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Understanding Crash Reports in macOS

  • Crash reports provide valuable clues about why an app crashed in macOS
  • Crash reports are stored in .ips files in the folder “DiagnosticReports”
  • Crash reports can be opened in Apple’s Console app

Crash reports can lead to clues as to why an app crashed in macOS. When macOS displays a crash alert, you can either click the “Ignore” button, or you can click the “Report” button. If you click the “Report” button, Finder displays a window with the crash report, and a “Send to Apple” button. Each crash report is stored in an .ips file in the folder “DiagnosticReports” inside your user folder at /Users/~/Library/Logs/.

You can also view and open these reports in Apple’s Console app by selecting the “Crash Reports” item on the left-hand side of the Console window, selecting a report in the right-side of the window, and then Control-clicking or right-clicking the report and selecting “Reveal in Finder” from the popup menu. If you double-click an .ips file in Finder it merely re-opens it in the Console app. If you Control-click an .ips file in Finder and select “Open With”, then “TextEdit” from the popup menu, you can also open the .ips file in TextEdit.

At any rate, if you select a crash report in Console, you can read its text in the main text pane below it. The report also lists whether System Integrity Protection is enabled or not, and the thread number that crashed. The report lists the crash or exception type, exceptions codes, the termination reason, and the library not loaded. There is also support in iOS and macOS for Frameworks, which are bundles containing code and other resources. Finally, the report tells which calling process or code binary called the offending code.
When launching VirtualBox on macOS, the app was killed due to a missing dynamic library. All the information required for diagnosing the crash was added to the crash report. Following the app’s code execution from the bottom up, it’s possible to determine why the crash happened. This can be done by looking for clues such as calling system code that doesn’t exist, memory access errors, or overwriting variables in code with too much data. Knowing how to read the crash report can come in handy for diagnosing crashes and understanding which exact function call failed. Apple provides a detailed Console User Guide online to help with this. Chip Loder is a 30-year Apple industry veteran, author of 18 commercial Mac software products, and a former Apple and Sony employee.

Do you ever find yourself debugging an issue on macOS and need help? Look no further than this helpful article on crash reports! Written by 30-year Apple industry veteran Chip Loder, this article explains how to read a crash report to determine why an app crashed and what can be done to fix it. With the information provided in this article and Apple’s detailed Console User Guide, you’ll have all the resources you need to diagnose any crash successfully.

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