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rwh63

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jun 24, 2010
443
239
New England
didn't mean to scream, but i hope it will get some attention.

picked up a free 27" 2009 iMac from my local dump. yes, dump. it was in with the tvs and other electronics. really nice appearance, with power cord but no keyboard or mouse. took it home, cleaned it up, plugged it in.

powered up, seemed like the disc drive was searching. then a pink/white screen appeared with a flashing gray file folder with a question mark on it in the middle. tried power on/off several times. same thing. called Apple support. speculation is the OS was wiped clean along with all other data before disposal. they did send me various self-help links.

i ran the serial through, and got the specs: https://everymac.com/systems/apple/...-inch-aluminum-late-2009-specs.html#macspecs1

i may be able to find a snow leopard disc, as well as a usb keyboard. after several more on/off cycles, the screen went to light gray stripes/white, and now all white with the flashing file folder.

i would like to resuscitate this machine. do i dare install a software disc? i currently have no way in to the machine. i pulled the RAM cover, and see four cards. i can post a couple of pics.

oh, on the back of the machine is a decal indicating that it was an MIT computer (i'm in MA). probably an educational purchase.
 

rwh63

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jun 24, 2010
443
239
New England
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MBAir2010

macrumors 603
May 30, 2018
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there
next power up reset the PRAM
is that a folder or apple logo?
if folder, the drive is shot
no problem, you need a new one anyways

same thing happened to me yesterday after buying a iMac mini 2012
I'm surprised  helped you with a 2009  thing.
just keep asking and trying
my mini was dead, 2GB of hard drive and the fan wires were frayed upon uncovering
i am now installing El Capitan, the Mojave after may reboots and just trying

keep us posted
 

rwh63

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jun 24, 2010
443
239
New England
thx for the reply. it is a folder icon, not the apple icon. is the sound i'm hearing upon start up the hard drive and not the dvd drive? was hoping not to have to disassemble, but maybe have to. apple sent me links to do some start up stuff, haven't looked yet because i need a keyboard first.
 

MBAir2010

macrumors 603
May 30, 2018
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there
thx for the reply. it is a folder icon, not the apple icon. is the sound i'm hearing upon start up the hard drive and not the dvd drive? was hoping not to have to disassemble, but maybe have to. apple sent me links to do some start up stuff, haven't looked yet because i need a keyboard first.
happy to help!

i-fix-it
is all you need t repair any  mac product
im using a microsoft keyboard to install back ups on my mac mini all day
the option is the same as alt.
 
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EugW

macrumors G5
Jun 18, 2017
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The pink lines are not a good sign since that could indicate a failing GPU or something related. Good that it's all white now, but there's a good chance that would come back, particularly under load.

However the ?folder likely just means the hard drive is dead (or else missing).

Do you have access to another Mac? If so, you can use that other Mac to make a bootable USB OS X installer drive. All you need is a 16 GB or larger USB drive, and an OS X installer file (which you can download directly from Apple). Google will tell you what commands are needed to create the USB installer from that file.

If you don't have the macOS installer file handy, you can download the High Sierra patcher application, which includes a menu option to download OS X High Sierra direct from Apple. (That downloads the untouched installer for people to patch later, but you don't need to patch High Sierra for that machine, since High Sierra is natively supported.)

What I would suggest is using the USB installer to install High Sierra on an external USB drive. Booting off USB 2.0 will be slow, but if High Sierra works fine, then you know the machine is usable. Once you've confirmed the machine is working fine, then you can take on the project of disassembling machine to install a cheap SSD in there to make it a fast machine again. If you get this far, then we can give you a few pointers about doing the SSD install. Specifically, if you don't do something about the hard drive temperature sensor, then the iMac will run the fans at maximum, which obviously is not ideal of course.
 
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rwh63

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jun 24, 2010
443
239
New England
The pink lines are not a good sign since that could indicate a failing GPU or something related. Good that it's all white now, but there's a good chance that would come back, particularly under load.

However the ?folder likely just means the hard drive is dead (or else missing).

Do you have access to another Mac? If so, you can use that other Mac to make a bootable USB OS X installer drive. All you need is a 16 GB or larger USB drive, and an OS X installer file (which you can download directly from Apple). Google will tell you what commands are needed to create the USB installer from that file.

If you don't have the macOS installer file handy, you can download the High Sierra patcher application, which includes a menu option to download OS X High Sierra direct from Apple. (That downloads the untouched installer for people to patch later, but you don't need to patch High Sierra for that machine, since High Sierra is natively supported.)

What I would suggest is using the USB installer to install High Sierra on an external USB drive. Booting off USB 2.0 will be slow, but if High Sierra works fine, then you know the machine is usable. Once you've confirmed the machine is working fine, then you can take on the project of disassembling machine to install a cheap SSD in there to make it a fast machine again. If you get this far, then we can give you a few pointers about doing the SSD install. Specifically, if you don't do something about the hard drive temperature sensor, then the iMac will run the fans at maximum, which obviously is not ideal of course.
thx for that. this stuff will be new to me. when i took it home, i figured someone just upgraded for xmas. i doubt the drive is missing; they would have not bothered reassembling. they left the ram installed (8 gb). the usb ports charge my phone, so i suppose they work.

i have a macbook pro (2011). i have a new 16 gb thumb drive (though my usb ports can be flaky). rather try what i can before pulling the iMac apart. also have to consider cost and time to do it, vs. selling it as a parts machine instead. late 2009 had some upgrades, but not sure it is worth investment. looks nice though!
 
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Slix

macrumors 65816
Mar 24, 2010
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You should be able to use any USB keyboard to do a PRAM reset, doesn't have to be a Mac keyboard. Option and Alt are interchangeable. Command+Option+P+R will do the trick, wait for it to chime two or three times before letting go of the keys when you start it up.

It's also possible the hard drive was just erased, and is not removed. But if it's making a lot of noise, it's probably going bad (or is already bad). I wouldn't recommend putting a DVD in it until you can verify the computer works alright, because if the noise is indeed the disc drive, it might eat your disc. If you have a FireWire 800 cable, you could put the iMac into Target Disk Mode and check it via your MacBook Pro too.

I second getting a High Sierra installer on a USB external drive and booting it from there. You will be able to check the internal drive by using Disk Utility on the installer.

I hope you can get it to work! The 27" iMacs are nice and big. If nothing else, you got some RAM out of it.
 

rwh63

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jun 24, 2010
443
239
New England
As for noise, when I power on, something makes a noise for about ten cycles, then everything is quite. I will find a keyboard. My laptop does have FireWire.
 

EugW

macrumors G5
Jun 18, 2017
14,209
11,976
As for noise, when I power on, something makes a noise for about ten cycles, then everything is quite. I will find a keyboard.
What kind of noise? Is there a disc stuck in the optical drive or something?

My laptop does have FireWire.
That 2009 has FireWire too. You can use FireWire Target Mode to access the hard drive on the 2009 iMac. You can use Disk Utility on your MacBook Pro to check the status of the hard drive.

If the machine is not defective (excluding the hard drive), that 2009 iMac would make for a very good machine with a $25 SSD.

Ignore their advice to buy an OWC hard drive temp sensor cable. There are two ways around this.

1) US$8 on Amazon: Buy an optical drive temperature sensor cable. When you plug this into the hard drive sensor connector on the logic board, this provides a temperature reading to the iMac, and will keep the fans quiet.

2) Free: Keep the existing HD temperature sensor cable connected to the logic board, and then just cut the wires and connect the two free ends together (and cover with electrical tape). This will short this temperature sensor circuit. This will not provide a temperature reading to the iMac, but it will keep the fans quiet.

If you don't do one of these options and simply remove the HD temperature sensor cable, then fans will run at maximum.
 
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CooperBox

macrumors 68000
I would bet that the major problem here is the GPU (a well known problem on this model).
I'd remove the GPU, bake it, and whilst inside the iMac take the opportunity to install an SSD. Have a read through THIS link of mine and the action performed when faced with a similar crippled iMac screen displaying pink vertical lines.
And post #21 on that same thread was my follow-up action. The iMac (now with OS 10.13 'High Sierra' installed) is still performing beautifully.
Detractors often say don't bother with a reflow 'bake' of the GPU as it's only a temporary measure, and they're often correct. However until proved otherwise I believe that if performed with the added belt-and braces features (K4Pro and K5Pro thermal paste; fan control app set to increase cooling flow of the ODD, and screen resolution rescaled to 2560x1440) it should significantly enhance the life of the iMac.
 
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rwh63

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jun 24, 2010
443
239
New England
thx for the contribution. as Elvis would say, it's all greek to me!! i would like to first try non-invasive actions, then proceed to surgery if necessary. looks like firewire target mode (whatever that is) is the first simple step.
 

rwh63

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jun 24, 2010
443
239
New England
i think i still need a usb keyboard for the iMac, though. also, i have my mac os install dvd v.10.6.7 and applications install disc version 1.0. can i utilize these in some way, esp. using my laptop superdrive?
 

EugW

macrumors G5
Jun 18, 2017
14,209
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also, i have my mac os install dvd v.10.6.7 and applications install disc version 1.0. can i utilize these in some way, esp. using my laptop superdrive?
This is unnecessary. Just try Firewire Target Disk Mode first. I'm assuming your other Firewire laptop is a Mac. If so:

1. Turn off iMac.
2. Plug in FireWire cable to iMac and your other Mac.
3. Turn on iMac while holding down the T key.

If there is a drive in the iMac that can be seen, it will mount on your other Mac. Use Disk Utility to check.
 

rwh63

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jun 24, 2010
443
239
New England
ok, so i do not need a keyboard plugged into the iMac? i just use the laptop. (2011 MacBook pro).

just tried it. called up disk utility (shows my laptop HD). plugged in firewire, held T down, turned on iMac. startup sound/white screen, then ?folder. nothing i utility, and just rapid fire noise from holding down T.
 

EugW

macrumors G5
Jun 18, 2017
14,209
11,976
ok, so i do not need a keyboard plugged into the iMac? i just use the laptop. (2011 MacBook pro).

just tried it. called up disk utility (shows my laptop HD). plugged in firewire, held T down, turned on iMac. startup sound/white screen, then ?folder. nothing i utility, and just rapid fire noise from holding down T.
You need a keyboard plugged into the iMac.
 

MBAir2010

macrumors 603
May 30, 2018
6,433
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there
the flashing folder ? on the screen means bad or not connected hard drive
happened to my mini Tuesday were the drive was not connected.
i would see if the graphic card works.
try uploading a time machine back up or anything to get the screen working
reboot with the keyboard plugged in and press alt or option
this will bypass anything and let you know how good the screen displays an image
if that is still pink, could be a bad screen or graphic card.
if everything is clear, there is hope

even a Microsoft keyboard one will work and does apple boot commands.
just be patient, take your time!
 
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rwh63

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jun 24, 2010
443
239
New England
yes, this will be a little learning curve. you're right, it isa found item, and if i can get it back into service for low $, that will be good. either way, i'll be learning some things (with help!). so confirmed, need a keyboard plugged into iMac, and that is the one holding down the T. what should i expect (best and worst case)?
 
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MBAir2010

macrumors 603
May 30, 2018
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there
seems to me that since the imac was from a tech place MIT, the hard drive is not there, i assume.
I'm happy the pink is gone.
I need a $12 fan to get my Macmini I picked up tuesday working properly,
but the mini is worth a lot so i will wait for that part.
 

rwh63

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jun 24, 2010
443
239
New England
ok, bit the bullet and purchased a basic keyboard (this thing is nickel and diming me already!). did the T thing. ?folder did not appear, instead a floating Y type symbol (pic later). don't see anything yet in disk utility.
 
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TheShortTimer

macrumors 68030
Mar 27, 2017
2,796
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London, UK
ok, bit the bullet and purchased as basic keyboard (this thing is nickel and diming me already!).

Unfortunately this is par the course. ;)

did the T thing. ?folder did not appear, instead a floating Y type symbol (pic later).

That's the Target Disk Mode via FireWire symbol. :)

TGM.png


don't see anything yet in disk utility.

It's worth checking that you've attached the FireWire cable firmly on both machines. This happens to me occasionally and then I scratch my head as to why I can't access the target computer... Can you see anything new/extra appear when you check Finder on your other Mac?
 
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