Apple’s Mac App Store troubleshooting advice

Now that the Mac App Store (MAS) is off and running, Apple has done what it typically does after every new product’s arrival—released a slew of help and troubleshooting-related Knowledge Base articles. By my most recent count, there are at least 25 such articles covering the Mac App Store. To save you from having to scour through them all, here are the most noteworthy items:

Purchase failure. When you attempt to purchase an app, the App Store may balk and tell you that “an unknown error occurred (100).” If this happens, the solution is typically a simple one: Quit the App Store and wait a few seconds. Then relaunch the App Store and try again.

More generally, if a purchase seems to fail for any reason, just try again—clicking the Buy, Install (or Resume) button as relevant. If you cannot find a previously purchased app in the Purchases list, and you are correctly signed in to your account, press Command-R to refresh the page.

Sign in failure. After selecting Sign In from the Mac App Store’s Store menu, the Sign In sheet may fail to appear. Or, the sheet may appear but any attempt to enter text in the Apple ID or Password fields will not work. The likely culprit here is third-party system enhancement software. Apple specifically cites Unsanity’s FruitMenu and APE (Application Enhancer) as causing this. For what it’s worth, I have APE installed on my drive and do not have this problem. However, I have seen confirmations of this symptom for FruitMenu.

The solution? Disable the third-party software. Hopefully, a future update to the software will resolve the conflict.

App Store unresponsive. After clicking the Updates icon at the top of the App Store window, the App Store app may freeze (or, as Apple puts it, “become unresponsive”). This is a rare symptom, triggered by “certain third-party Mac NTFS software and/or connected partitions with versions of Microsoft Windows that contain the NTFS filesystem.”

If this happens, the solution is to remove the NTFS drive/partition from the Spotlight search list (who would have ever guessed this?). To do so, go to Spotlight in System Preferences and select the Privacy tab. From here, click the Plus (+) button and add the relevant NTFS drive/partition to the list of items that Spotlight will not search. As an alternative, if you can determine the specific utility that is causing the symptom, you may be able to disable it from the utility’s own preferences.

General troubleshooting. Summarizing across several of the Knowledge Base articles (and especially this one), here is Apple’s generic MAS troubleshooting advice:

• If a problem is specific to an individual app, delete the app from your drive and select to reinstall it from the App Store. Even if it was a purchased app, it will reinstall for free.

• Try the all-purpose cure-all: Restart your Mac.

• Reinstall Mac OS X 10.6.6 via the combo update.

• As a very very last resort, reinstall Mac OS X 10.6 “from your original install media” followed by a reinstall of all updates from Software Update in the Apple menu.

For more on Mac App Store troubleshooting, see my previous Bugs & Fixes column as well as my recent column in The Mac Observer.

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