Cover image for Sad Macs, bombs, and other disasters : and what to do about them
Sad Macs, bombs, and other disasters : and what to do about them
Landau, Ted.
Personal Author:
Fourth edition.
Publication Information:
Berkeley, CA : Peachpit Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
xxiii, 955 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes index.

Previous ed.: 1997.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QA76.8.M3 L37 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Covering Mac OS 9 and the G4s, this troubleshooting guide helps students diagnose and fix common Mac problems. It states that students don't require hardware repair skills or advanced technical knowledge to fix these problems. It also aims to sharpen their diagnostic skills so they can apply them to problems they may not find in the book.

Author Notes

Ted Landau, a professor at Oakland University, is a Macintosh expert and the webmaster of MacFixIt, a site dedicated to troubleshooting Macintosh computers. He wrote Sad Macs, Bombs and Other Disasters, edited The Macintosh Bible, and is a contributor editor for Macworld.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vi
What's New in This Edition?p. xix
Prefacep. xxi
Part I Background and Basicsp. 1
Chapter 1 Macintosh Basics: Hardware and Softwarep. 3
Exactly How Did I Get Here?p. 5
Macintosh Models and Computer Systemsp. 5
Computing and Storage Hardwarep. 6
The CPU and ROMp. 6
RAM: Electronic Storagep. 8
Disks: Physical Storagep. 10
Types of Disks and Disk Drivesp. 12
System Softwarep. 17
System Software Versionsp. 17
The Essentials: The System File, The Finder, System Resources, Mac OS ROM, and Other Important Filesp. 18
Special Subfoldersp. 20
Remaining System Folder Filesp. 29
Chapter 2 Be Prepared: Preventing Problemsp. 31
Tooling Upp. 33
Damage Controlp. 33
Damaged Files and Disksp. 33
Software Bugs and Conflictsp. 34
A Troubleshooter's Toolkitp. 35
Troubleshooting with the Finderp. 38
Preventive Maintenancep. 48
Have an Emergency Startup Disk Readyp. 48
Save and Back Up Your Workp. 52
Prune Your Hard Drivep. 56
Install Protection Utilitiesp. 59
Give Your Macintosh a Tune-upp. 63
Chapter 3 Problem Solving: General Strategiesp. 67
Uh-Oh...p. 69
Five Steps to Solving Macintosh Problemsp. 69
1. Read Alert Box Messagesp. 69
2. Check If the Problem Repeatsp. 71
3. Isolate the Causep. 71
4. Go for Helpp. 73
5. Fix the Problemp. 74
Preventing Problemsp. 75
Get to Know Shortcutsp. 75
Go Exploringp. 76
Part II Symptoms, Causes, and Curesp. 77
Chapter 4 System Errors: Living with the Bombp. 81
The Mac's Worst-Kept Secretp. 83
Solve It! A Catalog of System Errorsp. 85
System Crashesp. 85
System Freezesp. 100
Endless Loopsp. 105
Unexpected Quitsp. 107
The Finder Disappearsp. 109
Solve It! Recurring System Errorsp. 110
Seek the Cause of a Recurring System Errorp. 110
Fix It So That the System Error Does Not Recurp. 112
Chapter 5 Startup and Disk Problems: Stuck at the Starting Gatep. 119
Unpleasant Topicsp. 123
Understanding the Startup Sequencep. 123
What Is a Normal Startup Sequence?p. 123
What Is a Startup Disk?p. 124
What Determines Which Disk Is the Startup Disk?p. 125
Starting with an Alternative Startup Diskp. 129
Solve It! When You Macintosh Won't Start Upp. 133
The Macintosh Is Deadp. 133
Sad Macs and Unusual Startup Tonesp. 134
The Flashing/Blinking ? Iconp. 141
The X Disk Icon Appearsp. 147
A System Error Occurs Just Before or While the Mac OS Screen Is Displayedp. 148
Problems While Launching the Finder and the Desktopp. 152
Solve It! Generic Problems with Disksp. 157
A Hard Disk Won't Mountp. 157
A Floppy Disk Won't Mountp. 163
A Floppy Disk Won't Eject or Unmountp. 167
Repeated Requests to Reinsert a Floppy Diskp. 171
A CD/DVD Disk Won't Mount or Playp. 172
A CD/DVD Disc or Removable Cartridge Won't Ejectp. 178
A Hard Disk Gets Unmountedp. 180
Problems with Restart, Shut Down, or Sleepp. 182
Files Missing from the Desktopp. 185
The Macintosh's Speed Is Unexpectedly Slowp. 186
Frequent System Crashes and Other Disk-Related Quirksp. 189
Chapter 6 When You Can't Find, Open, or Otherwise Use a Filep. 191
It's the Little Thingsp. 195
Understanding Opening and Savingp. 195
Open and Save Dialog Boxesp. 195
Opening Files from the Finderp. 199
Using Save Versus Save Asp. 199
Solve It! Problems with Filesp. 200
When You Can't Locate a Filep. 200
When You Can't Launch an Application or Control Panelp. 209
When You Can't Open a Documentp. 220
When You Can't Delete a File or Folderp. 230
When You Can't Rename a File, Folder, or Volumep. 238
When You Can't Save or Copy a Filep. 239
When the Going Gets Weird...p. 244
Chapter 7 When You Can't Printp. 251
The Paperless Office?p. 253
Your Dialog Boxes May Varyp. 254
When Things Go Rightp. 256
Step 1 Select the Chooserp. 256
Step 2 Select Page Setupp. 265
Step 3 Use the Print Commandp. 267
What Happens Nextp. 270
Special Case: Background Printing and PrintMonitorp. 271
Special Case: Desktop Printersp. 274
Solve It! When Things Go Wrongp. 284
The Macintosh Can't Find the Printerp. 284
Printing Halts with No Error Messagep. 290
Printing Halts Due to a System Crash, PostScript Error, or Other Printing-Related Errorp. 293
QuickFixes! Troubleshooting Inkjet and/or USB Printersp. 306
Chapter 8 Getting Under the Hood: The Invisible Macintoshp. 313
Peeking Under the Hoodp. 315
File Type and File Creatorp. 315
How Kindp. 315
Type and Creator Code Problemsp. 318
TEXT and PICT Formats: Type and Creator Issuesp. 324
Four More Good Reasons to View or Change a File's Type/Creatorp. 325
Finder Flags (Attributes)p. 327
What Are Finder Flags (Attributes)?p. 327
Viewing and Editing Finder Flagsp. 329
Invisible Files and Foldersp. 330
Viewing and Editing Invisible Files and Foldersp. 331
Viewing and Editing Really Invisible Files and Foldersp. 336
Chapter 9 Fonts and Text: Write and Wrongp. 341
The Write Stuffp. 345
Font Basicsp. 346
Font Files Versus Font Suitcasesp. 346
Where the Fonts Arep. 346
Locating, Adding, and Removing Fonts from Your System Folderp. 347
The Different Types of Fontsp. 350
Bitmapped Fontsp. 350
Outline Fonts: TrueType and PostScriptp. 351
TrueType Fontsp. 352
PostScript Fontsp. 353
Combining TrueType, PostScript, and/or Bitmapped Versions of the Same Fontp. 362
Which Front Format Should You Use?p. 363
Summing Upp. 365
A Document Displays the Wrong Fontp. 366
Problems with Adobe Type Managerp. 370
Problems Copying and Pasting Text Across Applicationsp. 375
QuickFixes! An Assortment of Text and Font Problemsp. 379
Solve It! Font File and Font Menu Problemsp. 384
Damaged Font Filesp. 384
Fonts Unexpectedly Appear or Disappear from Font Menusp. 389
Font Menu Clutterp. 392
Chapter 10 Graphics: What's Wrong with This Picture?p. 397
Picture Thisp. 399
Resolution and Display Depthp. 399
Understanding Resolutionp. 399
Understanding Display Depth: Color and Grayscalep. 402
Setting the Depth and Resolution of the Displayp. 404
Types of Graphics, Programs, and Filesp. 407
Bitmapped Versus Object-Oriented Graphicsp. 407
Paint Versus Draw Versus PostScript Programsp. 411
Graphics File Formatsp. 412
Graphics on the World Wide Webp. 415
QuickTime: Movies, Video, and Morep. 417
Solve It! Common Graphics Problemsp. 428
Unable to Paste a Graphic Across Applicationsp. 428
Problems Printing Color Imagesp. 432
Chapter 11 Trouble To Go: Portable Macs and Shared Macsp. 443
You Can Take It with Youp. 445
Portable Mac Basicsp. 445
Control Panels for Portable Macsp. 445
Portable Mac Battery Conservationp. 451
Using RAM Disksp. 453
Solve It! Basic Portable Mac Problemsp. 457
Restarting a Portable Mac After a System Errorp. 457
Problems Running on Battery Powerp. 461
Portable Mac Appears Deadp. 463
Sleep Problemsp. 465
Transfer Files Mac-to-Macp. 470
Transfer Files via an External Drivep. 470
Transfer Files via File Sharingp. 471
Transfer Files via a Modem (Remote Access)p. 488
Solve It! File Transfer Problemsp. 492
Can't Get File Sharing to Workp. 492
Chapter 12 Road Service for the Infobahn: Getting and Staying Connectedp. 501
No Mac Is an Island... Anymorep. 503
Understanding Dial-Up Modemsp. 506
Modem Speedp. 507
Modem Scripts and Init Stringsp. 513
Understanding Open Transportp. 516
Using Internet Setup Utility Versus Do-it-yourselfp. 516
Setting up AppleTalk, TCP, Modem, and Remote Access Control Panelsp. 517
Internet Diagnostics Utilitiesp. 528
Solve-It! Open Transport Problemsp. 532
Can't Get Connected or Unusually Slow Connectionsp. 532
Dropped Connections and Freezesp. 539
Chapter 13 Road Service for the Infobahn: The World Wide Web, Email and Beyondp. 547
Internet Basicsp. 549
Getting Your Web Browserp. 549
Understanding Internet Addressesp. 551
Navigating the Webp. 557
Beyond the Web: Using your Browser for Email, Newsgroups, and Morep. 559
Web Securityp. 561
Downloading and Uploading Filesp. 567
Solve-It! Web Browser Problemsp. 570
Web Pages Won't Loadp. 573
Web Pages Load Slowly or Incompletelyp. 577
Problems with URLs and Bookmarks/Favoritesp. 586
System Freezes, Crashes, and Errorsp. 591
Web Page Display Problemsp. 592
Downloading and Helper Problemsp. 599
Solve It! Email Problemsp. 609
Problems Sending Emailp. 611
Problems Receiving Emailp. 615
Problems with Attachmentsp. 618
Chapter 14 Think Different: the iMac, iBook, Power Mac G4 and Beyondp. 623
It's a Whole New Worldp. 625
NewWorld Macsp. 625
Boot ROMp. 626
Mac OS ROMp. 628
Open Firmwarep. 629
Startup with a NewWorld Macp. 631
Mac Models: A Closer Lookp. 633
Hardware: iMac, iBook, and Power Mac G3/G4p. 633
Quick Fixes: iMac, iBook and Power Mac G3/G4p. 636
Chapter 15 Troubleshooting Mac OS 8.x, Mac OS 9.x, and Mac OS Xp. 643
Why This Chapter?p. 645
QuickFixes! Mac OS 8.x-9.x Problemsp. 646
Contextual Menusp. 646
Sherlock (Internet Searching)p. 647
Multiple Usersp. 650
Memory Problemsp. 654
Assorted Mac OS 9 Fixes and Tipsp. 655
Assorted Mac OS 8.x/9.x Fixes and Tipsp. 658
Mac OS Xp. 664
Mac OS X Server and NetBootp. 664
Mac OS X and Aquap. 665
Part III Disaster Relief: The Fix-Itsp. 669
Fix-It #1 Resolve Hardware and Software Incompatibilitiesp. 677
General Strategiesp. 678
A Few Common Hardware Incompatibilitiesp. 680
Graphics Accelerators, Video RAMp. 680
G3/G4 Processor Upgradesp. 680
Epson Printersp. 681
Connecting Peripheral Devices to Newer Macsp. 682
Fix-It #2 Delete or Replace Preferences, Plug-ins, and Related Filesp. 683
Preferences Filesp. 683
Plug-Ins and Other Accessory Filesp. 685
Fix-It #3 Check for Problems with Extensions and Control Panels (Startup Extensions)p. 693
Startup Extension Conflictsp. 695
Startup Extensions That Do Not Load or Runp. 695
Disable Startup Extensions to Determine if You Have a Startup Extension Conflictp. 696
Method #1 Disable Startup Extensions by Holding Down the Shift Key at Startupp. 696
Method #2 Disable Startup Extensions by Using a Startup Management Utilityp. 697
Identify the Problem Startup Extensionp. 702
Check Recently Added Startup Extensionsp. 703
Check Suspicious Startup Extensionsp. 703
Check for Known Incompatibilities and Bugsp. 703
Do a Conflict Test to Isolate the Problem Extension(s)p. 704
Resolve the Conflictp. 707
Rearrange the Loading Order of Startup Extensionsp. 707
Upgrade the Problem Startup Extension or Other Softwarep. 710
Replace Potentially Damaged Filesp. 710
Check for Memory-Related Problemsp. 711
Delete the Problem Startup Extensionp. 711
If the Startup Extension Does Not Load or Runp. 712
Is It a Codependent Startup Extension Problem (or Other Startup Extension Conflict)?p. 712
Did You Restart After Installing the Startup Extension?p. 712
Is the Startup Extension in the System Folder?p. 712
Is the Startup Extension in Its Proper Location in the System Folder?p. 713
Was the Startup Extension Disabled by Your Startup Manager?p. 713
Is the Startup Extension Turned On?p. 714
Special Case: Startup Icons Appear with an X Over Them or Disappearp. 714
Fix-It #4 Check for Problems with System Softwarep. 716
Clean Reinstall of System Softwarep. 718
Normal Install of System Softwarep. 727
Basis for a Selective Install/Reinstallp. 731
Install/Reinstall/Remove Selected System Software Filesp. 734
Special Case: Delete Multiple System Foldersp. 737
Fix-It #5 Check for Problems with Memory Managementp. 739
Check the Advice, If Any, in the Alert Messagep. 742
Quit One or More Other Open Applicationsp. 743
Reduce the Size of a Large Clipboardp. 743
Check for Fragmented Memory Spacep. 743
Check for Memory Leaks and "Unreleased" Memory (A Step Beyond Memory Fragmentation)p. 746
Reduce the Minimum/Current Memory Sizep. 749
Remove Plug-In Modules and Other Accessory Filesp. 750
If None of the Preceding Advice Worksp. 750
Close Any Open Documents That Do Not Need to Be Openp. 751
Reduce the Size of the Clipboardp. 751
Do Not Try to Open the Document from the Finderp. 752
Quit the Application and Relaunch It, Restarting If Neededp. 752
Increase the Preferred Memory Sizep. 752
Quit Applications and Close Windowsp. 755
Increase the Finder's Memory Sizep. 755
Reduce Applications' Preferred/Current Memory Sizep. 759
Reduce the Memory Size Needed by System Softwarep. 759
Increase the Size of the System Heapp. 761
Increase the Total Available Memoryp. 763
Fix-It #6 Check for Virusesp. 768
Install an Anti-Virus Utilityp. 774
Keep Your Anti-Virus Utility Up-to-Datep. 775
Customize Your Anti-Virus Utilityp. 775
Fix-It #7 Defragment/Optimize the Diskp. 779
Optimizing/Defragmenting Basicsp. 780
Before You Optimizep. 781
Optimize the Diskp. 781
Check for Fragmentation of Individual Filesp. 782
Make Sure Files Are Free to Defragment/Optimize (Startup Disk Problems and More)p. 783
Create Free Spacep. 783
Don't Optimize Floppy Disksp. 783
A Disk Is Optimized When You Reformat and Restore Itp. 783
Be Careful if You Have an HFS Plus-Formatted Drivep. 783
Defragmenting Takes Timep. 784
Defragmenting Can Erase Files that Otherwise Could Have Been Undeletedp. 784
Defragmenting Can Cause Disk Damagep. 784
Fix-It #8 Rebuild the Desktopp. 785
The Desktop Files Can Become Bloatedp. 786
The Desktop Files Can Become Corruptedp. 786
Generic Icon Problemsp. 786
Fixing Generic Icon Problemsp. 789
Losing (and Saving) Get Info Comments After Rebuilding the Desktopp. 793
Don't Bother to Rebuild the Desktop After Initializing a Diskp. 794
Desktop Files and Reusing Floppy Disksp. 794
The Desktop Rebuilds Every Time You Start Upp. 794
Keep Extensions Off When You Rebuild?p. 794
Fix-It #9 Zap the Parameter RAMp. 797
Zapping Basicsp. 799
For All 680x0 Macs and NuBus Power Macsp. 799
For All Other Macsp. 800
Optional: Remove the Batteryp. 801
After Zapping the PRAMp. 801
Really Zap the PRAM: Use TechToolp. 803
Fix-It #10 Repair Corrupted Disk Directoryp. 805
Directory Damagep. 805
Using Disk First Aidp. 808
Getting Startedp. 808
Verify or Repair a Diskp. 809
Using Norton Disk Doctorp. 812
Getting Startedp. 812
Repair a Diskp. 814
Further Damage Checksp. 819
Fix-It #11 Check for Damaged Disks and Files: Replace, Recover, Restore, or Repairp. 820
Restore Volumesp. 821
Recover or Unerase Filesp. 821
Repair Damaged Filesp. 821
Restore a Damaged or Accidentally Erased Diskp. 823
Before Attempting to Restore a Diskp. 823
Restore the Diskp. 825
Recover/UnErase Selected Files from a Diskp. 826
Repair Damaged Filesp. 829
Make a Copy of the Damaged Filep. 829
Try to Open the Damaged Documentp. 829
File Repair/Recovery via CanOpenerp. 830
Special Case: Recover/Repair Files Damaged Due to Bad Blocksp. 832
Fix-It #12 Update the Disk Device Driverp. 835
Update to Accommodate New System Software and/or Fix Driver Bugsp. 836
Update to Accommodate New Hardwarep. 836
Update to Repair Damage to the Driverp. 837
Get the Latest Version of the Formatting Utilityp. 837
Update the Driverp. 841
Fix-It #13 Format, Initialize, and Verify Disksp. 844
Floppy Disksp. 846
Formatting an Unformatted Diskp. 846
Reformatting an Already Formatted Diskp. 846
Reformatting Vs. Deletingp. 847
File Exchange and PC-Formatted Disksp. 847
Damaged Disksp. 848
Hard Disksp. 850
Formatting and Reformatting in Generalp. 850
Reformatting Using Drive Setupp. 853
Reformatting vs. Erasing vs. Deletingp. 856
Partition the Diskp. 857
Verifying Disks and Media Damagep. 860
For Floppy Disksp. 860
For Hard Disksp. 861
Fix-It # 14 Check for Device and Connection Problems: SCSI, ATA (IDE), FireWire, USB, ADB, and Serialp. 865
SCSIp. 868
SCSI Basicsp. 868
Mounting SCSI Devices with SCSIProbe (or Other SCSI Utility)p. 871
Troubleshooting SCSI-Related Problemsp. 876
ATA/IDEp. 882
FireWirep. 883
USBp. 884
ADB: Keyboard and Mouse/Trackball/TrackPadp. 887
Serial: Printers, Modems, and Networksp. 890
Fix-It # 15 Check the Hardware: Logic Board, Memory, Processor, and PCI slotsp. 892
Logic Boardp. 895
The Logic Boardp. 895
The Logic Board Batteryp. 895
Power Supplyp. 896
PCI Slotsp. 896
Processorsp. 897
What Makes a Power Mac Different from Other Macs?p. 897
PPC Softwarep. 900
Installing PPC-Native Softwarep. 902
Is It Native or Not?p. 902
Shared Library Filesp. 903
Processor Upgradesp. 905
Basics: Why and How to Add Memoryp. 907
Getting the "Right" Memory for Your Macp. 909
The Maximum Allowable RAMp. 911
The Size of the Memory Modulep. 911
The Speed of the Memory Modulep. 911
The Type of the Memoryp. 912
Fix-It # 16 Seek Technical Support or Other Outside Helpp. 916
Telephone Technical Supportp. 917
Other Options for Vendor Technical Supportp. 920
Web-Based Technical Supportp. 923
Still More Options: Beyond the Webp. 926
Appendix Stocking Your Troubleshooter's Toolkitp. 927
Commercial Softwarep. 927
Shareware and Freewarep. 928
What is Shareware and Freeware?p. 928
Where Do You Get Shareware and Freeware?p. 928
Common Troubleshooting Keyboard Shortcutsp. 929
Indexp. 931