How to View Mac Files on a Windows PC

Even though OS X can read Windows formatted hard drives just fine, the opposite is still not true, even with Windows 10. Granted, OS X can’t write to a Windows formatted disk, but at least it can read the contents of the drive and you can copy the data to your Mac computer.

Windows has absolutely no support for the Mac hard disk file format (HFS+). This means that if you connect a Mac formatted drive to Windows, you’ll simply get a blank drive letter and a message asking to format the disk.

format disk windows

If you click Cancel, you’ll just get a message stating that the volume does not contain a recognized file system.

drive not recognized

I’ve already written about how, if your external USB drive is not recognized by Windows, you might have to use the exFAT file format, which both Windows and Mac support, however, this requires formatting the drive and copying all the data back on.

Another solution is to enable file sharing on your Mac and access files from Windows that way, but this requires a decent amount of setup. So are there any other options? Well, thankfully yes. If you use Macs and PCs heavily in your setup, it might be worth spending some money on a program called MacDrive.

MacDrive

MacDrive is a great program that allows you to use Mac formatted disks on your Windows PC like a normal drive. Using the program, you can read and write data to HFS+ drives just like a normal Windows formatted drive.

You can then disconnect the drive from Windows, plug it into your Mac and access everything normally. If you find yourself having to copy data back and forth between Macs and PCs fairly often, this program is a great investment.

The Standard version is $49 and the Pro version is $69. You can see the difference between the two versions here. For me, the Standard version was more than enough. If you need to mount Mac formatted RAID sets on your PC or create ISO Mac images in Windows, then the Pro version will be necessary.

mac drive install

You can try out the program using the five-day free trial. Once you install it, you’ll have to restart your Windows PC. Once you log back into Windows, everything should automatically be good to go. If you connect a Mac formatted disk to your computer, it’ll instantly show up in Explorer with a little Apple icon on it.

mac drive on windows

If you double-click on the drive, it will open just like a normal Windows drive. If there is any file that is Mac-specific, it will also show an apple icon next to it.

mac data on windows

Now you can copy data from the Mac formatted drive to your Windows PC and vice versa. It works perfectly and I didn’t run into a single issue. I was able to copy DMG files to my Windows PC and EXE files over to my Mac without any issue.

If you open the MacDrive app, you’ll see the main screen lists out the Mac drives the program has recognized already for you.

select mac disk

Click on the drive and you’ll get some options like opening the drive, removing it, getting a size breakdown and checking for errors.

mac drive options

I really like the fact that Disk Aware is part of this program because it allows you to quickly see what is taking up the most space on your hard drive, just like TreeSize does for Windows.

disk aware

MacDrive also has other tools, which you can see across the top: Create, Repair, Burn, etc. Using Repair, you can connect a Mac drive to your Windows PC and fix it so that the data can be accessed. This is a great tool if you are a PC technician and someone brings you a Mac formatted hard drive that is corrupt or unreadable by OS X. You can use Mac Drive to try and repair it and access the data right on your PC.

Using the Create tab, you can create, delete or format partitions on a Mac disk. The Burn tab allows you to burn a CD/DVD for your Mac.

Overall, it’s an excellent program that is well worth the cost if you work with both operating systems on a regular basis. There is no other program out there that lets you access Mac files on a PC as easily and seamlessly as MacDrive. If you have any questions, feel free to comment. Enjoy!

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How to Switch or Transfer Data to a New iPhone

Pretty much every spring Apple releases a new version of the iPhone and that means it’s time for everyone to decide if they can spare enough money for the latest model. If you have stuck with Apple over the years, you’ve probably upgraded your phone at least 2 or 3 times, even with those two year contracts.

When you get a new iPhone, the obvious task is to transfer all your data from your old phone to your new phone. In order to do this, you have to backup one phone and restore the backup on the second phone. You can do this in one of two ways in iOS: local backups or via iCloud.

In this article, I’ll show you how you can switch between two iPhones using the local backup method and via iCloud. Before we get started, though, I should mention some of the caveats and pitfalls that can occur along the way.

iOS Version Requirements

Most of the time, you’ll be restoring a backup from an older iPhone running an older version or the same version of iOS as your new phone and this will cause absolutely no problems. When you perform a restore, the version of iOS on the device has to be the same or newer than the version in the backup.

For example, if you have an iPhone 5S running iOS 8 and you are restoring that backup to an iPhone 6S running iOS 9, everything will work fine. However, if you updated your iPhone 5S to iOS 9.2.1, created a backup and then tried to restore it on your iPhone 6S running iOS 9.1, it won’t work!

The fix is relatively easy, though. In cases like that, just update your phone to a version that is higher than the version in the backup and you’ll be fine.

Transferring Passwords

The second major issue, at least for me, is getting all my passwords transferred over to my new device. It’s pretty easy to get all your apps, photos, messages, etc. transferred, but it’s a real pain to have to re-enter all your app passwords, Wi-Fi passwords, and website passwords.

There are two ways you can transfer your passwords to another iPhone: by encrypting the local backup or by turning on iCloud KeyChain. As I mention both methods below, I’ll point out how to activate these two features, which will save you a lot of tedious typing after a restore.

Local iTunes Backup

With iTunes, you can quickly create a full backup of your iPhone with a few clicks. For full details, read my previous post on backing up an Apple device. To get started, open iTunes and then connect your phone to your computer.

itunes select iphone

At the top, you should see a small iPhone icon appear. Click on that and it will load up the Summary page for your device. Under Backups, you’ll see what the current default backup option is for your phone.

itunes backups

In my case, iCloud is where my phone gets backed up to automatically. I highly recommend using both iCloud and local backups as an extra safety net. First, check the Encrypt iPhone backup box and choose a password to secure the backup with. Make sure you keep the password safely because you’ll need it in order to restore the backup.

Now simply click on the Back Up Now button to start the backup. If you see a message about purchases that are not in your iTunes library popup, go ahead and click on Transfer Purchases. In addition, you may get a message stating that you need to authorize your computer in order to transfer some content. You can authorize up to five computers per iTunes account.

Once the backup is complete, you can disconnect your phone and connect the other one. Before you can restore a backup, you have to disable Find My iPhone on the phone where the backup will be restored. To do this, go to Settings, tap iCloud, tap Find My iPhone and then turn it off.

find my iphone

Now click on the Restore Backup button that is to the right of Back Up Now and choose the backup your just created. Note that if the backup you just created is missing from the list, it means there is some issue with the iOS version, which I mentioned above.

restore from backup

Click the Restore button and you’ll be asked to enter your password since the backup was encrypted. The only problem you can run into at this point is not having enough space on the second phone to restore the backup. For example, if you backed up a 64GB iPhone and try to restore it to a 32GB iPhone, you might run into an issue if the backup size is larger than the phone storage capacity.

In those types of cases, you either have to reduce the size of the backup by deleting content and data off the phone or you have to make sure the other phone has the same or a larger capacity.

iCloud Backup

If you prefer to use the cloud for your device backups, then iCloud works really well overall. In my experience, it just takes a lot longer than restoring from an iTunes backup because everything has to be downloaded over your Internet connection.

iCloud backups are done automatically, so as long as it’s enabled, you should already have a backup. If you’re not sure, tap on Settings, then iCloud and make sure Backup is set to On. Obviously, the phone should already be logged into iCloud with your Apple ID.

To manually create a backup in iCloud, just tap Back Up Now. It will also tell you the time of your last backup.

icloud backup

In order to restore an iCloud backup, you have to completely erase your iPhone. I’m not a huge fan of this method, but that’s the only way it works right now. So on the phone you want to restore the back to, tap on Settings, General, Reset and then Erase All Content and Settings.

erase iphone

You’ll then need to tap Erase iPhone twice before it actually starts erasing the phone. Again, Find My iPhone will need to be turned off first. Once the phone has been erased, it will start up with the Hello screen. Swipe and then choose your language and country.

Next, connect to a WiFi network and then enable or disable location services. Skip past Touch ID and the passcode options and you’ll finally get a screen where you can choose how to restore your data. You can pick from iCloud Backup, iTunes Backup, Setup as New iPhone or Move Data from Android.

apps and data

In our case, you will choose iCloud backup and then enter your Apple ID and password. When you do that, you may have to verify your identity if you enabled two-factor verification on your account. At this point, you should get a list of the recent iCloud backups from all your devices.

iphone backups

You’ll be able to see the date and time of the backup, the device and the name associated with that device. If a backup is greyed out, that means if cannot be restored to the device, probably due to iOS version issues.

As mentioned, it could take quite a bit of time for your iCloud restore to complete. Even after the iPhone loads, you’ll notice that it then downloads all your media and apps. It can easily take several hours for a phone to be restored using iCloud.

Make sure iCloud KeyChain is enabled before you restore your backup so that all that data will be synced once you log into iCloud on the new phone. To do that, tap on Settings, then iCloud, then KeyChain and enable it.

icloud keychain

So those are all the procedures for backing up and restoring an iPhone to another device. In my opinion, it’s a good idea to pay for some extra iCloud storage and store your backups there in addition to locally on your PC. Apple has great hardware, but their software has quite a few bugs and I’ve run into issues with backups randomly missing or restores failing, etc. If you have any questions, feel free to comment. Enjoy!

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How to Fix Upside Down Videos

Ever record a video with your smartphone, then play it on your computer and find that the video is upside down or 90 degrees off? I’ve had that happen on several occasions and I ended up having to manually fix the videos using various third party software.

In this post, I’m going to talk about two free Windows programs that you can use for fixing upside down videos: VLC Media Player and Windows Movie Maker. The difference between the two is that with the former, the change is temporary and done on the fly in the program. With Windows Movie Maker, you can permanently save the changes to the file.

If you just want to watch a video on your computer, then the temporary fix is probably the better solution. If you need to upload the video or share it with someone else, then you should use Movie Maker to permanently fix the issue.

In addition, I’ll also mention how you can perform this task on a Mac and via a free online service.

VLC Media Player

Let’s start out with VLC, which is my favorite media player not only because it can play damaged video files, but also because it has pretty much every video codec built-in already. To rotate a video in VLC, first open your video file so that it is playing.

upside down video

Now click on Tools and then Effects and Filters.

effects and filters vlc

On the Adjustments and Effects dialog, click on the Video Effects tab and then click on the Geometry tab.

rotate video vlc

Here you can adjust the orientation of the video in two ways. The easiest way to flip the video is to just check the Transform box and then choose Rotate by 180 degrees from the drop down menu. As mentioned, this will just fix the issue in VLC. If you play the video in another program, it will still be upside down.

Note that you only have to do this once in VLC. If you close the video and then play it again in VLC, it will remember your settings and apply them to the video, so you don’t have to do it over and over again.

Also, you can check the Rotate button and then skew the video at any angle that you like. It’s kind of a strange option, but it exists!

skewed video vlc

Windows Movie Maker

Using Windows Movie Maker, it’s super easy to rotate a video to the correct orientation. Once you load your clip, you should see a preview on the left and the scenes on the right.

upside down movie maker

Go ahead and click on the Home tab and you’ll see a Rotate Left and Rotate Right option at the far right of the ribbon.

rotate right left

In order to permanently save this fix, you have to save your movie file out. Click on File and then Save movie.

save movie maker project

Windows Movie Maker has a lot of options for saving your movie file depending on what device you will be viewing it on. Choose the option that best meets your needs. Also, be sure to read my post on burning a video DVD using Windows Movie Maker.

RotateMyVideo.net

If you don’t feel like downloading a program onto your computer, you could try a free online tool for rotating videos. The one I have used is RotateMyVideo.net.

rotate my video

Click on Pick Video and then choose your video file. Note that the maximum file size for this service is 250 MB. Also, it doesn’t accept every type of video file, only the popular formats like MP4 and AVI.

rotate video website

After the video has been uploaded, you will see a preview of it on the right. On the left, you can click the buttons to change the rotation, ratio, and color bands. When you are done, click the Rotate Video button.

QuickTime Player

If you are using a Mac and want to fix an upside down video, you have to use QuickTime Player. Open the video file and then click on the Edit menu.

flip video

You’ll see options for Rotate Left, Rotate Right, Flip Horizontal and Flip Vertical. If you don’t export the file out, the change will only occur temporarily while playing the video. If you want to save it using QuickTime, go to FileClose and when it asks you if you want to save the changes, click the Save button.

Those are the easiest ways to rotate a video if you have one that is upside down. If you have any questions, feel free to comment. Enjoy!

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How to Make Audio Files Louder

Low volume audio files can be close to useless and also very frustrating, especially if you can’t rerecord the original audio. Whether it be an MP3 song that you are trying to listen to on your laptop or a recorded audio file that isn’t quite loud enough, increasing the volume on nearly any audio file can easily be done using desktop or online audio editing software.

In this article, I’m going to talk about a couple of methods you can utilize to fix the sound levels for an audio file. If you’re only needing to do this for a single audio file, the best choice would be an online tool. If you need more control and options or have to adjust the volume on many files, the desktop audio editing program will probably be a better choice.

Online Tools

Luckily, there are some sites on the Internet created solely for the purpose of increasing the volume of your audio file. Here are the ones I have used and that work well.

MP3 Louder

mp3 louder
MP3 Louder makes it really easy to increase the volume of your audio file. Click Browse to select the file you want to adjust and then choose the Increase volume radio button. You can also use this site to decrease the volume of an audio file.

By default, the audio will be increased by three decibels, which is recommended. Obviously, you can play around with this setting, which goes all the way up to 50 decibels. In addition, you can select whether to increase every channel or just the left or right channel.

Click the Upload Now button and wait a few minutes while the file is uploaded and optimized. After it is complete, you should see a green download button.
download mp3 file
That’s about it! It’s really easy to use and completely free as of now. I’m sure there is some restriction on the size of the audio file, but it should work just fine in 99% of the cases.

Grab Tube

Another free online tool is Grab Tube. Just select your file and then choose from either automatic normalization or manual. If you choose manual, you basically have three options, which are presented as the word loud in bigger and bigger text.
grab tube
The maximum size for the MP3 file is 40MB, so that should easily be large enough for most people. If you do have a larger MP3 file, you can always cut the MP3 file first into smaller pieces and then use this tool.
increase mp3 volume

You can download the audio file directly by clicking on the link or you can listen to the new audio file online. This is convenient in case the first adjustment wasn’t loud enough and you have to try a higher setting.

Desktop Tools

On the desktop, my favorite tool for editing any kind of audio is Audacity. I’ve already written several articles about Audacity including how to convert cassette tapes to digital format and how to capture audio from your PC. Using Audacity, it’s really easy to increase the volume of your audio file also.

Audacity

Another advantage to using a tool like Audacity is that you can increase the volume of just a part of the track, rather than the whole thing. The online tools will amplify everything, which might result in certain parts being too loud and therefore being clipped.

Open Audacity and load up audio file into the program. If you want to amplify the whole track, do not select anything. If you need to amplify just a part of the track, go ahead and select that portion by clicking and dragging your mouse over the blue area.

select track audacity

Now click on Effect at the top and then click on Amplify in the list of effects.

amplify audio

Here you can adjust the slider to choose the amount of amplification in decibels. Note that if the sound will be clipped because it’s too loud, the OK button will become grayed out unless you check the Allow clipping box. If you want to amplify the audio file in Audacity without any audio clipping, you need to either select only the portion that is low or you need to use an audio compressor first.

amplification audacity

An audio compressor will reduce the difference between the lowest and highest (loudest) points on a track. Audacity, of course, has compressor functionality built into it too. Just click on Effect and choose Compressor. You can read here about how compressor in Audacity works.

Once you have done that, you can try to amplify the audio again. Also, try to allow clipping once and see what it sounds like. Sometimes even with the clipping, the audio will sound acceptable.

Overall, adjusting the volume on an audio track is an easy task, but getting the correct result can be a bit trickier. Always remember to keep your original audio file, so that you can easily go back to it in case the adjustments aren’t to your liking. If you have any questions, post a comment. Enjoy!

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Online Tech Tips 2016-02-18 14:26:41

AutoPlay is a feature in Windows that will automatically scan a device when it is connected to your computer and based on your settings, will either perform a specified action or do nothing at all. In order to understand AutoPlay, though, you also have to understand another very similar feature called AutoRun.

Most people think AutoRun and AutoPlay are just two terms for the same thing, but that is not accurate. AutoRun is a feature that first came out in Windows 95! What was the point of it exactly? To make installing apps for non-techies easier. If a CD contained a file called autorun.inf in the root directory, Windows would detect it automatically and follow the instructions in that file.

This file is normally very simple and basically just points to a file on the disc, usually the setup file or install file. Here is an example of one below:

autorun file

In Windows XP and earlier, the file would be read and automatically run without any kind of prompt. If you have ever popped in an install CD/DVD for a piece of hardware or a program in Windows XP or earlier, it would just start running the setup program.

This obviously posed serious security risks and Microsoft introduced AutoPlay as a way to fix the problem. AutoPlay’s job is to examine a newly connected media device, determine what kind of content is on it, and then display a dialog that allows the user to launch an application to play, run or display the content.

Now depending on the operating system you are running, AutoRun and AutoPlay will work differently. In all versions of Windows earlier than Windows Vista, AutoRun is executed before AutoPlay, unless AutoRun is disabled. If it’s not disabled, AutoRun will execute and it will search for the AutoRun.inf file.

In Windows XP, if the autorun.inf file is found, AutoRun can go ahead and bypass AutoPlay altogether and launch the application without asking the user first.

In Windows Vista and higher, AutoRun cannot skip past AutoPlay. If there is an AutoRun.inf file, it will still be read, but instead of the application being launched automatically, a dialog box will pop up with a list of choices, some of which could be from the autorun.inf file.

AutoRun vs. AutoPlay Example

To make this totally clear, let’s go through an example. I have a MSI driver CD with me that I will pop into Windows XP, Windows 7 and Windows 10 to see what happens. The AutoRun.inf file is the simple one shown in the above screenshot.

In Windows XP, the disc is read, an autorun.inf file is found and the MSI setup program automatically pops up on the screen.

windows xp autorun

However, when I pop the same CD into Windows 7, I instead get the following AutoPlay dialog:

autoplay windows 7

As you can see, it’s trying to run the DVDsetup.exe file mentioned in the autorun.inf file, but now you get the option to choose. The same is true for Windows 10. Here you first get a notification on your screen.

tap to choose

If you click on that, it will bring up the AutoPlay dialog where you can choose what action to perform.

choose action disc

Overall, even though you can disable the AutoPlay feature in Windows 7 and higher, it’s not going to harm your computer because no program can be executed without your permission. All AutoPlay does is detect the media and display the options for you.

If you’re running Windows XP, on the other hand, it might be a good idea to disable AutoRun because on that operating system, programs can still be run without user consent.

Configure AutoPlay in Windows 7

It’s worth noting that in Windows 7 you can change the AutoPlay settings so that they mimic how it works in Windows XP. This is probably not something you would want to do, but it’s an option.

To configure AutoPlay, click on Start and type in autoplay. Select the first option at the top.

autoplay windows 7

This will bring up an absolutely giant list of items that you can individually configure. Thankfully, this list has been greatly reduced in Windows 10 as you’ll see below. Note that if you want to turn off AutoPlay completely in Windows 7, just uncheck the Use AutoPlay for all media and devices box at the very top.

windows 7 autplay configure

The reason I got the popup dialog when putting in my software CD was because Software and games was set to Ask me every time. You can change this to Install or run program from your media, Open folder to view files, or Take no action.

autplay options

The list of options to choose from will vary depending on what type of media is connected. For example, an audio CD or DVD movie will have the option to played using Windows Media Player. If you connect a device with pictures or videos, you’ll have the option to automatically import the items. In addition to the standard items, if you ever connected other devices to your computer like a smartphone or tablet, those will show up at the very bottom.

Configure AutoPlay in Windows 10

In Windows 10, click on Start and type in AutoPlay to open the AutoPlay Settings dialog. As you can see, there are only two options instead of the numerous in Windows 7. As with Windows 7, if you connected any other external device, those will show up after Removable Drive and Memory Card.

autoplay windows 10

The options are pretty much the same in terms of the actions you can take. For me, every time I connected my iPhone, it would try to import them into OneDrive, which I did not want to happen. This is the place where you can turn that off.

From my testing, it seems like the options for Memory Card are used when you pop in a DVD or CD.

autoplay options windows 10

Since most people are using the latest versions of Windows, you really no longer have to worry about anything other than AutoPlay. It’s also a straight-forward process to disable or enable AutoPlay in Windows if you like. If you have any questions, feel free to comment. Enjoy!

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