When something goes wrong with your Mac, all you care about is getting it fixed fast. Maybe you’re on the road with your PowerBook and you need to give a presentation in an hour—you don’t care why something went wrong, or even what the best long-term solution may be. You just want to get your Mac working well enough to see you through the meeting; you’ll worry about the rest later.
For such stress-filled times, here are the quick-and-dirty troubleshooting steps you need to follow.
2. Log In with Startup Items Disabled
Log out of your account and log back in—but hold down the shift key when clicking on the Log In button. Continue to hold it until the desktop background appears. You’ve now disabled your Startup Items, the applications that load automatically when you log in. If one of these items was causing a conflict with the software you were trying to use, you should now be good to go.
A clean break
: If restarting your Mac doesn’t help, try logging into a “clean” account—but first turn on Fast User Switching.
4. Do Disk Repairs via Single-User Mode
To fix a corrupt directory, the common recommendation is to use Disk Utility’s Repair Disk option. The only problem is that you can’t repair the current startup volume with Disk Utility. Instead, you need to start up from a Mac OS X Install CD and run Disk Utility from there. But what if you don’t have an Install CD handy, or what if you don’t have time to use one? The quicker alternative is to boot up in single-user mode by holding down Command-S at startup. When the text prompt appears, type
. This is almost identical to using Disk Utility. When you’re finished, type
to restart the Mac.
: Font Finagler can speed up your system by cleaning up your system’s font cache files. (Click image to open full screenshot)
6 .Clean Up Caches
A variety of third-party software can help speed up your recovery time. Having printing problems? Use
Printer Setup Repair
($20); start with its Temp & Preference File Management options. Problems with fonts? Use
($10) to delete potentially corrupt font caches. Other mysterious symptoms? Use
($9) to perform tasks such as rebuilding the launch-services database and deleting all system cache files. To be on the safe side, download the software right now so you’ll have it when trouble strikes.
Contributing Editor Ted Landau is the author of
Mac OS X Help Line
, Panther Edition (Peachpit Press, 2004).