Troubleshooting tips for personally-owned macOS computers


Below find troubleshooting suggestions to try when your personal Mac computer isn't behaving properly (ex. won't quit an application, won't turn on, or doesn't boot up correctly).

Your computer's processor may affect troubleshooting instructions

In late 2020, Apple began the transition from Intel processors to Apple silicon (M1) in Mac computers. There are now multiple generations of Apple silicon chips. Troubleshooting tips may differ depending on your computer's processor. Processor and other system information can be found under About This Mac (under the Apple icon).

How do I know what kind of processor my Mac has?

Operating system / software issues

Start at the top of this list of troubleshooting steps and only try the next thing if the previous ones don't work.

Use Force Quit when an application is unresponsive

  1. Choose Force Quit from the Apple menu or select Command+Option+Esc keys
  2. Select the name of the unresponsive application (it probably has "not responding" next to its name)
  3. You typically won’t have to reboot


  • If Force Quit doesn’t bail you out, try rebooting the computer
  • If a frozen Mac prevents you from clicking the Restart command on the Apple menu, hold down the power button for several seconds or press the Control+Command keys and then press the power button

Restart in Safe Mode

Starting up your Mac in safe mode can help you determine whether issues you’re experiencing are caused by software that loads as your Mac starts up. 

Safe mode is particularly useful when you're trying to resolve an issue that doesn't seem to be associated with using any particular app. As always, keeping your software up to date is the first step toward resolving any software issue.

Access MacOS Recovery Mode

The utilities in macOS Recovery help you restore from Time Machine, reinstall macOS, get help online, repair or erase a hard disk, and more.

macOS Recovery is part of the built-in recovery system of your Mac. You can start up from macOS Recovery and use its utilities to recover from certain software issues or take other actions on your Mac.

Repair a Mac disk with Disk Utility

Disk Utility can find and repair errors related to the formatting and directory structure of a Mac disk. Errors can lead to unexpected behavior when using your Mac, and significant errors might even prevent your Mac from starting up completely.

Reset NVRAM or PRAM on your Mac

Sometimes your Mac’s Parameter RAM (PRAM) or Non-Volatile RAM (NVRAM) becomes scrambled and needs to be reset. Settings stored in the PRAM or NVRAM include sound volume, display resolution, startup disk selection, time zone, and recent kernel panic information.

The settings stored in PRAM or NVRAM depend on your Mac and the devices that you're using with your Mac.

Potential Hardware Issues

If none of the above steps get your computer functioning as usual, your computer may have a hardware issue.

The Technology Help Desk doesn't work directly on hardware issues for personal computers, but can help with diagnosis and can refer you to local repair vendors

There are also a few troubleshooting steps outlined below that you can try on your own to see if you can determine a diagnosis.

Run Apple Diagnostics on your Mac

Run Apple Diagnostics to test your Mac for hardware issues and get suggested solutions.

Apple Diagnostics can help determine which hardware component might be causing the issue. It also suggests solutions and can help you contact Apple Support for assistance (for personal devices).  For MHC-owned devices, contact the LITS Technology Help Desk.

Reset the SMC of your Mac

Resetting the system management controller (SMC) can resolve certain issues related to power, battery, fans, and other features.

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Article ID: 866
Fri 9/29/23 4:30 PM
Thu 10/12/23 5:46 PM