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How To identify and disable system extensions that cause other apps to crash
Authored by: auco on Feb 28, '12 03:04:10AM

I think it would be much more valuable to teach people how to read Crash Reports. I noticed that many are afraid when they see some hexadecimal address numbers, but in fact, you only need to scan the document from top down and search for the "Exception Type" and the first or second line after "Thread X crashed". For example, here's a (random) crash report from Finder:

Process: Finder [181]

Now, look at the reason, why it crashed; you'll typically find it at "Exception Type":

Exception Type: EXC_BAD_ACCESS (SIGSEGV)

EXC_BAD_ACCESS is a very typical reason and it simply means that the application tried to access an object which wasn't there anymore (common memory management error).

Each application has more than one thread and we want to find the thread that crashed, so look out for "Thread x Crashed":

Thread 0 Crashed:: Dispatch queue: com.apple.main-thread
0 libobjc.A.dylib 0x00007fff8ecb2e90 objc_msgSend + 16
1 com.apple.AppKit 0x00007fff8a25c150 -[NSWorkspace iconForFile:] + 41
2 com.apple.AppKit 0x00007fff8a6f9c55 -[NSView(NSDrag) dragFile:fromRect:slideBack:event:] + 71
3 com.binaryage.totalfinder 0x000000010ac752ca -[TabView mouseDown:] + 812

From top down you'll find the history of this crash. If we start looking at number 3 first, we find that there was a mouseDown event on a tab in the (nice btw) extension TotalFinder. 2 shows us there was a drag operation in AppKit and 1 tried to get the icon image from the NSWorkspace (AppKit as well). 0 finally shows, that there obviously was no icon image to be found and the application crashed.

So, to sum it up: it is relatively certain that most of Apple's frameworks (like com.apple.AppKit) are not the culprits, so go back until you find the app name that crashed or a third party extension. Typically, you'll find it in the first two to five rows of the crashed thread.

So, if there was any plugin or system enhancer involved, you can really easily find out who's the culprit. Well, in 90% of all cases that is.

After this, you can go on and read the linked document.



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