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Ashik, Mac Technician
Category: Mac
Satisfied Customers: 11187
Experience:  Bachelor of Computer Application (BCA), 9+ Years of Experience in troubleshooting Macs, iPhone, iPad, iPod etc
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im getting screen with folder and question mark in it

Customer Question

i'm getting screen with folder and question mark in it
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mac
Expert:  Ashik replied 5 years ago.
Hi My name isXXXXX hope i can help you.

The folder with question mark (?) indicates that your Mac is unable to find the startup disk to boot the OS X. This is because of either the Mac OS X system files are corrupted or failure of hard disk. We're not sure whether the problem is with hardware or software...So try these steps...

Reset PRAM and NVRAM (Solution 1)
  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 your Mac and immediately hold down the Option key till you are able to see the start up option. From there, if you can see the Macintosh HD then select it and press return key on your keyboard. (Solution 2)

Restart in Safe mode (Solution 3)
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...

Let me know if that didn't worked. Only click Accept after we solved the problem.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thanks - I tried that and got the hard disk sign - clicked on the arrow underneath it - it took a long time to then boot -
- it's now incredibly slow - taken about 10 minutes just to get to the background screen...
over the last few weeks the computer has just been freezing... and we've had to hard reboot several times..
do I just have to wait - how do I know if it is fixing itself?
Expert:  Ashik replied 5 years ago.
This happens to me too before.This usually happens if your hard disk is failing. You can reinstall your Mac OS X and see if it works or not. What version of Mac OS X are you using ? Do you have the Mac OS X installation discs ?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
No... I don't have the mac installation disks.. should I just take the computer to an apple dealer?
it has frozen now (20 minutes on the background screen)
Expert:  Ashik replied 5 years ago.
Yes...Since you don't have the discs I'd recommend to take it to the Apple Store and backup all of your data before the HD fails completely.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
yes... will try to do that... I guess I cannot back-up without the UI working though...
now I'm trying the safe reboot you suggested...
Expert:  Ashik replied 5 years ago.
Turn off your Mac for 1 hour and this will cool down the HD. Then turn it back on and do the back ASAP
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thanks - the safe reboot has got me the front screen - and I'm now in the browser - so will close it down and do the backups... is there anyway I can look at logs and see what is causing the system to freeze and close down..?
Expert:  Ashik replied 5 years ago.
You can find the Logs in the Console application in Applications > Utilities folder.

FYI This also happens if the System Files are corrupted. You can try to run Disk Utility in Single User Mode. If that didn't worked too, then you'll have to take it to the store.

Turn your Mac off. Turn it back on and 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/fsck -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. (Disk Utility will fix all system errors, bad preferences files etc)

Best Regards,
Ashik and 2 other Mac Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I tried to pay you - but got some problem with the screen rejecting my perfectly valid credit card!
Has that happened before?
Expert:  Ashik replied 5 years ago.
You're already paid me...Thank you