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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Slow Login Time On Your Mac? Ditch the Cache!

In my previous post, I described a problem with iMovie. As part of the resolution, I trashed the Cache folder. I was amazed at how much faster the Mac logged in. Previously, it had taken up to 10 seconds or so to be useful from the Login screen - with the spinning colour wheel of doom furiously spinning away...

Well no more!

In speaking to Apple Support, the guy on the phone said he regularly trashes the Cache as all sorts of flotsam and jetsam builds up in it. Ironic when it is supposed to help speed things up!

After deleting mine the desktop arrived and was useful in about a second!

Much more acceptable for a latest generation iMac!!

My advice - if things are running a little slow - trash the Cache and see if it makes a difference...

"Connection Failed" in iLife apps (iMovie, iPhoto, iDVD)

This is a doozy. I migrated from my old Mac Mini using the Migration tool Apple provide with OSX and my Time Machine backup. All went well.

However, upon opening iMovie I got hit with this error message:

Connection Failed. The server "<server name>" may not exits or it is unavailable at this time. Check the server name or IP address, check your network connection, and then try again.

And so I click OK. Then the message pops back. So I click OK. Then the message pops back. So I click OK. Then the message pops back. Repeat several more times before figuring out this message ain't going anywhere...

It happens in iPhoto and iDVD too.

The "server" is my old PC I had used to migrate the rest of my videos and pictures from before ditching it, and it seems that encounter has stayed in the Apple config somewhere.

I had a surf round the Internet forums and came across this post on the Apple Forums. It is an older post, so perhaps geared towards iLife 09, whereas I'm using iLife 11. Anyway, it says to go into the Preferences folder on a different user that doesn't have the connection issues and copy over the "iapps" and "internetconfig" into your own Preferences folder. Or something. I'm not sure I followed it, because I can't copy and paste into the Preferences folder (P.S. turns out you can, I was just being an idiot and panicking!).

But I did find a workaround...

SOLUTION 1: Delete the iapps and internetconfig Preferences file and then open iMovie.

This works great the first time. However, the next time your problem comes back - so for me - not a permanent solution, although may work for others.

Finally, I decided to speak to a human being - so called Apple Support. Poor old Rob from Apple was totally bemused by my problem, and he soon escalated it to a "senior engineer" called Santos. Nice chap. We went through the problem and first off he decided we should trash, or move out into a temporary folder, some of the files associated with iMove. Here's what we went for:

iMovie - copy to a new folder
Preferences - copy to a new folder, then trash (some won't delete because they are in use)
Cache - trash
Application Support/iMovie - copy to a new folder

I then logged out and logged back in. I was told not to panic, as my desktop had returned to it's "virgin" state after as the Preferences files that controlled those things had gone (I never did get my Dock back, so just spent 5 minutes putting it back the way I like it). Opened iMovie - worked! No message. Opened iPhoto - and there was no library of photos. Poo! I could rebuild this, but knew it would take time.

Solution 2: Trash all the above files to return to a virgin system state

This is great if it would take a couple of minutes to rebuild iPhoto, or anything else in your iLife apps.

Not the case for me.

Santos then suggested I try putting back the Preferences files a few at a time. After that, he left me to it.

I moved back all the Preferences files accept those that mentioned iLife or any iLife app and logged out and back in.

No error message. No iPhoto library.

I was then left with a few files, and after a while narrowed it down to the two iPhoto Preferences files. No matter what I did, if I put one of them back, the network error message returned.

A dilemma: rebuild iPhoto's library (yuck) or think of another plan.

I decided to see how deep the rabbit hole went, so to speak. Santos mentioned that each network error message was likely to be associated with one file being corrupt or missing. If I kept clicking "OK" and count the number of times I did it, I would know how many files were associated with the old PC....


During this time, I also noticed that just moving the message to the very corner of the screen resulted in being able to use all the iLife programs as normal. So a rather tacky solution could be:

Solution 3: Just move the message off the screen until you can barely see it and carry on as normal

But with only 38 files to find, I thought I would give it a go. To cut a half hour story short, I found a bunch of photos I had converted from PowerPoint slides, and must have been left on my PC. When I tried to open one, my lovely network error message came back, but just once. So I moved all those to the trash (but they don't appear in the trash, they are just dead references) and hey presto - FIXED!!

Solution 4: Count the number of clicks, then find all the dead references in iPhoto

I thought that after 10-20 clicks of the message it was going to appear forever, and this was a reasonable assumption. But it will only appear for each corrupt or missing file from the network. If there are only a few, try and locate them in your iPhoto library. If there are a lot, might be best to remove the iPhoto Preferences files and rebuild your library from scratch...

I wish I had seen this post in the Apple Forums - I have no idea how I missed it: It describes what I did, but more suited to a larger library. Further down there is a post advocating using a tool called "iPhoto Library Manager" which may be useful if you have a larger library... Previous messages in the post also delete the iApps Preference file and then have the problem come back - so it seems to be others experiencing that and not just me!