How to change a file or folder’s permissions

Every file on your Mac can be set so that different users and groups can access the file or folder in different ways.  It sounds strange, but the files you see in your home folder, in your Documents folder or on your Desktop, can even be set up so that you can’t make any changes at all.  It gets even more confusing when these permissions change by freak accident or through an unexpected act of nature.  You’ll use a file for ages when, possibly following an eclipse, solar flare, or presidential election, it’s suddenly unusable and you’ve no idea why…  But you’ve got this.

If you see a message that you don’t have permission to read or write a particular file or folder, here’s what to do:

  1. Single-click the file or folder so that it’s highlighted.
  2. Go to the File menu at the top left of your screen and click the Get Info menu item.  An Info window will appear.
  3. Look for the padlock icon at the bottom right of the Info window.  If it’s locked, click it once and enter an administrator’s username and password to unlock it.
  4. Look for the Sharing & Permissions section near the bottom of the Info window.  If the triangle next to Sharing & Permissions is pointing to the right, click it once to see a list of who has permission to access the file or folder.
  5. Look in the Name column for a particular user (your name will have “Me” next to it), click the value in the Privilege column next to that user, then click the setting you need.  For yourself, you’ll usually click the “Read & Write” menu item.

Permissions, or privileges, come in the following flavors:

  • Read & Write:  The user or group can open the file or folder and make changes to it.
  • Read only:  The user or group can open the file or folder but can’t make changes to it.
  • Write only:  The user or group sees the folder as a drop box.  They can move or copy files to the folder but can’t see what’s inside.
  • No Access:  The user or group can’t access the file or folder at all.

For additional details, you’re welcome to get in touch at so we can help out!

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Audiobook Builder and the OS X 10.11 “El Capitan” public beta

If you’ve installed the OS X 10.11 “El Capitan” public beta you’ll want to grab Audiobook Builder 1.5.4b5, a stable pre-release build of the next version of Audiobook Builder.  It makes sure the app can finish launching so you can continue using it while you test Apple’s latest and greatest – and it comes with several fixes that we’ve been working on.  Your preferences should carry over automatically, and you can even use this build in place of the Mac App Store version until the “official” release is available there.  So what’re you waiting for?

To install Audiobook Builder 1.5.4b5

  • Click here to download the new build.
  • Click the Finder icon in your Dock, then go to the Go menu at the top of your screen and click the Downloads folder menu item.  Your Downloads folder will appear.
  • Look for a file named Audiobook Builder  Double-click it and a new file will appear, named Audiobook, with the familiar Audiobook Builder icon.
  • Use the new build from your Downloads folder, or you can drag it to your Applications folder and use it from there.  If you do the latter, you may be asked to replace an older item.  It’s safe to replace it.
  • If you encounter a message stating the application can’t be opened because it was not downloaded from the Mac App Store, please visit for help setting Gatekeeper to allow applications from identified developers to open.

You can use this build until the official release.  If you purchased from the Mac App Store, when the official release is available it will replace this build.  If you purchased directly from our website, the official release will replace this build when you drag it to your Applications folder.


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Audiobook Builder and “File error: -128″

If you see a message ending in “File error:  -128″ while importing from an audio CD, that’s a sure sign that your Mac detected a hardware error while reading data from the disc.  You can usually confirm this by opening /Applications/Utilities/, clicking the system.log item in the list of logs on the left, then using the Filter field at the top right of the window to find terms like “I/O“,”SAM Multimedia“, or “underrun“.  Each term is bad juju when interacting with a CD/DVD drive.  If you see them, here are your options:

  1. The disc you’re importing may be dirty or damaged.  Eject it and, if it’s not obviously scratched, give it a cleaning with a soft cloth – making sure you wipe in light, straight strokes from the center hole to the outer edge.  Do not wipe in a circular motion.  If the disc still doesn’t work, it may be damaged in a way you can’t see with the naked eye.  Do other discs work?  If so, it’s probably just this disc.  The next step might work.  If none of your discs are working, though, you might have a hardware issue, like failing cabling or even a bum CD/DVD drive on your hands.
  2. Try importing into iTunes with error correction enabled.  Open iTunes, go to the iTunes menu at the top left of your screen and click the Preferences… menu item, click the General button at the top of the window, then click the Import Settings… button near the bottom right of the window.  Make sure there’s a checkmark next to “Use error correction” and click the OK button.  Try importing the disc and, if it works, drag the imported tracks over to your Audiobook Builder Project.  If it doesn’t, you’ve either got a bum disc or a piece of bum hardware.
  3. Last ditch – see what happens when you go to the Finder and try to drag all the tracks from the disc to your Desktop.  Do you get an error?  If so, the disc is in question.  Try the same thing with several others.  If they copy over just fine, you’re back to looking at the CD/DVD drive or your Mac’s connection to it.

Importing from a flaky audio CD or with a questionable piece of hardware is tricky business – and it can get confusing because, darn those moving parts and analog to digital conversions, sometimes things work and sometimes they don’t.  Heck, the discs might even play just fine – but reading each track’s data, bit for bit, is a much more intense process.  Remember, we’re talking about tiny light rays expected to reflect just-so while two or more motors – the CD/DVD drive itself and at least one cooling fan – are vibrating your Mac.  Throw in the potential for some small issue with the way the disc was made or scratches (lovingly?) applied by others, and you’ve got a recipe for inconsistent results.  A troublesome setup might appear to work just fine a few times with the same disc, then fail a few times, then seem to work again.  That’s because the hardware might try more than once to read data from a particular part of the disc and succeed sometimes and fail other times, and that’s why it’s critical to both observe behavior and dig deeper by examining your system logs, where you’ll see whether your Mac experienced any actual errors even while it seemed to be performing just fine.  Don’t draw a conclusion until you’ve tested several discs.  If more than one fails and you see errors in your system log, it’s probably time to schedule some quality time with an Apple-certified technician.

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Transfer funds between CheckBook Accounts

CheckBook and CheckBook Pro make it easy to transfer funds between your Accounts.  Create an Entry, tell it which Account to transfer to or from, and a matching Entry will automatically be created in the other Account.  Changes to one Entry will automatically appear in the other.

How to transfer funds between Accounts

  1. Go to the Account menu at the top of your screen, then go to its Go to Account submenu. Click the name of the Account you’d like to transfer to or from.
  2. Click the Entry button at the bottom of the document window.
  3. Click the Deposit or Debit button at the top left of the document window. An Entry sheet will appear.
  4. Enter the details for the new Entry. When you get to the To or From field, click the field’s label, to the left of the field, and a menu will appear. Click the To Account or From Account item and the field will become a menu button. Click the menu button and choose the Account to transfer to or from.

Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 1.11.55 PM

5.  Click the OK button and a matching Entry will appear in the To or From Account.


  • When transferring funds between Accounts with different Currencies, you’ll see the Exchanged As field below the Amount field, where you can enter the actual Amount to transfer to or from the other Account. Click the Currency Exchange Helper button to the right of this field for help calculating the right exchanged Amount.
  • Transfers are italicized in the Entry and Reconcile sections.
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Return Labels templates: How to request new ones and how to get the latest

Return Labels provides a variety of common label templates out of the box, but if you don’t see one you need – and it’s not listed on this page – they’re pretty easy for us to whip up.  Feel free to send the make, such as Avery, and model number, like 8161, to

Here are the label models Return Labels 1.0.1 supports:

  • Avery 5160
  • Avery 5161
  • Avery 5167
  • Avery 5195
  • Avery 5267
  • Avery 5351
  • Avery 5354
  • Avery 5961
  • Avery 8160
  • Avery 8161
  • Avery 8167
  • Avery 8195
  • Avery J8160
  • Avery J8163
  • Avery L7160
  • Avery L7163

And we’ve added the following models in a file you can download and install (directions below):

  • Avery 2163
  • Avery 5162
  • Avery 5163
  • Avery 6570
  • Avery 8163
  • Avery 8164
  • Avery 8662
  • Avery 18163
  • Avery 22805
  • Avery 8257
  • Avery J8651

To install the latest templates:

  1. Make sure Return Labels isn’t running.
  2. Click this link:
  3. Click the Finder icon in your Dock, go to the Go menu at the top of your screen, and click the Downloads menu item.
  4. Look for a file named and double-click it.  A new file named LabelSpecs.plist should appear.
  5. Click the LabelSpecs.plist icon once, so that the icon is highlighted, then go to the Edit menu and click the Copy “LabelSpecs.plist” menu item.
  6. Hold down the Option key on your keyboard, go to the Go menu at the top of your screen, and click the Library menu item.  You’ll see a lot of folders.
  7. Go into the following folders:  Containers, then com.splasm.returnlabels, then Data, then Library, then Application Support, then Return Labels.
  8. Go to the Edit menu and click the Paste Item menu item.  You’ll be asked if you want to replace the older item.  Click the Replace button.

You’ll see the latest templates the next time you open Return Labels.  Enjoy!

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Volunteering for IAmGreatness

Cutting Glow Stars

Cutting up. These decorative stars look amazing in black light!

One of the thrills in our culture is the tradition we’ve made of donating a day every quarter to a worthy cause.  This time around, in addition to some odds and ends for Birmingham Friends of Old-Time Music and Dance, I’ve given time to IAmGreatness, an organization here in Birmingham dedicated to developing and mentoring youth in our community.  Several friends and I are throwing a black light-fueled “glow in the dark” party to raise the $500 for IAmGreatness to register as a non-profit at the Alabama and federal levels, and one of my contributions even involved our very own Return Labels.

You may already know Return Labels as the handy tool for creating return address labels on OS X – but it turned out to be even handier when it saved us a ton of time printing sheet after sheet of stickers for our guests.

First, we chose some silly icons, lightened them up a bit, dragged them into Return Labels, and added text:

Return Labels for OS X - the easy way to make return labels on your Mac.

Return Labels for OS X made it easy to print a ton of stickers we later stroked with neon marker.

Then, we traced the icon and text outlines with neon markers.  Look how they turned out in black light(!):

The final stickers look awesome!

The final stickers look GREAT!

We’re well on our way to our $500 goal, and these stickers will be just a tiny part of the fun, but what a joy to know our work can be put to so many good uses.

Have you used Return Labels in an unexpected or unique way?  Ever used an application, even if it’s not of one ours, when volunteering?  We’d love to hear your story – so drop us a line at!

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