How to Troubleshoot a Wobbly Mac – Part 2

Last week, I came up with a handful of quick and easy techniques for troubleshooting a wobbly Mac, including restarting, restarting in safe mode, running Disk Utility first aid, resetting NVRAM, or SMC and the execution of OnyX. These procedures are relatively painless and unlikely to make matters worse. If none of them cured the ailments your Mac, there are a few more things to try before you throw in the towel and contact Apple – or anyone – for technical help.

First, disconnect all external devices (hard drives, SSDs, hubs, docking stations, monitors, printers, etc.) from your Mac. Also disconnect your wired keyboard and mouse, if possible. Now reboot and determine if the problem persists.

If so, go to the next step. If the problem is gone when all the devices are disconnected, one of those devices or its cable is probably to blame.

The next step is to reconnect an external device, reboot, and determine if the problem exists. If things seem to be working fine, connect another device to see if the problem reappears. Repeat this process until your external devices are all reconnected.

If the problem recurs, the suspect is the last device (or its cable) connected that caused the problem, or at least part of it. Try a different cable, if possible.

If the problem persists after replacing the device cable, the device itself is most likely the culprit. Contact the manufacturer for assistance or replacement.

Still having issues after confirming that external devices and cables are not involved? The next thing to try is reinstalling macOS (as described in Apple Support article HT204904). If you follow Apple’s explicit instructions, you can reinstall macOS without erasing your drive.

There is one more thing to try before seeking professional help if the problem persists after reinstalling macOS: a fresh install of macOS (also known as “nuke and pave”). It’s painful, but it’s also likely to cure the discomfort when other techniques fail.

MORE FROM DR. MAC: His past columns are online at

First, make sure you have one or more backups (and have tested them).

Now boot into macOS Recovery, erase your startup disk using Disk Utility, and reinstall macOS but don’t restore your data yet. Why? Because restoring your data can also restore what caused the problem in the first place. So before you restore, try to use your Mac for a while with nothing but a properly installed copy of macOS. If things are working as expected, then you can use the Migration Assistant to restore your data.

If you are still having problems after restoring your data, perform another clean install (without Migration Assistant) and this time manually restore your files a few items at a time.

If none of the things I suggested resolve your issue, I recommend that you contact Apple Support at 1-800-275-2273 or

Bob LeVitus has written over 90 books, including “macOS Monterey for Dummies” andiPhone for Dummies. [email protected]

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