Tag Archives: apple

If streaming videos aren’t playing on your Mac, and you’re using a Multi-Output Device, you might need to change the order in which you’re enabling your devices

Here’s a rather insidious problem I encountered this weekend. YouTube wouldn’t play videos – it wouldn’t play ads, it would just spin like below:

If you see eternal spinning on a YouTube video, and you’ve used the Audio MIDI Setup to set up a Multi-Output Device, you might have a problem. Fortunately, you can fix it.

The strange thing is that it happened on my Mac Mini (2018) with Big Sur with Twitch and YouTube, it happened on every browser, it didn’t happen on my other Macs, and it didn’t happen on any of my other devices. I actually spent over two hours with Apple Support as they walked through everything they could think of, from resetting SMC and NVRAM and browser settings. The problem didn’t go away until we did a refresh reinstall of Big Sur.

But then this issue happened on my old Catalina iMac (early 2013) as I was setting up audio. I was suspicious that it wasn’t an installation issue and that it was some kind of setup bug.

It might be your audio Multi-Output Device

If you do pro audio on your Mac, or if you do streaming, you might have created a “Multi-Output Device” to use multiple audio interfaces simultaneously. Turns out that the order in which you enable these matters and that you need to enable them in the right order. I can’t tell you right now what the right order is, but I can tell you how you can diagnose this.

If you have one of these, the order in which your audio devices are enabled MATTERS!
  1. Before you start, try selecting the Built-In Output as the sound output. If the video plays, then it’s the Multi-Output Device. If it still doesn’t play, it may be some other problem and I don’t think these instructions will help.
  2. Next, in Preferences, select the Multi-Output Device as your Sound output.
  3. Go to the Audio MIDI Setup program.
  4. Go to your Multi-Output Device.
  5. Start a video. Anything on YouTube is fine. It should begin playing, likely using your built-in Mac speakers.,
  6. In the Multi-Output Device, enable the devices, one at a time. In general, I think the order that works is to first enable the Built-In Output, then your hardware audio interfaces, then internal software mixers like BlackHole/Soundflower or ZoomAudioDevice.
  7. If the video stops, then disable the device, and enable a different one.
  8. Stop when you’ve enabled all of the devices without the video stopping.

So if videos aren’t playing in Safari, or any other device, and you’ve enabled Multi-Output Device, then check this setting. Hopefully this will solve issues with online videos not playing on your computer!


The Function (Fn) key is on the full-size Apple Keyboard

Are you one of those Mac users who generally turns on the F1, F2, keys as standard function keys option in System Preferences? If you do that, then if you want to use your keyboard to control the volume or the screen brightness, you need to find the Function (or Fn) key. (Alternatively, if you don’t turn it on then you need the Fn key to simulate F1, F2, and so forth keypresses).

Do you check off the box in System Preferences > Keyboard that makes the F keys behave as standard function keys?

Do you check off the box in System Preferences > Keyboard that makes the F keys behave as standard function keys? I usually do. I think I only ever use the Volume Control function on the keyboard anyway.

On the laptop and the wireless keyboards, Apple usually puts the Fn key on the lower-left hand corner, next to the “Control” key. But it’s not there on the full-sized Apple Keyboard with the numeric keypad!

Or is it?

The Fn Key on an Apple Keyboard is next to the home and above the delete key in the area above the arrow keys.

Ha, it’s in the middle of the keyboard between the letters and the numeric keypad, right below the F13 key and above the Delete key!

Eject All of your Removable Mac OS X Disks Quickly!

Are you always using hard disks and USB keys in your Mac? Getting annoyed with having to go to the Finder, scrolling down in the sidebar, and then ejecting these disks before you can unplug all of these devices to move your computer? Or, maybe you just pull out the USB and let Mac OS X complain at you about how the disk was removed without you ejecting it first?

Try using this AppleScript along with a launcher application like QuickSilver to save time and eject all of your disks with one command! A launcher application is basically a quick way to start up applications – you press a keystroke like “Ctrl-Space” and then begin typing, and QuickSilver will find applications that match what you’ve typed. Ejecting disks is quite literally at your fingertips.

  1. Open up the AppleScript Editor (it’s in /Applications/Utilities)
  2. Copy and paste the following code:
      tell application "Finder"
        eject the disks
        display dialog "Successfully ejected disks." buttons {"Close"} default button "Close"
      end tell
    on error
      display dialog "Unable to eject all disks." buttons {"Close"} default button "Close"
    end try

    AppleScript Editor with the Eject All script

    AppleScript Editor with the Eject All script.
  3. Save it into a place you’ll find it later. I used ~/Library/Scripts and called the script “EjectAll.scpt”.
  4. Compile it!

Now, if you double-click on that script, it’ll automatically eject all of your media and give you a dialog box to let you know when it’s finished.


QuickSilver Catalog Preferences Window

In QuickSilver, I added the ~/Library/Scripts directory to my catalog by opening the QuickSilver Preferences, clicking on Catalog, then going to Scripts in the sidebar. I then ensured that “Scripts (User)” was checked.

Then, you can relaunch QuickSilver, press its hotkey (Ctrl-Space by default), and type “EjectAll” and press enter to run the script. It’ll automatically eject all of your media and then you can pull out all of your plugged-in devices without worry!

Failing at Networking: Configuring an Apple AirPort Express

I travel somewhat frequently and often encounter hotels that provide a cable and no wireless connection. This was a bit of a nuisance when sharing rooms with people, or if I’m interested in trying to check something on my iPad. Internet sharing on the Mac has never seemed to work quite the way I wanted it to. Lately, this problem has been compounded because I have a Macbook Air, but no Ethernet adapter.

Because I’m traveling again this weekend, I decided that I would purchase an Apple AirPort Express. This would be a great way to solve my above problems. First, it’s small enough to carry around with me on a trip. Second, it allows you to share an Internet connection over wireless, which effectively means that I can connect the Ethernet to it and then share the connection to my MacBook Air. An added bonus is that it also had a 3.5mm stereo headphone jack/mini-TOSLink jack that would enable me to plug a set of powered speakers into. Since I just moved, my computer is no longer able to connect to the speakers in the living room since it’s too far away. So really, it seemed like a win all around.

Yet, for some reason, networking equipment and I simply do NOT get along. Back in Waterloo, I was rumoured to have inherited a “curse” about hardware from a fellow graduate student (hello, Ben!) – the curse was that hardware would randomly fail inexplicably in your hands and that you’d spend many hours trying all kinds of configurations to no avail. Thus far, I’ve had a lot of random failures, like my 4-year old PowerMac G5 that one day suddenly failed to power on, a brand new external hard drive, bad RAM in an old computer, mice (lots of mice) and assorted networking equipment. Lots of networking stuff, from cards to wireless routers and stuff. Even now, my 802.11n wireless network seems to not really work well – it has a weak signal and any device seems to have a random chance of not connecting to it.

I’ve wasted a bunch of time today trying to configure the Airport Express. Let me write a post explaining how to not waste time configuring an AirPort Express.

Installing the Correct AirPort Utility

The first kicker is that the most recent version of the AirPort Utility does not have the same functionality as a former version, so if you know a little bit about networking, installing the new version is a bit of a waste – you can’t do things like manage different profiles, which are useful if you want to have a profile for “Playing Music At Home” and “Internet Sharing On The Road”.

However, you still have to install the latest version (6.0 at the time of writing) to get the proper firmware, THEN install the old version (5.6) to get access to the advanced features. Yes, it’s dumb. Apple unfortunately stripped out a lot of features, like profile management, from 6.0.

AirPort Utility 6.0 (for Lion)
AirPort Utility 5.6 (for Lion)

Thus, be sure to install 6.0, update the firmware, then install 5.6.

On Mac OS X, Ethernet takes Priority For Internet Operations

This one’s entirely my fault. When I was testing the AirPort Express by plugging the Ethernet from my cable modem into it, then connecting wirelessly from my desktop, I wasn’t able to get Internet. The problem is that I didn’t ever disconnect the Ethernet cable from my computer. By default, Mac OS X and Firefox tries to get Internet from the Ethernet port and if it can’t get it from there it fails, instead of trying on the wireless network. So if you’re testing this kind of thing, unplug the Ethernet cable from the computer.

Press the Button With a Paperclip to Reset the AirPort Express

Much too often, I got an error when “reading configuration from AirPort Express”. It’s also easy to set it up such that you can’t configure it (like if you try to make it join a wireless network but don’t properly get a DHCP from the Ethernet plug). If you get into a problem like that, stick a paperclip into the bottom of the device and hold it there for about 10 seconds. Unplug it, wait a moment, plug it back in and it should be back to factory defaults.

Once you do that, keep in mind that you need to either be able to plug it into a wired network and get it an IP address, or that you need to remember what wireless network it creates in order to configure it.

AirPlay from iTunes Needs IPV6 Host Mode On

Once I managed to set up a a profile for Internet Sharing that worked fine (using the AirPort Utility 5.6), I wanted to try out AirPlay. I tried using iTunes on my laptop and my desktop, but both gave me an “unknown error (-15006)”. For a company that prides itself on the user experience, it’s a shame that these errors are not actually written in a way such that the user can easily troubleshoot them.

Under the advanced tab -> IPv6, IPv6 Mode should be set to Host.

AirPort Utility IPv6 Setting

It turns out that iTunes on Mac OS X now finds its AirPlay clients through IPv6, but that the AirPort Express doesn’t use IPv6 by default. The solution is to go to the AirPort Utility, go to Advanced, IPv6 and set IPv6 Mode to “Host”. Do this, restart iTunes, and it should work just fine from all of your Apple devices.


I don’t usually fiddle around with products and computer devices anymore, though I used to do this a lot about seven to ten years ago. So it’s fun, yet frustrating, to get a new hardware device to play with. Unfortunately, I have to be kind of in the mood to play around to enjoy it, and usually I don’t like playing with Apple devices, which are supposed to “just work”. Or, maybe I’m just terrible with networking.