Grey screen with apple/progress indicator wheel

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by inkspot, Dec 7, 2009.

  1. inkspot macrumors newbie

    Dec 7, 2009
    I am running an emac with OS X 10.4 installed (I think). Anyway, I've been searching all morning for a solution in the forums, but haven't really seen or been able to solve my problem.

    The computer was shut down correctly over the weekend, there are no grinding noises, no error messages, the screen is just stuck on that grey screen with the apple and progress wheel and won't finish booting up all the way.

    It's happened once before, but I just did a hard restart on it, and it has worked fine ever since. Never had any real problems until now, but nothing I have tried from searching on the forums has worked (apple X, option control, restarts, etc.). It won't boot up in any kind of safe mode, that I can figure out.

    Is there something I am missing, or not trying, or am I just toast?
  2. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    That is usually an indicator that boot has stalled very early in the process.

    Assuming you have your 10.4 install disc around, you should put it in (getting the drive open might be a bit of a challenge, but holding down the mouse button when you power the computer up should cause the tray to open) and hold down C to boot from it.

    From the installer, you should be able to select Disk Utility from the menu and check the disk to make sure it doesn't have any corruption. If Disk Utility fixes something, try restarting again and hope it boots. If that fails or there's nothing to fix, go ahead an do an Archive and Install installation, preserving users, which should get you back to a working system without much hassle.

    The only way an archive and install wouldn't work was if there's some hardware problem causing the hang (such as a flakey USB device). In which case you'll need to fix that.
  3. MonkeyET macrumors 6502

    Aug 7, 2009
    Coachella, CA
    I had the exact same thing happen last week with my iMac runnin 10.5.8. The indicator wheel on the grey screen stopped moving. Wouldn't do anything. I tried holding down the power button. I am new to Apple so I didn't know any tricks. Had to break out my untrustworthy notebook and search about what to do. I did the safeboot and ran disk utility which seems to have fixed it.

    Is this a sign of a larger problem or just a random occurrence?
  4. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    Not sure if by "larger problem" you mean "something that happens to a lot of people" or "something wrong with my computer that's going to get worse."

    The answers are, respectively, no and possibly.

    It's certainly not a common problem--I've only seen it maybe 3 times in since OSX hit the public, and I provide support for a couple dozen Macs, nor is it among the most common problems asked about here.

    Since the cause is generally "corrupt OS install" or "failing hard drive" (or possibly "some other component failing"), it can be a symptom of something more serious happening--if the OS corruption happened due to a sudden loss of power or a failed update, that's one thing; if it just happened out of the blue one day, that would have me a little worried that maybe my drive is getting flakey.

    Only way to be sure is to keep using the computer, though doing a hard drive check with a disk rescue utility if you have one might be a good idea. Also have a current backup, but then you should ALWAYS have a current backup.
  5. drtech macrumors newbie

    Dec 7, 2009
    The previous posts are correct in that multiple things may cause this issue, including a corrupt OS and a failing hard drive. If this is a failing hard drive, the key is to get a backup right now.

    You can try to obtain a backup by starting your Mac in target disk mode and connect in to another Mac to transfer your important files. Hold down the "T" key and then power your Mac. It will eventually display the FireWire symbol on the screen. Use a FireWire cable to connect the failing Mac to a good Mac.

    Hopefully the failing Mac drive will just mount on the Desktop and you can drag-and-drop your files. If it does not show up, you can start Disk Utility and look for the failing Macs drive in the left panel (seen below as 120.03 GB AAPL FireWire Target Media). You can try performing a Disk Repair on the drive through target disk.


    Be careful though, if the drive is failing, and you are performing a transfer, if the transfer stalls or takes a very long time without copying, that is a sign that the drive is bad. Running it for an extended period may cause additional damage. If this is the case, you may be able to get a small number of files, but you probably need to replace the hard drive, reinstall the OS and restore from a recent backup.


Share This Page