Troubleshoot Mac OS system errors

Symptoms of Mac OS system errors include a blank or flickering dialog box, a frozen cursor or screen, an unexpected restart, or a Mac OS error message.

Before you begin

Check system requirements

If your system does not meet the minimum requirements for your Adobe product, the product may not run correctly. Visit the Adobe System Requirements web page to make sure that your system meets the minimum requirements for your product.

To check basic system information, such as processor speed and available RAM, choose About This Mac from the Apple menu. For more information about your system, click More Info.

System requirements

Back up files

Back up all personal files (for example, Photoshop or InDesign files you created).

Basic system troubleshooting

Update your Adobe application

The latest version of the Adobe software can be more compatible with the operating system and drivers. Before you install an update, make sure that your system meets the requirements.

Visit the Adobe Product Updates page to see updates available for your product.

Product Updates window

Re-create Adobe application preferences

Re-create the Adobe application preferences file to eliminate problems that a damaged preferences file can cause.

The main preferences file is called "Adobe [Product Name] [Product Version] Prefs.psp."

On Mac OS, the preference file is found at:
/Users/[user name]/Library/Preferences/Adobe [Product Name] [Product Version] Settings/Adobe [Product Name] [Product Version] Prefs.psp

Important: The user library folder is hidden by default in Mac OS X 10.7 and later. See Access hidden user library files.

If you need a quick way to reset your preferences, you can do that in many Adobe applications using a keyboard shortcut while launching the product. Hold CMD-SHIFT-OPTION immediately after you double-click the application icon.

See this video for a walkthrough on resetting Photoshop's preferences: How to Reset Photoshop CS6’s Preferences File

For additional instructions, search your product's Help system for “restore preferences.”

Search for info on restoring preferences

Make sure that your OS language matches the language of your Adobe application

Some Adobe applications are only designed to run on an OS that has the language configured to match the language of the Adobe product. To change the language on your Mac OS X system, do the following:

  1. Choose System Preferences from the Apple menu.

    Choose System Preferences
  2. Click Language & Text.

  3. Click the Language tab.

  4. In the Languages pane, drag your preferred language to the top of the list.

    Language pane
  5. Restart your computer or log out and log back in to apply the new language preference.

Update Mac OS

Updates to the Mac OS X operating system can improve its performance and compatibility with Adobe applications.

Choose Software Update from the Apple menu, or visit www.apple.com/downloads/macosx/. For assistance installing updates, contact Apple technical support.

Important: Before you install a system update, make sure that your Adobe application's system requirements meet the system update version.

Choose Software Update

Run the application in a minimized mode or from an administrator account

Run the application in a minimized mode

To maximize available RAM and reduce the chance that another application or extension conflicts with the Adobe application, try all of the following:

Quit open applications:  Quit open applications (including virus-protection utilities). Then restart the Adobe application.

Note: If applications don't quit as expected, force quit them by choosing Force Quit from the Apple menu. Do not force quit the Finder.

Disable nonessential extensions: Hold down Shift while you restart the computer to disable nonessential extensions located in the user accounts Login Items folder. Then restart the Adobe application.

Quit processes that use large amounts of system resources: Quit processes that use more than 30% of system resources, and then restart the Adobe application.

1. Do one of the following:

  • Mac OS 10.3 and later: Choose Go > Utilities > Activity Monitor 
  • Mac OS 10.2 and earlier: Choose Go > Applications, open the Utilities folder, and then double-click Process Viewer.

2. Select each process that uses more than 30% of the CPU, and click Quit Process.  

Run the application from an administrator account

If you lack administrator access privileges, the Adobe application may be unable to access necessary files. To determine if limited privileges cause the problem, log in as a user with access privileges, and try to re-create the problem.

If the problem doesn't recur, the account you were previously using lacks access privileges. Contact your system administrator to grant you access privileges.

To log in as an administrator, do the following:

  1. From the Apple menu, choose Log Out

  2. Click Log Out when the system returns the message, "Are you sure you want to quit all applications and log out now?"

  3. If your computer automatically logs you in, but you want to log in as another user, hold Shift when the Mac OS X Startup Screen appears. Release the Shift key when the log-in screen appears.

  4. When the log-in screen appears, select a user with access privileges, type the appropriate password, and then press Return.

    Note:

    If you don't have access to an account with administrator privileges, contact your system administrator.

Reinstall the Adobe application

Install the application from the desktop

Some system components--for example, device drivers and virus protection utilities--can conflict with the Adobe application installer and result in an incomplete or failed installation. To prevent these conflicts, install the application from the desktop.

  1. Move any personal files from the Adobe application folder on the hard disk to another location.
  2. Copy the Adobe application folder from the disk to the desktop.
  3. Open the Adobe application folder on the desktop.
  4. Double-click the Setup file, and follow the onscreen instructions.

    Note:

    If you previously installed an update to the Adobe application, reinstall the update after you reinstall the application.

Install the application from within a new user account

Occasionally, a user account can become corrupted and prevent the installer from accessing or creating the necessary files and folders.

Create a user account, log in to the new account, and then try to install or run the Adobe application. For information on creating a user account, see Install or run Adobe applications in new user account | Mac OS X.

Install the application on a different hard drive

If reinstalling the Adobe application doesn't solve the problem, try installing and running the application on a different hard drive in the same computer. Or, try the same hard drive installed in a different computer.

If the problem doesn't recur, the hard drive or the motherboard you were using previously could be the cause. For assistance, contact the manufacturer.

Product-specific solutions

Products and solutions

Solution Products
Disable third-party plug-ins Acrobat | Adobe Reader | Adobe Premiere Pro | Adobe Premiere Elements | After Effects | Adobe Bridge | Fireworks | Illustrator | InDesign | Photoshop | Photoshop Elements | Photoshop Lightroom
Disable extensions Adobe Bridge | Contribute | Dreamweaver | Fireworks | Flash | Illustrator | InDesign | Photoshop
Optimize scratch disks Acrobat | Adobe Premiere Pro | After Effects | Encore | Adobe OnLocation | Photoshop | Photoshop Elements | Illustrator | Soundbooth
Troubleshoot fonts Acrobat | Adobe Premiere Pro | AfterEffects | Encore | Fireworks | FrameMaker | Illustrator |  InDesign | Photoshop | Photoshop Elements

Disable third-party plug-ins

  1. Remove third-party plug-ins from the application's plug-ins folder (Applications > [Adobe application] > Plug-Ins).

    Plug-ins folder

    The plug-ins folder for Adobe After Effects

  2. Restart the application:

    • If the problem recurs, move the plug-ins back to the application plug-ins folder and try a different solution.
    • If the problem doesn't recur, then go to the next step.

  3. Move one third-party plug-in back to the application's plug-ins folder.


  4. Restart the application, and try to re-create the problem.

  5. Do one of the following:

    • If the problem doesn't recur, then begin again at step 2.
    • If the problem does recur, contact the developer of the plug-in that you last moved, and inquire about an update.


Disable extensions

Extensions enhance the functionality of the Adobe applications listed above. For more information about extensions, see Adobe Extension Manager Help

Disable extensions to eliminate problems that a damaged or incompatible extension can cause.

  1. Start the Adobe Extension Manager. (If the Adobe Extension Manager isn't installed, download it here.)
  2. From the product list, select the Adobe application that's experiencing a problem.
    Adobe Extension Manager
  3. Disable or turn off all extensions.

  4. If the problem ceases, reenable one extension at a time and try working with the Adobe application that's experiencing a problem. If you identify a problematic extension, remove it.

    To remove an extension:

    1. In the Extension Manager, select the extension.

    2. Choose File > Remove Extension.

Optimize scratch disks

When insufficient RAM is available for image editing, these applications use a scratch disk file. A scratch disk file is temporary disk space used for storing data and performing computations.

Maximizing scratch disk performance can resolve system errors and freezes. Search for “scratch disk” in your Adobe application's Help system for more information.

See also: 

Troubleshoot fonts

A system error can occur if an Adobe application accesses a damaged font.  For instructions on troubleshooting damaged fonts, see one of the following documents:

Fonts folder

The fonts folder in Mac OS X

Advanced system troubleshooting

Update your video card driver or printer driver

Update your video card driver

Many video card manufacturers frequently update their software drivers. If you haven't recently updated the video card driver, contact the video card manufacturer for an updated driver, or download one from the manufacturer's website.

Update your printer driver

If the problem occurs when printing, verify that you are using the latest driver and PPD (PostScript Printer Description) file for the printer. Download and install the latest driver and PPD file from the printer manufacturer's website. See the printer's documentation for instructions on installing the printer driver.

Perform system maintenance

Disclaimer: Adobe doesn't support hardware and provides these tasks as a courtesy only. For further assistance, contact the hardware manufacturer or an authorized reseller. If you troubleshoot hardware problems yourself, you could void the computer's warranty.

Scan the system for viruses

Use current antivirus software (for example, Symantec Norton AntiVirus or McAfee Virus Scan) to check the system for viruses. Virus infections can damage software and cause system errors. For more information, see the documentation for the antivirus software.

Repair disk permissions by running Disk Utility

If you log in to an account with administrator privileges, but you can't install or run the Adobe application, then your disk permissions could be damaged.

To repair your permissions by using the Disk Utility:

  1. Choose Go > Applications, open the Utilities folder, and then double-click Disk Utility.

    Double-click Disk Utility
  2. Select the volume on which you want to install the Adobe application, and then click Repair Disk Permissions.

    Note: If you have trouble repairing disk permissions from Disk Utility, try booting from the OS install disc and running Disk Utility from that disc. Choose to repair permissions on the drive that contains your Adobe software.

    Click Repair Disk Permissions

Repair and defragment hard disks

To check for a damaged hard disk, which can cause installation errors, use Apple Disk Utility.  

Open the Apple Disk Utility

Disconnect peripheral devices

Note: Before you remove or rearrange hardware, turn off and disconnect the power to the computer and any peripheral devices.

Disconnect peripheral (external) devices one at a time. Peripheral devices include devices connected via FireWire, USB, Serial ATA, IDE, or SCSI.

If an error doesn't occur when a peripheral device is disconnected, there could be a problem with the device, the cable, or the connection. Contact the manufacturer of the device for troubleshooting steps for the device.

Reformat the hard disk using HFS+ formatting, and install only Mac OS and the Adobe application.

Important: Reformatting a disk erases all files it contains, so be sure to back up all personal files first. Also make sure that you have all application and system disks.

  1. Reformat the hard disk using HFS+ formatting, and then install only Mac OS and your Adobe product from the original installation media.

    Note: Don't install additional software or hardware until you're sure that the problem is resolved. Don't back up the hard disk and restore Mac OS and the application instead of reinstalling them. If an application or Mac OS causes the problem, and either one is restored instead of reinstalled, the problem could recur.

  2. Try to re-create the problem:

    • Problem no longer occurs?  Install other applications one at a time, and try to re-create the problem after each installation. If the problem occurs after an installation, the recently installed application could be the cause. Contact the developer of the application for information about an update.
    • Problem recurs? The cause is hardware-related. Contact the hardware manufacturer or an authorized reseller for assistance.

Troubleshoot ICC profiles

ICC profiles help manage color spaces on your system. A system error can occur if your Adobe application accesses a damaged ICC profile. Troubleshoot ICC profiles to determine if they cause the problem:

  1. Move all profiles from the following folders to the desktop:

    • Library/ColorSync/Profiles folder
    • Library/Application Support/Adobe/Color/Profiles
    • System/Library/ColorSync/Profiles
  2. Restart the Adobe application and try to re-create the problem.

    • If the problem recurs, move the profiles back to the folder.
    • If the problem doesn't recur, move one profile at a time back to the folder until you identify the profile that causes the problem.

Check for damaged expansion cards or RAM modules

Expansion cards

Damaged or incompatible PCI or PCI-X expansion cards can cause system errors. To check PCI or PCX cards, turn off your computer. Remove any processor accelerator cards, video cards, or other installed expansion cards, and then restart the computer.

RAM modules

Make sure that RAM modules are installed properly and are not the cause by doing one or both of the following:

  • Change the order of the installed RAM modules.
  • Remove all but the minimum number of RAM modules required to run Mac OS and the Adobe application and test to see if the problem recurs:
    • If the problem recurs, replace the RAM modules you removed and remove the others, testing again to see if the problem recurs.
    • If the problem does not recur, one or more of the removed RAM modules are the cause. For assistance, contact the RAM manufacturer.

Install to a different hard disk that is designated as the startup disk

Install the system software on a different hard disk (not a different partition on the same disk) and then specify that disk as the startup disk. Then, install the application to the new hard disk.

To specify the startup disk:

  1. Choose System Preferences from the Apple menu.

    Choose System Preferences
  2. Select Startup Disk from the System selections.

    Select Startup Disk
  3. Select the drive to which you reinstalled the system software.
  4. Restart the computer.

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