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AppleJack: An Easy Way to Fix Your Mac

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m a simple man. I like a good cup of coffee in the morning, mellow get-togethers with close friends, and technology that simplifies my life…not makes it more complicated. So what’s there to do when your Mac starts to act a bit funky? By “funky,” I don’t mean “Tom Cruise” funky — the last stage before total meltdown — but rather “Michael Richards” funky. That stage when the computer starts doing odd, unexpected things and people start noticing.

Back in the days of OS 9, if your Mac acted strangely, there was a trick that was so simple that anyone could do it and help to maintain their Macs themselves. All you needed to do was to rebuild your desktop files — and everyone knew how to do that. The upshot? Even if rebuilding the desktop files didn’t fix the problem, it couldn’t damage your Mac. It could only help.

And man, wouldn’t you love to know that there was something like that for OS X? Well there is and — shock of all shocks — it’s totally free! The application is called AppleJack and it’s incredibly simple to use.

Let’s break it down to five easy steps:

  1. Head over to SourceForge and download the app. Benefits> Like I said, it’s free!
  2. Install the software. If you want to also check your RAM, do a customized install and also install the “MemTest” application. Benefits? You’ll get two programs for the price of one.
  3. Restart your Mac, hold down the “Command” and the “S” keys to boot into “Single User Mode” (Note: You must use a wired, USB keyboard for this. Wireless keyboards will not work). Single User Mode is a fancy term that tells your Mac to “turn off the graphics and boot strictly into text-only mode.” Benefits? Seeing your Mac boot into single user mode is seriously cool. In fact, since you’ve probably never seen your Mac boot up into plain ‘ole text before, you’ll feel like you’re a computer whiz seeing something rare and forbidden.
  4. When your computer is done booting into Single User Mode, the scrolling text will stop. It should look something like this. Type applejack auto restart and then hit enter. Now go grab a cup of coffee. Benefits? Harvard thinks coffee is healthy. And so do I, even though I went to UPenn, a far cooler school.
  5. Watch your screen for about five minutes as AppleJack runs through five different tasks — running disk utility to repair your internal hard drive, fixing your permissions, cleaning up a series of cache files, validating core preferences and removing all “swap” files. When it’s finished, your computer will restart auto-magically. Benefits? You’ve just enjoyed an awesome cup of coffee while looking very cool.

While this application won’t fix a hardware malfunction, it’s perfect for software problems. Plus, it’s simple, easy and free. Give it a shot and relive your old “rebuild the desktop files” glory days, why doncha?

15 Responses to “AppleJack: An Easy Way to Fix Your Mac”

  1. Scott A.

    I just tried this and it hosed my mac. I keep getting the gray “you must restart your system” screen. Thank goodness for Time Machine. Looks like I’ll be spending the evening restoring.

  2. Laura D.

    Sounds sort of like a Mac enema? Get’s rid of all the gunk you might not know is there. Just to be clear, this is the solution for the problem you’re not sure your computer has, but most likely does?

    By the way, LOVE the “Michael Richards” funky explanation.

  3. Hillary

    Hmmm. I just used disk utility this morning (Time Machine was giving me a bizarre permissions error so I figured what the heck). I should definitely check this out. Thanks Dave!

  4. Debra

    I’m very excited to try this…and Dave you made it so simple to do.

    I could read your blogs all day long.

    Good on you and good on The Apple Blog for being insightful in using your knowledge and writing talents.

    Thanks for all,

  5. I love your “blogtastic” writing skills haha. I found this short and enjoyable! I have booted into Single User Mode many times, and I say whenever someone’s around and sees me do it on a mac, I get the geniusly smart credit from them, you know the ones “wow you are like a genius aren’t you”.

    Thanks for the tip, I definately will look into this.