How to use Apple’s hardware diagnostics to find and fix Mac issues

“I have a late 2012 Mac mini. Well, actually, I have four of them. But one of them was sick,” David Gewirtz writes for ZDNet.

“It started a few months ago, when I installed Security Update 2016-001 for El Capitan. Immediately after running the update, my machine crashed over and over again. I did an in-place OS restore in order to preserve all my files and settings. That resulted in a crash to a black screen, right in the middle of the restore. I ran the restore again, which seemed to succeed. The machine returned to reasonably reliable behavior.,” Gewirtz writes. “For a while.”

“After a few weeks, I noticed that a development tool I run regularly wasn’t behaving itself. It would launch and properly display the splash screen. But every time I touched the menu bar, it crashed. This problem was repeatable,” Gewirtz writes. “Since I had run out of ideas as to why the machine was malfunctioning, I decided it couldn’t hurt to run the hardware diagnostics. It’s important to understand that Macs released before June 2013 were shipped with the Apple Hardware Test (AHT), while those produced after June 2013 come with Apple Diagnostics. Since my machine is a late 2012 machine, I used AHT.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Ah, the beauty of user-replaceable RAM!


  1. MDN take can be taken in two different ways, at face value and sarcastically. User upgradeability can also be good and bad. I fall into the good camp but I’m an advanced computer guy. Most people nowadays should probably just buy once and forget it. Which leads to me to my next pet peeve, that Apple should stop with the spinning hard drives and have a minimum of 8GB for all computers.

    1. Please allow me to shorten that for everyone:

      Apple should offer users choice: non-fixable consumer grade and fully repairable Pro grade.

      Longtime professional Mac users have complained bitterly that Apple is slapping the “Pro” label on sealed low-performance consumer grade hardware. These loyal Mac users have not been heard since Cook took over.

  2. “Which leads to me to my next pet peeve, that Apple should stop with the spinning hard drives and have a minimum of 8GB for all computers.”

    Agreed. And to add, I think for the MBP & 27″ iMac, minimum RAM should be 16GB

    1. What makes a person think he knows the right amount of RAM for someone else’s needs? That might work with consumer units where one can easily predict youtube and web surfing usage. With a pro machine, not so easy to determine.

      For Pro computers, the user should be able to specify *any* amount of RAM, and any GPU card, etc.

      I’ll go one further: for laptops, the battery should be replaceable so that in a few years when the new magical battery technology arrives, one can swap in that too. Apple can keep building netbooks with sealed everything, but if they keep dumbing down the MacBook Pro, then they should expect plenty of defectors to Windows or hackintoshes.

      1. I would wager that Apple is counting on dissatisfied users moving on. As long as for everyone moving on, there’s 1 or more buying their first Mac, it evens out.

        Apple likely has something planned in the future to really turn off “Pro” users and the more of them they get to move on earlier, the fewer that will be complaining on social media during the transition.

        1. If what you say is true, then Apple is now just like the Microsoft we all used to hate.

          Apple doesn’t have to be this way. If Cook can waste millions on playing with cars, then he damned well should be able to significantly update Macs more than once every 4 or five years.

        2. Wrong Again, it is no longer evening out. See the link I shared a moment ago. Macs are losing market share, and for good reasons that Cook & Co fail to comprehend. If they are intentionally trying to find the tipping point, they are getting dangerously close to losing critical mass of Mac users.

            1. Oh, I’m sorry, FYI, are you unable to parse too many big words?

              Let me help you:
              – Mac worldwide shipments in July 2016 fell 8.4% compared to 2015, and fell 9.3% in the US market
              – Mac worldwide market share is a pathetic 7.1% of the PC industry and 12.3% of its home US market

              Go ahead and plug your ears if you can’t bear to hear the facts, FYI. Apple needs to get its act together before the Mac dies on the vine.

  3. Should the “Pro” Macs have replaceable RAM & SSDs?

    When a fail occurs or you just run out of enough speed/space, you do NOT want to buy a new Mac.

    Any Apple service where you give them your computer means you have to clone the internal soldered SSD and install a virgin OS, otherwise you are playing with fire.

  4. There should be at least two laptop lines available: The Air line for casual users and the Pro line for heavy users. The Pro Line should be accessible for upgrades and have higher specs. The Air line for business and home persons using mostly text pgms.
    I would also like to see Apple release another 17″ MBP.

    1. Apple knows its market segments very well and tests user acceptance by the monitoring Apple does on how Macs are used, which features, etc.

      I use computationally heavy 3D CAD, but Apple doesn’t know that. Why? I can’t run it on a MBPro at what I would call “Pro Speed.” Thus Apple doesn’t understand everything from its machine use specs it receives.

      Dell’s top workstation laptop goes out the door at near $8000. Could Apple compete? Yes! But their MacBook Pro would need to become MacBook Premium.

      1. Earlier this summer it was shown that Mac market share is dropping fast:

        That tells me that Apple doesn’t understand its users needs. If Apple knew its markets so well, why did it release the 2015 Macbook netbook? It is underfeatured, underpowered, and dramatically overpriced. Or the Mac Mini, which was degraded in 2012? Or … we could go on. Apple continues to demand premium pricing for 3+ year old hardware. Cook and Ahrendts think that fashion is king, but they forget that last year’s fad is this year’s bargain bin special. Or in the case of Apple, the dusty Macs are hidden in the stock room next to the gold Apple Watches and the 802.11n Airports.

        Not only is it frustrating to pros who do need to add capability over time with PCI cards, internal drives, etc, Apple’s penchant for thin sealed boxes means that woefully inadequate cooling is now the norm. Apple’s specs show ideal conditions, whereas in the real world, CPUs are throttled to keep them from overheating. Everyone knows it, but Apple pretends that its users won’t notice.

        Because Apple has refused to keep its Mac hardware fresh with the best usability, it is no surprise that the leading 3rd party developers continue to develop for Windows first. It’s not because Windows is a superior OS, but because Windows-compatible hardware has been absolutely destroying Apple’s offerings by any measure for the last 5 years or so. No wonder so many developers skip the Mac altogether — 3D CAD and finite element modeling haven’t been lured to the Mac, and Cook seems uninterested in doing so. Cook touts the iOS app store, which is 3/4 games and time wasters, while completely ignoring the fact that the Mac app store is a graveyard.

        Bootcamp may be a crutch for some, but as soon as you need horsepower, now Mac hardware, at any price, just isn’t competitive. Serious users will continue to be Windows only unless Apple pulls its head out.

        1. MDN needs to quit talking about that “little birdie” as it implies some sort of insider info related to this topic and others. Since the debates are tonight, I’ll say it becomes like politician’s words…hot and air-like.

  5. On my early 2011 13″ MacBook Pro I’ve replaced the DVD drive with a 128GB SSD, the 500GB hard drive with a 480GB SSD, maxed the RAM at 16GB, and replaced the original battery. I’d ordered the higher 2.7 GHz Core i7 processor to begin with, so this puppy handles everything I need quite well. The weakest link would be the Intel 3000 512MB HD Graphics, but so far it does fine with LightRoom, Photoshop and videos.

    I really don’t like the idea of not being able to upgrade components, but it looks like eventually I’ll just be out of luck. The whole concept kinda sucks for great outfits like Other World Computing, who I’ve relied on for years for my diy upgrades.

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