Application Stability


  1. Rule 1: When solving a problem, always get the exact error message the user has seen.
  2. Rule 2: Or re-enact the steps taken by the user to repeat the error.

The primary causes of application errors

Do you find your Macintosh bombs out or freezes whenever you use a particular application? The primary causes of many application errors include the following:

  1. Insufficient memory to run the application and/or Finder;
  2. Not all software components associated with an application were installed or may need to be reinstalled if permanent errors have crept in;
  3. There is conflict with other software running at the same time (including system extensions and control panels); and/or
  4. There is an inherent instability problem with the application and/or its associated files.

The main check list

To solve these problems:

  • Increase the amount of memory allocated to the application using the "Get Info" command. But don't put too much memory into your application, or you may not have enough to run the Finder and/or other applications (which could result, not surprisingly, in another computer crash). If necessary, turn on Virtual Memory and/or buy extra RAM to get that extra space you need to run the program on your machine. NOTE: To cancel Virtual Memory at any time until you restart the Macintosh again, hold down the Command key as your Mac starts up.
  • Allocating Memory to an Application

    In the Get Info window, you will see three numbers: Suggested size, Minimum size, and Preferred size.

    Suggested size is an indicator of the memory size required for the program to work best. The value shown for the suggested size is only a suggestion by the creators of the program.The Minimum size is an indicator of the memory size the creators of the program believe the program needs in order for it to work properly. Usually there is nothing wrong if the middle number is smaller than the top number. But if you like, increase the value of the minimum size to match the suggested size.

    The more important number to look at is the Preferred size. This value tells the program how much memory you want it to take from your Macintosh. To work out what is a suitable size, go under the Apple sign in the menu bar and select "About This Macintosh..." You will see in the window the Largest Unused Block measured in megabytes (MB). This tells you how much memory you have to play around with when you decide on a figure for your preferred size in the Get Info window.

    Do not type in the preferred size the largest unused block value or you will not have enough memory to run other applications or your system software. That would be an overkill! Consider increasing whatever number is in the preferred size box by an extra 1000 kilobytes (i.e. 1 MB).

    Now close the Get Info window and double click on the application icon. Does the program work better this time?

  • Turn off Modern Memory Manager (MMM) in the Memory Control Panel in older (pre-G3) PowerPC Macintosh computers as this tends to affect the stability of certain software applications like Microsoft Word 5 and 6.
  • If you suspect there might be conflict between software applications, progressively quit other applications and disable extensions and control panels until you find out which software is responsible for the instability problem. Once the culprit is found, decide whether you want to keep it or to upgrade the software to a higher version.
  • If there is an inherent problem with your application software, check the web site of the software manufacturer for your particular application to see if they have updates available for it.
  • Greater application stability may come if you use a program like Fix Purgeable WDEF 1.0, a freeware utility available on the Internet.
  • If you cannot afford to get that extra hard disk space (for virtual memory) or RAM (for real physical memory) to run an application, consider downloading a freeware utility called Finder Quitter 1.0 from Rage Software. This neat little utility will allow you to quit the Finder and so free up extra memory while you launch and run other applications at the same time.
  • As a final resort, consider upgrading to the latest or using perhaps a slightly older software application version and see what happens.

Examples of application errors

The following are two typical examples of how an application like Microsoft Word can create problems:

Problem 1

When opening a Word document, the error message "WordBasic Err=76 Path Not Found" appears on the screen.


The Documents folder used by Microsoft Word is not on the hard disk - it has been moved or deleted. Make a new folder on the HD and call it Documents. This folder should be placed in the right area where Microsoft Word can access it.

Problem 2

Microsoft Word 6 does not function well with Internet Assistant.


There is an inherent programming flaw in the Microsoft software. The flaw prevents the applications from working harmonious together when both are loaded up and used at the same time. Either wait for the updated release of Microsoft Word 6 and/or Internet Assistant or load up one package only and use it for as long as you need to, then quit and load up the other package.

Problem 3

I've tried to capture a page in Adobe Acrobat 4.0.5 and everything seems to be okay for a few weeks until one day when it has to transfer the captured page from the Capture Server to the PDF document in the Acrobat editor application I get an error message saying there was a problem capturing the page. There is nothing complicated about the page. I know it should work, but it doesn't. And I don't know why because it doesn't tell me what is going on. Do you know what is causing the problem?


Courtesy of the management team at Adobe Systems, Inc. you have discovered a special security feature designed to force people to re-install the Acrobat 4.0.5 software from the original CD after a period of time to make sure you do have a legitimate copy of your software. The problem doesn't occur with Acrobat 3.x and there appears to be no such problem in Acrobat 5.x, 6.x or higher versions (actually the PDFWriter extension has been absorbed by the Acrobat editor). If you do a full re-install of Acrobat 4.x (including a fresh copy of Acrobat PDF Writer), restart the computer, then trash the newly created Acrobat 4.0.5 folder at the root level of your hard disk and re-use your older Acrobat 4.0.5 folder, you will find page capturing will suddenly work flawlessly. If you think this is a pain, make sure the Acrobat PDFWriter is a freshly installed copy in the Extensions folder. Keep another copy of the fresh Acrobat PDFWriter elsewhere until the capturing page problem occurs again, and then do another copy and replace of the extension as required. Then just prior to capturing a page, make sure a printer is selected from the Chooser or the same error message will show up. Or alternatively, use our patch to fix up the problem directly inside the PDFWriter extension as this will fix up a couple of resources. We also recommend, after doing the patching or getting a fresh copy, to use Apple's ResEdit to lock down all the resources and so minimise the likelihood of having the resources suddenly changed by Adobe.

Problem 4

How can I make the default page for Acrobat PDFWriter in any application when printing PDF documents set to "A4" or some other size instead of the standard US "Letter"?


There was a useful tool to do this job called Printer Defaults 1.5.8. Unfortunately this no longer works with Acrobat 4.x or higher. Instead, use ResEdit to open the Acrobat PDFWriter extension. To choose your paper size, open the MENU resource. You will see in Menu resource number -8063 the Paper menu. Count how many rows you need to get down to your preferred page size. For example, "Letter [8.5 x 11 in]" is in row 1, whereas "A4 [210 x 297 mm]" is in row 4. Close the MENU resource window. Now open the prvt resource. Where it says prvt resource number -8063, open it. You will notice a thing that says, "paperChoice". Change the number next to it. In other words, type the number of the row you want the page size to default to. In the case of A4, type the number 4. Save the latest changes to the Acrobat PDFWriter extension and close the resources. You should now be able to create a new document in any application (e.g. Microsoft Word) and not have to worry about Acrobat PDFWriter defaulting to "Letter" size.

OPTIONAL: To minimise memory problems during printing with the Acrobat PDFWriter (especially under MacOS9.x), we recommend opening up the "Driver configuration data" of the PDCN resource number -8191 and changing the "System memory preflight" from 256,000 to 512,000. Save the latest changes to this resource and quit from ResEdit when finished. We strongly recommend restarting your computer for maximum stability and performance.

Problem 5

My PDF document can't open in Adobe Acrobat. It is trying to repair the document but fails. Why?


It is quite possible the PDF document was not saved properly. Did you have limited disk space (e.g. on a Zip disk) when trying to save your PDF document? If so, you may have accidentally pressed the "Don't Save" button on the original file thinking you can reopen the document and re-insert new pages and save again after making more room on the disk. Well, this is not possible at least with Acrobat 4.x version. Although the application should first save a copy of the document in a temporary storage area and then check to see if it can fit it in on the disk, it seems the application saves a copy of the document in a temporary storage area and then starts writing the document onto the disk without realising there is not enough room on it. After it realises the mistake, the application would have given you a message, but by then it is too late. The original PDF document has been damaged.

This is a bug from Adobe Systems, Inc.

Problem 6

I am getting character symbols on the wrong position on my keyboard. For example, I press Shift and 2 and get an inverted comma ("). What's happening here?


It looks like someone was nice enough to have changed the language of your keyboard — perhaps another one of those April Fools joke courtesy of your friends? Instead of a standard US/UK/Australia keyboard layout, you may have an Italian, Spanish, French or some other language keyboard. Change it back to English (International) or English (US) to bring back some sanity to your computing experience. In the meantime you may want to get your friends back with setting up the same problem on their computers!

Problem 7

I am noticing FileMaker Pro 3.0 suddenly freezing during or immediately after quitting the application. Sometimes the application just quits on its own while I am right in the middle of working on my database. I usually get a Finder error or the cursor will freeze and would be forced to restart my computer. If it doesn't, almost immediately afterwards my disk repair utility called Alsoft Disk Warrior 2.1.1 will warn me of corruption in my catalog files. I am using OS9.2.2.


Welcome to Apple Computer, Inc.'s new policy of forcing people to upgrade to the newer G4 Macintosh computer (and OSX) which apparently doesn't suffer the same problem. Either that or it is another serious quality control problem courtesy of the company.

What is really causing the problem are the ATI extensions. In particular, the ATI Graphics Accelerator installed by OS9 is no longer supporting G3 Macintosh computers without informing Apple users of this fact.

We strongly recommend replacing the ATI Graphics Accelerator of MacOS9.x with the version available in the MacOS8.6 Update file. Use the freeware utility calledTome Viewer 1.3d3 to manually extract this ATI extension from the Tome file inside the System Software folder of the MacOS8.6 Update file.

The MacOS8.6 Update file should be available from Apple's web site (unless they are so nice as to have removed it as part of the latest extension of their policy to force people to upgrade)

Problem 8

I'm still having problems with FileMaker Pro. What can I do?


Before upgrading your software and computer, try (i) putting in a fresh copy of the fonts into the Fonts folder (to eliminate corrupt fonts); (ii) clearing the FM Pro Fonts in the Claris folder of the System Folder and let FileMaker Pro rebuild the font list on relaunch; (iii) increasing the preferred memory size in Get Info by an extra 2,000KB; and in the worse case scenario (v) using the ResEdit tool to increase the preferred memory size of the SIZE resource directly inside the FileMaker Pro application. Add an extra 50,000 bytes.

NOTE 1: As a last resort, install a fresh installation copy of FileMaker Pro (or go back to MacOS8.6 for the best results).

NOTE 2: The size of the Claris database could also pose a problem for older FileMaker Pro applications. Please check with manufacturer's recommendations on the maximum size of the database.

Problem 9

Why does my AppleTalk Switch in the Control Strip Modules under OS8/9 fail to turn on or off AppleTalk? You can change the setting in the Chooser, but not the control strip switch. I seem to get a message saying there is an error.


Make sure you are using the correct Network Setup Extension version in the Extensions folder. Try version 1.3.3 or higher.

Problem 10

Microsoft Word 98 suddenly quits, hangs or forces a restart as soon as I want to print a document. There's nothing special about the document. But I did change to a different printer desktop icon.


This may be common with the latest MacOS 9.2.2 version created by OS X 10.3.9. When you choose the default printer by selecting the desktop printer icon, everything may seem alright. But as soon as you try to print a document in Microsoft Word 98, the application suddenly bombs out. Try choosing the printer you want the old fashion way by selecting Chooser from the Apple menu. Close the window. You will notice an interesting message claiming you must check your page setup before printing. This message shouldn't be necessary if you have selected the same printer on the desktop. But somehow the Finder does not know this. Click OK. Remarkably there should be no more errors!

Problem 11

Adobe Photoshop 7/CS on my Mac crashes every time I try to launch it. It crashes when the message "building TWAIN menu items" appears in the Splash Screen..


Remove the TWAIN plug in from the folder /Applications/Adobe Photoshop 7/Plug-Ins/Import:Export/TWAIN/.