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It's easy to jump online and be productive with Mac OS X, but it's also easy to stop there. Many users haven't explored the depth and richness of this powerful operating system and the applications that come with it. In Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard Beyond the Basics, Chris Breen helps those who are already comfortable with Mac OS X discover new features in everyday applications like Mail, iCal, and Safari. He also explores the often overlooked "power user" tools, including Terminal, Disk Utility, and Automator, and provides troubleshooting and maintenance tips.
Behind the scenes, your Mac is like a court reporter. Quietly, in the background, it's carefully taking notes on many other things going on. It stores these notes as logs and the logs can be read by the Console application and we will now fire it up. It's in the Utilities folder but we will launch it from spotlight. And oh my goodness, look at all these stuff. And you could see while a lot of people will open the Console, look at it once and say "I am never coming back in here again," and quit immediately because you can see an awful lot of messages that make no sense to you whatsoever and for most people these things don't make sense, but you can make a little bit of sense of them by choosing entries carefully in order to read out some helpful information.
For example, if you look at all messages as we are now, you are going to become overwhelmed, there is just an awful lot of stuff happening in here. Choose Console Messages however and you are going to see little notes that applications have said "you know, I think we need to keep track of this one," and they will send a little console message to Console, put it in log so that later on, somebody can come back and then check and say "oh wait, wait, wait, there was a problem yesterday, I wonder what that, there seems to be console message here," and this is what the message was. Maybe I can make some sense of it and do something about it, or maybe I don't know anything about this but at least I can tell somebody else like a tech support person that I found this kind of information in the Console.
Here's an example of helpful information. Just the other day, I was trying to launch iDVD. I clicked on the icon in the doc, it bounced a couple of times and then I got a message saying it quit unexpectedly. I wondered what the heck is going on here, I thought this worked. Well, it turns out that some of the elements of iDVD had been tossed out and I hadn't realized it. I was able to go into the Console and again, go through a lot of these gobbledygook but I saw enough to say that certain directories didn't exist, that indicated to me, ah, this needs to be reinstalled because clearly iDVD is not seeing all the things that it needs to see.
Once it saw them, because I reinstalled everything was fine, and that's where the Console helped out. You can also look at log files to see if you can find some information there. For example, under this log file where it says tilde library logs, these are log files created within your user account. Let's take a look at one of them. Under Adobe, Software Updates, we will click one of these and we will see an awful lot of information here. Now, here's an interesting entry, directory does not exist.
That may be perfectly fine for what's going on right here but this is also the kind of thing that could keep an application from running or uninstall if working improperly because it's looking for a particular folder or a directory, it doesn't find it, it crashes or it quits or it says something is not going right here. So, even though I don't have a clue what all these other stuff means, conflicting process I don't know what that is. But if I get to the end and I see ah, directory is missing, okay, well directory does not exist, okay. I know something is wrong here and I can start to try to troubleshoot or if I end up talking to somebody in tech support, I can say the log tells me the directory does not exist, what does that mean, and then maybe they can clue me as to what's going on.
So, outside your user logs, there is also library logs. This is the stuff that happens to everybody on the computer. This is outside your user account and happening elsewhere. Let's go to Adobe again, Installers, Add and Remove here's bunch of stuff in here as well. It's important that you understand that log files don't necessarily mean that there is always a problem. Sometimes it's just to report of hey, this is how the installation went. This is what I did. This can be helpful as well. If you install an application and you are trying to remove it by dumping out the application and that doesn't seem to get rid of it, you can look into a console file and say okay, let me look in the installer, where did you install stuff, oh I see, you have got a hidden thing here and here and here and here.
You can then go and find where that stuff is and then toss it out by hand if the application doesn't have an uninstaller. If you like to find out if your Mac is panicked, well, there will be a panic reporter log. If your Mac has never panicked meaning that gray screen hasn't shown with a bunch of foreign text on it, you won't see this entry. But if you have panicked your Mac, the panic reporter log will appear and then you can look at that and say oh, your Mac isn't behaving as it should, you have talked to tech support. One thing they may ask you to do is send them the log file. How do you do that? Easily done, go to File, save a copy as, and here's the way you save that particular log, and then you can send that log to someone like Apple tech support if something wrong with your Mac, if it's another application, the tech support person may say boy, show what can help me if I had a log file.
No problem, I can generate one, I will email it to you and then you can tell me what's going on. So this is a very handy way to get information that maybe you don't understand into the hands of somebody who does. Finally, there is one other trick you can try, Quick Console Messages. If you have an application that's quitting all the time, you try something, it blows up every single time whenever you perform a certain action, go to Console Messages in the Filter field, enter the name of that application. So let's say iTunes is having a problem and then run the application again.
Let it blow up and in all likelihood, some console messages will be generated. You will see only those messages for iTunes appearing in this window as long as you filtered it out. In other words, you are not going to see scads and scads and scads of messages that are unrelated to that app, you want to see just the messages that have to do with iTunes. And that is a basic look at the Console with the idea that you can make sense of a lot of complicated information.
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