System Errors on a Macintosh


UNIX-style operating systems such as Mac OS X may experience a type of error called a "kernel panic." A kernel panic is an error that occurs when the core (kernel) of an operating system receives an instruction in an unexpected format, or it fails to handle properly. A kernel panic may also follow when the operating system is not able to recover from a different type of error. A kernel panic can be caused by damaged or incompatible software or, more rarely, damaged or incompatible hardware. Because a kernel panic can happen at any time, backing up your data is always important.


Your Mac may do one or more of the following:

  • Spontaneously restart
  • Become unresponsive
  • Turn off
  • Display a message "Your computer restarted because of a problem."
  • Display a message "You shut down your computer because of a problem."


  • Try to isolate the problem and determine when the problem started, or identify if the problem occurs during a specific operation. You may find that the problem is linked to the addition of new hardware or software, or to a specific operation, such as saving a document or printing. If so, you can correct the problem by removing the incompatible hardware or software, or perhaps updating a hardware driver or software version to be compatible with the operating system and computer hardware. If the problem is related to a specific operation, such as saving a document, you may need to remove and reinstall the software program in which the problem occurs.
  • Other methods might include creating a new user account on the machine to see if the error is system or user related, and starting the computer from an external device. The latter can help indicate if the problem is software or hardware related.
  • If the problem is related to the operating system itself or a hardware issue, it may require the reinstallation of the operating system or sending your computer in for hardware repair.


Article ID: 64719
Tue 10/9/18 12:23 PM
Tue 11/12/19 10:32 AM