Mac Rebooting On Its Own

Just because it crashed doesn't mean it's over. On your keyboard, press and hold the following keys: Shift + Control + Option (Alt). All of these keys should be on the left side of your keyboard. While holding these three keys, press and hold the power button for at least 10 seconds. Release all the keys, then turn on your Mac. Rebooting your computer involves two steps — shutting down the computer and then starting it up again. When you reboot/restart your computer, it will lose power during the process and start up. This article is based on our expertise of macOS, its file system, the work of third-party apps and startup programs. We’ve been working 10+ years in developing our own disk utilities for making a Mac work smoothly. We regularly explore the latest updates of macOS and update our apps and our articles according to system changes.

About unexpected restarts

Rarely, your Mac might experience a software or hardware issue that requires it to restart. When it starts up again, you might see a message that your computer was restarted because of a problem.

Unexpected restarts are usually caused by software installed on your Mac, or by devices connected to your Mac. If the issue causes your Mac to restart every time it attempts to start up, your Mac might eventually shut down. Use the steps below to check the software and hardware on your Mac.

Check your software

If the issue is caused by software on your Mac, one of these steps might help:

  • Install all available software updates.
  • If your Mac suspects that a particular app caused the restart, it might ask whether you would like to move the app to the Trash. Click Move to Trash, then contact the software developer to see if a software update is available.
  • Use safe mode to try to isolate the cause of the issue.
  • Reinstall macOS. If the issue continues after reinstalling macOS, check your hardware.

Check your hardware

Learn how to check your connected devices and other hardware.

Check peripheral devices first

If you don't have any devices attached to your Mac, skip to the next section.

  1. Shut down your Mac.
  2. Disconnect all peripheral devices, such as hard drives or printers. If you have a desktop Mac, make sure that only a display, keyboard, and mouse or trackpad are connected.
  3. Turn on your Mac.
  4. Use your Mac for the amount of time that it would usually take for an unexpected restart to occur.
  5. If an unexpected restart occurs, follow the steps to check the internal RAM and third-party hardware.
  6. If an unexpected restart doesn't occur, turn off the Mac and connect one peripheral device at a time until an unexpected restart occurs.

Check RAM and third-party hardware

Certain models of Mac computers have removable memory (RAM). If you recently installed memory or a hard disk (or SSD), make sure that it's compatible and installed correctly. If possible, remove it and test with the original memory or disk.

Learn more

  • If you continue to experience unexpected restarts, contact Apple Support.
  • If your Mac is frequently restarting unexpectedly, it's important to determine the exact steps that lead up to the issue. The next time that your Mac restarts unexpectedly, record the date and time it occurs. These questions might help you diagnose the problem:
    • Was the computer starting up, shutting down, or performing a particular task when the unexpected restart happened?
    • Is the computer restart random, or does it happen every time you do a certain task?
    • Does the restart happen when a specific external device is connected to your Mac or to a specific port?
  • Learn what to do if your Mac doesn't turn on or start up.
  • Learn about the screens you see when your Mac starts up.
Mac Rebooting On Its OwnIts

Part 1 of this series covers general considerations and Apple-supported methods available for remote system control that will generally work on any version of Mac OS X (Jaguar, Panther, Tiger, and Leopard) – and even OS 9. This article addresses some commercial solutions that also support multiple OS versions, along with how to force-reboot a remote Mac. Part 3 examines new options provided by Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard.

LogMeIn Free

PC users have long enjoyed a variety of web-based services (free and paid) to control their desktops from afar, including the popular GoToMyPC service (a product of Citrix, the corporate remote PC giant). Fortunately some services are now Mac friendly: LogMeIn provides web-based remote control for PCs and Macs without needing to know the IP address of either machine or do any special firewall configurations.

LogMeIn Free (the only Mac service at the moment) supports screen sharing between Macs or cross platform. Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger or newer is required on local and remote systems, and remote file transfers or system updates are not currently supported. Set up an account (with a strong password) on the LogMeIn website, then download the LogMeIn software. A menu icon (a series of dots in an arc near the clock) appears on the Mac to be controlled, and the shared (remote) system shows up in your list of available computers online.

When away, access your remote computer using a web browser. Safari and Firefox are both supported on the Mac and work equally well in my experience. The first time you try to control a remote system from your local Mac, you will be asked to install the LogMeIn web plugin and restart your browser. After installing it, go back to LogMeIn and click on the computer to be controlled.

A blue screen with a remote login dialog appears – enter the account name and password of the remote Mac here. You will finally be at the remote Mac’s control screen. Before clicking Remote Control on your Mac, I have found it best to first click Preferences –> Remote Control Settings and set the control method to use Java instead of ActiveX. Click Apply, then go ahead and use Remote Control.

In my experience LogMeIn has been speedy and reliable, with screen size scaling and no need to know the IP addresses of your local or remote computers. As of this writing (Jan. 2008), file transfers and remote updates are not yet supported, but the company has indicated that they are working on these options. In the meantime, as with VNC, you can use a shared disk or server accessible over the Internet or your local network to transfer data between the two computers.

The combination of VNC and LogMeIn currently provide my primary and secondary methods of remote control on many systems.

Timbuktu & Skype

Timbuktu is the granddaddy of Mac remote desktop solutions, going back to the days of dialup modems. Remarkably, this cross-platform software is still around and compatible up through Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. It’s a mature product, currently owned by Netopia (as of 2008, when this article was first published, and owned by ARRIS since 2013) with a clean interface and the ability to control Macs or PCs from Macs or PCs. Like Apple Remote Desktop (ARD), this makes it both a good single-user or network administration tool.

Timbuktu costs about $100 per computer, and separate copies are required on the local and remote systems (it checks serial numbers across the network). Remote screen sharing (with size scaling), file transfers, and updates are supported. On a local network or with an Internet connection with a fixed IP address, Timbuktu really shines. It also still supports dialup modems as a fallback when access is critical and speed a secondary consideration.

Timbuktu uses TCP port 407 for communication and (as with ARD and VNC) requires a static IP address and port forwarding through routers and firewalls. Access across VPNs is supported. If you don’t know the IP address of the remote computer or can’t perform local firewall configuration (a common situation), Timbuktu supports system location via Skype locator services.

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Skype to the Rescue?

The popular (and free) Skype Internet call software uses it’s own locator engine and can traverse firewalls with no special configuration. As long as Skype services are permitted on your network, this provides an option for finding Timbuktu systems located behind dynamic IP addresses.

You must install Skype v2.5 or higher on both the local and remote Macs and setup a different Skype account on each. You can use an existing Skype account on one of the computers if you already have one. Once the account is created, launch Timbuktu on both computers and go to it’s little “double Mac” menu at the top right hand side of the Mac menu bar. Select the option for Timbuktu Access via Skype. You should then see Skype accounts listed in your Timbuktu Connection window.

On paper this sounds great; in practice I had mixed results. Under the best of conditions the remote system was more sluggish via Skype than with direct IP connections. At worst, the connection was unusable – crippling slow response, screen redraws freezing, and dropped connections. Performance seemed to vary with Skype traffic, time of day, and the bandwidth available. Eventually I found this combination too unreliable to use for business purposes, so now I only use Timbuktu with remote systems over LANs, VPNs, or with direct IP connections.

Reboot, I Command Thee

The ability to reboot your remote Mac can be critical, especially when nobody is around and the screen sharing software crashes (trust me, it happens). As an advanced fallback, turn on Remote Login (SSH) service on the remote computer (with a strong admin password), and make sure you have a way to access it (forward port 22 on routers and firewalls). In a worst-case scenario, you can use the Terminal application to force a reboot on the remote machine.

You must login to an administrator account on the remote Mac. Assume that your remote Mac has an account named remoteuser at address

  • answer “yes” when asked do you wish to continue connection
  • enter the password for remoteuser; the remote Mac’s prompt appears
  • you are warned not to abuse the superuser privileges
  • enter the remote admin account password
  • your SSH session will be disconnected and the remote Mac will reboot
  • wait a minute or two, then try accessing the remote control software again

Methods of Mac Remote Control

  • Part 2: Software to Remotely Control and Reboot Your Mac

Mac Rebooting On Its Own Youtube

This article was originally published on Adam’s Oakbog website. It has been adapted and reprinted here with his permission.

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