MacFixIt Answers is a feature in which I answer Mac-related questions e-mailed by our readers.
This week, readers wrote in with questions on fixing a stuck locking mechanism for a MacBook lid, the inability to boot to or otherwise use the Recovery HD partition in OS X Lion and Mountain Lion, and tackling nonspecific slowdowns in OS X. I welcome contributions from readers, so if you have any suggestions or alternative approaches to these problems, please post them in the comments!
Question: Stuck locking mechanism for a MacBook lid
MacFixIt reader Dominic asks:
The locking mechanism on the lid of my MacBookPro suddenly stopped locking down. I have used compressed air to clean the locks and the docks, but it does not lock down. Do you have any suggestions?
For systems with a latch, sometimes you can use a small magnet to pull the latch out of its recess. Beyond this, this type of problem will require you to get the system serviced by a technician. Usually there is some obstruction you cannot see that the technician can locate and remove, but it will take some hands-on with the system to fix.
Question: Cannot use services that require the OS X Recovery HD partition
MacFixIt reader Ed asks:
When I tried to use Find my Mac (from my MacPro), my laptop showed up as a device that is offline. On the laptop, the iCloud option is dimmed and says that a recovery partition is necessary for it to work. The MBP is a standard Apple issue (2010). Both the MBP and my Pro run 10.8.3. It seems like my problem is getting deeper than what I initially wanted to do.
I think that restart-command-r is supposed to boot from a recovery partition. It did not do that. It booted normally.
It appears your system was set up without the recovery partition for some reason. The only way to recreate this is to re-install OS X, so first back up your system (i.e. with Time Machine). Then download and re-install OS X. You can do this by downloading it from the Mac App Store. However, before doing so you might consider reading this article on creating an install drive for Mountain Lion, just in case you need to do this step again and do not want to re-download the installer. I also recommend you read my article on how to restore a missing recovery HD partition to see what its requirements are.
Question: Tackling nonspecific slowdowns in OS X
MacFixIt reader Perry asks:
I have an 2009 iMac, and it is running on 10.8.3 and it is so slow! It was running even slower until I updated to 10.8.3, but it is still moving like a turtle. It has 4GB of RAM and it has more than enough storage on it. Plus I am not even editing or opening up big programs such as any of the Adobe products. What can I do?
For general slowdowns that seem to not have a specific cause, there are several things you can do. I've outlined some in these two articles on general troubleshooting steps for Macs and how to run a general maintenance routine, so try them to see if you can isolate the problem or remedy it.
These steps may not directly fix the problem, but you can use the information in them to get a better idea of how the problem is manifesting itself, which will help determine what to do to fix the issue.