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macrumors newbie
Original poster
Sep 30, 2009

My partner has an imac g4 which has a big sentimental attachment to her.

It has not been used in a while and when we came to use it again we have a folder with a question mark in the the middle and it won't load anything else.

Can we get it to work again or is it a gonna?
Also can it hook up to the internet via a router and Ethernet cable?

Thank you


macrumors 68020
Apr 22, 2014
Imac G4

The flashing "? folder" means that your OS X install and files cannot be found, which 9/10 times means your hard drive failed. If you are skilled and comfortable with working with computer hardware, you can open the mac up and replace the drive. If not, thats basically the end of the road for that mac. You can attempt to reinstall OS X from the disks if you have any and see if it will install, but it is highly likely that the drive broke while in storage.

Also, it definately can be hooked up to a router via an Ethernet cable. There is an ethernet port in the back of the computer.

Finally, if its broken and you dont want/know how to fix it, ill gladly take it off your hands. I've been looking for this iMac for awhile and I can definately make the repairs to it.


macrumors newbie
Jun 10, 2015
hi grthndlr

Seems like an easy fix. The fact that you have flashing icon means the machine is working.
the problem is that the system cannot see the OS
This usually happens from one of the following

first open the machine - its easy - it just opens like a book

hard drive bad connection....check the 2 connections from the hard drive. 1 is the power lead, the other is the ribbon cable. Best to just disconnect both and reconnect. Then check the connection of ribbon cable going to motherboard. Again disconnect and reconnect.

You can power up the machine while open. So switch it on and see what happens.

If still no joy....listen carefully to the hard drive when you switch it on....can you hear the drive 'spin up'. If it is not spinning up then the head might be stuck to the platter.
is there a clicking coming from the drive?

if it is spinning up, no clicking and still no boot then its possible the os is corrupted. Have you got the original OS CD that came with the machine. If so try booting from that cd (switch on, insert cd and keep 'c' key pressed.

These machines use standard ide drives as far as I remember.......easy to replace. you will need the OS cd to reinstall the operating system
let us know what you find


macrumors G3
May 3, 2014
I'd just about put my money on a dead hard drive.

Getting to the HDD on an iMac G4 requires opening the "dome" and ideally disconnecting most of the connector. Once you have it open, the optical drive and hard drive are in a mounting bracket in the top of the "dome"-you need to remove this, as the hard drive sits on top of it.

Put it all back together with the following cautions:

1. Be sure you don't pinch the Airport or Bluetooth when putting it back together.

2. There are one or two heat pipes(depending on the model) coming out from the CPU that contact the top of the dome. Basically, the entire dome serves as a giant heatsink. While the computer is apart, you should clean the old thermal compound both off the top of the pipes and their contact points in the dome(denatured alcohol or 91% isopropyl alcohol works well) and then apply fresh thermal compound to the heat pipes. Failing to do so can result in the computer overheating, as the only fan in it sits in the very top of the dome. You need to do this every time the base is opened.
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