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Top tips for troubleshooting your Apple products

Don't spin your wheels trying to fix a problem with an Apple product. These tips will help you find the shortest route to a speedy solution.
I wear many hats, both professionally and in my personal life. Oftentimes, I find myself troubleshooting Apple products at work and lending a hand to friends and family in times of technological need. I've discovered that although many people I know have Apple products, few of them know the best ways to go about troubleshooting problems and finding a resolution. I'm going to take you through some of the services  Apple offers and give you tips on getting into and out of an Apple Store unscathed.

Knowledge base

Apple provides a wealth of information regarding its products for just about any topic you can think of. Apple's knowledge base contains thousands of articles, from installing memory to restoring your software. This is the first place I visit anytime I'm having difficulty resolving a problem or don’t know the answer to a question. Simply search for the product you own and provide a brief description of your issue. A great percentage of the time, you'll find what you're looking for. If you don't find what you need, here's another way to search Apple’s kbase: Head over to Google and in the search bar, type site:support.apple.com and your search term.  This isolates your search to the URL you provide and uses Google's search algorithms to produce the results. Apple's search is good, but sometimes using Google will produce more comprehensive results.

Apple support communities

Apple provides a support community where Apple users can ask questions and get feedback from other users. This has saved me countless times when I've run up against an issue I couldn’t crack. If you already have an Apple ID, simply sign in, find a topic that most closely relates to your issue or question, and see if anyone else is experiencing similar problems. If you don’t find anything, the next step is to post your issue in as much detail as possible. Explain your environment, Mac or iOS model, software versions, and issues being experienced. One of thousands of friendly and helpful users will almost undoubtedly have experienced your issue and will gladly lend a hand.

The Apple Store

When all else fails, I break down and head over to the Genius Bar. The Genius Bar may not always solve your problem on the spot, but the Apple Store Geniuses often live up to their name. Since the Apple Store is often packed to the seams with people, it helps to know what options you have before you head in for a visit. I'm going to give you the lowdown on how to have an incredible Genius Bar experience. Before you head to the store, write down a few things. Get the serial number of your product, along with the specs and software version numbers. Having those on hand will help to reduce the time needed for troubleshooting your issues. Go to Apple’s Support Coverage page and check to see if you're in warranty. This way, you'll know in advance whether your device can be covered for any issues. If the device has been physically damaged in some way, know that it's not Apple’s responsibility to cover the damage and your repair will most likely have a cost associated. Once you've obtained that information, the next step is to make a reservation with a Genius. Every Apple retail store has an official page. It can usually be found by typing in the following URL: http://www.apple.com/retail/storename. For example, my local store is Oxmoor, so the URL would be http://www.apple.com/retail/oxmoor. If you can’t remember your store name, no worries. Just go to http://www.apple.com/retail/ and find the closest Apple store to you. On this page, you will see a Reserve link under the Genius Bar logo. This is one of the most timesaving tips I can possibly share. Making a reservation will provide you with a time to arrive and meet with a Genius, and it will provide the Genius with information about your devices that can help make your visit more efficient. All appointments at the Genius Bar are 15 minutes long. If the issue is too complex to resolve in that time, the Genius will recommend leaving the device with them so that they can reproduce the issue. If you feel in advance that the issue is a doozie, make several appointments back to back to give yourself and the Genius more time to get the issue resolved. After you click the Reserve link, select the product you need to have looked at. Follow the steps by filling in your personal information and continue to the last page. Here, you'll find the key to having an amazing Genius Bar visit. Click the Add A Comment To My Reservation button and place your serial number, device specs, software versions, and a detailed but brief description of the issue you are experiencing in the Comments field and click Submit. The Genius you will be working with can then create a case in iRepair before you enter the store, allotting all your time to the issue at hand.

About

Wil Limoges is a Louisville, KY freelance web designer and Digital Savant at the vimarc group. He has had the pleasure of working for Apple as a Genius, loves science, and aspires to make great things!

9 comments
xderloin
xderloin

Contact support, contact a forum? Where are the troubleshooting tips?

ClaudeStephane
ClaudeStephane

How is it that Procare (Apple care, I can't remember current name), which admittedly must be purchased with hardware purchase? They are faster than Genius bar appointment, & will call back if their lines are crowded. The one on one, albeit by telephony, very nicely bridges gap between English & Apple lingo. And they seem consistly happy to help. Claude

bikingbill
bikingbill

Friday c.23:00. My son 'phones in a panic. His four year old MacBook won't start up. Just a white screen and nothing. His final Honours dissertation is on it, due in seven days. HELP!!!! I'm 170 miles away, so I tell him to take it in to his local Apple store in the morning. Saturday c.10:00. He's in the Apple store. With no appointment, the Genius has already diagnosed total hard disk failure, and because my son had Filevault turned on there is no possibility of data recovery. The disk is out of warranty, but the Genius can fit a new hard disk if Dad will pay.... Saturday c.12:30 My son has a repaired MacBook, dissertation and other data reloaded from Time Machine, and instructions on how to use iCloud as a secondary backup. The cost was surprisingly low. I was impressed. The local store had the spare part in stock, had the engineering skill on hand, and had the time and inclination to explain the restore process to my son - who is a music student not a geek. All at a reasonable cost and with no appointment. So next time an Apple device fails, take it to your local Genius!

suraiyabibi
suraiyabibi

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Gisabun
Gisabun

May be just easier to toss it in the trash or recycle bin if the gadget is older than a year. It ain't worth fixing most gadgets out there. Even as something as simple as an electric rasor. You can buy a new [decent] one for $60 instead of paying $40 for replacement blades. In the case of Apple gadgets there are other rwasons to toss them such as a nearly dead battery or [if you are a fanboi or fangurl] you want the latest and greatest that prophet Tim Cook wants you to buy. :-)

info
info

...these troubleshooting tips involve: 1) Searching the Web for help; 2) Searching the Web for help; 3) Asking someone else for help... BRILLIANT! *Laugh* ;) On a good note, tips about making a reservation at the Genius Bar will probably come in handy for a lot of people.

dl_wraith
dl_wraith

In my experience Apple users fall into two camps - The highly technical who understand their own equipment very well indeed (and thus wouldn't need the Genius bar anyway) and the casual tech user that love Apple's style and are dragged in by their advertising. The latter type of user would find this article very useful but the former would not. The question should be - how many of the latter user roam around TR?

daflamingo
daflamingo

Not everyone that roams around TR is "highly technical." I love the TR site and recommend it to my techie and non-techie friends. Thanks, Wil, for catering to all (or most) of us!

dl_wraith
dl_wraith

While I'm aware that not everyone here is not a techie it is easy to overstate the point, as I seem to have here. What I was getting at was that Apple users seem to be more polarised in technical skills with their own equipment than PC or Android users are. have a +1 for the gentle reminder that the non-techie is alive and well here at TR :)