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iMac won't restart, "Disk full error"

666 Views 4 Replies Latest reply: Dec 8, 2013 3:17 PM by bomfunk RSS
Johnsayd Calculating status...
Currently Being Moderated
Jan 27, 2013 8:41 AM

Shuts down soon after Apple, status wheel and status bar appear during startup. Tried safe mode, etc. and got "disk full error." "Could not be repaired."

iMac, iOS 6.0.2
  • a brody Level 9 Level 9 (62,035 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 27, 2013 8:58 AM (in response to Johnsayd)

    Do you have another Firewire capable Mac?   If you do, you can hook it up via Target Disk Mode and clean up whatever is filling the full machine.  Target Disk Mode is described here:


    You'll need to use a program such as Find Any File to locate the largest file on the machine searching by files larger than 100000000 (8 zeros are shown, that's ~100 MB).

    If it is a log file or a movie that you forgot to cleanup, you'll be in luck, those can easily be removed. Cache files if they are deleted may have corruption issues, and you'll have to locate another file.

  • rccharles Level 5 Level 5 (5,150 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 27, 2013 1:26 PM (in response to Johnsayd)

    I think the store appointment would be safest.




    Of course, it's unix.



    You need to get into single use mode for steps one and two that are listed below.

    This page will tell you how to get into single user mode.


    Basically, you hold down the command-s key then  powering on your machine. The command key has a little apple symbol on the lower left. It is between the alt/option key and the space bar. On a PC keyboard, it will be the windows key, I think.


    # Type the follow two instructions to access the startup disk in read/write:

    # ( in case of partial success repeat this command until errors go away. )

    /sbin/fsck -fy

    /sbin/mount -uw /


    the delete command is rm. note the file is gone. there is not recovery beside backup

    man rm

    for cryptic details


    "mac $" is the prompt yours will be different.  Do these commands first. mac is my short user name. I do not thing the whoami command will give you your short user name . you will have to know or guess.


    mac $ ls /Users

    Deleted Users/ compile/       macLimited/    na copy/       standard/      t2-org/

    Shared/        ftp/           macPanels/     na-old/        startup/       textw/

    a (Deleted)/   mac/           mysidekick/    seeker/        student/


    mac $ ls /Users/mac/Documents/

    ALDL Getting Started Guide.doc

    AccordianFinalColorSmall copy.jpg

    ... files clipped ...


    Here is an overview of the terminal commands.  Lets assume that your account has a short user name of mac.
    #What is my short user name?  Type the whoami command.
    mac $ whoami
    mac $
    #How to list all of your disks.
    # The ls command is for list
    mac $ ls /Volumes/
    Audio CD       Macintosh-HD   Spotless       Tiger-ext
    mac $
    # Let's say your flash drive is named Spotless


    # cd is change directory
    mac $ cd /Volumes/Spotless
    # pwd is print working directory
    mac $ pwd
    mac $
    # The ls command is for list # l is long # F is type of file where / is directory mac $ ls -lF
    total 134704
    -rw-r--r--     1 mac  staff     64560 Mar  3  2009 A-picture-of-Youpi-key.png
    drwxr-xr-x    83 mac  staff      2822 Nov  7 14:52 Applescript files/
    drwxrwxrwx    12 mac  staff       408 Dec 13  2008 Christmas Cards/
    drwxr-xr-x     9 mac  staff       306 Dec 21 17:39 Christmas Cards 2009/
    ... trimmed ...
    What does all this mean?


    d = directory
    r = read
    w = write
    x = executeable program

    |  |  |
    |  |   all other users not in first two types
    |  | 
    |  group


    Every Unix resource: files, folders, etc has an owner, group, other 
    a file has one owner.
    a file has one group.  A group contains a list of users.


    To gain access to a file.  You can be the owner, in the group, or not being the owner or in the group you ended up as other. Each of these categories has read, write, or execute permissions.


    # l is long
    # a is all to show hidden files & folders
    mac $ ls -lFa
    total 134736
    drwxr-xr-x    41 mac   staff      1496 Dec 22 17:11 .
    drwxrwxrwt     8 root  admin       272 Dec 24 13:55 ..
    -rwxrwxrwx     1 mac   staff     15364 Dec 23 12:52 .DS_Store*
    drwx------     4 mac   staff       136 Jan 22  2009 .Spotlight-V100
    drwxrwxrwt     5 mac   staff       170 Sep 14 16:36 .TemporaryItems
    d-wx-wx-wx     4 mac   staff       136 Dec 31  1969 .Trashes
    -rw-r--r--     1 mac  staff     64560 Mar  3  2009 A-picture-of-Youpi-key.png
    drwxr-xr-x    83 mac   staff      2822 Nov  7 14:52 Applescript files
    drwxrwxrwx    12 mac   staff       408 Dec 13  2008 Christmas Cards
    drwxr-xr-x     9 mac   staff       306 Dec 21 17:39 Christmas Cards 2009

    ... trimmed ...
    # mv is move or rename
    mv -i the-name the-new-name




    # You can just rename the file back to what it was with mv command.
    mv -i old-name new-name


    Here is what these commands mean:
    cd is change directory
    pwd is a print working directory
    ls is list
    sudo is Super user do
    mv is move or rename


    For cryptic comments, you can always uses the manual command which is man. For example:
    man mv 


    # Type the letter q to quit.
    In case you have spaces in your filenames or directories, you need to escape them. See examples: 

    mac $ ls -l ~/"see it"
    -rw-r--r-- 1 mac staff 3171 Oct 26 23:38 /Users/mac/see it
    mac $
    mac $ cd /Users/mac/Desktop/ttt\ html\ copy/


    Do you know about tabing? Type in a few letters of a name then press the tab key. The computer will type out the rest of the name if it is unique.


    Press the up arrow key to see the previous command(s).


    To edit a command, use the left arror key to more left and the right arror key to move right.  Use the delete key to delete the key to the left.  Type a letter to insert.


    history to see many previous commands. 


    mac $ history

        2  man launchd.conf

        3  history






    press the return key after every command.

  • bomfunk Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    Dec 8, 2013 3:17 PM (in response to rccharles)

    Many many thanks, maybe not the best redaction, but helped to recover my mac.


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