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A friend of mine has forgot her password to a newly bought Macbook Pro, Lion.

  1. I've reset the password like described here by booting to single-user mode and deleting /var/db/.AppleSetupDone

  2. The Mac booted fine and started asking for all the registration details. After everything was entered, it goes back to the beginning, asking to fill the address etc. AGAIN AND AGAIN, endlessly.

  3. After entering it several times I turned it off (by holding down the power key) and now it does not boot at all. Grey screen and endless spinning wheel.

It still boots to single-user mode, and I tried the fsck command, but it says "the volume macintosh hd could not be repaired".

I also tried resetting the NVRAM / PRAM - does not help.

PS. I'm mostly a PC guy, and I know very little about Macs, so please be very precise on what I should do :)

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4 Answers 4

If you have a time machine backup of your data, press and hold cmd (or ⌘ / ) + R and choose 'Restore from Time Machine backup'.

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Newly purchased Macs come with 90 days of complimentary AppleCare phone and web support (as well as walk in service at all Apple retail stores).

You will want to follow the internet recovery steps to erase the drive and reinstall the operating system once you have ascertained that no data (pictures, documents, etc...) exist only on that Mac.

Here is the script you will be following in a nut shell:

  1. power off the mac
  2. boot with Command and R held down
  3. select Disk Utility to repair or erase and re-format the drive (GUID partition scheme and Mac OS Extended (journaled) format for the volume.
  4. download and install Lion from the internet recovery
  5. attempt again to set up the mac

Do consider that a hardware failure could cause things to not work as intended - a call to Apple is the fastest way to get that sorted for someone that isn't used to isolating issues on hardware.

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A few troubleshooting steps for you:

Firstly, try resetting SMC (I notice you've already reset PRAM), you'll find instructions here

Next, try booting into safe mode. To do this, hold the shift key immediately after you here the startup chime (not before), keep holding until you see a progress bar appear. You'll have to wait a while for it to load now as safe mode takes quite a bit longer to boot.

If you get in on safe mode then I'd advise copying any essential information to an external harddrive in case you aren't able to boot in again. Next you should open the disk utility (applications/utilities/disk utility) and perform some harddrive first aid. Verify disk permissions, repair disk permissions and verify disk.

Once you've finished in safe mode, log out and log back into single user mode and try to fsck the drive again.

If you still have no luck, or you were unable to boot into safe mode in the first place, you only really have two options. As bmike said in his answer you can erase the hd and reinstall using net recovery (you can use the disk utility tool to erase the harddrive at the first install screen) or you can take it in to an apple store to be repaired, as it should still be under warranty and could be a hardware failure.

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I also had and solved my MacBook Pro Lion's problem manifested by the endless spinning wheel under the apple during boot. I'll describe all the things I've tried below, but what what I ended up having to do is to buy a new internal hard drive and fresh install Mac on it.

What you can try (might fix the problem if your HDD is not broken):

  • Verbose safe boot by powering on while pressing [Shift]-[Command]-[V]
  • NVRAM/PRAM reset by powering on while pressing [Command]-[Option]-[P]-[R]
  • Repair disk by powering on while pressing [Command]+[R] --> Disk Utility --> HDD selection --> Repair Disk, note this repair would not affect your data
  • Apple Hardware Test
  • Independent HDD Check by taking out the HDD, putting it into a SATA to USB adapter, and plugging it into another Mac. It could not be found on the other Mac.

Since none of these solved the problem for me, I went to the Apple store for the "Genius Bar". An Apple rep ran a Mac Resource Inspector (a specs checker available only at Apple stores) and pinpointed my problem to my hard drive. My Toshiba HDD's SMART Status was Failing, which according to the Apple rep I can only replace it and do data recovery on the broken HDD.

Everything is pointing to the speculation that my laptop tries to detect the HDD without success, so it couldn't load anything, thus the endless spinning disk.

To fix my Mac, I bought a new 2.5" laptop internal hard drive no more than 9.5mm in height. I got a more reliable brand, since my Toshiba HDD didn't even last 2 years. I followed instructions on iFixit to replace the hard drive. Note a T6 Torx screwdriver is needed, which Apple stores do not loan out nor sell at the time of this posting.

I made a bootable USB stick with createinstallmedia after downloading the Maverick installer on another Mac. The computer complained the boot app can't be verified, which I solved by changing the system date on the terminal (Google "Changing system date from Terminal – OS X recovery"). It then installed successfully and I finally got my Mac back!

I have yet to do data recovery.

Good luck.

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