Mac OS X Mountain Lion Essential Training
Illustration by Richard Downs

Exploring troubleshooting techniques


Mac OS X Mountain Lion Essential Training

with Christopher Breen

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Video: Exploring troubleshooting techniques

Except for you and me, dear viewer, nothing is perfect. No, not even your Mac. There will be times when that Mac misbehaves in confounding ways and it won't start up, it freezes or shows an error when you're trying to boot up, or when it does boot up, applications won't launch, or they spontaneously quit, or your Mac runs very slowly. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help your Mac and yourself when things go wrong. Let's talk about those things right now. First of all, if you walk into your room, you press your Mac's power button and nothing happens.
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  1. 1m 4s
    1. Welcome
      1m 4s
  2. 6m 56s
    1. Installing Mountain Lion
      6m 56s
  3. 47m 16s
    1. Personalizing the interface
      4m 11s
    2. Touring the Finder
      3m 29s
    3. Staying current with Software Update
      2m 52s
    4. Configuring Gatekeeper settings
      3m 17s
    5. Getting on the Internet
      5m 36s
    6. Setting up iCloud
      4m 55s
    7. Understanding AutoSave and documents in the cloud
      4m 42s
    8. Configuring Mail, Contacts, and Calendar
      4m 33s
    9. Configuring your printer
      3m 39s
    10. Protecting your data with Time Machine
      4m 28s
    11. Learn your way around the Mac App Store
      5m 34s
  4. 11m 17s
    1. Finding files with Spotlight
      6m 6s
    2. Digging deeper with Finder searches
      5m 11s
  5. 23m 35s
    1. Configuring basic personal preferences
      11m 15s
    2. Adjusting Input Device preferences
      9m 38s
    3. Examining the basic system preferences
      2m 42s
  6. 1h 13m
    1. Organizing workspaces with Mission Control
      5m 49s
    2. Modifying Language & Text settings
      4m 5s
    3. Optimizing Security & Privacy settings
      6m 18s
    4. Getting notifications
      4m 38s
    5. Configuring displays and AirPlay
      2m 20s
    6. Using Energy Saver
      6m 1s
    7. Setting up Bluetooth wireless devices
      3m 39s
    8. Sharing files on a network
      6m 1s
    9. Configuring sharing
      6m 28s
    10. Editing your users and groups
      6m 48s
    11. Setting rules with Parental Controls
      7m 4s
    12. Taking notes with Dictation & Speech
      6m 0s
    13. Exploring the Accessibility settings
      5m 54s
    14. Listening with Sound
      2m 53s
  7. 36m 2s
    1. Organizing your business with Mail
      12m 42s
    2. Scheduling time with Calendar
      8m 32s
    3. Keeping tabs with Contacts
      5m 30s
    4. Tracking your tasks with Reminders
      3m 39s
    5. Staying in touch using Messages
      5m 39s
  8. 37m 18s
    1. Tracking your documents in TextEdit
      7m 3s
    2. Looking up words in Dictionary
      1m 56s
    3. Keeping notes with Notes
      3m 48s
    4. Working with images in Preview
      6m 14s
    5. Working with PDFs in Preview
      4m 27s
    6. Installing fonts with Font Book
      4m 42s
    7. Posting a note in Stickies
      1m 55s
    8. Adding things up with Calculator
      4m 46s
    9. Organizing apps with Launchpad
      2m 27s
  9. 34m 5s
    1. Navigating the web
      3m 38s
    2. Working with bookmarks
      4m 49s
    3. Using Reading List
      2m 4s
    4. Saving web pages and creating web clips
      1m 44s
    5. Viewing and saving PDFs
      3m 24s
    6. Using Safari to search the web
      2m 20s
    7. Opening local files in Safari
      1m 59s
    8. Working with preferences in Safari
      11m 1s
    9. Managing your Internet footprint
      3m 6s
  10. 8m 48s
    1. Playing media in QuickTime
      4m 15s
    2. Recording videos with QuickTime
      4m 33s
  11. 10m 13s
    1. Video conferencing with FaceTime
      3m 38s
    2. Taking pictures in Photo Booth
      3m 47s
    3. The great utility of Image Capture
      2m 48s
  12. 12m 40s
    1. Writing a simple Automator workflow
      4m 15s
    2. Creating an Automator application
      2m 20s
    3. Setting up an Automator calendar workflow
      2m 31s
    4. Creating an Automator service
      3m 34s
  13. 22m 1s
    1. Managing processes in Activity Monitor
      5m 13s
    2. Formatting, partitioning, and repairing storage devices
      8m 58s
    3. Taking care of your passwords
      4m 1s
    4. Setting up a Windows install with Boot Camp
      3m 49s
  14. 14m 57s
    1. Creating a boot drive
      3m 19s
    2. Understanding and configuring permissions
      4m 5s
    3. Exploring troubleshooting techniques
      7m 33s
  15. 19m 35s
    1. Getting your game on
      4m 1s
    2. Integrating with Facebook and Twitter
      2m 38s
    3. Advanced tips and tricks
      9m 35s
    4. Sharing files with AirDrop
      3m 21s
  16. 30s
    1. Goodbye

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Watch the Online Video Course Mac OS X Mountain Lion Essential Training
6h 0m Appropriate for all Dec 19, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In this course, Macworld senior editor Christopher Breen provides a comprehensive overview of Mac OS X Mountain Lion, complete with insider tips for getting the most out of the operating system. The course shows how to configure system preferences, personalize the interface, master gestures, and achieve fluency with applications such as Mail, Calendar, and Preview. The course also includes tutorials on browsing the web with Safari, automating complex tasks with Automator, sharing over a network, performing maintenance operations using Disk Utility, and offers time-saving techniques for using the Mac efficiently. Along the way, Christopher reviews the 200+ new features in Mountain Lion, which gives even experienced Mac users a valuable head start.

Topics include:
  • Installing Mountain Lion
  • Setting up and syncing iCloud
  • Configuring Mail, Contacts, and Calendar
  • Setting rules with Parental Controls
  • Jotting down info with Notes
  • Viewing and saving PDFs, text documents, and images
  • Using Safari to browse the Internet
  • Playing and recording videos with QuickTime
  • Video conferencing with FaceTime
  • Setting up a Windows install with Boot Camp
  • Downloading widgets
  • Sharing files with AirDrop
Business Education + Elearning
Mac OS X
Christopher Breen

Exploring troubleshooting techniques

Except for you and me, dear viewer, nothing is perfect. No, not even your Mac. There will be times when that Mac misbehaves in confounding ways and it won't start up, it freezes or shows an error when you're trying to boot up, or when it does boot up, applications won't launch, or they spontaneously quit, or your Mac runs very slowly. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help your Mac and yourself when things go wrong. Let's talk about those things right now. First of all, if you walk into your room, you press your Mac's power button and nothing happens.

The first thing you want to do is take a look at power connections, so you want to make sure that your Mac's plugged into power. Also, if it's plugged into a power strip, make sure that the power strip is turned on. If it's plugged into a wall socket, make sure that the switch on the wall is switched on, so that everything is connected to power. Also check your cable connections. It's possible that the power cord in the back of the Mac or in your laptop isn't seated properly so it's not getting power that way. You also want to scrutinize recently installed memory and hardware.

For example, you start up your Mac, and you see this bunch of gibberish appear on the screen and that's called a kernel panic. If you see this kind of thing and you have recently installed memory or some kind of hardware, shut off your Mac, disconnect it from power, re-seat that memory, or try moving it to different slots, or take it out altogether, and go with the original memory. Put it back together, restart your Mac and see if it operates properly. If so, it's possible that the memory you've put in was either incompatible, or bad, or it simply wasn't seated.

Sometimes you have to press really hard to get the memory in. Don't press so hard that you're going to break something, but make sure it's well-seated. There are also issues with adding new hardware. Sometimes, you'll have a crash or you'll have a kernel panic, if you've attached an incompatible device. So, what you want to do in that case is shut down the Mac, disconnect everything except your keyboard and your mouse and your monitor, if you use one with your Mac, and then restart. If it seems to be starting okay, that's an indication that there's a problem with this hardware.

In that case, go to the manufacturer's site and see if there's some kind of driver that you can use that's an update of whatever driver it's currently using. It may be that the driver that you originally had was incompatible with Lion. You have a new driver and it will work okay. As I said, disconnect non-essential peripherals. This can be a problem, not only because of Startup, but you may have already started up your Mac and it still seems to be working in kind of an odd way. Shut down, disconnect the non-essential stuff, start up, see how it works.

If it works better, shut down again and start adding in peripherals one at a time. Add it in once, see how it works, if it's okay, shut down, add another one, start up. Is it okay? Great. So, keep repeating until you find the problem peripheral. You can also disable Startup Items at startup. Oftentimes, when you install software, it will install Startup Items, and these are little programs that launch as your Mac is booting up. Most of the time, these things are very, very helpful, but sometimes, there can be a conflict, and this can cause a problem with your Mac.

If you want to disable Startup Items at startup, just hold down the Shift key as you start up and you'll boot into something called Safe Boot Mode. If your Mac is working perfectly under Safe Boot, but not otherwise, go into Users & Groups, unlock the System Preference with your user name and your password, and then go into Login Items and take a look there. Remove the items there and then startup again. If it starts up okay, just like with peripherals, add the Startup Item, see how your Mac runs, add another one, see how it runs, until you can isolate the problem.

If your Mac is still misbehaving, there maybe something corrupt on the hard drive. In that case, you want to restart your Mac, hold down the Option key, and then when you have the option to choose volumes, choose the Restore HD Partition. A shortcut to this is to hold down Command+R when you startup and it will boot into that partition. Once you've done this, run Disk Utility. This will be one of the options in the window. Once you run Disk Utility, launch First Aid, and choose Verify Disk. If it finds a problem, choose Repair Disk and hopefully that fixes your problem.

Disk First Aid is pretty good, but it's really not a miracle worker. If you need a stronger repair tool, there are others out there. Elsewhere in the course, I've talked about Alsoft's Disk Warrior. This is a utility that I swear by. It's $100. It can fix low-level corruption that other utilities can't touch. I think it's absolutely worth having. You may only use it one time, but it may save your data, and therefore, your bacon, so worth getting. It's also worth your while to update your software. It's not the case that Apple goes to every software vendor in the world and says, "Oh, by the way, we're going to be coming out with a new version of Mac OS X in the next six months.

So, why don't you please update your software, so it's going to be compatible with our operating system?" Sometimes, a new operating system will come out and software vendors need to catch up and make their software compatible with the Mac OS. In this case, if things don't seem to be working right, you launch an application and it's crashing, see if there's an update for it. It's possible that update will help any problem you're having with the software. Check Activity Monitor. If your Mac is churning along, go into Activity Monitor, as I showed you in one of our other movies, and see what's taking all that processor time.

It's possible there's some background process that you can do without, that you can get rid of that won't eat up your processor, and therefore slow down your Mac. If you're having a real problem with a piece of software, you've done everything you can, delete it and reinstall it, because it's possible that it has become corrupted and with a fresh install of that software, then it will work perfectly. If everything seems to be going wrong and you just can't figure out what the problem is, there is no shame in restoring from a backup.

Of course, you've backed up, I've told you to backup and you've done it. Good for you, so restart your Mac, hold down the Option key, boot into the Restore HD Partition, and when you do, you'll see an option to restore from the Time Machine Backup. Choose that option, restore your data, and everything should be okay. If not, you can go as far back as reformatting the drive using Disk Utility, and then reinstall Mac OS X, and then restore your software.

And court of last resort, if you've done all these things, or if any one of these things seems too difficult for you, give Apple a call. They made the software. They made the hardware. They know the answers. If you have a local Apple Store, you can make an appointment with a Genius, take your computer in there, and they'll help you out. If you have Apple Care, which I think is a good idea, this extends your warranty to three years instead of one. You can give Apple a call on the phone. Oftentimes, they'll tell you to take your hardware down to an Apple Store, if there's one nearby, or if there isn't, you can ship your stuff to Apple, free of charge.

Also, many towns have Apple Authorized Service Centers. These are technicians who've been trained by Apple. They know Apple stuff backwards and forwards and they can fix your Apple gear for you as well. Now, this may seem like a long list, but it's a logical one. If you follow these steps, chances are that your Mac is going to be back in the pink in no time at all.

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