Helpdesk Challenge – basic Mac troubleshooting
So you’ve bought your shiny new Mac computer, surely your troubles are over? Gone are the crashes, error messages and slow start ups of using a PC. Well, not always.
We’ve heard from plenty of readers who say they’d never switch from Mac to PC, but that’s not to say that Apple computers can’t throw up the odd error message.
Here are some straightforward fixes to help new Mac owners troubleshoot their computers.
Start in Safe Boot mode on a Mac
While many Windows 7 users will be familiar with Safe Mode, it’s a little-known secret that Mac OS X also has a Safe Boot mode. This is a great place to start if your Macintosh computer is crashing, freezing or just behaving oddly.
Safe Mode reboots the system and loads only the essentials to get you up and running. To activate Safe Boot, shut down the Mac.
To do this, click the Apple icon in the menu bar and then select Shutdown from the menu. Wait 30 seconds, then press the Power button and hold down the Shift key until you hear the startup chime. Keep holding the Shift key until a grey progress bar appears on the screen. This is the Mac disabling the hardware acceleration, clearing out cache files and performing a directory check of the hard drive, all of which can help resolve the problem.
After a few minutes, you’ll see a log-in screen to enter your details and then you can access your files. From here you can restart normally, without pressing the Shift key.
Force Quit on a Mac
If an application, such as a web browser, crashes and won’t even close, then you can force it to quit and this often fixes the glitch as well. You’ll lose any unsaved work, but you’ll be able to reopen the program afterwards.
To force quit a program, click the Apple icon in the top menu bar, then select Force Quit from the menu. A window appears that lists all running applications, with the words ‘Not responding’ in red next to the crashed application. Select the application from the list and click the Force Quit button.
In the event of the operating system freezing and you can’t click any menus, press Cmd + Alt + Esc to launch the Force Quit menu, then select Finder and press the Force Quit button. This will relaunch Finder (the heart of Mac OS X) and usually with any glitches fixed.
Using the Activity Monitor on a Mac
Irksome applications can cause problems by using too much memory or processor power. Applications and Mac OS X use processes to control everything.
To inspect all running processes, click Applications > Utilities and then launch the Activity Monitor. This shows all processes, including applications, running on your Mac.
If one looks suspicious, such as a program taking up most of the CPU power, click it then press the red Quit Process button.
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