I have the same issue with the flashing question mark:
* I added RAM and changed the Disk to an SSD.
* Validated the boot which was fine
* Upgrade to Maverick
* First time I saw the question mark was when the install wanted to start
* Restarted the computer and the install start
* Saw it second time when the install restarted and wanted to finish
* Restarted the computer and the install finished
* Have done multiple restarts now, the question mark keep popping up, I keep doing a hard restart (killing the computer using the power button), and when I restart it works like a charm.
I have tried all the mentioned tricks (pointing to startup disk, resetting NVRAM). No luck - the funny thing is that second time it finds the disk everytime and starts booting.
Appreciate any input.
You describe a quite eerie behavior. If ? = no boot disk, and then it finally finds it, I would have assumed that you did not selected the startup disk, which may lead to a long boot (and ? as well?), but you say you did that, i.e. startup disk is correctly selected in the Sys Prefs.
Now, it is not clear to me, after your long list of problems, whether your mac works or not.
I have a 2009 Macbook (A1181) that has had the question mark folder startup issue for a few weeks. I've already replaced my hard drive with (http://www.amazon.com/320GB-SATA-5400RPM-MacBook-Drive/dp/B006LPY4SC). I thought it would be easy to reinstall OS Lion with Apple's internet recovery option, but the new hard drive is not being recognized!!!
@macjan1980, I may need a new HDD cable (e.g. http://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-HDD-Hard-Drive-Cable-fits-Apple-MacBook-13-A1181-200 6-2007-2008-2009-/330972395072?pt=US_Drive_Cables_dapters&hash=item4d0f7df640) for my Macbook to recognize the hard drive. However, I am not optomistic that this will fix my problem. Please check out my my post on October 26, 2013 and let me know if you encountered anything similar before your question mark folder startup issue began.
The last thing my old hard drive displayed was Activity Monitor showing Terminal, Finder, and Chrome "Not Responding" and when I tried to force close Chrome, the wheel never stopped spinning. I assumed that my hard drive was toast, but is this evidence to support that the HDD cable was failing?
Actually there are many reasons but if we see the folder question mark, it means that hard disk and system are not on one page, i-e they are unable to have an established connection. It might be due to the most probable reason which is the cord between harddisk and the laptop.
Change the cable and you are good to go. Don't need to spend money anywhere else.
I have a mabook mid 2009 unibody white 2.13 ghz model, me too came across this issue of folder with question mark on startup, so after googling out and referring to different forums I came to know it might be due too,
1) hard disk failure (corrupt hard disk).
I tried to remove my hard disk and inserted it into other macbook, a older version mid 2007 (black color) and I found the hard disk is perfect, as I was able to login to older macbook and access files without any trouble.
furter on exploring I learnt
2) Trouble may be due to faulty cable connecting hardisk and logic board.
I tried to replace the cable with the one from the old working mac book as well as other macbook cable of same make from same version macbook but it couldnt solve the issue.
further going I read that the problem may crop up due to RAM.
3) I removed both the RAM(1gb each) from the troubled macbook and checked it by inserting in old working macbook it was working fine, so I took one of the RAM from older macbook and inserted into the troubled macbook with startup issues to my amazement it worked , I was able to see Apple logo and was able to successfully login, I accessed my folders and internet then just to confirm whether the issue is sorted out forever I tried to restart the macbook ---- the old issue cropped up i.e the folder with question mark was there
I tried to remove this RAM and replaced with other single RAM from old macbook again it started and was able to log in but when I try to restart the machine It comes up with the same issue I changed 3 different RAM's and was able to log into macbook om the first instance but when I use the same RAM to restart or start macbook I have that ISSUE cropping up I am very frustrated, please some one help me to over come the trouble I'm facing.
Message was edited by: krishnaxyz
If you are sure the disk is good, and that the cable is good, then you have a problem with the contacts, including the ones on the motherboard. ? undoubtedly means ‘Man, I have no startup disk, and do not know what to do’.
You may test an external hard disk, including the one you are talking about, put into an enclosure. If it works, in principle your machine is good.
You have no other choice than checking step by step where the problem might be, seemingly a contact somewhere. If that bad contact is on the motherboard, things may turn bad. If you cannot solve it by yourself, go to a good technician.
You may also boot from the install DVD, if you have an older machine, or create a boot USB flash, and see whether the internal disk is detected by Disk Utility in the install package.
Hello I have a mid 2009 15" MacBook Pro. I am getting the question mark folder at startup.
I have read many message boards and tried all of the following things.
1. Tried to go to boot into safe mode via the shift key at startup. Continues on to question mark folder.
2. Tried to go to startup manager via the option key at startup. Goes to blank white screen with usable mouse pointer.
3. Tried to clear PRAM via the Command / Option / P / R at startup. Restarts but still continues to question mark folder.
4. Used OSX install usb drive to get to install screen. Could not find hard drive to install to.
5. Put hard drive in external inclosure and successfully booted from it.
6. Put in a new hard drive in computer just to check and attempted number 4 again. Same results.
7. Purchased and installed new hard drive cable.
8. Installed original hard drive. Still went to question mark folder.
9. Put in new hard drive and install still could not find it.
10. Returned and got another cable just to make sure that one was not bad. Same results.
Please somebody help me. What am I missing? What else can I try?
If you put things in a logical sequence, the answer it quite clear: as long as a new disk and a new cable does not solve the issue, you have a connection problem on the motherboard. This seems a sad issue, as repairing it may be too expensive. If the existing disk, once put in an enclosure, is OK, and a new cable does not solve the issue, either with existing disk or another one, there is no other way out.
After thinking my Macbook HD died completely (it has been sitting in the closet for over a year). I decided today to try it again, and sure enough, there it was: the folder with the ?
I tried everything suggested here short of opening it up and checking the HD / cable, etc. nothing worked.
One of the last things I did was boot from the OSX DVD to check the disk. But there was no disk mounting at all - no matter what I did, only the DVD drive was showing up. I couldn't reinstall the OS - there was no HD.
Here. is. where. it. gets. weird...
I had turned it off and resumed work on my desktop. Then remembered that the OSX DVD was still in the drive on the Macbook.
So, I turned it on while holding down the eject button. Out comes the disk.....
AND it booted up --- as if nothing had ever changed! everything as it was. (backing up now)
The Mac gods smiled on it today. Maybe that will work for someone else, too.