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I have an issue on my MacBook Pro (15-inch, mid 2010, macOS Sierra).

Some applications won't open, or don't work as expected, and generally I see the spinning pinwheel and macOS is really slow.

Also, often when I shut down I see a black screen, but not completely turned off, so I have to shut down by pressing the power button for 3-4 seconds.

Sometimes applications like Google Chrome or Final Cut Pro don't work well, often freezing up or not opening.

But all these issues disappear if I boot up in safe mode (applications work well, restarting and shutdown always work, no frozen apps, etc).

I tried to:

My question is: What differences are there between safe mode and standard mode? What can I disable to isolate the issue?

  • 1
    Run Hardware Test. Hold D or option-D and turn on the mac. Let go once the test or "starting" symbol appears – John Keates Jul 7 '17 at 1:06
  • I tried, but the Apple HW Test doesn't start and returns a " -3403D" error code – Giordano Jul 14 '17 at 10:19
  • Sounds like a bad HDD/SSD to me. Try option-D or CMD-D for internet diagnostics. – John Keates Jul 14 '17 at 14:39
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One place to start is testing your Startup/Login items, as it's likely to be something that's getting loaded during normal startup (e.g. a Startup/Login item, a font you've installed, etc) that's causing the problem.

So I would:

  1. Startup normally
  2. Go to System Preferences > Users & Groups
  3. Select the Login Items tab
  4. Take a note of your Login Items
  5. Now remove all of them by highlighting them and clicking on the - button below
  6. Restart your computer

Now your Mac will boot up without those login items loading. Test this and see if the problem persists.

  • If the problem does persist, I'd then remove any fonts you've installed yourself.
  • If the problem goes away you know one (or more) of the Login items were causing the problem. You can then go back and add them back one by one until you've identified the culprit.

Let me know how you go.

[EDIT]

I forgot to answer your question about what the difference is between booting into Safe Mode and booting normally. In a nutshell, booting into Safe Mode:

  • doesn't load Login Items and any custom fonts you've installed (which is what my answer above is based on)
  • ensures that only macOS kernel extensions are loaded
  • runs a number of additional checks during startup (e.g. verifying/repairing your drive's directory, etc)
  • deletes various caches

The last two can result in your system effectively repairing itself if your problems are related to corrupted caches or directory issues. In your case, since the problems didn't go away after previously booting into Safe Mode, the problem is most likely related to Login Items or 3rd party kernel extensions.

  • Thanks for answering Monomeeth. I removed every login items (actually there was only Spotify), restarted my computer, but the issue persists. – Giordano Jul 14 '17 at 10:28
  • I've restored standard fonts and tested again. The issue is still there. – Giordano Jul 14 '17 at 10:36
  • How can I view/check the 3rd party kernel extensions installed on this machine? – Giordano Jul 14 '17 at 10:36
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    You can enter the following command into Terminal: kextstat | grep -v com.apple to list 3rd party kernel extensions. You may want to copy and paste the command so you get it exactly right. In case you don't know, Terminal is found within the Utilities folder, which itself is found within the Applications folder. – Monomeeth Jul 14 '17 at 10:37
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    After several trials, I found that uninstalling completely Flash Player from all the browsers fixed the slowness issue. – Giordano Nov 23 '17 at 10:25
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My problem was running icloud. Once it was disabled, the computer runs as expected.

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this solution might be weird but it worked for me. Turn off your Wi-Fi and try to open your applications again.

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