To clarify: I'm getting the grey screen with the flashing folder with a question mark. I looked online and saw that the startup manager was accessed by pressing the option key during power up. I did that and got a blank grey screen with a drop down menu to select a wifi network and nothing else. I chose a network and nothing else happened.
Any ideas how to access the startup manager?
The flashing folder with the question mark means that
the bootloader cannot find a valid system volume to
boot from on the machine.
Unless there is an OSX system server on the network,
you won't see anything to boot from over the network.
What you may need to do is a PRAM reset
(http://support.apple.com/kb/PH4405) to get the bootloader
to see the HDD, assuming that there is a working system
on the drive. It says its for Lion, but it is the same instructions
for all Intel Macs.
I have the exact problem on mine at this very moment, it goes straight to startup manager. I want to get to disk utility and recover/erase/format if necsessary. Any ideas why you wouldn't get the option?
If you are seeing drives that are selectable and using
Lion or Mountain Lion, select the Recovery HD. If
you are using an earlier OS, insert the install DVD
select and start it, an when it comes up, select
Disk Utilities from the Utilities menu.
Sorry I got that completely wrong it goes straight to Internet recovery when I boot holding either the option/alt key or command-r. It doesn't ever see startup manager options.
I'm using Mountain Lion on a 13" Early 2011 MBP.
There is no sound from the hard drive so wonder if its either dead or has no power.
I've tried the reset (command option p +r) to no avail.
I went in to the Apple Store and had them check it out. Turned out that the hard drive was fried. Had to swap it out. I still have the hard drive and am looking into trying to put the disk in another enclosure to try and save/recover my files on there.
I'd say just bring it to a genius bar and have them check it out. Might save you some trouble.
To both of you for future reference, get yourself a USB
memory stick, partition it with GUID partition map and
use Apple's Recovery Assistant to create a bootable
external Recovery HD.
You can get it here:
It is an invaluable tool when running into booting
issues with internal drives.
You'll be able to boot it using the option key
and selecting it, then you can run disk utility from it
to see if drive is dead or just horribly corrupted.