Fix prob­lems with FastTasks

Find and re­solve glitches and slug­gish per­for­mance with this free tool

Mac Format - - IMPROVE | MAC APPS -

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.

Get started

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.

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