Using Apple Diagnostics to Troubleshoot Your Mac's Hardware

Apple Diagnostics Replaces Apple Hardware Test in 2013 and Later Macs

iMac open for repair
Courtesy of Pixabay

Apple has provided testing software for its Mac lineup for about as long as I can remember. However, over time the test suite has undergone changes, been updated, and advanced from being included on a special CD, to being able to perform the tests over the Internet.

In 2013, Apple changed the testing system once again. Abandoning the older Apple Hardware Test (AHT), and AHT over the Internet, Apple moved on to Apple Diagnostics, to help users find out what might be wrong with their Macs.

Although the name has changed to Apple Diagnostics (AD), the purpose of the app has not. AD can be used to find problems with your Mac's hardware, including bad RAM, issues with your power supply, battery, or power adapter, failed sensors, graphics problems, issues with the logic board or CPU, wired and wireless Ethernet problems, internal drives, bad fans, camera, USB, and Bluetooth.

Apple Diagnostics is included on every 2013 or later Mac. It's installed on the original startup ​drive, and invoked using a special keyboard shortcut when booting up the Mac.

AD is also available as a special boot environment that is downloaded over the Internet from Apple's servers. Known as Apple Diagnostics over the Internet, this special version can be used if you have replaced or reformatted the original startup drive, and thus erased the AD version that was included at the time of purchase. The two forms of AD are for all purposes identical, although AD over the Internet involves a few extra steps to launch and use.

Using Apple Diagnostics

AD is for Mac models from 2013 and later; if your Mac is an earlier model, you should follow the instructions in:

Use the Apple Hardware Test (AHT) to Find Problems With Your Mac's Hardware

or

Use the Apple Hardware Test Over the Internet to Diagnose Problems With Your Mac

  1. Start by disconnecting any external devices connected to your Mac. This includes printers, external hard drives, scanners, iPhones, iPods, and iPads. In essence, all peripherals except the keyboard, monitor, wired Ethernet (if that is your primary connection to your network), and mouse should be disconnected from your Mac.
  1. If you're using a Wi-Fi connection to the Internet, be sure to write down the access information, specifically, the name of the wireless network and the password you use to access it.
  2. Shut down your Mac. If you're unable to shut down using the normal shutdown command under the Apple menu, you can press and hold the power button until your Mac turns off.

Once your Mac is turned off, you're ready to start Apple Diagnostics, or Apple Diagnostics over the Internet. The difference between the two is the keyboard command you use at startup, and the need for an Internet connection to run AD over the Internet. If you have AD on your Mac, that's the preferred version of the test to run. It doesn't require an Internet connection, although if you have one, you'll be able to access Apple's help system, which includes diagnostics notes based on AD error codes that may be generated.

Let's Start the Test

  1. Press your Mac's power button.
  2. Immediately hold down the D key (AD) or option+D keys (AD over the Internet).
  3. Continue to hold down the key(s) until you see your Mac's gray screen change to Apple Diagnostics.
  4. If you use a wireless connection, you'll be asked to connect to your Wi-Fi network, using the information you wrote down earlier.
  1. Apple Diagnostics will begin with your screen displaying a Checking Your Mac message, along with a progress bar.
  2. Apple Diagnostics takes 2 to 5 minutes to complete.
  3. Once complete, AD will show a brief description of any issues uncovered, along with an error code.
  4. Write down any error codes that are generated; you can then compare them with the error code table below.

Finishing Up

If your Mac generated errors during the AD test, you can send the codes to Apple, which will result in an Apple support page being displayed, showing options for repairing or servicing your Mac.

  1. To continue to the Apple support site, click the Get Started link.
  1. Your Mac will restart using OS X Recovery, and Safari will open to the Apple Service & Support web page.
  2. Click the Agree to Send link to send the AD error codes to Apple (no other data is sent).
  3. The Apple Service & Support web site will show additional information about the error codes, and the options you can take to resolve the problems.
  4. If you would rather just shut down or restart your Mac, simply press S (Shut Down) or R (Restart). If you would like to rerun the test, press the command+R keys.

Apple Diagnostics Error Codes

AD Error Codes
Error CodeDescription
ADP000No issues found
CNW001 - CNW006Wi-Fi hardware problems
CNW007- CNW008No Wi-Fi hardware detected
NDC001 - NDC006Camera issues
NDD001USB hardware issues
NDK001 - NDK004Keyboard issues
NDL001Bluetooth hardware issues
NDR001 - NDR004 Trackpad problems
NDT001 - NDT006Thunderbolt hardware problems
NNN001No serial number detected
PFM001 - PFM007System Management Controller problems
PFR001Mac firmware issue
PPF001 - PPF004Fan problem
PPM001Memory module issue
PPM002 - PPM015Onboard memory problem
PPP001 - PPP003Power adapter issue
PPP007Power adapter not tested
PPR001Processor problem
PPT001Battery not detected
PPT002 - PPT003Battery needs to be replaced soon
PPT004Battery requires service
PPT005Battery not installed correctly
PPT006Battery requires service
PPT007Battery needs to be replaced soon
VDC001 - VDC007SD Card reader issues
VDH002 - VDH004Storage device issue
VDH005Can't start OS X Recovery
VFD001 - VFD005Display issues encountered
VFD006Graphics processor problems
VFD007Display issues encountered
VFF001Audio hardware problems

It's possible that the AD test won't find any issues, even though you're having problems you believe are related to your Mac's hardware. The AD test is not a complete and comprehensive test, although it will find most of the common issues associated with hardware. If you still have problems, don’t rule out such common causes as failing drives or even software issues.

Published: 1/20/2015