MacOSX Tips Troubleshooting

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  • 11Oct- Added MacRumor Thread regarding DNS spoofing under the Phishing Section.
  • 24Sept- Added section on downloading Web (You Tube) Videos with cross reference to "Video-Downloading from Web Sites" MacRumors Guide.
  • 26Aug- Added Problem Mac Programs section.
  • 18June- Added Phishing section and links for other MacOSX guides.
  • 12June- Added info on taking DVD screenshots on your Mac in the How To Section.
  • 25Mar- Reorganized the Mountain Lion section and added info about purging tied up memory.
  • 20Mar- Added transition to Mountain Lion section.
  • 17Feb13- Added section on Indexing and how to turn it off.
  • 11Feb13- Added several Time Machine links.
  • 14Oct12- Added Time Machine section, link.
  • 9Sep12- Added Info for adding a second display to a MacBookPro, MacBook Air. See Mac Hardware How To section.
  • 12Apr12- Added Flashing Question Mark and Gray Screen During Startup in the Quick Repair Section. With inop System, for computers with an opening disk drawer, added info on getting the disk door to open so you can boot from a DVD. Added how to recover your Entire 10.5, 10.6, and 10.7 Systems under Quick Repair. Added Firefox Addon section.
  • 09Aug11- Added Startup Troubleshooting Section & Kernal Panic.
  • 27Jun11- established guide. Update thead here.


Magazine articles come and go. This is intended as a permanent compilation of quick tips for doing things on OSX and troubleshooting problems. - Huntn. :)

Other Guides


  • Dear Client,

Your account has been frozen temporarily in order to protect it. This is an automatic message by the system to let you know that you have to confirm your account information within 48 hours and validate your account Information. The account will continue to be frozen until it is approve. Once you have updated your account records, your information will be confirmed and your account will start to work as normal once again. To Verify Your Account Now, visit the following link:XXX.

  • What is it? An attempt by a scammer to get hold of your account log-in info by having you go to a fake link, reportedly from the company where the email came from, but not really. It's a disguised email and if and when you try to log into your account via the link provided, you've just handed over your sign-in info to the scammer. If it's your bank account, look out! Next you'll be asking, "Where did all the money go?" A variety of reasons are used: a foreign location tried to access your account; please validate, update your account, your account is overdue, please contact us (all via the link provided).
  • Contact the company by phone or a known good email for whom the phishing email is targeting and advise them. Don't use the link in the email.
  • For Apple Computer: send an email to:
  • If using the Firefox browser see the Firefox Browser Addon section for links to Netcraft Anti-Phishing Toolbar as one defense against phishing scams.
  • DNS Spoofing. MacRumor Thread link- Example of an Internet Service Provider (ISP) being hacked! (added 10/11/13)- MacRumor Thread title: Paypal Scam? Turns out one of our member's ISP was hacked by a method called DNS spoofing. If using Firefox, be sure to install an addon like Netcraft Toolbar, or Trust My Web to assist in identifying a fake site, that you may have been maliciously sent to. And when conducting financial transactions or offering personal info, always check for the locked lock icon to the left of the url. If you place your pointer on it, it will indicate something like "verified by verisign".

Preventative Measures

  • Go buy an external hard drive and start using Time Machine right now! Time Machine is free and included with the MacOS. It can save you untold hours of retching excruciating pain for the time you system goes tits up.
  • Educate yourself about Phishing. The main threat of Phishing, (fake links to what you think is a trusted source), is that you will inadvertently volunteer to turn over sensitive account info so bad people can run amuk with your life. It really does not effect your Mac other than by visiting fake sites could open up your Mac to Virus/Trojan Horse attacks. The Anti-Phishing tools listed below under the Firefox section will protect against fake browser links, but they will not protect against fake emails. For email protection, you should look to an Antivirus Program such as ClanXav listed under MacOS Utilities.

MacOS Utilities (Not Endorsement)

  • If you have an old Mac, see Old Stuff Section at end of guide.
  • As Macs grab larger market share, eventually they will become the target of the Virus Lords. Consider an Anti Virus Program. Check out this Top Ten List or install an excellent free (donation ware) program: ClamXav. It's compatible with 10.5-10.7 and includes daily updates.
  • Disk Warrior- by Alsoft.
  • Brian Hill Utilities- These are old. Check link for OS versions.

Firefox Browser Addons

  • If you run the Firefox Browser, consider the following Add-Ons.
  • Netcraft Anti-Phishing Toolbar- tells you if a web page is legit or fake.
  • Web of Trust- another safe web page warning tool.
  • Better Privacy- blocks Super Cookies known as LSO's.
  • No Script- blocks unauthorized JavaScript, Java, Flash, and other plug-ins from operating without your approval. Yes it requires some extra effort on your part as you have to say yes to a web site, and various components.
  • AdBlock Plus- blocks banners and tracking.

Mountain Lion (MacOSX 8)

  • Screenshots in Apple's DVD Player- Can't seem to get it done? See Mac How To Section.

Where Has All My Memory Gone?

  • This section appears to be controversial and possibly inaccurate. Take with a grain of salt.- Huntn.
  • If you are coming from Snow Leopard (10.6) to ML (10.8) you eyes will open wide when you face the dreaded spinning beach ball. Where before, under SL, I could open programs without worry, now I must keep an eye on System Memory. It seems to me that ML grabs up memory and does not let it go.
  • Activity Monitor- Run Activity Monitor (Go> Utilities> Activity Monitor). Read the 'Help' information to learn about Processes. In the drop down window, click on 'Active Processes'.
  • Purge Tied Up Memory- In my limited experience, Mountain Lion seems to grab on to and refuses to release tied up memory. This may or may not be your experience. If it is the case, force ML to let go by using the 'Purge' command in the Terminal. Open the Terminal (Go> Utilities> Terminal) and at the prompt, type 'Purge' and hit return. This will free up memory. In one example I had 48MB of Free Memory left. The Purge Command gave me 1.1GB. This may help minimize the spinning Beach Ball away.

Problem Mac Programs

  • As of Aug 2013 just one- Sophos Mac Antivirus Free. It uses a program called Intercheck which in my experience has a very high cpu usage- 25-50%. I found a report of 100% usage. While it was installed, I frequently experienced the spinning beach ball. Now that it's gone (uninstall program that should be found in your Applications folder), my performance is much better. I replaced it was Avast Anti-Virus free. While I can't recommend how effective Avast is against viruses, it certainly is better behaved.

Transistion to Mountain Lion

In my case, the transition was from Snow Leopard (MacOSX 6) to ML- Huntn. (added 0313)

  • Older HP Printer, model 6122, no longer prints in color. Although the latest drivers don't officially support this printer, it still functioned under Snow Leopard. But now that I've upgraded to Mountain Lion, it only prints in black and white now. Solution: buy new printer? June 2013 update- Bought a new printer.
  • Older version Graphic Converter (v6) no longer will copy and paste into TextEdit documents. Verified that an updated version of Preview can so I assume it is Graphic Converter. Solution: upgrade to new version of GC.
  • Rosetta A program that allowed older programs written for PPC Macs to continue to run on Intel Macs is no longer supported with MacOSX 7 or 8. Solution: Do not upgrade your OS or find adequate substitute programs prior to upgrade.

Quick Repair/Troubleshooting List

Hidden Library Folder

  • Lion is Hiding your Library Folder. (added 0313).
  • Permanently Make Library Folder Visible- Launch Terminal (Applications>Utilities>Terminal). At the Terminal Prompt type in: chflags no hidden ~/Library , then hit return. Close the Terminal program. The Library folder should be visible.
  • Temporarily See Library Folder- With the Finder as the selected application, hold the 'Option' key while selecting the 'Go' Menu in top menu bar. The Library will be visible to select.

MacOSX Repair/Troubleshooting Links

Apple Computer Options

  • AppleCare
    • Highly recommended extended warranty service provided by Apple especially for laptops. All Apple hardware comes with a one year limited warranty and up to 90 days of complimentary telephone technical support.
    • The AppleCare extended service ranges in price from relatively inexpensive for ipods to substantial for a laptop (approx $60 for iPod, $350 for a MacBookPro). I've found that Apple Care is a must for laptops having half my laptops repaired under the extended Apple Care program. Motherboard repairs can run up around $800. I've never needed it for a Mac desktop, but you never know. As for all insurance, you are taking a gamble.
  • Genius Bar at Apple Store
    • Make an appointment and let Apple check out your Apple hardware troubles. It is a very viable, free troubleshooting method.
    • Easiest way to make a reservation is to go online ( and select: Support. On the Support Page near the bottom is a "Contact Us" link which takes you an contacts options page (including Genius Bar) and will ask you to enter your hardware serial number to continue.
    • Apple Store International, for those who do not live in the U.S., the Apple Store page includes a link to select another country, "Change Country" at the bottom of the page.

Log On With A Different Account

  • If you don't have an alternate account, create one and log on. Some problems can be account related. Consider deleating it, but clean up ownership issues of files and folders before deleting the user. If a folder has no owner, OSX won't let you delete it as an administrator. You can log in as Root to attack the problem. (Info will be added).

Start in Safe Mode

  • Start Mac while holding Shift Key down, runs less startup extensions and triggers Apple's hard drive repair utility Disk Utility which is also found in the Utilities folder (Home>Applications>Utilities>Disk Utility)

Boot from MacOSX Disk

  • that came with your computer or if updated, the latest OSX version you have installed. When starting hold down the C key.
  • If troubleshooting, select Utility>Disk Utility and select your Mac's startup drive.

Force Shutdown

  • Shutdown by holding Mac power button until it shuts down. Power button to restart.

Directory Damage

  • Hard drive directories keep track of where all data is stored on the hard drive. They can become corrupted with a power loss, if your computer was in the middle of saving data. Not so much an issue on laptops because of their batteries. Options include:
  • Disk Utility- Included with the MacOS, located in the Utility folder (Go>Utilities).
    • Repair Permissions on your startup disk.
    • Verify Disk- checks directory.
    • Repair Disk- Repairs directory. If you have a partitioned drive or more than one drive and the Repair Disk option is not illuminated for that drive, boot your computer from your OSX install disk, run Disk Utility from the OSX disk, and select the Repair Disk option for the desired drive.
  • Purchase Disk Warrior and give it a shot. Disk Warrior will repair and optimize directories.


  • Spotlight is how the MacOS keep tracks of files by indexing volumes. However there are times when trying to repair disks using Disk Utility, indexing can interfering with your repair attempts. Turn it off.
  • Unplug any problem disks before starting up, so that the OS won't try to index them before you can get indexing turned off. If the MacOS is all ready indexing volumes, in the Terminal you'll get a message, that the command can't be accomplished because "indexing is changing the state".
  • For Lion (10.7): Disable Spotlight in Lion.
  • For Lion/Mountain Lion (10.7-.8):

Turn Off Indexing in Snow Leopard

  • Open the Terminal.
  • To turn off, type in this command: "sudo mdutil -a -i off" (no quotes)
  • To turn on: sudo mdutil -a -i on" (no quotes).

Kernal Panic

  • source MacWorld June2011 (added Aug2011).
  • Mac starts but soon after crashes displaying a screen of gibberish. Gray screen that descends from top of display. Usually hardware based.
  • New RAM or RAM Gone Bad- If you've just installed new RAM (memory stick) shutdown and verify it is seated properly in it's slot. If it is properly seated, it may be incompatible RAM.
  • If new RAM, remove it and replace with original RAM. If this fixes problem, contact vendor for replacement.
  • If original RAM, it can go bad, but wait and until other items checked.
  • Peripheral or its driver could be problem, shutdown Mac, disconnect all peripherals including keyboard and mouse, restart. Shutdown by holding Mac power button until it shuts down. Power button to restart.
    • If Mac starts normally it's one of those. Troubleshoot by reconnecting one peripheral at a time starting with mouse and keyboard and repeatedly restarting until culprit is found.
    • When troubled peripheral is discovered, disconnect it, restart, and try a different cable and port on your Mac.
    • If that does not correct, look for newer driver to update at vendor's website.
  • Startup Items can cause Kernal Panics.
    • Start in Safe Mode (Shift Key) See Safe Mode (in Quick Repair List above) and run Disk Utility repairing startup drive.
    • If panic free choose Apple Menu>System Preferences>Accounts, and make a note of items listed in the Login Items Tab, as well as their locations. To find an item's location, Control/Click (Right Click) and choose "Reveal in Finder".
    • Remove all Startup Items by selecting and clicking minus sign (-) button. Restart Mac normally to verify Panic has gone away. If it has, multiple restarts can be attempted slowly turning back on Start Up items until the culprit Start Up item has been identified. Once it has been identified, look for an update, contact Vendor for tech support, or do without it.
  • Original RAM gone bad the easiest way to determine this is to use the Genius Bar option at an Apple Store or contact Apple via your Apple Care Warranty. See Apple Computer Options in quick fix list above.

Misc Mac Problems

  • See Old Stuff Section at end of guide.
  • Blank System Preferences Window- With two graphic cards installed in Mac. Used to run two monitors. Moved and hooked up one monitor. The Solution:Switch monitor to other graphic card.
  • Laptop won't wake up after lid closed then opened- Try repairing permissions using Disk Utility.

Open Disk Drawer

That should open the drawer and let you get the disc in.

  • While you're in Open Firmware, you can reset NVRAM, which may help with your problem (commands below are case sensitive, no spaces): reset-nvram, set-defaults.
  • You can then restart by typing and entering: reset-all. The Mac should restart after reset-all (if it doesn't, type mac-boot and press Return)
  • (There's also prying the drawer open with a fingernail or X-acto knife blade; pry it open about an inch and that should trigger the drive mechanism to open it the rest of the way. But Open Firmware is less likely to break anything, even if it's just your fingernail.)


  • Reset PRAM and NVRAM (2Nov11).
  • Hold Command/Option/P/R down on start until you hear 2 start chimes then release and allow Mac to start.
  • Parameter RAM or PRAM (Power Mac) and Nonvolatile RAM (Intel Mac) is persistent memory that stores basic setup info for mouse, keyboard, startup, etc. If the PRAM is corrupted, it will interfere with the operation of your Mac such as crashes or freezes. What's stored in PRAM.

Startup Problems

After Start Gray Screen, blinking folder icon, or Apple Logo with spinning beach ball

  • source MacWorld June2011 (added Aug2011).
  • Peripheral or its driver follow peripheral instructions in Kernal Panic Section above.
  • Start in Safe Mode (Shift Key): If troubled peripheral is not identified try starting in Safe Mode (see Quick Repair List above) and run Disk Utility on startup hard drive. (For this circumstance running Disk Utility is not required, but might as well...)
  • Zapp the PRAM/NVRAM (see Quick Repair List above).
  • Boot from MacOSX Disk and repair startup drive with Disk Utility(see Quick Repair List above).
  • 3rd Party Utility Option Consider purchase Alsoft Disk Warrior or Micromat Tech Tool Pro. There is no guarantee that these utilities will fix the problem, but they could.
  • Genius Bar Option From this point on, your level of expertise will decide at what point you want to make a trip to the Genius Bar at the Apple Store. It's free. (see Quick Repair List above) or contact Apple via your Apple Care Service.
  • Remove & Replace RAM Now this is getting serious. If you are tech savvy continue. If not, go to Genius Bar option. If you have 3rd party RAM, something purchased from other than Apple and it's extra, remove it and restart to see if it is the problem. Remember some RAM must remain installed for the computer to function. If using a laptop, you may have to remove and replace all the Ram. Mac manual should include instructions on how to do this or if missing, online go to: Some computers use pairs of RAM sticks and must be removed and replaced in pairs. Before purchasing new Ram take it to Genius Bar if that is an option.
  • Reinstall OSX- older versions of MacOS include Archive and Install options. This maintains your data. Snow Leopard (10.6) does not provide this option but instead installs a fresh copy and lease the rest of your files in place. Regardless, you should have all of your important files backed up prior to reinstall.

MacOS How To

  • Screenshots in Apple's DVD Player- Honestly I don't know when this changed, but I know that in MacOSX 8 you can't take screen shots using any screenshot utility in Apple's DVD Player. I guess they are protecting the authors of these DVDs. The answer is to download VLC Player for Mac an open source video player to play your DVD. Now screenshot utilities such as Grab, SnapzPro, or SnapNDrag will now function. (Added Jun 2013)

Clicking on File Launches Wrong Application

  • Specify which application should launch when a file is double clicked on. For example, you click on a PDF document and instead of Acrobat Reader opening, Preview opens.
  • Use Show Info (Command I) and select "Open With" selecting from the list of applications. And you can have all documents of this type opened by the same application.
  • Or select: Open This Document with The Generic Application For Documents Of This Type. For example start up Text Edit, the use the "Open" dialog box to select the desired file.
  • If the Change Application button is dimmed or does not work, try xFiles* ($20 shareware) a utiility that allows the Creator code assigned to the document to be eliminated. *Old Program.
  • Note: OSX uses 3 letter file-name extensions to identify the file type. Try changing that to the application you want it to launch.
    • .doc= Word documents
    • .txt= TextEdit
    • .tif= Preview
    • .cwk= Appleworks
    • .pdf= Portable Document Format (Acrobat or Preview).

Download Web Video for Quicktime

See this MacRumor Guide: Video- Downloading From Web Sites.

  • There are several sites online that allow you to download a You Tube video viewable in Quicktime, Apple's video standard. Do a Google search on "Download You Tube Videos" to see several choices.
  • List of Quicktime compatible formats.
  • ClipConverter- also has a Firefox addon. On the web site, plug in the desired video's url, hit "Continue" and site will pick the recommended format. In my conversions, the site picked "mp4" format which is Quicktime compatible. A new window pops open offering the recommended and a choice of other formats. Hit start and let the site work it's magic. A new "save" window pops open asking for permission to save the converted file.

Easy Encryption

  • Using Disk Utility (Applications/Utilities) you can create a secure space on your hardrive that is encrypted and password protected. This method is superior for protecting a group of files as many file encryption programs can only encrypt individual files. When the image is open, files can be dragged into and out of the image at will.
  • Use Disk Utility to create a Blank Disk Image.
  • Choose File: New:Blank Disk Image.
  • Choose Max size: 4.7 GB for DVD or one of the CD sizes offered.
  • Encryption: choose AES-128.
  • Format: Sparse Disk Image.
  • Name Disk Image and select storage location.
  • Select: Create Button.
  • Authenticate Window
    • Create password.
    • If needed select the key icon by the Password window for help from the Password Assistant.
    • Be sure to leave the Remember Password check box unchecked.
    • Select: OK.
    • The image file will appear as a name.sparseimage file (where name is the name you gave the file) and the image will mount on the desktop. When finished adding files, you can eject the image by right clicking the image and select eject. To reopen the disk image, doubleclick the .sparseimage file and enter your password.
  • WARNING: Be sure you test this image for functionality- eject/remount image; log in and out of your account; verify the files you placed in the image can be opened and are functional prior to deleating any original files. If you forget the password, there is no way to recover the data on this disk image.

MacOS General Knowledge

OSX Packages

  • Almost every application in OSX is actually a package, a special type of folder made up of the application and support files. This is a great way to keep associated files together. But when you double-click on a package icon, instead of the folder opening, the application launches.
  • To Open A Package- Right Click or click on Package while holding the Control key and select Show Package Contents.


  • Passwords Always Appear as 13 Dots in OSX regardless of how many letters your password really is.

Mac Hardware How To

Using Two Monitors/TV with Your MacBookPro/MacBook Air

  • Added Sept 2012. With an external monitor you can extend or mirror your Mac's desktop. Physically hooking up your computer to a TV is located at end of this blurb. You'll need an external monitor and possibly a external keyboard if you want to use the external monitor as your primary display. In other words, if you want to sit in front of your external monitor with the laptop off to the side. I used an Apple USB keyboard.
  • The external monitor will be connected to the MacBook/Pro via its Thunderbolt port. Please note that for this purpose, the Thunderbolt port is the same as "Mini Display Port" terminology. See this: Confusing Mini Display Port with Thunderbolt (Mar 2011).
  • Check the type of connection the external monitor has. My external monitor, which was originally used with a PC has both female VGA and DVI ports. (To connect to a TV most likely, it would be a HDMI port).
  • Purchase a Mini Display Port/Thunderbolt to VGA Male to Male Cable, a Mini Display Port to DVI Male Adapter Cable, or a DVI to HDMI (for TV hookup), depending on the type of connection your hardware dictates and connect it to your laptop's Thunderbolt port. After hooking it up, if it is working correctly, the external monitor should show a blank Apple display screen. A VGA cable example: Mini Display Port/Thunderbolt to VGA Male to Male Cable.
 Mini DisplayPort/Thunderbolt to VGA Male to Male Cable
Mini DisplayPort/Thunderbolt to VGA Male to Male Cable
 Mini DisplayPort/Thunderbolt to DVI Male Adapter
Mini DisplayPort/Thunderbolt to DVI Male Adapter
  • Connect the external keyboard to your laptop and check functionality.
  • In System Preferences, open up "Displays" and click on "Arrangement tab". Drag the external monitor display to the left or right of the laptop display as desired. Drag the Dock and Menu bar to either display by grabbing the little white bar that appears on the original display.
  • If you want a mirrored display, showing the same thing on both monitors, check the Mirror Display box. Personally, an extended desktop workspace is a much better deal than mirrored for all most any situation I can think of -D.Peck.
  • If you want to use the external monitor as the primary and only display, close the laptop. It will go to sleep and you'll momentarily loose displays on both monitors, however when you press a key on your external keyboard, the laptop will wake back up even though its case is closed and the external monitor will be the sole display. To revert back to having two displays, open the laptop, open the System Preferences:Display and click on "Detect Displays". The laptop display will pop back on and you may have to do some rearranging of whatever documents, windows, you had open.
  • To connect your Macbook/MacBookPro to an external TV as the only display, with the laptop case closed, see this YouTube Video. It involves a Mini Port to DVI adapter and a DVI to HDMI cable.
  • MacOSX: Move the Dock and Menu Bar to an External Display.

Time Machine

Old Stuff

Old MacOS Utilities

Old MacOS Problems

  • DMG Fixer- for when a Mac Image .DMG file shows up as text.