I'm applying for an IT position and one of the test questions I'm up against requires that I spend 20 minutes looking into all the ways of troubleshooting a Mac OS X kernel panic, then compare it against the answers of other professionals.

I think I'm underestimating the question since I feel that Apple's support article covers most (if not, all) troubleshooting steps.

Is there any other things that I'm missing here? See below;

  1. Note the details leading up to the kernel panic

    a. What time was it happening?
    b. What error code are you getting?
    c. Was a device connected?
    d. What application / task were you running?

  2. Start OSX from recovery, if there's an issue here then it's likely a hardware issue

    a. Use Disk Utility's "Repair disk"

  3. (Isolating it to Software) Connect an external with 10gb extra space

    a. Install OSX on external drive
    b. Start up from external drive
    c. Use software update to install all updates
    d. Use external drive with default applications until kernel panic occurs again

  4. (Hardware troubleshooting) Turn off mac, remove all devices

    a. Turn mac back on to see if issue persists
    b. If it still occurs, check internal ram and third party hardware (by checking placement / removing hardware)
    i. If issue still happens after checking ram / third party hardware, bring mac to apple store or run diagnostics - https://support.apple.com/kb/PH18765?locale=en_US&viewlocale=en_US c. If it doesn't occur, simply connect one external device at a time until you see the issue

  5. (Software troubleshooting)

    a. Start mac from OSX recovery and reinstall osx on mac, installing all updates
    i. If issue doesn't occur, continue downloading third party software starting with updates before reinstalling
    ii. If issue still occurs, erase everything and do a clean reinstall

  6. Reset NVRAM (if failed during update)

  7. Do a safe boot on your mac
  8. Do a complete update
  9. Check your disk size (have enough free space?)
  10. If all else fails, take error log and contact apple support

1 Answer 1


The order you posted is not the order you'd suggest for the different steps, I hope?

I would do a reset PRAM way before reinstalling the OS, and also safe boot before reinstalling. Other steps:

  1. Create another session and see if the problem happens with the other session.
  2. Clear the caches.
  3. Reset SMC.

These steps I'm suggesting are to be done before anything drafting like fully reinstalling the OS, but not especially in that order.

Otherwise, I'd say everything is covered, but I'm no expert. It's just things I would do if I had a kernel panic and was trying to troubleshoot it.

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