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Ashik, Mac Technician
Category: Mac
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Bachelor of Computer Application (BCA), 9+ Years of Experience in troubleshooting Macs, iPhone, iPad, iPod etc
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15 MacBook Pro becomes unresponsive. Displays the beach ball

Customer Question

15" MacBook Pro becomes unresponsive. Displays the "beach ball" and fails to execute commands. How do I troubleshoot and find the issue?

Resetting the PRAM and NVRAM only had a temporary positive effect (see first response).

Attempt to restart in Safe Mode didn't work at all. Mac OS X failed to start, but instead, presented a gray screen with a flashing icon. The icon represented a "folder" marked with a question mark ("?").

Any other suggestions?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Mac
Expert:  Ashik replied 7 years ago.
Hi My name isXXXXX hope i can help you.

Its probably a OS issue. Try the following solutions and let me know if that works or not...

Reset PRAM and NVRAM
  1. Shut down your Mac
  2. Locate the following keys on the keyboard: Command, Option, P, and R.
  3. Turn on the computer.
  4. Press and hold the Command-Option-P-R keys. You must press this key combination before the gray screen appears and before the chime sound.
  5. Hold the keys down until the computer restarts and you hear the startup sound for three times.
  6. Release the keys.

Restart in Safe mode

Make sure that the computer is shut down. Press the power button. Immediately after you hear the startup tone, press and hold the Shift key. Release the Shift key when you see the gray Apple and progress indicator. Let the Mac boot up...

Run Disk Utility in Single User Mode
Turn your Mac off. Turn it back on and this time hold down the Command (Apple) key and the S keys at the same time. Then type the following command...

/sbin/fsck -fy (note the space between fsck and -fy)

If you can't run /sbin/fsk - fy then type only fsk - fy

Hit return and the disk utility should run and let it finish. When it finishes and there is no error, then type reboot and hit return. Let the Mac boot up.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Ashik, reset of PRAM and NVRAM appears to be working. Let me burn it in for an hour or two and I'll send an accept.
Expert:  Ashik replied 7 years ago.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Hmm, not so good. Firefox started up, email read, and needed a software update (xCode v x.x.x, 592 MB) ... software update failed, (cannot save update file). MacBook Pro returns to "autistic mode", spinning the beach ball and refusing to open terminal. Going to try "Restart in safe mode" now.
Expert:  Ashik replied 7 years ago.
Also try the Disk Utility. Let me know..
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Ashik, I cannot get to a terminal ... I get the gray screen, and the flashing "folder" icon with a question mark on it. What does that signal mean?
Expert:  Ashik replied 7 years ago.
That signal means that your Mac can't find your startup disk (hard disk) or System files. Do you have the Mac OS X installation discs ?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Yes, I have ... but I cannot remember which version of Mac OS X they carry. Does that matter?
Expert:  Ashik replied 7 years ago.
Yes. The disc should say the version number, check its label and let me know the version.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Ashik, I'm getting called in to work (on a Sunday!) And I stil have to find the original DVDs with the software on them ... I want to continue this session when I get back. How do I get hold of you?
Expert:  Ashik replied 7 years ago.
Just add a bookmark of this page, so we can continue later. Have a great day !
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
OK ... work problems handled over the phone. I have the install disk. The label reads, "Mac OS X Snow Leopard, Install DVD, Version 10.6, 2Z691-6428-A" I anticipate we're going to try to start up from install disk, right? Is there an outside possibility that we'll be able to preserve the documents and files on the hard disk?
Expert:  Ashik replied 7 years ago.
Yes, if you have another Mac and a Firewire cable, you can try to save your documents. If not, then you can reinstall your OS X which won't delete any of you files but it just replace the system files with new one.If you don't have another Mac and FW cable, then reinstall your OS X. So insert the disc and turn off your Mac. Turn it back on immediately hold down the C key on your Keyboard. Keep the key held down until it boots in to the disc. Let me know once you booted into disc.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
It appears to be booting from the disk! Starlight osplash screen, and a window offering choice of language
Expert:  Ashik replied 7 years ago.
Select your language and follow the onscreen instruction to reinstall your OS X.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Re-install initiated .. I'll get back to you as soon as it completes.
Expert:  Ashik replied 7 years ago.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Well, that's not what I expected. On the screen labelled, "Select the disk where you want to install Mac OS X", the only choice offered is the WD Passport (an external USB hard drive). It doesn't appear to be able to see the internal hard drive.
I click the "Go Back" button to see the instruction, "to repair the disk, click utilities and select the disk utility."
The Disk Utility says it's gathering disk information, but the progress "spinner" is NOT spinning and the machine appears to be stalled.
Expert:  Ashik replied 7 years ago.
Okay..You may need to erase your HD to install OS X. Erasing will remove all your files from your HD. Do you have another Mac and FW cable ? so you can try to backup your files..
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
OK ... I'm talking to you through a Mac MINI. I have a FireWire cable and the Mini has an external USB drive with some 230+ GBytes free. where do I go from here?
Expert:  Ashik replied 7 years ago.
You have to connect your two Macs with Firewire cable and setup Target Disk Mode. Please follow the instructions in here :
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Following instructions in, my first false start because the FireWire target disk turned out to be Install Disk that I had left in the computer. The second attempt failed to bring the hard disk to the host (Mac Mini) computer. Can the internal hard disk simply be unreachable?
Expert:  Ashik replied 7 years ago.
Your Mini can't recognize it. I think your internal hard drive is dying, but we're not sure. So your only choice is do a Erase and Install. But you'll lose your files if you do Erase and Install. Let me know what you think...
Ashik and 6 other Mac Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Well, there is the off chance that all the back ups on the external hard drive will have survived and I'll be able to recover them that wayl But to me it really sounds like I need to take a trip to the Apple store and get a new internal hard drive. I'll want to try that before I do an Erase and Install. Ashik, thanks for the help.
Expert:  Ashik replied 7 years ago.
You might not need an new Internal drive. You will not be able to see your hd in destination screen if the partition is corrupted. So you can recreate the partition by just erasing it.

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