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MacTechTrainer, Sr. Mac Support Specialist
Category: Mac
Satisfied Customers: 1700
Experience:  Apple Certified Desktop & Portables Technician, A+, Cross-Platform (Mac/PC) Tech - for over 14 Years
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imac has a clear screen with small square in centre flashing

Customer Question

imac has a clear screen with small square in centre flashing from 2 smily cartoon type faces to question mark. what can be done to ammend please?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Mac
Expert:  MacTechTrainer replied 7 years ago.
Hello, and thank you for asking your question, with
I am Sr. Mac Tech Support Specialist, Terry, glad to assist you.

What you are seeing when you observe such a display on your screen is a
an issue with your Mac computer being able to locate the Mac OS X system on the
hard drive, in order to boot to your desktop normally.

So here is a procedure for you to try:

Here are some steps you can try to resolve the issue:

• Make sure your Mac is shutdown. You will need to perform what is called a PRAM reset (Parameter RAM)

• Locate the following keys on the keyboard: Command, Option, P, and R. You will need to hold these keys down simultaneously .

• Turn on the computer.
• Press and hold the Command-Option-P-R keys. You must press this key combination before the gray screen appears.

• Now, hold the keys down until the computer restarts and you hear the startup sound for the third time.

• Release the keys and allow the Macbook to start up.

• Please update me to let me know if this works.

If you have any more questions, regarding your technical issue prior to beginning this recommended procedure, please feel free to reply to this post, as I am always ready to assist. Thank you!



Customer: replied 7 years ago.
i have tried the procedure advised and the start up sound only happens once and the screen goes grey again and after a few minutes the same small square appears on centre of screen flashing from faces to ?.
Expert:  MacTechTrainer replied 7 years ago.
Thanks for that update. I already have another procedure I would like
you to attempt.


I am going to have you take your Mac into Safe Mode to see if we can't remove a possible folder(s) that may be affecting your Mac's start up function.

Try these steps:

• Reboot your Mac
• Upon restarting your Mac, press the Shift key.
• Hold the Shift key until you see a White Screen with Gray Apple icon and eventually a spinning gear.
• When you see the Spinning gear, release the Shift key.
• Allow the Mac to continue booting up. Also this may take a little while
(NOTE: this may take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes to load to the Safe mode screen depending on the performance of your Mac, but if it exceeds this time, shutdown your Mac and try just once more. It may have just frozen up the first time around for you.)

• You are going to enter the Safe Mode (which looks like your main desktop environment - the only difference is certain startup items are disabled.)

• Once within the Desktop in Safe Mode
• From the Finder Menu, click Go> Go to Folder
• Type in this line: /System/Library/StartupItems
• This path, is going to take you to the System Library folder which has all of your Mac OS X Startupitems.

• Remove all of those folders to the Trash.

*Reboot your Mac normally and see if you can access your normal User desktop environment.

Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX be looking forward to your reply.


Customer: replied 7 years ago.

The options dont seem to be working. I restarted the imac and immediately after hearing the startup sound i pressed the shift key and held down, after about 15 secs the screen went from black to grey, after about 90 secs went black and straight back to grey but again had the small square in the middle with the 2 smiling faces changing to ? back and forth. note the small rectangle in the centre is about 10mm x 12mm with a light blue strip on top about 1mm high and looks kind of like a battery.

Expert:  MacTechTrainer replied 7 years ago.
Thanks for your reply and update and thanks as well for you patience
I am just coming back online now. The issue you are having
is symptomatic of a logic board issue. The fact that your
Mac is not allowing you to boot up to you Mac OS X volume,
via Safe Mode is an issue with either you logic board or the Hard drive itself. Because I cannot fully assess this issue without the ability to perform a diagnostics on your Mac
myself, I am confident in recommending to to consider taking you Mac in for a least, a diagnostics service
from either an Apple retail store Genius bar or an Apple authorized service center.
From my experience as an Onsite Mac Tech, startup issues like this one are an
indication of potential hardware or firmware issues. I only emphasize this because I have had to physically diagnose
and repair Mac computers with similar trouble symptoms as your Mac is displaying now.
If you have more questions on this issue, please don't hesitate to reply back to this post. I am always glad to assist any way
I can.

Thank you for your patience!
MacTechTrainer and 2 other Mac Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
I have tried both the pram reset & the safe boot mode as you suggested with no luck but on the pram reset i was mistakenly using the control key instead of the command key. i have since tried both procedures again with no luck. i will go to a service centre as you suggested. There was some lightning and storms in this area on the night this first happened, could this have been the possible cause of the problem.Thank you for your advice, please advise if you have anymore suggestions
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

I previously replied that I have tried both procedures with no success, I will follow your advice to go to a service centre. I also advised of lightning in this area on the night the problem started, could this have been the cause. please advise if you have anymore suggestions. I have accepted 1 answer, is this ok or should i have paid more as i have been satisfied that you have tried to help. As i have only just recently obtained my imac and will probably need help at some stage after i have the mac repaired. Thank you

Expert:  MacTechTrainer replied 7 years ago.
Thanks for your reply once againCustomer Unfortunately, this has to much the signs of a hardware issue. As a result, the last recommendation I provided you, I have to stand with. The fact the PRAM reset or the Safe Boot procedures not working, is definitely one of a few symptoms suggesting to hardware issues.

So I am not sure if the lightening in your area has contributed to this issue, but I can say this is not a software issue for sure.

I hope the information I provided you, at least stepped you into the right direction.

I thank you for your Accept and hope that the service center you take your Mac into will get to the root of this hardware issue.

Thanks again for allowing me to assist you to this point. If you need assistance further on this issue after you take your Mac in for , you are welcome to ask for my assistance again, anytime.

Best regards,