Repairing Your Mac File System

Many times issues with your Mac can be cleared up by repairing the file structure of your hard drive. The following three step process is the full extent of what and intermediate user can perform with the built-in tools. (Note: Beginners should only perform Step 2.)

As always; Perform repairs at your own risk.

Step 1: Safe Mode Startup
Starting up in “Safe Mode” is optional. There are several advantages in starting up in Safe Mode. Your Mac will only be running the essential processes. Also, if you use the “Shutdown” command after performing repairs, a new “Startup Cache” will be created and your startup time may improve. When starting up in Safe Mode you may be presented with a login screen requiring your username and password. Once those are entered, your account on your Mac should come up as usual. Proceed to you repairs from there.

  1. Restart your Macintosh and immediately depress the “Shift” key on your keyboard. (Note: This does not work with wireless Bluetooth keyboards.
  2. Do not release the Shift key until the “wagon wheel” appears beneath the gray Apple icon. Release the Shift key and wait for your Mac to boot up.
  3. You may be required to login using your account name (i.e. Your Name) and password.

Step 2: Use Disk Utility to clean up Disk Permissions and Repairing an external disk.

  1. Open Disk Utility. (Look in the Application/Utilities, or search for Disk Utility.)
  2. Once Disk Utility is running it will display your hard drive on the left side of it’s window. Single click the hard drive’s volume name (i.e. Macintosh HD) ┬áto select it.
  3. Click the “First Aid” button and then click the “Repair Permissions” button. A blue bar will begin moving from left to right in lower part of the window, and a text log of repaired file may appear.
  4. Next, repair the external hard drive by selecting it’s volume name (i.e. My Book, Seagate, Li Cie) in the left side.
  5. Click the “Repair Disk” button and let the process complete.
  6. Once Disk Utility is complete you can “quit” Disk Utility and use you system normally.

Repair Permissions

Step 3: Extra Advanced Repair (Optional)

**File System Check; (This must be run in single user mode)**
This repair is out of sequence due to it being an advanced process that you should avoid. Only proceed with this process if you are comfortable using “command line interface” and understand that it has no safe guards to prevent user errors.

  1. Make sure you keyboard is directly connected to your Mac, i.e. no USB hub between your keyboard and your Mac.
  2. Start your Mac and hold down the (Apple + “s”) keys until you see text appear on your screen.
  3. Once the text finishes loading type the following command, “/sbin/fsck -fy” (Do not include the quotes, do include the space.) Hit the “Return” key.
  4. Once the task finishes there will be one of two messages, “hard drive appears OK” or “hard drive was modified.” If the hard drive filesystem was modified type and run the command again. If the hard drive filesystem is OK type “reboot” and your Mac should restart.
  5. Once your Mac has restarted test it by using it, shutting down normally, then startup normally.


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