Have you ever been a situation where you are contacting someone (Apple, software tech help, etc.) for technical help for your Mac, and had them ask “what were you doing when the problem occurred?” If you are like me you probably said something like: “I was just reading my email and mail crashed”, or “I was in the middle of a document and the mouse pointer started jumping around all over the screen.)
There are probably hundred’s of variation on this answer, and most of the time your answer is not enough information for the technician to proceed. So, you play out this little scenario where the technician asks you to check a bunch of stuff as he or she tries to pin down the problem. It can take a lot of time to do this.
There is a way to speed up those situations. The answer is to pull up a snapshot of what your Mac is doing. It is called an information dump. The information may not mean anything to you, but it should mean something to the technician. Be aware before you do this that the information you pull up contains the serial number of your computer, the computer name, and your user name.
Here is all you have to do to get the information dump. Open a terminal window. Don’t worry that you are going to make a mistake and blow up your computer because you are in the terminal. The info that you are entering does not include anything that will cause a problem.
To get to the terminal type terminal in Spotlight and click on it to open. You can also open the terminal by selecting File > Applications > Utilities > Terminal while in a finder window.
When the terminal opens you will get a small window like the one below.
Starting right there (don’t delete anything that is already present), hold down the following keys: Shift, Control, Option, Command, period. Yes indeed, it does take finesse to hold all those keys down at once, but you will figure it out.
You won’t see anything appear in the window. Just wait about a minute and a new window will open containing all the information related to your query.
Mine looks like this:
All the information in the folders you see listed are contained in a master folder which you can send to the technician via email or iMessages. I just opened one to show the contents.
The information dump is a picture of a single bit of time. An information dump you got 3 days ago will not be of any use.
Next time a technician asks you what you were doing when the problem occurred you can say “I was doing……. Would you like me to send you the information dump that I gathered as soon as it happened?” You will be a hero.