Mac Crash

The Ultimate Mac Repair Quick Reference Guide

More and more companies are buying Macs.  And even if you aren’t a fan of the platform, knowing how to support them can give you an edge in the marketplace.  My IT consulting business landed several clients because of our ability to support Macs.  Sometimes the clients had almost all PCs and only a few Macs but because we knew both platforms, they would choose us over our competitors.  This is why adding Mac support to your portfolio can be a huge plus when trying to secure more clients or a new job.  So if you are interested in supporting Macs but are afraid to take the plunge, I have put together this quick reference guide just for you.

 

System Information

About This Mac

To quickly determine which version of OS X, processor, and how much RAM is installed, use About This Mac.

  1. Click on the Apple menu.
  2. Select About This Mac.

More Info: https://support.apple.com/kb/HT1633

 

System Profiler

To find detailed information about the computer, use the System Profiler.

  1. Click on the Apple menu.
  2. Select About This Mac.
  3. Click the More Info button.
  4. Additional Step if the machine is running OS X 10.7 or later. Click the System Report button.

More Info: http://guides.macrumors.com/System_Profiler

 

Disk Related Issues

Repairing Disk Permissions

Incorrect disk permissions can cause startup problems, login problems, printing problems, and can prevent apps from launching.  If you are experiencing these problems, try repairing disk permissions.

  1. Launch Disk Utility which is located in Applications > Utilities
  2. Highlight the hard drive partition and click the “Repair Disk Permissions” button.

More Info: https://support.apple.com/kb/HT1452
& http://www.macworld.com/article/1052220/repairpermissions.html

 

Verify Disk & Repair Disk

If you suspect there is a problem with the hard drive volume or the hard drive itself try verify and repair disk.

  1. Launch Disk Utility which is located in Applications > Utilities
  2. Highlight the hard drive and click the “Verify Disk” button.  If the drive needs repaired, click the “Repair Disk” button.

More Info: https://support.apple.com/kb/HT1782

 

fsck Command

If you cannot get into OS X at all either through normal boot or Safe Mode then use the fsck command in single-user mode to repair your disk.

  1. Shut down the computer.
  2. Turn the computer back on.
  3. Immediately press and hold the Command (⌘) key and “s” key to boot into single-user mode.
  4. At the command prompt, type: /sbin/fsck -fy
  5. Press return.

More Info: https://support.apple.com/kb/TS1417

 

DiskWarrior

If Repair Disk cannot fix the problem then try DiskWarrior.  DiskWarrior works differently than most disk repair programs.  It attempts to build a replacement directory using data recovered from the original directory instead of trying to fix the existing directory.  This helps to prevent data corruption while attempting to repair your data.  The cost is $99.95.

More Info: http://alsoft.com/DiskWarrior/

 

Data Rescue

If you need to recover data and DiskWarrior can’t do the job then try Data Rescue.  Data Rescue doesn’t attempt to repair the drive but instead focuses purely on recovering the data and copying it to a different drive.  The cost is $99.00.

More Info: http://www.prosofteng.com/products/data_rescue.php

 

Drive Cloning

If the drive is going bad and you want to copy all the data to a new drive or you would just like to make a backup, you can easily create a bootable clone using SuperDuper or Carbon Copy Cloner.  SuperDuper is free but does not create the OS X Lion or Mountain Lion recovery partition on the new drive.  Carbon Copy Cloner does create the recovery partition but costs $39.95.

More Info: http://www.shirt-pocket.com/SuperDuper/SuperDuperDescription.html
& http://www.bombich.com/

 

Boot Related Issues

Resetting the NVRAM / PRAM

The NVRAM / PRAM stores basic hardware information, speaker volume information, screen resolution, start-up disk selection, and kernel panic information.  If you are experiencing issues with these try resetting it.

  1. Shut down the computer.
  2. Locate the following keys on the keyboard: Command (⌘), Option, P, and R. You will need to hold these keys down simultaneously in step 4.
  3. Turn on the computer.
  4. Press and hold the Command-Option-P-R keys before the gray screen appears.
  5. Hold the keys down until the computer restarts and you hear the startup sound for the second time.
  6. Release the keys.

More Info: https://support.apple.com/kb/HT1379

 

Resetting the SMC

The SMC controls power flow and fan speed.  If you are experiencing issues with powering the machine on, sleep issues, unexpected power loss, battery performance issues, failure to recognize wireless card, bluetooth, or attached devices, try resetting the SMC.

Resetting the SMC on Mac portables with a battery you can remove

  1. Shut down the computer.
  2. Disconnect the MagSafe power adapter from the computer, if it’s connected.
  3. Remove the battery.
  4. Press and hold the power button for 5 seconds.
  5. Release the power button.
  6. Reconnect the battery and MagSafe power adapter.
  7. Press the power button to turn on the computer.

Resetting the SMC on portables with a battery you should not remove on your own

  1. Shut down the computer.
  2. Plug in the MagSafe power adapter to a power source, connecting it to the Mac if its not already connected.
  3. On the built-in keyboard, press the (left side) Shift-Control-Option keys and the power button at the same time.
  4. Release all the keys and the power button at the same time.
  5. Press the power button to turn on the computer.  
    Note
    : The LED on the MagSafe power adapter may change states or temporarily turn off when you reset the SMC.

Resetting the SMC for Mac Pro, Intel-based iMac, Intel-based Mac mini, or Intel-based Xserve

  1. Shut down the computer.
  2. Unplug the computer’s power cord.
  3. Wait fifteen seconds.
  4. Attach the computer’s power cord.
  5. Wait five seconds, then press the power button to turn on the computer.

More Info: https://support.apple.com/kb/HT3964

 

Clean Caches and Other Items

If the system is sluggish try cleaning caches and other items.  The easiest way to do this is to use a program called Maintenance by Titanium Software

  1. Download Maintenance.
  2. Launch Maintenance.  It will want to verify the startup volume.
  3. Close out of all applications and click Continue.
  4. If you have already Repaired Permissions you can uncheck it.  Otherwise, click Execute.

More Info: http://www.titanium.free.fr/downloadmaintenance.php

 

Booting into Safe Mode

If you are having trouble booting the computer into OS X, try booting into Safe Mode.

  1. Shut down the computer.
  2. Turn the computer back on.
  3. Press and hold the Shift key immediately.
  4. Continue holding down the Shift key until a gray Apple logo appears on the screen.  The computer will continue booting into safe mode.

More Info: https://support.apple.com/kb/HT1564

 

Creating a New User Account

Sometimes a user account can become corrupt preventing the computer from starting up and logging in.  If this happens, try creating a new user account in Safe Mode.

  1. Shut down the computer.
  2. Turn the computer back on.
  3. Press and hold the Shift key immediately.
  4. Continue holding down the Shift key until a gray Apple logo appears on the screen.  The computer will continue booting into safe mode.
  5. Choose Apple menu > System Preferences and click Accounts (or Users & Groups in OS X 10.7 and later).
  6. Click the lock icon to unlock it, and type an administrator name and password.
  7. Click the Add (+) button below the list of accounts.
  8. Choose a type of account from the New Account pop-up menu.
  9. Enter a name for the account.
  10. Enter the account password in the Password and Verify fields.
  11. Click Create Account.

More Info: https://support.apple.com/kb/PH6651

 

Booting from the Install Disc or Recovery Partition

If you need to reinstall the OS, restore from a Time Machine backup, or perform hard drive repairs using Disk Utility, boot the computer from the install disc or recovery partition.

OS X 10.6 or earlier (Install Disc)

  1. Insert the OS X install disc.
  2. Shut down the computer.
  3. Turn the computer back on.
  4. Immediately press and hold the Option key until you see the Startup Manager.
  5. Select the OS X install disc and press return.

OS X 10.7 or later (Recovery Partition – No Install Disc Required)

  1. Shut down the computer
  2. Turn the computer back on.
  3. Immediately press and hold the Command (⌘) and “R” key until the Apple icon appears.  The computer will then boot into the Recovery System.

More Info: https://support.apple.com/kb/HT4718

 

Hardware Related Issues

Apple Hardware Test

If you suspect that the computer may have a hardware issue, run the Apple Hardware Test.

  1. Shut down the computer.
  2. Turn the computer back on.
  3. Press and hold the D key before the gray startup screen appears.
    Note: Some Macintosh computers that shipped with OS X Lion and later support the use of Apple Hardware Test over the Internet. These computers will start up to an Internet-based version of AHT if the hard drive does not contain AHT.  An Internet-enabled connection via Ethernet or Wi-Fi is required to use this feature.
  4. If Apple Hardware Test does not start up you may need the install discs that came with the computer.
  • For Intel-based Apple computers that shipped with Mac OS X v10.5.4 or earlier, Apple Hardware Test is located on the Mac OS X Install Disc 1 and should be included with your computer.
  • For Apple computers that shipped with Mac OS X v10.5.5 to 10.6.7, Apple Hardware Test is located on the Applications Install Disc 2 and should be included with your computer.

More Info: https://support.apple.com/kb/HT1509

 

Hardware Warranty

If you discover a hardware problem, check to see if the Mac is still under warranty by visiting the Apple Service and Support Coverage page.  If it is, contact Apple Support to have the machine serviced.

More Info: https://selfsolve.apple.com/agreementWarrantyDynamic.do
& https://www.apple.com/support/contact/

 

Hardware Repair Guides

If the Mac is out of warranty and/or you need to replace, upgrade, or repair the hardware, iFixit.com is the best resource for Mac repair guides.

More info: http://www.ifixit.com/Device/Mac

 

54 Bit Driver Kit

In an attempt to prevent self-repair, Apple is using some nontraditional screws such as Torx screws and Pentalobe screws in their machines.  I recommend purchasing the 54 Bit Driver Kit from iFixit.com which contains all the bits that you will need when repairing a Mac.

More Info: http://www.ifixit.com/Tools/54-Bit-Driver-Kit/IF145-022

 

Application Related Issues

Force Quit an Application

If you have an unresponsive application, you can force it to quit using Force Quit.  This is similar to End Process in Windows when you use Ctrl Alt Delete.

  1. Press Command-Option-Esc (or click the Apple Menu and choose Force Quit).
  2. Choose the unresponsive application in the Force Quit window.
  3. Click Force Quit.

More Info: https://support.apple.com/kb/HT3411

 

Deleting Preference (.plist) Files

If you are experiencing issues opening an application or if the applications quits immediately after opening try deleting its .plist files.

  1. Open Finder and navigate to ~/Library/Preferences/ where ~ is the user home folder.  Note: If you are using a newer version of OS X then you will need to unhide the Library folder.  http://osxdaily.com/2011/07/22/access-user-library-folder-in-os-x-lion/
  2. Look for the application’s preferences file which is sometimes in the format “com..[product name].plist.
  3. Make sure you have Quit the application and then rename or delete the file.
  4. Relaunch the application which will also recreate the preference files.

More Info: http://guides.macrumors.com/Deleting_Preferences_Files

 

Uninstalling an Application

If deleting the preference files does not fix the problem, you may have to uninstall and reinstall the application.

  • See if the application has an uninstaller first.  If it does, run the uninstaller to properly remove the application.  Then, reinstall the application.
  • If the application does not have an uninstaller, you can uninstall it by dragging the application to the trash.  However, using a third party uninstaller will remove the application as well as other associated files.
  1. Download AppCleaner.
  2. Launch AppCleaner and drag and drop the application into AppCleaner’s window.
  3. Click Delete to remove the application.
  4. Reinstall the application.

More Info: http://freemacsoft.net/appcleaner/

 

Miscellaneous Troubleshooting Steps

Unplug All Peripherals

Sometimes a connected peripherals can cause the system to have issues.  Unplug all peripherals that are not needed to see if that fixes the problem.

 

Software Update

Some bugs can be fixed by updating OS X with the latest patches.

  1. Click on the Apple menu.
  2. Select Software Update
  3. Install all necessary updates.  The system may need to restart when finished.

 

Restart the Computer

Just like a PC, sometimes a simple restart is all that’s needed to fix a Mac.

  1. Click on the Apple menu.
  2. Select Restart…

 

For those of you who have Mac repair experience, please post any other repair tips in the comments section that you would like to add.

For everyone else, bookmark this page so you can access it quickly next time you have the opportunity to fix a Mac.

 




2 Comments

  • trev

    Reply Reply February 26, 2013

    Sometimes bad hard drive can prevent a Mac from going past a white screen on startup and will prevent you from booting to something else, always try disconnecting the hard drive.

  • trev

    Reply Reply February 26, 2013

    If there was a liquid spill on a MacBook, try disconnecting the top case and use the power on pads to see of it will start

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