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iteachmac, The Duke!
Category: Mac
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Experience:  Mac help ,music midi expert, logic pro recording ,electrical installation ,ilife & all mac computing
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Cannot log in to imac - just get white screen then a grey file

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Cannot log in to imac - just get white screen then a grey file symbol with a flashing white question mark appears. Verified disk permissions etc yesterday, got green message saying hard drive appears to ok. Help??


Welcome ,I will give a full and clear answer to your question, please make sure to reply to any questions I have. They may be essential to my reply.


Hi , the flashing ? mean the Mac cant see the boot OSX installation or its not selected.


Do you have your Mac OSX install DVD ?


first off lets try a safe boot .


A safe boot can help fix any Mac HD errors,

Turn off the Mac .

Power on the Mac .

Hold shift on the keyboard using a "USB keyboard or for laptops use the built in keyboard ,
while powering on the Mac just after the chime and starting up keep holding the Shift key , this should boot to safe mode.

Once booted to safe mode , restart and boot as normal .

Full details here :-


if nothing changes , we will need to make a few checks via disk utility , while booted to the Mac OSX install DVD .


repair the Macintosh HD , and then repair permissions.


What OSX version is installed , and was the Mac upgraded to this version or shipped with?


Leopard , snow leopard , lion ,etc . ?

JACUSTOMER-ulrsmzls- :

hi thanks for this i run snow leopard (latest version), it was shipped with snow leopard computer bought in nov 2008, of course i don't get the chime as start up doesn't get that far just white screen then flashing file etc.

JACUSTOMER-ulrsmzls- :

ok at 4th attempt safe boot has worked - how do i stop this problem re-occuring though? still concerned computer could crash at any moment!! as i said, it tends to work fine, then get slower and slower, then suddenly (using activity monitor) safari web content spikes to 100%. and then everything collapses. thisall started when i went so icloud - still can' sync iphone etc.

JACUSTOMER-ulrsmzls- :

ok have tried to launch itunes, no response. tried to launch google chrome, no response. in activity monitor shows both applications in red, and as not responding. have to force quit, sbbod appears, though mail now works!! Aaaaargh!!!

JACUSTOMER-ulrsmzls- :

now has frozen completely (finder not responding) running so hot i can hardly touch computer

JACUSTOMER-ulrsmzls- :

i do have the snow leopard install dvd

iteachmac, The Duke!
Category: Mac
Satisfied Customers: 865
Experience: Mac help ,music midi expert, logic pro recording ,electrical installation ,ilife & all mac computing
iteachmac and 2 other Mac Specialists are ready to help you
seem like the osx operating system is corrupted and you need to reload snow leopard operating system.

here is how:

1.insert snow leopard disc into dvd drive
2.power off computer and power on again right away held down C key on the keyboard, keep holding it until you see the language selection screen.
3. click right arrow to go passed that screen and follow the instruction on the screen to reinstall snow leopard osx operaiting system.

after reinstalled osx, your system should be back in working order again.

about the overheated problem, you might have a bad fan.

download fan control to check how fast fan is spinning
and temperature monitor to see what is the temperature of your system

if tempurature are too high, over 70c then your system is overheated.
overheated will cause failure in hard drive and other components, only way to fix that is bring to apple store and have they run (burn in) overnight test and replaced failure component.

Please let me know if there is still any issue. Thank you.

If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don't hesitate to ask!

Please remember to only rate my answer when you are 100% satisfied. IF you feel the need to rate bad or poor service, please stop and click on the "Reply to Expert" link with the issue you have. I will be happy to continue further and do everything I can to provide you with the service you seek.

Thank you,
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Hi I'm about to try your solution I haven't been able to back everything up will Iose anything by running snow leopard again?
reinstalled osx operating system will not delete your data.

you are currently running snow leopard correct?

if yes, then you should be fine.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Yes I'm running snow leopard thank you for fast response I'm going to reload snow leopard now
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Hi all seemed ok but snow leopard install has stalled , has showed time remaining as 38 minutes for half an hour - computer silent seems it has stopped reading the DVD?
does your macbook get really hot right now?

if yes then your macbook might be overheated and freeze, you might want to bring to Apple store and get the fan, logic board and temperature checked because only Apple Store have Apple Service Diagnostic (ASD) to test what component causing the overheated and replace it.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
It is a 2008 iMac it is hot but not unduly so - is it worth trying again or is it a lost cause?
let your system cool down for couple of hours then try install again.

make sure you clean the osx installation disc.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Ok have let computer cool down (24 hrs, sorry) put snow leopard disk in hit C all good except we get to ' select the disk where you want to install OS X' but now it cannot find the Disk at all just a blank space?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Ok cannot do anything now- white screen - grey file + question mark? Snow leopard disk cannot find HD, now iMac keeps rejecting snow leopard disk - I'm thinking of going down the Ross and buying a Dell!!
Hi ,

If the Mac is not running well , from the install DVD , and stable , please do not try to reinstall .

Rather installing a combo update could of helped when the Mac was booted..

However if reinstalling from the install DVD , please make sure to use archive install , and check on keep user and network settings.

If the Mac is over heating , please check the batteries there maybe warping to the case ? is the case true? If battery removable , remove and try the mac without the battery install on PSU only . does the mac still get hot ?

Do you have an apple store nearby ?

Do you have time machine backups ?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
ok can occasionally do a soft boot (say 1 in 4 attempts) batteries not an issue as an imac. mail etc backed up on icloud (I hope) now I've got it going will work for an hour or so then freeze, say when having 2 applications, like mail & safari working. It won't load itunes or google chrome. nearest Apple reseller in Barcelona 100km away.
is it worth trying to install snow leopard now I've got it working, or is best just to dump it and start again with a new mac?

Hi ,

What model is it , apple menu about this mac .

or the detail,
? with the below info , we may be able to tell if the mac hd is failing , is heat coming mostly from the area where the mac hd hardware is built in to the case?
HDDs can overheat before failing .

Installing a combo update can replace best part of the system .
I would do so if you think the system wont fall down during the install .
Check and repair the mac hd firstly , do not install over red errors if found and cant be fixed . More advanced tools can perhaps fix the issue if errors are found . See drive genius to lower .

Create a new user account and test if the mac is working ok yet?

We want to repair the mac hd before and after the install .

Testing the hard drive is another good idea , see smart status and check for bad blocks .

Pop in your OSX install DVD :

Review this video to become familiar with the below procedure ..

Once installed :-

Repair Mac HD , Check Permissions with startup volume OSX

To check for disk errors and possibly fix issues with the Mac HD volume and other Partitions .

Please run a Mac HD drive repair ,
and Repair Permissions of the Mac HD startup volume .

Disk Utility

1 Start from your Mac OS X Install disc: Insert the installation disc, then restart the computer while holding the C key.

2 When your computer finishes starting up from the disc, choose Disk Utility from the Installer menu.
(In Mac OS X 10.4 or later, you must select your language first.)

Important:- Do not click Continue in the first screen of the Installer.
If you do, you must restart from the disc again to access Disk Utility.

3 Click the First Aid tab.

4 Click the disclosure triangle to the left of the hard drive icon to display the names of your hard disk volumes and partitions.

5 Choose your Mac OS X volume.

6 Click Repair. Disk Utility checks and repairs the disk.

If errors are found please run the check twice .

Report any errors in displayed RED to me .

Tip:- Always start up your computer from an Install or Restore disc when using Disk Utility to verify or repair your startup volume.
**Perform Disk permission repairs while Booted to your Mac HD as normal not via the install DVD**.

Using the Repair Privileges Utility

For Mac OS X 10.2 or later, open Disk Utility found in the Applications/Utilities folder.

Select your Mac OS X startup volume in the column on the left of the Disk Utility window, then click the First Aid tab.

Click the Repair Disk Permissions button.

Please wait while the Mac HD is checked.

If errors are found please run the check twice .

Report any errors in displayed RED to me .


Permissions Defined
Mac OS X incorporates a subsystem based on a UNIX-style operating system that uses permissions in the file system.
Every file and folder on your hard disk has an associated set of permissions that determines who can read, write to, or execute it.


Repairing permissions may help the installer / Application , and fix this issue .


You may also like to run a full disk check with a tool such as
Drive genius to check for problems :-


Next up system maintenance:

Please try using ONYX to repair clean and check all OSX caches , font caches and other maintenance scripts .

About OnyX
A multifunction utility for Mac OS X.

It allows you to verify the Startup Disk and the structure of its System files, to run misc tasks of system maintenance, to configure the hidden parameters of the Finder, Dock and of some of Apple’s own applications, to delete caches, to remove a certain number of files and folders that may become cumbersome and more. We can also check the SMART status of the HD with OnyX .
and run the repair scripts one at a time , daily , weekly , monthly within the tools GUI.


Make an new user account for testing :-

1 Go to the Apple menu , System preferences

2 Click on "Accounts" pane control panel.

3 Unlock the padlock , use your Account password XXXXX
Disable , auto login in the accounts control panel , to choose a login on restart.

4 Press the + button to make a new user , select an administrator account .

5 Name the account , use a simple password XXXXX create the account .

6 Close the pad lock .

7 Restart and log on to your new account

8 Test or try settings as before to trouble shoot .

Once you have done this , shutdown the Mac , and Restart from cold .
Log on as the new user , and test

If this cures the problem then its software or / preference issue .
Removing plists , and reinstalling software applications may fix the problems with other software if crashes .

Reset your home folders permissions .

See this guide , see section for snow leopard .
It can help if there is a problem with the current user .

I hope this helps .

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Hi thank you for a spectacularly detailed mail - i downloaded the combo update as suggested - do i need to move it anywhere? I had already downloaded it I think when it came as a software update. I will send you the model/type as soon as i can but it has just crashed again. interestingly it seems that mail is the catalyst for the crashing, but i can only soft boot the computer. i'm using a mark 1 macbook to type this!
going to watch the install video now. all these troubles stemmed from about the time i migrated mail to icloud.
Hi , once downloaded the combo , please double click it and run the installer .

Do not open any applications , also it may be best to install it while logged in to a new user account "admin account . " so to ensure no applications run at startup such as mail.

If mail has a problem , do not open it for now .

there may be multiple problems on the OSX install to fix .

Test the system with a new user to see if stable .
Try to install the combo without the mac crashing .

Remove any USB devices that may cause crashes .

as and when ..

Seems we may need to reinstall Mail.

It is normally found in the Applications folder on your Mac HD if there are problems with it we can reinstall and then update from the Apple menu , Software update . .

Please try your MacOSX install DVD.

Pop in the Mac OSX install DVD ,

Open the DVD.

See Optional installs folder.

Launch optional installs .

Find Mail .

install Mail .

Please let me know if this helps.?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Hi many thanks for all your help. but I'm getting nowhere, it crashes before I can do anything. I created a new user, but unfortunately the same problem existed, though I did manage to load mail and Safari worked briefly, tried to watch something on Youtube just to test and it crashed immediately. Also on new user managed to start iTunes, but it would not run any of the help vids. I tried to load my Snow Leopard install DVD, but when it asks to select the disk to install it the box is totally blank - it would appear the hard drive has disappeared. When I looked in disk utility there is no hard drive - just the hd symbol with media next to it. I think I'm done now! Now of course I cannot eject the install DVD!!