My number one tip for all laptop owners is to - proactively - have another backup account on your laptop, and make sure that it is an administrator account. Keep the password safe and handy - for when problems arise with your own account. Sometimes you need a different way to login and solve the problem.
Done? Great. Now here's a few tips for when something odd comes up:
- Laptop seem... posessed? Menus not appearing... timing is off... etc.? Try resetting your PRAM.
- Is the fan running non-stop, and the battery doesn't seem to charge or has an X on it? If you have a MacBook from within the last year, try resetting your SMC.
- Virus? Why yes, MacBooks can get those too. Log in to your other account and wipe it out with your Antivirus.
- Need to recover your OSX? Hold down the OPTION key as you turn it on, and see if you have the option to boot to a recovery partition. You can reinstall your operating system (be sure you've backed up all your files!)
- Know more before visiting the Apple Store: Hold down the D key while turning it on, and run a diagnostics test. You'll know if the problem is hardware-based (i.e., battery, memory, etc.)