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iMac won't start up, can't get past the white screen

460 Views 14 Replies Latest reply: Apr 9, 2013 12:00 PM by Eustace Mendis RSS
xSlamx Calculating status...
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Apr 4, 2013 6:49 PM

I have an older iMac, I believe it's the g5, the white one, got it about 6 years ago or so. It was acting up recently, crashing programs, taking a long time to respond etc. I figured I just had too much stuff on my hard drive so I went out and bought an external hard drive. After I copied over a bunch of files (not everything, my music and my photos aren't backed up!) I then deleted the files I transferred from the iMac to make room. It took a very long time for the trash to empty, and then I tried to restart. It shut down but never rebooted. When I press the power button it will only get to the white screen with the gray apple and gray progress wheel. It stays like that for a minute or two with the wheel turning but barely any progress on the progress bar and then it turns off. I tried unplugging everything including the power cord but nothing works. Any ideas? Thanks.

  • ds store Level 7 Level 7 (30,305 points)

    Sounds like you accidentially trashed some essential system required file or that your hard drive is failing due to heat.


    Let the machine cool down and reboot again and see if you can get your remaining files off.


    I recommend you seek the services of a local PC/Mac specialist (not Apple as your machine is too old and they don't do data recovery)


    It might be time for a new machine, they might be able to freeze the hard drive long enough to get it to work and get your files off.


    So seek their assistance, we can't assist you as the iMac is a sealed machine.

  • Eustace Mendis Level 7 Level 7 (24,595 points)

    Do you have the original disks that came with the computer?


    Do you know the model of your iMac? There were many different models of iMacs.


    Did you back up the iMac before this episode>

  • andyBall_uk Level 6 Level 6 (17,595 points)

    will it start in Single User Mode ? (Hold Command + S after hearing the chime)


    If so, follow the fsck section at

    and when/if you (finally) get a 'volume appears to be OK' message

    don't restart afterwards.


    then, still in single user, type the command   df/    followed by enter

    making sure that the result shows Capacity at some reasonable level, like 90% or less.


    df means 'display free disk space', you're checking that the drive isn't so horribly full that attemoting to start might further risk your data


    if Capacity is ok- reboot as per the article; if not, post back.


    If you can boot in Single User & have done the above, but still can't start normally - try

    Safe Mode to see if you can copy your files off.

    If Single works, but nothing else, it's probably possible to copy your files in that mode, using typed commands.


    if you can't start at all -


    Checking your exact model at will show how hard it is to remove the HD yourself... some are pretty easy with the right-sized screwdrivers, and the drive can then be taken to anywhere with a computer & the right cable/adaptor to copy your files.



    Target Disk Mode :

    if it works for you, would let someone with a computer & firewire port access any of your files that are intact. Apple may, as mentioned, say it's too old for them to look at.


    finding the dvd's/getting replacements would be best.

  • Eustace Mendis Level 7 Level 7 (24,595 points)
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    Apr 9, 2013 10:18 AM (in response to xSlamx)

    If I may, I think a better course would be to buy ($20) a copy of OS 10.6 and install that.


    This assumes that both the iMac and the laptop can handle 10.6. You should verify this before buying SL.


    The process would be to connect the iMac in target disk mode to the laptop, and install 10.6 from the laptop on to the iMac.




    Snow Leopard:

  • andyBall_uk Level 6 Level 6 (17,595 points)
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    Apr 9, 2013 10:42 AM (in response to xSlamx)

    if it's a G5 - 10.5.8 is the latest.


    Snow Leopard:

    System Requirements:

    • Mac computer with an Intel processor
    • 1GB of memory
    • 5GB of available disk space
  • Eustace Mendis Level 7 Level 7 (24,595 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 9, 2013 11:04 AM (in response to xSlamx)

    Answers to your questions.


    1. It is virtually impossible to transfer an OS from one Mac to another without specific software. Carbon Copy cloner can do other transfers, but OS is tricky. There is no guarantee the OS on the laptop will boot the iMac. (When an OS is installed the result is specifc to the computer where it is installed.)


    2. Yes the drive has to be formatted - Mac OS Extended.


    3. Since Andy Ball has confirmed you need OS 10.5, you will have to find a set of 10.5 installer discs. Once again the discs will have to be the "full retail" version, not the discs that shipped with a laptop.


    Can yu borrow an external optical drive to connect to the iMac?

  • Eustace Mendis Level 7 Level 7 (24,595 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 9, 2013 12:00 PM (in response to xSlamx)

    Load the OS cd in the usb drive, connect the drive to the iMac, and boot the iMac while holding down the c key.


    The installer will ask you to select a language. On the next screen there will be a full menu bar. Go to Utilities, select Disk Utility. From there you can format the drive. Make it Mac OS Extended. When that is done, quit DU and proceed with the installation.


    After 10.5 is installed, enter your personal information and settings. Connect to the internet and select Software Update in the Apple menu.


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