10 Quick Mac Troubleshooting Techniques

Wouldn't it be nice to know that you can get your troubled Mac, up and running  just by using some Mac troubleshooting techniques.

Most of us are grateful, when we get to work on Mac as it is generally trouble free. We are content as we get to work on it day after day for years and it is stored with all your files, photos and videos, presentations etc... But what happens when your most trusted Mac has trouble starting up and you are rushing against a deadline.  Mac has all your data and information, that is required the most at this point. Well, there is a solution to every problem, including this one. So, don’t panic! All you need is to find a quick fix for your problem.

Here are 10 quick Mac troubleshooting techniques that you can use to get your Mac working trouble free all over again.

  • Using Mac’s safe boot option: The safe boot option is the most commonly used methods for diagnosing problems. It essentially forces the Mac to start up using the fewest possible system extensions, fonts and other startup items. It also checks up your other startup drive to ensure that it’s in good shape or at least bootable.
  • Clearing the PRAM: When you come across boot issues, such as slow to start or halted startup. This is because PRAM is non-volatile memory used by the store configuration information. However, certain information might remain stagnant in residual memory which can lead to bizarre behavior. To solve this problem, you will have to ‘Power off your computer’. Then power on the device while simultaneously holding down the [command]+[option]+[P]+[R] keys. For Example: In case of Apple, you should be able to hear the Apple chime before the computer reboots. Continue holding the keys down until you hear the second Apple chime to clear the PRAM.
  • Mac stalls at grey screen at startup: The Mac’s startup is usually a predictable one. After you push the power button, you see a grey screen while, your Mac searches for the startup drive and then a blue screen as your Mac loads the files it needs from the startup drive. But if, your Mac gets stuck at the grey screen then the most common reason for it is a bad peripheral or peripheral cable. Whenever, a bad peripheral is plugged into your Mac, it can prevent your Mac from continuing the startup sequence and cause it to stall. While, it waits for the peripheral to respond to a command.

To solve this is easier than you think.

  • Start by turning your Mac off. You will need to press and hold your Mac’s power button to force your Mac to shut down.
  • Disconnect all of your Mac’s peripherals, except the keyboard, mouse and the display. Be sure to disconnect any Ethernet cable, audio in or out cables, headphones, etc.
  • Start your Mac back up.

Now that your Mac is back up, you know where the problem was.

  • Disable extensions on boot: When extensions prevent a computer from booting, it’s frequently due to an application that was installed or a login app that’s causing the lockup. For this you have to power on or restart the computer while, holding down the [shift] key. Continue to hold down the key to disable extensions and login items from loading during the boot process. From desktop with extensions disabled, “safe mode” will allow the end user to remove the offending app and boot normally.
  • Create a spare User Account to assist in troubleshooting: A spare User Account with administrative capabilities can help you troubleshoot problems with Mac. Creating a spare administrator account is recommended before the trouble strikes. Because you’ll rarely be using this account, it’s important to pick a password that’s easy to remember. Whenever you are having problems with your Mac and it isn’t hardware related then the easiest way to identify the culprit is to log out of your normal user account and log back in using the spare user account. Once you log in, you will be using an account that has a clean, untouched preference files. If you were having trouble with an application, launch that application and see if the same problem occurs.

If it doesn’t, chances are the application’s preferences files in your library folder are corrupt. It’s a simple matter of deleting those preferences to restore the application to working health.

If the application problem still occurs when you are using the spare user account, then it’s a system wide issue, most likely one or more corrupt files in the library/preferences/ location. It is incompatible with a wide service or an application you recently installed; even a bad system font may be the issue.

A spare user account is a troubleshooting tool that is easy to set up and always ready to use.

  • How do I repair my hard drive if my Mac won’t start?

Most startup problems are caused by the drive that just needs some minor repairs. But you cannot repair, if you cannot get your Mac to finish booting. A startup drive is experiencing problems that is likely to prevent your Mac from starting.

There are different methods of getting around this.

  • Booting from a different device: This can be another hard drive that has a bootable system on it, or your OS X Install DVD, which also contains the Disk utility tools or the Recovery HD.
  • Safe Mode: This is a special booting method that forces your Mac to perform an automatic disk check and repair as it tries to start up.
  • Single user mode (fsck): This is another special startup method that allows you to run command line utilities, such as fsck, which can verify and repair hard drives.

If you do end up with a damaged file in your hard drive, then you can always go to Mov file repairing tool.

  • Mac startup problems – Stuck at the Blue Screen

When you turn on your Mac and you get stuck at the blue screen. This means your Mac is having trouble loading all the files it needs from the startup drive. While repairing the startup drive should solve the blue screen problem for most users, there’s another less common drive issue that can cause a Mac to freeze at the blue screen. That’s because it’s a startup drive that has its permissions set incorrectly. This can happen as a result of power outage or power surge, or turning off your Mac without going through the proper shutdown process. It can also happen to those who like to experiment with Terminal commands, and accidently changed the startup drive’s permissions to not allow any access. If you happen to do that to your startup drive, your Mac wont boot.

The way to fix a drive that was set to no access is to assume, you are able to start your Mac using another startup drive or an install DVD.

  • Single user mode: There are a number of things that can potentially prevent your Mac from booting or operating properly – from hardware to software or a combination of factors. To fix this, power on or reboot the computer while holding down the [command]+[S] keys to enter single user mode. This mode will boot the Apple computer into a terminal-only mode where bash commands may be entered to perform further troubleshooting from the command line.

CAUTION: As there is no GUI present for this interface, single user mode is recommended for only a few. Those who are knowledgeable and proficient in executing commands from the terminal. If you execute the wrong commands, data stored on the Mac could be rendered useless.

  • Resetting the SMC (System Management Controller) on your Mac: Many of Mac’s basic hardware functions are controlled by SMC, including managing sleep mode, thermal management and how the power button moves. A Mac that won’t finish starting up or starts up and then freezes, may just need its SMC reset. The method for resetting your Mac’s SMC depends on the type of Mac you have. All SMC reset instructions require shutting down your Mac first. If your Mac fails to shut down, try pressing and holding the power button until the Mac shuts down, which usually takes 10 seconds or so.
  • Password reset: Macs are resilient but still prone to data corruption and the same user- based pitfalls. Forgetting his/her password or the systems files becoming corrupt to the point where the user can’t login to the system. To fix this, you need to power on or reboot the computer while holding down the [option] key to access the Recovery partition – or [command]+[R]. Once, the recovery partition has loaded select utilities I Terminal from the menu to load the terminal app. Type “resetpassword” from the terminal screen and press the [enter] key to load the Reset Password utility. From the volume that the user account resides should be selected first. Followed by selecting the name from the drop down menu of the user account you wish to reset. Once it has been done, enter the new password in both fields to reconfirm the password. Click the Save button to commit the changes. To test the changes, restart the Mac and enter the new credentials for the modified account at the login screen.
10 Quick Mac Troubleshooting Techniques was last modified: December 5th, 2016 by John Harris

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