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MacBook Pro dropped won't start

Posted on 2010-01-10
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MacBook Pro (2nd gen, pre uni-body) was knocked off a desk by kids. The story is the battery ran down first, MBP knocked off with screen open.

The LCD is fried and shows streaks and blotched even when off.

I hooked to a monitor to try and see if the system will book and display that way. I get the "bong" the external monitor eventually shows only a blue screen. It doesn't come on with the gray apple screen. Just blue.

I've reseated the RAM and opened the case to see if there was a visible sign of damage. Visual inspection is non-conclusive.

Any advice on a further step to try and get a visual on the external monitor?
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Question by:squidzink
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34 Comments
 
LVL 53

Expert Comment

by:strung
ID: 26279023
Here are Apple's instructions on dealing with a blue screen on startup:

http://support.apple.com/kb/TS1411#symp1
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LVL 53

Expert Comment

by:strung
ID: 26279029
You could also try booting from the system CD while holding down the C key.
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LVL 11

Expert Comment

by:gmbaxter
ID: 26279441
The first thing I would do is connect this macbook pro to another via firewire, and hold t on the mbp whilst you start it up. This should enable target mode and the system drives should mount on the other mac's deskop - recover what data you can whilst you are still able to turn it on!
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Author Comment

by:squidzink
ID: 26280077
The blue screen link was to 10.3.9 or earlier. But I'll search down for Snow Leopard. I'm sure there is a similar tech note.

I've tried booting from CD while connected to an external monitor. Remains blue screen and CD will not eject. Based on the pattern of LCD damage on the screen, it looks like the point of impact was the corner where the DVI connection is that I've been using to plug into the external monitor. It may be that it's damages as well.

I'll try the Firewire connection at my office Monday. It will at least determine whether the hard drive is actually working. Since the broken MBP is the "house" system, there isn't a lot of critical data on it. There are some photos and my wife's email. Music and most other family photos and my biz stuff is all backed up or on my work MBP.

In general , when I try to boot up the system, it makes all the "normal" HD noises. If I put my ear to it, it churns like it's processing. There is a somewhat high pitched sound that finally occurs, so I'm not really sure if the HD is fully mounting. The Target Mode test may clarify that.
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Expert Comment

by:caity
ID: 26282614
What happens when you boot verbose? (Do this by holding command + v then power on.)

What happens when you boot single user connected to the external monitor? (Do this by holding command + s then power on.)

If you can figure out where the boot is hanging maybe you can figure out what is broken.




Also doing a normal boot, try switching to the single external monitor quickly at startup (while the grey apple is on the screen) rather than letting it try to display to both devices until login - it might work better.

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Author Comment

by:squidzink
ID: 26283892
I will attempt the other boot methods. I have never used verbose or single user. What should happen if the boot in each method is successful?

When I'm hooked to an external monitor, I never see the gray boot screen. The monitor goes from black to blue and takes a while. I will be testing connected to a different monitor here at my office today.

However I was just able to boot to Target mode can clearly see the HD from my other MBP and was able to open an Application that exists only on the damaged MBP. I was also able to eject the stuck OSX disk and open an application that only exists on the damaged MBP. So, it appears the HD is working.

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LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:caity
ID: 26283959
You should see text, including error messages... it might tell you which part of the hardware it's having trouble with. That's good that your hard drive seems functional. At least you haven't lost data.

It likely isn't the monitor that is the problem.

Try booting verbose on the other functional MBP and see what I mean.
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LVL 53

Expert Comment

by:strung
ID: 26283980
While in target disk mode, run Repair Disk from Disk Utility to to try to repair the MBP harddrive. Let us know the result.
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Expert Comment

by:caity
ID: 26283988
Also, try attaching the external monitor and then pressing the power button and immediately closing the laptop. Hopefully this will cause it to boot only using the external monitor.
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Author Comment

by:squidzink
ID: 26284535
Ok, while connected to an external monitor, I booted in single user mode. The part of the LCD that at least shows changes in light turned black. The external monitor did nothing. I left the system for about 5 minutes and the fans began to speed up.

I typed reboot + return. The system rebooted the regular way. While the LCD is light colored (maybe light gray) the external monitor does nothing. When the LCD color shifts slightly to bluish, the external monitor displays blue screen which flickers about every 12 seconds to a lighter blue.

I rebooted to verbose mode. The LCD turned black, nothing on the external monitor. The system eventually kicks to a normal boot and everything progresses exactly as a regular boot above, EXCEPT the LCD stays black and the external monitor ends on blue screen.

I rebooted again and waited just a bit after the "bong" and press command + S again. Same as previous single user mode boot process.

Rebooted, closed laptop real quick. External monitor shows light gray, but no Apple/gear. Still the same after about 5 minutes.

Then did as "strung" suggested. Target Mode + repair disk. Reported "disk ok." Final note said something like "updated boot partition as required."  Then rebooted again, closing the lid to force to the external monitor. same gray, no Apple.


Does this information help? No improvement in getting to a display state.
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Expert Comment

by:caity
ID: 26284629
Maybe try... not from a reboot but from a powered off state that turn it on and quickly close the lid trick. It's possible a reboot won't accomplish the same thing.

What's your ultimate goal? to recover your data and then send it in to get repaired?

The black screen for verbose mode is correct. What you would see under normal circumstances is a black screen with white text whizzing by.
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Expert Comment

by:caity
ID: 26284653
huh, or maybe try this... does the computer sleep if you wait long enough?

http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/forum-replies-archive.cfm/936943.html
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LVL 53

Expert Comment

by:strung
ID: 26284655
This may sound like a bizarre suggestion, but start up the damaged Mac in target disk mode while connected by firewire to your other computer, but connect the external monitor to the working Mac. Then reboot the working Mac while holding down the command and option keys. See if this results in the boot picker showing the hard drive on the damaged Mac as being bootable.

If it is, try booting from the hard drive of the damaged Mac and see if you get something on both your internal and external monitors. If only the internal monitor seems to work, play with the settings for the Displays preferences pane and see if you can get the external working. (Remember, you will be changing preferences on the hard drive in the damaged Mac when you are doing so.) Then shut down, reconnect the external monitor to the damaged Mac and try booting again.
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Author Comment

by:squidzink
ID: 26284991
Caity, this MBP is my family's primary systemwife's email, iTunes, photos/video, movies, games. No work related data. My ultimate goal is to determine if this system will run again. If so, I will consider repairing the LCD. If that proves too costly, I'd decommission the old slow Dual 800 G4 that acts as the family's storage facility, and use the MBP as our new faster home "hub" computer attached to a display. I'd still have to get my wife a replacement she can move around the house, but it could be a less expensive MacBook. This MBP was shifted home after purchasing a new unibody MBP for work. It packs more power than my wife needs and the kids mostly play online games on it.

I think it did go to sleep yesterday...I'm not sure. After trying Strung's last suggesting, I'll leave it on to see if there is not advance.
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Expert Comment

by:caity
ID: 26285463
I think strung's idea is a great one and I hope it works.

If you can get it booted and it comes to replacing the LCD I want to tell you this one story -

A friend of mine replaced the LCD in his wife's MBP after it met with a mishap. (Ha.) and I will warn you that for some reason, while I was installing snow leopard the backlight didn't work at all. The screen was very dark but you could tell that something was on it. Once the install was completed and it was booted into snow leopard it worked perfectly. The way I got around it with him, to help during installation was to point a bright light at the screen. This way you could see what was going on.
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Author Comment

by:squidzink
ID: 26286200
Ok tried the Target reboot from my good MBP. Both my good MBP internal screen and the external screen reach the blue screen. The good MBP (gMBP) shows a tad more info in that I can see the gear spinner, the blue flick to the lighter color and then it just repeats. So, it appears the bad MBP (bMBP) is getting only to that point right before the OS actually starts.

First two photos: 1) you can see the blue external, bMBP, gMBP in this state. 2) the bMBP screen, the pink highlight is the only area where changes are visiable, they are gray, faint blue or black. No graphics or text are ever seen.

Third photo: 1) screen after booting Target in verbose mode... my phone doesn't take the best photos, took a few to even get this one. Not sure if it's readable.

Once the system tries to fully boot, the  gMBP will flash from blue to black with a cursor block in the upper left. The external screen remains blue.

visualOne.jpg
visualTwo.jpg
0111101255a.jpg
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LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:caity
ID: 26286291
It's funny because I can't see anything horribly wrong from your verbose output in the third picture there...

Have you tried connecting an external keyboard as well as the external display, powering it on and then closing it immediately and waiting for it to sleep? And then waking it with the external keyboard?
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Expert Comment

by:strung
ID: 26286334
I can't make anything from the verbose mode screen, although I can read it. Perhaps someone else can. Is it possible that the system on your old Mac is too old to boot your new Mac? Macs generally won't boot from systems older than the one they shipped with.

I suppose you could insert a Snow Leopard DVD into your new computer and try to do an archive and install of OS X onto the old computer. You should probably recover and  files you want to keep to your new computer first.
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Expert Comment

by:caity
ID: 26286380
Can you run apple hardware test? Do you have the dvds that came with the broken MBP?
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Expert Comment

by:caity
ID: 26286401
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LVL 53

Expert Comment

by:strung
ID: 26286664
Somehow I doubt you can run the hardware test through target disk mode, as the test would be run on the host machine. But, if you can get the broken Mac to boot from the CD, that might get to the bottom of this.
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Author Comment

by:squidzink
ID: 26286891
Haven't tried external keyboard yet. The system didn't sleep after 30 mins or so.

Both MBPs are running Intel Core 2 Duo & Snow Leopard 10.6.2.

I'm currently running Disk Warrior on it to see if that does anything. It showed the HD was functioning properly. So there may be some other failure in the way. I have my Install Disks. The original install was 10.4.8.  It says right on the disk "To use Apple Hardware Test, hold down the D key during start up." I will try that as soon as Disk Warrior is done.

I thought I might check if the RAM was damaged by taking it out and test each individually. Also thought about setting the gMBP as target to see if bMBP will boot from it. Not sure what that would gain really though.

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Author Comment

by:squidzink
ID: 26288003
I put the disk in and held D for the Hardware Test. The LCD's semi-active area appears bluer and seems to change states during the startup. But, it will never appear on the external monitor. Same for holding C and trying to boot from the disk. So, I just can't tell what's going on there. I tried command+option+eject to see if that would put the LCD to sleep so I can trip the external on...no go. I'm not sure the keyboard is working.

I just cannot get a display to help out. Disk Warrior did it's thing and reported all ok. so, some bit of hardware seems to be stopping progress.
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Author Comment

by:squidzink
ID: 26288933
Final report for today:

I booted to Safe Mode by holding the Shift key and got some purple on my LCD and the Snow Leopard desktop background on my external monitor. Toggled displays via F7. So progress! I have to head out so I'm dragging it home.

I don't know if I can do the hardware test in safe mode or not. But this does seem to indicate that something that is disabled in safe mode may be the problem. I'll try it later this eve.
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Expert Comment

by:caity
ID: 26288969
Hooray! That's a good start!
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Author Comment

by:squidzink
ID: 26290263
Well...

I can repeatedly boot to Safe Mode, toggle display and the OS runs. But I don't know of any method to trouble shoot once there.

I cannot boot from the Hardware Test directly. Cannot boot from Hardware Test using my good MBP as target with the disk in.

I booted to the Snow Leopard upgrade dvd and I get the SL desktop on the external, but cannot toggle the display to get interface. I can move the mouse pointer into view on the external monitor.

I'm stuck there.



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LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:caity
ID: 26292585
From where you are, if you can't run hardware test, I'd back up the entire drive to an external one. And then try to totally wipe and reinstall OS on the broken laptop. If you can get it to boot on a clean install (that you do with the external display attached) then replacing the LCD is worth it. And you won't have lost anything because you can just copy it back from the external drive.
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LVL 53

Accepted Solution

by:
strung earned 2000 total points
ID: 26292835
If you can boot in safe mode, go into the System Prefs to the Accounts prefs panel and delete all items in the Startup Tab by selecting each in turn and hitting the minus button (unchecking the items does not disable them -- it only causes them to run in background). Once you have disabled all the startup items, you should be able to boot normally.

If not, boot in safe mode again and create a new Admin account to boot into.
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Author Comment

by:squidzink
ID: 26293227
Thanks y'all. I'll try the Prefs first. If that fails move to the clean install. Have get some real work done today, so will have to wait until this eve to hit it.

Hopefully, if I have to go to clean install, it'll allow me to toggle or force the interface to the external screen.

I'll update this eve. Thank you both for sticking with this.
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Author Comment

by:squidzink
ID: 26300238
Wow! Very interesting that disabling startup items would have any effect after an incident that would seem to be a hardware disaster.

I deleted all login items for the two account, shut down and booted right up!

I'll boot it up tomorrow from the Hardware Test, run some apps and see if everything seems to run correctly.

But it looks like it could be ready to rock...with a new screen...or permanently monitor tethered.

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LVL 2

Expert Comment

by:Feva
ID: 26314247
that is a ridiculously amazing result..

Make sure you get a backup ASAP, before possible recurrences / new issues appear.

Of course after the kids got to the mac you cannot expect it to run as it was originally, if it does, Great!

If it does have ongoing issues, and a Zero-out and reinstall does not help.. then yes you would require Hardware assistance; http://www.apple.com/buy/locator/service/
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Author Closing Comment

by:squidzink
ID: 31675248
Though it seems odd that the login items were preventing boot up after a hardware disaster. I have booted and run the system successfully since, every time.

I've removed the LCD completely from the system and put it back in a dry run. The system continues to boot correctly. I've ordered a new LCD and will install it to hopefully normal operation after that.

If I find that is not the case, I will attempt to update this issue.
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Author Comment

by:squidzink
ID: 26351428
Just a quick follow up folks: new LCD–purchased on ebay for $188 shipping included–is installed. So far, the system is running like a top. Tested apps such as iTunes, iPhoto, Word, Mail and opened a file or two in my old Illustrator CS3.

Since I don't use this MBP much myself, I have not gone back into my user and reactivated login items to see if there are further conflicts. That user includes Suitcase Fusion and a couple of other apps that started on log in. Will test that when time permits.

I truly appreciate the efforts made to assist on this issue.
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Expert Comment

by:strung
ID: 26351555
Suitcase might well be the culprit if it is trying to load a corrupted font.
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