Serial Number Unavailable

dravenloft

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Nov 25, 2008
9
1
Just to be clear:
1) I haven't changed any hardware on this machine. I don't mean recently, I mean ever.
2) This has happened before and used to be quite a common problem. I just forgot how I resolved it and now all i can find is how to solve this happening due to hardware changes.

In "About this Mac" on a MacbookAir 4,2 (Mid-2011) running OSX Sierra 10.12.4 my serial number has gone bye-bye. It is listed as "Unavailable". Under System Report it is "Not Available".

If I have to use a Serialiser to fix this (something I don't recall doing in the past, I'm fairly sure I did it from Terminal or from booting to CLi mode) then so be it, but I'd love some information on which Serialiser and from whence to get it that's newer than the days of Mountain Lion.

For those unfamiliar: It's something that goes weird after some OS upgrades/updates. Apparently nobody knows why. It's just a pain, and while iCloud and even software updates continue to go along blissfully unaware, they start to behave in peculiar fashions. I.e. you might have iCloud Keychain spontaneously turn off, try 50 times to enable it, get prompted 75 times to enter your iCloud login information, give up, and then next time you use the computer Keychain is turned on again (that last step is filed under "If you're marginally lucky")

So, yeah, that's where I'm at. Google is being … well … Google. DuckDuckGo at least gave me results that matched my problem but no one had given them an actual answer to their problem (one reply was literally "I haven't swapped hardware" "So, sounds like you had your logic board replaced!") and I can't find any of the older discussions I used the last time this happened. Both to the machine in question and to a 2004 Powerbook.
 

dravenloft

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Nov 25, 2008
9
1
Try running Coconut Battery. That displays the serial number.
https://www.coconut-flavour.com/coconutbattery/
Totally not the point. If I want the serial number I can turn the computer upside down.

I need to restore it within OSX because its absence either confuses things or the cause of its absence breaks other things. Whichever is the actual case, restoring the capacity for the system software to recognise the serial number unbreaks things until the next time it forgets how again.
 

DeltaMac

macrumors G4
Jul 30, 2003
10,253
2,691
Delaware
Yes, of course....
I think Dave Braine was suggesting that if Coconut Battery shows the serial number, then your issue is one within software (and not a case of the serial number disappearing from firmware)
But, to make this a question: Is the system serial number successfully displayed in Coconut Battery?

And, if you are running 10.12.4, this might be a handy opportunity to update your Sierra system to current 10.12.6 (which might result in your serial number magically appearing in About This Mac --- or not
 
  • Like
Reactions: Beachguy

dravenloft

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Nov 25, 2008
9
1
Yes, of course....
I think Dave Braine was suggesting that if Coconut Battery shows the serial number, then your issue is one within software (and not a case of the serial number disappearing from firmware)
But, to make this a question: Is the system serial number successfully displayed in Coconut Battery?

And, if you are running 10.12.4, this might be a handy opportunity to update your Sierra system to current 10.12.6 (which might result in your serial number magically appearing in About This Mac --- or not
Ah. Totally forgot Coconut displays that, and even if I had recalled assumed it pulled that info from the same place as system report.

No. It doesn’t know the serial either.

I did think of updating Sierra or upgrading tonthe bew isx in hopes it’d magic wand it away but there’s the potential of exacerbating the problem and being stuck in some OS limbo with the OS install being partially complete and failing to authenticate the machine.

I emailed a local authorised mac service place. They wanted to charge me like 300$ to do a complete system diagnostic when I told them I have a battery that’d shuffled off the mortal coil and wanted a replacement done. On top of what they reckoned it’d cost to replace the battery (also obscene). I have little faith.

That temibds me I need to actually replace said battery at some point and restore the counterbalance of the screen (took the paperweight battery out so it wouldn’t swell and wreck stuff)
 

bigfatipod

macrumors 6502
Sep 22, 2011
258
101
I have never heard of this situation before - what a weird one. If it was me, I would probably contact Apple. Even if you don’t have applecare or if it expired, this may be something they’d be willing to look into resolving for you at no cost. Can’t hurt to try
 

dravenloft

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Nov 25, 2008
9
1
I have never heard of this situation before - what a weird one. If it was me, I would probably contact Apple. Even if you don’t have applecare or if it expired, this may be something they’d be willing to look into resolving for you at no cost. Can’t hurt to try
Did contact Apple. Looks like, yes, they officially no longer provide support for machines beyond like 2yo despite, by all appearances, still building them to the old 7-10yr useable lifespan standards (most of which, of course blow well past but I can dig needing SOME cutoff)
 

Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
19,402
6,710
An impertinent question, but just wondering...

On an out-of-warranty Mac, what do you really NEED the serial number for, anyway?

In other words, who cares what it is?
 

dravenloft

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Nov 25, 2008
9
1
An impertinent question, but just wondering...

On an out-of-warranty Mac, what do you really NEED the serial number for, anyway?

In other words, who cares what it is?
OS updates/upgrades and, quite randomly, iCloud services. Just as randomly they work again, and the OS updates sometimes don’t care.

Basically it, like I explained, makes things rather quirky when this happens
 
  • Like
Reactions: Shadow Jolteon

Shadow Jolteon

macrumors regular
Feb 1, 2018
165
97
One more thing you may want to try is checking the serial number from the recovery partition or a full macOS installer, just to make sure it's not some sort of problem with your macOS installation. You can do so from there by entering the following in Terminal:
Code:
ioreg -l | awk '/IOPlatformSerialNumber/ { print $4; }'
If that doesn't return anything, then you'll likely need to re-serialize your board, which would require Apple's Blank Board serializer, which is normally only available to Apple and authorized repair centers. You may want to try calling around to a few around you just to see if any are willing to do that for you.

An impertinent question, but just wondering...

On an out-of-warranty Mac, what do you really NEED the serial number for, anyway?

In other words, who cares what it is?
As @dravenloft mentioned in their first post, this causes some software to behave in unusual ways, especially iCloud features. In addition to iCloud Keychain, other services like iMessage, Find My Mac and FaceTime may have trouble activating and continue running.
 

Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
19,402
6,710
"As @dravenloft mentioned in their first post, this causes some software to behave in unusual ways, especially iCloud features."

Ah, ok.
I don't use iCould ... at all.
 
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.