Mac: Dealing with Apple Support

In my last post I shared tips I had learned from others and I got a new comment from Devburke telling me about the Dictionary Lookup Shortcut - Control-Command-D. Sounded terrific! Unfortunately it didn't work on my MacBook. I tried a couple of different things, including changing the shortcut key but had no luck.

I did what any techie does when confronted with a problem - Google it up. I found a couple of articles, at Apple and MacKB where people experienced the same thing. It appears to be a function of newer MacBooks. Since no one on the Interwebs seemed to have an answer I figured I'd try calling Apple Support. If nothing else I wanted to see if the support experience was the same as the computing experience I've had so far.

All times are EDT:

9:04am: Called and listened to an automated attendant, the kind you speak commands to. Those always worry me.

9:07am: I navigate the menus and speak with Kim. She's very nice, asks me the usual questions and we walk through the process of trying to replicate it.

9:10am: Kim puts me on hold, telling me she's going to try a different machine.

9:20am: New voice picks up, asking me what my issue is. Um, I already explained that to Kim. Oh, well, let's start over. Kyle is now handling my call. He's more thorough and tries a bunch of different steps.

9:28am: Kyle asks me to hold as he can't reproduce it.

9:33am: Kyle's back. Friendly guy, always updating me on what he's doing. Told me it appears to be a bug. We try a couple more things.

9:38am: He puts me on hold, telling me that a product specialist will need to get involved. He warns me that this could take a while.

9:57am: Kyle - he checks in occasionally to assure me someone is coming - finally transfers me to Dell. I love the irony that I am calling Apple support and speaking to someone named Dell about a Mac. Dell starts in on more detailed troubleshooting.

10:14am: Dell and I have done everything that can be done and it does not resolve the problem. He tell me that he will be in touch within a week to see how the next level of product folks plan to resolve the issue. He explains that they need to identify which Macs have the issue and how they will resolve it, if at all.

So there you have it - 69 minutes after the call the issue is reported to Apple and hopefully on it's way to being resolved. I am a very patient person and was nice to the support people I spoke to. They were in turn very nice back, though the fumble by Kim wasn't too cool.

Overall though I was pleased with the response. Having run a technology business before I know how hard it is to provide friendly technical support, especially when you are dealing with a problem that is not easily reproduced. 

I am looking forward to having Dell call me about my Mac. I still find that funny for some reason.


LaSombra said…
Hey David,

I have the exact same problem and can't find a solution for it. I'll be waiting for your update on this.
Apple in Brazil doesn't like my MacBook :(

Unknown said…
I had the same problem though I didn't realize it until I saw your blog post. The answer was on ( You moved your program (as did I). It needs to be in the root /Application folder. I'm new to the Mac platform as well. I assumed that applications could reside anywhere and that I was free to organize them as I like. That's true, except when it isn't. Apple specifically assumes that applications are located in specific places or things don't work - for example, system updates won't apply against applications if you've moved them.
Ed Bortoni said…
Yup... same problem here on my iMac. I moved Dictionary back to Applications (from Utilities) and it now works!
LaSombra said…
Mine always lived on Applications, doesn't work.
David Alison said…
@Charles: Nope - my Dictionary has always been in the root of Applications.
Devin said…
I've never used the phone support, but I know their in-store support is VERY good, and has a reputation for being good. Although this sounds like a small problem, if you ever have a bigger one, you can very easily make an appointment online at the genius bar (I'm not sure how you're supposed to get to your local store's page, I just googled it), then show up, wait a little bit until they're ready for you, and you get great support.

The one time I had to go in was when my HD had apparently stopped working completely. The genius looked at it and recognized that I was going to need a new HD (which I was covered for by Apple Care), so she popped in a new one, and then was able to connect my old HD to one of their MBPs and use some utility (Disk Warrior maybe?) to get access to my data, although we had to wait a long time for it to rebuild. Then she asked what what data I wanted to save, seeing as my HD was going downhill so we probably only had access to it for a limited time. She was supposed to charge me $50 if they did any data recovery, but since she was able to do it right in front of me, she let me have it free.

Overall, from my experience and their reputation, I'd say in-store at least, they have great service. I think the biggest impression was that a) they didn't treat me like an idiot, which you get with a lot of tech support, and b) I could tell they actually knew what they were doing, a feeling you should get from tech support but usually don't
Unknown said…
If you didn't move your then it might be where you're trying the key combination. For example, it doesn't work in Firefox but it does in Safari.
Jeff Bellamy said…
I normally just right click and look up at

I like your tip and it works for me.

jeff bellamy
David Alison said…
@Charles: I tried Safari and TextEdit. I've placed the caret/cursor in the middle of a word and tried selecting the entire word - neither results in the activation of that display. I can Right Click (or Control Click) a word and the dictionary displays properly though. I've also tried remapping the key combination to a different set of keys - no luck with that either.
David Alison said…
@Devburke: I've been to my local Apple store quite a few times and the folks that work there were fine. Very attentive. The only challenge there is how busy the place is. Our Apple store is usually pretty packed. I've even gone at 11am on a weekday and nearly all the people that work there are busy. I'm going to let this sit with phone support for a little while since it's not critical - I'm more curious at this point. Everything else seems to work fine and like Jeff B. above, I just use Right Click now anyway.
Anonymous said…
Just to be sure there's not a misunderstanding:

The Dictionary lookup with [CTRL]-[CMD]-D is a "hovering inspector". It is invoked by holding [CTRL]+[CMD], then pressing D and after that continuing to hold [CTRL]+[CMD]. As long as you keep those two keys pressed you can hover over any word in the active window and the inspector will follow the mouse pointer and show the definition of the word it's hovering over. Release either of the keys and the inspection mode is abandoned.

It only works in Cocoa applications, so you're out of luck with some of the older ones.

It's an unusual feature, so maybe there was a misunderstanding about how it's being used.
David Alison said…
@Ping: Thanks man - that's how I've been trying to use it. No luck :-(

It is not something I really plan to use as I'm quite comfortable with the right click look up, so it's not a rush. I will update the blog to reflect Apple's response too.
Anonymous said…
LaSombra said…
@ping: Yeah, I know :)
Devin said…
Have you tried going in with an appointment, or just walking in? It's crowded either way, but with an appointment you have a reserved spot at least.

If you can get this to work, it's a lot nicer than the right-click option, because it doesn't have to actually launch Dictionary, but instead is only a little hovering window. Aside from the principle of not wanting to launch a new app, sometimes if Dictionary is set to look up something in All (Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia, and Apple), it hangs for awhile on opening since it's retrieving the Wikipedia entry. The hovering window is very speedy.

They both work though.
David Alison said…
@Devburke: I actually have it set to use the little pop-up window already. It's an option in the dictionary preferences (Open Dictionary Panel). Works great with Right-Click / Look Up in Dictionary.
Devin said…
Oh nice! I hadn't seen that
Fred said…
I just "discovered" this on your blog. It's a cool feature and works fine here (PM G5)
And BTW, I really enjoy your blog

Anonymous said…
Make sure the "Look up in Dictionary" keyboard shortcut is checkmarked in:
System Preferences > Keyboard & Mouse > Keyboard Shortcuts

If on, turn it off and on again.

Also, you must hover the mouse cursor over the word to look up in a Cocoa app, eg. TextEdit / Safari. Then press Ctrl+Command+D
Anonymous said…
Make sure the "Look up in Dictionary" keyboard shortcut is checkmarked in:
System Preferences > Keyboard & Mouse > Keyboard Shortcuts

Indeed... but David already checked that if I understood him correctly.

Also, you must hover the mouse cursor over the word to look up in a Cocoa app, eg. TextEdit / Safari. Then press Ctrl+Command+D

No, that's actually not necessary. It does not matter at all where the mouse pointer is when you're invoking it - it does not even need to be within the active window. As long as you keep [CMD]+[ALT] pressed the inspection mode will still work as soon as you move the cursor back into the window.
David Alison said…
@Anon: yep, tried all that.

@Ping: Thanks ;-)

BTW - I didn't realize that's how it actually will work (when I hopefully get it working). What you describe sounds pretty cool. Damn, now I want it to work!
Unknown said…
Exactly same problem for me too. I have Black MacBook 2.2 GHz bought in UK about 2 weeks after David started this blog.

(I've been following the blog ever since and has been very helpful - keep up the good work!)
David Alison said…
@Paul: yeah, I got a call from an Apple rep today that said he was able to recreate the problem on 5 of the 24 machines he tried it on. New post going up shortly once I'm done trying his solution.
Anonymous said…
Dell sells Macs? Not in Canada.


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