[SOLVED] Startup chime, no boot, white screen of death


My Air (rEFIt installed) was working flawless. Battery and charger in perfect shape. Just one year of light use.

Right after a normal reboot, suddenly it stopped working: I get the startup chime, a bright white screen (without apple logo nor pointer), and nothing else. If, then, I don't shut it off, the fan starts working after some minutes. If I close down the lid, the screen remains lit.

I've tried all the usual fixes and combinations:

-plug the "system install" pendrive

-reset the SMC

-reset the PRAM

-hold down Option key

-hold down C key (for rEFIt)

-battery powered, magsafe powered...

Nothing works! I just get the chime and the permanent white screen.

I don't have any kind of adapters, so I can't check anything involving cable connections.

Is there something else I can try. Am I facing a broken logic board? Can it get broken "just like that"?


Well, folks: I finally found out what went wrong, and I'll try to explain it as good as my ignorance of Apple hardware, OS-X software and firmware, and computers in general, allows me.

But first things first: I have good news for you: if you ever get the white screen of death, don't panic! And, unless still under guarantee, don't take your computer to an Apple centre for them to steal you yet more money by making you pay for a new logic board and/or a new hard drive. Probably you can solve the problem by yourself, spending only a few -very well invested- dollars in a pentalobed or a phillips #00 screwdriver, plus maybe a Torx T5 one.

Pleae correct me if I'm wrong, but, as far as I've guessed and investigated, it works like this: your Macbook Air's firmware (probably also any other Macbook, but I can't be sure about that) is always instructed to try to, in the first place, boot off certain piece of hardware: be it the hard disk, an external DVD unit, the install USB stick, the network, or whatever. This option can be set in the OS's Startup Manager. When the actual boot setting is any other than the hard drive, then, at boot time, the firmware will look for the instructed medium to boot off, and if for whatever reason it doesn't find it, then it will try to boot off the hard drive as a "last resource". BUT when the actual boot setting is "hard drive" and, for whatever reason, the data is corrupted or something is wrong with the boot sector, then the computer will NOT try to find any alternative device, or a network, where to boot off: it will keep forever trying to boot off the hard drive, and thus you get the dreaded white screen of death. The Apple engineers are so smart!!

But it's actually not dead: neither your motherboard nor your drive are dead. They're just in deep coma.

How can you wake it up from this coma? Simple: remove the back cover and disconnect the hard drive. Believe me: with the right screwdriver, it's very easy to do and even you can do it. Then, and only then, if there is NO hard drive where to try to boot off, the firmware is programmed to look for some other medium: USB stick, external DVD, network... So, plug this medium in and... voilá! There you get your little spinning animated icon and, eventually, the Apple's apple; the startup thisk will boot and there you are anew to life.

Now, once you've managed to boot, the FIRST thing you have to do is go to the Startup Manager and set the firmware to boot off your whatever startup medium is (otherwise, upon reboot you'll be in the same S*ITuation). After this, you can plug back in your hard drive and reboot your computer. Hopefully it will boot off as instructed (the USB/DVD/Network), it will recognize your hard disk, and you can use the Disk Utility to repair it, reformat it, or whatever you want to do with it. After this, everything will go back to normal, and you've saved the Apple care center's $500 bill.

Hope this will help someone to avoid the three weeks anguish I've gone through... I'm sorry to say that it is A SHAME on Apple's part to sell such cr*p and not respond for it, nor inform about it in their support webpage, but joyfully get your money when you take your laptop to repair.

Welcome any correction or precision to this post.

Edited by: zogoibi ( ) , osvaldo, rj713, and mayer ( )

[UPDATE] Another fixed failed: I've just removed the back cover and unplugged the battery for trying to "reset" any possible thing in the logic board. Upon plugging the battery again and the mains, problem persists. According to an independent repair service website, one of the symptoms of a broken logic board is "white screen and no boot". So, I suppose this is the end of this question. My logic board is broken. Who said Apple hardware is such good quality? :(


so what happened to you Macbook now. Did u sent for repair. What the caused ?


I don't know enough english to show my respect and thankfulness to you sire.


Thanks for posting this. Your response helped me fix my non-responsive mac-mini. Symptoms: On boot only show white screen, boot from disc not possible. Solution: Replaced hard drive with known-good, booted right up. You saved me hundreds of dollars for sure (bad drive still under warranty). Thanks again. -Dan

Daniel Smallwood,

It appears to me that you don't take praise well. Your 'system failure' possibility was certainly intriguing. It's hard to get it wrong when you paint with such a broad brush eh? But still, I thank you for showing me that certain drive problems prevent even booting from a boot dvd. Again thanks.

Daniel Smallwood,

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Accepted Answer


I would suspect a hard drive or system failure. Try stating up from your system installation disk and running Disk Utilities on your hard drive.

Thank you, Mayer. Reply a lot appreciated. But, in this model, the "system installation disk" is just a USB pendrive. And, as I say, I've already tried to boot from that, to no avail. (By the way: that pendrive works, because I've used it several times.) Some other hint?


Try starting up holding down the "option key" and getting to the restore section. That failing you can try Target Mode. Apple didn't make these easy for the amateur to fix in my opinion.


Thanks again; but, as I also say in my post, I've already tried the "press option key" boot. How can I try Target Mode? I don't know anything about FireWire, and, unless it's some wireless thing, I don't have any adapter.


Hmm... Unfortunately, I lack all of the necessary elements. :( Anyhow, I'm very much afraid this is a logic board problem...


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Austin Lanier



AWESOME!! I was about to give up and call this a dead laptop. After removing the hard-drive and then holding down the track pad right click/left click upon booting, the disk ejected. Then I simply installed a new hard-drive re-inserted the mac osx installation disk, pressed the "option" button repeatedly on startup, then I was able to boot to the dvd installation disk and install against the new hard drive. Thanks for the time in writing this article, I'm sure it has helped many. Cheers!!






Good morning,

Someone I know had a similar issue with a MacBook Air. The individual had done an update to the OS and once the Air went through the start up and arrived at the log-in screen fine. The issue started once the individual input their log in password. The log in screen would change into a white screen indicating the individual was about to enter their account but came to the sad conclusion they would stay on this white screen of death indefinitely.

The individual asked for my help knowing I have been an Apple user for some time. So with the help of the internet and my experience I went through the usual steps everyone on the net would guide anyone. I started by doing a "Disk Verify"and then a "Disk Repair"just to make sure everything was good; even tough I have been told since MacBook Airs use flash there is no need. The following step was to reset the PRAM. After that I went on and restarted the MacBook Air and ran into the same problem once more. The boot logo comes on and then I got the log in screen. Once I entered the individuals credentials I inevitably got the "white screen of death". My last try would be to go into a "Safe Mode" by restarting the MacBook Air while holding down the "Shift key". Wala, I was able to access the individual's account so they can save any information needed before I try an erase and install. Hopefully once they have extracted whatever information they need the erase and install will fix the issue.

I hope my experience with the "white screen of Death"helps anyone still trying to save there personal information which they thought might be lost.

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