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March 26, 2009 freezes on launch / slow to launch

Filed under: Macintosh — Tags: , — Shannon Hicks @ 5:28 pm

I was having a couple issues with my Mac Pro. The most noticeable issue was that when I launched Console, it would open, but then give me nothing more than a spinning cursor. The less obvious symptom, which seemed unrelated, was that whenever I opened Terminal, or opened a new tab or window, there was a good 10 second delay between when the window opened and when the shell’s prompt would finally appear.

I decided that enough was enough, and called up Apple’s tech support. The rep was nice and tried to be helpful, but he hadn’t heard of Console having this kind of problem before. I’d searched all around Google and the Apple discussion boards, to no avail.

Eventually, I got the idea to just check the logs, and see how big they were. Logs are located in /private/var/log/. I noticed that there was one directory, asl, which was absolutely huge. There were hundreds of files, each of them being pretty big themselves. Once I cleared them all out, the problems went away.

Now, for those of you wondering what this asl directory is, it’s short for Apple System Log. This is the place where everything that happens on your mac gets logged. The system.log file is actually a subset of the information in asl. In Console, this data is viewable under the “Console Messages” or “All Messages” selections.

I happened to know that I didn’t need my logs up to that point, so I had no problem deleting them all. Be sure that you do not need your logs before doing this! Here’s the commands to run in Terminal to do it:

sudo rm -f /private/var/log/asl/*
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  1. Thank you!!! This was my problem as well and your solution turned out to be my solution too. Once I dumped these logs everything sped up, not just console and terminal. Thanks again!

    Comment by Scott — August 8, 2009 @ 3:59 pm

  2. Thanks! I was having the exact same issue with terminal being slow to display the command prompt and clearing the logs solved the problem. Everything is nice and zippy again.

    Comment by Gareth Conner — August 17, 2009 @ 8:30 am

  3. For what it’s worth, my asl directory was only 1.2k (having just wiped for Snow Leopard), but Terminal was still booting like molasses. This fix solved the problem.

    Comment by Richard Herrera — September 13, 2009 @ 12:21 pm

  4. I was having the same issue with Terminal freezing on opening and this worked brilliantly. Thanks!

    Comment by Andrew Culver — September 15, 2009 @ 6:38 am

  5. Brilliant deduction my dear Watson…my whole asl folder was only 74MB with max file size being about 9mb but that certainly fixed the slow leopard terminal

    Comment by Wiz — September 24, 2009 @ 6:07 pm

  6. Fixed the same problem on my end. Thx a lot!

    Comment by Fredrik Bach — September 26, 2009 @ 9:33 am

  7. Thanks. That was really irritating — and I couldn’t find an explanation elsewhere!

    Comment by PhilMac — September 26, 2009 @ 8:23 pm

  8. You rock!

    Comment by Vic — September 30, 2009 @ 1:11 am

  9. many thanks! this has been bothering me for ages…

    Comment by anon — October 3, 2009 @ 6:00 pm

  10. My asl was only 77 MB, but it helped me nonetheless, thanks! (Or may 77 MB is much?)

    Comment by Adrian — October 8, 2009 @ 7:35 am

  11. Man… how about you add another satisfied customer to your list. No way I would have randomly come to this conclusion myself. Thanks, buddy!

    Comment by Ryan — October 12, 2009 @ 4:39 pm

  12. Thanks, that helped me too – my terminal was loading slowly and it looks like the reason was log entries about errors generated by Fluid instances – as much as 20-30 per second… When I deleted the files in /private/var/log/asl, it got better immediately.

    Comment by Psi — October 19, 2009 @ 1:56 pm

  13. Another hearty thank you. I never had any trouble with Terminal until I upgraded to Snow Leopard, then it took forever to go from launch to command prompt. Your tip did the trick!

    Comment by Parker — October 24, 2009 @ 11:36 am

  14. Another thanks…..did the trick!

    Comment by Zennon — October 27, 2009 @ 10:56 am

  15. I have a suggestion. Perhaps it’s best to re-structure your command a bit. If you re-phrase this way:

    sudo rm -f /private/var/log/asl/*

    It will prevent a user from accidentally wiping everything via * if they have not changed into the proper directory.

    Comment by Richard Herrera — November 4, 2009 @ 3:37 pm

  16. @Richard – Great suggestion, change has been made!

    Comment by Shannon Hicks — November 5, 2009 @ 10:41 am

  17. Awesome! Thank you so much for this!

    Comment by Samuel Gaehwiler — November 6, 2009 @ 2:10 am

  18. Both Terminal and freezez the whole system on launch. How do I do this terminal commands when I’m not able to use Terminal?

    Comment by tim — December 4, 2009 @ 10:52 am

  19. You can do it from Finder if you have problems with terminal.
    From Finder click on GO -> Go To Folder -> type “/private/var/log/asl/”
    Then you can manually delete them.

    Comment by Michael Paine — January 6, 2010 @ 10:16 am

  20. Just wanted to add myself to the list of happy “customers”. Certainly speeds up performance enormously. But even though I don’t need my logs right now, I like having them, just in case. Presumably there’s some kind of bug somewhere slowing Terminal down in this way – would be nice to know which, and get a fix. Glad to know how I can fix this, but for now, I think I prefer having my logs even if a slow Terminal is the price I have to pay.

    Comment by David Wikström — January 15, 2010 @ 5:34 pm

  21. @Michael: You know, you could always just copy the files to another directory for archival purposes.

    Comment by Shannon Hicks — January 15, 2010 @ 8:33 pm

  22. Thanks so much for this – it worked a charm! I’ve copied the asl folder to my desktop and will put it somewhere safe in case I need it again.

    Comment by John Coxon — January 28, 2010 @ 7:29 pm

  23. Thanks a lot, this helped me too. I also had a lot of errors in my logs that were caused by Fluid instances. They seem to be caused by certain instances that have the setting “Closing the last window -> only hides the window.” If anyone else has a problem like this, the program that is generating all of the error messages needs to be dealt with, or you’ll only have a temporary fix. I found that changing that setting on my Fluid app (Google Voice) fixed the problem.

    Comment by topher — February 3, 2010 @ 12:10 am

  24. WOW that fixed my issue right away. Thanks!!!!

    Comment by Simon — February 25, 2010 @ 5:16 pm

  25. Thanks!
    Terminal and Quicksilver was soo slow.
    Add another happy mac to the list =)

    Comment by PickyReview. — February 26, 2010 @ 4:58 am

  26. Great fix!!

    For those of you who wish to preserve the files for future reference may wish to do the following:

    sudo tar -cvvf ~/asl.backup.tar /private/var/log/asl/
    sudo rm -rvf /private/var/log/asl/*

    You can edit the location where you want to keep it by changing the ~/ to the preferred directory path (that one will drop it in your home folder).

    This way, if you ever need to get to these logs, you can un-tar them (or grab the individual file) by double-clicking the tar file.

    Comment by Jonathan — February 28, 2010 @ 6:04 pm

  27. @Shannon: Thank you for writing this up! I tried searching for a fix for the slow-to-start Terminal months ago and didn’t find anything. Even opened an erroneous MacPorts ticket thinking bash-completion was the culprit.

    I’m curious how you knew the asl logs were causing the slow Terminal start-up time. Any hints as to how you made the connection? Did you report this to Apple? I didn’t find anything about it on, so I’ll open an issue for it.

    @23: I also noticed my Fluid instances spewing messages to the syslog, but none of them have the “Closing the last window… only hides the window” setting set. I didn’t find an existing issue in the tracker for it so I opened — upvote if it affects you too!

    Comment by Josh — March 2, 2010 @ 5:22 pm

  28. Thank you for the tip. I had to repair the access rights also (with disk utility).

    Comment by Christian Noack — March 6, 2010 @ 6:27 am

  29. Thanks so much, have been looking into this problem for over a year!


    Comment by Daniel Blezek — April 1, 2010 @ 8:52 am

  30. Thanks a lot, works like charm!

    Comment by Basileus — April 16, 2010 @ 2:55 am

  31. Oh thank you so much!
    I was already thinking about wiping whole hard drive and reinstalling OSX.
    I guess this bug is pretty lame. I wonder why (WHY, APPLE!) it is still not fixed!

    Comment by metalim — May 17, 2010 @ 9:02 am

  32. Thank you so much – this is what I’m desperately have been looking for.
    You will find no information at all elsewhere.
    Good work, thank you again!!


    Comment by jens — May 20, 2010 @ 11:53 am

  33. Many thanks, I’ve been trying to solve this for ages.. works like a charm.. brilliant

    Comment by Jim — June 1, 2010 @ 2:33 pm

  34. Thanks that worked for me as well — same problem.

    Like another poster I didn’t have hundreds of files in this directory, only had about 50 but removing them all brought terminal back to the way it should be working.

    I too was about to reinstall Mac OS X from scratch to solve this problem.

    Comment by JM — June 28, 2010 @ 12:43 pm

  35. [...] via Shannon Hicks [...]

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  37. Holey Moley, that actually worked. My Console (on Snow Leopard 10.6.4) was taking 10 minutes to open. I just deleted the (not many) log files in /private/var/log/asl/ and I’m unfrozen straight away. Sweet, thank-you !

    What a strange bug? Will I need to keep deleting these log files?

    Comment by David — August 2, 2010 @ 11:57 pm

  38. Man, you ara my good!!!!

    GREAT JOB!!!!!

    Comment by C0ntact0 — August 30, 2010 @ 12:02 pm

  39. Thanks a million Shannon !
    That solved the problems with terminal and console of my mac 10.5 OSX…I was almost thought of reinstalling from scratch which could have costed me a day or two !

    Comment by Naveen — September 24, 2010 @ 8:46 am

  40. ahhh THANKS!!!!!!

    Comment by Michal — November 7, 2010 @ 1:04 pm

  41. Excellent, had same issue for a while thanks to your solution its fixed :)

    Comment by mjkout — December 9, 2010 @ 2:37 am

  42. thank you, thank you, thank you, th… you get the picture… *blush*
    the delay before getting a prompt in terminal was driving me crazy… :)

    Comment by goranche — December 11, 2010 @ 8:43 am

  43. Wow, I’m feel like such a goofball, but I gotta give you mad props. Such a simple fix to a tremendously annoying problem. Need to add my support for your fix, google found it immediately, and fix was instantaneous.

    Had 500MB worth of files in /private/var/log/asl going back to early 2009, more than 1 per day. Absolutely of no use, and just wasting drive space!!!

    Someone pls explain to me why in the world terminal app cares at all about how many old logfiles are in that directly. Super weird, huh?

    Comment by Dani DR — December 16, 2010 @ 9:22 pm

  44. Terminal probably doesn’t care, my bet would be on bash (which is started in Terminal), which has a quite complex startup procedure and one of the things that gets run during startup is probably causing the delay
    will investigate when I find the time… sometime *blush*


    Comment by goranche — December 17, 2010 @ 3:00 am

  45. Hey guys, please send faulty logs to apple, or this bug will be never fixed :-)

    Comment by metalim — December 17, 2010 @ 9:59 am

  46. [...] This entry was posted in Mac OS X. Bookmark the permalink. ← Looping movie playback on the iPhone Xcode can’t debug iPhone 3G → [...]

    Pingback by Mac OS X Terminal Application Slow to Start | — December 20, 2010 @ 9:57 pm

  47. wow! Thanks!

    Comment by rolfen — March 1, 2011 @ 6:31 pm

  48. Thanks greatly for this tip. I will not tell you how large the total of my log files were (thanks to LaCie Desktop Manager < kill it with fire!), because it's really embarrasing that i didn't discover this earlier.

    Comment by Norbert — April 16, 2011 @ 9:09 am

  49. Thank you so much. I was furious about this problem and your trick worked like a charm!

    Comment by Aamir — May 3, 2011 @ 10:03 am

  50. Awesome one! This totally fixed the issues I was having with the Terminal! Since I used it so frequently it has been bugging me!

    Comment by Mark Drew — July 25, 2011 @ 6:06 am

  51. Unbelievable. My asl directory was only 15MB, but still i noticed the difference. I’d say it’s a BUG in Terminal App.

    Thanks by sharing this tip.

    Comment by leo — August 13, 2011 @ 12:21 pm

  52. Awesome tip! terminal was taking an age to open and emptying the logs nailed it – its instant now.

    Comment by Ian — September 22, 2011 @ 6:23 am

  53. Fixed mine, too. Very happy, just like everyone else. Thanks!

    Comment by John — September 30, 2011 @ 2:47 pm

  54. Hi, Pardon my ignorance. I’m trying to find any messages in console related to a specific software (iBank) but console is taking forever to open. My question is – if i perform the asl fix as detailed above, will that delete all messages in console? Thanks in advance for any response.

    Comment by Tracy — October 14, 2011 @ 11:33 am

  55. Tracy – It will delete it all. Your best bet is to use grep from the command line to search that (large) file.

    Comment by Shannon — October 14, 2011 @ 1:29 pm

  56. Thank you bro !!

    Comment by hakim — January 24, 2013 @ 8:38 am

  57. Thank you! This just cleared up my problem.

    Comment by Happy man — May 17, 2013 @ 3:57 pm

  58. I had almost 3GB of logs!!!! This definitely solved my problem!! Thank you!!

    Comment by Lvkz — August 1, 2013 @ 10:04 pm

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