Apple Genius Shares Basic Troubleshooting Steps & Tips for Mac Computers

By Sidharth | Apple

Troubleshooting requires patient and a particular strategy. While we can always use tools like iBoostup for optimizing Mac or troubleshoot your Mac using Consultant Canary, but none of these tools provide a complete, all-in-one solution to combat the problems on our Mac. A combination of these tools and manual effort is what we require to diagnose possible issues on our Mac. So how can you get started?

If you have ever lugged your Mac — iMac, MacBook Pro, Air or Mac Pro — to the Apple Store because there was an unidentifiable problem, then you will know about the Genius bar employee. They can fix any Mac-related problem. And over at Reddit an ex-Genius who worked at Apple shares some of the important troubleshooting steps every Mac owner should know about.

retinamacbook Apple Genius Shares Basic Troubleshooting Steps & Tips for Mac Computers

Below you will find some of the important troubleshooting steps, starting with software problems:

Software Problems

– Finding the cause, not the fix

Most of the work I did at Apple and do at my current job when confronted with a problem was not trying to fix the issue. The real helpful part is finding where the issue is.

OS X has an easy time rebuilding files that it needs. More often than not, removing the problem files will result in the OS automatically re-creating a fresh copy of the file without any issues. Finding these files is not too hard. Just narrow it down. As always, do a backup of everything incase you accidentally delete something that was more necessary than you might have thought.

– User or System

Almost all software issues fall into problems with files within the User or System folder. A very quick and easy thing to try is to create a new user and see if the same issue you’re having is happening there.

If it does, you’re dealing with an issue with something in the Application or System folders. Try re-installing the App or the [3] OS. (Please backup first!)

– Libraries or Library

If your issue doesn’t happen in the new user, you’re problem is in your User folder.

A few apps, like iTunes and iPhoto have Libraries that might prevent the app from opening. In either of those apps, press and hold down option when opening the app. This will allow you to create a new blank library. If that blank library doesn’t seem to have the same issue as the main one, your problem is probably there. (Press and hold option again and choose your old library.)

All apps create a file on your Mac that keep track of how you like things setup. (Window size, customized settings, etc…) It isn’t uncommon for this Preference file to get messed up to the point of causing issues with the App. To find it, open the Library. Open the Preferences folder and find the App in question. (It will be named in the following way:, for instance, Move that file to the desktop (backup!) and remove it from the Preference folder. Open the app and see if it works. If not, but the backup file back.

Hardware Problems

Similar to the user/system steps with software issues, you can narrow the hardware issue down by trying to recreate the same issue with slightly different equipment.

– Hard Drive

An external drive with a copy of OS X installed has helped me more than anything else. If your computer is acting slow, not booting or a myriad of other issues, a drive like this can help you fix or recover your data with much less effort.

– Safe Boot/Mode

Turn on your Mac and immediately hold down the shift key. Let go when you see the spinning gear or the progress bar appear below the Apple logo. This will scan your Mac for file system issues (and try to fix them). It will allow boot your computer with a lot of things can could cause problems disabled. (DVD Player, capture video, audio input/output devices, USB modem, WiFi…) If your Mac isn’t booting, this can help you backup files before doing a reinstall. Reboot the Mac to get out of safe mode.

– Other hardware

Some of these things might seem obvious, but worth mentioning.

Video looks distorted? Try an external monitor/TV. Or take a screen shot. If the other device or screen shot is distorted, you’ve got a video card issue.

Sound not working? Try headphones or speakers. Also, look into the headphone jack. If you see a red light, the Mac thinks an optical audio connector is plugged in. This might be able to be fixed with a quick blast of compressed air or it might require a repair.

Other Troubleshooting Steps:

– PMU reset

This is a quick reset to a small component of your Mac that hold small amounts of data. Resetting this can help with more random issues than I can list here. This won’t hurt anything, but will reset little settings like volume level.

Restart your Mac. Press and hold the following keys: Command, option, P, R. Keep them held down until you hear the Mac startup sound once or twice. Let go and let it boot up.

– SMC reset

Another random step to try is to reset the SMC. Again, it won’t hurt anything. I had a lot of people bring in their broken Macs just to have it work when they get here because of this.

Shut down your Mac then follow the next steps for what kind of computer you have.

  • Mac Desktops: Unplug the power cable. Wait 15 seconds. Plug it back in. Wait 5 seconds before pressing power to boot.
  • Mac Laptops with removable batteries: Unplug from power cable. Take out battery. Press and hold power button for 5 seconds. Reconnect battery and boot normally.
  • Mac Laptops without removable batteries: Plug in the power cable. Press the (left side) Shift-Control-Option keys and the power button at the same time. Let go of all the keys at the same time. Boot normally.

Via Reddit

About the Author

Hi, I am Sidharth. Full-time blogger. Editor of Blogote. And a self-proclaimed geek!