10 Common Mac Problems & Fixes

When you run into a Mac problem it can throw off your day and it can easily impact your job and your mood. Whatever kind of Mac you own we will walk through how to fix common Mac problems on your own without visiting an Apple Store to see a Genius or getting on the phone for a long call to support.

We’ll cover common MacBook Air problems, MacBook Pro problems, Mac Mini problems and other common Mac issues and errors that you’ll run into while using your Apple computer.

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We’ll focus on common Mac problems like slow performance, issues connecting to WiFi, freezing apps and other issues that can turn your experience sour after extended use.

The latest addition will tell you how to fix broken Ethernet after installing an OS X El Capitan update.

Learn how to fix common Mac Problems.

Learn how to fix common Mac Problems.

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When you Mac doesn’t just work you may be left wondering what to do or how you will fit in a trip to the Apple Store to get a fix for your common Mac problem. Instead of driving to the store, you can take many of the initial steps at home so that you can get back to work or fun faster.

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If you see issues appear right after upgrading to OS X 10.11 you should check out this list of fixes for common OS X El Capitan problems.

We’ll focus on Mac problems and fixes that aren’t normally tied specifically to a software update or version. You can troubleshoot these errors on your iMac, MacBook, Mac Mini, Mac Pro, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro despite the software you are running.

In some cases you may need to update your Mac software for a fix, but some are faster and easier to handle.

How to Identify Your Mac Problem

The first step is figuring out what your Mac problem is. Sometimes it is easy to say that the issue is software related or hardware related, but that is not always the case.

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If you see an error message make sure you write down exactly what it is or take a picture with your phone. Knowing the exact error will help you, or someone else, troubleshoot it.

Did the issue start after you installed a new program? If so, try uninstalling it and see if the issue goes away. You may also want to check for updates to your Mac and Mac apps.

Before you go any further it is also a good idea to remove all accessories and memory cards from your computer, reboot and see if the problem is still there.

For more, check out this troubleshooting guide from Apple.

How to fix Slow Mac Performance

If your Mac is slow don’t start by downloading another program that claims it can boost your Mac speed and find or clean your Mac in minutes. Many times these don’t help fix what’s at the root of the issue.

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If you have not restarted your Mac in a long time, start by doing that and seeing if it helps with the speed.

The first place you need to look to fix a slow Mac is the Activity Monitor. This is a overview of everything happening on your Mac. By looking here you can see what is using your Mac’s power and memory, which will let you see what you need to limit or upgrade.

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How to fix a slow Mac.

How to fix a slow Mac.

The fastest way to open this is to press Command and Spacebar at the same time and type Activity Monitor. Or you can go to Applications -> Utilities -> Activity Monitor.

We want to look at the CPU and Memory tabs. If you are running a very intensive application or if one is broken it may be using up too much CPU or hogging memory. Click on the Memory column to sort by what is using the most memory.

If you identify something that is using an obscene amount of memory compared to other applications you can close the app. The best way to do this is to go to the app that is the root of the issue and choose to quit it from the menu. If it is locked up, you can click on the name in Activity Monitor and then click the stop sign with an X through it in the upper left.

If you frequently have issues with a slow Mac, you may need to upgrade your RAM. You can do this on many older Macs and with some of the desktop Macs, but the MacBook Pro Retina RAM and MacBook Air RAM upgrades aren’t possible.

How to Fix Mac WiFi Problems

If you have Mac WiFi problems you may lose the connection randomly, when you go to a specific part of the house or you may not be able to connect at all.

Turn off the Mac WiFi connection for 10 seconds by clicking on the WiFi icon and then choosing Turn off Wifi. After a short wait turn this back on and see if you can connect. Many times this will solve an issue.

The next thing to try is to restart your router. Unplug the router from power for 30 to 60 seconds and then plug it back in and try.

Fix common Mac WiFi problems.

Fix common Mac WiFi problems.

If those don’t fix your Mac WiFi problems you may need to change the WiFi network you connect to. Many newer routers offer a 2.4GHz and a 5GHz connection. The 5GHz connection often works better at longer ranges.

Open the Network Preferences by clicking on the WiFi icon in the upper right and then choosing Network Preferences.

Click on Advanced. Now look for your 5GHz or 5G network name and click then drag it to the top of the list. If you have never connected to it you will need to click on the Plus icon and then Show Networks. Click on the name and enter the password.

If none of these fix your Mac WiFi problems you may need to upgrade to OS X El Capitan. The OS X Yosemite version is known for many WiFi problems on Macs, and the free upgrade to OS X El Capitan can fix these.

How to Fix Mac Ethernet Problems

How to Fix Mac ethernet problems after an OS X El Capitan update.

How to Fix Mac ethernet problems after an OS X El Capitan update.

If you installed an OS X El Capitan update on your Mac last week you may have received a bad update that broke your Ethernet port. The good news is that this issue is not a permanent problem.

The first thing you need to do is check your version number to see if you have the broken version of 3.28.1. To do this, follow the directions below.

  1. While pressing the Option key, select System Information from the Apple menu.
  2. Expand the Software section and select Installations.
  3. Click on the Software Name column header to sort the list alphabetically.
  4. Look for “Incompatible Kernel Extension Configuration Data.”
  5. If the most recent version installed is 3.28.1, then follow the steps below.

If you see 3.28.2, you are already on the right version, but if you are on the broken version and are able to connect to WiFi, there is a simple fix.

  1. Open the Terminal app.
  2. Type this command to update to the current version of the “Incompatible Kernel Extension Configuration Data” kernel extension:sudo softwareupdate --background
  3. Quit Terminal and restart your Mac.

If you cannot connect to WiFi, you will need to use this longer guide on the Apple Support page.

How to Fix Mac Bluetooth Problems

We often run into Mac Bluetooth problems when trying to use a keyboard, trackpad or other Bluetooth accessory. This could lead to issues with your Bluetooth devices not showing up or a very annoying “Bluetooth Not Available” error on Mac.

The first thing to try is restarting your Mac and turning your Bluetooth devices off and back on. This can solve simple issues in a few minutes. Another thing to try if the Bluetooth device is acting erratically is to move other Bluetooth devices away from between the Mac and the trackpad. Placing an iPhone 6 Plus between our Mac and a trackpad always causes issues.

If you run into the Bluetooth Not Available error on your Mac, this guide will walk you through the steps you need to fix it. In many cases you can fix this without going to an Apple Store.

How to Fix MacBook Not Charging Problems

Even if you have a relatively new MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro or MacBook Pro Retina you may run into MacBook charging problems. Typically you may not notice that your MacBook is not charging until you grab it to leave for an appointment, so you’ll have to troubleshoot later.

What to do when your MacBook won't charge.

What to do when your MacBook won’t charge.

If you own an older MacBook with a removable battery take it out and then re-insert it to see if that fixes the problem. Other users continue on to these potential fixes.

  1. Try another outlet.
  2. Try another MacBook Charger
  3. Remove the MagSafe 2 adapter and try again

We ran into problems where our MacBook Pro Retina would not charge with a MagSafe 2 adapter, even though the charger was working fine on other notebooks. You can ask Apple for a replacement MagSafe adapter, and you may be surprised to get a free replacement if you take the old one in and show the issue.

There may be a bigger issue with your MacBook not charging. If the above steps don’t help you should reset the SMC on your Mac. The System Management Controller is easy to reset on your own. Resetting the SMC can fix Macbook not charging problem and other issues including;

  • The computer doesn’t respond to the power button when pressed.
  • A portable Mac doesn’t appear to respond properly when you close or open the lid.
  • The computer sleeps or shuts down unexpectedly.
  • The battery does not appear to be charging properly.
  • The MagSafe power adaptor LED doesn’t appear to indicate the correct activity.

The process of resetting the SMC on a Mac is different depending on the model, so we recommend following all the instructions on this page.

If that does not fix the problem you should talk to Apple about a solution. You may need to pay Apple to replace your battery if the device is out of warranty. The out of warranty MacBook Battery replacement is $129 to $199 direct from Apple. You may find cheaper prices at other service centers.

How to Fix Frozen Mac

After a long period of use you may run into an issue where your Mac freezes, or where one app freezes on your Mac.

If you cannot choose to quit the app normally due to this you will need to Force Quit the app.

Learn how to fix a frozen Mac.

Learn how to fix a frozen Mac.

If you can click on the icon in the dock, hold Option and click, which will bring up a Force Quit action. Click on that to force the app to close.

Sometimes that will not work. You may need to press Command + Option + Escape at the same time to bring up a Force Quit Menu. From here you can see apps that are not responding and choose to Force Quit.

If that fails you can press Command + Control + Eject at the same time to force a reboot. Holding the power button will do the same thing.

How to Fix a Mac that Won’t Shut Down

 

What to do if your Mac won't shut down.

What to do if your Mac won’t shut down.

Occasionally you will tell your Mac to restart or turn off and a few minutes later you may discover that the Mac won’t shut down. Keep in mind that it could take three to five minutes to completely turn off since the Mac will shut down programs and save documents. You may need to save or discard changes in apps. If there is a bouncing icon on the dock it means that it needs attention.

You may need to Force Quit an app using the instructions in the section above, or if all else fails, hold the power button until the Mac turns off. Keep in mind that you can lose data if you do it this way.

How to Fix Mac Won’t Turn On Problems

If your MacBook won’t turn on or start up, you may need to follow a collection of steps to get the device to turn on.

You need to disconnect all the accessories and peripherals that you have connected to your Mac, and then follow the directions in this article to solve these problems.

How to Fix Mac Sound Problems

How to fix Mac sound problems.

How to fix Mac sound problems.

If you don’t have any sound on your Mac, this can be due to a number of issues. Here are the things you need to check, in the order you should try them.

  1. Make sure your volume is turned up.
  2. Check speaker power or headphone connections.
  3. Turn Bluetooth speakers on and off if you use them.

If that doesn’t fix the issue, hold Option and click on the speaker in the dock. From here make sure that you choose the right source for your sound. In many cases it should be line out.

You can also click on Sound Preferences to see other options, which may help you find a problem. If all else fails you may need to restart and t unplug and reconnect headphones or speakers.

How to Fix Mac Hard Drive Space Errors

When you turn your Mac on and see a message that the Startup disk is almost full, you have three options.

  1. Delete files you don’t need.
  2. Buy a bigger internal hard drive.
  3. Buy an external hard drive.

You can use an app like Disk Inventory X to scan your Mac and see what is taking up the most space. Once you know what is taking up space you can decide if it is something you can delete. If you delete it make sure you also choose Empty Trash from the Finder to get your space back. You can also delete or uninstall apps so that you have more room on your computer.

If you own an older Mac that allows you to replace the hard drive you can buy a larger drive and install it for more room.

Another option is to buy an external hard drive and then move some photos or files you don’t always need to it.

There are also some cloud services that allow you to store files, but many common setups sync or backup rather than only store online.