Nancy's Tip: Removing Startup Items & Using Safe Mode

Today, I bring you a tale of lustful intrigue and heavenly...Wait, thatis a book Iim reading. No, today I bring you a tale of computer frustration and the things I learned to bring that frustration to an end.

A few weeks ago, I ever so blithely installed the latest update to Leopard shortly after it was released. I always perform updates when my Mac tells me I should do so. This one was 10.5.5, the latest update for Leopard. Well, something proceeded to run amuck throughout my computer for the next several days. Not, you understand that I could tell much what it was, because most of the time I couldnit open any of my applications!

The first problem happened when I tried to compose messages in my Mail program. I couldnit type anything. Every time I tried to enter text I got an error message that said the spell checker wasnit working. I tried quitting Mail and then restarting Mail and that didnit work. I tried restarting my computer and that seemed to help, but the problem popped up a couple of other random times.

Then a day later the real problem started. I couldnit open any of my applications. Every time I tried I got the same error message: Error 10810. There didnit seem to be any pattern to the problem. It affected both third party applications and Apple applications. Sometimes the problem would start as soon as I restarted the computer. Sometimes everything would be fine until the computer warmed up and then the problem would start.

I was under a deadline! I was trying to work! I was getting paid (or not getting paid) by the hour! Why did I install the update? What was going on? How come none of my friends were having this problem? Where is the phone? Never mind that. Where is my kid - the one who knows everything!

It turns out that a few other people have had the same problem. I got some advice. It could be an incompatibility with a third party application, and that led to learning all about using "Safe" mode in Mac OS X.

The first thing I did was turn off the applications that I had set to automatically open when my computer is turned on because any one of them would be the most likely culprit. I also had to check to see if any new one has been slipped in by any new applications I might have recently installed. That happens you know. Some applications will include an automatic "start up at installation" component as a necessary part to their software.

It makes sense if you think about it. If you install software that is supposed to display a button in your Menu Bar to notify you of something, such as the availability of wireless in your area, something will have to trigger that software to become active while your computer is turned on. The software maker assumes you want that to happen automatically and they put a trigger in your startup menu. You have the option to leave it there or to remove it and turn the notification button on manually every time you need it.

To turn startup items off select Apple Menu > System Preferences > Accounts. Then choose your administrator account and select Login Items. To remove something from the list click on it to highlight it and click on the minus sign at the bottom of the window. Donit forget to lock the Accounts Window when you are finished, for security.

The second thing I did was shut down my computer completely and do a Safe Boot. Here is how.

  • Hold down the power button.
  • As soon as you hear the startup tone, hold down the Shift key (not before).
  • Release the Shift key when you see the gray Apple and the spinning gear.

A Safe Boot takes longer than a regular start up. It also disables some of your regular tools, making what is effectively a minimal version of the operating system, a "safe boot." For instance, the volume control tool was not present on my Menu Bar under the Safe Boot. But what it also does is forces a directory check of the startup volume. Depending on which version of OS X you are running it does somewhat different things, but the bottom line is it works around software or directory damage on the startup volume.

My bottom line is that whatever the problem was seems to have been solved once I pulled out those startup items. No more problems with Mail and no more problems opening my applications. I was able to restart my computer in normal mode and everything is still working just fine. As soon as I get time, I will start adding back in the few applications I had in my start up menu to see if any of them bring back the problem.

Maybe. Maybe Iill just leave well enough alone.

More helpful tips for beginners can be found in my beginners manual, Tips, Hints, and Solutions For Seasoned Beginners Using Apple Macintosh Computers With Mac OS X 10.4 and 10.5.

The entire Table of Contents and a sample page are available for free review for anyone who wishes to see them.

I am making this book available in three formats:.