macOS Troubleshooting Checklist Part I

Dr Mac’s Rants & Raves
Episode # 396

After more than three decades as a Mac user, trainer, and consultant, I have seen and solved more than my share of Mac snafus. Over the years, I’ve developed a list of things to try when a good Mac goes awry.

What does “bad” mean? If your Mac won’t start, locks up, crashes, quits unexpectedly, or otherwise misbehaves, that’s bad. Fortunately, my tips and techniques checklist can fix many (if not most) macOS madness cases. Rest assured, these techniques are (for the most part) non-destructive and should solve the problem or do no harm.

Do this first

The first thing to try when your Mac is misbehaving is restarting it. I know it sounds simple, but it is one of the easiest and most effective ways to get rid of problems. So, start by restarting your Mac. If that fixes the problem, you’re done.

If that doesn’t fix the problem, try this next

If that didn’t work and your Mac is still behaving badly, the next step is to apply First Aid which is Disk Utility’s First Aid feature. If you still see a ban sign, the rainbow of death, or a kernel panic alert when you start your Mac, restart by pressing Command + R to boot from the built-in recovery partition from your Mac. When the recovery window appears, click Disk Utility.

In the Disk Utility window, click the disk causing the problem in the sidebar, click the First Aid button on the toolbar, and then click the Run button. The first aid process may take a minute or two, or an hour or two. Leave it alone for at least an hour. You can click Show Details if you want to see the details (mostly unintelligible) while it repairs (or attempts to repair) your drive.

When done, click the Done button, exit Disk Utility, and choose Restart from the Apple menu.

If you are still having issues try this

If your Mac still won’t start normally, or if your problem persists, the next thing to try is Safe Mode, which requires you to hold down the Shift key during startup.

Type your password if necessary, then hold down the Shift key again before clicking the Login button. The words Safe Boot briefly appear in red in your menu bar, but if you blink you’ll miss them.

Booting into Safe Mode does three things to help resolve your issue:

  • This forces a check of the boot volume directory.
  • It only loads the required kernel extensions (some of the items in / System / Library / Extensions).
  • It only runs the essential startup items installed by Apple (some of the items in the / Library / StartupItems and / System / Library / StartupItems folders).
  • Note that the startup items in the Library folders are different from the login items in the Users & Groups System Preferences pane. Startup items are started before the login window appears; Login items are launched after you log into your user account.

    Also note that some features will not work in safe mode, such as DVD player, video capture, and many audio input or output devices. So boot in safe mode only if you have any problems and reboot in normal mode as soon as you can.

    Tune in next week for three more non-destructive techniques you can try before you have to seek professional help.

    Photo at the top of the page by Glenn Carstens-Peters sure Unsplash

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