How can I heal my iMac?
January 6, 2007 11:44 PM   Subscribe

My 20" intel iMac has gone mildly insane. I have been using it generally without problems for 8 or 9 months now. I have a few "issues":

1. Starting today, without selecting the Option key during bootup, I'm presented with the Mac and Windows startup disks as boot options. Compounding that is the fact that regardless of the disk I select, the computer won't boot that disk -- pressing ther return/enter keys does nothing. I've found that booting in SAFE mode will let me boot into the MAC OS partition, but cannot boot into the Windows partition.

2. items in the Dock no longer launch upon clicking -- a finder window pops up with the app/the folder where it resides selected. Occasionally double-clicking the item thus presented will launch the app, but usually I have to right-click and choose "open."

3. selected items in the finder windows are "sticky" i.e. they remain selected even when I select another item, as if I'd been holding the Apple/CMD key while clicking on them.

Steps I've already taken:

a. I ran Disk Utility from the Install DVD (and you don't want to know how many times I had to restart the machine to get it to finally boot from the DVD!), and there were several parts of permissions that needed fixing. Also, a repair disk operation was necessary: the file count was off, the free block count was off, and there was (something like) incorrect data in reserved fields in the...(I forget what)"
b. I removed the software I'd installed today: Palm desktop software (and the update from the Palm web site) & the iSync conduits for the Palm.
c. cursing.

Any help at all will be appreciated. I really need to boot into the Windows partition to do some work in Wavelab (is there anything remotely comparable in the Mac world? I've seen nothing with stereo file editing, multi-track mixing and editing, and CD/DVD disc burning all in one package), and the dock is basically useless if I have to right-click every icon and select "open" to launch.
posted by I, Credulous to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
Response by poster: oh! and every link clicked in Safari opens a new tab -- I created four just writing and previewing this post.
posted by I, Credulous at 11:45 PM on January 6, 2007

Best answer: All symptoms point towards your Command key being stuck. Have you tried a different keyboard?
posted by Khalad at 11:49 PM on January 6, 2007

Best answer: Yep, it's definitely your Command key. I had a similar problem on my G5, and blowing out ther keyboard with compressed air fixed the problem, lickety split.
posted by melorama at 11:54 PM on January 6, 2007

Grab the keyboard, take it down to an apple store. I think Khalad has it right. Command key is stuck. You can plug in a PC keyboard too - it'll work too. Just try a different keyboard.
posted by filmgeek at 11:57 PM on January 6, 2007

P.S. The missing sync is a great replacement for the syncing of the palm conduit.
posted by filmgeek at 11:59 PM on January 6, 2007

btw, there are some decent multitrack audio editing apps for the Mac, but as far as I know, I can't think of one that has built-in CD burning. The closest is BIAS Peak Pro 5, but that doesn't do multi-track editing. So close, yet so far.

It's sad that the Mac has so few good options for audio editing, considering that it pretty much dominated the market a decade ago.
posted by melorama at 12:11 AM on January 7, 2007

If you dont have access to a separate keyboard, unplug your keyboard and then restart.
posted by nathan_teske at 12:28 AM on January 7, 2007

Also check System Preferences > Universal Access and make sure "Sticky Keys" is not turned on, which might make the symptoms reappear on restart with any keyboard.

(It shouldn't, but it's easy to check, so why take chances?)
posted by mdeatherage at 12:59 AM on January 7, 2007

Yes ditto the keyboard. Reminds me of my most favorite tech support call where the user says 'Gee all of a sudden whenever I click my mouse a menu pops up.' So as I nonchalantley (sp?) remove the notebook that is resting on the control key I say to the user...'I don't see nothing, maybe you just dreamed it.' and walk away...
posted by Gungho at 5:50 AM on January 7, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks all!
I turned the keyboard over in one hand and applied a little "percussive maintenance" with the other, and lo! a small piece of plastic shrink-wrap packaging dropped out of the keyboard.
I plugged back in and booted. No problems!
posted by I, Credulous at 7:05 AM on January 8, 2007

Response by poster: and thanks for the pointers audio projects.

re: burning from within the application, this isn't critical, it's just that wavelab offers a very powerful way, esp via montages, to set and edit CD track markers -- something I haven't seen done in any other burner program (Nero, EZ CD creator/Toast, etc.) It really is more of a CD Authoring program that I'm looking for, I guess...
posted by I, Credulous at 7:15 AM on January 8, 2007

Definitely the command key is stuck. That triggers all the symptoms you've mentioned, I'm pretty sure.
posted by philulrich at 8:08 AM on January 8, 2007

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