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Cracked screens, dead batteries and water damage — sometimes you simply can’t avoid a trip to the Genius Bar to get your broken Apple device back in working order. You may have heard the rumors that Apple is in the process of overhauling the way that Genius Bar appointments are managed. Some of the changes will help streamline the process by introducing more communication about your appointment — like pinpointing exactly when and where to meet your Genius in the store. Other changes, like Apple prioritizing walk-in appointments so that more serious issues take precedence over less serious issues, may be less welcome — like not having a FastPass at Disney.
You will, however, still be able to make a Genius Bar appointment. But, depending on where you live, you often have to wait days for the next open appointment time. I typically perform the following series of checkups on the devices that I help manage before deciding that a trip to the Genius Bar is in order:
Quit all running apps: Sometimes it’s not your device that is performing poorly, but one of your installed apps. A quick and easy way to get things back to running normally is to quit all of the running apps on your device. Press the home button two times, quickly, to reveal which apps are currently running. Swipe each app up in order to quit the app. If one app in particular is continually causing issues, check to see if there is an update and consider re-installing the problematic app or deleting it all together. Keeping up with iOS and app updates is key to avoiding most app related issues.
Power off and back on: iPhones and iPads are up and running all the time. It can help to give them a quick break every now and then by powering off and back on. If a battery issue may be affecting your performance, you can always try to use your iOS device when it is connected directly to a power source. You may even want to try to track down apps that could be contributing to battery drain before you take your device in to a Genius for evaluation. In the Settings app, go to General, Usage, Battery Usage to see which apps are using the most battery.
Reset network settings: Many iOS device problems are network-related — connecting to a network, dropping network connectivity, slower than expected download speeds and even not joining a known network when you are within range. From within the Settings app, navigate to General, then Reset. Here you will find a series of reset options. Select Reset Network Settings. When you do reset your network settings, all passwords used to join those networks will be lost. You will have to re-join and enter the network passwords all over again. If you don’t know your network passwords, hold off on this fix.
Backup, erase all content and settings: As a last resort, you can try to erase all content and settings then restore from a prior backup. Before you begin, make sure that you have a current backup of your device. There are three types of backups you can consider performing — iCloud backups, iTunes backups and an iMazing backups. iMazing ($30, Mac/PC) is a third-party app that will create a full archive of everything on your device. This can be a time-consuming task and if it proves not to be of any help, you will at least have a current backup of your device prior to taking it in to the Genius Bar. That is one of the first things they will ask you before taking a look at your device.
OS X devices
Log off and back on: Some of the remedies for iOS are applicable to Macs as well, but the manner in which you execute the remedy is different. In order to quit all of your running apps, you can either use the keyboard shortcut (Command+Q) or you can Force Quit (Command+Option+Esc) any and all running applications. You can also just log off and back on to your Mac. This ensures that all of the running apps and background processes associated with your user account quit running.
Shutdown and restart: While Macs do tend to reboot quickly, many Mac owners see this as an option of last resort. OS X in general does a lot of work in the background to optimize the resources that are in use. As a result, Macs tend to be able to stay up and running for long periods of time. Months may pass between reboots. That does not mean that an occasionally planned reboot wouldn’t hurt. This goes beyond logging off and on and will restart additional process that are running for all users. While this exercise will flush out some of the issues you may encounter, you can also use a utility like Koingo’s MacCleanse ($30, Mac) or MacPaw’s CleanMyMac2 ($40, Mac) to clear out the rest.
Turn your Wi-Fi off and back on: Forcing your Mac to forget the networks that it has joined in the past isn’t as easy as it is on iOS. Turning your Wi-Fi off and back on again from the menu bar can resolve many connectivity issues, but not all of them. To forget a Wi-Fi network entirely, you will need to open Network Preferences and click on the Advanced button associated with the Wi-Fi adapter. Here you will see a list of Preferred Networks. Simple remove the networks you wish to forget by clicking on the minus sign. If you are having issues on one particular network, you may want to run some diagnostics using an app like NetSpot (Free, Mac) and see if interference from other radio signals is causing the issue.
Reset PRAM and SMC: Macs exhibit odd behavior from time to time. If your fans start running at full blast, the lights on you keyboard don’t turn on when they should, your Mac won’t go to sleep or wake up properly, or your video settings get reset, you may think you’re experiencing hardware failure. A simple yet effective remedy is to reset either your PRAM, SMC or both. Depending on how old your Mac is, you perform this task by holding down the Option, Command, P, and R keys simultaneously while your Mac is starting up. You will be amazed at what sorts of weird issues this will fix.