Washington Apple Pi

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Running Leopard: My Experience with Time Machine and Scanning

By Brian Mason

Washington Apple Pi Journal, reprint information

Long-time Pi member Brian Mason was one of the first members to install Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard on his computer in 2007. This article documents his discoveries. Editorial notes have been added to clarify issues that have come to light in the months since then, either through Apple updates, Apple documentation, or further experimentation.

After installing Leopard, I had some major issues related to Time Machine and setting up my scanner. I thought it might be helpful if I shared my experiences.

Time Machine

The strangest experience I had was with Time Machine.

Like many people, I bought a new external hard drive to use with Time Machine. Mine happens to be a Western Digital 500GB USB 2.0. The first thing I learned was that this drive does not perform well at all if you try to hook it up through a USB 1.0 hub. So I went out and bought a USB 2.0 hub. Now my USB scanner scans much faster too. How about that!

I have a MacBook Pro and an AirPort Extreme. I frequently move between my upstairs office and the downstairs living room. Upstairs I can plug the hard drive directly into the laptop's USB port or into my new USB hub. It is possible, however, to plug the hard drive into the AirPort Extreme's USB port and connect to the hard drive wirelessly. Pretty cool.

I don't want to bore you with everything I had to go through to get Time Machine to work. I'll just say it was quite a struggle. I had to call Apple Support more than once, and had to start over three times with Time Machine before I finally got it right.

The problem first manifested itself when, after Time Machine initially made a complete backup while the external drive was directly connected to my laptop, it then made another complete backup while connected wirelessly. This time, Time Machine made the backup on a disk image that it created on the external drive. Then, after spending all that time (30 hours) making the second backup, the disk image disappeared from my desktop! If I needed to restore from my backup, I couldn't because I could not see the disk image on the external drive and mount it. Time Machine seemed to religiously make hourly backups when connected wirelessly. It would mount the disk image, make the incremental backup, and then dismount the disk image. In the meantime, the backup that was made while the external drive was directly connected to the laptop was not being updated.

As I tried to sort out this problem, I learned about a number of things you can do to make sure you don’t have as many problems as I did. First, before you start Time Machine, make sure that the external drive you are going to use for your backups is partitioned using the GUID format. You must go to the “Partition” tab in Disk Utility and click on the “Options...” button. Make sure the GUID partition type is selected.

[Editor’s note: technically, this is only true if the external disk drive is attached to an Intel-based Mac running Leopard or to the AirPort Extreme. A FireWire drive connected to a G4 or G5 computer can be formatted with an Apple Partition Map.]

Next, you must make sure that you have named your computer and your disk drive using only letters. You cannot have names that have spaces, hyphens, numbers, or anything other than an alpha character. This is because Time Machine relies heavily on the Mac OS Unix underpinnings, and Unix is very intolerant of device names with “strange” characters. When you are partitioning your external hard drive, just go to the “Name:” field and enter your acceptable name there. If you have to rename your computer, go to “System Preferences” and then “Sharing”. At the top of this window in the “Computer Name:” field, type an acceptable name for your computer. You may need to restart your computer after you close the “System Preferences” window for the change to register.

After making these changes, you can go into Time Machine preferences and let Time Machine know which disk drive to use for its backups. In the Time Machine preferences window, click on the “Change Disk...” button. A sheet will come down where you should see your backup drive. Just select the drive and click the “Use for Backup” button.

One more thing. Once you have Time Machine set up, be sure you go into Spotlight preferences and set things up so the locally-connected backup drive is not indexed by Spotlight. If you don't do this, your machine will spend a lot of time trying to index all of the backups that Time Machine creates. After New Years I had a Time Machine backup run for four days and finally fail because my computer was trying to index the backup drive while the backup was taking place. Go to “System Preferences” and choose Spotlight. Click on the “Privacy” tab and then on the “plus” button near the bottom of the window. Navigate to the Time Machine backup drive and drag it into the center of the Spotlight preferences window, or select it and click the “Add” button. If you find that your Spotlight still tries to index your backup drive, you may have to take additional steps to keep this from happening. Let me refer you to the following web site for a possible solution:


I was amazed at the difference all this made in the time required for a backup. It took about 30 hours to make the original backup; once things were set up correctly, it took only five and a half hours.

I still had some other problems with Time Machine, though. One thing that is strange is that when Time Machine makes the original backup on my computer, it originally says it will be backing up 1,382,657 items or a total of 87.72 GB. After backing up almost 20 GB of stuff over a period of about 45 minutes, it starts over and says it will only be backing up 322,135 items or a total of 60 GB. When I do a “Get Info...” on current backups, it says the folders contain over 80 GB, but around 350,000 items. I did not tell Time Machine to omit anything from the backup, so I'm not sure what it is doing here. I have not seen any discussions dealing with this phenomenon. I can only hope it is making some intelligent choices about what does not need to be backed up, if that is what is going on.

Another point to bear in mind is that, according to the Apple Support representatives, Time Machine is not able to correctly back up while connected wirelessly. The hard drive and all the folders in it show up on the desktop, and Time Machine may see it and attempt to use it for a backup, but that backup will not be useable. If this happens, you need to turn Time Machine off in Time Machine preferences while connected wirelessly. This means that I will not be getting an hourly backup while connected to the backup drive wirelessly -- but still I'm much better off than I was before when, at best, I was making backups every other week using another backup program.

[Editor’s note: this is a complex issue. Time Machine will back up wirelessly, and successfully, to a Time Machine drive attached to another Mac running Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard or Leopard Server. It will also allegedly back up wirelessly to the – unreleased at this time – Apple Time Capsule. It will not back up to a USB drive plugged into an AirPort Extreme, though users hope a future update to the AirPort Extreme will change that situation.]

Finally, I had another strange experience on New Year's Day. Time Machine started making a backup that would not stop. A typical incremental backup runs for just a few minutes, around 10 minutes in my case. After 3 days, I stopped it manually and deleted the backup file that was still “in process” under the assumption that it was corrupted. When Time Machine started up again, again it chugged along for a couple days. Again, I stopped it manually and deleted the backup file. The next time Time Machine started up again, I just let it run. It started on January 6 and ran until January 11 and completed. The folder that was created was dated as being created on January 10 at 9:55 am and modified on January 11 at 7:33 pm. It has been running normally since then. I have no idea what took five days to complete. I guess the bottom line here is, Time Machine must be left alone to do its thing. I think many people who say Time Machine is broken or is not working, just are not being patient enough.


The other problem I with Leopard was how to get my scanner up and running the way I wanted. This was much more difficult to solve. I am very aware of the advice Lawrence Charters gave in the General Meeting, which was to go out and buy a $60 scanner that you know will work with Leopard -- but I am a stubborn cuss. Besides, I learned a lot that now I can pass along to you.

With my scanner, I want to be able to save documents on my computer so I no longer have to keep them in a five-drawer, metal file cabinet. One of the biggest advantages of doing this is that you can use Spotlight to find your document, no matter where you file it.

I have a Canon 8400F flatbed scanner, and before I installed Leopard I was using the CanoScan software that came with it. This software allowed you to designate a PDF file as a “searchable” PDF when you scanned the document. What I learned while trying to solve my scanning problems is that these are “complex” PDFs. The software actually is doing optical character recognition (OCR) on the text and saving that information, so that when you call up the PDF file in Preview or Acrobat, you can search for a term in the document. Well, I didn't know that. All I had to do in CanoScan was to click a button for a “searchable” PDF.

Unfortunately, CanoScan has not been updated since 2004. And it does not work with Leopard. Apparently, some people have been able to get the newer Canon scanners such as the LiDE series to work with Leopard. But I was off on an Internet search for something that would drive my scanner.

What I learned by checking VersionTracker was that you basically have three choices if you want a scanner driver: Canon CanoScan Toolbox for the LiDE 25 scanner, SilverFast, and VueScan. You can see what's there by going to www.versiontracker.com and going to the Mac OS X area, clicking on “Leopard,”displaying all categories, then clicking on “drivers” and searching for “scanners.”

SilverFast does not make a driver for my particular model, so I went ahead and bought VueScan. It works quite nicely with Leopard and has extensive features, but there is one thing it will not do. It will not make a “searchable” PDF! If you ask it to do OCR on a document, you get a plain and simple text document; it is not even formatted. Vue Scan does a great job of translation, but the loss of formatting, pictures and illustrations is problematic.

So now I needed an OCR program that would take the scans and turn them into complex PDFs. With Leopard, you have one choice at the present time! (If you put “OCR” in the VersionTracker search box with Max OS X Leopard as the restraining criterion, nothing comes up!) There is quite a bit of discussion on the Web, which indicates that OmniPage does not currently work with Leopard. However, Readiris does. Readiris has been around a long time. It is now up to version 11 for the Mac and version 16 for Windows. It is a very capable program.

So that's my solution. Rather than pushing a button in CanoScan and automatically creating a searchable PDF when I scan a document, I now have to scan it using VueScan and then use Readiris to create the complex PDF, which retains all the formatting, pictures, illustrations, and text.

I hope my experiences give some insight that will help you and maybe save you some time trying to resolve any problems you may be having with Leopard.