Checking Console for clues

This FAQ, derived from the "Console and Crash Logs" chapter of our book, Troubleshooting Mac® OS X, provides basic instructions for using Console to check for clues that may help in troubleshooting.

  1. Open Console, located in the Macintosh HD > Applications > Utilities folder.
  2. Check both the Console and System logs for messages that may be written therein related to the problem. To open these logs, in Console choose File > Open, then choose:
    • Open Console Log to open:
      • The Console Messages log database query in Mac OS X 10.5 and later.
      • The console.log file in Mac OS X 10.4 and earlier.
    • Open System Log to open the system.log file.
    • Note: A window entitled either Console Messages (Mac OS X 10.5 or later) or console.log (Mac OS X 10.4 and earlier) may open by default when you open Console.

Messages in these logs are time stamped, usually with both the date and time when the message was logged. Scroll the log windows to the approximate time when the problem occurred.

If messages related to the problem appear in these logs at the time the problem occurred and these messages refer to the function or application you are attempting to troubleshoot, then the details of the message may provide additional clues you can use in troubleshooting.

A detailed understanding of Mac OS X at the system level is generally required to interpret the messages one finds in Console logs. If you need help with the specific messages, you can copy and paste them into a post on a Mac forum, such as the Apple® Discussions, for additional analysis. Note that when posting Console messages to a forum:

  • Be sure to note the log file from which the messages were copied.
  • Do not post an entire log to a forum: post only the messages referring to the function or application in question.

Additional information on system logging in Mac OS X is covered in the "System Logging" appendix of our Troubleshooting Mac OS X e-books.

Did you find this FAQ helpful? You will find a wealth of additional advice for preventing or resolving Mac OS X problems in Dr. Smoke's book, Troubleshooting Mac® OS X.
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