8 Replies Latest reply: Apr 14, 2012 9:17 PM by John Galt
samson.tyler Level 1 (0 points)

Having trouble with my iMac- on startup, the background screen appears, but no icons. The spinning beach ball appears for quite a long while, then when the icons finally come up, when I open a finder window, the only icons to appear are the Network and Macintosh HD icons. I've tried to repair disk permissions: this came up with heaps of errors, which it then fixed, but the original problem remains.

Any suggestions on how to fix this?


iMac, Mac OS X (10.6.8)
  • John Galt Level 8 (44,705 points)

    Repair disk permissions is a distraction. You should boot using your original system installation DVD, then run Disk Utility from the Utilities menu. Select your iMac's startup volume in the left column then select "repair disk".


    If there are no "icons" do you mean that you cannot find any of your programs or data? What do you see when you open the "Macintosh HD" icon?


    Here are some more troubleshooting procedures that may help determine the problem:


    General purpose Mac troubleshooting guide: Isolating issues in Mac OS X


    To identify potential hardware problems: Apple Hardware Test

  • Linc Davis Level 10 (184,980 points)

    Please read this whole message before doing anything.


    This procedure is a test, not a solution. Don’t be disappointed when you find that nothing has changed after you complete it.


    Step 1


    The purpose of this step is to determine whether the problem is localized to your user account.


    Enable guest logins and log in as Guest. For instructions, launch the System Preferences application, select Help from the menu bar, and enter “Set up a guest account” (without the quotes) in the search box. Same problem(s)?


    After testing, log out of the guest account and, in your own account, disable it if you wish. Any files you created in the guest account will be deleted automatically when you log out of it.


    Note: If you’ve activated “Find My Mac” or FileVault in Mac OS X 10.7 or later, then you can’t enable the Guest account. Create a new account in which to test, and delete it, including its home folder, after testing.


    Step 2


    The purpose of this step is to determine whether the problem is caused by third-party system modifications that load automatically at startup or login.


    Disconnect all wired peripherals except those needed for the test, and remove all aftermarket expansion cards. Boot in safe mode and log in to the account with the problem. The instructions provided by Apple are as follows:


    • Be sure your Mac is shut down.
    • Press the power button.
    • Immediately after you hear the startup tone, hold the Shift key. The Shift key should be held as soon as possible after the startup tone, but not before the tone.
    • Release the Shift key when you see the gray Apple icon and the progress indicator (looks like a spinning gear).


    Safe mode is much slower to boot and run than normal, and some things won’t work at all, including wireless networking on certain Macs.


    The login screen appears even if you usually log in automatically. You must know your login password in order to log in. If you’ve forgotten the password, you will need to reset it before you begin.


    Same problem(s) in safe mode?


    After testing, reboot as usual (i.e., not in safe mode) and verify that you still have the problem. Post the results of steps 1 and 2.

  • ds store Level 7 (30,325 points)

    Corrupted cache file is my guess, run the OnyX cache cleaning routine here, but do backup your files off the computer as soon as possible as it might be a larger issue.



  • T.Hasan Level 1 (0 points)

    Het ds store, i am having a tough time with my mac.i wanted to find a soluton of my problem from you but i just could'nt find a way to contact you so i am posting my problem here to you as a reply.


    Last night the electricity went out and my power surge protector was not working so my iMac just force shut downed.

    So, when the electricity came back i turned on my Mac but it is *Stuck in the Startup/Boot Screen with a Grey Apple Logo,a Empty Progress Bar with stays for 1 or 2 minutes and a small Spinning Wheel which would Spin Forver! I Have tried the SMC and Pram reset but no use, i have also tried to insert my OS X Lion 10.7 Installation disk and it would not load if i hold the C Key in the Startup, I Have Managed to go to Disk Utility Through "Recovery HD"  but the Volume "Macintosh HD" is Greyed out and Unmounted and i cannot repair it. There are some files that i'd like to Recover if there is a way to fix it without deleting files.


    Details about the iMac:

    iMac 21.5 Inch i think from Mid 2010,

    OS X Lion installed maybe 10.7.2 or 10.7.3 (im not sure)

  • samson.tyler Level 1 (0 points)

    John, Thanks for your reply. I've booted from the install disk, and opened disk utility- first aid. Clicked on Macintosh HD on the left hand side but 'repair disk' option is greyed out. What am I doing wrong..?

  • samson.tyler Level 1 (0 points)

    Please ignore the previous post - I worked it out... : )

  • samson.tyler Level 1 (0 points)

    OK John, tried to repair disk, using the instal disk. Message came up: disk utility can't repair disk. Back up as many of your files as possible, reformat the disk, and restore your backed up files.

    Is this your recommended course of action..? If yes, does reformatting the disk mean erasing it in disk utility and then using restore from backup option in utilities under Mac OSX installer?


    Is there a chance the hard drive is failing?


    For the record I have tried a safe boot, which didn't work (wouldn't boot). Thereafter havent been able to get past the grey screen with apple logo..

  • John Galt Level 8 (44,705 points)

    Is there a chance the hard drive is failing?


    Yes, I'd say about 100% chance it's failing. It is bad news that Disk Utility cannot repair it, but I have heard of limited success using multiple attempts.


    The message you quoted is as accurate as it gets. It is very likely some files are already irretrievably lost, but is is also very likely everything you really need is still intact. The challenge is to extract what you need.


    You will need another drive, or another Mac. If you have another Mac with FireWire you can connect the two and hopefully mount the failed HD in target disk mode (read about it). If it mounts, copy what you need to the other Mac's HD.


    If you have an external hard disk drive, connect it to your MBP. If it is blank, boot from your install DVD, load OS X on it, boot from it using Startup Manager, and copy the files that way. Again you will have to get the failing disk to mount before you can do any of this.