9 common macOS Sierra problems and how to fix them

9 common macOS Sierra problems

If you’re having problems with macOS Sierra, don’t worry – you’re not alone. In this post, we’ll look at three of the most common issues people are experiencing and show you how to fix them. Whether your problem is with Wi-Fi, battery life, or storage space, we’ve got you covered. So read on for tips that will help get your computer up and running like new again.

I can’t connect to Wi-Fi. What should I do?

If you’re trying to join a Wi-Fi network but just aren’t having any luck, the first thing you should do is restart your router. It often takes a simple device restart for things to get back up and running again. If that doesn’t work, try forgetting the network you’re trying to join by opening System Preferences > Network, clicking on the name of your connection at the top of the list > click “Forget this Network” > click “Apply”. Once it’s forgotten, go back into System Preferences > Network, click on Wi-Fi in the list on the left, then select “Choose Network…” > join the network you want. If that doesn’t work, you’ll need to “forget” that Wi-Fi network by opening up Terminal and typing:

sudo /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/Apple80211.framework/Versions/Current/Resources/airport en1 delete [network name]

I get a spinning wheel of death when I try and shut down my computer, what should I do?

If your device is trying to restart itself but just keeps getting stuck on the same screen with a spinning wheel, try booting into Safe Mode by holding the Shift key down while it boots up (you’ll see the gray screen with the Apple logo and a plist, this means you’ve booted into Safe Mode). In here, open up System Preferences and head to Users & Groups. Now click on your user, go to Login Items and remove everything listed there.

If the problem persists, our apple mac technical support experts will be able to fix this issue for you.

My MacBook is slow as a snail

A slow MacBook is annoying enough as it is without any other problems added to that. If you feel like your Mac isn’t running as fast as it used to then take a look at its activity monitor by going into Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor. Restarting your Mac may also help solve the issue if there’s a process that’s been hung or not closed from earlier use.

If that doesn’t work then it could be time to reinstall macOS. If you suspect your hard drive is not working properly, back up all your data and talk to our technicians to get your hard drive replaced for you.

Speaking of problems that have nothing to do with macOS Sierra itself but are still regularly used as explanations for various download errors, there’s often a virus scanner in the mix. Software like Avast! or AVG can slow down your whole PC just because it takes too long scanning every file that comes into contact with your system – try updating the definitions (you’ll find all kinds of useful shortcuts on this screen) and turning off real-time protection to see how things go from then on.

Unresponsive screen

When the whole screen becomes unresponsive and there’s no visible cursor or anything else move around, don’t panic: it just means the system preferences have been opened in full-screen mode and you’ll need to go out of that to continue navigating throughout macOS Sierra. The easiest way to get back control over everything is by dragging the cursor down from the top of the screen until you see a normal desktop view with open windows such as Safari or Messages.

Another easy fix for this macOS Sierra problem is pressing the F5 key, which will turn your cursor into an arrow (and not split it in two like on iOS devices), allowing you to go through open programs until you find the one that’s causing the issue. If things are unresponsive and there’s no keyboard or mouse response whatsoever, press Control+Alt+Shift+Escape. This will immediately show all active apps (including minimized ones) so you can choose one, let it go full screen, and start trying to navigate out of there. From now on, remember that Shift-Escape brings up App Exposé no matter what program you’re in.

Trackpad issues

As we already said in our list of macOS Sierra problems, fingerprints on your trackpad can be more than annoying at times – yet they don cause any actual problems with how your Mac operates. However, if you do experience any issues with trackpad gestures or clicking, you can rectify them by restarting your machine and holding the Shift key while booting up.

My Apple computer doesn’t wake up from sleep

Last but certainly not least, let’s address an issue that might greatly affect the performance of machines with limited resources such as laptops. If your desktop is having trouble waking up after going into sleep mode, chances are good that something is causing it to remain in standby mode when not being used. We’ve compared all kinds of methods to try and fix it, including the ones we recommend below.

My battery doesn’t last long

For those of you with a laptop, you can expect your battery life to decrease as a result of macOS Sierra’s changes. To make up for this (somewhat), Apple has given their laptops much more efficient batteries. We were able to test out these claims on our own MacBook Pro and just as expected, its battery lasted almost 2 hours longer than the previous version of macOS after being charged from 0% to 100% – even while performing tasks that usually drain the battery very quickly. While not perfect, users will notice an increase in longevity throughout normal use.

‘macOS Sierra won’t allow unauthorized software’ error

The first time you update macOS Sierra, it will ask for your Apple ID and password before the installation begins. This is because of a feature called ‘MDM enrollment’, which allows companies who purchase many new MacBooks to manage them centrally using an MDM server. Since this feature has been around for at least 3 years, there’s no need to worry about it if you don’t know what that means or are just a home user looking to install macOS on your machine.

Users getting stuck during the ‘Preparing Updates’ stage

While most users have reported being able to solve this issue simply by waiting a while or powering their machine off and on again, some more advanced methods can be used to get rid of this problem – our geeky mac techs are always happy to help.

This problem is related to a bug in macOS Sierra’s Package Installer system, which doesn’t allow the installation of new software updates when it has been doing a previous update for one reason or another. You can find out if you have any stuck updates at all by opening up your App Store program on your Mac and clicking on ‘Updates’ from the menu bar found at the top of the screen. If you do see any updates listed here with ‘Preparing…’ next to them, simply wait for 15 minutes before rebooting your computer and trying again.

If the problem still hasn’t been fixed after a couple of goes, it’s likely that you have the above bug and should try performing a clean install of macOS Sierra instead.


While software problems are often fixed merely by restarting your Mac, there are some cases when you’ll have to reinstall macOS Sierra. If that’s the case, first make sure you save all of your files into a different drive or disc. While this article isn’t about data safety and it’s unlikely something will go wrong if your Mac is unresponsive, there’s still a chance. After everything is safely backed-up, just start up from Recovery mode (hold Command+R as soon as you hit the power on button) and follow the instructions: choose Disk Utility and Repair Permissions first, then reinstall macOS.

I am a computer engineer holding a bachelor's degree in Computer Science, complemented by a Master's in Business Administration from University of Strathclyde, Scotland. I currently work as a Senior IT Consultant in Melbourne, Australia. With over 15 years of...