What is a Safe Boot and Why Might I Need It?

Saturday, September 20, 2008, 11:38 PM – Tips and Hints

I haven’t posted to my blog for several days because I have had big time problems with my Mac. It all started when I installed the latest update of Leopard – 10.5.5.

The first problem happened when I tried to compose messages in my Mail program. I couldn’t type anything. Every time I tried to enter text I got an error message that said the spell checker wasn’t working. I tried quitting Mail and then restarting Mail and that didn’t work. I tried restarting my computer and that seemed to help, but the problem popped up a couple of other random times.

Then a day later the real problem started. I couldn’t open any of my applications. Every time I tried I got the same error message: Error 10810. There didn’t seem to be any pattern to the problem. It affected both third party applications and Apple applications. Sometimes the problem would start as soon as I restarted the computer. Sometimes everything would be fine until the computer warmed up then the problem would start.

I’m going to skip the things that didn’t work and go right to what seems to have solved it because other people have reported the same problem. According to some advice I got, there might be an incompatibility with a third party software because the problem is only happening to some people.

The first thing I did was turn off the applications that I had set to automatically open when my computer is turned on because any one of them would be the most likely culprit.

You probably have some set to open automatically even if you don’t know it because some applications set that as part of their installation. To turn any of them off select Apple Menu > System Preferences > Accounts. Then choose your administrator account and select Login Items. To remove something from the list click on it to highlight it and click on the minus sign at the bottom of the window. Don’t forget to lock the Accounts Window when you are finished for security.

The second thing I did was shut down my computer completely and do a Safe Boot. Here is how.
Hold down the power button
As soon as you hear the startup tone, hold down the Shift key (not before).
Release the Shift key when you see the gray Apple and the spinning gear.

A Safe Boot takes longer than a regular start up. It also disables some of your regular tools. For instance, the volume control tool was not present on my Menu Bar under the Safe Boot. But what it does is forces a directory check of the startup volume. Depending on which version of OS X you are running it does somewhat different things, but the bottom line is it works around software or directory damage on the startup volume.

My bottom line is that whatever the problem was seems to have been solved. No more problems with Mail and no more problems opening my applications. I was able to restart my computer in normal mode and everything is still working just fine. As soon as I get time, I will start adding back in the few applications I had in my start up menu to see if any of them bring back the problem.

Maybe. Maybe I’ll just leave well enough alone.



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