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Why is the Mac app crashing? Try these solutions

Last updated on 19 Oct 2023
4 min read

If you’re running into issues and experiencing crashes, there are a few things you can try to fix it.

If none of the solutions below work for you, please get in touch with us for more help. If you get in touch, it is can be useful to supply any document that is causing a specific issues.

1. Check your plugins

Sometimes an incompatible or outdated plugin may be causing the Mac app to crash. So, it’s a good idea to try using the Mac app without any plugins running, to see if that could be causing your problem.

To disable your plugins temporarily, quit the Mac app and then launch it again while holding down the Shift key. This opens the Mac app in Safe Mode and if everything works as expected, a plugin may have been causing the crash.

To find out which plugin(s) are the cause of your problem, close the Mac app and launch without holding to enable plugins again. Choose Sketch > Preferences > Plugins and disable or uninstall all of them. Then add them back one by one until you find which plugin is causing you issues.

Note: Some plugins, like Craft, will still be loaded even when you disable them, so uninstalling is the only way to make sure they’re not interfering with the Mac app.

If a plugin is crashing Sketch on launch, you can uninstall all of them by moving the Plugins folder to your Desktop:

  • Quit the Mac app
  • Open Finder
  • Select Go > Go to Folder… or press G (Shift-Command-G)
  • Enter the following path in the dialog that appears: ~/Library/Application Support/com.bohemiancoding.sketch3 and click Go
  • Drag the Plugins folder to your Desktop and relaunch Sketch

Now you can proceed to install your plugins one by one until you find the one that’s causing the crash.

Plugins are created by third-party developers, so you’d need to get in touch with them for further support and assistance. But before you do, try checking to see if there’s an update available for the plugin that’s causing you issues. That can often resolve issues.

If disabling your plugins doesn’t help, move on to the next suggestion.

2. Restart your Mac

We know this sounds a lot like “Have you tried turning it off and on again?” but sometimes a simple restart can be a fool-proof way to fix a problem in Sketch.

If possible, save your work, then quit the Mac app and restart your Mac. If a full reboot doesn’t resolve your issue, try the next solution.

3. Create a new preferences file

The Mac app stores your preferences in a file, and sometimes this file can get corrupted with bad data. Removing this file forces the Mac app to create a fresh preferences file that won’t cause the same issues.

Don’t worry, we won’t delete the file completely — we’ll just move the file out of the way, so we can restore it later if needed. Follow these steps to remove the file and have Sketch create a new one.

  • Close the Mac app
  • Open Finder
  • Select Go > Go to Folder… or press G (Shift-Command-G)
  • Enter the following path in the dialog that appears: ~/Library/Preferences/com.bohemiancoding.sketch3.plist and click Go
  • The preferences file will be located. Drag it to your Desktop and relaunch the Mac app.

If everything is now working as expected, you can delete the preferences file from your Desktop.

Note: When you delete the preferences file you may need to set some preferences in the app and plugins again.

If your issue still isn’t resolved, you can close the Mac app and drag your original preferences file back to its place (overwriting the new version) to restore your user defaults.

4. Reinstall Sketch

A clean reinstall of the Mac app may well fix things if the above steps haven’t helped. We recommend you use an uninstaller like AppCleaner (free) to make sure you remove all files related before you install a new copy.

We recommend you backup your libraries and plugins so you can add them back and keep working as usual after the reinstall.

  1. Open Finder and click on the menu bar Go > Go to Folder… or press G (Shift-Command-G)
  2. Paste in: ~/Library/Application Support/com.bohemiancoding.sketch3 and click Go
  3. Move the Libraries and the Plugins folder to your Desktop
  4. If you have added any custom Gradient Presets to Sketch, then you will also want to backup the assets-v##.sketchpreset file with the highest number from the same folder as your Libraries and Plugins

After you have completed uninstalling the Mac app, please download the latest version and sign in using your email and password. Once Sketch has been reinstalled, repeat steps 2 and 3 from the plugin backup process and add back your libraries, plugins, and presets.

Note: If you’re experiencing issues with the Mac app being slow, there are a few other solutions to try, you can find more details in our Why is the Mac app slow? article.