Bootcamp related Mac white screen of death 43

Posted by Tim Connor Sun, 04 Mar 2007 01:13:00 GMT

DO NOT attempt to install a pre-SP2 version of Windows XP on your Bootcamp partition. I don’t know if this happens to everyone, but I definitely found a number of forum and blog posts about it. It may be coincidence and actually be due to a hardware failing, as Apple claims, but it seems like a lethal software bug from my experience and reason.

I don’t even know how this could actually be true, because I didn’t know that SP2 messed with the installer that much, but some some of our experiences validate the theory. The trail to the bug starts when one boots into the Windows install sequence, and it won’t detect the partitions right. Instead of seeing the main partition and a (in my case) 32 GB partition the Windows installer claims there is one 132 GB (or so). Not wanting to mess up their entire computer, most people take the logical step of backing out of the Windows install and rebooting.

At that point I was greeted with a lit but blank screen. Not even the apple logo. Just white nothingness. I rebooted a million times, with different install disks in and different command sequences held down. I cleared the PRAM. I did everything that support would later ask me to do, to no avail. If you hold down the Alt/Option key to get the boot menu, you get the slightly off-white sceen, with no choices on it, just blank. If you hold down ‘x’ to force a boot into OS X, you get a black screen. Nothing works – call support and then they’ll tell you to take your computer in for service.

It seems to me, and others in my camp that Bootcamp is messing with the boot loader to tell it to boot into Windows for the install, and when you back out, due to the non SP2 misreading the partitions (this isn’t a bug exactly, since the requirements tell you to use SP2 or later), it refuses to boot into anything else. Since you didn’t install Windows, though, it can’t boot into that.

Now it’s possible this theory is entirely wrong. Maybe it is actually a hardware problem that prevents the drive from being partitioned correctly, and the Windows install disk was reading it correctly. That, of course, wouldn’t explain why it wouldn’t run the install from the external drive they tried at the Apple Store.

Of course, I could test this by attempting to install from the same Windows disk when I get my computer back, but I think I’ll play it safe and not. And before anyone suggests Paralells, I already have it. I wanted to use the new feature where you can run the VM from the Bootcamp partition, so you only have to maintain one main install, both for running natively through Bootcamp for performance reasons (like if you want to game), or virtually with Paralells.


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  1. Avatar
    Tim Connor about 20 hours later:

    It worked fine when I got it back and installed using SP2.

  2. Avatar
    Tieg about 23 hours later:

    Bugger, that completely sucks. Thanks for the tip though, I think I was eventually going to try that BootCamp VM thing. When you get BootCamp to actually run from the Parallels VM, let us know how it performs.

    Have you thought about trying VMWare Fusion?

  3. Avatar
    M Hopper 13 days later:

    We did the same thing to my son’s iMac, pre-SP2 install atempt. Same problem as you. Did Apple fix it under warranty? I’m afraid to tell them what we did in case they won’t fix it.

  4. Avatar
    Tim Connor 14 days later:

    They fixed it under warranty. Of course, I also have AppleCare, so they would of anyways. If you are uncomfortable, you don’t even have to tell them what you did though – just call support and after they take you through all the (failed) boot attempts they’ll schedule a time to take it into a store, and then when they can’t fix it, they’ll take it in for repair (swap out the drive).

  5. Avatar
    Christopher Reid about 1 month later:

    I dont understand! I installed this on my iMac – but I didnt install pre-SP2 XP. I get all the same problems as you, and it has been working fine for a few days!!

    I just shut down Windows XP, Like normal, to go back into OS X and when I turned it back on, it done nothing! White screen!

    Any idea’s?

  6. Avatar
    Tim Connor about 1 month later:

    Sorry. :( Not a clue (other than a reminder to back-up everything you care about frequently, in the future). There might be additional hardware/software bugs that trash the bootsector, or whatever is going on. I guess call support.

  7. Avatar
    Mark McCann 2 months later:

    I had the same problem and managed to get things working again. I connected my problematic Mini via a firewire cable to an ibook. Booted the Mini holding down T (to force it into ‘Target Drive’ mode). then used the iBook to reformat the Mini’s drive removing the FAT drive. Then rebooted with the OSX DVD and reinstalled.

    I THINK it is back to normal – although I’ve been getting unexpected freezes every now and again.

  8. Avatar
    Tim Connor 3 months later:

    Mark, ya, two firewire enabled Macs (and a cable of course) make problems like this much easier to resolve.

  9. Avatar
    Ron Heptinstall 8 months later:

    I have had the same problem, primarily related to try to install a pre SP2 version. Apple replaced the computer twice. I am now awaiting my third iMac and feel trepidation at using boot camp at all. Nothing would reserect the computer and Apple Australia told me they had no idea as to the cause or fix.

  10. Avatar
    depak patel 8 months later:

    Is there any way I can get the information off the drive? I have all my photos for the past year on there. Would really like to keep them…. Any ideas?

  11. Avatar
    Doug 8 months later:

    I hope that Apple can recover my files, that would stink D:

    I had the same exact problem… Too bad I read this AFTER the fact.

    Tim will they recover your files?

  12. Avatar
    Tim Connor 8 months later:

    I doubt it. If you really want to keep your files, see if you can plug the drive into another computer (not as the boot drive, but as an additional drive) and back-up all the stuff. If that fails, google “data retrieval failed harddrive” and stuff like that.

  13. Avatar
    Bob 8 months later:

    Same problem here! I honestly don’t think this is an SP2 thing. I’m somewhat of a windows guru (not mac for sure) and I know that SP2 makes no changes whatsoever to the boot image or installer portion of the CD. In fact you an “slipstream” SP2 into a pre-SP2 install and you’ll see no boot files are changed.

    I have a feeling the problem lies with the partitioning of the hard drive by bootcamp. Likely corrupts the MBR of the hard drive, rendering it essentially useless until the MBR is fixed. This is why people have had success using TDM, 2 macs and a repartitioning and rebuild.

    Needless to say, I am done with bootcamp. Hopefully I can use my macmini to rebuild the imac disk.

    I have a brand new imac core 2 duo 2.16, 4GB of RAM and a non-functioning hard drive. The computer is around 3 days old. I am not impressed. My G4 mac mini, NEVER had any problems – this is why I went for a second mac.

    I’d pin the blame on bootcamp, and not on any hardware issue. I would bet that anyone who finds their boot partitions in the windows installer looking strange is going to end up with that white screen just as soon as the mac is turned off.

  14. Avatar
    Tim Connor 8 months later:

    I think you are missing my point, Bob. I’m not saying that Windows, SP2 or not, touches the boot sector. I thought I pretty clearly said, up in the article, that it is Bootcamp that makes that change.

    In preparation for booting into the Windows install process Bootcamp puts the boot-record into some odd “keep booting onto the CD or the new windows install” state. But pre-SP2 is officially not supported so things choke while the boot record is still in this state, and walla, instant paper-weight.

  15. Avatar
    Bob 8 months later:

    I don’t think that is what is going on. If you look around on the forums, you will see that people have been able to get windows 2000 to boot using boot camp.

    Mac people are pretty new to the idea of dual booting, but windows/linux people have been doing it for a long time. The problem with the mac doing were twofold: 1) apple had a proprietary BIOS that couldn’t be accessed by the joe-public and 2) therefore the MBR couldn’t be accessed.

    Bootcamp simply modifies the MBR of the mac hard drive and points to one partition or the other at the time of booting the machine. It’s really a simple program. If it corrupts the MBR, the hard drive is toast, plain and simple. I would argue that it makes NO DIFFERENCE whatsoever which version of windows it tries to load. Apple doesn’t support anything other than windows xp or vista – it only supplies drivers for these two.

    If Bootcamp was looking to check for a SP2 disk and if it wasn’t present, nuking the hard drive that would be an insane policy on apple’s part. There are so many different versions of SP2 discs that checking the image for a particular MD5 sum or hashmark or something wouldn’t be feasible.

    I’ll bet you that the windows disc in that drive has no bearing whatsoever on if you end up with that white screen or not. I’d bet you that on the other hand, there’s some combination of bootcamp, machine and mac EFI BIOS version which makes for a corrupted MBR everytime, regardless of what CD you put in the drive after bootcamp does its thing.

  16. Avatar
    Bob 8 months later:

    Tim, I fixed it last night. Here’s how you do it. If you have everything you need (another mac running the right version of the OS or a firewire hard drive AND a disk utility like drive genuis – it will take you around 15 minutes to go through the process. )
    To do this fix you will need a firewire hard drive that has your version of OSX installed on it. I used my mac mini in target disk mode, but any external firewire disc will do, provided it is loaded with your version of OS X or higher.

    If you are using another mac, here’s what you do. You will want both machines to be hooked up to a keyboard, mouse and screen for this.

    1) Power off both machines
    2) Unplug all firwire devices from both machines
    3) Connect both machines via firewire cable

    4)Start your good machine in target disc mode. There are several ways to do this. You can hold the “T” key at boot and wait until you see the firwire icon on the screen hooked to the good machine. Alternatively you can boot the machine into the OS, then go to the system preferences, Startup disc and select “Target disc mode…” your computer will then restart in target disc mode.

    Now your good computer is ready to save the day.

    5)Start your “bad” computer while holding down the “option” key. Just hold it down. You will soon see a grey screen with a mouse pointer and an icon for the firewire disc connected to the computer.
    6) I wasn’t exactly sure what to do next, so I clicked both ON the icon and ON the arrow underneath it. I did that twice for good measure
    7) Power off the BAD machine.
    8) Power the BAD machine back on.
    9) The BAD machine will now boot from the GOOD machine’s hard drive.

    So now you’ve booted the BAD machine using the good hard drive.

    I used DRIVE GENIUS for the next steps, but any formatting tool will work.

    10) Go into drive genius – you won’t see any volumes listed showing your BAD hard drive.
    11) Select “DEVICES” and VOLLA!! You will see your “BAD” Drive. You will need to INITIALIZE and REBUILD that drive. Your data will be lost if you do this.
    12) You’ll need to 1st Initialize using the APPLE partition table. Let Drive Genius do its thing and initialze the drive
    13) Next you’ll want to re-initialize as a GUID Partition table. Click initialize.
    14) Now you can partition the drive. Set your drive up however you would like to.
    15) Now that you have a working partition, you can reinstall your OS to your BAD machine.
    16) Put your OS X install disc in, run the installer.
    17) When the computer re-starts, POWER OFF your GOOD MACHINE
    18) OS X will now install on your BAD machine!!
    19) You will now have turned your BAD machine into a GOOD machine.

    Enjoy. It took me all night to figure this out. Once you have both machine tethered via firewire, this process will take you all of 15 minutes to complete. Seriously.

    If you run into trouble with this, try the following

    1) Zap your PVRAM
    2) When you power off your BAD machine, unplug it from the wall and let it sit for around a minute. I found that if I turned that thing off and then right back on again, it wouldn’t respond to my keyboard commands at bootup
    3) Try using a genuine apple keyboard or at least plug your keyboard directly into your computer – don’t use a USB hub for this process.

  17. Avatar
    Tim Connor 8 months later:

    Awesome Bob, good work. I’ll read over it more in depth when I am not zonked out on cold medicine. I do get your claims, and they have at least as good a chance as being right as mine, but you could read my original article a little more closely before assuming my idiocy. :P Target disc mode off an external firewire drive didn’t work in the Apple store, for instance (paragraph 5, last sentence). And as an aside, I actually do have experience dealing with boot-loaders (Lilo and grub) and installing linux (SUSE, gentoo and ubuntu). ;)

    I would take your bet about the failure, only because I think you aren’t quite getting the details of my claim, not because I have any inside knowledge about how they implemented this. I do NOT think Apple is intentionally nuking the drive, nor do I think Windows is. I’ll try to be more explicit about my goofball theory to explain this observed phenomena:

    1) Bootcamp puts your drive in a “auto-boot the dvd drive for windows install once and then boot the windows partition for finalizing the install” state. That wouldn’t be all that complicated to do, right? And it’d explain why it would boot just fine into the install, one and only one time.

    2) I backed out of the pre-SP2 install, because it had issues with my partition set-up. This is a known fact. Coming up with scenarios that explain this is also trivial (such as maximum harddrive size under Windows SP0). Yes, an alternative theory is that my MBR/partition table was already corrupted, and that’s why SP2 set-up failed, but then why did it even boot this one time, and why not do it another time.

    3) With no one “nuking” the drive, that left me in an inoperable state.

    4) When I got my computer back, it seemed like they just fixed the boot record (same partition set-up as when I took it in, for instance).

    5) This possibly exactly same drive worked perfectly fine with a post SP2 install.

    All I’m saying is that SP2 installs can have problems (being non supported and all) with something about some set-ups (partition table format/size issues? MBR weirdness? I don’t really care to guess all that much) and then when the user cancels the install (like I did), they are left in a funky state. I think that’s a fairly logical claim that fits the limited, but known data, including what you have said, that relies on no malfeasance by Apple, nor incompetence from MicroSoft.

  18. Avatar
    Bob 9 months later:

    Hey Tim. After reading your posts CAREFULLY this time, I think you and I are both saying pretty much the same thing, that is that Bootcamp somehow corrupts the MBR.

    Exactly WHY that happens is where we both take our “educated,” but different guesses. I would say that, barring further data, either is a possibility.

    The one question I would ask you is, did you make note of your EFI BIOS revision before and after you got your machine back? If your BIOS revision is the same as it was prior to your getting your machine back, I would lean towards your theory on why the MBR gets corrupted.

    However, if Apple updated your BIOS and fixed your MBR, I’d argue instead that the Bootcamp decided not to play nice with your BIOS revision and the windows version you installed was irrevelant – you would have ended up with the same white screen whether you put in an SP2 disc or not.

  19. Avatar
    Tim Connor 9 months later:

    Yeah, either way we are both reaching for it with insufficient data. That firmware revision probably does factor in, but what I don’t get is why would it boot okay once and only once, if it was simply that. The odd part, that I pulled a theory out of my ass to explain, was succesfully booting into the Windows install and then dieing after you restart.

  20. Avatar
    Bob 9 months later:

    Interesting software update available for download tonight:

    This update improves the performance and reliability of Intel Core 2 Duo processors and fixes issues with Boot Camp for iMac computers.

    After the firmware is successfully applied to your computer, your BootROM Version will be one of the following:

    The reason that I SUSPECT the install started and then your hard drive was hosed only AFTER you quit the install is that on reboot, bootcamp tells the mac to boot from the CD and at the same time writes a new MBR. I don’t think it’s possible for a PRIMARY drive to have a new MBR written except at boot.

    So the machine boots, bootcamp writes a bad MBR and tells the BIOS to boot from CD. In this fashion you end up with the windows installer CD running. You install your OS on a hard drive that is already corrupted – bootcamp did that – so no matter how far you go with the OS install, as soon as that machine turns off – you’re not booting it again whether you installed SP2, windows 98, Linux – doesn’t matter. That MBR was corrupted just seconds after boot.

    Again, just my theory. I find it interesting that Apple released a BIOS that “fixes issues with bootcamp for imac computers” today.

  21. Avatar
    Tim Connor 9 months later:

    Hmm, that could definitely be. Usually when I’ve hosed by boot loader set-up I wouldn’t get a clean boot, but I am no expert on boot records. I could see how it’d be writing it on the first boot and then die on an attempted restart, now that you point it out.

    Anyways, I was never denying that the firmware problems existed, just their being the sole cause. I mean even with my guessed at scenario, Apple still would have fucked up – you shouldn’t leave the box unbootable. No reason that mistake couldn’t be faulty firmware that got stuck in the aforementioned wedged state.

    But, it is entirely possible that SP2 was completely unconnected. I saw no reason to test my luck, with my main and only box, nor to do so in the future. Pre-SP2 is a bad idea anyways, even if it doesn’t change anything in the installer or boot files. ;)

  22. Avatar
    Pat Honeycutt 9 months later:

    Thank you for your work on this. The fix works exactly as stated, and It saved me a trip to the apple store for sure.

  23. Avatar
    Bryce Lokey 9 months later:

    Nice that there is a new update, but it did not save my newly purchased (11/07) iMac from the White Screen of Death after a “failed” bootcamp partion and trying to install pre-SP2 XP. I lack the luxury of a second machine running OSX to save my bottom. Continue to be cautious of Boot Camp partitioning, or at least have your drive backed up. I did not…

  24. Avatar
    Mister Mike 9 months later:

    Just got one iMac in with the symptoms. connected bootable Firewire drive, keyboard, powered up while keeping the power button pressed until a long beep is heard. released button and watched it booting using the Firewire drive.

    Maybe you might have to press (alt) to get into the multi-boot interface.

  25. Avatar
    Tim Connor 9 months later:

    Yeah, it’s great when that works, Mike, but it doesn’t always:

    “I rebooted a million times, with different install disks in and different command sequences held down. I cleared the PRAM. I did everything that support would later ask me to do, to no avail. If you hold down the Alt/Option key to get the boot menu, you get the slightly off-white sceen, with no choices on it, just blank.

    That, of course, wouldn’t explain why it wouldn’t run the install from the external drive they tried at the Apple Store."

    I suppose you could theorize they don’t know to hold down the option key at the Apple Store…. Trust me i was there, they do know that much. ;)

  26. Avatar
    Kokinet 10 months later:

    Hi all. Thanks for the interesting debate. I have a question for you: is there any other way to try and fix the imac apart from the TDM start? Thank you

  27. Avatar
    Wedge 10 months later:

    To add my two cents (because my story might help someone else, as the other posts here helped me)…

    I had the same thing happen to me yesterday on my 24" iMac, which had Leopard 10.5.1. I mistakenly used used a Win XP disk SP1 after installing the Boot Camp Partition using Boot Camp Assistant. Everything was fine as the computer booted up in the Windows install and got the the part where you pick the partitions. At that point the sizes of the partitions availiable did not look right, so I exited the installation. On the re-boot, I was stuck with the grey screen (the apple never arrived). (I felt like it was between a world of OS X and Windows). Holding option down during the boot brought up the cursor arrow, which would soon freeze after 10 seconds.

    I tried everything I could think of. I tried what worked for Bob (in his earlier post), booting a Powerbook G4 running Leopard 10.5.1 into target mode and connecting that to the iMac and then booting the iMac. That did not work for me.

    I ended up calling Applecare. They had me try all kinds of the standard stuff (unplug everything including the power cable and hold the power button in for 30 seconds, turn on the computer, turn off the computer, reset the PRAM, turn on the computer, turn off the computer, boot holding down C with the Leopard disk in. turn on the computer. Etc.) None of that worked. I was scheduled to take it into an Applestore the next day. I didn’t really want to take my computer to the Apple store, so I again tried what worked for Bob, but this time using a different computer as the target computer.

    I also have a PowerMac G5 that has Tiger 10.4.11 on one partition and Leopard 10.5.1 on another partition. I booted the PowerMac G5 into target mode. Connected the PowerMac to the iMac using a firewire cable. (The connections to the iMac were the power cable, the Apple wired mouse and keyboard, and the firewire cable). Powered up the iMac and held down the option key. This time the firewire drive from the PowerMac showed up. I clicked on the arrow button quickly (because it soon froze). Powered off the iMac. Power on to the iMac and this time the iMac booted up from the OS on the PowerMac drive (for those who care, the iMac could only see the Leopard 10.5.1 partition and not the Tiger partition on the PowerMac). During the boot sequence, it told me it saw a drive it did not recognize (my internal drive in the iMac) and did I want to format it, ignore it, or eject it. I picked ignore. The system then finished the boot sequence.

    Once into Leopard, I probably could have run some fix it software to repair the drive (so maybe the data would be saved), but instead I decided to wipe it out. I opened disk utilities, picked the iMac hard drive, and formated it. This made the drive work again (at the expense of all of my data, but I had a backup so that was fine).

    I connected the external hard drive that had been used for my Time Machine backup. (It asked me if I wanted to use the drive for the time machine backup, but I said “no” because I was still running the PowerMac OS). I then put the Leopard install disk in the the iMac SuperDrive and told it to restart booting off the install DVD. The computer restarted and booted off the DVD.

    Once booted off the DVD, from the menu bar, I told it to restore the computer from a Time Machine backup. It asked me to point to the Time Machine backup to use and also which drive to use as the target of the restore. I did that and it started the restore. 4.5 hrs later it finished, rebooted, and started as if nothing ever happened. Wha-la! Happy days.

    I removed the Windows partition that did not work, re-created a new Windows partition (both in Boot Camp Assistant) and then this time used a Win XP SP2 disk to install Windows. This time everything worked fine. Windows installed fine and Boot Camp worked.

    So what did I learn…
    Use Time Machine.
    Also, follow the directions and do not use a Win XP SP1 disk. It will cause havoc.

    I hope this helps.

  28. Avatar
    Macs R We 10 months later:

    Thanks so much for solving this problem. I had a client run into it two days ago and I was on the verge of giving up and sending the machine in for repair.

    One thing still puzzles me. I don’t understand why holding option at boot will show an external drive successfully when it will not show a boot DVD successfully. It never occurred to me to try an external boot drive because I never expected that it would show up any better than a boot DVD.

  29. Avatar 10 months later:

    I have just had this happen to me 22-1-08 on our brand new 24 inch Imac. Got the same deal with telephone support ,boot holding this key that key ,left big toe in right ear lobe etc etc. Now have to take it to mac service guy and will be charged $110 to get it fixed!
    My symptoms are exactly like Wedges re what appears on the screen. I dont have another mac or a firewire drive. So will have to pay the money as this is not covered under warranty.
    Not impressed at being charged . Not impressed the computer lets you do this. At the very least the boot camp install instructions could have some big red text saying dont use XP service pack 1!

  30. Avatar
    Chintoo 11 months later:

    After all this discussion, I thought it would be useful to provide a short and simple solution. So here goes..

    1. If you don’t already have one, for ~60 you can build an external firewire drive with images of your system installer CDs (get any cheapo internal drive and an external firewire enclosure – ~$30 each).

    2. Beg / Borrow / steal / use any old mac (G5 or Intel) to format your $60 firewire drive with a single partition (in disk utility, choose options —> GUID partition map so that it boots your intel Mac).

    3. Connect firewire drive to your working mac and use disk utility to ‘restore’ the OS X install CD 1 onto the firewire drive to make an external bootable firewire system drive.

    4. You don’t need the old mac anymore. Shut it down. Connect firewire drive to your ‘dead’ mac and boot holding down option key

    5. Click on arrow below the firewire drive icon you will see on the grey screen of death.

    6. It will appear that the computer has frozen. Actually it has set the boot preference next time you power down and on again. (Yeah! and we thought Windows was dumb!)

    7. Do the needful. Reboot your ‘dead’ mac for the final time with firewire drive still connected. Voila!!

  31. Avatar
    Mko about 1 year later:

    I also had this problem, and while none of the previous posts helped me completely, together they suggested a strategy that ended up working.

    Firstly: I encountered this problem when I (unknowingly) used Windows XP SP1 and tried to install Windows (via BootCamp) on my new MacBook. I effectively “bricked” my machine, since you’re apparently only able to do this with Windows XP SP2. I feel the fact that a user can unknowingly do this and accidentally use SP1 is a huge problem. After my experience, I was unable to reinstall Mac OS X on my harddrive – the volumes were effectively unavailable, and the machine was “bricked”.

    What I did to solve this: I have another (older) iMac G5, running Leopard, that played a pivotal role. The first thing that I had to do was install MacFuse and NTFS-3G on the iMac (you can find these by doing a google search). This allowed my iMac to write to NTFS partitions (which was what my partition in my MacBook became after BootCamp completely screwed it up). Without this, I would have been unable to repair my computer using Mac’s native “Disk Utility” (because Mac OS X cannot write/erase/format NTFS partitions – it can only read to these partitions!). You might be able to get away with this step by installing some other 3rd party disk utility software (e.g. DriveGenius), but I didn’t want to pay for more software.

    I then booted my iMac G5 into Target mode (by holding “T” on the keyboard during booting). A firewire symbol appeared on the screen. I then plugged a firewire cable from my iMac G5 to my MacBook (which was the machine that was ‘bricked’). I then turned on the MacBook, and simultaneously held ‘Option’ until a choice of booting off the iMac’s Harddrive came on my screen. I then chose to boot my MacBook off of the iMac G5’s harddrive.

    My MacBook then booted off of my iMac’s drive, and I saw my iMac’s desktop on my MacBook. I then used Disk Utility, and was finally able to actually repair the partitions, and create a new one.

    The fundamental problem until that point was that before I installed MacFuse and NTFS-3G, I was unable to repair my MacBook’s drive, because the drive was now “seen” as being in NTFS format (which OS X natively cannot write to). What MacFuse/NTFS-3G allowed my MacBook to do (when booted “through” my iMac), was to be able to write to my previously unwriteable MacBook drive, and correct the damage.

    So, I ended up making a new partition on my HD, which then allowed me to boot my MacBook (with the OS X installation disk inside), and finally be able to select a partition to install onto.

    I hope this helps someone – I usually don’t post, but the messages I read helped me out, and I hope that I’m also able to help someone else out.

    Best Regards,


  32. Avatar
    Samir about 1 year later:

    Look what I did.
    First val I got really worried about my problem searched on the net and found 2 solutions, you guys and another one..
    I booted my mbp trough target mode on my friend’s mb, downloaded with torrent client PARAGON and installed and so the mb could read and write ntfs drives, after that formatted my mbp’s hard drive, shut both computers down and restart mine with leopard dvd, in the installation, leopard didn’t let me install on my hard drive them I went on disk utility and formatted again but now with security writing zeros.. them Leopard let me install correctly.
    Thank you all!


    from Brazil

  33. Avatar
    Jason Ridout about 1 year later:

    WOW I’m stunned, would appear to be a Hard Drive related crash, I’ve always removed the HD when I’ve seen this white screen and it worked first time many thanks!


  34. Avatar
    Dan about 1 year later:

    hi all – i have this same issue, tried to install windows pre-sp2, realised the partition was thw rong size, backed out, and now all i get is the funky white/gray screen of death. not cool. i have a mac book pro running 10.4 (the same as my imac) however i can’t boot into target disc mode on the bad imac. i get to step 5 of Tim’s post, but when i hold down the option key, it only brings up a mouse icon, it doesn’t show the macbook firewire drive, it doesn’t show anything other than the mouse cursor.

    any ideas?

    i’ve reset the PRAM, reset the SMU, tried holding down “c”, “t”, “x”, “shift”, “d”, “option” and just about anything else you can think of. resetting the PRAM seems to work, but the key to boot from the cd-rom doesn’t, its very strange..

  35. Avatar
    Daniel about 1 year later:

    hi all – sorry to revive an old thread from the dead, but i’m kind of at a loss.. I have tried to follow Bob’s post to no avail. i get stuck at the point where i need to boot the non-working imac into target disc mode. holding down t doesn’t work, holding down option on boot only brings up a mouse cursor with no drives shown. i’m using a MB pro as my good computer, connected through firewire to the non-working imac 24". Any ideas would be appreciated..


  36. Avatar
    Tim Connor about 1 year later:


    If all else fails, take it to the Apple Store. If there is info you want off there, try connecting it to another computer (not as the boot drive, obviously). If the partition table got hammered and that doesn’t work, send it to a data recovery place.

    But if you don’t have any mission-critical data on there (you do back everything up, right?), then just take it in, and they claim to “replace the drive” which seems to really mean fix the boot sector and give it back to you. They might actually swap the drive out, though, hence my data retrieval first suggestions.

  37. Avatar
    Sandeep Nair about 1 year later:

    Dear Mr. MCcann

    Thank you so much for your reply, saved me a trip to the genius bar. I had the same issue with my Macbook Pro 15", resolved in target disk mode with Macbook white. Thanks a lot. In addendum, for those who have tried this, and haven’t got through to installing because Mac asks you to partition to GUID, heres the solution:

    In disk utility select your drive (not your partition), and click on the partition tab, and add one partition. In option, select Guid, then erase. Should work like a charm.

    I had this issue, because of BOOTCAMP, wherein I ended up formatting the MAC HD by mistake into NTFS instead of the windows drive.

    Five months of research down the drain. Impossibly difficult to imagine, what would happen to anyone without a backup.

    Thanks and Cheers,

  38. Avatar
    Neil about 1 year later:

    Thanks for posting this. On Sunday I decided to set my clock back and try to install XP SP1 using Bootcamp Beta and ran into this issue. DO NOT DO THIS! The Apple geniuses did not know what to do at the Apple store so they just replaced my hard drive and were going to give me my old one to take to someone for data recovery (stupidly, I hadn’t backed up for several weeks). I found clear instructions on how to solve this at
    and forwarded them to the Apple genius, and he kindly followed them and recovered my drive and data. Thanks again!

  39. Avatar
    Dean about 1 year later:

    hey guys!

    i tried to use windows XP on my macbook but decided to quit the installation because i wasn’t totally sure what to choose on the bootcamp set up? so anyway i quit the windows XP setup and tried to reboot into Leopard again but i just has a black screen and say press any key to continue/reboot in Leopard but i do and nothing happens? can u please help! this is my new laptop which i need for my new boarding school! i’m really in alot of shit right now :S not feeling to great after this, however i found this after i installed or attempted to instal windows :O

  40. Avatar
    Bruno Accioly about 1 year later:

    There is an entry on the MacOS X support website about it:

    Was enough to revive my MacBook.

  41. Avatar
    Drew Logan about 1 year later:

    Don’t use Media Center XP, the same thing happens!!

  42. Avatar
    MickKizzy over 2 years later:


    SORTED :)


  43. Avatar
    Daniel over 2 years later:

    Sorry for rising this thread from the undead. I’m Daniel (another one ;)) from Germany and my girlfriend’s father’s macbook has the same Problem. The ideas in the comments are really nice, but unfortunately the macbook won’t find the macs in target-mode, it’s attached to.

    It stays with the white screen. Unfortunately it’s out of warranty too and I already cleaned the whole harddrive (which should be nearly the same as what’s told before, isn’t it?). So I guess, the harddisk is broken!?