13" aluminum unibody, 2.0 or 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo processor.

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Will not boot, just stays on blue screen

My in-laws were over for the holidays, and were complaining about their Macbook running slow. It is old (late 2008 13" unibody model), but I know they can't afford to buy a new one, so I checked how much RAM it has, and thought, may as well try to upgrade the RAM from 2GB to 4GB, for $40. I showed them how easy it is (I've built computers for years) to swap out the RAM, as they thought it would be a big undertaking. I took it out, put it back in, and left it.

This morning they went to turn it on (before I got the new RAM), and it just sits on the Mac version of the BSOD. It just sits on at the blue screen after the Mac startup chime happens. I said that I'll go get the new RAM, put it in, and try it first, and see if that'll fix it (big hope), obviously it didn't. They said they never turn off the mac/restart it, they just close the lid, so I don't know if this would have happened without me opening the RAM slots at all.

Things I've tried:

- Start in safe mode (doesn't attempt to, just sits at the BSOD)

- Start in single user mode (doesn't attempt to, just sits at the BSOD)

- Start in target disk mode (doesn't attempt to, just sits at the BSOD)

- Hook it up to an external monitor (just sits at the BSOD)

- I've reset the PRAM

- I've reset the SMC

It's running Leopard (10.5.5). I loaded it onto a USB (they don't have the original disk), and tried to start holding "C", to have it boot off of the USB stick, but it didn't do anything, just went to the BSOD.

Any ideas?

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1 Answer

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If you have access to a second Mac you could try connecting it in Target Mode using a FireWire cable between the systems (if you have Thunderbolt on your system you'll need an adapter). Review this: How to Boot Your Mac in Target Disk Mode for Easy File Transfers.

In this case we want to be able to run from your system Disk Utility so you can see if you can repair the drive & the permissions. If you can then you may only need to reinstall the OS. But I must warn you the drive maybe on its last legs so do make a good backup of their stuff before you go to deep.

If you have opened the system up to upgrade the RAM how dusty was it? You may need to do a good cleaning given the systems age.

Let us know what you discover.

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Hey Dan,

Unfortunately when I try to boot into TDM, it doesn't attempt it, and just goes to the blue screen. None of the startup shortcuts work except for resetting the PRAM.


Thats not good ;-{ Take the RAM out, clean the contacts with a soft pink pencil eraser lightly scrub the contacts (with the grain) wipe the down with some high quality isopropyl alcohol then put only one module back in are you able to get to TDM then. If not swap out the module with the other (same slot). Then try the other slot one module at a time. Make sure the modules are properly seated and the clip is engaged.


Hey Dan, the cable that connects the display was loose in the end. Thanks for trying to help though!


Well! That was easy :-) Make sure the clip engages across the connector which holds the cable in. You are very lucky!


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