This article was first published on 2007-06-20. Due to the age of this article, it is included here for archive purposes only.
You bought your new Mac to get some things done, but now you’ve hit a wall. You’ve tried doing what was obvious and you are at the end of your rope. Try these 6 steps to solve that problem that should be easy but isn’t.
- Type your problem into Google Search. Odds are that someone has met your problem before and has asked about it on the web. Try a quick search that uses 3 or 4 keywords that narrow your problem down. Something like, "share itunes library mac." Don’t forget to use a Mac specific word like Mac or OS X.
- Use the Help Menu. The Help program that comes with most applications is just a mini website all about the application. I usually just skip to the Index if there is one to review all the pages at a quick glance. If I don’t see a promising keyword there, I click the Home button to get back and look for a FAQ or Solving Problems section. One tip to keep in mind is that selecting Help from the menu or pressing Cmd-? will bring up the Help section for the program you were in when you asked for it. If you click and hold down the Home button, you see a menu to switch between Help sections for different programs.
- Use the Search function on the Apple Support website. If you are looking for help with Apple software, go to the Support section of Apple’s website, and select the program from the drop-down list on the left. That will take you to the main page for the software. Then use the search box in the upper right to put in a few keywords that describe your problem. As you look through the results, remember to look for your software version. There can be many older documents for previous versions of your application. Tip: This works for Apple hardware problems as well.
- Read the Directions. I know… who reads directions? That’s why this tip is number 4. Well hopefully you at least saved them in a stack of booklets somewhere. If you can find it, check the Table of Contents for a chapter called, "Troubleshooting". If that chapter doesn’t help you, scan through the Index in the back for the part of the program you are trying to get to work. If you can’t find the directions, you should be able to download a copy from Apple’s website or the website of the company that created the software. Go to Support, then click Manuals in the purple colored menu bar.
- Post a Question in Apple Discussions. Apple Discussions is an area of the Apple Support website where anyone can ask and answer questions. This is the place to go for the more obscure problems. One of the great things about owning a Mac is that the community of Mac users is very supportive and helpful. Try first browsing or searching the topics for one that already addresses your problem. It’s very likely that it has been covered in a thread before. If you are sure you have a new problem, sign in and post a question in the most relevant category. Subscribe to the topic to get emails that alert you to when someone else has posted a reply to your question. You can also subscribe to other topics or even members.
- Go Ask an Apple Genius. For those of us Mac owners who live near an Apple store, go on in to speak with an Apple Genius about your problem. Bring your computer with you if you can. If you think your issue is fairly common, go to a free workshop on the program and ask your question there. If you think you would benefit from ongoing help, look into the new One to One program where you can get personal training sessions for just $99 a year. Tip: if your Apple store is anything like mine, make a reservation in advance of going into the store so you spend less time waiting for help.
Try these tips in order to save time. The quick ones are listed first.
Did I miss something? Do you have any tips to share for ending the frustration and finding a solution working with your Mac? Pass them on in the Comment section below!