Guide: How to Fix Common Mac Problems

After installing the latest OS X update, you can easily run into multiple problems that can prevent you from enjoying in your Mac. Some of these issues can be plain annoying and easy to fix, while other kinds of issues might require digging up some files and editing their values.
 
When you Mac doesn’t work the way you want it, you can take it to a nearby Apple Store to fix it. However, this can be time-consuming and not everyone lives with an Apple Store nearby. This is why it’s a good idea to do some research on the Web and to try to find a solution.
 
In this guide, we will be talking about some of the common OS X issues, as well as how to easily fix them. This ranges from fixing slow performance, issues connecting to Wi-Fi, freezing apps, as well as other issues that might affect your everyday computing.
So, without further ado, let’s jump right in.
 

Problem No.1: Properly Identifying Your Mac’s Problem

 
In order to get the right fix for your Mac, you need to know how to properly identify your computer’s issue. Even though you can do a search where you explain your issue, this is not always the most reliable nor the fastest method.
 
For example, if you see an error message, it’s a good idea to write down exactly what it is, or even to take a picture using your phone. You also need to remember if there is an application that you installed right before the problem occurred, or if you messed with System Preferences. Furthermore, some issues can be hardware-related, which is why it’s recommended to remove all accessories and memory cards from your computer. These are all good starting points.
 

Problem No.2: Slow Performance

 
This is perhaps the most common issue that affects millions of Mac users. In case you don’t take proper care of your Mac, you can easily end up with slow performance. We previously published a detailed guide that explains proper maintenance, so it’s a good idea to take a look at this article and use that knowledge in the future.
When it comes to fixing slow performance, the first thing you need to do is to open the Activity Monitor. You can find it by going to your Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor. You can also open it by pressing Command and Spacebar at the same time, and typing “Activity Monitor”.
 
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As you will see, this is an overview of everything happing on your Mac, updated in real time. This is where you can see how different applications and services affect the CPU, Memory, Energy, Disk, and Network.
 
In general, you need to focus on two tabs, named CPU and Memory. If you see an application eating up all of your computer’s performance, you should kill it. However, some professional-grade apps can eat up a lot of resources, which is perfectly normal. However, if a smaller (or recently installed) app is doing this, you should probably uninstall it and find an alternative.
In addition, if you have an older Mac, you should expect that you can run all of the latest apps. You can upgrade your RAM, which is one of the most cost-efficient ways to improve your Mac’s performance.
 

Problem No.3: Unresponsive Wi-Fi Network

 
You might be experiencing an issue with Wi-Fi connectivity, which makes your Mac lose the connection randomly. This can be one of those very annoying problems since this can stop your downloads and force you to reconnect often.
 
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The first step toward the solution is to turn off your Mac’s Wi-Fi connection for about 10 seconds, which is done by clicking on the Wi-Fi icon in system’s menu bar and choosing to Turn off Wi-Fi. Many times this will resolve your issue.
 
In case Wi-Fi connectivity is still broken, you should restart your router. It is a good idea to unplug it from power and keep it that way up to one minute. Plug it back in, wait for it to turn on, and give it a try.
 

Problem No.4: Unresponsive Bluetooth

 
If you depend on using a wireless keyboard or trackpad, having issues with Bluetooth can prevent you from doing your work. In general, there are two types of Bluetooth-related issues: missing Bluetooth devices, or a very annoying “Bluetooth not Available” error.
 
The first step is to restart your Mac as well as to restart your Bluetooth devices. This can solve simple issues, which are usually not your computer’s fault. Furthermore, some other issues can prevent your accessories to “talk” to your Mac. For example, placing an iPhone between your Mac and a trackpad is known to cause problems, so make sure that you’re not doing this.

 

Problem No.5: Your MacBook Won’t Charge

 
Luckily, running into problems with charging your Mac notebook isn’t as frequent. However, it can sometimes happen and there are several proven ways to fix this.
If you own a Mac notebook with a removable battery, the first step would be to remove it and the re-insert it to see if this fixes the problem.
 
As you can also assume, you should try another outlet, as well as try another MacBook charger. Ultimately, you can also remove the MagSafe 2 adapter and try again. Sometimes you will also run into a problem of your notebook not charging, even though the charger works fine on other notebooks. If that’s the case, you should ask Apple for a replacement MagSafe adapter. It is said that Apple is willing to replace even older adapters, so you can also try that as well.
 
Sometimes, this problem can be caused by some more complex malfunctions. In case you’ve tried everything else, you should reset the SMC on your Mac. The System Management Controller can not only fix issues with charging, but also numerous other issues, including:
– Unresponsive power button;
– Problems with your Mac’s responsiveness when closing or opening the lid;
– Unexpected shutdowns;
– Incorrect LED activity of your MagSafe power adapter.
 
The process of resetting the SMC on your Mac is different depending on the model. This is why you should follow Apple’s instructions on how to do this.
 

Problem No.6: Frozen Mac

 
At times, a certain application can freeze, which can cause other issues as well. If you cannot choose to quit the app normally, you need to use Force Quit. This is something that most Mac users are well-aware of, but newer users might not be aware of this.
 
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If you click on the icon in the dock, hold Option and click, which will bring up a Force Quit action. In case you are not able to do this, press Command + Option + Escape at the same time. This will open a Force Quit Menu, with all your applications already listed.
 

Problem No.7: Your Mac Can’t Reproduce Sounds

 
If you don’t hear any sound on your Mac, this might indicate that you’ve messed with some system options. Here’s what you need to check:
– Make sure your volume is turned up;
– Check speaker power and headphone connections;
 
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If this doesn’t fix the issue, hold Option and click on the speaker in the dock. From these, make sure to check the right source for your sound, which should be a line out.
You can also click on Sound Preferences to see other options, which may help you find a problem.
 

Problem No.8: Apps Downloaded from the Internet Won’t Run

 
By default, your Mac blocks the app that you’ve downloaded from the Internet. In other words, Apple is trying to tell you that you should buy and download apps from the Mac App Store since they are (usually) free of malware.
 
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If you want to open an app that you downloaded from the Web, you need to head over to Security & Privacy, where you can click Open Anyway next to the app’s name that was previously blocked. Furthermore, you might want to disable this option completely. To do that, look for the “Allow Apps Downloaded From” and select Anywhere. Since this option is usually grayed out, you will need to click on the lock icon in the lower left corner and authenticate this operation.

 

Problem No.9: Bunch of Unwanted Apps Open at Login

 
Some apps are designed to become a part of the startup process after you install them, or after you run them for the first time. This can become very annoying since this can prolong the startup process.
 
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To prevent startup items and prevent apps from launching at login, you can use User & Groups, found in your System Preferences. First, select your account from the sidebar and switch to the Login Items tab. This is where you will see a list of all your applications, so you can fine-tune the list according to your needs. Select the checkboxes for all apps that you want to remove and click on the minus icon below the list.
 

Problem No.10: Obsolete Apps Still Present in System Preferences

 
As you probably know, some applications can show up in your System Preferences after you install them. In other words, these are shortcuts to those apps’ settings where you can fine-tune them. However, as these icons still remain after you remove those apps, this can become a problem.
 
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If for some reason the non-functional app is still visible in System Preferences, right click on the pane to find the Remove option for it.
 
To prevent this from happening in the future, you can use applications that are designed to safely and completely uninstall apps from your computer. JustGoodBites has a guide on how to safely remove apps from your Mac, which can be found here.
 

Problem No.11: Spotlight Isn’t as Helpful as It Used to Be

 
Many people used Spotlight to find different kinds of files on their Macs. However, not many know that you can get better and faster results by fine-tuning their Spotlight experience.
 
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If you go to System Preferences > Spotlight > Search Results, you can disable/enable different categories of files that you’d like to see. This is great if you search for fonts, for example, for if you don’t want your emails to show up in search results.
 

Problem No. 12: Spotlight Knows Too Much About You

 
This piece of advice is dedicated to those of you who are concerned about your privacy. In case you didn’t know, Spotlight sends your search queries to Apple, which can be seen if you use this feature often.
 
When you search for common words and phrases, select a Spotlight suggestion or use the Look-Up feature, your queries will be sent to Apple and even to Microsoft. This because Microsoft’s Bing search engine is used for Spotlight’s suggestions and results.
 
If you want to prevent your personal details being transmitted, you can prevent this from happening by going to Spotlight > Search Results. To make sure to unselect the following checkboxes:
– Bing Web Searches
– Allow Spotlight Suggestions in Spotlight and Look Up.
 

Conclusion

 
We hope that we helped you resolve some of the common Mac problems. As you can see, there is no need to take your Mac to the Apple Store every time something comes up. By knowing what to do in those situations, you can save some time and money as well by know exactly how to behave.