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We Apple fans boast about our “trouble-free Macs”, and if you view past Macworld Keynotes you rarely witness problems with Apple software. Steve Jobs and his Apple staff make all their products seem cool and flawless. But we all know that’s not true. Mac hardware and software have countless bugs and issues like any other computer technology. Sure, Mac programs are very intuitive, but they are not trouble-free.

Apple Discussions

When I need to do troubleshooting to fix Mac problems, I log into the Apple Discussions site itself and do a search or ask a question about a problem I’m experiencing. Typically I find someone has already asked a similar question, and in most cases I receive helpful responses within 24 hours.

Find out the other resources I seek out when I need to troubleshoot a problem with my Mac.

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Documentation

After I’ve poked around some, I found that Apple provides a wealth of documentation and how-tos about all their products on its site. Pretty much all that you might learn from a book about Apple products can be found on its site, and not all of it is written in dry technical language. You can find support that includes screenshots and step-by-step instructions. There are even pages consisting of video tutorials for Apple”˜s most popular applications.

Of course, Apple being a profit-making company is not going to showcase it troubleshooting web pages on their homepage. But its support section is surprisingly well organized and easy to navigate.

Switch 101

If for example you’re a switcher (coming from PC to Mac), Apple”˜s Switch 101 includes tutorials for setting up Apple’s Mail client, Address Book, and Safari web browser. Just as you read a computer reference book, the more you link and navigate the support sections of the site, the more you’ll discover and learn.

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Bookmark Your Apple Products

One simple approach to learning or troubleshooting about an Apple product you own is to bookmark related pages on the site itself. For example, the site’s iPod Troubleshooting Assistant provides you links to common iPod issues for each generation of iPods. If you own an iPod nano, for example, then bookmark the pages related to that device.

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Manuals and Tech Specs

Another support section provides links to the manuals for all of Apple’s hardware products. Start with its Featured Manual page. You  will want to bookmark and download manuals about your own computer. There are also pages for recent Apple software upgrades and tech specs. Tech specs inform you of what your Mac hardware is capable of. You learn everything from the screen size and resolution of your Mac, the type of video output options it has, to what type of storage drives it contains.

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Getting User Support

Apple’s user support forums are what you want to bookmark where they can be easily found. These user forums include feedback from both veteran Mac users and newbies helping one another troubleshoot problems, and they can often save you time, money, and stress.

Before you start using the forum, you will want to register on it. The most important information to include in your registration profile is the current computer(s) and the operating system you’re using. This information will be posted with each of your questions and responses so that other users won’t need to ask you for those tech specs.

When asking for help to fix Mac problems, it’s important to research your question first. It’s a waste of time for other users to respond to problems that have been previously addressed in a forum thread. Use the good old search box and just type in your question. More than likely you will discover that someone has already asked that question.

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Also, be very specific in your questions and the title you use for your topic. I’ve seen users title their questions or topics with a mere one or two words, such “clean install” or “ipod”. Those titles don’t describe what you specifically want to know. Using detailed titles like “My iPod Touch keeps getting a blue screen” or “Smart playlists won’t sync properly” will get you faster responses.

After you post your question(s), subscribe to your thread so that you will get notified when others respond. It’s very rude to post a question and never revisit your post, even if you fix the problem yourself. Responding to questions can often take time and serious effort, so you want to show your appreciation of the help you receive, even when a response does not fix your problem.

Tech Support Sites

One other piece of advice when working on fixing Mac problems – make sure to check out Top 10 Sites For Computer Troubleshooting & Tech Support Top 10 Sites For Computer Troubleshooting & Tech Support Top 10 Sites For Computer Troubleshooting & Tech Support Read More

Share Your Knowledge

Whenever I post a question I try to go back into other forums to see if there any topics I can contribute to. It’s my way of “giving back” to a community that has had helped me. Like most web sites, Apple’s support forums can be subscribed to using an RSS feed. While you don’t want to subscribe to an entire forum, there might be a topic or two that you want to keep tabs on and occasionally contribute to.

Technical support from Apple’s support staff can often be costly if your hardware is out of warranty or you haven’t purchased extended Apple Care support. But if you’re patient and learn how to navigate Apple’s support sections, you can save lots of time and frustration, even when your iPod or MacBook is not performing as well as when you first purchased it.

What support programs do you use for troubleshooting your Mac?

  1. Bakari Chavanu
    December 31, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    Thanks Topher and Russ. I was focusing mainly on the Apple site itself, but I concur. Your recommendations are great ones. I've used macoxhints many time, and have an RSS feed to it.

  2. Russ
    December 30, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    I can heartily recommend the forums at http://www.macosxhints.com for knowledgeable Mac help.

  3. Topher Kessler
    December 28, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    MacFixIt is a great troubleshooting resource for Mac users: http://www.macfixit.com

    Additionally, there are several others that can be useful, including http://www.xlr8yourmac.com

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