Presenters: Edwin Malave and Manvel Page
ITEC Systems Analysts for East Stroudsburg Area School District
Workshop Date: 3/14/2003
WHAT DO I DO WHEN MY MAC WILL NOT START?
1. Make sure it's plugged in and turned on. Check both ends of the power cord (in
the back of the computer and at the wall outlet or surge protector) to make sure it
is firmly seated.
2. If you have a PowerBook, unplug it and remove the battery for 10 minutes. Then
replace the battery and try starting the computer again.
3. Check the surge protector, if you use one, to see if it needs to be reset or replaced.
4. Zap the PRAM (see below).
The computer stores certain information in an area of memory called Parameter RAM or
PRAM. It stores information for several control panels such as Date and Time and
Startup Disk choices as well as other settings. This information can become corrupt over
time. Regular computer use can cause this as well as certain other factors like a dead or
When you “zap” the PRAM, the information is replaced with clean default settings.
Much of this information needs to be retained when the Mac is shut off so it will be
available upon restart. The onboard battery maintains power for this. If settings are not
retained through restarts and the battery is OK, then resetting or zapping the PRAM could
fix the problems.
Here is the recommended method for zapping the PRAM:
1. First, shut down the Mac (do not use the Restart command).
2. Start up the Mac and immediately hold down the Apple-Option-P-R keys.
3. Hold these keys down and wait for the Mac to automatically both chime and
restart. Continue holding the keys down while it does this three times. After the
third chime, let go of the keys and let the Mac complete start up.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN WHEN MY MAC SHOWS A STRANGE ICON WHEN
A sad Mac icon or flashing question mark icon can mean that impending hardware or
software failure is near or has occurred. It may also be caused by program conflicts, a
System file may be damaged, or the PRAM may need to be zapped. In most cases, you will
need to submit a Work Request and an ITEC Analyst will be dispatched to fix the problem.
WHAT DO I DO IF A PROGRAM STOPS FUNCTIONING BUT MY MOUSE IS
The program that is causing the problem can be forced to quit. To perform a “force quit”
press Apple-Option-Esc simultaneously and then let go. This will bring up a dialog box
that will allow you to close the program. In some cases, however, a force quit may not
work and a restart may be in order. See the next entry for the solution to this issue.
WHAT DO I DO IF MY MAC FREEZES AND THE MOUSE WON’T MOVE?
In some cases your computer may completely freeze and using “force quit” will not
work. In these cases, you may have to restart the computer. To restart your Mac, first try
holding down the Control and Apple keys and press the Power Button. On earlier Macs
the best thing to do is to press the reset button on the right side of the computer (the
small, round button with the triangle on it). If all else fails, hold down the power button
for up to 10 seconds until the computer turns off. Then wait another 10 seconds and then
start it up again.
WHY DO MY DESKTOP ICONS LOOK DIFFERENT THAN USUAL?
When icons look different than they used to, one of the first things to do is rebuild your
desktop. Rebuilding the desktop replaces or updates invisible files on your desktop that
the computer needs to find and launch other applications. This action can sometimes help
if an application won't startup.
To rebuild the desktop, hold down the Apple and Option keys during startup until you are
asked if you want to rebuild your desktop, and then click “OK”. You will be asked if you
want to rebuild the desktop for each hard drive that is attached to your Mac (Macintosh
HD, Documents (formerly User Data), etc.)
WHAT DO I DO IF I CAN’T EJECT MY CD OR DVD?
Normally, to eject a CD or DVD, you would click once on the disc’s icon and then
choose Eject from the Special menu (alternately, you may press Apple-E
simultaneously). Sometimes you may not be able to eject your CD or DVD because they
may be in use by a program. To eject the disc you will need to first quit the program that
is using the disc. If the program is not responsive you may have to “force quit” or restart.
After quitting or restarting try once more to eject the disc.
WHY IS MY MOUSE CURSOR JUMPY, STICKY OR ERATIC?
Your mouse cursor can become slow or jumpy for a couple of reasons. The most obvious
reason is the surface the mouse is being used upon. A mouse pad is the easiest way to fix
this issue. If the surface is not causing the problem then you can proceed to clean your
mouse. You may want to use canned air to blow out dust particles from the mouse. Next,
remove the mouse ball and scrape off the buildup on the rollers inside. A plastic Bic pen
cap works great for this.
WHEN I OPEN MY WEB MAIL, I SOMETIMES GET A BLANK WINDOW
There is an issue with version 5 of Internet Explorer on Macintosh computers. The easiest
way to make your messages appear is to press the Refresh button in Internet Explorer.
Sometimes it is necessary to do this more than once.
WHAT DO I DO IF DOCUMENTS OR A REMOVABLE DISK WILL NOT
SHOW UP ON THE DESKTOP?
In most cases this problem is caused by some portion of the disk being corrupted. To
resolve this problem open Disk First Aid. This program is located in the Application
folder inside of the Utilities folder. Launch the program, then select the missing disk’s
icon and click the “Repair” button.
WHAT DO I DO IF MY MAC BOMBS AFTER THE HAPPY MAC ICON?
You can determine whether the bomb is being caused by a piece of system software. Try
starting the computer with Extensions turned off. To do this, hold down the Shift key
during startup. If the Mac starts up successfully, then submit a Work Request stating that
the problem is software-related and isolated to the system extensions.
HOW DO I TAKE A PICTURE OF THE SCREEN?
Holding down Apple-Shift-3 will take a snapshot of the current screen. The file that is
created will be named “Picture 1” and will be saved onto Macintosh HD. It is a good idea
to create a snapshot of the screen when an error occurs. The picture may help your ITEC
Analyst to more quickly determine the cause of the error.
WHY WON’T MY PRINTER PRINT?
There are many reasons why a printer might not print, and an entire troubleshooting class
could be held to discuss them. One of the most common causes, however, is a Print
Queue which has been stopped. On the desktop is an icon for your printer. If you look at
this icon and there is a red stop sign in its lower right corner, the print queue has been
stopped. Click once on the printer icon and then go to the Printing menu. Click on the
menu item titled “Start Print Queue”. Assuming the connections to the printer are
working properly, your print job (and maybe others) will begin printing.
WHAT DO I DO IF MY iBOOK WILL NOT CHARGE OR IS NOT HOLDING
The Power Manager Unit (PMU) is an integrated circuit that controls backlighting, hard
disk spin down, sleep and wake, some charging aspects, trackpad control, and other
functions. Over time, the settings in the PMU may become unusable which often results
in some operating problems with the iBooks (i.e. iBook not turning on, not waking from
sleep, not charging the battery, or not seeing the AC Adapter).
A reset of the PMU should not be necessary except as a last resort in cases where a
hardware failure of the power management system is suspected.
Resetting the Power Manager Unit:
1. If the computer is on, turn it off.
2. Reset the PMU by holding down the small reset button for 10 to 20 seconds.
(This button is located over the headphone jack on the left side of the iBook.)
You can use a straightened paper clip to press the button.
3. If the computer does not restart, repeat step 2 three times.
4. If the computer still does not start, submit a Work Request to ITEC.
MORE HELPFUL TIPS
1. Backup your data regularly. The Documents hard drive has been provided for
this purpose. In some cases, you may also have access to a floppy disk drive or
a Zip disk drive.
2. Periodically rebuild the desktop file (see the section above).
3. If you receive an error, document what you were doing when the error occurred.
This information is very helpful to the ITEC Department in determining the
correct course of action to remedy the situation.
4. Always shut down your computer properly. First, quit all your open programs
and then choose Shut Down from the Special menu at the desktop screen.
5. When you are finished using a program, to free up the memory that the program
was using, make sure you choose “Quit” from the File menu. Simply clicking
the Close box in the upper left corner does not actually exit the program and as
a result, the computer is still devoting memory to that program.