Mac startup grey screen folder question mark

Make sure it's the same one that your Mac is actually using once it finally boots up. Disk Utility displays the Mount Point of every volume attached to your Mac. The forward slash is used to indicate the root or starting point of the Mac's hierarchical file system. The startup drive is always the root or start of the file system in the Mac OS.

In the Disk Utility Sidebar, select a volume , and then check the Mount Point listed in the volume information area in the bottom center of the window. If you see the forward slash symbol, that volume is being used as the startup drive.

How To Fix a Flashing Question Mark Folder on Mac

Continue selecting volumes in the Disk Utility sidebar until you find the startup volume. Now that you know which volume is being used as the startup disk, you can return to the Startup Disk preference pane and set the correct volume as the startup disk. Safe Boot is a special startup method that forces your Mac to load only the minimum information it needs to run.

Safe Boot also checks the startup drive for disk issues and attempts to repair any problems it encounters. Give Safe Boot a try. Once your Mac has booted using Safe Boot, go ahead and restart your Mac to see if the original question mark issue has been resolved.

Press the power button once to turn your Mac back on.


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Keep these two keys held down until you see an Apple logo or globe. If prompted, select a Wi-Fi network to connect to the Internet as part of startup. Select your startup disk, then click Restart. In the Disk Utility window, select your startup disk usually named "Macintosh HD" from the left side of the window. Click the First Aid tab.

If a flashing question mark appears when you start your Mac

Click the Repair Disk button to verify and repair any issues with your startup disk. After your disk is successfully repaired, quit Disk Utility. Choose Startup Disk from the Apple menu. If Disk Utility can't repair your startup disk If Disk Utility finds issues with your startup disk that it can't repair, you might need to reformat it. The drive needs to be the same size or larger than your current startup disk. It also needs to be a drive that you can erase.

Your Answer

Make sure that you select the external disk as the one you want to erase. Don't select your built-in startup disk, usually named Macintosh HD.

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After installation is finished, your Mac automatically restarts from the external drive. You'll need to shut your Mac back down, reconnect one peripheral, and then restart your Mac. Continue this process of reconnecting one peripheral at a time and then restarting your Mac until you find the bad peripheral.


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  • How to Fix a Mac That Stalls on Gray Screen at Startup.

Remember that the problem can also be a bad cable, so if you plug a peripheral back in and it causes the gray screen issue, try the peripheral with a new cable before you replace the peripheral. Swap your mouse and keyboard with a known good pair, and then restart your Mac.

If you don't have spares, just disconnect them and restart by pressing and holding the power key. If your Mac gets to the login screen or desktop, then you'll need to determine whether the problem is the mouse or the keyboard. Try plugging in one at a time and then restarting to confirm. Start your Mac using the Safe Boot process if no peripheral or cable appears to be at fault.

Back from the dead

To do that, first disconnect all of the peripherals, except the mouse and keyboard. During the Safe Boot, your Mac will perform a directory check of your startup drive. If the drive directory is intact, the OS will continue the startup process by loading only the minimum number of kernel extensions it needs to boot. If your Mac successfully starts up in Safe Boot mode, try restarting your Mac again in normal mode. If your Mac starts and makes it to the login screen or the desktop, then you'll need to verify that your startup drive is working correctly.

Chances are the drive has some issues that need to be repaired. You can use Disk Utility's First Aid tools to check and repair your drive; you may even need to replace the drive.

How to Fix a Flashing Question Mark on a Mac

Good thing you have a current backup , right? For instance, sound levels will be set to the default, the internal speakers will be set as the source of audio output, the date and time may reset, and the display options and brightness will reset. If it comes on normally, you'll need to reattach your peripherals one at a time, restarting after each, to verify that none of them caused the original gray screen issue. Remove all but the minimum amount of RAM from your Mac.

How to Fix a Mac That Stalls on the Gray Screen at Startup

If it does, then one or more pieces of RAM have failed, and you'll need to replace it. However, you should be able to continue working with your Mac until you get the replacement RAM. Unfortunately, we're getting to the point where the troubleshooting steps will likely cause you to lose some, if not all, of the data on your startup drive. So, before we go there, be sure to try this RAM fix first.


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