Walt Mossberg

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Uninstalling Leopard on a Mac

(See Corrections & Amplifications item below.)

There’s no other major item most of us own that is as confusing, unpredictable and unreliable as our personal computers. Everybody has questions about them, and we aim to help.

Here are a few questions about computers I’ve received recently from people like you, and my answers. I have edited and restated the questions a bit, for readability.

Last week you discussed how to uninstall Windows Vista and go back to Windows XP. But I own a Macintosh, and after upgrading to the new Leopard operating system from Tiger, I find I dislike Leopard. How can I uninstall Leopard and go back to Tiger?

To restore the older Tiger operating system after upgrading to Leopard, you should first find the Tiger DVD that came with your Mac. Insert it and reboot your Mac while holding down the “C” key. This will boot the computer from the DVD rather than your hard disk.

On the screen that shows available hard drives for installation, click on the Options button and select the “Archive & Install” option. Also, select the choice called “Preserve Users & Network Settings.” If you have enough free disk space (roughly six gigabytes), Tiger will be reinstalled and your home directory and applications should be preserved.

However, just as with Windows, performing such an operating system “downgrade” on a Mac can be tricky for a nontechnical user. You might want to hire an expert to do it. If you do decide to try it yourself, I strongly urge you to first read an Apple document that contains more details, including some potential pitfalls and limitations of the “Archive and Install” procedure. It’s at http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=107120.

Occasionally, I try to download a song or artist that would be in the “Easy Listening” category, but neither iTunes nor Amazon lists that genre. How can I find them?

In the iTunes store, there is indeed a genre called “Easy Listening” that contains thousands of tracks. The problem is that it’s not listed on the front page of the store. To find “Easy Listening” and the songs it contains, select “Browse” from the box labeled “Quick Links” at the upper right on the store’s front page. Then click “Music” in the far left column and “Easy Listening” in the column labeled “Genre.”

In Amazon’s MP3 download service, I couldn’t find a listing for the “Easy Listening” genre. But some of the songs and artists you’re looking for could be listed under other categories. Try directly searching for an artist’s name or a song title in the search box at the top of the MP3 Downloads page.

Why isn’t a FireWire port included on either of the two new slim laptops you recently reviewed, the Lenovo ThinkPad X300 and the Apple MacBook Air?

Both laptops are so small that they can only include a limited number of ports, though the Lenovo has many more than the Apple. And standard FireWire, also known as “1394” or “iLink” on some machines, is becoming redundant in mainstream consumer computers, since the USB 2.0 ports offer roughly the same speed and are compatible with many more devices. There is a faster version of FireWire, which Apple uses on most of its desktop models. But there is also a faster version of USB in the works.

You can find Mossberg’s Mailbox, and my other columns, online free of charge at the new All Things Digital Web site, http://walt.allthingsd.com.

Corrections and Amplifications

Due to incorrect information provided by the manufacturer, this column erroneously says that Macintosh users performing a “downgrade” from Apple’s new Leopard operating system to the older Tiger system should select an option called “Preserve Users & Network Settings.” In fact, that option isn’t available when installing an older version of the operating system over a newer one. Users must instead manually relocate their data files and settings after performing the downgrade, a process that is explained at this Web page: http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=107297.

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