When Good Macs Go Bad… (Part I)

Having spent far too much time troubleshooting my Mac’s instability since I installed macOS 12 Monterey, here are some things to try when your Mac goes wonky. What do I mean by “wonky?” If something that used to work stops working, that’s wonky. If your Mac doesn’t start up successfully, that’s wonky. And if an app won’t launch or crashes upon launch, that’s wonky. I’d even say that freezing or crashing more than once or twice in the same month is wonky.

Here are some troubleshooting techniques you can try if your Mac gets wonky, starting with the fastest and least painful procedures. Before you try them, I suggest confirming you have at least one known-to-be-reliable backup before you begin troubleshooting.


If your Mac gets wonky by freezing, crashing, or otherwise misbehaves, try restarting it before you even think about troubleshooting. You’d be surprised how often a simple reboot causes wonkiness to disappear.

Safe mode

If rebooting doesn’t resolve the issue, start your Mac in safe mode (Apple Support article HT201262 explains how). Safe mode prevents your Mac from loading specific software, including login items, system extensions not required by macOS, and unneeded fonts. It also does a basic check of your startup disk and deletes caches that are recreated as needed. You don’t have to do anything while booted into safe mode—just restart your Mac (again), and that’s all there is to it.

First Aid

Suppose neither a restart nor safe mode fixes your issue. In that case, launch Disk Utility (from your Utilities folder or macOS Recovery) and run its First Aid feature. First Aid can fix errors related to disk directories, errors that could cause unexpected behavior or even prohibit it from booting properly. This process could take a while, so you might want to grab a cup of coffee or watch an episode of your favorite show while you wait.

Reset NVRAM or SMC

If your Mac has an Intel processor, you can try resetting its NVRAM (nonvolatile random-access memory) or SMC (system management controller), as described in Apple Support articles HT204063 and HT201295, respectively. I have found these work less often than safe mode or First Aid, but both are quick and relatively painless and might work for you.


If none of the above has fixed your wonkiness, the next thing I’d try is OnyX (www.titanium-software.fr). This free multifunction utility can verify the structure of your startup disk and its system files and performs routine housekeeping and maintenance chores not easily executed otherwise. Note that there are separate versions for each release of macOS (including Monterey), so be sure to download the correct version.

If none of the troubleshooting techniques above eliminates your wonkiness, tune in next week for even more tips, tricks, and techniques to help you fix your wonky Mac.

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