Monday, September 10, 2012

How To Fix Common Mac OS X Problems Without Rebooting

There's lots of common OS X problems and situations that can be overcome with out a single reboot required. Here's how.


There are those who simply never shut down — people who are so adverse to rebooting their machines they do everything in their power to avoid it. But energy concerns aside, there are tons of valid reasons for doing so. Some prefer a persistent workspace, while others might run home servers. For these people, continuous uptime is an must. But driver updates or stubborn apps are all it takes to bring your system to a reboot-worthy halt.

License to Kill Tasks 

OS X is a relatively stable operating system, but isn't without its faults. On occasion, the Dock may freeze, or your menubar might crash — and there's simply no way to force close these processes like normal apps. Terminal, however, makes it easy to regain control.
Dock or virtual desktop type...  
killall -KILL Dock
If the menubar disappears or stops responding...  
killall -KILL SystemUIServer
And finally, to force close Finder (should the usual GUI approach fail)...
 killall -KILL Finder
Depending on how your Mac is setup, you may require administrator privileges. If that's the case, simply include "sudo" before each of the above commands, and type in your password when asked. 

Force Close Unruly Apps  

Command + Option + Escape. However, it only applies to those applications that run from the Dock, excluding the likes of Dropbox or Last.FM that choose to live in the menubar instead. Should any of your background apps freeze, you'll need to take a different approach to shut them down.

Activity Monitor is found in your Utilities folder, and lists all of your Mac's currently running processes — including those missing from the force close GUI. From here, it's a simpler matter of identifying problem processes and killing them as needed, minus the usual reboot.

Command Line Software Update

To list all currently available software packages, type...  
sudo softwareupdate -l
And to install all available updates, type...  
sudo softwareupdate -i -a

Have any more tips and tricks for an always-on Mac? Be sure to share them below in the comments!

Image via Flickr user The Ticket Collector.

By Matt Braga


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