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Fixing crashes, freezing programs and Problematic Operating Systems--

There are many things that can cause a program to crash. Most of the time, however, one of the tricks listed below will solve the problem.

Repairing Disk Permissions

Mac OS X assigns specific access privileges, known as permissions, to each of your programs, folders, and documents, which are associated with a particular owner or group. When an error in your permissions settings occurs, it may cause significant problems. For example, your applications may not launch or your system may respond sluggishly.

Use the permissions repair function in OS X's Disk Utility program:
  1. To open Disk Utility, from your Applications folder'open your Utilities folder' then double-click the Disk Utility icon.
  2. In the column on the left, click your startup disk's icon.
  3. Click the First Aid tab, and then click Repair Disk Permissions. Disk Utility will reset any files and folders with incorrect settings
  4. Note: If your system's errors are occurring with a third-party application that did not use Apple's installer, a permissions repair may not fix everything. If you follow the steps above, and your application still does not launch, you may need to uninstall or throw away problematic applications and then reinstall them. You will need to rebuild the desktop only if you are using the Classic environment. From the Apple menu, select "System Preferences" >>"Show all" >>" Classic". In the Classic preferences pane click "Advanced tab" >> "Rebuild Desktop"

Deleting Preferences...

When an application is acting up try deleting or remove the preferences file from the preferences folder. If the preferences file is not found when an application is run, the application usually recreates the file the next time it is run. However, it is a good idea to rename the file instead of deleting it, that way if the program refuses to run, you can always rename and put the preferences file back in the preferences folder. Preferences files contain your customized settings for applications.

  1. Click on "Finder >> Go >> Home >> Library >> Preferences" Look through the list and drag the preference file for the suspect application to the trash or rename it. If you do not know what application preference file is associated with the program, Do Not Delete It. The file name will look something like "com.apple.programname.plist"

Zapping the PRAM...

The PRAM is non-volitile memory Macs use to store some system-specific settings, such as which device to boot from, monitor settings and the date and time. This memory can also become corrupt and cause the Macintosh to misbehave. The most noticeable symptoms of PRAM problems include wrong time, wrong date (e.g. 1970) or a blank screen when the Mac is switched on.

To reset (or "zap") the PRAM:

  • Press and hold COMMAND(the apple key)-OPTION(the alt key)-P-R while restarting your Mac
  • Hold these four keys down until you here the startup chime four times
  • Release the keys and let the Macintosh boot normally

Running Disk First Aid...

When the computer cannot start up normally, you may need to use a disk repair utility. Mac OS X includes two utilities for this, Disk Utility and fsck. In some situations, file system errors may prevent the computer from starting up to a normal state. This could occur after improper shutdown, forced restart, or power interruption.

Steps for using Disk Utility (NEVER use a OS 10.3 (Panther) CD on a 10.4 (Tiger) machine)
  1. Insert your Mac OS X CD-ROM disc or Restore DVD disc, then restart the computer while holding the C key.
  2. Once started up from CD or DVD, choose Disk Utility from the Installer menu. Important: Do not click Continue in the first screen of the Installer. If you do, you must restart from disc to access Disk Utility.
  3. Click the First Aid tab.
  4. Click the disclosure triangle to the left of the hard drive icon to display the names of your hard disk volumes and partitions.
  5. Select your Mac OS X volume, if necessary.
  6. Click Repair.
OSX has a more powerful repair utility fsck, which is run in single-user mode.

Force Quitting an Application...

Sometimes an application will stop responding or not work. If the mouse still moves, you can try force-quitting the application. Note: this may cause your Macintosh to crash. Use this only as a last result.

To Force-Quit an application:

  • Hold down Option-Apple-Escape
  • Select Program from list
  • Select Force Quit