Fix problems with FastTasks
Find and resolve glitches and sluggish performance with this free tool
Troubleshooting is often considered a dirty word, particularly as far as the Mac is concerned. But there are occasions when you can stumble across unstable or unpredictable behaviour, such as strange crashes, hangs or slowdowns.
When it comes to tracking down a solution to these problems, you’ll find your Mac is equipped with all kinds of useful tools. Use Activity Monitor to stop stubbornly unresponsive processes, for example, or pore through diagnostic logs through Console. Sometimes, though, the answers to your problems aren’t so obvious, and you find yourself turning to third parties for help – our SOS column for example (see page 69), or an online forum.
Often you’ll find people willing to help, but they need as much information from you as possible. Compiling all this can be tricky, involving trips to distant parts of your Mac. Thankfully there’s a free diagnostics tool called FastTasks 2 that’s been developed as a direct result of the author’s experience helping Mac users.
What it does
FastTasks concentrates its toolset on diagnosing and fixing problems created by third-party applications and services, which are responsible for most glitches you’ll encounter. When it first starts you’ll see a window appear that highlights any known apps or files it’s found, complete with information on what the problem is and what you can do to try and rectify it. In most cases this will be blank, even if your Mac isn’t functioning as you expect it to. But it’s only one small part of the tool’s troubleshooting armoury.
Next, there’s a Profile view, where key information, such as what’s set to start with your Mac or which applications have been installed, is held. This profile is updated whenever a scan is run, so you can review changes as they occur, helping you trace potential problems back to the moment when they began, revealing likely culprits.
FastTasks 2 also gives you an at-aglance view of the key stats from your Mac’s system, from the version of OS X you’re running and TRIM status of any installed SSD drives, through to information about your MacBook’s battery and fan speeds (which can be really useful to know if your Mac appears to be shutting down randomly due to heat-related issues).
The software is also packed with helpful shortcuts to useful system settings and utilities – so you can quickly toggle the firewall on and off, for example, or disable all login items as part of a general diagnostic sweep.
The best time to install FastTasks is now – while your Mac is running smoothly. This means you’ve got a benchmark to test against should things ever go wrong. Go to sqwarq.com/fasttasks-2 and click the Download button to save the program’s DMG installer to your Downloads folder. Double-click this, review the licence agreement and, if happy, drag the program icon into your Applications folder.
Note the FastTasks uninstaller script – if you ever need to remove the program, double-click this to open it in Script Editor, read the instructions (particularly if you want to preserve the app’s logs), then click the Run button to remove it.
Launch FastTasks – the first time it’s run it’ll ask to control your Mac using the accessibility features. Click Open System Preferences, then click the lock icon and enter your password. You should see FastTasks appear in the list of apps – tick its box and then click the unlock icon to finish.
FastTasks is now ready to help you monitor and track down problems with your Mac – the guide opposite reveals four of its best features that will help you return your Mac to its well-behaved self once more. Nick Peers
The best time to install FastTasks is now – while your Mac is running nice and smoothly
FastTasks 2 is packed with tools and diagnostic information to help you track and fix problems with a Mac.
Make sure you give FastTasks all the accessibility control it needs to monitor your Mac effectively.