Sometimes my macbook freezes while browsing the web etc, I get a beach ball cursor but it doesn't spin or respond (there is no movement on the screen, it's frozen), the keyboard is unresponsive, closing the lid does nothing. Once it did this while playing music, the music continued for 20-30 seconds before stopping.

The only reaction I can get out of the machine is pressing and holding the power button then restarting. I suspected the window manager had crashed or another subsystem, but how do I diagnose this issue?

Under windows there's a system log available under control panel that I can look through to find driver crashes to track down what the issue is.

Running OS X Mavericks 10.9.2 Macbook Pro Retina, 13-inch, Late 2013

1 Answer 1


First thing is, after a reboot, to look at /var/log/system.log.

Search from the end for BOOT_TIME. This is the first entry after your mac reboots. Now go up to read the lines above. This might give you a clue what happened right before the mac had frozen.

To take a look at more logfiles, go to /var/log and list them with

ls -ltr

This will sort them by time so that newest files are at the bottom. If you can't find something helpful inside system.log you might have a chance when looking at the logs that have been written around freeze time (or later).

  • Thanks, I found a thread related to the issue I was having with chrome, and I'm currently diagnosing a new issue with similar results with the machine freezing after disconnecting an external monitor, are the /var/log files the only places I can find useful information? Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 19:12
  • You can also take a look at ~/Library/Logs, but this is more user and application specific. For system logs, /var/log is the place to go.
    – Karsten S.
    Commented Apr 2, 2014 at 8:52

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