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MacTechTrainer
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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My iMac when turned on, is a white screen with a flashing file

This answer was rated:

My iMac when turned on, is a white screen with a flashing file folder and a ? Mark. What happened and what do I do?

MacTechTrainer :

Hello and thank you for asking your question, with JustAnswer.com/Mac. I am Sr. Mac Tech Support Specialist, Terry, glad to assist you.

Customer: I just returned from being out of town for 2 weeks. I turned on my iMac and had a white screen with a flashing file folde. I don't know whatnhappenedor what t o do
MacTechTrainer :

That is ok, I will be glad to help yoi

MacTechTrainer :

"you"

MacTechTrainer :

what you are experiencing is an issue with your iMac not seeing the bootable Mac OS X volume on your hard drive

MacTechTrainer :

that means it cannot boot up to Mac OS X

MacTechTrainer :

it fortunately does not mean there is anything wrong with your hard drive

MacTechTrainer :

so here as some steps I would like you to try:

MacTechTrainer :

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

MacTechTrainer :

• First, hold in your power button for approximately 10 seconds to do a hard shutdown.

MacTechTrainer :

• Once your Mac is shutdown, you will need to perform what is called a PRAM reset (Parameter RAM)

MacTechTrainer :

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

MacTechTrainer :

• Turn on the computer.

MacTechTrainer :

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

MacTechTrainer :

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

MacTechTrainer :

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

MacTechTrainer :

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

Customer: Ok, in progreaa
Customer: Ok, in progress
Customer: No it didn't but I would like too try it one more time
MacTechTrainer :

Please do

Customer: No, nothing changed
Customer: No change
MacTechTrainer :

Ok tell me if you would - what version of Mac OS X are you using?

Customer: R u still there?
Customer: 10.6 with snow leopard
MacTechTrainer :

Sorry, there are going to be some delays - as I will be typing out instructions and sometimes that will cause some slight delay

Customer: K
MacTechTrainer :

One more quick question

MacTechTrainer :

do you have the installation disc for Snow Leopard available by chance?

MacTechTrainer :

that is very valuable if you do- in regard to this process

Customer: Yikes let me look but I may not
MacTechTrainer :

Its ok

Customer: No
MacTechTrainer :

I am just entertaining all options

MacTechTrainer :

ok then we go to the next process

Customer: K
MacTechTrainer :

Here is a simple procedure that I recommend you try:

MacTechTrainer :

-SMC RESET-

MacTechTrainer :

The System Management Controller is an integrated circuit (computer chip) that is usually on the logic board of your Mac computer.

MacTechTrainer :

It is responsible for power management of the computer. It controls backlighting, hard disk spin down, sleep and wake, some charging aspects, and some input/output as it relates to the computer sleeping.

MacTechTrainer :

• Shut down the computer.

MacTechTrainer :

• Unplug the computer's power cord.

MacTechTrainer :

• Press and hold the power button for 20 seconds.

MacTechTrainer :

• Release the power button.

MacTechTrainer :

• Attach the computers power cable.

MacTechTrainer :

• Press the power button to turn on the computer

Customer: Ok
MacTechTrainer :

I will be watching closely so please keep me posted

Customer: Still a white screen, now there is no file folder and ? Mark.
Customer: Oops, flashing folder is back
MacTechTrainer :

Sorry for the challenges you are having with your iMac

Customer: Thank you. Is there anything else to try?
MacTechTrainer :

what I want you to do is repeat the process above

MacTechTrainer :

but this time, keep the power cord out for 3 minutes

MacTechTrainer :

in the last 20 seconds of that 3 minute duration, then proceed to press the power button for that last 20 secondas

MacTechTrainer :

as this will resume the iMac SMC reset once more, but with a longer power disconnect with the power cord

MacTechTrainer :

I want to see if this helps

Customer: Ok
Customer: Still a white screen, darn!
MacTechTrainer :

that's ok

MacTechTrainer :

not giving up yet

MacTechTrainer :

try this procedure for me now

MacTechTrainer :

- USING FSCK COMMAND TO VERIFY AND REPAIR DISK-

MacTechTrainer :

Start up your computer in Single-User Mode to reach the command line by doing this:

MacTechTrainer :

•Make sure your Mac is shutdown.

MacTechTrainer :

• Reboot your Mac

MacTechTrainer :

• When Mac starts up, press the Apple Command key+ S Key

MacTechTrainer :

- A black screen, with white text appears

MacTechTrainer :

• Press Return.

MacTechTrainer :

• At the command-line prompt, type /sbin/fsck -fy

MacTechTrainer :

--fsck will run through a series of tests and will return information about your disk's use and fragmentation. When completed, it will display this message if no issue is found:

MacTechTrainer :

The volume (name_of_volume) appears to be OK

MacTechTrainer :

If fsck found issues and has altered, repaired, or fixed anything, it will display this message: --FILE SYSTEM WAS MODIFIED--

MacTechTrainer :

Important: If this message appears, repeat the fsck command you typed at the beginning, until

Customer: When I reboot it goes directly to a white screen when I do command and s keu
MacTechTrainer :

Ok one moment- let me check into this for you

Customer: Thank u
MacTechTrainer :

How long have you had your iMac if I may ask and is it a 21.5" or 27" model?

Customer: I have had it I think 3 maybe 4 years. It is a 21.5
MacTechTrainer :

Ok that is what I was wondering

MacTechTrainer :

when you left out of town, did you keep your iMac turned on?

MacTechTrainer :

are you still with me?

Customer: Yes
Customer: It doesn't look good does it?
Customer: i have the OSX disc, would that be of any use?
MacTechTrainer :

I am trying to not even think like that

MacTechTrainer :

I want to keep trying if you don't mind

MacTechTrainer :

and you don't have the Mac OS X install disc for your Snow Leopard 10.6?

Customer: no I don't mind at all! I have the OSX disc applications an DVD . I'm going to look again for theother
MacTechTrainer :

YES

MacTechTrainer :

that is was hoping you were going to tell me that :)

Customer: I can't find anything else
Customer: Yes
Customer: What would u like mr to do now
MacTechTrainer :

Try this Safe Mode process -

MacTechTrainer :

let me know how this turns out

MacTechTrainer :

**Please note: An "Answer" by me, or an"Accept" from you, does not mean the session has ended. So please remain patient with me and I will work

MacTechTrainer :

diligently, to resolve your technical question to your satisfaction.-Thanks!*

MacTechTrainer :

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

MacTechTrainer :

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.

MacTechTrainer :

Try these steps:

MacTechTrainer :

-SAFE BOOT MODE-

MacTechTrainer :

• Reboot your Mac

MacTechTrainer :

• Upon restarting your Mac, press the Shift key.

MacTechTrainer :

• Hold the Shift key until you see a White Screen with Gray Apple icon and eventually a spinning gear.

MacTechTrainer :

• When you see the Spinning gear, release the Shift key.

MacTechTrainer :

allow the Mac to boot up to the Safe mode environment

MacTechTrainer :

let me know if you get there

MacTechTrainer :

sorry for the first part

MacTechTrainer :

these are some older instructions but still very useful in cases like this

Customer: Ok
Customer: Temporarily lost u. Did safe mode start 2x still goes to same screen
Customer: R u still there
Customer: r u coming back.
MacTechTrainer :

we got disconnected

MacTechTrainer :

I just came back online

MacTechTrainer :

sorry about that

Customer: Not 2 worry
MacTechTrainer :

Ok so we have tried numerous processes from Safe mode, to SMC and PRAM resets and still no boot up

Customer: Right
MacTechTrainer :

Oh boy-

MacTechTrainer :

I just checked one of my Mac tech resources on this issue with iMacs

Customer: Uh o
MacTechTrainer :

from the iMac 21.5"s to the iMac 27" models affected by the white screen

MacTechTrainer :

issue

MacTechTrainer :

and it is an issue where the hardware firmware (i.e. Software for the hardware within your iMac) is not loading up

MacTechTrainer :

that is why you cannot even get past to where you see the normal gray Apple menu screen when booting up

MacTechTrainer :

translation?

Customer: Please
MacTechTrainer :

there is something wrong with one of the hardware components within your Mac that is preventing it from starting

MacTechTrainer :

Apple even notes if you experience this and the PRAM and even lower level SMC resets don't work

MacTechTrainer :

bring it in :(

MacTechTrainer :

when Apple speaks we have no choice but to listen

Customer: Ok, I have an apple authorized repair place in Missoula, (40 miles from me), I'll take it there. I appreciate your efforts greatly!!!
Customer: thank you for your time.
Customer: unfortunately there are not enough of us here in Big Sky Country for our own store :(
MacTechTrainer :

I wish that were different

Customer: Me too,
MacTechTrainer :

because I believe it would still get some good visibility from the surrounding areas!

Customer: Have a great day!
MacTechTrainer :

this is Apple for crying out loud

Customer: absolutely!!!!
MacTechTrainer :

You too and thank you for being so diligent and allowing me to help you as far as I could

MacTechTrainer :

And one more thing

MacTechTrainer :

I don't want you to go in with too much dread

Customer: Yes
MacTechTrainer :

this could be a simple fix

MacTechTrainer :

it is just we are limited obviously from what we can do from here

Customer: Im positive. I think we'll get it fixed!
MacTechTrainer :

sometimes the issue may simply be a RAM or video issue

MacTechTrainer and 3 other Mac Specialists are ready to help you