MacBook Air Repair

Repair guides for the MacBook Air, Apple's current line of consumer laptops.

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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.

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[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? :(

by zogoibi

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

by lawman889

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

by PureData

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

by 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.

by Daniel Smallwood

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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.

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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?

by zogoibi

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.

by mayer

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.

by zogoibi

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

by zogoibi

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Hi Guys !

I had the same problem this week, moreless.

I have a macbook pro 13 inches mid 2012, not under guarantee.

The very same problem occured : withe screen after startup chime then nothing. The screen eventually turned black with white text "a disk error occured press ctrl+alt+del to restart" which is a windows 7 error message from my bootcamp.

Not a single one of the usual fixes and combinations listed above worked.

This means that the macbook can't boot neither on OSX nor Windows bootcamp.

I suspected a disk failure which is strange because it is a SSD, which is usually more reliable than a normal hard drive.. So I opened my macbook, took the drive apart an put it in an external enclosure to boot in USB. It worked like a charm ! (wtf ?)

So I ran the utility disk to repair any eventual disk problem then remount the SSD inside. This time the MBP could boot but only on recovery mode (screen with question mark folder, then a world globe asking for a wifi to run the recovery mode), the utility disk couldn't find the SSD to boot on normally or to restore a new partition...

I took it apart once again, plugged it in USB then restored fully the SSD from Time Capsule to have a brand new partition. It didn't booted either when mounted inside. The SSD was not recognized inside the computeur while outside it was...

This was %#*@ strange.

My final test was to see if it was the computer or the disk's fault. So I put a other old hard drive in my MBP and I restored from Time Capsule, and it finally worked ! (The windows 7 error message was right obviously =) )

So the problem came from my SSD, which is from Crucial and by chance it is still under guarantee so I can ask for a new one.

I am so happy this is not a problem of the motherboard ! The only issue I have while I wait for my new SSD is to run with an old HD which is sooooo &&^&^$^ slooooow ! ^^


Mise à jour (27/10/2015)


I finally replaced my SSD with a brand new one, the utility disk saw it but yet something went wrong when I tried to format it or to restore from Time Capsule. I was so desperate...

But then, as a last stand, I decided to buy a new SATA cable on iFixit because it was my last thing to do.

Turns out to be the right thing to do ! =)

In fact, my old SATA cable was just a little bit scratched (less than 1/2 mm) underneath and for some reason it was a problem when connecting a SSD but not a big deal for a classic Hard Drive. Note that SSD seems to be more affected by SATA failures.

I replaced the SATA myself thanks to some tuorials on Youtube. It's quite easy provided you have the right tools : Mini screw drivers, spudger and electric duct tape.

The last one is a good way to prevent any future scratches on your brand new SATA cable by adding a protective layer on the cable to reduce the friction between the cable and other abrassive parts such as the unibody. Make sure also to clean properly the dust from the drive compartiment that may scratch the cable in the future.

After mounting the new cable and the new ssd, the TC restauration went just fine and my Macbook is ready to go, faster than ever !

Hope this will helps.


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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!!

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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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Done the above, unplugged and removed HD which worked once then stupidly I didn't set time machine etc up before it went again and now it won't work again. Nothing backed up either :/

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I actually found this fix very simple. I removed HDD, ram. powered on - no boot, reinstalled ram and HDD, booted safe mode. restart normal, repair disk. Done

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Thanks a lot!!

I "accidentally" executed a "sudo chmod 700 /" on my mac mini... your post saved me.

I detached the hard drive, which is very easy as you can see from this video ( until minute 3:26). Powered on with Mavericks USB bootable inserted, managed to open the terminal and I set my USB as boot device with the following command (from

bless -mount /Volumes/MyBootVolume -setBoot

Then I powered off, reattached the hard drive, powered on with Option key down and voilà!

Startup Manager showed up!

Thanks again!

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I LOVE MY MACBOOK. I'ts an 2007 Model, and it still works great! I just had to say it. I've owned many pc laptops, from Alienware, Dell, Sony Vaio (spelling) and more. This unibody macbook has been dropped, banged, and it's still running strong. Did it cost more? Yes, but not in the long run. Thank you Apple, this one was made when Steve Jobs was still alive, I hope that the next generation will be at least as strong.

Btw I've had the white screen of death, also the non-ending start up icon. Somehow, it fixed itself. Perhaps it's the sequence of bottoms I used, but don't panic people. Always backup your important files, then when these things happen. Try some suggestions, and then let it sit for a day. Come back to it and it might start up like mine did….several times.


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Recently my MacBook Pro failed to boot after fall a death white screen...

Because that I can`t reset PRAM, impossible Repair start Up the system.

After while had a diagnosed, one those memory RAM had failed, and was replaced...

Problem solved! But was hard to find out that!

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It might be display driver and if someone is good enough, they can change it. The controller costs less than $10 but need skill and knowledge.

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So %#*@ grateful... I got mi Mac mini stuck in that state for 6 months and now is back, it's an awesome machine to just let it rust because of that sick white screen.... Thanks a lot now I finally got her back to run like a champ.... Thanks for the help I will share this answer for anyone with the same problem...

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If you were using El Capitan, you probably have to insert the following command in the terminal:

csrutil disable

And on a Macbook Air it was a bit complicated to choose an external startup disk and make it stick (otherwise you get back to the same situation).

  1. Hold option key while booting
  2. Select the correct startup disk
  3. Hold control key while tapping Enter to make it stick (the icon above the disk should become a circle)

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zogoibi will be eternally grateful.

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