The Mac’s supposed to be easier to use than the PC, but there are still many
fiddly problems to sort out. We provide some solutions.
By Barnaby Page
M ost Macs in use today are
running one of the versions
of the operating system Mac
OS 8 - the most recent being 8.6. How-
disk and folder contents are displayed
and manipulated. The Finder is a pro-
gram, part of the System, which man-
ages disks and files and allows user
q Check there are no disks in the
floppy or CD drives; the Mac may
be erroneously attempting to start
up from these, or stalling while
ever, many of the problems and solu- interaction with the Desktop. Unlike reading from them.
tions outlined below will apply Windows Explorer, however, which is q If the startup process reaches the
equally to Macs running an incarna- visibly a distinct application, from the stage of displaying the “Happy
tion of the previous operating system, user’s point of view the Mac Finder Mac” icon and “Welcome to Macin-
System 7, although support people and Desktop are the same thing. tosh” (or similar) message, and
should be aware that sometimes the freezes only once the operating sys-
names of particular files or folders dif- Major And OS Problems tem appears to have loaded, the
fer between 7 and 8. The equivalents problem is probably not a serious
are usually guessable. hardware one. Try restarting with
A great deal of this article will not The computer will not start up prop- the shift key held down to disable
apply to those very few Macs still run- erly, or crashes or freezes immedi- all Extensions.
ning versions of System 6 or earlier, ately after startup. q If the measures above do not work,
which became obsolete in 1991. And, This may be indicative of major prob- or the startup process shows a “Sad
at the other end of the timescale, we are lems. However, before calling in a hard- Mac” icon, the computer is prob-
not specifically considering the new ware engineer, consider the following: ably unable to boot from the startup
iMac range, which is primarily for disk’s System software. If available,
home use. q Check the monitor, keyboard and insert an emergency floppy disk or
mouse are properly connected, and CD containing basic System soft-
Basics substitute alternatives if possible; ware, and reboot. This is not a long-
failure of these may give the im- term solution, but unless the hard
The Mac requires only a single-but- pression of a “frozen” Mac. disk is seriously damaged this will
ton mouse, and on those few Macs that q Disconnect all peripherals. allow you to view it, retrieve files
have two-button mice, it’s the button q Substitute an alternative power ca- and solve problems.
used for standard operating-system ble and socket, particularly if there q As a general precaution, always en-
commands to which we refer below. have been electrical problems. sure that there is no more than one
On the keyboard, the term “com- q Check the computer is on a level copy of the System software on a
mand key” refers to the key to the left surface. startup disk. (If it is necessary to
of the spacebar which bears an Apple
symbol - this is sometimes also called
the “Apple key”. “Period” refers to the
full-stop key. “The icon of the problematic disk will
The terms Finder, Desktop and Sys-
tem are often used in Mac circles with appear on the Desktop greyed-out. To
vague interchangeability. Below, we
adhere to strict definitions. The System persuade the Mac that the disk is indeed
is the operating system in its entirety
(which includes the System folder, the missing, press Command-Period to cancel
System file and all the innumerable
fonts, extensions and so on to which a when one of these dialogs appears.”
typical Mac is subjected).
The Desktop is the screen on which
Update 137 (April 2000) Page 9
PC Support Advisor File: P1038.1
Manager Control Panel to determine
which Extensions should be loaded on
“If the startup process shows a startup, eliminating the most recently
installed ones in turn to locate the
“Sad Mac” icon, the computer is probably problem.
Remember, though, that the diffi-
unable to boot from the startup disk’s culty may not lie solely with a new
Extension, but in its interaction with an
System software.” older one. With patience you can break
all installed Extensions down into sets
and test each to determine which com-
bination is at fault; however, this is a
keep multiple copies, store them as all unsaved work (see below). time-consuming process.
compressed archive files.) However, there is a last-ditch resort You can also disable all Extensions
- the interrupt switch. Consult the by holding down the shift key at
The computer does not respond to manual, if possible, to see if the Mac startup (although this itself will cause
keyboard or mouse input, but reports model has an interrupt switch; not all much software to operate incorrectly).
no error message. do. If there are two tabs on the side of
The most likely, and surprisingly the CPU, it is the one further back; if Custom icons are replaced by generic
frequent, explanation is that the ADB there are two buttons on the front, it is document icons.
(Apple Desktop Bus) cable has become the one on the right. This is not a problem which seri-
disconnected either from the keyboard Press this switch. A dialog box may ously affects operation, but it can be
(through which the mouse connection appear containing a > (greater-than) confusing to users. The simplest solu-
is routed) or from the CPU. symbol. Type: tion is to rebuild the Desktop: hold
Alternatively, this may be an appli- down Command-Option while start-
cation crash. Press Command-Option- SM 0 A9F4 ing up the computer. This updates the
Escape simultaneously and the Mac invisible files Desktop DB and Desk-
will usually bring up a dialog box al- Press return, and type: top DF, which contain icon informa-
lowing you to quit to the Finder tion.
(equivalent to Ctrl-Alt-Delete and End G 0 If this does not work a file-manage-
Task in Windows). Any unsaved work ment utility will be needed to delete
in the crashed application will now be Be sure to enter the spaces accu- them altogether, and they will be re-
lost, but other running applications rately and use zeroes rather than the constructed when the computer is next
can be entered and work saved there. letter O. In some circumstances, this started up. Note that, on all versions of
A restart is now advisable. will return you to the Finder, at which the System software prior to 7.5.3, this
This Command-Option-Escape point you should save any work in also removes any comments that users
combination may also work when the still-running applications and restart. have entered in files’ Get Info boxes.
crash occurs in the Finder, although To forcibly restart a Macintosh after
depending on the cause it may lead a crash, preferably use the reset button. The Macintosh reports that it was im-
you into a cyclical series of crashes If there are two tabs on the side of the properly shut down.
from which the only escape is a restart. CPU, it is the one further forward; if Usually, if the computer is not
Less likely is a complete System there are two buttons on the front, it is properly shut down - for example, if
crash; this usually produces some the one on the left. Alternatively, Con- the power supply is switched off - it
form of error message or screen distur- trol-Command-Power key (the key at will report this at the next startup. This
bance. However, if the problem does the back of the keyboard, with an ar- is not necessarily indicative of a prob-
not lie with ADB, and it is not possible row) forces a restart. lem and, provided there is a satisfac-
to force a quit from an errant applica- If none of these options works (and tory reason for the unconventional
tion, consider the steps outlined in the some older models including Classic, shutdown, no action is required. The
problem below. LC, IIsi and PowerBook do not have facility can be turned off through the
reset buttons) the last resort is to Shut Down Warning option in the
The Mac reports a System error and power down and up again. General Controls Control Panel.
will not respond to any user actions. If an improper shutdown is re-
A System error is the Mac environ- Newly-installed software causes the ported even when it is known that this
ment’s term for an OS-level crash. If an OS or applications to behave improp- is not the case, most likely there is a
error code is provided, log it; numer- erly, unexpectedly quit, or fail to problem with the Shutdown Check
ous Web resources and specialist pub- load. file. A file of this name is created at
lications explain these codes for Very likely the problem is a conflict each startup and deleted each time the
troubleshooting. Usually the only op- among Extensions, which add func- computer is correctly switched off us-
tion is to restart the Macintosh, losing tionality to the OS. Use the Extensions ing the Special Shut Down menu op-
PC Support Advisor Update 137 (April 2000) Page 10
The Apple Mac
to eject the disk from the built-in
floppy drive; to eject it from a second
“With the LaserWriter 8.6 driver, or external floppy drive, press Com-
included in OS 8.5.x, pressing If these don’t work, you will need to
restart the Mac. There is no reason why
Option-Shift-2 will print a Euro you should not save any open files, so
do that, then select Restart from the
symbol in many fonts even if another Special menu in the Finder. If that still
doesn’t work, try Special-Restart again
character appears onscreen.” while holding down the mouse button.
As a last resort, you can physically
force disk ejection by poking a strong
thin object - a straightened-out paper-
tion. Thus, if a copy of the file exists When the user tries to drag some files clip works well - into the small hole
when the machine is switched on, the to the Wastebasket, the Mac won’t next to the built-in floppy drive. Push
Macintosh assumes that an improper allow it, saying they are in use. firmly; some strength is required to
shutdown has occurred. The files may genuinely be in use by trigger the ejection mechanism.
The solution is to create a new text an application or by the operating sys-
file (using TeachText, for example) tem, in which case they can’t be de- The Mac will not complete some com-
containing only the words “Shutdown leted. However, some applications are mands without requesting the inser-
Check”, and save it to the root level of poor at recording which files are cur- tion of a specific, named floppy disk
the startup disk under the name Shut- rently in use, and may mark them as which has nothing to do with the op-
down Check. You will be asked such even when they’re closed. So quit eration concerned.
whether you wish to replace an exist- all running applications and try again. This means the disk is missing from
ing (invisible) file of the same name; the drive but was not ejected using the
confirm this. Note that because Shut- Text in the Finder, such as menu op- approved Wastebasket method (see
down Check is an invisible file, the tions, appears in a foreign language above). The icon of the problematic
normal Mac Find File will not locate it, or a non-Roman character set. disk will appear on the Desktop
although the Sherlock file-finding util- A foreign-language version of the greyed-out. To persuade the Mac that
ity or specialist file-management utili- System is installed. There may be a the disk is indeed missing, press Com-
ties will. System-switching utility present mand-Period to cancel when one of
which will allow you to change on the these dialogs appears.
Custom sets of extensions are fly to an English language System. Al- Of course, in some operations such
changed when new applications are ternatively, restart with an English as installing new software the Mac
installed. language System disk in the floppy may genuinely require a specific
Newly-installed software does not drive. The Mac will boot from this ver- floppy.
always respect the user’s carefully-cre- sion of the System and you will at least
ated custom extension sets. The solu- be able to see disk contents in English Opening or saving files on a hard
tion is to lock the extension sets, which and proceed to solving the problem. disk is very slow.
are located in the folder System-Pref- The Mac may be short of memory.
erences-Extensions Manager Prefer- A floppy disk is stuck in the drive. Go to the Finder and, from the Apple
ences. Use a tool such as ResEdit to Dragging a floppy disk’s icon on the menu, select About This Macintosh. If
change their file types from ESET to Desktop to the Wastebasket (or Trash, the amount of available memory
RSET. as it’s called on American systems) will seems very small, click on the icon at
normally eject the disk. Reassure users the top right of the Finder screen to see
The Empty Wastebasket option in the that, although this is indeed the what applications are currently run-
Finder does not empty the Waste- method used to delete individual files, ning. You may well find some mem-
basket completely. it does not delete the floppy’s contents. ory-hungry applications are running
Some files in the Wastebasket may If this doesn’t work, or the disk icon without documents open - and there-
be in use, or may be locked files. Quit is not present, press Command-Shift-1 fore invisibly - but aren’t needed. Sim-
all running applications to ensure that
no files are in use (and if that doesn’t
do the trick, restart the Mac). Now try Online Resources
Empty Wastebasket again. Any files Apple’s Tech Info Library is on the Web at til.info.apple.com/, and contains
left in the Wastebasket are probably answers to many system-level technical questions.
locked files; select them one at a time,
select File-Get Info in the Finder, and An excellent collection of Mac troubleshooting links (a few of them out of
uncheck the Locked box. date) can be found at www.hths.mcvsd.k12.nj.us/wmtr/.
Update 137 (April 2000) Page 11
PC Support Advisor File: P1038.3
QuarkXPress 3.32 keyboard shortcuts
make the computer change applica-
“Some applications are poor at recording tions.
If the user has recently upgraded to
which files are currently in use, and Mac OS 8.5 or above, they will find that
the Command-Tab and Command-
may mark them as such even when Shift-Tab shortcuts used by XPress for
switching tools are recognised by the
they’re closed. So quit all running system software and have the effect of
switching among open applications
applications and try again.” instead. They should switch to using
Command-Option-Tab and Com-
ply bring each into the foreground by when necessary.
selecting its name, and quit it. When doing this, Option-drag the Peripherals/Comms
Alternatively, large amounts of good file to the Preferences subfolder
memory may have been reserved by so that it is copied rather than moved,
an ill-mannered application which, and you retain an incorruptible ver- An Internet connection will not close.
even after it’s quit, doesn’t hand them sion of the good file. This can occur if there is an applica-
back to the operating system. This tion crash during an Internet session
means restarting the Mac. Software Problems which affects the PPP or Remote Ac-
Finally, the disk may be highly frag- cess Control Panels.
mented. Run a disk-checking utility to If there is a handset attached to the
confirm this suspicion before acting, as Compressed files can’t be expanded; same line as the modem (or you can
the cure is non-trivial: backing up all when double-clicked upon, either attach one), try picking this up and
the data off the hard disk, and refor- they open as gobbledegook text or the hanging it up. Alternatively launch a
matting it. See also the next problem. Mac says the necessary application terminal program such as the commu-
could not be found. nications module of Claris Works, type
Opening floppy disks in the Finder is Even if you don’t have the compres- ATH and hit Return. This should hang
very slow. sion utility which generated the ar- the modem up. As a last resort, restart.
Rebuild the Desktop file of the chive, assuming it is a Mac-created file
floppy by holding down Command- you can probably decompress it using The user cannot operate applications
Option when it is inserted. the shareware StuffIt Expander 4.0.1 while a modem is connecting.
(available from many online and CD- This is not a serious problem as
Certain applications or files won’t ROM sources). This will handle .sea such, but may be irritating if the user
run or open, or functions can’t be per- (self-extracting) and .cpt archives cre- tends to connect to the Internet by
formed; the error message says a pref- ated by the Compact Pro utility, .hqx launching an application such as a
erences file is corrupted. BinHex files, .bin binary files, and the Web browser, and they find no other
Most likely, a preferences file is cor- .sit files created by StuffIt. action is possible until the connection
rupted! Fortunately, Mac preferences For PC-generated .ZIP archives, the is complete. Instead, they should con-
files are usually easy to find - in the shareware ZipIt is your best bet. nect through one of two Control Pan-
Preferences subfolder of the System
folder. Simply quit the application if
it’s open, delete the offending prefer-
ences file, and relaunch the applica-
“If the user has recently upgraded to Mac
tion, which will create a new virgin
file. Needless to add, you will now
OS 8.5 or above, they will find that the
need to reset any previous user prefer-
Command-Tab and Command-Shift-Tab
This happens repeatedly with some
software (for instance, versions of the
shortcuts used by XPress for switching
PC printer driver PowerPrint). In this
case, it’s worth backing up a copy of
tools are recognised by the system
the relevant preferences file which you
know does work onto another disk, or
software and have the effect of switching
simply into a hard disk folder other
than the System folder. That can then
among open applications instead.”
be used to replace the damaged file
PC Support Advisor Update 137 (April 2000) Page 12
The Apple Mac
through the choice of attached drives
before disk diagnosis will often
“The disk may be highly fragmented. achieve the same effect with missing
SCSI disks, though not other devices
Run a disk-checking utility to confirm such as scanners.
Note that none of this applies to the
this suspicion before acting, as the cure recently-introduced series of Macs
with GE processors. These do not use
is non-trivial: backing up all the data SCSI - they use Universal Serial Bus
(USB) - and do not suffer from the
off the hard disk, and reformatting it.” same termination problems.
Print And Display
els: PPP (Mac OS 7.6-8.1) or Remote Files or programs downloaded via
Access (8.5 and above). modem to a PC won’t open or run on The monitor displays no image, or an
The Control Panels will connect in a Mac. unusable image similar to interfer-
the background, allowing the user to When Mac files are downloaded ence on a TV.
continue work in other applications - from a remote computer they need to Check power supply and cabling
especially useful if multiple redial at- be received in MacBinary format. Mac connections first - these are the most
tempts are expected. communications software will do this likely faults. If the monitor is a PC
without being asked, but PC packages monitor connected to the Mac through
PCs can’t read Mac disks. won’t. an adapter, the DIP-switch settings on
You need MacSee, available (in- The solution lies in a piece of share- the adapter may be incorrect (refer to
cluding a free demo version which ware called StuffIt Expander, which documentation), or the PC monitor
supports limited file sizes) from will perform the necessary manipula- may require a specific setting for
www.reevesoft.com. Note, however, tions to turn the files you have brought number of colours in the Mac’s Moni-
that all but the oldest Macs can read from the PC into MacBinary. tors Control Panel.
and write PC-formatted disks, so pre- If the CPU-monitor cable is custom-
vention is simpler than cure. SCSI devices such as external hard made, the cable pin-outs may be incor-
disks or CD-ROM drives do not ap- rect. All of these possibilities are more
The Mac’s ConfigPPP Control Panel pear on the Desktop. likely than a complete failure of the
reports an Internet connection as The SCSI devices are not mounted. monitor.
open when, in fact, it is not. Save all work, then turn off the Mac
Close ConfigPPP and reopen it; the using Special-Shutdown from the A program will not run, reporting
connection should now be shown as Desktop. Turn on all external SCSI de- that more display colours are re-
closed. In fact it was closed all along, vices and finally turn on the Mac again. quired.
but ConfigPPP is poor at updating its Often, SCSI devices are only detected Open the Monitors Control Panel,
display. properly at startup. usually accessible through the Control
This problem is peculiar to older Ensure that all SCSI devices have a Panels option on the Apple menu at
Macs, as newer versions do not use unique ID (usually set via a small the top left-hand corner of the screen,
ConfigPPP (and some users of older wheel at the back of the device). SCSI and select the required number of dis-
machines may also have alternatives ID 0 is reserved for the internal hard play colours.
installed). disk, and ID 7 for the CPU. The order
in which you connect them doesn’t Fonts (typefaces) appear blocky and
Communications software reports matter, but the last device in the SCSI bitmapped; this grows worse the
that it cannot initialise a modem, or chain - the physical chain, not the ID larger they are.
that a connection failed. order - must have one of its two SCSI If all fonts are affected, the Adobe
This problem can have a large ports terminated with a terminator. Type Manager utility, present on most
number of origins, ranging from a If none of these checks solves the Macs, may be turned off. Check the
loose physical connection to arcane in- problem, try the utility SCSIProbe (or ATM Control Panel, usually accessible
compatibilities. There is no single solu- any similar product), widely available through the Control Panels option on
tion (although shutting down from online and CD-ROM sources. the Apple menu at the top left-hand
everything - including the modem - This allows you to actively poll the corner of the screen.
and restarting will often cure tempo- SCSI chain after startup, and mount If only certain fonts are affected, the
rary difficulties), but do not ignore the any miscreant devices. font files may be missing or damaged;
frequent possibility that the modem is Alternatively, if you have a disk check that they are present in the Fonts
just fine and it is the error message maintenance utility such as Norton subfolder of the System folder, and
which is erroneous. Utilities on the hard disk, cycling reinstall if necessary.
Update 137 (April 2000) Page 13
PC Support Advisor File: P1038.5
There may be an incompatibility be- sequently the application can’t access come disabled; make sure that it is
tween the application and Adobe Type the high-resolution image data and is in the active startup set of Exten-
Manager, or a certain font; this occa- just printing out the screen rendering. sions, and that the user has not
sionally happens with old software or You will need to show the application started up with Extensions turned
shareware. where the original image file is, or re- off.
If a font-management utility is in import it. q If you are using an AppleTalk
use, check that the fonts concerned are A similar problem arises when us- printer, make sure that the Apple-
open. To be doubly sure, close all fonts ers try to print Encapsulated Post- Talk Control Panel has the correct
and quit all applications; open the de- Script (EPS) files on a non-PostScript port (modem or printer) selected
sired fonts, and restart the applica- printer: only the screen preview is for the printer.
tions. printed, because the device can’t inter- q The LaserWriter 8.x driver some-
pret PostScript. Here, the solution is to times suffers from a corruption
The user cannot obtain a Euro cur- use a PostScript printer, or convert the problem. You can try deleting the
rency symbol. image to PICT format. LaserWriter 8 Prefs file from the
Although the Euro symbol does not folder System-Preferences, and
appear on Macintosh keyboards, in re- Courier text appears on a printout then select Setup in the Chooser
cent versions of Mac OS - 8.5 and above where another font should be used. again to re-establish the printer.
- it is built into many fonts and can be The correct font is missing, and q Finally, you may wish to try the
obtained through the key combination Courier has been substituted for it. exotically-nicknamed “Zapping
Option-Shift-2. Fonts which offer the You will need to install the correct font the PRAM”, meaning emptying the
symbol are Apple Chancery, Capitals, or change the font of the text. Parameter RAM of information.
Charcoal, Chicago, Courier, Gadget, Restart and, during startup, hold
Geneva, Helvetica, Hoefler Text, Mon- Some text which appears correctly down Command-Option-P-R. Note
aco, New York, Palatino, Sand, Skia, onscreen does not appear at all on a that this may change some general
Techno, Textile, Times. The symbol printout. system settings, such as the date,
can also be obtained in the Symbol font This is probably a result of using a time, and monitor colours.
through Option-T. QuickDraw (ie, non-PostScript)
It is also worth noting that with the printer which will not, for example,
LaserWriter 8.6 driver, included in OS print angled text from applications
8.5.x, pressing Option-Shift-2 will such as QuarkXPress which expect
print a Euro symbol in many fonts PostScript output. If so, the solution is
even if another character appears on- to switch to a PostScript printer. Also
screen. check that the text has not had a “hid-
Alternatively, for users with older den” style applied to it by the user, or
versions of the Mac OS, Adobe offers been coloured white.
free fonts (one each of sans serif, serif
and monospaced) which produce only The space between characters of parts
the Euro symbol. These fonts are avail- of the text, which appears correctly PCSA
able from Adobe’s Web site at onscreen, is significantly different on
www.adobe.com/support/downloa- a printout.
ds/503a.htm. Any key pressed in This is usually a result of printing
these fonts will produce the Euro sym- on a QuickDraw printer, which does
bol. This is a less satisfactory solution not have the fine control over type
as it means the user must change font spacing that a PostScript printer does.
every time they wish to use the sym-
bol. The printer won’t print. Copyright ITP, 2000
Apart from the obvious power and
Image files which appear correctly connection issues, there are some par-
onscreen are blocky and bitmapped ticular gremlins which may strike
on a printout. here:
Leaving aside the question of The Author
printer resolution - which is unlikely to q The printer driver may have be-
create a dramatically bad problem as come disabled, perhaps while Barnaby Page (barnaby.page@itp-
even a basic 300 dpi laser printer will modifying custom Extension sets. If journals.com) is an electronic pub-
produce acceptable smoothness - the it does not appear in the Chooser, it lishing editor and a frequent
most likely explanation is that the user may be in the folder System-Exten- speaker and trainer. He was for
is printing out a document into which sions (Disabled); return it to the many years an IT journalist spe-
they have inserted an image file which folder System-Extensions. Like- cialising in the Apple Mac and
has since been deleted or moved. Con- wise Open Transport may have be- desktop design.
PC Support Advisor Update 137 (April 2000) Page 14
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