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houltmac

OS X - Troubleshooting

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houltmac    254

Purpose of this sticky

The moderation team here at the MacCast Forum are working on an evolving project to provide quick and useful information for troubleshooting your Mac. Anything that is a common question or answer on the forum regarding fixing any non-specific issue is posted here for quick and easy reference by both the needy and the helpful as well as easy searching. The post is going to remain locked simply to allow for easy reading, but topic suggestions can be posted here.

 

General Troubleshooting

For general troubleshooting tips and techniques please see Mac OS X: How to troubleshoot a software issue, You can't empty the Trash or move a file to the Trash in Mac OS X and Isolating issues in Mac OS X.

 

Repair Permissions (in OS X)

Go to your Applications folder and inside that find your Utilities folder. In here you have a Disk Utility application. Run this and select your OS X install (not the entire hard drive) from the pane on the left. Choose First Aid from the tabs along the top and then Verify Disk Permissions. Once this is complete choose Repair Disk Permissions. More on this can be found here.

 

Repair Permissions (from OS X disk)

Insert your OS X Install Disk and restart your computer. Hold the C key while the computer boots to force it to boot from the inserted disk. Choose Disk Utility from the Utilities menu (at the top of the screen) and select your OS X install (not the entire hard drive) from the pane on the left. Choose First Aid from the tabs along the top and then Verify Disk Permissions. Once this is complete choose Repair Disk Permissions. More on this can be found here.

 

Boot to Safe Mode

Restart your computer and hold the Shift key immediately after you hear the startup tone (not before). OS X will boot to Safe Mode which will take a while because it automatically checks and repairs disks where appropriate but it will boot up. Once booted to the desktop you can usually restart to resolve many issues or follow further instructions documented elsewhere to troubleshoot issues.

 

FSCK

FSCK is a command-line utility that may be able to verify and repair a disk. Apple recommend using Disk Utility or Safe Mode to repair permissions wherever possible, but this isn't always the case. To use FSCK start your computer in Single-User Mode by restarting and immediately holding the S key. At the command-line prompt type the following excluding the quotation marks: /sbin/fsck -fy. Press Return. FSCK will go through five "phases" and then return information about your disk. Once it finishes, it'll display this message if no issue is found"** The volume (name_of_volume) appears to be OK". If FSCK found issues and has altered, repaired, or fixed anything, it will display this message: "***** FILE SYSTEM WAS MODIFIED *****". Important: If this message appears, repeat the fsck command you typed in step 2 until FSCK tells you that your volume appears to be OK (first-pass repairs may uncover additional issues, so this is a normal thing to do). When fsck reports that your volume is OK, type reboot at the prompt and then press Return.

 

"Zap" the PRAM/NVRAM

PRAM (Parameter RAM) stores certain system and device settings in a location that Mac OS X can access quickly. Exactly which settings are stored in the computer's PRAM varies depending on the type of computer as well as the types of devices and drives connected to the computer. Parameter RAM is a small area of non-volatile RAM (NVRAM). Contents can include such things as display settings, time settings, volume settings, DVD region settings and kernel panic information. To "Zap" the PRAM and NVRAM you will need to restart your computer. During boot up you should hold Command-Option-P-R until the startup chime sounds for a second time. Then let go and allow the computer to boot. You may loose your clock settings etc. during this, but nothing that isn't easily fixable in a minute or two.

 

Boot from Optical Media Disk (CD/DVD)

Restart your computer holding the C key as it boots.

 

Boot into Apple Hardware Test (AHT)

Insert your OS X Install Disk (Disk 1 if you have 2 disks). Restart your computer holding the D key as it boots.

 

Boot into Startup Manager (BootCamp if installed)

Restart your computer holding the Option key as it boots. You will boot into Startup Manager where you can select a volume to boot from (this is how you boot into Windows if it is installed via BootCamp on an Intel Mac). Holding the N key as well as the Option key will make the first network volume appear also.

 

Eject Stubborn Removable Media (inc. CD/DVD)

Restart your computer holding the Eject key, F12 key or holding the mouse/trackpad button as it boots will eject all removable media including optical media such as CDs and DVDs.

 

Boot into FireWire Target Disk Mode

Restart your computer holding the T key as it boots. This is how you can boot to an OS X installation on another Mac or external Hard Disk Drive (HDD).

 

Startup Mode Key Combinations

A simplified list of these startup keyboard commands can be found here.

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