Author: Mike

Disabling Spotlight

In some cases, Spotlight’s indexing becomes a nuisance at best, and a problem at worst. A diagnostic OS can be used to repair or recover from a failing hard drive, for example, but Spotlight indexing can slow down the process (and lessen your chances of recovering data).

Luckily, it’s pretty simple to disable Spotlight. In the Terminal, run this command:

sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/

If you later change your mind, this command will reverse it:

sudo launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/

Note that this disables Spotlight systemwide, not just on a per-HD basis. Existing Spotlight indexes will be left untouched.

It should be noted, in OS X 10.7 and above, the App Store uses Spotlight to recognize which apps are installed and can be updated. With Spotlight disabled, the App Store will only show OS updates. If you’re updating your Diagnostic OS, I’d suggest temporarily changing this setting.

Tested with: 10.4, 10.5, 10.6, 10.7, 10.8, 10.9

Scrolling switcher

Starting with 10.7 Lion, Apple switched the scrolling direction. This can cause some confusion with people used to older Mac OS versions, or those coming from a Windows background.

I wanted to see if it were possible to allow people to toggle this without needing to visit System Preferences, so I did some digging. I found a script for trackpads on Super User, but it used GUI scripting. I modified it for both the mouse and trackpad panes, and posted it to GitHub. Although there are two separate scripts, changing the scrolling direction seems to apply to both the mouse and trackpad.

That said, Charles Edge has posted the best way to do this at Krypted: Disable Natural Scrolling With a Script.

Tested with: 10.7, 10.8

PSU MacAdmins Conference 2012 Presentation

This year, I gave my first presentation at the Penn State MacAdmins Conference: Introduction to Mac Triage and Troubleshooting. Here’s the description:

In this session, we’ll go over the basics of component isolation and hardware/software troubleshooting. We’ll cover common fixes and methods for diagnosing a problem quickly and accurately.

My slides are available here, and the video is below. Enjoy!

Allow admin users with no password to use sudo

Although Apple has always discouraged it, users were able to create accounts without passwords until OS X 10.7. Starting with OS X 10.5, Apple prevented these types of accounts from being able to use ‘sudo’ via the command line.

Why might this be a problem? In my case, I built a diagnostic OS (accessible via NetBoot) that sometimes needed this kind of access. MacPorts was a common issue, but the original reason was a program called CopyCatX. If your user account did not have a password set, CopyCatX would refuse to run.

Anyway, the fix is pretty easy – you’ll need to edit the file /etc/sudoers. Although it’s recommended that you use visudo (as it does sanity checks on the file), I tend to use TextWrangler. Carefully.

Change the line that reads:

%admin ALL=(ALL) ALL

to say this instead:


(I’d recommend against copying and pasting – Bad Things can happen if this file is damaged. Type it out.)

Save. You may need to reboot, as well.

Tested with: 10.5, 10.6, 10.7, 10.8, 10.9

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