If your computer refuses to restart in the normal fashion, you'll have to force the process by using the reset function. Resetting is done in different ways on different models of Macs. On flat-panel iMacs and other newer models, you must press and hold the power button for five seconds. After the computer shuts down, turn your computer on as you normally would.
On older Macs, you may have to search for a tiny button labeled with a triangle-shaped icon and then press it. (On some models you may need to use the point of a pencil or a straightened paperclip to press the button.) As soon as you press and release the reset button, your Mac should restart normally.
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Consider this action only if the previous process won't work because it's much more drastic. If attempting to reset your Mac fails, your only remaining option is to pull the plug, literally. Now wait 30 seconds, plug in your Mac again and turn it on. At this point, you should be able to start normally, except you might find the startup processes pauses for some extra seconds at the Checking Disks prompt on the Mac OS X startup screen. This is because a forced shutdown could cause minor disk directory damage, which is being fixed during the startup process. This should not be any cause for concern.
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Don't push the start button or reset button too hard.
What's Causing Those Crashes?
A rare system crash, maybe once every few days or so, is normal behavior for a Mac OS computer or even one of those computers from the other side. Don't get me wrong ”Mac OS X is a resilient system; you could go for days or weeks before a crash occurs, but it can still happen. It's just the nature of the beast . If you encounter crashes several times a day, however, then something is definitely wrong. You might be seeing a conflict with some new software or hardware you've installed.
Fortunately, there are ways to check for the cause of such problems. Consider the following:
Recent software installations ” What did you do just before your computer began to crash? If you just installed some new software that only runs in the Classic environment and puts files in the Classic System Folder, maybe one of those files is causing a conflict. You'll want to check the program's documentation (or Read Me, if there is one) to see if the publisher is aware of any problems. As a test, with a Classic application open, you can open Extensions Manager (from the Control Panels folder) and disable any system programs that are used with the new software, by running a Mac OS 9.x Base set (or the set that applies to the system you have). This restricts it to the bare bones stuff you need to boot your computer. Then restart and see if the problems continue. Of course, you might be disabling something that is needed to make the program run, but at least you'll be able to see what might have caused your problem. If the problem goes away, go back to Extensions Manager and restore the other extensions a few at a time. After a few restarts, you're apt to come to a probable solution.
Recent hardware upgrades ” If you just installed a RAM upgrade on your computer and it is now crashing away, maybe the RAM module you installed is defective. It's always possible and not easy to test for. You might want to consider removing the RAM upgrade, strictly as a test. Then work with your Mac to see if the crashes go away. If they do, contact the dealer for a replacement module. If you've installed an extra drive, scanner, or other device, disconnect it (and turn off its software) and see if the problem disappears.
Hardware defects ” As with any electronic product, there's always the very slight chance one or more of the components in your computer might fail. In the vast majority of cases, however, a software conflict (or defective RAM) causes constant crashes. If you've tested everything and your Mac still won't work reliably, don't hesitate to contact Apple Computer or your dealer and arrange for service.