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DeepIn2U

macrumors G5
Original poster
May 30, 2002
12,819
6,875
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Hi,

I need some help (guidance, pointers, etc) please, in order to image a newly purchased SATA SSD inside this late 2012 Mac Mini I have. Since summer 2019 I’ve been trying everything I can to get this resolved.

Issue: unable to image internal drive.

TS steps:

CMD+R for recovery mode has been attempted, along with Option boot to boot off of USB drive which I’ve created using terminal from a 2012 or 2017 iMac.

When in the Startup Manager, and I select my USB (with macOS Catalina set as bootable USB) I’m not able to image … right away I get the prohibitory symbol. There is no firmware password, and there is no Option ROM firmware used (Option-Shift-Command-Period).

Internet Recovery has been attempted to download the latest compatible OS for this Mac Mini, and fails (does not download any OS).

Internet Recovery to download the OS that shipped - OSX Lion - and I get about 5mins into the download stage and then quits with an error, very frustrating.
https://support.apple.com/en-ca/HT204904

I’ve already reset the PRAM and I believe SMC (specific to the Mac Mini) and yet with all attempts, besides the error I get with downloading OSX Lion, I get a prohibitory symbol!

The link for Mojave and Catalina on listed within this page states my Mac is compatible with both OS’:
https://support.apple.com/en-ca/HT201686

When downloading macOS Mojave on an iMac 2012/2017 to create a bootable USB is this specific to the iMac to install, and thus fail on another Mac?

Apple’s description of the meaning of the prohibitory symbol:
A circle with a line or slash through it means that the selected startup disk contains a Mac operating system, but it's not a macOS that your Mac can use. You should reinstall macOS on that disk.

https://support.apple.com/en-ca/HT201686

Mac mini I have (purchased used) is either:
2.3 GHz Core i7 (I7-3615QM)
2.6 GHz Core i7 (I7-3720QM)
 

DeltaMac

macrumors G5
Jul 30, 2003
13,351
4,347
Delaware
I have two 2012 minis.
Sounds like your main issue is downloading a system that will actually boot your 2012 mini.
First, your 2012 mini cannot boot from Lion. It was originally released with Mountain Lion.
So, yes, trying to boot with Lion would cause the prohitory symbol that you see.
You need to download a newer version of OS X.
What version do you want to eventually go to? You can install up to the current Catalina, if you want that.

In my opinion, the best system to run on your 2012 mini could be Sierra (macOS 10.12.6), and I use Mojave on both of mine. I still have some 32-bit app issues, so can't upgrade my work systems to Catalina just yet, but do boot to Catalina to keep those updated.

Do you have sufficient RAM in your minis, and are there SSDs for the boot drive?
SSD + >8 GB RAM still makes a pretty good system, even in a 7-year-old Mac mini.

Do you need help in finding a download for the system that you want (which won't be Lion)?

For your question about donwloading and creating a bootable installer on a different Mac: No, the installer will be the same. Creating a bootable drive on a different Mac does NOT make the installer specific for only that iMac. In fact, you could try installing that Mac system on another external drive, then install that clean-installed drive into your mini. This is one way to install on an SSD. If THAT clean install won't boot the mini after you install it, then you may have a faulty SATA cable, or perhaps even a faulty RAM stick
 
Last edited:
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DeepIn2U

macrumors G5
Original poster
May 30, 2002
12,819
6,875
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Thanks for the reply.

I've created macOS Mojave using Terminal .. initially from 2017 iMac at work which failed. Then I erased it fully and created Mojave bootable USB Stick from my 2012 iMac. I've confirmed the iMac will boot from it. I'm worried that it's specifically meant for the iMac. I recall back in early OS X that a boot disc was specific to the machine it shipped with, I'm just not sure if Mojave is the same when downloaded from the App Store. Just for kicks if you have a working image that I could download would be helpful.

RAM: 12GB installed
SATA SSD: 512GB Samsung.
Internet recovery recognized the SSD and I was able to format it ... after I cleared the PRAM which added a sigh of relief - SSD recognized within Internet Recovery, and Mac mini boots with sound now.

Unfortunately the moment I select the external USB with Mojave installed boom - prohibitory symbol. I'd prefer to use Mojave for the same reason as you, 32-bit app compatibility.
 

DeltaMac

macrumors G5
Jul 30, 2003
13,351
4,347
Delaware
Try booting your iMac from that Mojave bootable installer that you made. I know you said it worked before, but try it now (just to make me happy :cool: ).
If it still works on your iMac, try again on the mini.

Just to reiterate - the Mojave installer app is the same, and should boot and install on any Mac that supports Mojave. All of the drivers are there, so if it won't boot (and you are sure you have a 2012 mini), then something else is going on, such as faulty RAM, or maybe a faulty SATA cable.
Some folks here would also suggest that an 8 year old Mac might be worth replacing the PRAM battery.

What model of Samsung SSD are you trying in the mini?
 

DeepIn2U

macrumors G5
Original poster
May 30, 2002
12,819
6,875
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I’ll try booting from the USB on my iMac just before I leave to goto the gym in a few minutes.

SSD is a Samsung V-NAND 860 Evo 500GB (typo of 512Gb earlier).

I just tried internet recovery again (command+option+R) and still OS X Lion shows up. This is making think I’ve been bamboozled and got a 2011 Mac Mini.

even still failed to image. Internet connection over 5Ghz is fine and reliable only the iPhone I’m typing on is using it.
 

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DeepIn2U

macrumors G5
Original poster
May 30, 2002
12,819
6,875
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Update 1: confirmed my Mojave boot USB fully loaded on my iMac 2screenshots.

update 2: going to try restoring from time machine backup I have (I’ve got 3 backups from 2 different machines with different macOS versions: 2018 MBP Mojave, 2012 MBP with the prior OS to Mojave which I’m going to try, and the other from same 2012 MBP but has minimal data I care less about.

this recovery from time machine will take 8hrs so off or the gym I go.
 

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DeltaMac

macrumors G5
Jul 30, 2003
13,351
4,347
Delaware
You can search with your mini's serial number, which should result in discovering exactly which mini you have. This site is a good one to find out that info.

But, if you have a 2011 (which would explain the Lion offered on internet recovery), that would also mean that you can't boot or install Mojave, which would explain that issue, too!
 
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DeepIn2U

macrumors G5
Original poster
May 30, 2002
12,819
6,875
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
You can search with your mini's serial number, which should result in discovering exactly which mini you have. This site is a good one to find out that info.

But, if you have a 2011 (which would explain the Lion offered on internet recovery), that would also mean that you can't boot or install Mojave, which would explain that issue, too!

i has no idea how to find the serial number (under where it’s printed on the Mini)nor did the initial screen of recovery boot offering Lion not show me anything of the About this Mac screen.

Time Machine (thank you Forstall!) did the trick.

indeed you are correct this is a Mid-2011 Mac Mini and this High Sierra is the last official OS I can install. At least it’s working. I can sleep now. Interestingly found some photos in the recovery Photos library I absolutely will cherish - like that of my sisters 33rd birthday last year when I got her an exact replica of her original cabbage Patch doll. The look on her face and her instantly remember n trying to smell the cheeks of the doll is priceless!

I cannot thank you enough! The Mac Mini is alive.
 
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