Stop desk­top dif­fi­cul­ties drag­ging you down

Mac Format - - CONTENTS - by Pro­fes­sor HaimBr es hee th

QAp­par­ently at ran­dom mo­ments, ev­ery cou­ple of days, my wired USB Ap­ple mouse stops work­ing, and I can’t con­trol my Mac any more. I’ve tried us­ing a dif­fer­ent mouse, but the same prob­lem oc­curs. The only so­lu­tion when this hap­pens is to force a restart. I’m run­ning OS X El Cap­i­tan 10.11.6. How do I fix this?

AIf your Mac has frozen com­pletely – with the key­board not work­ing, and the clock stopped – this is a ker­nel panic, in which the op­er­at­ing sys­tem it­self has ground to a halt. That should never hap­pen, but some Macs run­ning El Cap­i­tan, par­tic­u­larly ver­sions 10.11.4 on­wards, seem to be prone to spo­radic ker­nel pan­ics.

Old and in­com­pat­i­ble ex­ten­sions are a po­ten­tial cause of this, par­tic­u­larly those that sup­port age­ing peripherals or ‘en­hance’ the sys­tem. Elim­i­nate those as a cause by start­ing up in safe mode, hold­ing ß when you hear the startup sound and re­leas­ing it when you see the Ap­ple logo. Safe mode dis­ables third-party ex­ten­sions, so if the is­sue crops up in it, you can be fairly con­fi­dent they aren’t to blame.

You may also get a clue as to the cause by open­ing Console when your Mac has just restarted af­ter one of these in­ci­dents. Search back in its logs to reach the last mes­sage con­tain­ing BOOT_TIME, which marks the restart event, then look in the en­tries be­fore that line for er­ror mes­sages and crashes.

Even ex­perts can find it very hard to work out what caused a ker­nel panic. The good news is that macOS Sierra is far more ro­bust than El Cap­i­tan. If your apps and peripherals are com­pat­i­ble with Sierra, up­grad­ing to it should ban­ish these ker­nel pan­ics for good.

Log en­tries in the few sec­onds im­me­di­ately be­fore a forced shut­down or restart can give valu­able clues as to its cause.

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