If you have a copy of your hard drive on an external drive that's bootable, I'd suggest booting from that drive (plug it into the USB port and hold alt/option at startup to select that drive), and seeing if your internal HDD shows up as a 2nd mounted hard drive.
Assuming you have an external enclosure, you also might want to try ripping the internal HDD with the files you need out of your MacBook Pro, putting it in the enclosure, and mounting it as an external drive on another Mac. If you do that, you should be able to see your documents and a few other things, at least.
Thanks for your reply smintitule (love to know the story behind your screen name!) - I will try your first suggestion, but I don't have an external enclosure - I wonder if I can use one of the other computers via Target Disk mode but since they run Tiger and Snow Leopard, and not Leopard, I am not sure how that works. I will set up my external drive now and see if I can make that work. I will get back to you shortly (my niece wondered why my sister and I need 3 laptops - she wanted one - ha!)
WOW, smintitule, and WHEW! I was able to get into the HD the way you suggested via the bootable drive (partition on a terabyte drive). Maybe I should just take a deep breath and finish the work I was doing! The weird part, though, and maybe for another post(?) is I can see that the archive and reinstall got part way through then quit. The users except Shared are in the "previous system" folder. I don't know what steps the computer goes through to do an archive and install so I don't know if it was in process then quit or it did it "wrong". I mentioned in one of my posts that Time Machine wouldn't work - kept hanging.
Since it appears I can work on the computer this way (tethered to the external drive) I will get back to that but this is a big mess and I haven't begun to figure out what to do with it all. Then maybe I sleep tonight - a little. But back at it again tomorrow. Not solved but well on the way. Thank you very much for taking the time to help.
Yeah---when in doubt, you can almost always use your internal drive as a "removable" drive by booting from a different HDD. I'm glad you got it working--At this point I'd suggest making copies of everything important and just re-formatting and re-installing, then recovering from time machine (well, a time machine that's known to be stable).
It's possible you just have some corrupted data on the hard drive, and re-formatting will take care of it.
Glad I could be of help,
-Smintitule (which is, in fact, the vocative [read: name-calling] case of a word meaning "insane" in romanian)
Hadn't heard the word vocative since I studied Latin - how do you say "insane like a fox"? Again thanks for your help. I was able to get the most urgent work out of the way (inDesign CS3). I had to upload files to an ftp site and couldn't seem to scroll through from the bootable drive to find the files on the old HD even though I knew where they were (the choice of files was different from the options as they appeared on the screen - or I was too tired to find them). I was able to "see" a thumb drive and its contents, so transferred the files to the thumb drive, then uploaded them through Safari open on the bootable drive.
Then as I went to work on another InDesign file I also needed to get done later today, the Finder and InDesign froze so I shut down and went to sleep - however, I am not complaining, smintitule, just informing! I am sure I can limp through processing the work I need to, but will create a new post when ready to sort out file saving and reinstalling,
Oh I see you have replies here. I've also replied here:
Please in the future, if crossposting, note that replies have come in your other thread when they do.
Sorry, A Brody for violating protocol - will do as you ask in future. I was getting anxious that no one was responding so cross posted. I have been spoiled in previous years with lots of people up all night responding (including you who has helped me over the years) and was feeling desperate!
The saga continuea. Worked for a little from the backup bootable drive as above but that started crashing.Went to Apple Store, Genius Bar guy said everything tested out fine on hard drive test, and recommended Archive and Install (this MacBook Pro runs Leopard). Went to sleep hoping to have good news, but Archive and Install hung half way through - copied all files, but in "previous" folder. No room left to try again
Went to Apple Store again, and kind Genius Bar guy booted me up to his LaCie drive and I was able to transfer files manually to my backup drive - took all day and lots of coffee LOTS of corrupt InDesign CS3 files that stalled the back up (probably was the cause of Time MAchine not working) so had to transfer in small packets. With all the corrupt files, we thought maybe it was a software issue
Clean install, transferred most files back seemed okay for a few days, then started freezing, then yesterday, the grey screen apple and beach ball spinning on start up. Back to square one Got a loud buzz on restart a few times during the entire mess, was planning on installing new RAM, and Genius had said if after clean install I still had problems it might be the RAM. Beautiful people at Crucial overnighted me new RAM. But to no avail.
Have booked the Genius Bar again late tonight but this computer has had 2 new motherboards (one when a new graphics card had to be replaced on this model and one later), the HD has passed hard drive test many times, not sure what else could be wrong - after clean install worked like a dream for a few days! Then - zip.
Had 3 years of Apple Care, just ended so feeling a little frustrated - genius said computer is no way too old or out of date (and I can't afford new Adobe Creative Suite anyway). What other problems would cause failure to boot?
One logic board failure is pure chance. Two sounds like maybe there is something wrong here. Are you plugging in directly to the outlet in the wall without a surge protector? Older homes this can be a no-no. Unreliable power can kill a machine. The other thing, that commonly happens is people don't understand how fragile their cables are. See my FAQ*:
If you feel you have damaged your cord, or your port, and have another logic board replaced, keep that in mind for the future. Do not under power your notebook. MacBook Pros require a full 85W.
Wow, A Brody, thanks - these are all something to review. I do live in an old house, and use a surge protector, but never thought about so much detail. I'll have to borrow a tester to check the wattage in the main adapters we use. I had a look at your link, and while I am not the most careful with the power cord. I don't use the prongs to wrap it or pull it out by the cord. HOWEVER, where there are small ones . . . I was told at the Genius Bar that the spinning ball and apple is probably a sign of an as yet undetectable HD failure - after new RAM, clean install etc. but I do wonder if there isn't a power issue somewhere - overheating from time to time, a few failures to wake from sleep, don't know myself.
Thanks for your help.