iMac El Capitan Recovery

Had a major problem with El Capitan on my iMac the other day. For whatever reason, many apps stopped booting up and I was getting weird errors while running some applications. Basically, I was dead in the water on my main workflow machine and had no clue why.


Troubleshooting Techniques

In order to try to resolve this issue I did all kinds of tech trouble shooting. Here is what I did.

1. I ran all kinds of utility apps on the OS to no avail.

2. I have a test user account on my iMac (always a good idea). I booted into the test user account. If everything worked OK in the test user account then my own account had been corrupted. But, alas, the same problems appeared in the test user which was indicating an overall problem with El Capitan.

3. I booted from my Tech Hard Drive and ran the excellent DiskWarrior program which created a new directory in El Capitan. However, after booting back into the main account in El Capitan I had the same problems.

4. At this point the only thing really left to do is reinstall El Capitan. However, instead of using the Combo Updater to install “over the top” of the current OS I chose to boot into the Recovery mode by restarting and holding down the Command Key (⌘) and the letter R. Once in Recovery mode I just reinstalled the OS. I chose this method because it provides a completely new OS, if there are any problems lurking in the old OS they are completely removed.

The Recovery install took about 2 hours to complete, but it fixed all my issues! But, I was still at a loss as to what happened. As best as I can tell, it must have been one of the many apps that I download and test for my Macessence blog. I have tons of apps on this machine that is for sure. But, as to which one it was that caused the problem I really don’t know.

Apple’s Recovery mode install is really cool. It reinstalls the most current version of the OS without touching your apps or files. Pretty impressive to say the least. If I had to do this on a Windows machine it would have taken the better part of a day.

Want to mention one more thing before I close. Sometimes a hard drive that is failing (having hardware problems) can cause an OS to be corrupted. After all was said and done and my OS was working properly I booted back into the Tech Drive and checked the physical hard drive using Drive Genius.


I let it run over night. Drive Genius reported the hard drive to be healthy, no problems. It doesn’t hurt to be sure.


If you are having minor issues with your Mac OS then a utility app can usually fix that. But, if there are major issues it is almost easier to reinstall the OS using the Recovery mode.

PS – This behavior may have been caused by Apple messing up the Ethernet connection. See tomorrow’s article.