Basic Mac Troubleshooting Steps

A local member of the Mac User Group I belong was having an issue with his MacBook Pro. The issue was unique and it spawned the idea to share my basic troubleshooting steps I take when my Mac starts acting strange.

My first response to his request was to see if the model had a recall on it. Here is a list of current products sold by Apple with recalls.

If that is not the issue the standard reset the PRAM/NVRAM, SMC (System Management Controller) Reset and starting in Safe Mode are my next steps.

All of the above explain things that each try to troubleshoot/resolve. I find these are helpful.

My next step in troubleshooting this issue would be to create a new user account on the mac. Below are links to Sierra, El Capitan, and Yosemite

Setting up a new user account may eliminate some unwanted user preferences that could be causing the issue. This is a tried and true step that is recommended by my favorite geeks at the Mac Geek Gab. This is the step I take before completing what is commonly referred as a “nuke and pave” approach.

Next I would simply complete a full restore or “nuke and pave”  I set everything up from scratch with no other apps but the ones that come pre-installed in the OS. I run the device for a few days this way and then one by one install third party applications in hopes that either

I isolate the app that may be causing the issue or that the nuke and pave cleans things out that were causing the issue. With my iOS devices I compete DFU restore.  This article gives a good explanation of a DFU restore.  Note that at several Genius Bar appointments I have been given this advice. It has worked to help on several occasions, but that is iOS and we are talking Mac right now.

All of the above things are items that I note that I have tried, because the next step is to take it to an Apple Store or Authorized Repair Store. Telling the rep that you have tried all of the above will help save them some time, even though I find they will try them all anyway. A Genius Bar appointment doesn’t cost anything for them to diagnose hardware. In fact they may with some luck determine what the issue is and what the cost of repair will be.  If you are not close to a local Apple Store I believe Apple may be able to complete this scan over the phone.

Hopefully at some point you will get that unique issue out of the way so you can once again begin enjoying your Mac.

Delete Junk Message When in Mail App

Not sure why Yahoo Mail doesn’t allow you to block spam in IMAP, but in OS X’s Mail App you can set the preferences to delete spam upon closing Mail App.

With the Mail App open select Preferences, then highlight the account and choose Mailbox Behaviors and under the Junk option select “Delete junk messages when: Quitting Mail”

Once you close out of Mail App the Junk messages will delete. You can use this setting with other email providers. I use it also have set this in  iCloud.

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Regain Access to the Previous Version of Disk Utility in El Capitan

diskutilityiconDo you miss the interface and features of Disk Utility prior to OS X El Capitan? Well, I found a way to get back to it (sort of), but it was by dumb luck. While trying to fix my install of OS X El Capitan. I had erased the hard drive using Disk Utility via the Recover Partition. I then decided to reboot, which of course did not bring up an OS. I then attempted to boot into the Recovery Partition (CMD + R) again.

Upon the successful reboot I was in a version of OS X Mavericks, which then to my surprise showed the version of Disk Utility I had missed since upgrading to El Capitan. I am not completely sure why the Mavericks Recovery Partition came up, but it was a nice discovery.

MacAppStoreI then started to think, if I had a USB install disc of a prior version of OS X I could launch that version’s Disk Utility and regain the features that are now missing in El Capitan. To download a copy of a previous version of OS X simply open the Mac App Store, Click on Purchased and download the version of choice.

Next make a Bootable USB install disc. I decided to make one for OS X Yosemite.  The instructions to create such a disc are as follows:

1. Format an 8GB or larger USB thumb drive using Disk Utility.  The drive name should be Untitled.
2. Open the Terminal App and type sudo /Applications/Install OS X –volume /Volumes/Untitled –applicationpath /Applications/Install OS X –nointeraction

For detailed instructions I recommend the OSXDaily article, How to Make an OS X Yosemite Boot Installer USB Drive by Paul Horowitz

After the boot disc is completed restart your Mac, hold the option/alt key, select the newly built Yosemite USB disc and choose Disc Utility upon boot.  Its not simple, but at least you can get the old interface back and use the features that have been missing.  To get a list check out 6 Disk Utility Changes in El Captain via Computer World.

How to Remove Devices from the List of iMessage Text Forwarding

After selling my iMac and buying a MacBook Pro recently, I was left with the iMac as a device on my iPhone to forward  text messages in iMessage. I could turn it off, but I couldn’t find a way to remove it from the list of devices.

I tried signing out of iCloud and deleting the device from the web interface of iCloud, but neither resolved my issue.  After searching Google (as one does) I found an article from MacWorld by Glenn Fleishman.  It required changing your iCloud (or Apple ID) password.

But there’s an answer, found in discussions online among users with similar troubles: Change your Apple ID password, and the phantom devices disappear. Whether you’re using password-only, two-step verification, or two-factor authentication with your Apple ID, changing the password can mean re-entering it and going through a code-based verification step in a lot of places. But it will also solve this problem.

The answer is quite easy, but not well thought out by Apple.  It is actually rather annoying to have to change a password to remove a device.  I hope a future update corrects the oversight by Apple.


Life: My Weight Loss Attitude

It’s been nearly 18 months since I made the healthy decision to lose weight. I am down nearly 60 pounds and have been able to stay within five to ten pounds of my goal weight since reaching it back in July 2013. By no means am I a health expert, but as I am often asked “how I did it” I thought I would provide insight into my weight loss attitude.


The first thing is losing weight is about being healthy so you have to find what motivates you to get healthy. For me it was about beating diabetes and not letting it control my life.  Fighting it will be a lifetime war.  Right now I am winning the battles and plan to win a majority of them while I am alive. For other people I think the motivation will be much different, but make sure it’s something meaningful.

Diet and Exercise

If you are overweight to obese, the reason you are at this point is because your diet is likely terrible and exercise is limited to nonexistent. You can’t lose weight without a good diet and exercise. It’s very simple really, if you don’t burn more calories than you intake you will not lose weight. Starving yourself to lose weight goes against the reason you wanted to lose weight, which is to be healthier. The same is true about exercise. Also, don’t think being at the gym for two hours will take care of the fast food diet you had that day.

During my weight loss trek I would typically eat a sensible 1,500 calories daily and exercise to a burn rate of 2,500. I never felt hungry or weak. I was tired due to working out six times a week, but that would have been true had I been eating the 3,500 a day I had previously. Also make sure the calorie burn is efficient. In any given day I walk 10,000 steps, which is about 2,500 calorie burn. Most of that can be tied up into mowing the lawn and walking to work. Had I done the same on the elliptical I would have been more productive.

Realistic Expectations

I lost about a pound and a half a week over the course of 9 months. If you think weight loss should be like those on the Biggest Loser TV show, please rest assured it is not. In my first month I lost a total of five pounds. During that period I cut my calorie intake from 3,500 a day to 1,500 and was going to the gym 6 times a day for 60 minutes. I was eating a healthy 1,500 calories, but the weight just didn’t come off. Don’t give up and stay motivated, it’s a hard road to hoe.

Cheat with Caution

I know what you are thinking if I eat X it will put five pounds on me. I thought the same for the first month. I went on the South Beach Diet and didn’t touch bad carbs for that time. I found out later on that it’s okay to have a few slices of pizza or a nice juicy cheese burger. Guess what? It’s okay, so long as it’s no more than once a week. Don’t stress it; don’t beat yourself up over it. Cheating with food doesn’t mean you lost, it simply means for that day you didn’t win the battle, but for the next six you worked the elliptical so hard it broke.

Be Thankful

When you do start to lose weight, you will get compliments. Tell people thank you for noticing. Even if your personality doesn’t take compliments well, just do it, own it, because if you are losing weight you are example for everyone around you. If you aren’t humble enough to appreciate a compliment you’re not setting a good example for others that were where you were.

Celebrate Success

I have done a great deal of things I would have never done when I was bigger. I bought my first two suits this past year. I joined a softball league, walked all around San Francisco to the tune of 50,000 steps in three days. I keep up and at times outpace my 11-year old daughter, for who during the first nine years of her life wore me out.


I am not sure the above is the key to weight lost, but it is how I did it. Nothing fancy, no weight watchers, no special pills, no Bob Harper or Jillian Michaels, and certainly no medical procedure. By the way people ask me all the time what procedure did I have. I call it the hard work and dedication procedure.

As I said before it’s about getting healthier and you can’t go wrong with that.