View Full Version : MacBook help needed

6-6-11, 1:54pm
I have a MacBook (little more than 3 years old running Snow Leopard). I've recently started having an issue I don't know how to solve.

I would often not shut it off for days at a time, I would just close it and it would sleep.

I will go to click on an icon on my desktop and I just get a "sound." The document would not open. When I try to empty the trash, the pop-up menu with "Do you really want to trash everything" would not respond when I hit the YES button.

So, I go to shut down my computer, using command from drop down menu. Nothing happens. I even let it go the minute without doing anything that will shut it down. Nothing. I finally have to shut it down by pressing down on the power button until computer shuts down.

Last night desktop icons/trying to shut down weren't responsive even after the MacBook had been shut down and then restarted.

I've been getting the spinning beachball a lot lately, and I'm going to add more memory, but that has to wait for a few weeks.

Any ideas on the desktop icons/buttons not responding?

I'm not running any funky software, I still have plenty of hard disk space left, etc.

BTW, I was talking about starting a photography side business in another post. I decided not to do that for various reasons. Will still shoot friends' weddings, kids' baptisms, and such for fun, but nothing more.


6-6-11, 2:16pm
I haven't had that much experience with a Mac, but I do know that if you're getting the Spinning Beach Ball Of Death, otherwise known as SBBOD, there is usually some sort of intensive processing activity going on in the background and relatively minor tasks end up in a processing queue awaiting resources to become available.

If I were to venture a guess about what specifically causes it, I'd say that your hard drive is on the verge of failure or is having trouble coming out of sleep mode, and the operating system is working extra hard trying to read/write from it.

Try running the Apple Hardware Test and see what it tells you. http://www.thexlab.com/faqs/aht.html

6-6-11, 2:20pm
Tradd, take a look at this article and the things it suggests:


I've heard of things like this happening with MacBooks and it sometimes means the logic board is going bad, but before assuming the worst, maybe follow their directions to try these resetting things first. AND what Alan suggests :)

6-6-11, 2:27pm
Thanks. I also just found some things where people relaunched the Finder and things were fine. So will try all tonifht. No other issues that indicate hard drive failure.

6-6-11, 2:33pm
Thanks. I also just found some things where people relaunched the Finder and things were fine. So will try all tonifht. No other issues that indicate hard drive failure.
The problem with hard drive failure is that sometimes there are NO other issues that warn you it's imminent. Back up everything, just in case.

6-6-11, 2:36pm
Everything backed up. All pics on Picasa and some on Flickr. CDs of pics, too. Did Time Machine back up to external drive last night. Just need to put some docs on CD and Google Docs.

6-6-11, 2:38pm
Make sure your back ups are current
Check the Apple Menu: About This Mac: to see your installed ram, make sure it's showing all that you have installed
Do the hardware check Alan linked
Reset the PRAM and PMU (link puglogic posted)
Check your hard drive with Disk Utility (In the Utilities folder inside the Applications folder)
Make sure all system updates are installed (Apple Menu: System Update)

I'm guessing it's a PMU issue, if the problem is only happening when you wake from sleep. If it happens alllllll the time and you can't do anything with it, then it's more serious.

: (

6-6-11, 2:39pm
That reminds me to ask - is it better to do full system backup or just specific things like documents, pictures, music library?

6-6-11, 5:37pm
I only have PCs but I go with data (documents, pictures, music, etc.) and any software I've downloaded (which always lives in a specific folder on my hard drive anyway). Software with media (e.g. MS Office) I don't bother backing up, obviously. If you needed to be up and running very quickly, the fastest restore is with a full image + differential (i.e. a full system backup, plus whatever you changed since you last did that backup), but for most home users that's overkill. I could get back up and running within four hours or less, assuming I restored all my data and was restoring to the same machine built from scratch. But I have a second machine at all times, so can actually be back up and running far faster if I just restore that data I need right then and there.

Above is a long way of saying "it depends". I like to take an image of my basic machine once essentials are loaded and then backup data as described above for an intermediate kind of set up. I still have to restore software I've downloaded after donig the image, but I like to keep the image fairly lean and download what I need afresh if disaster strikes.

6-6-11, 6:46pm
Above is a long way of saying "it depends".

Agreed. A current, full system backup can be very helpful to restore the same machine, but may not for a new machine due to differences in hardware. As a rule, I don't bother with and backup data only.

6-7-11, 2:14am
Well, it seems the unresponsive desktop icon issue has been resolved by simply relaunching Finder. I spent the evening backing up all non-sensitive document files to Google Docs (primarily class stuff, although these also live in Gmail as email attachments) and backing up photos to Picasa and Flickr. Cleaned a ton of photos out of iPhoto library and trashed them - probably 500 photos. Checked for software update - everything is up to date.

Will do the rest of the stuff H-work listed tomorrow. Not getting the spinning beach ball much tonight.

I also found a 2011 AppleCare document on reseting the SMC (the linked one was from 2009), that was essentially, just a battery pull (as I've occasionally had to do on my Android phone).

6-7-11, 7:06am
I ran the Apple Hardware Test overnight. There were no issues.

I'm running Disk Utility right now.

Thanks for all your help!

6-7-11, 8:01am
Is it running hot? Just saying because I was recently have issues with my work laptop and I found it was running very hot. I shot some compressed air through the fan vents and now it barely feels warm, it's performing better and no longer randomly powering off.

6-7-11, 8:11am
No, not running hot. But I'm sure doing that can't hurt.

I just ran Disk Utility. There were a few things it repaired, having to do with the Air Port utility (wireless), but that's it.

Will definitely look into getting more memory.

6-7-11, 10:40am
Oh yeah, the MacBooks tend to run hot. I keep mine up on a laptop stand so it's gets air circulation underneath. I baby it and it's been going 5 years :) A kitchen cooling rack would work just as well.

I go to Other World Computing for RAM, hard drives, replacement parts. They have links to help you determine what specific RAM (for instance) works for your model and also have videos to show you how to install it. You'll want their $5 toolkit too, if you're going to be doing the install yourself.


Here's a link to show you how to find your Model ID number for buying memory

6-8-11, 5:58pm
One thing to do when your Mac acts up.
Go to your apps folder
click on utilities icon
click on disk utility icon
In the left-hand pain that comes us chose your hard drive.
click on repair permissions
wait until it finishes

It may help to do this regularly, maybe once a month. It can prevent and fix many problems. JRJ