8 Warning Signs Your Mac Might Have a Problem (and How to Fix It)

guteksk7 / Shutterstock

How often does your Mac crash? Have you noticed constant fan noise or battery issues? Your Mac might have a problem, but the solution could be easy! Let’s take a look at some common Mac issues and how to fix them.

Sudden and frequent restarts

Your computer has restarted due to a problem errorapple.com

Sudden and frequent reboots, especially those with a screen warning, are known as kernel panic. This is the Apple equivalent of Microsoft Blue screen of deathand you often see the error “Your computer has been restarted due to a problem” when your computer restarts.

Many things can cause a core panic. This could indicate a problem with hardware, such as RAM or the CPU. An unreliable device that you have connected to your Mac can also cause a kernel panic, or it may just be a case of low disk space. Kernel panics happen occasionally, but if you don’t meet with them frequently (several times a week), don’t worry too much.

If your Mac has regular kernel panics, try these possible fixes:

Remove any devices that may be causing the problem. For example, if panics do not occur until your webcam is plugged in, run your machine without it for a week and see how it goes.
Check if you have enough free space. If you need more space, you can delete files to create more.
Run memtest86 to test your Mac memory. You should create a bootable USB key and test your computer memory outside the macOS environment. If you have problems with RAM, you can try to replace it if possible.
Run Apple Diagnostics. To do this, hold down the D key while your Mac starts up, then check to see if any hardware problems are detected.
Boot into safe mode. Hold down the Shift key while your system starts to boot in safe mode. See if the problem persists. Safe mode excludes all third-party kernel extensions, which could be causing the problem. It will also scan your volume for errors and fix whatever it finds.
Reinstall macOS from scratch. This is the nuclear option, but it will likely remove any software that is causing the problem.

Application freezes and crashes

The spinning reel of death.

Do you regularly see the spinning reel of death? Are the applications not responding, are they slow, or are they freezing completely? Your Mac suddenly crashes for no reason?

Many things could cause these problems, but some are more common than others. Low disk space often leads to performance issues, especially when you wake your Mac from sleep. Memory and storage issues, or just a machine that bites more than it can chew, could also be to blame.

If you are experiencing these issues, try these possible fixes:

Create more disk space. You may just need to give macOS some breathing space. Try to keep about 10 GB of free space on your disk for macOS maintenance tasks. You can delete and move files to free up more space on your Mac.
Run memtest86 at check your Mac memory for problems. You can also press and hold the D key while your Mac starts up to run Apple diagnostics and find other hardware issues.
Run the disk utility. If your computer has a hard drive, launch Disk Utility, select the drive, and click “Check Disk.” If you see errors, click “Repair Disk”. This can isolate bad sectors, so macOS knows not to store data in these sections of the drive (a common cause for the death mill).
Reinstall macOS. This will remove all software-related problems and free up a ton of space. Your Mac should then run at the fastest speeds it can handle.
Remove resource-intensive applications. If you think the problems are caused by aging hardware, give up apps like Chrome for lighter options, like Safari. Try using SimpleNote and GIMP instead of Evernote and Photoshop.

Decreasing battery life

Service Battery Warning on MacBook Pro

Batteries don’t last forever. Over time, they all show signs of aging. For example, your device will not last as long on a single charge, and sometimes it will hardly hold a charge. There is a very clear course of action in this case, but it’s not the only thing you can try.

Power issues can also signal problems with the System Management Controller (SMC). This chip on Intel-based Macs is responsible for low-level operations, including loading LED behavior and controlling fans.

If you’ve noticed any battery issues, try these possible fixes:

Check the condition of the battery. The most common cause of poor battery life is that it is in poor condition. Fortunately, macOS can tell you exactly what condition your battery is in, how many charge and discharge cycles it has gone through and if it is time to replace.
Reset the system management controller (SMC). If the battery is good, resetting the SMC can resolve some power issues, such as a Mac that is not charging.
Extend your Mac’s battery. It’s a good idea if you regularly use your Mac for long periods of time without a primary power source.
Adjust your habits when using the battery. Start Activity Monitor and click on the “Energy” tab to see which applications use your battery. Perform tasks such as video and photo editing only when your Mac is connected to a power source. Use Safari for web browsing, it’s much more efficient than Chrome or Firefox.

Your Mac Won’t Boot

A power cable connected to a MacBook.love4aya / Shutterstock

Many of us panic when our computers don’t start up properly. You may see a black or light gray screen, a black screen with a question mark, or an error message about a problem with your device.

Like system crashes, there are many reasons why a Mac may appear to be DOA. This could be a problem with a cable, SMC, a software update, or a botched operating system upgrade.

If your Mac does not start properly, try these possible fixes:

Check the cables. Make sure everything is plugged in and the outlet is on the wall (if applicable). It is always worth checking this out first.
Boot into safe mode. To do this, hold down the Shift key while your Mac starts up. Safe mode will check your drive and then start your machine with the bare minimum necessary to run. You can then try to restart normally.
Browse our checklist. We covered this particular problem in depth before. If the basic troubleshooting steps in this article don’t work, move on to others you can try.
Reinstall macOS. When all else fails, you can boot into recovery mode and reinstall the operating system from scratch.

Irregular fans, strange LED behavior and power issues

If your MacBook Pro 2019 has fans running all the time, reset the SMC.

It worked for me:

To close.
Hold power for 10 seconds. (Let’s add don’t breathe).
Let’s go. (You can breathe now).
Press the power again quickly.

The fan speed has returned to normal.

– Todd Bruss (@StarPlayrX) November 12, 2019

The System Management Controller (SMC) is responsible for low-level operations that do not necessarily depend on the main operating system. These operations occur even before the operating system starts, and on Intel-based Macs, the SMC chip controls them.

If the SMC has a problem, you may encounter fans that are constantly running, battery and indicator lights that behave badly, or keyboard backlights that don’t respond to commands. You may also experience power problems, such as sudden shutdowns and a refusal to turn on the power.

SMC can also cause battery charge issues, undetected external devices, and poor performance even under low processor load. These problems are mostly irritating, but some can seriously affect the way you use your machine.

Fortunately, the fix for this relatively simple; fair follow these instructions to reset the SMC on your Mac.

Your Mac Forgets Settings

The keyboard shortcut for resetting PRAM / NVRAM on a Mac.Use this keyboard shortcut to reset PRAM / NVRAM on your Mac.

When your Mac is turned off, many parameters, such as the current resolution, the boot disk used by the machine, your local time zone, and the volume are all stored in non-volatile random access memory (NVRAM) or parameter RAM (PRAM). ).

Sometimes things go wrong and these settings are lost. Your Mac may boot from a different than normal boot disk, or you may need to constantly reset the time and resolution after the system boots.

To resolve these issues, you must reset NVRAM / PRAM on your Mac.

Your Mac is overheating

The smcFanControl application displaying a temperature of 66 degrees Celsius on a Mac.

If your Mac overheats, it’s pretty obvious because it will be hot. Other signs include thermal limitation (when macOS limits your processor speed to generate less heat) and random restarts. To check the internal temperature, you can install an application like smcFanControl.

In addition to using your Mac in very hot conditions, overheating can signal a more serious problem that you should not ignore. If you have a problem with the internal cooling or temperature sensors and you continue to use your Mac, you can damage it. Material and heat do not mix.

If your Mac overheats, try these possible fixes:

Reset the SMC. Because it controls the fans, this could potentially solve your problem.
Take it for repairs. If you don’t hear fan noise, there may be a problem with your Mac’s cooling system or temperature sensor. If this is the case, take your computer to a technician, as continued use could damage your machine.

Your Mac Doesn’t Shut Down Correctly

A Mac that won’t shut down isn’t as common or panic as a computer that won’t boot. However, if this happens frequently, it is likely that third-party software is running in the background and blocks the shutdown process.

If your Mac won’t shutdown, try these possible fixes:

Quit all open applications. You may have to force quit certain applications that have crashed. You may also want use Activity Monitor to check for unresponsive processes. After closing everything, try shutting down your Mac again.
Unplug all peripheral devices. Remember to eject external drives safely before unplugging them.
Force your Mac to shut down. Press and hold the power button (or the Touch ID fingerprint reader) until the screen turns black.
Try the suggestions in our checklist. If the suggestions above do not resolve the issue, try the troubleshooting steps outlined in our previous article on this subject.

Get help from Apple

Even if your Mac is outside of its warranty period and not covered by AppleCare, you can still bring your Mac to the Apple Store and get help. A technician can run model-specific diagnostics on your device to detect any hardware problems. Aside from downloading leaked copies of these diagnostic tools, there is little else you can do.

Apple will tell you if repairs need to be done and you can decide if it’s worth it. Depending on the cost, it may be better to switch to a new model. Apple will not charge you anything unless you agree to repair or replace the hardware.


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