• Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint

What to Do:

General Strategies

  1. Check manuals, Read Me files, and Apple Guide Help. The first thing to do to check if a problem is attributable to an incompatibility between a particular product and your current hardware and software is to check the documentation that came with the product. The basic requirements are usually clearly stated (although in fine print) right on the box. Check this out before you even open the box. This will tell you if you have the right Mac OS, processor, amount of RAM, and so on. Otherwise, check the Read Me file or printed documentation that came with the product. Manuals typically inform you of potential incompatibilities as well as minimal hardware requirements. For example, if an application requires a PowerPC processor or Mac OS 9.0, the manual should tell you that.

    Of course, conflicts with products that were not released until after the manual was published will not be mentioned. Thus problems may occur that are not cited in the manuals.

    If this information cannot be found in the product you just bought, check the manual(s) that came with your existing hardware and software for possible help. For example, if you added a PCI card to a Mac, it may list compatibility issues relevant to other hardware that you may later add.

    Increasingly, vendors are depending on the use of Apple's Help for their critical documentation, rather than printed material. So check there as well. Another trend: shipping the documentation on the same CD-ROM disc (often in Acrobat format or as HTML files) that contains the application. Finally, you may have to go to the vendor's Web site to get the needed help.

    If you cannot find the relevant manuals, or they don't contain the information you are seeking, call the manufacturer of the program directly.

    TECHNICALLY SPEAKING — Learning the Lowdown on Your Hardware

    The more you understand the characteristics of your Macintosh model, the easier it will be to discover hardware incompatibilities. Throughout this book, I have referred to the different characteristics of the different models of Macintosh but often only in a general way. These days, to get a good summary of the details of the hardware for every Mac ever made, check out Apple Spec, a FileMaker document that Apple updates periodically after new models come out. It's available at many online locations including Apple's software updates sites (such as http://asu.info.apple. com/swupdates.nsf/artnum/n11135). For details on your particular Mac, select Apple System Profiler from the Apple menu.

  2. Adjust settings. Some hardware-related incompatibilities can be partially solved by a work-around with your current software. In particular, certain control panels and Get Info settings have options that inactivate or modify problem-causing hardware features, enabling you to use otherwise incompatible applications. There is an possible trade-off here: you may lose the advantage of whatever feature you turn off or reduce in order to obtain the needed compatibility.

    Many of these options are described elsewhere. Here are three common examples:

    Memory control panel settings. Increasing (or in some cases, decreasing) the size of the disk cache may help. Increasing the disk cache to at least the default level (if it is not there already) will usually boost overall performance of your Mac. In order to make adjustments to the disk cache size, first select the "Custom setting" radio button.

    Monitor depth and resolution. Some problems only occur with certain resolution sizes or color depths. Try changing these from the Monitors & Sounds control panel(s) or from the matching Control Strip modules. This issue is particularly likely to come up when playing games.

    Increase an application's memory. Do this by adjusting the Preferred Size in the Memory control panel (see Fix-It #5).

    More generally, games often place particularly hard demands on the processor and memory. As such, their Preferences settings may offer various options to help reduce that demand for Macs that don't have enough hardware power. For example, they may turn off music or eliminate certain details in the graphics.

  3. Upgrade software or hardware, as needed. With luck, a new version of the relevant software either already exists or will be released shortly that eliminates the incompatibilities. In any case, as a preventative measure, you should keep your software current.

    If you have a current version of the application, it may be your system software that is not current. Assuming your hardware supports the upgrade, you may need to upgrade from Mac OS 8 to Mac OS 9, for example.

    For hardware devices, such as printers or scanners, upgrading the software driver used with the device may solve the problem.

    Otherwise, you may need to purchase new hardware that eliminates the incompatibilities. This can include anything from adding more memory to getting a logic board upgrade that essentially transforms your machine into a newer model. In the most extreme case, you may have to purchase a new Macintosh.

  4. Don't be a pioneer. In general, you can keep compatibility problems to a minimum by not rushing to be the first on your block to purchase a newly released model of Macintosh or upgrading to a major revision in the operating system. I try to wait at least 4 to 6 months after a machine comes out before I consider buying it. By then, most of the software companies have had a chance to upgrade their software to meet the demands of the new machine, and Apple has had a chance to correct any minor glitches in the product. For system software upgrades, I confess to upgrading immediately (but I often pay for this with frequent problems for the next several months until the kinks get worked out).

A Few Common Hardware Incompatibilities

Graphics Accelerators, Video RAM

If you want to play today's 3-D super-realistic games, and you want them to have smooth motion, textured graphics, great 3-D effects and more, you need a video accelerator. Fortunately, such a capability is built into all current Mac models. The G4 Macs, for example, currently ship with a Rage Pro 128 accelerator. If you have an older Mac, that does not have such a card, you will need one for game playing. The Voodoo 2 card is another popular choice.



Not a subscriber?

Start A Free Trial

  • Creative Edge
  • Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint