Quick Fixes


These Quick Fixes assume you are an administrator of your computer. That is, if asked for a password before performing an action, you have a password that will permit the action to occur.

Check your cable connections and power supply

It may seem obvious. But it's worthing checking anyway.

Is your problem that some external FireWire or USB device is not working? If so, does the device have its own power supply? Then check to make sure it is plugged into an outlet . Also make certain that the outlet is active. For example, if the device is plugged to a power strip, make sure the strip's switch is on.

If the device is turned on and getting power, but the Mac does not seem to recognize anyway, make sure it really is connected to the Mac. Check the cable and make certain it is securely plugged in, both to the device and to the Mac. If you are using a USB or FireWire hub, check connections there as well.

If everything seems connected properly, but you still get no response: Try a different port, if available. For example, if a device does not work in one USB port, try another one.

Relaunch the Finder

No matter what you do on your Mac, you have one thing in common with all other Mac users: You'll be spending some time in the Finder. As such, it's also the most common source of complaints. Windows that don't display properly, icons that are incorrect, and so on. A variety of possible causes and cures may come into play here. But the best and simplest place to start is to relaunch the Finder.

To do this:

1. Hold down the Option key and click-hold the Finder icon in the Dock.

2. When the menu pops-up, one of the items should be Relaunch. Select it.


Log out and back in

If relaunching the Finder failed to do the trick, next up at the plate is logging out. To do this, simply go to the Apple menu and select the command at the bottom: Log Out {your account name}. Then log back in.

Force Quit

If your problem is a frozen application (that is, one that has stopped responding to your mouse or keyboard actions), rather than attempt to log out, simply force quit the application. To do this:

1. Go to the Apple menu and select Force Quit (Command-Option-Escape does the same thing).

2. From the window that appears, select the name of the problem application and click the Force Quit button.


As an alternative, which sometimes works even when the above does not:

1. Go to the Dock. Hold down the Option key and click-hold the mouse button on the Dock icon for the application that is frozen.

2. From the menu that appears, the command that typically says Quit should now say Force Quit. Select it.


Actually, if you are having any problem with an application, quitting (or force quitting) the application and relaunching it is worth a try. With some luck, the problem will not return on relaunch.

Restart your Mac

It's surprising how often this can be the answer to your prayers. Whether your Mac is generally running too slow or a specific application crashes on launch or almost anything else, a restart may fix it. It's especially critical on those few occasions where your Mac gets so hung up that you can't even get the Force Quit window to appear. Again, with a bit of luck, the symptom will not return on your next startup.

If the problem returns as you start launching more and more applications, it probably means your Mac does not have enough memory. Either add additional memory, or make sure you keep fewer applications open at the same time.

In a few cases, the cause may be limited to a specific application (such as Safari). A work-around is to make sure you quit the application when you are not using it.

Repair Disk

To do this for your startup volume, you need to startup from the Install CD or DVD that came with your Mac (or, if you purchased a newer version of Mac OS X, from the disc that came with that purchase). To do this:

1. Insert the CD and restart. Hold down the C key. The Mac should now start from the CD.

2. When startup is over, go to the Installer menu. Select Disk Utility. This will launch the same utility that we just described for repairing disk permissions.

3. This time, however, select Repair Disk. Wait for it to finish. If it reports that it found problems but fixed them. Run it again. Keep doing this until it reports finding no problems.


If Disk Utility finds problems that it claims it cannot fix, it's time to try a different utility (such as DiskWarrior or TechTool Pro, if you own any of these programs) -- or sign up for a consulting session and we'll help you out.

To repair disks other than the startup volume, you can run Disk Utility right from your hard drive. No need to restart.

Repairing the disk is an especially good thing to try if you are having a problem starting up from your normal startup volume.

Running Repair Disk Permissions and Repair Disk is also worth doing on a regular basis (say once a month) even if you are not having any problems. It can fix minor issues that might eventually blow up into major ones if left alone.

One more note: While you have Disk Utility open, and a drive selected, look at the bottom of the window. There should be an item that says "S.M.A.R.T. status." To the right of this text, it should ideally say "Verified." If it says anything else (and especially if it is a recently manufactured drive), it suggests a possible problem with your hard drive, one that even Repair Disk will not fix. If so, you may need to replace the drive.

Check for font conflicts

The seemingly innocuous fonts installed on your Mac can be a source of problems. Symptoms can vary from the wrong font displaying in a document to applications crashing. There are three common causes here: duplicate fonts, corrupt fonts and corrupt font cache files. In rarer cases, a particular font can cause problems (usually linked to a specific application) simply by its presence or absence on your Mac.

To deal with duplicate fonts, go to the Applications folder and locate the Font Book application. Launch it. From the Edit menu, select Resolve Duplicates. This will automatically disable one copy of any duplicate fonts you have installed. A potential glitch here is if Font Book disables the "wrong" member of a pair of duplicate fonts (that is, you wanted the other one disabled). If you are concerned about this, you can disable a font manually, by selecting the font's name in the list in the Font Book window. Then select Disable Font from the Edit menu. As always, if you are unsure why you might want to disable one version of a font vs. another, you can sign up for a consulting session for further help.

To deal with corrupt font cache files, the solution is to Trash them. We could list all the font cache files, where they are, and how to delete them. However, a much easier solution is to use a freeware/shareware utility that does all this work for you. One such utility is Font Finagler, a $10 shareware utility we think is worth every penny.

Resolve Network Problems

If you are having trouble connecting to the Internet or your local Intranet, there are a host of potential causes. The problem may not even be of your own making. For example, if you use a cable modem, the cable company's connection may be temporarily down. However, there are two quick things you can try that will fix most temporary hiccups:

1. Restart all network peripheral devices. If you have a cable modem, AirPort Base Station, router, or any other network-related peripheral: turn each one off, count to 30 and turn them back on. Wait for the device(s) to finish any startup sequence. See if your problem is fixed.

2. Toggle the Location setting in Network. To do this, open System Preferences, select Network. next, select the Location pop-up menu. If only one location is listed, select "New Location" to create a new one. With two or more locations set up, select a location other than the one currently in use. Click the Apply Now button at the bottom of the screen. Then select the previous default location and click Apply Now again. Check to see if your problem is gone.

If these don't work, it's probably time to start checking and fiddling with the actual Network and/or router settings. Here is where you may want to sign up for a consulting session and we'll help you out for help.

Update/Reinstall the application

If your problem is specific to a single application, and none of the above has helped (and you've checked for possible preference file problems as described above in "Login as another user"), check to see if there is an updated version that may fix a bug that is causing your symptom. For Apple software, you can do this simply by selecting "Software Update" from the Apple menu.

For third party software, check on the Web (such as with VersionTracker.com) to see if there is an updated version. If so, get and run the update.

Otherwise, you'll want to re-install the existing version of the software. To do this, use the software's Installer application (if the program came with one) or its .pkg file (which works with Mac OS X's Installer application). If the program has neither, simply delete the old copy and replace it with a fresh copy obtained from your personal archives (if you maintain one) or via the Web.

If you want to reinstall an application that is a component of Mac OS X (such as Mail or Safari) or completely reinstall all of Mac OS X, this can get a bit more involved. If you are unsure how to do this, it would be a good time to sign up for a consulting session and we'll help you out.

Reset PRAM

Resetting the PRAM is a simple fix that can resolve a variety of mysterious symptoms, from preferences settings that refuse to be retained on restart to problems restarting altogether. The simplest way to do this is to restart your Mac and immediately hold down the Command-Option-P-R keys. Wait until the Mac restarts itself three times, then let go of the keys.

If that does not do the trick, there is a similar procedure that involves using commands in the Mac's Open Firmware mode. To do this:

1. Hold down the Command-Option-O-F keys at startup until a command-line interface appears.

2. From here type reset-nvram and press Return.

3. Type set-defaults and press Return again.

4. Type bye and press Return a final time.

For PowerBooks and iBooks, there is related procedure, called resetting the Power Management Unit, that may help. Exactly how to do this varies with different models. See this Apple Knowledge Base article for details: http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=14449.

If any of this sounds beyond what you want to risk doing on your own, sign up for a consulting session and we will walk you through it.


or. . .
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