your MacBook not working? Is your Mac not turning on? We run through how to troubleshoot a Mac that has stopped working, helping you find out what’s wrong with your Mac and how to fix it!
One of the reasons many of us use a Mac is that most of the time, to coin a well-worn phrase, it just works. We don’t have to spend hours dealing with driver updates, fixing problems caused by bloatware, or trying to get rid of viruses.
Occasionally, however, even on a Mac, things do go wrong. In this feature we explain the best ways to diagnose what the problem is and we share the best fixes for some of the most common problems
How to find out what’s wrong with your Mac
Sometimes it’s not immediately obvious what the issue is that is causing your Mac to misbehave so you will likely have to run through a number of steps to isolate what is causing the problem. These steps will depend on whether your Mac is even switching on, of course, and we look at how to fix a Mac that won’t start up next.
1. Note errors
Are you seeing an error message? If you are, write it down (or if it’s easier take a photo using your iPhone, or screenshot). We have this article including Common Mac error messages so check to see if it is covered there, or you could do a quick search in Google to see if anyone else is seeing the same error and if they fixed it.
2. Say when
Note when the problem started. Was it just after you had installed a new program or added a piece of kit? Had you recently performed a software update?
3. Check software
Speaking of software, is your software up to date? Check that you are running the most recent version of MacOS, it might be that you have encountered a known issue that has been fixed.
4. Check peripherals
Establish if a particular peripheral is causing the issue: unplug everything that’s plugged into your Mac and see if that solves the issue.
5. Check disk space
See how much disk space you have available. Go to About This Mac > Storage. We’d always advise that you have 10% of the total disk space free. If you need to free up some space read this: How to make space on your Mac.
6. Check Activity Monitor
This will show you if something is hogging memory or CPU. Go to Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor (or click cmd+space and start typing Activity Monitor). Click on Memory to see if there is something hogging memory. Then click CPU to see if something is hogging the CPU. We look in more detail at memory hog issues and how to fix them with Activity Monitor below.
7. Run Disk Utility
Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility (or click cmd+space and start typing Disk Utility) to see if there is an issue with your disk. Read about How to use Disk Utility here. Note that Disk Utility had a bit of a makeover in Mac OS X El Capitan and some of the processes changed.
8. Start in Safe Mode
You may also be able to diagnose problems with your Mac if you start in Safe Mode. When you start up in Safe Mode your Mac will not load startup items and some software. The mode also performs a check of your startup disk so it should be able to alert you to problems. Read about starting your Mac in Safe Mode here.
After shutting down your Mac wait 10 seconds and then press the power button. As soon as your Mac starts (you may hear a start up chime) press and keep holding the Shift key. Once you see the Apple logo you can stop pressing Shift.
9. Start in Recovery Mode
When Apple introduced OS X Lion in 2010 it made some changes to the way that Recovery Mode works. If you are running an older version of MacOS the method will be slightly different (but we imagine that there aren’t many people left using that version now). Since Lion, when MacOS is installed on a Mac a Recovery HD volume is created on your Start Up drive. This volume (which is normally hidden) can be used to boot from if you need to do things like repair the startup disk, reinstall MacOS and more.
To restart in the Recovery HD you just need to press and hold cmd+R when you start up your Mac and keep holding those keys until the Apple logo appears. It can take a while to finish booting up. Once it has you will see a desktop with a window containing Utilities open.
Once you have run though these steps you should have a clearer idea about the nature of your issue. Read on to find out how to fix it.