# How do you get system diagnostic files from macOS?

I am trying to debug a crashed (or hanging) app. How do I get the diagnostic files from the crash?

## 3 Answers

Individual crash reports are stored in ~/Library/Logs/CrashReporter but there is a system wide log collection tool called sysdiagnose.

Once you start experiencing the issue, hold down the 4 control keys and then press the period "." key. shift+control+option+command+.

After about 15 seconds, a Finder window will open with a sysdiagnose file highlighted.

This shortcut simply executes the sysdiagnose command, so if you are familiar with the terminal and want to pass in a process ID, you can get enhanced debugging information about that specific program. The key shortcut calls the tool with no arguments and captures the basic report only.

• is there a way, to get this by command line? – Sidasa Aug 7 '12 at 21:42
• ~/Library/Logs/CrashReporter does not contain .crash files. Instead: /Library/Logs/DiagnosticReports and ~/Library/Logs/DiagnosticReports – Graham Perrin Feb 14 '13 at 19:31
• The key chord for sysdiagnose will work only if the stackshot daemon runs. In my answer, the launchctl command will start the daemon. – Graham Perrin Apr 6 '13 at 17:16
• is the sysdiagnose command also available in OS 10.6? I don't find a man page and which sysdiagnose returns nothing in OS 10.6.8, or do I have to install it explicitely? – MostlyHarmless Apr 17 '13 at 22:56
• @Martin my answer is edited to address your question. – Graham Perrin Jun 17 '13 at 11:12

# Apple sysdiagnose

This shell script(on 10.8 and lower) and executable program by the same name on 10.9:

• gathers system-wide diagnostic information
• is integral to OS X Lion and greater
• is not available as a separate download
• is not open source (I have asked Apple to make it so).

## Preparing for the keyboard-only approach to sysdiagnose

In Terminal, run the following command.

sudo launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.stackshot.plist

• if prompted for a password, enter your admin password for the operating system
• that's a one-off, no need to repeat the command.

Take a written note of the following key chord, you'll need it later:

Control-Option-Command-Shift-.

## Diagnosis by the system

When an issue occurs:

1. use the key chord
2. for at least ten seconds, touch nothing
3. allow maybe five or ten minutes for all parts of the sysdiagnose routine to complete – simply wait as long as you can (there'll be no on-screen indication of progress)
4. Finder should open a window to the end result.

### Exceptionally

In rare cases, an issue may prevent sysdiagnose from completing (I have made improvement suggestions to Apple). If this happens – if you're sure that you have waited long enough – it may be sensible to restart the Mac. Then:

1. in Finder, go to /private/var/tmp
2. seek a file or folder with a name beginning sysdiagnose_
3. if that file or folder exists, move it to a convenient place – your desktop, maybe.

### Hints

Without the key chord, you can run sysdiagnose from the command line (see below, Apple manual page). But it's often more useful, or necessary, to use the chord – so be prepared.

Whilst I don't encourage carelessness, you can be a little careless with Control-Option-Command-Shift-. … if you struggle to avoid the fn key on your laptop, don't worry; including it by accident should not prevent the run of sysdiagnose.

## Human analysis of diagnosis by the system

Hint: someone might like to ask a separate question about analysing the results of sysdiagnose – a more generalised answer could be useful.

### If sysdiagnose_… from the /tmp area is a file

Presence of a sysdiagnose_….tar.gz file indicates that all parts of the sysdiagnose routine completed, and that the results were archived. If you wish, open the archive – its contents will appear as a folder.

### If sysdiagnose_… from the /tmp area is a folder

Presence of a sysdiagnose_… folder (not a .tar.gz file) indicates that either:

• the routine was interrupted before completion; or
• some part of the routine could not complete.

### Within the archive/folder

Some files are human-readable and may help to troubleshoot an issue.

Other files are more developer-oriented.

Related:

For an incomplete run of sysdiagnose it may be useful to focus some attention on files that are abnormally empty …

## Technical and other notes

stackshot(1) OS X Manual Page

sysdiagnose(1) OS X Manual Page

Some of what's above is a more generic edition of an accepted answer that appears elsewhere.

# Diagnostic and usage information, other files of interest

Be guided by the log list in Console:

Expect to find files at the following paths:

• ~/Library/Logs/DiagnosticReports
• /Library/Logs/DiagnosticReports
• ~/Library/Logs
• /Library/Logs
• /private/var/log
• → Graham: this is a + day: something to learn! I think this kind of tool would benefit all sysadmins input if it was open source. – dan Aug 4 '13 at 13:42

### Console

To find existing diagnostic or crash files, open Console app and find the files in User Reports (located at ~/Library/Logs/DiagnosticReports) in or System Reports (located at /Library/Logs/DiagnosticReports) sections. See: Where can I find my crash logs?

### sysdiagnose

As per official sysdiagnose instructions for macOS, you can trigger a sysdiagnose either by:

Note: To access above link, you need to log-in to Developer Apple site first.

• Briefly press the following keys simultaneously:

Command-Option-Shift-Control-Period (.)

and wait. The sysdiagnose process can take 10 minutes to complete. Once finished, Finder should automatically appear showing the generated file in /private/var/tmp/ (e.g. sysdiagnose_2017.mm.dd_hh-mm-ss-0000_12345.tar.gz).

• Trigger a sysdiagnose from Terminal by entering this command:

sudo sysdiagnose


### core dumps

To generate crash core dumps, see: How to generate core dumps on macOS?

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