Diagnosing random Mac freeze-ups

I upgraded to Catalina last week and now my Mac is freezing up every one to three days. Screen is unresponsive, clock stops, mouse pointer pinwheels but IIRC I can move it around.

Most recent incident was this morning. I happened to be on a Zoom call and noticed the audio continued. I couldn’t tell if the video was working, because I happened to have another app in front of Zoom when the incident happened.

What’s the best way to diagnose the problem? I’ve poked around in the Console and am not turning up any useful information. Is the Console the right tool here?

This is my work machine; I do not have the luxury of booting it in safe mode for one to three days and seeing if the problem recurs, and then slowly adding apps one at a time until the problem does recur. I need a fix I can do in at most an hour.

Ideally, I can pinpoint the problem to a single app that I don’t really need and then I can just stop using that app and get on with life as before. This morning, I noticed that the freeze-up occurred within an hour or two of launching TextExpander, so after I rebooted I did not launch TextExpander. However, this may just be a coincidence.

Any tips? Thanks!

Keep Activity Monitor open and keep an eye on what might be hanging.

If you have external drives attached, try operating without them in case there’s a networking or Catalina compatibility issue.

Try removing all Login items from the account you’re booting into.

Finally, create a new user account on the machine. If it is stable, consider migrating over to that user account when you have a critical need to get work done and not waste time troubleshooting. At least temporarily.

Worst case, start over from scratch and nuke and pave the machine.

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Good tips. Thanks!

I particularly like the Activity Monitor tip. I can keep that running on a second display and never cover it up and hopefully if this occurs again I’ll be able to see a hung process or some other evidence of a problem.

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