There are a thousand potential reasons your Mac is having problems. Maybe an application is hogging resources. Maybe your hard drive is failing. Or maybe you’ve got malware. EtreCheck is a free program that runs over 50 diagnostics on your Mac, then gives you a tidy report outlining all of them—so you know where to start looking.
This is not one of those scam tools that promises to “clean up your Mac.” It’s a true diagnostic: It gives you a report on what might be wrong, and leaves the actual fixes up to you. For power users, the benefit here is immediately obvious, but even for beginners this is useful. Send this report to your IT person and they’ll have a good idea of what’s going on, and what the solutions might look like.
To get started, head to EtreCheck.com and download the program. It comes in a ZIP file, which you can unarchive on your Mac simply by opening it. Drag the icon to your Applications folder.
When you run the application, you’ll be asked what’s currently wrong with your computer. Fill this in, if you like. The information won’t be sent anywhere, but will be included in the report, which is potentially useful if you plan on sending the report to your IT person.
Next, Etrecheck will scan your computer. First it will look over the hardware:
Then, it will look over your software, one app at a time:
The entire scan will take a few minutes, so go ahead and clean the dishes or something. You’ll hear a notification sound when the report is complete, and be presented with the following window.
The report does a great job of explaining itself. It starts with a full summary of your computer, complete with official Apple links to the technical specifications, user guide, and warranty information for your exact model.
Scroll down and you’ll start seeing the actual reports. Every section has a bolded header, beside which you’ll see an information icon. Click this to see a plain language explanation of what information the section offers.
As you read the report, you’ll notice some text is red. Pay attention to these lines, because Etrecheck uses red text to point out potential problems. For example, the screenshot below shows that my boot drive is getting pretty close to full.
This isn’t causing me any problems right now, but it could if I let things get much worse. I should probably free up some space on my Mac. As you can see, I can also read the complete SMART report for my hard drives from here.
You’re not going to know what a lot of the information in this report means, even if you’re a fairly advanced Mac user. For this reason, Etrecheck puts a clickable “Support” button beside nearly every line in the report.
Clicking this will run a web search for the problem in question. In the above case, the problem was a program I installed a few years ago trying and failing to launch a daemon. That’s not a huge problem, but it’s probably best for me to clean this and a few other broken daemons.
Keep scrolling and you’ll see all sorts of information. If your computer is running an daemons or applications that Etrecheck doesn’t recognize, those will be pointed out. If your Mac has malware, the malware will be pointed out, and the program can even delete it directly. If any of your hardware is broken, that will also be pointed out.
Again, Etrecheck can’t fix your computer—outside of removing malware, all it offers is information. But if you want to know what’s going on with your Mac, this is one of the best tools out there for the job.
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