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Troubleshooting Your Mac: A Joe On Tech Guide

Joe Kissell

This essential guide teaches you 17 basic troubleshooting procedures and how to solve 21 common problems, along with an easy-to-follow way to troubleshoot novel problems. Whether your Mac fails to boot, loses its Internet connection, or won’t cooperate, this book has the advice you need to find a solution.

This product has been discontinued.

Macs are generally quite reliable as computers go, but they can still suffer from significant problems. In this essential guide from best-selling author Joe Kissell (based on his earlier book Take Control of Troubleshooting Your Mac), you’ll learn 17 basic troubleshooting procedures and how to solve 21 common problems, along with an easy-to-follow process for troubleshooting novel problems. Whether your Mac won’t turn on, experiences crashes or kernel panics repeatedly, won’t print, or can’t connect to the Internet, this book has the calm, friendly advice you need to find a solution. This book is for all Macs running 10.9 Mavericks, 10.10 Yosemite, 10.11 El Capitan, or 10.12 Sierra.

Hey, What’s This?
We can focus our attention on only so many books, so when our friend and longtime collaborator Joe Kissell proposed revisiting this topic and creating a new book on his own, we jumped at the chance to bring it to you. It’s his book, not ours, so it looks a little different, but the content is great.

The 17 basic troubleshooting procedures you’ll learn (along with the reasons they can help) are:

  • Force-quit an app
  • Restart your Mac
  • Log in to another user account
  • Start up from another volume
  • Run disk repair utilities
  • Erase and restore from a backup
  • Repair permissions (in Yosemite and earlier)
  • Start up in safe mode
  • Check preference files
  • Reset NVRAM or SMC
  • Use Activity Monitor
  • Check free disk space
  • Check log files
  • Clear caches
  • Check your RAM
  • Test for reproducibility
  • Get system information

Joe also explains how to solve 21 common problems, including:

  • Your Mac won’t turn on
  • Your Mac stalls during startup
  • Your Mac keeps turning itself off
  • Your fan runs excessively
  • Your Mac is abnormally slow
  • You can’t empty the Trash
  • An app grinds to a halt
  • An app crashes
  • You experience repeated kernel panics
  • The keyboard or mouse doesn’t work
  • You lose your internet connection
  • Printing doesn’t work
  • Spotlight searches fail
  • Keychain (seemingly) forgets passwords
  • Apple Mail fails to connect
  • Time Machine misbehaves
  • A volume won’t unmount
  • The Open With menu contains errors
  • iCloud Data doesn’t sync properly
  • Continuity features fail
  • Your laptop’s battery misbehaves
Joe Kissell

About Joe Kissell

Take Control publisher Joe Kissell has written more than 60 books about technology, including many popular Take Control books. He formerly wrote for publications such as Macworld, Wirecutter, and TidBITS. He lives in Saskatoon with his wife and their two sons.

What’s New in Version 1.1

In the latest version (1.1), I’ve included support for macOS 10.12 Sierra and made a few other small corrections and additions:

  • Added a note in the topic “Reset NVRAM or SMC” about disabling Find My Mac

  • Revised the topic “Keychain (Seemingly) Forgets Passwords” to suggest a new procedure now that Keychain Access no longer includes a Keychain First Aid feature

  • Updated the list of Continuity features in the “Continuity Features Fail” topic to include capabilities added in Sierra

What’s New Since Take Control of Troubleshooting Your Mac

This book is based on an earlier title of mine called Take Control of Troubleshooting Your Mac, which was last updated in 2012 and has now been retired. With the kind permission and cooperation of the folks at Take Control Books, I’ve “adopted” that book and turned it into this new and greatly revised title. The overall structure is nearly the same, but I’ve thoroughly updated the text so that it reflects the latest versions of macOS, adds new techniques I’ve found to be useful, and provides the most accurate and up-to-date information about Mac troubleshooting. (And, of course, I’ve altered the look and feel of the book to reflect the Joe On Tech brand.)

If you’ve already read Take Control of Troubleshooting Your Mac, you can think of this new book as being equivalent to a major new edition. In this book I made hundreds of small changes (mainly to reflect the changes in 10.9 Mavericks, 10.10 Yosemite, 10.11 El Capitan, and 10.12 Sierra), and in third-party software and services), along with several larger ones:

  • Under Run Disk Repair Utilities, added specific instructions to use Disk Utility in Sierra, El Capitan, Yosemite, and Mavericks
  • Added a new sidebar, How to Tell Whether You Need a New Hard Drive
  • Explained how to log in to another user account for troubleshooting purposes
  • Greatly revised Check Preference Files and Clear Caches with up-to-date advice
  • Added six new topics in the Solve Common Problems chapter:
    • Your Mac Stalls During Startup
    • Your Fan Runs Excessively
    • The Open With Menu Contains Errors
    • iCloud Data Doesn’t Sync Properly
    • Continuity Features Fail
    • Your Laptop’s Battery Misbehaves
  • Expanded the list of things to check in Your Mac Keeps Turning Itself Off
  • Completely revamped the topic You Experience Repeated Kernel Panics
  • Added two new topics in the Time Machine Misbehaves category: Restore Files After a Hardware or Name Change and Find Missing Volumes
  • Added a sidebar about do-it-yourself repairs: Replacing Components on Your Own

September 20, 2016 - With the release of version 1.1 of this book, which brings it up to date with Sierra, Joe has no updates planned for the near future.

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