When The Macs Go Blue – How I Diagnosed Macbook Pro Which Refused To Boot (Even From a DVD)

I’d like to share my recent experience dealing with my Mac after it suddenly broke down. My Macbook Pro (2010 series) stopped booting. I was watching Netflix in Firefox browser and paused the film while I was moving my Macbook Pro from one table to another. The moment I put it down, my screen got frozen and no matter what buttons I pressed, it would not react. So I held the POWER button to shut it down to reboot.

However, on my next boot, all I see is the spinning wheel (the wheel of death!)… I waited for 5-7 minutes – nothing happened. I rebooted again and see the same picture, so I waited longer. After about 10 minutes, the wheel was gone and the light blue screen appeared (it’s light blue right after it switches from the white and then it quickly becomes a darker blue, but not in my case). I waited for 10 more minutes and the light blue screen was still there. “OK, not my first,” I thought. I pulled out my original DVD and decided to reinstall the Mac OS X (which in my case was 10.5).

Booted from the DVD, chose the language, chose re-install the OS, but keep the files option. It was about to begin the install when I received a message saying: “An error occurred, please reboot and try again.” No mentioning of what kind of error it was. Rebooted from a DVD again, launched Disk Utility. It got stuck right after it started verifying volume. Rebooted again, but this time the DVD activity stopped during booting and nothing was happening for more than 10 minutes… There were no noises at all from the DVD-ROM, even no vibration from spinning, and all I could see was the light blue screen. I thought it was some kind of a virus for Mac that was slowly killing my computer. I got a bit nervous…

I pulled out another original DVD that tests the hardware. It read it well and found no errors with the hardware.

I quickly pulled out my old Gateway PC with Pentium 4 processor and Windows XP, which I bought in 2005 and which is a bit slow but still works great (the only part I changed was the battery – $40 on eBay) and started digging the Internet to understand what the heck was going on.

Gladly, I used Time Machine backup every once in a while, so I was not worried as much about my data, as I was about the possibility of needing to buy another computer!

I tried every single booting advice I could find online (resetting PRAM and NVRAM, booting in safe mode, single user mode and so on). Nothing. It kept showing me light blue screen every time I boot with or without the DVD. Booting in a single user mode was getting stuck after mentioning loading the Airport utility and giving numerous messages saying “Still waiting for root device.”

I got my hands on another Mac (iMac also with 10.5 Mac OS X) and a firewire. I decided to boot my Macbook Pro in a Target Mode (holding T after turning it on) and see if the hard drive would respond. And it did! I got the remaining non-backed up files out. Then I tried to load my iMac’s OS on my Macbook Pro, and it worked. Thus, it seemed that the Macbook Pro was OK, but each time the computer would try to load something from its internal drive, it was becoming paralyzed like as if it had a virus. I tried loading vice-versa (my Macbook Pro’s OS on iMac) and that did not work, it got stuck again on the light blue screen. After that, for some reason, each time I reboot the Macbook Pro it would show me a broken folder icon – a crossed circle icon, which means the system can’t figure out where to boot from.

On a side note, I find it quite amazing that you can load one Mac’s OS on another just like that. Very convenient!

I kept trying different methods and then all of a sudden, after I let my Macbook Pro rest for a night, it booted from the DVD. It got passed that light blue screen in a manner of seconds and switch to a darker blue and then to the background galaxy image almost instantly. I tried full re-install with no backup option. It showed the installer window and again: “An unknown error occurred.” Reboot from DVD, blue screen again! Come on you silly Mac! I should have started taken bets: ladies and gentlemen, make the bet! Is this Mac going to boot this time or not!

Ah well, it was time to open this thing up (for the first time). Not worrying about the warranty that expired a year ago, I opened it up, and boy was it dusty!! I carefully cleaned it, checked all the connections, and all looked fine. I unattached the Hard Drive blew on the connection, connected it back, but did not screw it back in, so the hard drive was loose. I decided to try booting, maybe it was the dust. It booted the DVD! YEAH-HA!!! WOW!! So much for dusting! This time, I ran Disk Utility which did not find any issues with the disk. I still decided to format the drive and zero it out completely. After it was done, I chose clean install of the Mac OS option and it actually began installing it!!! I was amazed how much dusting could do and couldn’t wait to tell my friends about how weird it was!… Then it got stuck on 82% and that was it. The install log was not showing any activity…. I waited for an hour and it just sat there… frozen… like when I tried to install Windows in Parallels… succeeded after a few tries. So I decided maybe it would take several attempts as well. I screw in the hard drive holder bar, but booting from a DVD stopped on a light blue screen again. So, I unscrew it back to make hard drive loose again, and it booted OK. “So strange,” I thought, “why would it have any effect?” I tried to install again, but each time install would freeze, sometimes on 12%, sometimes on 25%.

By the way, if you are going to open your Macbook, make sure you discharge any static electricity before digging into it to avoid any close circuits. Follow the instructions in the beginning of this post: http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1270#link2.

I must admit, compared to the desktop PCs that I used to build which had wires hanging everywhere and the modules were plugged in wherever they could fit, the inner-content of my Macbook Pro was very elegant, well designed and organized! Really neat!

Back to my problem, I was certain it was my hard drive at fault, so I started looking for a new hard drive online. I heard some stories that original Macs’ Hitachi hard drives would break after 3 months after purchase, so I was not that surprised. But usually the first sign of a faulty hard drive is its making of a cracking noise. Mine was very quiet and it did mount on another Mac, so I was confused…

When you look for a new SATA hard drive for a Mac, be careful, firstly you have to find the one that supports Mac OS Extended (Journaled) format. Secondly, some Western Digital hard drives I found will not allow you to format them without some special configuration with pins (that were used on old desktop machines) since there is some Owner/Slave config issues. As for the prices, at that time, there was a flood in Thailand which caused some major shutdowns on hard drive factories and all internal and external hard drives went up in price! Just grrreat!

Since I wasn’t 100% sure that it was my hard drive at fault, I got a hold of a device in which you can plug the 3.5 or 2.5 SATA internal hard drive and connect it to your computer via USB cable (you can find one for $20). So, I extracted my hard drive and connected it via USB. I tried booting from a DVD, and not only had it worked, but the whole installation went SUPER FAST, it took 40 mins to complete the install of Mac OS. Reboot, everything is perfect! Then I put my hard drive back inside of my computer, boot, light blue screen again (at least no broken folder icon).

Then it hit me, maybe, it is loading but very, very slow, something like an old 386 IBM. So I rebooted and just let it sit there. Sure enough, after 40 minutes, I see the desktop but without the background image. It felt like the memory Usage was at 101% all the time – it was extremely slow! To open a Finder window took 10 minutes.

So since the hard drive worked great outside, it was not it, so it must have been a Hard Drive Cable which connects it to the mother/logic board. Maybe that is why it was booting better when the hard drive was loose. Something must have close circuited and some connections got broken. If not, then it might have been the board itself. I googled the price of my board and it was around $800… Like a new Mac almost… That got me upset.

Considering it was some unrepairable board connection between itself and the hard drive, I could always use an external USB drive to avoid spending this kind of money, but that kinds of shutters the purpose of a laptop, which is supposed to be compact. Carrying and booting from an external drive all the time, getting “Incorrect Device Removal” notices when the USB cable is shaken was not a pleasing thought… Laptop won’t feel quite movable and portable anymore…

I decided to check how much that hard drive cable is. It was hard to find, a regular hardware store won’t carry it, nor would the Apple Store (they have them, but not for sale individually, only with labor). I found a local store that had them and one reliable store online (iFixit). Both had them for about the same price ($50). eBay had it for $25, but even though it looked similar to the one needed, its part number was different. I did not want to risk it – it’s not just some plastic door nub, it’s a complex wire that has a potential of frying a logic board.

Digging the Internet for all that info, I read some posts that mentioned it was ridiculously expensive to bring your Mac to Apple Store’s Genius Bar without warranty. They also mentioned that the store performs a free diagnostics, but if your issue is complex, it would have to be shipped out. I thought that my issue was complicated since it required more than simply plugging in the DVDs for diagnostics, which I had already done. It needed opening up, trial and error, connecting drives and so on. I didn’t want to spend a bunch of money at Apple store only for diagnostics since I thought they would charge me, or worse – ship my Macbook Pro to Texas for a month. So I wanted to go to them once I knew what was wrong to avoid any diagnostic fees. At that point, I had already figured most of it, and the only thing I needed was to verify what else it could be if not the wire before I spend $50 on it.

So I finally decided to take advantage of a free appointment at the Genius Bar. I was expecting 15 minutes of preaching about “Oh, you should not have opened it up yourself, you’re not the expert – we are, it might be this, or that, we can’t tell for sure until we take a closer look, we charge $100/hour…” and so on. HOWEVER, after I explained to the Genius guy about my trial and error testing, I was pleasantly surprised to hear him say, “Probably it’s the cable.” Wow! He actually took me seriously! And that took only a minute to explain! I asked, what if it is not, is there anything else that it could be. He said then it would be the logic board BUT, (LISTEN TO THIS) for about $300 (incl. tax), they ship your Mac to Texas where they fix EVERYTHING that is wrong with your Mac. And he meant EVERY SINGLE THING, for about $300 (incl. tax). A pixel on a display is dead, they put a new display. The only thing, they won’t fix a part if they see a water or some physical damage administered to it. I double checked, “Even the logic board for $300?” He said, “YES, everything!” I got so relieved that I forgot to ask a bunch of other questions.

[UPDATE Aug 24, 2015] – I just learned they stopped this kind of service for Macs made on or prior to 2010. Not sure if 2011 as well. So it does depend on the age of your machine.

I left them my Mac to put in this Hard Drive Cable and see if it fixes it. It was $60 (incl. tax); however, if the cable was not the reason, they wouldn’t charge me for it and just send my computer to Texas, which at that point would be cheaper anyway than buying a new logic board.

Next day I picked it up and everything was fine again!

Here Are The Lessons I’ve Learned:

  • Always back up your files. Restoring data from a Time Machine did not go well for me. It refused to load the Libraries and System files (gave a permission error). I had to do it manually, so I came up with the whole system that would allow an easy full system restore.
    Overall, I partitioned my 500GB external backup drive into 3 drives:
    1. Time Machine (dedicated it 150GB) – I use Time Machine to backup only the areas I work frequently with like Users folder. I excluded all system files, Dropbox (does it on its own), Libraries, and Applications (unless I work with the data in their folder, like folders in MAMP program)
    2. For a full backup that I sync weekly or after major software updates, I use Carbon Copy Cloner (250GB to match my internal hard drive’s size) – it’s a great program that makes a bootable copy of your drive (it’s free, but if you love it like I do, I suggest you donate $20 or more to its developer! He truly deserves it!). If your Mac crashes, you can use this copy of your internal drive booting it on any other Mac until you get yours fixed.
    3. Third partition I use for the Parallels (50GB) since I do not want to back up 20GB each time just because I launched the Virtual Machine once. I prefer to manually back it up once in a while since I don’t change much in it.
  • Always KEEP YOUR ORIGINAL DVDs!!! Will save you so much headache, money and time!
  • Unlike many forum posts say, opening your Mac is NOT the last resort, and should be done BEFORE formatting the Hard Drive. I could have saved myself the need to restore the Hard Drive. Just make sure you do not void warranty. If you still have it, just make an online appointment to visit the Genius Bar, they’ll fix it
  • Don’t be afraid if your screen goes blue, or gray, or shows some icons you have never seen before, it may be easily fixed!
  • If you want to buy an external hard drive, make sure it is a firewire or USB 3. Regular USB drives are slower.
  • Macs are like any other PCs where you can plug stuff in and out and it will still work after (I removed RAM, unplugged some logic board plugs, unplugged battery, and all works OK. Just be gentle and careful, don’t connect or touch the metal spikes on the board)
  • If you can’t boot from a Mac DVD, unplug the Hard Drive, if it boots most likely there is something wrong with the Logic Board or Hard Drive Cable.
  • Genius bar is a place to go, especially if you think you have a faulty logic board

I leave you with a wonderful song by The Corrs and Bono from U2 called “When The Stars Go Blue.” Just substitute the words “The Stars” with “The Macs” and it will still make sense!

Have you had any issues with your Macs? Did your hard drive or anything else failed? Have you visited the Genius Bar, how was your experience? Please let me know, I am curious.
I’ll be happy to help with what I can.


About Nookeen


Posted on February 16, 2012, in Articles, Mac, Useful Stuff and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 24 Comments.

  1. Hi, I was skimming through the net for the similar problem that I had and I stumbled upon this article, was hoping if you can help me out.

    The same thing happened where I was surfing the net on safari and suddenly the screen froze and nothing work so I tried to shut down n reboot again… Screen went gray to blue and stayed there… Then I tried pressing the shift key down till the apple logo came up and miraculously it loaded and I managed to sign in to my user but everything takes triple the time to load… Is there anything that I should do or check before sending for service?

    • Hi Audrey,

      If you have a Macbook and want to do it yourself, I’d recommend extracting your hard drive and try booting from it on your Mac with a USB hard drive reader device. It would be the fastest way to check if it’s your drive or something else (sounds like my cable problem though). The USB SATA 2.5 reader you can buy for $20 at Fry’s. Otherwise, I recommend making an appointment at Apple Store since it is free anyway. Hope it helps!

      PS: Always BACKUP your HD!

  2. Hi Nookeen,

    I have the same blue screen of death problem on my macbook………..I turned it off probably on Friday night and when I turn it on on Saturday morning it ran extremely slow thus I re-boot it………then….nightmare….I got this blue screen and not going any further……………

    So far, I have tried:

    1. booting in safe mode: they only thing told me it to restart my macbook by holding down the power button…….bla bla bla. I did restart it and blue screen again.

    2. booting in single user mode: I typed in the scripts that I searched from Internet….it told me that the file system was modified…

    3. put the installation disc on: I went to disk utility and press the repair disk……it told me the disk cant be repair…………..
    that means…….my hard disk is dead???

    I am so frustrated and not sure what should I do…..and the warranty is expired for a year….

    I hope you can help me or give me some advices.

    Many Thanks,


    • Elaine,
      Try booting from DVD and run disk diagnostic with Disk Utility.
      If all fine, try to do Soft reinstall. If it gets stuck in the middle of a process probably it’s either hard drive or the wire.

      But my strongest advice: do not be afraid of an Apple store. If all fails, bring it in, they see these things everyday, they can at least tell you what it is. And the appointment is free.

      But to me it sounds like it is either a hard drive or hard drive wire. Like I explained in my post, you can buy a device to test your hard drive for $20 if you prefer to fix it yourself.

      Let me know what you’ll find out,

      Good luck!

      – Nookeen

  3. Thanks Nookeen,

    I gone through the process of Repair Disk from disk utility, and it told me that the disk cant be repaired and ask to the back up as much as I can and then restore the macbook…

    I tried to lock in an appointment in genius bar, I have to go after work but the time slot I prefer has booked out till next week……

    • Oh, but did you try to reinstall the whole system or you are hoping to get your files first? You can try mounting your Mac to another mac and try getting the files this way.

      I am going to Apple store tomorrow myself by the way, my track pad on macbook pro does not press anymore. No matter how I adjust that bolt that is suppose to make it work, it does not work….

  4. I wanna back up my files first. And I dont have another mac and dont know how to mount my mac to another mac…….

    I think it would be better to visit the genius bar

  5. Thanks Nookeen

  6. Hi Nookeen,

    I have the same problem like blue comes up when I turn on my lap top. Computer was bought in Sept. 2006. Do you think it is beyond repair? Is it worth spending $20.00 to buy for device? Please advise.



    • Philo,

      Do you live far from Apple store? If not, make an appointment, bring it to them and see. Blue screen can mean many things, so I wouldn’t know if it is beyond repair. You would need to go into details and testing to check that.

  7. Hi. My MacBook Air starts up slowly…gets to finder and freezes. Nothing moves. No buttons work. No flash drive or USB attachment device. Then at 3:00 this morning I remembered that yesterday I opened an email and yes….I actually followed the link…it looked SO legit…and I had been waiting for a reply. It was a virus. So….any ideas?

    • If you cannot install an Anti-Virus, use backup to get to the point before you went to that site. If you don’t backup you should. Use iCloud or buy an external drive. I use both: Time Machine for frequently used areas and CarbonCopy for the full drive backup. By doing so, you will avoid questions like yours and will simply restore the system to previous backup. Anyway, I know it is probably too late for that now, I just wanted to underline the importance of backing stuff up. Back to you, you could connect your Air to another machine and extract the needed files and reinstall the OS. However, maybe the virus infected them already. So I am not sure I would do that.

      Also, are you sure it is a virus? It can be many things… Viruses on mac are rare. I wanted say try to test the hard drive with an external HD reader, but I forgot, it’s Air. There is no SATA disks. They are hard to fix by yourself… I don’t want to send everyone to Apple store for a fix, but at this point… If you DON’T care about your lost data, just format the drive with disk utility and reinstall the OS using external DVD or, some other Mac’s DVD drive, or USB.

  8. Hi. I have a MacBook and the problem I have is that I have a grey screen with a blinking folder.
    Similar to yourself my harddrive does mount on another drive so I have managed to save and backup my data.
    I’m not that Mac Savy so I have tried to boot up by pressing alt and my hardive appeared so I was happy. But once you selected it it would revert back to the blinking folder.
    I have the original disk and I ran that but again when it asked to select which device this time the harddrive was not visible.

    Did allot of reading and came across your blog and it might be the cable or I must be missing something.
    Pls advice…. Anna (UK)

    • Hi Anna (UK), well, to be honest, I am not Mac savvy either, but what you describe really does sound like the cable. However, it might also be the logic board, but lets hope it is just the wire. I have no clue how it works in UK, but in the US you can bring your Mac to an Apple store for a free eval, is it the same in UK? If so, I’d do that first, if not, I’d start with changing the cable. Let me know if you have other questions and how it turns out, ok?

  9. When I boot my MacBook Pro, it flashes in and out three to four times, then it gets a bluish tint to it. My boot time is two minutes, way longer than my dads MacBook Pro from work. My specs are the top specs you can get from apple them selves.

    • Hey, I know it’s a bit late to respond, hope you solved it by now. But in the future, you have got to provide way more details if you actually expect a serious and prompt reply. As you know, there are numerous Macbook Pro (MBP) models, sizes, configs, upgrades, utilities which could cause this. To me “top specs” mean that you have a MBP 15-inch Retina with 1GB of SSD, 16GB RAM and 2GB of Video memory. Then of course booting taking 2 mins would definitely be weird. But if you have this model, I would have brought it to Apple Care guys and asked WTH is wring with it.

  10. i have the similar problem , i turned on my mac today and during start up the screen turned into a blue filter rest the macbook is working fine . but the screen is in a blue filter , i dont know what to do ,plz help me out here

    • Hey, you have got to provide way more details if you actually expect me to be able to figure out what it is. You have to describe what you mean by blue filter or what do you mean by “the rest of the macbook?” To me it sounds as if you tried to connect it with Firewire or Thunderbolt to another mac and it boot from your mac. There are 2 ways, 1st – if you’re really serious about figuring out the problem yourself, you have to have the tools, additional mac even if diagnostic fails, HDs, extra RAM, connecting wires and so on. For basic testing you won’t need all that, of course. You can run hardware diagnostic tools without all of that. Google how to perform diagnostic tests for your particular model of Macbook. To me it wasn’t very helpful cuz it showed everything was fine. But that should be your first step. After or even before that run Disk Utility to check disk errors. Try reinstalling OS (just make sure to choose OS files ONLY, so it wont remove your files). If it won’t help, you can try to connect your Macbook in a Disk Target mode to another mac to see if the HD is visible and try to recover stuff or simply reinstall OS. And so on.

      Such problem is not something where people can just tell you, “Oh, it is SUCH and SUCH.” However, at Genius bar at Apple store they will tell you and do all the diagnostic for you, for free! So the second choice is simply bringing it to them. AND btw, the newer macs are way more difficult to diagnose due to custom parts and most of them being irremovable, unlike non-retina predecessors.

      If you need help or suggestions about how to proceed let me know. But please keep in mind that I won’t have the time to write tutorials here, I can only direct you towards possible steps and solutions like I did above. There are plenty of information already available online about how to perform these tasks.

      Good luck! Let me know what it was.

  11. Hi Nookeen,

    I am desperately hoping you can help me. Recently, my early 06 Intel Core Duo 2.0 GHz iMac died and wouldn’t turn back on. After a lot of researching the web, I found out that it was likely the power supply. I ordered a new power supply and installed it (with the help of a very long 42 step tutorial on iFixit). Afterwards everything was working great… well for a few weeks anyway.

    Today, my iMac was running extremely slow. I was trying to use Preview to go through 40 (or so) pics from our son’s 5 month photo session and Preview just kept hanging up. At first, I thought that the issue may be that I had too many programs open so I closed everything down except Preview. However, the issue continued to persist and the rainbow spinning wheel of frustration just kept rolling.

    I decided to use Disk Utility to run First Aid to check & repair my hard drive permissions. I also used it to verify the hard disk. It found 1 error so I implemented the repair disk utility. After the disk repair finished, a dialog box popped up stating that the disk had been successfully repaired. I thought my issues were over so I went back and opened Preview again but It continued to hang up.

    Prior to this occurrence, I had been having a lot of problems with Preview encountering errors and shutting itself down. I thought that maybe the program might be corrupt (or have some other problem) so I decided to delete it and re-download the application. Only after deleting Preview did I find out that the program wasn’t available to download (from any site that I trusted as being safe anyway) and it was only available on the OS X installation DVD. I checked my OSX DVD hoping that it might only be an add-on application, but it turned out that it was only included with a system software update. I thought “No big deal. I’ll just re-install Snow Leopard.”

    I re-installed the Snow Leopard OSX on to my iMac from an external Blu-Ray/DVD drive (since it’s usually faster than my internal DVD drive). It took a while to install (about an hour) but after the progress bar completed it gave me the dialog box that the OS had been installed successfully. It restarted and the grey screen came up with the Apple logo. A progress bar beneath the logo started to load. The bar progressed about a 1/2″ and then it moved back to the beginning of the bar. It moved about a 1/4″ this time and then my iMac just shut down and powered off.

    Since then I have researched and tried every key stroke possible but it just keeps doing the same thing. I’ve tried booting from the CD, resetting PRAM, booting in safe mode, single user mode, verbose mode, startup manager, resetting the SMC, etc. If there’s a key combination out there to restart then I’ve likely tried it. However, no matter what keys I hold down, nothing changes. My iMac continues to try to boot from the new Snow Leopard OS that I just installed and it does the same thing every time (it tries to load twice and then just shuts down). It’s like the system isn’t even recognizing that I’m holding down the keys on the keyboard. I’ve tried plugging the keyboard into a different USB slots on the iMac. I’ve also disconnected every device from the iMac (except the keyboard & mouse).

    I am guessing that (like your situation) this is either a problem with the hard drive cable or it’s the logic board. When I was researching the issue with the power supply, a lot of people recommended changing out the logic board. However, at that time, I didn’t have a lot of money and a new logic board was going to cost $130 (on top of the $70 I was already paying for the power supply) so I decided to take my chances and hoped that the power supply would fix the issue – which it did for a short time. Now I’m back in the same boat with an iMac that won’t boot up.

    Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated. I live in Northwest Arkansas which has a population of about 500k people but we don’t have an Apple Store / Genius bar locally. The closest one is about 100 miles away in Tulsa, OK. We have a handful of repair shops here that service Macs but I’m not really sure I trust them implicitly.

    Thanks Nookeen!!!

    • Hi Lance, sorry to hear about your problem.

      A few things:

      1) I tried to install Snow Leo on an external hard drive connected to Mac Mini 2009 running Mavericks 9.5 OS. And it failed. I cannot remember if it would install and then won’t run or it would even refuse to install.
      2) I tried to do the same on 2012 Macbook Pro and it failed too. On those it would not even install.

      From these two points I am guessing there has been some hardware update that made it more compatible with newer OS. In your case, I do not know if you ever had anything newer than Snow Leo, but if they updated a hardware for wifi to make some features work, that’s it.

      3) From what I learned, Apple store might not even help you with this, it’s a very old computer, they reluctantly take even 2009s now. They asay 2 more years and they will stop support for those.

      4) Try installing the OS on external drive. You would have to use Disk Utility to set it to Mac format – Journaled, but since you are able to boot from a DVD I presume you can get to disk utility. Then see if it will run from an external drive.

      5) I would try putting Yosemite and see if it runs. If you have Mavericks in your apple store account (that is if you ever had it installed) you can get that. On if you have any Lions, try those. Mavericks and Yosemite are free, that’s why I suggested those.

      6) If you have another mac, I would try booting it from your iMac, you would need FireWire cable though.

      Let me know what the result is. If your external disks run fine, I’d say it’s Hard drive or the cable. I guess if your system is all OK hardware-wise, Yosemite or other OS should work. You would need a bootable install USB or DVD though. Do you think you can get that made? If you have another Mac it’s easy, if you do not though you might want to ask someone to make it for you. If not it’s a good question. Anyway, let me know how it goes. I will try to help more if needed.

  12. Thanks for the advice Nookeen!

    I tried changing the PRAM battery to see if that had anything to do with the iMac not booting from the DVD drive. While I was inside the casing, I unplugged and replugged in the hard drive cables to make sure they were fully seated.

    I closed it back up and tried restarting from the DVD drive. Same issue. It won’t reboot from the DVD drive. It’s like it doesn’t even recognize that I’m holding down the C key on the keyboard. The same goes for any other key combination that I use on the keyboard.

    I tried re-connecting the external firewire blu-ray drive and holding down the C key in hopes that it would recognize that drive (since that’s how I originally tried to re-install Snow Leopard). However it wouldn’t boot from that drive either.

    The iMac just keeps trying to boot up from the system software that (I’m assuming) was corrupted when it was last installed onto the hard drive. Then after the 2nd attempt to boot, the computer just shuts off.

    I would try installing Mavericks or Yosemite but my iMac is so old that it doesn’t meet the system requirements for those versions of OSX. I’m not even certain that it will accept Lion.

    I guess I could try to make a Mac OSX bootable USB install drive and try to boot my iMac from that. The only other computer I own is a Dell laptop. Would I be able use my Dell to make a disc image copy of my Snow Leopard DVD and then copy that to my USB flash drive to use as a bootable drive? I read somewhere that Mac’s won’t boot from USB but only from external Firewire drives so I’m not sure that will work

    I would try to borrow another mac and boot in target mode with a firewire cable. That would work if only my iMac would stay on (and not keep turning itself off).

    My last resort (before taking it in to a technician) would be to pull the hard drive from my iMac and see if I can use my eSata to USB cord to see if it will pull up on another Mac. If that works and the hard drive isn’t corrupted, then maybe I could buy a Firewire enclosure and try to re-install from the other mac using target mode to install straight to the HD in the external enclosure

    Any other suggestions? I’m beginning to run out of options before taking it to a technician and spending a bunch of money on a 9 year old computer that isn’t really worth it.

    Thanks Nookeen!

    • 1. Mac WILL boot from USB hard drives (might not be Flash drives since they might not have GUID-something). Done it all the time.
      2. Yes, you can create a bootable USB drive according to this article: http://pureinfotech.com/2014/12/05/make-bootable-usb-mac-os-x-windows/
      I have not tried it myself, but these are the most decent instructions I could find.

      Ok, so like you said, test it see if it works.

      Another point to check is the temperature of your Mac. If the fan is broken, your Mac may overheat, when this happens it automatically shuts down. By the way, do you hear a chime when you turn it on? Any sound? A dvd drive also maybe?

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