Submitting a crash report

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Software developers often make mistakes when developing programs, which can cause an application to crash or freeze. To improve the application, filing a bug report with Apple or sending the developer an email is extremely helpful. If you tell the developer about problems you encounter, they will be much more likely to fix them, as they will likely not be aware of them. Even if you think that someone else will have already submitted a report, it is still useful to report problems you find, as it helps the developer to judge the severity of the problem, and duplicate reports are much better than none at all.

Note that programs marked 'beta', 'alpha' or 'nightly' are more likely to be buggy or unstable, but can also have more cutting edge features.


Application Crashes

Sometimes an application will completely crash and Mac OS X will display a dialogue box telling you this (as shown below).

Image:Application Has Crashed.png

When this happens when performing a specific action instead of just re-launching the application, press the report button.

An image of a crash report
An image of a crash report

The box to the right then appears containing what to the untrained eye looks like gibberish, however to a developer it is actually extremely helpful. If the application is an Apple application press submit and then you are finished.

If the application isn't an Apple application then you probably need to email the developer the crash report directly. Copy and paste the contents of the crash report into your email program; you should be able to find the developers email address from the website where you downloaded the application.

If possible try to explain what you were doing when the application crashed, especially if the problem is reproducible.

Note: If you want to send a developer a crash report but have already dismissed the dialogue, you can still view it using the Console.

Smart Crash Reports

Unsanity's Smart Crash Reports allows developers to receive crash reports directly when their applications crash. This requires the program to be installed on users' systems, as well as minor changes to the applications themselves.

Application Freezes

Application freeze handling has been significantly streamlined in Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard from previous versions of Mac OS X.

Instructions for Mac OS X 10.5 and later

In Mac OS X 10.5 Apple have streamlined this process; simply force quit the application and the option to submit a bug report to Apple will appear as for application crashes.

Instructions for Mac OS X 10.4 and below

This case is more difficult as the crash report dialogue won't appear, although you can still send useful information to the developer.

Firstly you need to open Activity Monitor (located in /Applications/Utilities/). Once it has loaded, look for the application that has frozen in the list; it is likely to be displayed in red rather than the usual black.

Then click the Inspect button at the top of the window and the following window will appear:

Image:Activity Monitor Inspector.png

At the bottom of the window, press the Sample button. This will create a "sample" of the application and tells the developer where in the application the problem has occurred.

If the application is an Apple application, submit a bug report using (for Apple Developer Connection members) or (for non-members).

Otherwise copy and paste the "sample" and email the developer directly.

Other Application Problems

It is still useful to submit other bug reports and feature requests to developers as it helps them improve their Applications.