The 9 Finest Free Mac Instruments to Detect and Repair Widespread macOS Issues

Statistically, the likelihood of having a problem with your Mac increases with continued use and age. Sometimes the problem goes unnoticed for years. But if and when it does, the consequences can be devastating.

Malfunctioning Mac behavior can be due to faulty physical components, software malfunctions, file system errors, and more. You can minimize or solve the problems with a few tools and a maintenance program.

Let's take a look at the best diagnostic, maintenance, and system tools for Macs to help identify and fix common macOS problems.

1. Disk Utility

Disk Utility is a built-in tool that you can use to check file systems, mount or unmount volumes, format drives, and troubleshoot other problems.

During the startup process, your Mac will perform a consistency check of the partition scheme and volume directory structure. If you have problems, you can select the volume or hard drive that you want to repair and then click First aid.

If your Mac won't start, you should open Disk Utility from Recovery Mode. To do this, keep the button pressed power For an M1 Mac or press and hold Cmd + R. when booting for older Macs with an Intel processor. Hold the buttons until you see the Options window or a macOS recovery screen. Then proceed with the repair.

You may need to image your startup disk. To do this, connect an external hard drive and open it Disk utility and choose File> New Image> Image from Folder. In the dialog box that appears, select the option Macintosh HD and continue.

If Disk Utility repair options don't work, start in single user mode and use fsck to repair your drive.

2. Apple diagnostic test

Apple Diagnostics is another tool that you can use to check your hardware components for problems. The comprehensive suite of diagnostic tests in this tool will help you identify subtle hardware problems or differentiate a hardware problem from a software problem. Apple's diagnostic tests are available in custom versions for each Mac model.

You can run this tool from an external boot drive (such as a USB drive or DVD), an invisible recovery HD volume installed as part of macOS, or over the Internet. To run a diagnostic test, shut down your Mac and disconnect all external devices except for the ethernet cable, keyboard, or monitor.

For M1 Macs, hold down the button power Key while your Mac is starting up. Then release it when you see that Options Window. Press Cmd + D. on your keyboard to start the test.

On Intel Macs, press and hold the key D. Key while your Mac is starting up. After the test is complete, refer to the diagnostic test results reference codes on the Apple website for more information.

3. OnyX

OnyX is a diagnostic, maintenance, and system utility app for Mac. The interface is divided into four main windows:maintenance, Utilities, Files, and parameter. Each category is further broken down into several views that group related functions.

You can review the file system structure and rebuild the Spotlight, Mail, and LaunchServices databases in case you have problems searching. OnyX also has a comprehensive maintenance function built into the app. You can clean system, application, and font-based caches. However, keep in mind that regular cleaning can slow down or damage your Mac.

The app gives you access to hidden apps like network utility, wireless diagnostics, and directory utility. It even offers a graphical way to adjust settings that would normally require a terminal. For example, with OnyX you can configure Finder, Dock, window effects, file formats, storage locations of screenshots and much more.

Download: OnyX (free)

4. MemTest86

RAM is one of the last internal components Apple had Mac owners customize – especially on older MacBooks and iMacs. Sometimes the RAM can cause problems where the memory the user installed is corrupt. Application problems, triple beeps on startup, crashes and system freezes are symptoms of bad memory.

MemTest86 is comprehensive memory test software that uses 13 different sophisticated algorithms and test patterns to check your RAM. Download and unzip the MemTest86 package and look for the memtest86-usb.img File.

Now create a bootable USB drive with the image, insert your USB drive and hold that possibility Button when your Mac starts up. Then follow the instructions to use the MemTest 86.

Depending on the cause of the memory errors, try the following options: Increase RAM voltage levels, decrease CPU voltage levels, change the default or conservative RAM timings, or update the BIOS to resolve incompatibility issues.

Download: MemTest86 (Free Premium Version Available)

5. Malwarebytes

Although Apple has developed numerous protections such as XProtect, Gatekeeper, Malware Removal Tool, and System Integrity Protection, your Mac is still vulnerable to malware.

If you experience high CPU usage not caused by an app, if your search engine has changed, or if you see notifications about installing questionable system utilities, then you may have malware on your Mac.

Malwarebytes can help you detect and remove malware, adware, viruses, and other potentially unwanted programs.

Press the scan Button and wait a few moments for it to finish. When a threat is detected, check the boxes next to the item and click quarantine. After the threats have been quarantined, the scan summary is displayed.

The free version does not offer scheduled scanning and real-time protection, but it does offer full protection for most users.

Download: Malwarebytes (Free Premium Version Available)

6. KnockKnock

Whether it's a malicious browser extension that injects ads into search results or malware that aims to steal your data, the goal of any malicious app is to run in the background for every macOS session. "Persistence" is a technique used by malware to ensure that it is executed when the operating system starts up.

KnockKnock works according to this principle of persistence. It lists all installed apps and their components in a clear interface.

click scan and pay close attention to that Start elements Section that lists all daemons and agents. Each line contains detailed information such as the signature status, application path and the results of the antivirus scan.

Download: KnockKnock (free)

7. EtreCheck

There can be many everyday problems with your Mac. It could be a resource consuming application, an intermittent beach ball, a bad hard drive, or possibly malware infection. Etrecheck is a utility that runs over a dozen diagnostic scans to give you a comprehensive report on the status of your Mac.

It includes hardware information, software compatibility issues (32-bit apps or unsigned components), the status of startup agents or daemons and whether or not they are running, security status (including information about XProtect, MRT and Gatekeeper), user logins, top processes and more.

EtreCheck works with Apple Support Communities to help users with limited technical knowledge solve their Mac problems. It's my tool of choice and I use it every month checking for problems.

Download: EtreCheck ($ 18, free trial available)

8. OmniDiskSweeper

macOS requires a certain amount of clearance for temporary files, virtual storage, application support data, and more. If your hard drive is almost full, your Mac's performance can deteriorate significantly. Symptoms like application problems, crashes, and even kernel panic are common.

OmniDiskSweeper is a utility for finding and deleting large or useless files. Select the startup drive and click Sweep the selected drive. Within a few moments, the folders and files are arranged in a column view (similar to the Finder) from largest to smallest. Find the space that is taking up the most space, select it and click rubbish.

Download: OmniDiskSweeper (free)

TinkerTool System 6 is a collection of system utilities that allow you to perform advanced administrative tasks that are not available to you through the traditional user interface. If you are facing strange issues related to apps, caches, Time Machine backups, or file permission issues, TinkerTool can be of great help.

Rebuild the dynamic link editor shared cache, start services, clear the directory services memory cache, and recreate the shared folder in case you accidentally delete it. You can clear the cache of a specific app that is causing problems, the user or operating system font cache, icon cache, and more.

TinkerTool allows you to perform complex file operations that are not available in any app. You can check the file alias or Finder attributes to aid Spotlight searching. You can clean up old log or crash reports, core dumps, and orphaned files. You can even check file and folder permissions and troubleshoot errors.

TinkerTool has a built-in application uninstaller that can be used to completely remove apps from your Mac. You can reset an app's privacy settings to prevent it from accessing important data or performing security checks for authenticity.

You can also create emergency installation media in case something goes wrong with your Mac and does not start properly.

TinkerTool can check the Time Machine backup snapshots, create a detailed log if the backup fails, or assign a Time Machine backup from an old to a newer Mac.

Download: TinkerTool System 6 ($ 14, free trial available)

Don't forget your boot modes

Your Mac uses different startup modes for all kinds of troubleshooting functions. For example, if you want to boot into recovery mode, boot from a USB drive, or test your hardware with Apple diagnostic tools, you need to use the correct combination of startup keys.

If this is of interest to you, check out the list of Mac startup modes to help resolve a wide variety of issues that can affect your Mac.

A quick guide to macOS startup modes and startup key combinations

Here's what you need to know about Mac startup options and modes in order to troubleshoot startup and other issues.

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About the author

Rahul Saigal
(143 articles published)

With his M.Optom Degree in Eye Care Specialty, Rahul worked for many years as a lecturer at the college. Writing and teaching others is always his passion. He's now writing about technology and making it digestible for readers who don't understand it well.

From Rahul Saigal

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