Repairing Permissions with Disk Utility

Repairing Permissions with Disk Utility



Sometimes it’s the simple things that we forget – maintenance. On the surface Mac OS X appears to be an operating system where you can just set it up and forget it. That is what most Mac OS X users do so don’t think you are the only one. I have worked with a lot of different people who call me an ask why their Mac isn’t running as fast as it used to. This is a simple maintenance routine is one that I generally start out with to get things going again.

Repairing Permissions with Disk Utility

Repairing Permissions using Disk Utility checks for any inconsistencies or differences your operating system might have. This typically examines permission differences on files and folders against what Mac OS X expects them to be. If something is found it is changed to match the expected settings. Permissions tend to become fragmented after third-party installations since the installer needs to access and create certain files on your Mac.
iLearn by Mac Users Guide

The Repair Disk Permissions function as part of Apple’s Disk Utility located on your hard drive in your /Applications/Utilities folder. Start by navigating to Disk Utility:

  1. Launch Disk Utility
  2. Select the desired disk, generally your startup disk found in the left column.
  3. Click the First Aid tab.
  4. At the bottom click the Repair Disk Permissions button.



Next to the Repair Disk Permissions button you will see the Verify Disk Permissions button. Selecting this option allows you to preview potential repairs before performing them. Personally there is little added benefit in doing this. Once the repair is complete I run the it a second time just to make sure that it has corrected all the errors. Once complete close Disk Utility.

Other Options


Check my article on Repairing Your Primary Startup Disk with Disk Utility. Other ways of optimizing your system is using a third-party application such as MacJanitor (Free), OnyX (Free), or TinkerTool System 1 & 2 (Paid). These applications offer a collection of system utility features assisting you in performing advanced administration tasks on Apple Macintosh computers by running system optimizing scripts to maximize your performance.


Macintosh Troubleshooting

Make a bootable Mac OS X USB flash drive for repairs



I am always on the go working on a variety of Macs. As reliable Macs can have their bad days and you don’t want to be caught unprepared. We have all been there, and it only takes that one time faced with a repair not having the right utilities or maintenance tools. I always have a USB flash drive with me that is ready for all situations that require me to diagnose, repair or maintain Mac OS X.

The best device I have in my arsenal of repair equipment is my Iron Key USB flash drive loaded with a bootable copy of MAC OS X. With this clean installed system you can pin point most problems that the main drive might have troubles isolating. I tend to have 3 or 4 of these USB keys, one for each Mac OS (10.4, 10.5 and 10.6). I used to lug around a big bulky portable drive but with more reliable USB flash drives available portability has become a great added tool.




Getting Started
To start you will need to have a USB based Mac, either Intel or PowerPC based on what you plan on repairing and at least a 16GB USB flash drive, I use the a S200 16BG Ironkey from Amazon. SanDisk also carries a reliable drive. Lastly you will need a version of Mac OS X.

  1. Plug in your USB flash drive to your Mac.
  2. Open Disk Utility (Applications > Utilities)
  3. Select your flash drive in the list on the left.
  4. Click on the Partition tab and select “1 Partition” from the Volume Scheme drop-down menu.
  5. Enter a name for your USB flash drive (I called mine “Lifesavor OS X”)
  6. Under Format select “Mac OS Extended (Journaled)”. Make sure the size is somewhere around +/- 16GB.
  7. Below the partition display click the ‘Options’ button.
  8. Choose “GUID Partition Table” from the popup window and click OK.
  9. With you setting chosen click the ‘Apply’ button. Disk Utility will take a minute or two to complete this task.
  10. Insert your Mac OS X installation disc.
  11. Double-click the ‘Install Mac OS X’ icon and progress through the installer until you get to the screen that says “Mac OS X will be install on…”
  12. Click the ‘Show All Disks’ button and select your USB flash drive.
  13. Click on the ‘Customize’ button and a new window will appear.
  14. Un-check all of the items except ‘Essential System Software’. Save space and don’t check ‘Rosetta’ and ‘QuickTime 7’.
  15. Click OK to Install. The rest of the process should be automated and might takes about 30-60 minutes.
  16. Once Installation is complete test the flash drive by booting it up. Restart your Mac and hold down the Option key to choose your flash drive manually. HINT: You will need to do this in the future also to boot to the drive.
  17. After restarting using the USB flash drive follow the set up prompts just like you would a new computer.
  18. Once the OS is running launch Software Update and make sure that your flash drive OS is up-to-date.
  19. Finally install any third party diagnostic utilities you may have. For example, Alsoft’s DiskWarrior is an invaluable tool going beyond what Disk Utility has to offer.


DONE! Although booting to a flash drive is a bit slow it does the job and is convenient; a lot lighter than dragging a book of CD/DVD’s around. Hopefully you will never have to use it but having it available is a great portable emergency too for troubleshooting your Mac.


2006 Intel iMac Startup Command Key

2006 iMac Intel



Recently I repaired a 20-inch 2006 iMac and was reminded of how much things have changed since the arrival of the Intel-based iMacs. Repairing or upgrading an iMac got a little more complicated. Apple used to make it possible for you to upgrade the RAM and hard drive of your iMac with relative ease, even with the 2002 “Snowball” iMac. It might have been somewhat of a jigsaw puzzle but it was doable, even for someone working on their first iMac. Taking apart an iMac (2006) model now requires quite a bit of nerve and careful skill to get at the hard drive, now mounted behind the screen and surrounded by flimsy heat shields. RAM is something you can still do yourself, except you need strong fingers. What hasn’t changed are the number of Startup key combinations you need to remember when working on your Mac regardless of the model or operating system.


Startup Key Combinations

I have listed startup key combinations that you can use to at startup on all Intel-based Macs. These are the basis of most repairs and troubleshooting paths and it is good to know them.

Press/Hold During Startup Description
C Start up a bootable CD or DVD such as a Mac OS X Install disk or repair utility.
D Start up in Apple Hardware Test (AHT) with the Install Disk 1 is in computer
Option+Command+P+R Reset Nonvolatile Memory (NVRAM).
Option Start up into System Manager. You can select and start up from any Mac OS X volume or CD/DVD disk.
Eject, F12, or mouse/click or Trackpad Button Eject any removable media, such as a optical disk.
N Start up from a compatible Network Server (NetBoot)
T Start up in FireWire Target Disk Mode.
Shift Start up in Safe Boot mode and temporarily disable login items.
Command+V Start up in Verbose Mode
Command+S Start up in Single-User Mode. You can run disk utility from here by typing “/sbin/fsck -fy”
Option+N Start up from a Network Server (NetBoot) using the default boot image.

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