Released June 2009 / 2.53 GHz Core 2 Duo Processor

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MBP mid-2009 boots to Gray Screen, keyboard commands unresponsive

I have a mid-2009 15" MBP that will not progress past the gray screen at startup. When I press the power button I hear a normal chime, then nothing. No apple, no progress bar. The hard drive is an SSD I installed a couple years ago, so there's no spinning to listen for.

I have tried every keyboard combination I could find on the internet, but still nothing (recovery, single user, safe, etc).

I was able to reset the PRAM (got a double boot/chime) and the SMC controller. No effect.

I plugged in a bootable USB drive, dug up old install disks, and tried an external keyboard as well. Nothing! On startup the CapsLock button lights momentarily on the external keyboard then goes out. Pressing it afterward does nothing.

I can hear the CD/DVD spinning but it won't mount or eject.

I do have a genius bar appointment later this week, but is there anything else I can try before I take it in? I'm assuming it's some kind of hardware issue, but I don't know where to start.

Thanks for any advice!!

Answered! View the answer I have this problem too

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I agree with Justin on what you are going to get from Apple - Nada! It's now considered a legacy machine and Apple will try to sell you something new.

If you have a means to attempt a boot from an external device, that's the way to start. You need to be able to confirm that it's not your internal hard drive or cable or system corruption. If you have another mac with a Firewire 800 port, hook the two up via an ethernet cable, boot the working machine then boot the suspect machine holding down the T key to get into Target mode. If this works the hard drive icon will appear on your desktop and you can then run Disk Utilities.

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I have a 2015 MacBook Pro (along with a number of even older devices), which has 2 Thunderbolt ports... So I guess I will start with the Thunderbolt to ethernet adapter, then run ethernet between the two. Thanks for that. I can't keep all these ports straight anymore.

As for the Apple store, yeah, my expectations are very low but I need to head over near it anyway. Hopefully I'll have this sorted out before then.


I tried using the method above and got not results. I used a Thunderbolt to Ethernet adapter, then Ethernet cable to old MBP. No luck!


Try an external USB disk.


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Are you able to plug it into an external monitor? If we follow the boot process it sounds like a graphics card issue, but plugging it into an external display will give you a definitive answer on whether it is the GPU or just an LCD issue. The Apple store will unfortunately tell you to buy a new computer, because they only support models that are 5 years old and earlier. I would suggest a local reputable repair shop.

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Thanks for the suggestion! I will dig up a mini display port to HDMI adapter and give it a try. So if it is the GPU, I should see the same results on another monitor, and I'm kinda out of luck, right? Would the graphics card prevent the DVD from being ejected, and the backlighting to fail on the keyboard?


I connected the computer to a TV using mini display/HDMI. I got nothing. No signal to the TV screen. This same connection works to my old Mini/media server. Any other ideas?


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Erin will be eternally grateful.
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