In a (possibly related) recent question I outline some background to a decidedly unhealthy Mac Book Pro (patched up to date with the latest 10.6 updates).

A suggestion was to try to see what clues might appear in Console.app ... but Console.app doesn't start. It bounces in the dock, then reports that it can't open.

Where can I find the logs that Console.app reflects?

4 Answers 4


Logs from Console.app are in 3 different places:

/var/log (which is actually /private/var/log)
~/Library/Logs (~ means your home directory)
And /Library/Logs

When looking for general errors, one of those locations should provide insight. Note that Console.app also shows Crash logs, and specifically lists some special log files that may not be in one of the above three directories. However, those are special purpose and won't necessarily provide any insight into the issue at hand.


There are 2 system logs available in osX

you want a quick peek at the system messages?

syslog -w 

Now there are a bunch of byzantine options to this poorly named command, but

syslog -w -F raw

Will show you a nicely formatted and labeled set of fields and values, here, let me demonstrate by displaying Safari, as it wildly tries to copy my website pages to oddly named static pngs, I'm sure for wholesome reasons.

[Time 1305838473] [Host 8va] [Sender \[0x0-0x19019\].com.apple.Safari] [PID 846] [UID 501] [GID 20] [Level 5] [Message ImageIO: could not open '/Users/kb/Library/Caches/com.apple.Safari/Webpage Previews/.88C02C6F0DC6F52CA71726B72D215E75.jpeg-6GlG'] [ASLMessageID 3432443] [TimeNanoSec 256702000] [ReadUID 501] [Facility com.apple.console] [Session Aqua]

Now, this message is here because that directory is actually /dev/null, but Safari does not know that.

man syslog

man asl.conf

One other place where you can find some clues is the system.log. You need root privileges to access this file.

sudo less /var/log/system.log

If you have Onyx installed, you can easily view all log data in one place.


Typically when Apple built-in apps won't launch it's typically because something has gone south in launchd. Launchd is the mac unix process that spawns applications. Usually, once one goes they all start to go.

Fortunately, a reboot typically fixes this.

If this behaviour started right after an upgrade, a good diagnostic fix is to find the combined update and rerun it. Typically updates are deltas. 10.6.4 -> 10.6.5 for example. If a delta gets flakey, go to http://support.apple.com and look for the combo upgraded which puts down all deltas from the dot zero to present.

Finally, when built-in OS software starts to fail, while you can poke around and try to patch it up; go hit up an Apple Store Genius. The service is free and they will also take a look at the hardware to see if there may be a memory or mother board issue.

In general, if a reboot or a reinstall of the OS doesn't fix OS misbehaviors; you'll likely be directed to save what files you can from the drive, wipe and reinstall from scratch.

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