This article was first published on 2007-08-06. Due to the age of this article, it is included here for archive purposes only.
So you’ve got a new Mac and somewhere along the line, trouble strikes. Your Mac might not be working or you can’t figure out what to do in the software, or just why the heck Safari keeps crashing. The honeymoon is OVER. What now? One great option is Apple’s Support section of their website.
Now I admit, when I have a problem, I usually Google the problem first to see if there’s a direct hit for my issue. Maybe that’s how you discovered My First Mac. I hope if you did, you found your answer plus a great site with a helpful community. But if my Google search doesn’t give me a quick answer, I turn to Apple’s website next.
I find in general, Apple has done a tremendous job with their website. The recent redesign has made it even more accessible. The problem arises when you need something specific quick, and then you discover their site has hundreds of thousands of pages and the one your answer is on is like a pearl among the sand on the beach.
The fact is, Apple is a huge corporation that serves millions of people around the world with hundreds of products and services. Even just their Support section has to deal with iPods, iPhones, Software, Services, Accessories in addition to all the Macs. So what you need is a strategy to find what you need as quick and easy as possible.
There are three different goals for approaching Apple’s Support site:
- You want to learn how to use your Mac and software.
- You want an answer to a specific problem.
- You need to find data about your Mac.
Let’s tackle these Goals in order.
Learning How to Use Your Mac and Software.
If you are new to the Mac or if you are switching from a Windows computer, you really want to explore Mac 101 and Switch 101 sections. Each 101 section has many subsections and pages that speak to the beginner and cover broad topic areas of interest to readers of My First Mac. These pages also have nice big images of the topic, which is rare for the Support section. Some example sub sections are Give me the grand tour of the Mac interface and Connect your peripherals or get on the Internet.
What if you want to learn about something specific, such as using iPhoto? Well, you are taken care of in that case as well because Apple provides Quick Tours and Multi-media tutorials of the iLife programs. The best way to get started is to go to the Support main page and then use the drop down menu in the upper left to select the product you are interested in. That will take you to the main product page which will have links to almost all the key pages from one spot.
They’ve really done a nice job in getting the variety of options displayed on one page, so take your time and look around noting all the categories of info. In particular, look for links under Support Resources for Quick Tours, demos and tutorials.
You Want an Answer to a Specific Problem.
The most common problems can be found on the Quick Assist page. The link to it is on the lower left of the Support main page. Check there first for a quick look-see in case it lists your problem. If you don’t see it, continue on.
The next thing you want to do is go to the Support main page and select the product from the drop down menu in the upper left that you are having a problem with to narrow it down. If your Mac is not turning on and off correctly, or the display doesn’t look right, select your type of Mac. If your problem is with getting a program to do the right thing, select the software title from the list. Lastly, if it’s not a specific program, try selecting the Mac OS X version that you are using. If you bought your Mac in 2006 or 2007, you are using Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger.
Once you are on the product support page, scan the Popular articles and Troubleshooting sections to see if you have a match. Next, type a few keywords of your problem into the search box in the upper right. Make sure the "Restrict…" box is checked and hit the button next to the search box. Take a look through the articles that come up or try a different set of search words if you aren’t getting what you need.
If that doesn’t turn up your answer, the next step is the Discussions area. Look for the Discussions link on the product support page that you came to off the main Support page.
When you get to the discussions main page, don’t worry if you don’t see your problem right away. Go to the search box in the upper right and type in your key words again. This will give you a list of discussions that contain the key words and hopefully answer your question. This is the area to spend some time and look through many pages with patience.
If you have looked through the discussions and STILL haven’t found your answer, you need to start a discussion on it. To do that, first you will need to log in with an Apple ID or .Mac member name. Get an Apple ID if you don’t have it by now.
Once you are logged in, go to the start page for discussions for your product and look right below the forum title for the Post New Topic button. Click that and start describing your problem in the following page. List as much technical detail as possible including what type of Mac you have and what version of software you are using.
If you want to get email notices about replies to your question, you should check the "Always subscribe to topics I create" button in My Settings before submitting a question. This way, whenever someone responds, you will be notified. Otherwise, bookmark that page and keep returning to see if your question has been answered. I have found that the Apple support community has always been very helpful to me and I’ve always got my problem solved there. Give it a shot!
You Need to Find Data About Your Mac.
Sometimes you just need to look something up about your Mac to find out if you can do something with it or not. Right smack dab in the middle of the main Support page are links to these two sections: Manuals and Specifications. Manuals brings you to a list of Product Documentation where you select your product, including software, and download a PDF of the instructions.
The Specifications page is a list of hardware that links to a web page giving you all the specs for your particular Mac. Sometimes, you might not know what Mac you have, so look to the upper right for the "Find by Serial Number" field and enter your serial number to get the model you have. This is especially helpful when selling an old Mac you might have forgotten the details about.
Did this guide give you the information and confidence you need to navigate Apple’s Support site? Let us know and share your tips in the Comments section below!