A couple of you have told me that you’re now seeing some of the scanners in XProtect Remediator crashing, and wonder how to ensure that Apple sees those reports. This article explains how to use the crash reporting system in macOS to keep Apple informed of your Mac’s problems.
Automated reporting to Apple
The master control is contained in the Security & Privacy pane, in its Privacy tab, under Analytics & Improvements (in the list at the left). If the checkbox at the top is ticked, then your Mac should ask you if it can send its crash and problem reports to Apple. This is a setting established when you last set up the options in macOS, as the final step in installing the system. If that box isn’t ticked, then the same reports will be collected, but won’t be sent to Apple, leaving it none the wiser as to what’s going wrong on your Mac.
Full information about what’s sent and why can be revealed by clicking on the About Analytics and Privacy… button.
Apple is, as usual, quite explicit about the details. In particular, note that this data is sent anonymously. You won’t hear anything more about the reports that your Mac sends, as Apple doesn’t know who sent them.
Reports are processed automatically, and that anonymous information is made available to the appropriate engineering teams. If yours is the only Mac that suffers from this problem, I’m confident that your report is most likely to be lost in the noise. However, if thousands of Macs suddenly start sending reports of the same crash after a particular update, I’d expect that to gain attention, leading to investigation of the problem.
You can read more about this process in an earlier article, which explains a little of the history of the Problem and Crash Reporter utilities and how they work. You can also customise how these crashes are reported to you, whether you see a simple notification, or a full report each time.
If you’re a member of one of Apple’s beta programmes or a developer, you should be familiar with Feedback Assistant, the means of reporting problems to Apple. If you have access to that app, it’s the best way to ensure that Apple is made aware of the problem, short of knowing one of the engineers in the relevant team.
For regular users without Feedback Assistant, Apple’s portal for reporting problems and making suggestions is here. If the problem is in macOS, click on macOS in the macOS Apps section, and complete the form. Before doing so, you might like to make your own preliminary investigation, as described here. That also ensures that you have saved a copy of the crash report to send with your description of the problem.
One valuable suite of reports to send if you can is that produced by a
sysdiagnose, which includes extensive details about your system configuration, the crash report itself, and a copy of your Mac’s recent logs. There are two easy ways to generate a
sysdiagnose archive: I just type
sudo sysdiagnose -f ~/Documents
in Terminal and the compressed archive will be compiled and saved to my Documents folder. Or you can press Control-Option-Command-Shift-Period instead, in which case the archive will be saved to an internal folder and that will be opened in the Finder for you when it’s complete. A full
sysdiagnose takes a few minutes to compile, but provides Apple’s engineers with a complete set of diagnostic information.
You might be concerned about how much private data is sent in the log extracts within a
sysdiagnose. While some of its reports do contain a fair bit of personal data, the Unified log imposes its own censorship system, erring on the side of your safety. Anything which could be remotely sensitive is normally not recorded in the log at all, but replaced by <private>. What’s unusual about this system is that such <private> data simply don’t exist in the log, as it’s not written to it in the first place.
Responses to Feedback reports vary greatly. Sometimes you’ll be contacted within a few days with follow-up questions, but much of the time reports seem to vanish into thin air without any response. This may appear unrewarding, but if the problem is important to you and to other users, this is the only route to report it, and hope that Apple will fix it.
Perhaps the best approach is to assume that, while your report should reach the right engineering team, they’re probably dealing with thousands of reports. Expecting an individual response is over-optimistic. The best we can hope for is that our reports will in some small way contribute to the improvement of macOS.