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John T. F.
John T. F., Mac Druid
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Experience:  20+ years in the computer/Mac industry
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My MacBook OS X will not power up completely. It has a clicking

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My MacBook OS X will not power up completely. It has a clicking sound for a few seconds when I try to power up, and then stops. Then all that appears is a white screen with a file icon with a question mark. Is there anything I can try?
Hello! My name isXXXXX will work diligently to provide accurate advice and information.

Do you know which version of OS X is installed on this MacBook?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

yes--- 10.5.8

Thanks, Tara.

Do you have your original OS X 10.5 Install disc for troubleshooting purposes?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I don't think so---but I will check now....if I don't have it, are there things I can try?

Yes, there is at least one thing you can attempt without the disc. I'll give directions for both below:

Insert the OS X install CD.

Restart the computer and as soon as you hear the startup chime, press and hold the "C" key to boot from the disc. You can release the "C" when you see the Apple logo and progress indicator.

Choose your language and click to continue.

When you are sitting at the Introductory Installer screen (DO NOT INSTALL), go up to "Utilities" in the menubar and choose Disk Utility.

In the left hand sidebar, choose your Mac's hard drive (usually "Macintosh HD").

On the right hand side of the page, click "Repair Disk"

If it finds errors, repeat the process until it reports the drive is OK.

Next, click "Repair Disk Permissions"

Once the process has completed, restart your Mac and see if it boots to the desktop normally.

Restart your Mac

Immediately press the "Command"(Apple) key + "S" Key at the same time

When the screen goes black and you start seeing text, let go.

After a short period of time you will land at a command prompt.

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

and Press Return.

(fsck is a file system checker. It will run through a battery of tests, looking at different aspects of your file system.

When it's done, it will normally produce one of two messages

1) "The volume (name of your hard drive) appears to be OK

If it states the above, then your drive is fine and you can simply type "reboot" at the prompt to restart your Mac and boot back to the Desktop.

2) If fsck found any errors, it may have tried to correct them and will display this message: --FILE SYSTEM WAS MODIFIED--

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

/sbin/fsck -fy

and Press Return.

Keep repeating this until it reports your drive is OK.

If by some reason you need to do the above more than 5 times, this indicates a more serious issue. At the very least, the hard drive needs to be formatted and OS X should be re-installed.

However, assuming everything goes okay, type 'reboot' at the prompt and then press Return. See if it boots to the desktop normally.

If you continue to have questions on this topic, just reply back to this discussion. I will be more than happy to work with you further. Hopefully, this info will answer your question. If so please, please remember that when you are asked to give a rating, you are rating my personal service only and not this website itself or your issue.

Thanks and good luck,
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hello...thanks for your reply---

I did not find the disc, so I tried the "without disc" instructions----

I turned the computer on and immediately pressed the command and the letter "s" and held it down. The screen stayed white and then the file picture appeared again with the question mark. Do you have any suggestions? I tried it twice with the same results.

Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX


restart the mac once more.

Press and hold the OPTION key as soon as you hear the startup chime.

Within 30 seconds, you should get a graphical boot menu showing the hard drive volumes in your MacBook.

At the very least, "Macintosh HD" is usually visible. If it is missing, you may see nothing but a small arrow on the screen.

Let me know the result.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

am trying it still holding the option button down---and have the arrow that will move around, but that is all. the file pic has not come on --this time though ---should i keep holding it down?

No you can let go now.

Does your MacBook have a removable battery?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I don't think so---It is still on the white screen with the arrow----but the fan is also on high---seeming like it is trying to cool down?

Okay, try this...

Restart the Mac

As soon as you hear the startup chime, press and hold the following keys;


Hold them until you hear the chime a second time and then release the keys and see if the Mac will boot normally.

If not;

Turn off the Mac.

Plug in the power adapter to a power source, connecting it to the Mac if its not already connected.

On the built-in keyboard, press the (left side) Shift-Control-Option keys and the power button at the same time.

Release all the keys and the power button at the same time.

Press the power button to turn on the Mac and see if it will boot normally.

John T. F. and other Mac Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

did not work----tried twice

Okay, I'm sorry to hear that.

After the above diagnostic attempts, I would have to conclude that you are experiencing a physical, hardware fault with the internal hard drive - this is where OS X is installed and your personal data exists.

This is not a problem repairable by the typical end user as the hard drive will need to be replaced. As well, if you have data you hope to recover then this will require the assistance of a technician with direct access to the MacBook.

When troubleshooting hardware issues, sometimes the final diagnosis is that it is a physical defect in nature and the ‘answer’ such as in this case is a recommendation to seek out repair from an authorized service center if the defect in question is not considered “user repairable”. This may be a frustrating answer and I do sympathize but please don't shoot the messenger.

If you have further questions or concerns, please let me know.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for your help and kind remarks----will not shoot the messenger---haha! Will try to take it in----thank you!


You are very welcome!

I enjoyed working with you – please feel free to request me again at any time when you come back to ask another Apple-related question. I can assist with a myriad number of issues, including speed or performance improvements, hardware or software updates, new device/software recommendations and other frustrations you may experience in the future.

I can be reached directly via the following page: