Continuing our in-depth look at how to fix your troublesome Mac, we go deeper with our potential solutions. This list is being integrated into the master solution database at iSensei’s Mac Emergency Room.
Run Disk Utility
Select your main drive in the lefthand column (as it’s named, not the model name and capacity above it). Select Repair Disk Permissions (yes, you could select Verify Disk Permissions first, but why bother?) Let it run. It could take a few minutes or longer. Be patient. Hopefully, at the end it will say “permissions repair complete”. If not, try running it again. Then quit and restart. This repairing permissions option isn’t a bad thing to run every once in a while anyway. You can help clean up little glitches that get introduced into the system from installing and uninstalling software.
Deactivate AntiVirus software
Now the debate still rages on as whether or not it’s worth it for Macs to even run one of these. There have been a few threats but they’re still relatively miniscule. The choice is up to you but I have found that AV software can be problematic. For example, if you’re not careful, it can make the installation of new software difficult. I recently had a different problem. I started having serious problems with my iMac where I kept getting the cursed spinning wheel all the time and couldn’t do anything until it went away. This was months after I had installed an AV program. (I was trying out Intego Virus Barrier X6). After experimenting with a whole lot of my own solutions unsuccessfully a friend recommended I get rid of the AV software. And that did it. The problem went away. Your mileage may vary.
Disconnect all external devices
We’re talking about scanners, printers, external hard drives, mice & keyboard. You will need to shut down first, obviously. Then unplug the Mac from the back. (this last step we’re talking iMacs primarily here, not MacBooks). Hold in the power button for 10 seconds. This “flushes out” the Mac’s system. Reconnect the power, mouse and keyboard and start up again without any additional devices plugged in. Test the system and see how it works. If everything is copacetic, try reintroducing the other external devices one at a time. This way you may find out whether the problem is caused by one of them.
Use Recovery Mode
Restart with the Option key held down. In 10.8 (Mountain Lion) you get the option of booting off your regular hard drive (“Macintosh HD” or whatever you’ve renamed it) or a built-in, and normally hidden “Recovery” Disk. From the popup there select which WiFi network to use. Choose the one you usually use and enter the password. Now select Recovery Disk. Chose language (English, perhaps?). The new window, OS X Utilities, is where you chose what work you need done.
Options are: 1] Restore from Time Machine Backup (you HAVE been backing up, right??), 2] Reinstall OS X, your operating system, 3] Get Help Online and 4] Disk Utility.
Best thing to do at this stage is select 4] Disk Utility and follow directions above under Run Disk Utility. After you’ve done that, quit Disk Utility. That will take you back to the previous window. If all seems well now, quit OS X Utilities, select your hard drive and Restart.
The other options are fairly self-explanatory. If your hard drive is really messed up then Option 1 may be what you need to do, but I wouldn’t do that until I had tried everything else. It can be very time-consuming. Option 2 isn’t as severe a choice as it may sound and is often helpful when other tricks don’t work. And Option 3 is obviously where you would look for answers to your questions. Your particular circumstances will undoubtedly vary.
Create a New user Account
Try creating a secondary account by going through System Preferences>Users & Groups. It’s pretty easy to do but we’ll walk you thru it. Unlock the little lock icon in the lower left-hand corner of Users & Groups, click on the plus sign and put in your Full Name and a distinctive Account name. Use a password if you like. Select Create User. Close out Users & Groups.
Your original account name should appear in the upper right-hand corner of the Main menu near the magnifying glass. Select your new account name from the drop-down menu and start testing things out in this new environment.
See if you can recreate your problem or behavior. Possibly your primary account has gotten corrupted somehow. (it’s happened to iSensei… but then what problem hasn’t??) If the new account has no problems, you could just move all your documents over to the new account and use that as your primary. Don’t move any System stuff or Applications. They stay at the top level, accessible to all users. If you’re using Dropbox tho, do not drag that over. Just change the default location to the new account thru DropBox’s Preferences.
By this point you must be pretty darn frustrated. All this testing and you’re still having problems. Well, if you’ve tried most of these potential solutions and the problem still has not gone away, it becomes highly likely that you may have bad RAM. Unfortunately, this is an incurable disease. No, just kidding! But it will mean taking your computer to one of those lovely Geniuses at the Apple Store and having them look at it. I have found bad RAM to be the source of a number of serious problems over the years.
RAM chips are pieces of the hardware that can be removed and replaced. They allow you to run more programs, more quickly. Guidelines? You can never have TOO much RAM. Unless all you’re doing is web browsing and email. Then, more is less.
Oh, there’s more, surely, but we’ll save that for a VERY rainy day. iSensei believes that the solution to your problems lies within the tips we’ve offered so far. Mostly. Probably. BUT, if YOU have suggestions of how to troubleshoot a Mac from your experiences, please let us know here! We’ll all be grateful.
Having annoying troubles with your Mac, whether laptop or desktop? Crashes, system lockups, even the Spinning Beachball of Death (SBD)? iSensei hears your pleas and rushes to respond! Starting today we’re featuring a whole new section on dealing with a troublesome Mac. We call it: iSensei’s Mac Emergency Room! (Note, it’s now a permanent part of our navigation menu above.) He’s sharing these age-old pearls of wisdom so that YOU may be further empowered to solve your own problems. How noble of him, eh?
Since it’s often difficult to pin down the cause of bad Mac behavior, it may require trying more than one of these. Just be patient. With luck, before you know it, you’ll be back up and running! (Conversely, you’ll be hauling the damn thing to the Apple Store or a qualified repair shop, but let’s not dwell on failure now.)
Rather than dump all of his tricks on you at once (cuz there are many), we’re presenting the first batch now, with more to follow in the coming week. These are where iSensei himself would start in trying to sort out his troubles.
One last thing: there’s no specific order these must be done in, though we’d recommend starting with the simplest and easiest. Once you’ve tried each one out, you may need to Restart to truly test if your Mac repeats that funky behavior again.
Helpful Hint: If, while testing various solutions, you’re required to log back in to your account frequently, consider turning off your System Password (by leaving the space blank) or at least temporarily change it to a single key or such. Saves a lot of frustrating typing while you’re struggling with your problems! Go to: Apple Menu> System Preferences> Users & Groups> Password. Just be sure to turn it back on or reactivate your old password when you’re done!
Remember, any of your own solutions you care to share helps us all. Plus, if you have specific problems you’d like to inquire about, please write in!
It’s out there. Yes, OS X 10.8 MOUNTAIN LION is released from its cage and ready to roar! Believe it or not, iSensei is only now preparing to download the Big Guy. It was necessary to make sure all conditions are GO with all his many Macs, though it’s likely there will be an install only on one machine at first, in case of something BAD happens, as unlikely as that is. iSensei has always been one to install first and ask “why did I do that?!” later. (Insert stupid smiley face)
One rule I DO insist my loyal followers adhere to:
Before you install anything as big as a new OS (Operating System), PLEASE be sure to back up your computer (of course!) and then run DISK UTILITY to eliminate any squirrelishness there may be with your current system. Because, you’ll be installing over top of it. This IS an upgrade, mind you. You need to have LION to install MOUNTAIN LION (pretty sure…). Read the rest of this entry →
In our previous post, I referenced the Kirk McElhearn’s excellent Macworld.com article with the (almost) same long title, discussing How to Hide the Dock. Be sure to go back and read it if you haven’t yet. This time I’m running a bit about the clock in the menu bar, up to the right there. See it? Well, here’s Kirk on how to get the most out of that.
Display the date and day of the week in your menu bar
If you’ve got the clock visible in the menu bar, you might find that just seeing the time isn’t enough. Go to the Date & Time preference pane, and then click on the Clock tab. Here, you can make some changes: choose to show the day of the week, the date, AM/PM, and more. If you tend to forget the date or which day it is, this can help you keep track of time with a simple glance at the menu bar. You’ll also find a setting there to have the clock talk to you, every hour, on the hour.
Thanks, Kirk. Couldn’t have put it better myself. That’s all today from that series but if you’re feeling ambitious, just click here and tackle a few more. Just promise iSensei you will try this one at least! As always, I highly recommend Macworld.com as a great resource for discovering the cool things your Mac can do.