Mac Fixes

Kernel Panic on Mac

Kernel panics are one of the last things any Mac owner wants to deal with. Your Mac will suddenly display a message telling you there’s been a fault, and then, it’ll restart. If you were working on anything at the time, your progress can easily be lost.


Kernel panics happen when something goes wrong with the macOS kernel. It’s an essential part of Unix-based operating systems, including macOS. The most common cause of kernel panics is software errors, but they can be caused by hardware faults as well.


Today, we’ll show you how to reset kernel panic on Mac. To ensure that the problem doesn’t happen again, you’ll also learn how to avoid kernel panic on Mac problems in the first place.

Before we start


Hidden processes that launch with your Mac might cause kernel panics. MacKeeper’s Login Items tool can help you easily identify and remove these.


Here’s how to use it:

  1. Download MacKeeper.
  2. In MacKeeper, select Login Items from the sidebar.
  3. Click Start Scan.
  4. Select any items you want to remove.
  5. Click Remove Selected Items.

You can try each of MacKeeper’s tools one time fully for free, so it’s well worth giving it a shot.

What is kernel panic on Mac

Kernel panics are when your Mac restarts due to a specific problem. The issue normally occurs when programs conflict on your device, and it’s very different from the rainbow wheel when apps crash. Kernel panics only happen when problems on your computer are so significant that the device can’t run properly.

What causes kernel panic on Mac

Several things can cause kernel panic on Macs, such as incompatible software or device conflicts. In many cases, these kinds of problems aren’t serious enough to cause a kernel panic, and your Mac just carries on working as normal. But if a problem is significant enough, macOS might restart to protect your Mac.


Other reasons for Mac kernel panics include:

Note from our experts: 


if you have high kernel_task CPU usage on your Mac, you can try changing your USB position and restarting your device. Cooling down your computer also often works.

How to fix kernel panic on Mac

Whether your Mac diagnoses kernel panic for one of the above-mentioned reasons or something else, you can deal with kernel panics in several ways:

  1. Restart in Safe Mode
  2. Check out crash reports
  3. View kernel panic logs
  4. Update your software
  5. Disable startup items
  6. Check you have enough disk space
  7. Check peripheral devices
  8. Run Apple Diagnostics
  9. Remove third-party kernel extensions
  10. Run First Aid in Disk Utility
  11. Reinstall macOS
  12. Contact professional support

Try the solutions below in order.

1. Restart in Safe Mode

Restarting your Mac in Safe Mode is a good way to check if your Mac has a software problem. It starts macOS with only the drivers and apps it needs to run. So if you find your Mac’s kernel panics stop when you put it in safe mode, there’s a good chance it’s the result of third-party software.


Here’s how to enter Safe Mode with an Intel Mac:

  1. Shut down your Mac and wait 10 seconds.
  2. Turn your Mac on and immediately press and hold Shift.
  3. Release the Shift key when you see the login screen.

Follow these instructions to enter Safe Mode on an M1, M2, or M3 Mac:

  1. Shut down your Mac and wait 10 seconds.
  2. Press and hold the power button until the startup options window appears.
  3. Select the startup disk.
  4. Press and hold Shift.
  5. Click Continue in Safe Mode. Then, release Shift.
Fix kernel panic on Mac by first diagnosing the issue. Restarting your computer in Safe Mode is the best way to do this. The process differs depending on whether you have an Intel or M1/M2/M3 Mac.

2. Check out crash reports

macOS keeps all kinds of records about its performance, including when it crashes. So, one of the best Mac diagnose kernel panic options is to check your crash reports. You can view these in the Console tool or open the crash log files from the Diagnostic Reports folder in Library > Logs.


Here’s how to view macOS crash reports:

  1. Open Finder and access the Console app in Applications > Utilities.  
  2. Select Crash Reports from the sidebar.
  3. If there are any crash reports, click on one and look at the text in the report.

The first section of the report identifies the process that caused the crash (e.g. “panic action at probe”). The second section provides the exact date and time of the crash and the OS version (e.g. Sunday, 20th March at 15:20). The next section includes Exception details. There are two types you’re interested in:

  • EXC_BAD_ACCESS/KERN_INVALID_ADDRESS caused by access to unmapped memory
  • EXC_BAD_ACCESS/KERN_PROTECTION_FAILURE caused by writing to read-only memory

The section after this provides the backtrace information, where you can find out which thread crashed and the events that led to it. With any luck, these reports will provide some clues about what caused your kernel panic. From there, you can take action to solve the issue.

Find out whether you have kernel panic issues on your Mac by going to Finder and opening Utilities > Console. From here, you can see various points of action if required.
Step 1. Finder > Applications > Utilities
Open Crash Reports in Console to check whether you have any problems that need addressing. When you have the information you require, you can then decide on next steps to take.
Step 2. Consoles > Crash Reports
If you have issues that require attention, you'll find them in the Process Name section of Crash Reports > Console. From there, you can choose your next steps.
Step 3. Check for messages and reports to determine if you need to take action

3. View kernel panic logs

Besides checking crash reports, you can find and subsequently stop kernel panic on Mac by viewing your past logs. To do that, you’ll again need to open Finder and follow these instructions:

  1. Navigate to the top toolbar and select Go > Go to Folder.
  2. Type the following in your search bar: /Library/Logs/Diagnostics/Reports select the first option of the two.
  3. In the next window, you can see every diagnostics report that your Mac has run in the past. If you see a file starting with Kernel and ending in .panic, double-click on it to access Console and discover what’s wrong.
Start the process of seeing if you have Mac kernel panics by opening Finder and selecting Go in the top toolbar. Here, you can then select Go to Folder and type the necessary code.
Step 1. Finder > Go > Go to Folder
When the pop-up text box appears on your screen, type /Library/Logs/DiagnosticReports. On the next page, you'll see all of your computer's historical diagnostic reports—including any kernel panics.
Step 2. Type /Library/Logs/DiagnosticReports
If you see a Kernel .panic file on your Mac, double-click on it. After doing that, you'll access Console and can then determine the problem that you need to fix. If you don't see this file, you haven't had a kernel panic.
Step 3. Search for files starting with Kernel and ending in .panic



If you don’t see a file saying Kernel and finishing in .panic, you haven’t had a kernel panic. So, your computer might not work for other reasons, such as Mac error code 43. Solve this problem by force quitting Finder, resetting your NVRAM/PRAM, or unlocking files in Terminal.


You may also have problems with your MacBook overheating, which you can solve by quitting resource-intensive tasks, managing login items, and closing unused applications.  

4. Update your software

One of the best early solutions for fixing most MacBook problems is to update your macOS software. Apple releases upgrades to patch performance bugs throughout the year, meaning it could be a viable kernel panic Mac solution.


Follow these steps to update your macOS software:

  1. Navigate to the Apple logo in your top toolbar and select System Settings (System Preferences on pre-macOS Ventura).
  2. Click on General > Software Update.
  3. If a software update is available, select Update Now.
  4. Agree with Apple’s licensing agreement. Wait for the software to update; your Mac may turn on and off multiple times.
Fix kernel panic issues on your Mac by first navigating to the Apple logo. When the dropdown menu appears, select System Settings (or System Preferences if you use pre-macOS Ventura software).
Step 1. Apple logo > System Settings
In your System Settings/Preferences, navigate to General and select Software Update. Your Mac will search for an upgrade; select Update Now if one appears.
Step 2. General > Software Update > Update Now

5.  Disable startup items

Disabling startup items, such as apps you don’t need to open straight away, can stop essential tasks from conflicting with each other. As such, you can potentially solve recurring kernel panics.


Here’s how to disable startup items on your Mac:

  1. Go to Apple logo > System Settings > General > Login Items.
  2. Under Open at Login, select any programs you don’t want to start when you sign in.
  3. Scroll down to Allow in the Background. Toggle off any programs you don’t want to run without your discretion.
Fix kernel panic conflicts by opening System Settings and navigating to General. Here, you'll see a tab called Login Items; click on it to continue with the required steps.
Step 1. System Settings > General > Login Items
In Login Items, go to Open at Login and highlight any programs you don't want to run in the background. Once you've done this, tap the - button and your changes will take effect.
Step 2. Login Items > Open at Login > highlight and remove login items
After removing login items you don't want to run upon startup, scroll down in the Login Items section and find Allow in the Background. When you're here, you can turn off any processes that you don't want to use.
Step 3. Toggle off background items that you don’t want to run

6. Check you have enough disk space

Running your Mac with a full or nearly full system disk can cause stability issues, including kernel panic. To check your disk space on a Mac:

  1. Navigate to Apple logo > About This Mac and select More Info.
  2. Scroll down to Storage and view how much storage you have. If you want to clear some space, select Storage Settings and remove any programs you don’t want.
Navigate to the Apple logo and select About This Mac to discover more information about your computer. Here, you can find out how much storage space you have after one more step.
Step 1. Apple logo > About This Mac
Select More Info to find out how much space you've got left on your Mac. If you have kernel panics, it could be due to limited remaining storage on your device.
Step 2. Select More Info
Scroll down to Storage at the bottom of About This Mac. Here, you'll see how much memory your computer can handle and the amount you have left. If you want to free up space, select Storage Settings.
Step 3. Check storage and go to Storage Settings to delete apps and documents

7. Check peripheral devices

Corrupted external devices, such as USB drives, sometimes cause kernel panic issues. Check your peripherals and turn off anything that could potentially interfere with your Mac’s essential systems by following these steps.

  1. Open Finder and select Finder > Settings.
  2. Make sure you’ve chosen the General tab. Then, untick any boxes for peripherals you believe are causing problems.
  3. Test whether your Mac now works properly. Then, try turning these peripherals back on.
Stop your kernel panic problems by checking peripherals on your Mac. Open Finder, before selecting Finder again and choosing Settings, to commence with the remaining steps.
Step 1. Finder > Settings
Once you've opened your Finder settings, you should then click on the General tab. After doing that, untick the peripherals  that could be causing problems with your device (e.g. CDs, DVDS, and iPods or Connected servers).
Step 2. Select General > untick your peripherals

8. Run Apple Diagnostics

Formerly known as Apple Hardware Test, Apple Diagnostics is a tool built into macOS that tests for hardware problems. This may be the cause of your Mac’s kernel panics. Before running it, disconnect everything from your Mac, other than the mouse, keyboard, monitor, power, and Ethernet cable, if you’re using one.


Here’s how to run Apple Diagnostics on an Intel Mac:

  1. Shut down your Mac.
  2. Turn on your Mac and immediately press and hold the D key.
  3. Release the D key when you see a progress bar or are asked to choose a language.

Here’s how to run Apple Diagnostics on an Apple Silicon Mac:

  1. Press and hold the power button on your Mac.
  2. Release the power button when you see the startup options.
  3. Press Cmd+D on your keyboard.
Running Apple Diagnostics requires different steps depending on the Mac you have. However, the progress bar is similar across the board. When you see the progress bar, you can typically let go of any keys.

Apple Diagnostics will now check your Mac’s hardware. You’ll see a progress bar while it’s doing this. When it’s finished, you’ll get a report, which includes reference codes.

9. Remove third-party kernel extensions

macOS uses files called kexts (short for kernel extension) to add functionality to the operating system. These are all stored in the Library > Extensions folder. This is also where third-party extensions are installed. But you should be very careful about deleting kext files, in case you delete one that macOS relies on. It’s a good idea to check what third-party extensions you have installed, if any.


Use Terminal to check for third-party macOS extensions:

  1. Open Terminal from the Applications > Utilities folder.
  2. Type kextstat | grep -v and press Enter. If you have any third-party extensions installed, they’ll be listed here.
Open Finder and go to Applications > Utilities, before selecting Terminal. Here, you can then add the required code to find any third-party kernels on your device.
Step 1. Finder > Applications > Utilities > Terminal
Once you've opened Terminal on your Mac, type kextstat | grep -v and hit Enter. A list of third-party kernels will then show up on your screen, and you can ensure that nothing essential is deleted.
Step 2. Type kextstat | grep -v and press Enter
When the third-party kernels appear in Terminal, search for these on your Mac. Then, you can delete these without removing anything essential to your device's functions.
Step 3. View any third-party extensions you have installed

Hint from our team: 


Once you’ve identified third-party extensions, you can find them in the Extensions folder and delete them. Alternatively, use a tool like MacKeeper’s Smart Uninstaller to find and remove extensions for you. This avoids the risk of deleting default system extensions—which might cause more problems on top of your Mac’s kernel panic issues.

Use MacKeeper's Smart Uninstaller to remove system extensions and other programs that could cause problems on your computer. Go to Cleaning > Smart Uninstaller, before ticking your items and deleting them.

10. Run First Aid in Disk Utility

Repairing errors on your Mac’s system disk might help to fix kernel panics. You can do that easily using Disk Utility’s First Aid function. To run First Aid on your Mac:

  1. Open Disk Utility from Applications > Utilities.
  2. Select your system disk from the sidebar.
  3. Click First Aid > Run.
  4. Tap Continue.
  5. Wait for First Aid to finish.
Repairing your disk via First Aid can stop kernel panics from repeatedly occurring. To access this feature, open Disk Utility and select your system disk in the left-hand toolbar.
Step 1. Open Disk Utility > select your system disk
Once you've selected your system disk, you'll then need to go to First Aid. This is in the top right-hand corner. After doing that, you can continue the process of running a repair on your Mac's disk.
Step 2. Select First Aid
A pop-up window called Run First Aid on [Disk Name?] will then appear on your screen. When it does, select Run and wait for the next pop-up window to show up.
Step 3. Click on Run
When the second pop-up window appears, you should select Continue after reading the warning. After doing this, your Mac will then work to fix any possible issues it finds with your system disk.
Step 4. Select Continue when the next pop-up window appears
After clicking through the different windows, your Mac will run a First Aid repair on your device. This can take several minutes. When it has finished, you can press Done to finalize the process.
Step 5. Wait for your First Aid check to complete

11. Reinstall macOS

Factory-resetting your Mac and reinstalling macOS should be one of the last things you do, but it might be necessary if the kernel panic still occurs. Your problem at this point is probably hardware-related—including third-party peripherals. To reset your Mac, you’ll need to enter Recovery Mode.


Here’s how to put an Intel Mac in Recovery mode:

  1. Turn off your Mac.
  2. Turn it back on and immediately press and hold Cmd+R.
  3. Release the keys when you see the Apple logo.

Here’s how to put an M1 Mac in Recovery mode:

  1. Turn off your Mac.
  2. Press and hold the power button until you see the loading startup options.
  3. Select Options to get into Recovery Mode.
Resetting your Mac and reinstalling macOS might be a necessary next step if you're still having kernel_panic problems. The process differs depending on your device, but you can install macOS or a Time Machine backup in Recovery Mode regardless.

If you experience a Mac not turning on, restoring your Mac from Recovery Mode could solve the issue. However, you can also try other solutions like booting up your Mac in Safe Mode and resetting NVRAM.

12. Contact professional support

Before you throw your old MacBook away and get a new one, try contacting professional support to see if you still have a chance of salvaging your computer. MacKeeper’s round-the-clock technical help team has in-depth knowledge of Mac-related issues and might be able to assist.


Here’s how to contact MacKeeper’s 24/7 support team:

  1. Open MacKeeper and select Ask an Expert in the top right-hand corner.
  2. Type your message when the chat opens. Try to give as much detail as possible.
If you've tried everything and still have kernel_panic problems, getting professional support could help you get to the bottom of the issue. MacKeeper's 24/7 Support team has extensive macOS knowledge, for example. Select Ask an Expert in the app to get started.

How to prevent kernel panic on Mac

Once you troubleshoot a kernel panic on a Mac and fix the problem, preventing another kernel panic in the future should be your top priority.


You can stop a kernel panic on Mac by implementing the following:

  1. Clear disk space
  2. Clear cache
  3. Fix problems with RAM
  4. Use a reliable antivirus
  5. Install programs from verified resources

1. Clear disk space

Freeing up disk space on your Mac can help your processes run more effectively and minimize the risk of future kernel panics. For more information on how to do that, check out this guide on how to free up space on Mac.

2. Clear cache

Caches build up over time and can result in performance-related issues. You can get rid of most caches safely from all of your browsers. For more information, read our guide outlining how to empty cache on Mac.

3. Fix problems with RAM

Your Mac uses RAM in several ways, such as when you play games and use design software. You can free up RAM and subsequently solve problems you might encounter in several ways, such as scanning for malware and quitting major processes that aren’t necessary.

4. Use a reliable antivirus

Malware can cause all sorts of issues on your computer, including kernel panics. Using a reliable antivirus tool, like MacKeeper’s Antivirus, can stop this technical difficulty from occurring.


Here’s how to use MacKeeper’s Antivirus:

  1. Open MacKeeper and select Antivirus > Launch Antivirus.
  2. Enable real-time protection by tapping Next.
  3. Select Enable next to Real-time is disabled.
  4. Press the Open Preferences button.
  5. Unlock your Mac’s advanced settings and select all boxes next to MacKeeper.
  6. Quit and reopen MacKeeper. You should now see real-time protection enabled.
Set up antivirus by selecting Security > Antivirus in the MacKeeper app. At the bottom of your screen is a Launch Antivirus button; click on this to continue the process.
Step 1. MacKeeper > Antivirus > Launch Antivirus
On the next screen, you'll see a button called Next. You should click on this if you want to enable real-time protection. MacKeeper will then continue the process of setting this up on your device.
Step 2. Select Next
You'll see a message telling you that real-time protection is disabled on your Mac. Next to it is a button called Enable, which you should click on to commence the remaining steps.
Step 3. Select Enable
To finalize the process of enabling MacKeeper Antivirus, you'll need to open your computer's preferences. When the Open Preferences button appears on your device, select this and your System Settings will open.
Step 4. Open Preferences
When your System Settings open, you can then tick the boxes next to everything associated with MacKeeper. After doing this, close and reopen the MacKeeper app. You should now see that real-time protection is enabled.
Step 5. Enable MacKeeper in your settings

5. Install programs from verified resources

If you only use apps and programs from verified resources (i.e. the App Store or a company’s website), it’s unlikely that you’ll frequently encounter kernel panic issues. Sticking to reputable sources will also stop other problems like malware, and you’ll also get the latest software updates as and when they’re released.

Fix and stop kernel panic problems on your Mac

Kernel panics are arguably the worst problem that Mac users can encounter, and fixing them as soon as possible is crucial. You can diagnose the problem via Console and Apple Diagnostics. Once you’ve determined that you have issues to fix, try disabling startup items and checking your peripherals. If nothing works from this list of steps, perform a factory reset and reinstall macOS.


To minimize the amount of manual work for disabling login items, use MacKeeper’s Login Items tool. That way, you’ll stop conflicting programs from ruining your Mac experience.

FAQ about kernel panic

1. Should I worry about kernel panic?

Kernel panic is a serious problem that can result in you being unable to use your Mac. So, if you see or diagnose this problem, fixing it ASAP is crucial.

2. How do I find kernel panic on Mac?

Go to Finder and type /Library/Logs/DiagnosticReports. You can then see any kernel panic files that have occurred on your Mac.

3. How to read the kernel panic log?

Kernel panic logs have a rough time when the incident happened. With this information, you can determine whether you need to delete an app or perform a different action.

4. How to stop kernel panic on Mac?

Stop kernel panic on your Mac by fixing problems with your RAM, clearing your cache, freeing up disk space, and installing programs from verified resources (e.g. the App Store).

5. Will reinstalling macOS fix kernel panic?

Reinstalling macOS can fix kernel panic and any other problems you may encounter on your Mac. But considering that it’ll also delete much of your other data, it should be a last resort.

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