A Mac Troubleshooting Summary

With over a thousand articles here about Macs and their problems, it can be tricky to know where to look first. Here’s a selection of starting points for troubleshooting and solving issues.

Pick your Panacea: how to select a generic fix

Crashes, freezing, panics

Was that a crash, freeze, panic, or spinning beachball? A diagnostic guide
Kernel panics, and how to know when they occur
Tackling sleep and wake problems

Problems after system updates

What to do when a macOS update goes wrong
The universal panacea for macOS problems: install the Combo updater
Startup tones, EFI, and fixing failed firmware updates

Crash recovery and disk problems

Recovering from a hard crash – when your startup drive is missing or damaged
Monitoring SSD wear and ageing
Checking your drives with DriveDx
Q&A – Dead Mac recovery – recovering files from a dead Mac
S.M.A.R.T.ypants – hard drive failure detection

App problems – preference settings

Preference settings: where to find them in Mojave
Global defaults in macOS Mojave
Working safely and effectively with preferences in Mojave
Preference settings: where to find them in macOS Sierra (v2)
Preference settings: where to find them in El Capitan

Keychain problems

Why do I have to keep entering my keychain password in Sierra?
How to repair your keychain by making a fresh one

Time Machine problems

Why have my Time Machine backups stopped or become irregular?
Troubleshooting Time Machine: stuck preparing backup, and the deep event scan

Logs – Sierra

Use Consolation on Sierra and later
Capturing the moment in your log: how to identify a problem
Sierra Log Tutorial: Getting started, Time Machine errors, and restarts – basic level
Getting more out of Sierra’s logs
Useful filter terms for Sierra’s logs
Waking your Mac from sleep: log highlights
Mac shutdown and sleep cause codes

Logs – El Capitan and earlier

Log race – understanding and using Console’s logs
Reading logs: shutdown and startup
Reading logs: waking from sleep and backing up
Getting El Capitan to run clean – using Console and guesswork to stop repeated service crashing
Service with a Smile – advanced troubleshooting of services and the startup process

Known bugs and issues

Known bugs in macOS Sierra 10.12.6: an incomplete summary
Reported problems in macOS Sierra: an incomplete list – badly designed features, third-party apps, etc.


Small Networks Without Big Headaches – setting up and diagnosing a small network
My email is broken – how to diagnose and fix mail problems
The medium of the message – email clients and types

iCloud and cloud services

What to do when a cloud service plays up – including links to service status for iCloud, Adobe CC, etc.
What to do when your account might have been compromised

Generic approaches

Pick your Panacea: how to select a generic fix
My Mac don’t work – troubleshooting tools and techniques
How to tell whether a problem is in your Home folder
Generic troubleshooting: how to fix something that doesn’t work

Tackling the serious and insoluble

Reviving the hopeless Mac: what to try before visiting the Genius Bar
Prepare your Mac for service/repair, and restore it later

Useful references

Conventions and Standards for Mac Articles
Startup and shutdown key combinations for macOS Sierra
Firmware, the SMC, NVRAM and T2 chip: reset and maintain
Which EFI firmware should your Mac be using? (version 2)
Safe mode
My Mac only runs properly in Safe mode
Which Recovery Mode?
Recovery mode and its tools
Hardware diagnostics
More About This Mac: where to find that UUID, MAC address, etc.
Where is that app? – a brief index to bundled tools in Sierra
Key security tools for Sierra and El Capitan
Why are my Mac’s fans running at full blast?

Further details

Full categorised listing of Mac articles here.