoginwindowText “Hi, I am Mac”

To undo it type:
sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/ LoginwindowText “”

Again, always be sure that your data is backed up. There are many useful Terminal commands, to explore them just Google something like, “Mac useful Terminal commands.” Before long, you could be a script wizard!

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