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Nothing appears in the Chooser!

Preface

You've plugged in the cables, installed the software, turned everything on, but then--your worst fears realized--nothing shows up in the Chooser! Despite your valiant networking efforts, an empty window stares balefully back at you, no matter how many times you click on the AppleShare icon. The first thing to do is not panic (or, at least, panic in an area clear of sharp objects). Since the process of setting up a network is somewhat complex, there are several places where problems can occur.

Are you networking a printer?

  1. Make sure the printer software is compatible with the Mac. Some printer manufacturers don't make Mac versions of their software.
  2. Open the Extensions Manager control panel and make sure the printer software is enabled.
  3. Make sure the printer is on (it's happened to me before).
  4. Try turning everything off and start the printer up first, before the Mac. Some printers require that they be turned on before the computers.
  5. Try restarting. Bad network data can cause weird errors; restarting sometimes clears this up.
  6. Reinstall the printer software and try again.

Is all the software installed?

The first step in setting up your network (after plugging all the cables in) is making sure you have all the necessary software installed and loaded on your Mac. Without the correct Control Panels and Extensions installed, your Mac won't even know the network is there. Since the Mac loads all its networking software during the startup process, you'll need to restart your Mac after installation. For a list of the required network files, check out the Required Mac Networking Software page. Note that different versions of the Mac operating system require different files, so first go to the Finder and check the version you're using in the About ... window in the Apple Menu.

Did you create a shared folder?

Probably the most important step in setting up an AppleTalk qm_icon picture network (and one I missed the first time through) is the final one: setting up a shared folder qm_icon picture on any Mac you want to share files from. Without the presence of shared folder, your Mac doesn't know that you want to share files with anyone, so it won't make itself visible to the network. You can share a single folder, mutiple folders, or your whole hard disk, as long as you share at least one. Remember that you don't have to have a shared folder on your Mac to see other Macs on the network, just if you want other Macs to see you.

Check the connections

Make sure you're attached to a network and the network adapters are functioning properly. Note that your Mac handles LocalTalk and Ethernet differently: you can switch to LocalTalk without a network actually present, but built-in Ethernet won't work unless a network is hooked to the Ethernet port. On Ethernet hubs, there is an activity indicator (usually a red or green light) on each port. When information is passing through that port, the light illuminates. If there isn't any activity on the port your Mac is hooked to, that indicates there's a problem somewhere in the connection or in the port. Try plugging your Mac into a different port; if the problem goes away, you've found a bad port. Also try a different piece of cable, for the same reason.

Check the cables

One of the most common causes of network problems is a cable gone bad. A bad cable is not just one that has internal wires showing or that got chewed on by the dog, though. Internally, most cables actually contain several wires; one bad wire can make the whole cable non-functional, or (even worse) partially functional. So how do you know if you have a bad cable? Typically, you can try swapping it with another, since the odds of getting two new-yet-bad cables is small. To be absolutely sure, you can have a computer tech check the internal connections.

Are you using the right cable?

When you're setting up a network, it's possible to end up with a different cable in the mix than you'd intended, with the end result that the network doesn't work. The most common example is in an Ethernet qm_icon picture network, since both a crossover cable qm_icon picture and a straight-through cable qm_icon picture look identical from the outside, but have different internal functions. If you didn't buy the cable in question yourself, the easiest way to verify what type you have is to compare it with cables at a computer store or check with a computer tech.

Trying reinstalling the network software

Sometimes files crucial to networking can become corrupted, leading to networking problems. Try reinstalling the networking software.

Zap your Mac's PRAM

There are a number of network-related settings in your Mac's PRAM (an internal storage mechanism). Should these settings become corrupted, networks can start acting weird for no apparent reason. Using a program like TechTool to zap the Mac's PRAM can restore normal function. Keep in mind that zapping the PRAM resets your networking port (among other things), so you'll need to reselect Ethernet from the AppleTalk control panel. Note that PRAM corruption is rare, so zapping it is generally considered a last resort.

Still not working?

Problem still not solved? Questions linger? If so, please send mail and I'll do my best to help out. I try to answer all mail with 24 hours, although it can take longer if the answer requires some research.

Contents of Three Macs & a Printer are ©1996-1999 Matthew Glidden (except for the bits that aren't).

Questions or feedback? Feel free to send mail.

[This page was last updated on 3/7/99; 2:05:51 PM.]



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