It’s really news when the best Mac troubleshooting tool you hope never to use now works with Snow Leopard. My commentary? Get AppleJack, install it, and pray that you won’t have to use it.
This hidden tool sits on your Mac and waits for something to go wrong. Even when it does, and it will, AppleJack doesn’t do anything until you tell it to. What it does is help you out of a jam even if you don’t have your Mac OS X install DVD handy.
It’s A Mac. What Can Go Wrong?
Without question, our Macs are more reliable than ever. Like it or don’t, there’s still a bunch of moving parts in a Mac. And hundreds of thousands of files. And, well, you know. Things happen, even if you wash your hands before use.
What should you do if your Mac fails to do what it’s supposed to do?
Like, you know, start up. Uh oh. That Mac manual that came in the box starts to look pretty thin, right? When your Mac doesn’t do what you want you become the official Mac troubleshooter.
Mac360 recommends, as your first line of defense against trouble, a back up of all your Mac files. That won’t help a Mac that won’t do Mac-like things (like start up), but it adds some peace of mind.
Another line of defense is AppleJack, which bills itself as a friendly troubleshooting assistant that’s there to help even when your Mac gets all wonky.
Is A Command Line Prompt Friendly?
Here’s the scenario. Your Mac starts up but not much happens. No Desktop. No Finder. Or, worse. If you’re a graduate from the Mac Geek Class of 2009, you might know to go into Single User Mode, and you might know a few command line commands to test this or that.
But for the non-geek in most of us, well, we go through a few steps, too. First, panic. Then, pray. Then, anger and denial and somewhere near the end a cold sweat or two. Or, make sure AppleJack is installed and be prepared to hold your nose when your Mac goes wonky. Hold your nose?
Yeah, it’s important to man up and be an adult about Mac start up problems. Hold your nose because the venerable AppleJack, that free tool for the ages, requires you too… gulp… use the command line interface built into the Mac.
It’s like Microsoft DOS for Mac users but it actually does something worthwhile. And, amazingly, it’s also easy to use. AppleJack can repair the Mac’s hard disk drive (very handy if you can’t get to the Finder and all your apps).
In times of trouble Mother Mary can comfort you with words of wisdom, or, you can take matters into your own fingers and use AppleJack to repair permissions, validate preference files, even remove corrupt cache files. Those few items take care of a lot of Mac troubling issues. But it all requires that pesky command line interface, which is decidedly non-Mac-like, and unfriendly.
First, assume your Mac doesn’t start up or, when it does, behaves strangely. Restart, but hold down the Command and “S” key after the Mac startup chime.
Don’t you just feel the geeky power surging through your finger? That starts your Mac in what is known as Single User Mode. Nothing happens until you type in applejack or applejack auto.
The former command gives you a menu to choose a variety of troubleshooting options. The latter option just does what it thinks is best and restarts your Mac when it’s done.
Another benefit of AppleJack is that you don’t need to have a Mac OS X start up disk to troubleshoot a Mac that exhibits digital epilepsy. Mac geek or Mac newbie, AppleJack can be a lifesaver and even priced at free, let’s hope you never use it.