When unexpected problems arise, how do you react? What steps do you follow to troubleshoot? Do you have a set of tools and underlying concepts that guide you in this process?

Just Restart

When technology behaves strangely or out of the ordinary, restarting is often the simplest solution. I recommend starting small and working your way up. That is, think about the specific application, system, or device that’s malfunctioning and restart that first.

For example, suppose you can’t get online. You notice that your email is disconnected or you can’t load websites. If you connect using Wi-Fi, try turning Wi-Fi off and back on. If that doesn’t help, shut down your device, wait 10 seconds, and then start up.

If other devices get online fine and just one doesn’t work, try restarting the network devices (modem, router, access point, etc.) that are serving the Internet connection. Even if other devices are working fine, these parent devices may still be at fault.

Rebuild Mail

Mail usually does a great job reading the thousands of message files it stores on your Mac and indexing their content in a unified database so you can search, read, and send with ease.

However, sometimes Mail behaves weirdly and stops showing messages in one or more mailboxes, or refuses to show search results for messages you know exist.

If you notice one of these symptoms, try rebuilding the mailbox, simply by choosing Rebuild at the bottom of the Mailbox menu and waiting for messages to reappear.

A more advanced process of deleting the underlying database file forces Mail to reindex all of your email. This can be helpful where multiple mailboxes are failing or search is broken application-wide, and is a tactic best left to me, if necessary.

Take a Break

When the computing road challenges your endurance, sometimes a human rest or reset is just as good. I’ve spent several hours this past week playing a TETRIS® clone called Quinn, by Simon Härtel, which I’ve enjoyed for a decade.

I’ve binged on playing lately because Quinn is an old app that probably won’t get updated to support the next version of macOS to be released later this year. I love its elegant design, support for customizable keys, and simple sound effects.

However, yesterday I started to notice some hand strain from the repetitive motion of the game. This was a great reminder that everything is best in moderation and I shouldn’t overdo it.

There are few TETRIS® games that work on the Mac but there’s also plenty of time to play them, so I better take a break before I hurt myself. I also booked a massage for before I leave on vacation.

There are many ways to approach a reset, whether for you or your Mac. What kinds of technical issues have you experienced where a restart was the easiest resolution? What other methods do you have to troubleshoot such challenges, open yourself to new perspectives, and face ambiguity with ease?

Most of my professional learning takes place on the job, where I regularly face problems I’ve never experienced before. I get to learn what ails my clients, demonstrate my facility with technical jargon and search results, translate what I find for your benefit, and design solutions that achieve the desired outcome.