Troubleshooting Your MacA Joe On Tech Guide

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Troubleshooting Your Mac cover

129 pages • Version 1.1 • September 20, 2016
Updated for macOS 10.12 Sierra!

Solve Mac Problems Like a Pro!

Macs are generally quite reliable as computers go, but they can still experience significant problems. In this essential guide from best-selling author Joe Kissell, you’ll learn key troubleshooting skills that will help you address the most common and frustrating Mac irritations. You’ll also learn what to do when you encounter a problem for which you can’t find a ready-made solution. (Step one: Don’t panic!)

Whether your Mac won’t turn on, experiences crashes or kernel panics repeatedly, can’t connect to the internet, or exhibits any of numerous other misbehaviors, this book has the calm, friendly advice you need to find a solution.

This new book is based on an older title of Joe’s called Take Control of Troubleshooting Your Mac, but it’s been updated to cover the latest versions of macOS and the most modern troubleshooting techniques. Troubleshooting Your Mac is for all Macs running 10.9 Mavericks, 10.10 Yosemite, 10.11 El Capitan, or 10.12 Sierra.

Ebook includes PDF, EPUB, and Kindle versions.
Ebook orders fulfilled by FastSpring.

Paperback orders fulfilled by CreateSpace.

Save 33% when you buy the four-book Mac Fitness Bundle, which also includes:
Maintaining Your MacSpeeding Up Your MacBacking Up Your Mac

What You’ll Learn

Prevent Problems

Before disaster occurs, take smart steps to protect your Mac and its data.

Be Prepared

Find out how to prepare in advance for a Mac emergency and what tools you should have on hand.

Acquire Key Skills

Learn the 17 basic troubleshooting techniques every Mac user should know.

Fix Common Problems

Discover quick fixes to over 20 frequently occurring Mac problems.

Embrace Uncertainty

Troubleshoot novel problems by thinking like a Mac technician.

Know Your Limits

Learn when to seek professional help and where to find it.

Free Bonus Materials!

If you want to teach Mac troubleshooting to someone else—say, a friend, your company, or a user group—you’ll benefit from free downloadable training materials based on the book, including a PDF “cheat sheet” with the essential points from the book, plus a simplified PDF-based presentation. (Editable, brandable Keynote slides can be licensed for an additional fee.)

Reader Comments on Joe’s Books

Tens of thousands of readers have used Joe’s books to solve problems and enhance their skills. Here’s what a few of them have to say…

Joe’s top-notch instructional guides are among the absolute best in the field. His comprehensive, yet accessible, books on specific software titles and subjects like productivity, efficiency, and security will benefit users of all levels, from beginners to advanced power users. Whether you want to learn something brand new or update your already finely honed skills, Joe Kissell is an excellent resource.

Mariva H. Aviram

One theme that’s consistent in Kissell’s books: he never tells you what you should do (other than making sure you back up!); rather he offers suggestions, options, and choices. He uses his years of experience to explain why one method may work better than another, but leaves the ultimate choice up to the individual. Readers can feel confident after finishing Backing Up Your Mac that they’ll have all the facts they need to make an informed decision on backup strategy.

As Joe has done in his earlier 50+ ebooks for another imprint, he doesn’t just tell you ‘do this, do that’, he takes the view that you also want to know some of the ‘why’ of the topics he writes about. He helps you decide what’s right for you, which is way cool. Joe’s friendly style makes the pages go by in a breeze, it’s more like listening to a sage than reading a textbook.

I’m addicted to the computer education books by Joe Kissell! And it has proven to be an extremely helpful as well as enjoyable and educational addiction. Over the years, I’ve gone paperless with Joe’s help, my wife and I have had many pain-free upgrades to a new Mac OS and I always am indebted to Joe’s books for all the advice on how to maintain essential and efficient backups.

Norm Harris

I think [Backing Up Your Mac] is a really great book. You are really expert in these matters, the book is very well structured and very well and written and very pleasant to read. Your guidance in this 'mine field' was very informative and well argued and has helped me tremendously to set up a good backup plan. Worth every penny.


Joe Kissell’s books are great references for beginners and the technically proficient alike. Well organized, and written with direct knowledge of the computer user’s needs.

Rick Hyman

Ebook includes PDF, EPUB, and Kindle versions.
Ebook orders fulfilled by FastSpring.

Paperback orders fulfilled by CreateSpace.

Save 33% when you buy the four-book Mac Fitness Bundle, which also includes:
Maintaining Your MacSpeeding Up Your MacBacking Up Your Mac

About the Author

Joe Kissell has been using Macs since 1991, and writing about them since 1995. He is the author of more than 50 books on technology, including The Nisus Way, Take Control of iCloud, Take Control of Your Online Privacy, and Mac Security Bible. He is also a contributing editor to TidBITS and a senior contributor to Macworld. Before he began writing full-time in 2003, Joe spent nearly eight years managing software development. Joe is the eponym and instigator of Joe On Tech, a website and ebook series that helps people improve their relationship with technology. He can neither confirm nor deny that he wears a cape and fights crime in his spare time. Joe lives in San Diego with his wife, their two sons, and their cat.

About Joe On Tech Guides

Joe On Tech guides provide practical advice on tech topics. Suitable for beginners and experienced users alike, they explain technology in a straightforward and friendly way. Joe On Tech guides offer:

  • Expert advice from an author with 20+ years of experience
  • Professional editing and technical review
  • PDF, EPUB, and Kindle ebook formats, plus paperback
  • Bookmarks and cross-references for easy navigation
  • Free minor updates
  • 100% Money-Back Guarantee


Maintaining Your Mac is about preventing problems. This book is about solving problems (since problems can and do occur regardless of how diligently you’ve maintained your Mac). To be sure, slow performance is a problem that needs troubleshooting help, and I mention it in this book. However, speeding up a slow Mac is such an involved topic that it required its own book to cover all the details, and that’s Speeding Up Your Mac. Although there are, inevitably, a few small areas of overlap in the various titles, they each cover substantially different territory.
Sure thing. Here you go:

Read Me First   6
  Updates   6
  Basics   6
  What’s New in Version 1.1   8
A Note to Readers   9
Introduction: Don’t Panic!   11
Quick Start   13
Chapter 1 Prevent Problems   15
  Use a Surge Protector or UPS   15
  Back Up Your Mac Regularly   16
  Keep Your Software Up to Date   17
Chapter 2 Prepare for an Emergency   19
  Acquire a Secondary Startup Volume   19
  Get a Disk Repair Utility   23
  Set Up Another User Account   24
  Consider Purchasing AppleCare   25
  Think About an Insurance Policy   26
  Find Extra Help   27
  Have an Accessible Copy of This Book   29
Chapter 3 Learn Troubleshooting Basics   30
  Force-Quit an App   31
  Restart Your Mac   31
  Log In to Another User Account   33
  Start Up from Another Volume   33
  Run Disk Repair Utilities   36
  Erase and Restore from a Backup   38
  Repair Permissions   41
  Start Up in Safe Mode   43
  Check Preference Files   44
  Reset NVRAM or SMC   46
  Use Activity Monitor   47
  Check Free Disk Space   49
  Check Log Files   52
  Clear Caches   55
  Check Your RAM   57
  Test for Reproducibility   59
  Get System Information   61
Chapter 4 Solve Common Problems   63
  Your Mac Won’t Turn On   63
  Your Mac Stalls During Startup   64
  Your Mac Keeps Turning Itself Off   68
  Your Fan Runs Excessively   70
  Your Mac Is Abnormally Slow   71
  You Can’t Empty the Trash   73
  An App Grinds to a Halt   74
  An App Crashes   77
  You Experience Repeated Kernel Panics   81
  The Keyboard or Mouse Doesn’t Work   84
  You Lose Your Internet Connection   86
  Printing Doesn’t Work   91
  Spotlight Searches Fail   92
  Keychain (Seemingly) Forgets Passwords   95
  Apple Mail Fails to Connect   96
  Time Machine Misbehaves   104
  A Volume Won’t Unmount   110
  The “Open With” Menu Contains Errors   111
  iCloud Data Doesn’t Sync Properly   111
  Continuity Features Fail   113
  Your Laptop’s Battery Misbehaves   115
Chapter 5 Troubleshoot Novel Problems   116
  Try the Standard Quick Fixes   116
  Ask the Right Questions   119
  Ask the Vendor for Help   121
  Check Mac Troubleshooting Sites   124
  Use Your Favorite Search Engine   125
  Contact a Professional   126
About This Book   128
  About the Author   128
  About Joe On Tech   129
  Author’s Acknowledgments   129
  Credits   129
This book is the successor to Take Control of Troubleshooting Your Mac, Second Edition, which was last updated in 2012 and has now been retired. Troubleshooting Your Mac: A Joe On Tech Guide has the same overall structure and much of the same text as the earlier book, but it has been thoroughly updated and enhanced. The changes are at least equivalent to what a new edition would contain—and I plan to keep it updated for the foreseeable future, too!
Take Control Books has been publishing books on technical topics (with an emphasis on Apple products) since 2003. I (Joe Kissell) have written over 50 of those books, and I plan to continue writing books for Take Control. (See Joe Kissell’s Reflections on His First 50 Take Control Books.) When it became infeasible for Take Control to keep some of my older (but much-loved) books up to date, I offered to “adopt” them, update them myself, and release them here with new titles and layouts. Take Control then functions as a reseller for Joe On Tech books (of which there will be more as time goes on).
They’re similar in both content and quality. For this book, I hired an editor (Caroline Rose) and a technical reviewer (Dan Frakes) who have also worked for Take Control, and I followed the same overall process. Although the Joe On Tech style guide and behind-the-scenes technical processes are a bit different, I hold these books to the high standards readers have come to expect from Take Control. (And, because I get more control over the details, I’m able to do extra things like offering paperback versions of the books.)
Absolutely. The ebook includes PDF, EPUB, and Kindle versions, so you can read it on virtually any electronic device. The PDF version is best for reading on a computer screen (using Preview, Acrobat Reader, PDFpen, or similar apps). The EPUB version is perfect for iBooks. And the Kindle (Mobipocket) version works on all your Kindle devices, as well as in the Kindle app for Mac.
The book is for sale in several online stores, including Amazon, Apple’s iBooks Store, Leanpub, and Take Control. Although you’re welcome to purchase it from any of those places, please consider buying it directly from this site instead, because:
  • When you buy it from Joe On Tech, all the proceeds (after transaction fees) go to me; when you buy it elsewhere, the distributor takes a hefty cut first.
  • I supply PDF, EPUB, and Kindle versions of the ebook, but Amazon provides only the Kindle version, while the iBook Store provides only the EPUB version.
  • I offer a no-questions-asked money-back guarantee, if you buy the book from the Joe On Tech site.
  • When you purchase a book directly from me, I’m able to contact you about free updates, corrections, and new editions, but when you buy from another distributor, you become their customer, not mine, and I can’t reach you.
Yes! The paperback version contains instructions for downloading the ebook version at no additional cost.
You betcha. If you’re interested in reviewing the book, drop me a note using my contact form and I’ll hook you up.

Ebook includes PDF, EPUB, and Kindle versions.
Ebook orders fulfilled by FastSpring.

Paperback orders fulfilled by CreateSpace.

Save 33% when you buy the four-book Mac Fitness Bundle, which also includes:
Maintaining Your MacSpeeding Up Your MacBacking Up Your Mac

Free Sample Chapter

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