Though Macs are well known for being reliable computers, a cursory look at the Apple support forum reveals that users of Mac software, mobile devices, and software experience all types of problems, which fortunately you can find solutions for in a matter of minutes or a few days. If you depend upon your Mac hardware for job related purposes, you should know how important it is to be prepared for unexpected problems when they occur. The purpose of this article is to share some ideas for putting together a Mac Fixit/Troubleshooting Toolkit.
To get started with your toolkit, create a folder, titled “MacFixit” or whatever you prefer. Add saved copies of the resources below. When you come across other articles and documents addressing your particular user Mac setup just add them to your folder.
Your toolkit should be accessible beyond your main Mac computer—a collection of bookmarked, or better yet web archived pages on an online bookmarking site and/or in a 3-ring paper binder. If you have an iPad you could save them there as well. The point is, just make sure they easily accessible.
The following are some of my suggestions for a DIY troubleshooting kit. Please add your suggestions below.
Info About My Mac
One essential document you want to have in your toolkit is information about your Mac(s). Download this nifty worksheet on Apple’s site and save it as a PDF file. Then open it in Skim or Preview and use the annotation tools to fill it out. Or print and fill out the document and put in your Mac Fixit paper binder.
Another place I suggest keeping information about your Mac is in your Address Book. I keep information about all my Apple hardware purchases in the Note section of the Apple contact card. That contact also includes the number to Apple’s technical support: 1 (800) 275-2273.
Startup Key Combinations
When your Mac crashes, knowing a few startup key combinations can get you access to what you need. OS X Daily’s 11 Startup Key Combinations for Intel Macs is a PDF you will want to have as part of your toolkit.
The document includes shortcut keystrokes for starting up from a bootable Mac OS X Install disc or starting up in Single-User mode—both of which are very common troubleshooting procedures.
Mac User Guide
If you didn’t keep the Mac User Guide information that you came with your Mac, head over to the Apple Website and download all the user guides for your Apple hardware. Sometimes the information in these guides contain the basic troubleshooting information you need.
Restoring from Bootable Backup
If you use cloning software for your Mac, like SuperDuper (the basic software is free), you will want to make sure you have instructions for restoring from the bootable backup—that you should be running on a weekly basis on your Mac. A copy of these instructions in your fixit kit will definitely relieve some stress in the event you need to reboot from your clone drive. It’s also a good idea to do a test run of your backup to see if it’s working okay.
Surviving 17 Worst Mac Disasters
The classic MacLife Magazine provides a collection of very common problems associated Mac hardware failure. It includes survival tactics for dealing with a keyboard that has been doused with a cup of coffee or other liquid, how to use the “fsck” command for when your Mac is stuck on the startup screen, and what to do when your Safari web browser becomes sluggish. This three page article is well worth saving as a PDF and adding to your toolkit.
OS X Flash Drive Installer
Another classic Mac magazine recently published a very useful how-to for creating an OS X flash drive installer for when you Mac goes into a total crash mode. This flash installer could be used as a backup or in place of the Mac OS X installer CD that came with your Mac. It’s like the installer flash that now comes with MacBook Air computers.
Reset Your Mac Password
OsXDaily also has a useful how-to for how to reset your Mac password with or with a Mac OS X installer CD. There are those occasions when you may forget your password after you have recently changed it, so this article will come in handy.
For more sites and resources, check out my article, 8 Troubleshooting Resources to Help You Fix Your Mac Problems.
You will see that taking a little time to put together your Mac Fixit toolkit will give you some peace of mind that in the event your Mac breaks down you have a place to start for troubleshooting the problem.
Let us know of other resources that should be a part of such a DIY Mac troubleshooting kit.
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