From the KnowledgeBase

Clusters: Mac OS X Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Mac OS X cluster computers: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


What operating system is installed on the Mac cluster computers?
All cluster Macs run Mac OS X version 10.7 (Lion) and can also boot into Windows 7. For more information on their dual boot configuration, see: Mac OS X computers now dual boot into two operating systems.

How do I log in? Do I need to log out?
At the initial login screen, use your University netID and password. Note: Your LDAP and Windows Domain Password must be the same in order for you to log on to a cluster Mac. If your passwords are not the same, use the Password Management Facility.

You must log out from an OS X cluster Mac after each use to prevent other users from accessing your personal files. Under the Apple menu, select Log Out Your Name.... If you leave without logging out, your profile will be automatically logged out after 12 minutes of idle time. Any unsaved files open at that time will be lost, so please be sure to close all applications and log out manually to avoid losing your work.

Why does it take so long to log in?
The first time you log in to a newly updated cluster Mac, you may need to wait for one to two minutes while the computer creates your profile. During this time several application preferences and settings are copied to to your "Home Directory" so all of the applications on the system work properly. After this initial log in, all subsequent logins should only take a few seconds.

Why did my settings/preferences change?
When you first log in to an upgraded cluster Mac, some of your preferences may be overwritten. Upgrades to new software, including OS updates, may make new preference files necessary.

Where are my files being saved?
The first time you log in to an OS X cluster Mac, a series of folders that constitute you Mac "home directory" are created in your H: Drive (Desktop, Library, Documents, Pictures, etc). Your OS X settings and your application preferences are saved in these folders, and will follow you around campus to any OIT cluster Mac.

Applications on cluster Macs are configured to save your work in the Documents folder. To see the files in your H: drive that are not in your home directory, click on the Personal Files (H Drive) link in the dock.

Note: You can also view the files in your H: Drive by using the Terminal. Open the Terminal and type "cd ../". This will take you to your H: Drive.

How do I save files to my H: Drive?
To save files to your H: Drive, browse to /Users/YourNetID from the save dialog window that appears.

How do I open files I saved on a cluster Mac from a Windows cluster machine?
Open the Desktop or Documents folder in your H: drive. From there you will find your documents, depending on where you saved them.

What applications are available and how do I launch them?
All applications are located in the Applications folder. For convenience, there is a shortcut to the Applications folder in the Dock. For a list of available software, see:

How do I print?
All cluster Macs are configured so that you can easily print to cluster printers across campus. The nearest cluster printer should be set as the default when you log in, but some applications may not respect that setting. You should always make sure that the appropriate printer is selected in the print dialog box when you print.

Like cluster Windows computers, the cluster Mac computers print through the Pharos Uniprint print accounting system. When you send a document to a cluster printer, it will not immediately print. Instead, it will wait on the print server up to four hours, or until you release it to the printer. To print a waiting document, log in to the Print Release Station computer next to the printer using your University netID and password. You will then see a list of documents that you have sent to the printer. Select the documents you wish to print.

My Mac home directory seems to be taking up a lot of space; what should I do about this?
Students have a default quota of 5 GB (members of the class of 2017 and later have 500MB). Many of the OS X applications create several megabytes of preference files when you first use them. Filling up your H drive will prevent you from logging in to a Cluster Mac (it will "hang" indefinitely at the login screen). Delete unnecessary files or request more quota at

How do I read my e-mail on a cluster Mac?
Cluster Macs include the built-in OS X Mail application (identified by the stamp icon in the Dock). When you launch the program, it will connect to the Princeton IMAP e-mail server using the netID that you used to log into the cluster Mac. After you enter your e-mail password, OS X Mail will show your Inbox and other folders on the central mail server. You will also be prompted for your e-mail password the first time you send an e-mail message in each session.

As an alternative to Mac OS X Mail, you can use WebMail. This is especially useful if you need to check an account different from the one that you are using on the Mac.

What do I do if I am having problems?
Please call the Help Desk at 8-HELP if you are having problems using the cluster Mac. Please send e-mail to to report problems or concerns with the cluster computer hardware.

Last Updated:
March 25, 2016

Solution ID: