Discovering the cause to a computer problem is usually the hardest part of any resolution, so when you first notice unexpected software or hardware behavior try to take steps to isolate the issue and find out what is causing it, or at least determine the sequence of events that is causing it. Luckily we can help you adopt the right approach to Mac troubleshooting.
The very first step is to ensure that your Mac is running the latest software and firmware: check software versions and update the system, including third party apps, to the latest version available.
Of course, the AppleCare Technical Support call line is also always there to give you first aid. If the problem is more serious, such as a hardware issue, then you should walk into the nearest Apple Store and talk with a Genius or the nearest Apple Authorized Service Provider for further help.
1) Recommended Mac Troubleshooting Steps
Identify the Issue and Pattern
When it comes to Mac troubleshooting, the first question you'll get asked (even by Mac experts) is ‘what is the issue?’ So be prepared, and take note of the smallest change in software or hardware behavior or any error message that you get as the issue persists. It can be helpful to know when the issue first appeared.
As you notice the issue, collect information about its occurrence: is there a sequence of events that causes it? Is there a regular time interval between when it occurs, or does it happen irregularly?
It’s important to determine whether this is a software or hardware issue, because the former can be easily fixed whereas the opposite is true for the latter. Taking the right steps when troubleshooting your Mac will help you quickly identify the root cause and find a solution.
As you continue searching for the issue, ask yourself if the issue appeared after the installation of third party software? Take into consideration whether you recently made hardware or software changes, since these can often be the source of the issue.
2) Determine If It Is a Software or Hardware Issue
Troubleshoot Mac Hardware Issues
At first it might appear to be a software issue, but if your hardware is faulty then troubleshooting software won’t be much help. That’s exactly why, during the Mac troubleshooting process, it’s best to isolate the cause. For that you can use the Apple Hardware Test after disconnecting all external devices. Apple also recommends removing any third party memory upgrades or any other hardware upgrade you (or even an authorized service) have performed. Apple Diagnostics and Apple Hardware Tests are tools for diagnosing problems with your Mac’s internal hardware. If your Mac is from 2013 or later, use the Apple Diagnostics built into the computer. For Macs from 2012 or earlier with firmware updates above macOS 10.8.4 use the Apple Hardware Test, which is also built into the machines. For Macs from before 2012 or running macOS 10.8.3 or earlier, use the system software disk you received at the time of purchase.
If your issue is resolved, reintroduce each third party device one at a time, and if the issue returns, your Mac troubleshooting process has been successful: you have identified the cause as the most recently added device.
Troubleshoot Mac Software Issues
If your issue is not hardware related, you are in luck since now you know that the problem is being caused by software so you can continue with the following Mac troubleshooting steps.
Start by asking whether the problem occurs while using a single application, or if it is system wide? If the issue appears while working on a specific document, that file may be damaged, so you can either replace it with a backup or start working on a new one.
If it’s a system-wide problem, it may be an issue with a file in the home directory of the original user account. To address this you should create a new user and see if the problem disappears. Each user account has customized preferences and other items stored in its home directory, so log out of your current user account and log in with the new one.
If the issue is not related to preferences, the cache might be causing it. To address this issue, use Mac optimization software such as CleanMyMac or OnyX, and perform a system-wide scan. Clean the cache with a click of a button, and try reproducing the issue. As you will notice, the problem is gone.
Best Mac Optimization Software of 2020
Get the Best Deals on Mac Optimization Software
Stay up to date on the latest tech news and discounts on Mac optimization software with our monthly newsletter.