Well, my computer won't startup. Gray screen on regular startups, black screen with no cursor on safe mode startup.

It started after a everything froze while performing a massive file search in finder. I was looking through all pictures before Jan. 1st last year -- gigs and gigs and gigs of data -- and I was in the Cover Flow view. I noticed everything was slowing down, and while I was browsing, I tried opening a couple files, both in preview and in Photoshop. Both programs hung and eventually crashed.

Eventually, finder itself froze completely. I hard reset. Now, nothing boots.

I've tried moving the preferences files from Library/Preferences (finder, dock, systempreferences), no go. I tried moving the /Library/Preferences/com.apple.loginwindow.plist file and /Library/Preferences/com.apple.windowserver.plist file. No go.

I deleted all the caches from /Library, /System/Library, and /Users/myusername/Library/Caches.

Checked my hard drive with fsck and everything is fine. Also tried /usr/libexec/repair_packages --repair --standard-pkgs. Nada.

My last line in my boot log is UserEventAgent[11]: Captive: CNPluginHandler en1: Inactive.

If I boot to safe mode, the progress bar loads, it hangs on the gray screen for a while, it flashes blue for a split second and then hangs on the black screen.

Regular boot just hangs on the gray screen.

Any ideas?

  • 1
    Tried reinstalling OS X?
    – user24601
    Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 0:27
  • Where those network data ? How far do you get in verbose mode ? do you have USB start up drive?
    – Ruskes
    Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 0:48
  • @user24601 Trying to not have to reinstall... Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 17:04
  • @Buscar웃 Not a network file search. Verbose responds the same way as safe mode -- makes it to an all black screen. I can get a USB startup drive... Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 17:06
  • It sounds like there is no way arround then using os x rebuild, either by cmd-r or by external USB drive with os x. But mybe we can see something in your bootlog file if you publish it. And you can try the PRAM, SMC reset as well.
    – Ruskes
    Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 17:53

1 Answer 1


It boots! I finally found a thread of others with identical symptoms: Gray screen on normal boot, blue screen with lines even when booting to recovery, crazy fan spinning.

It was my GPU.

Standard problem for this model of macbook, and Apple willfully ignores it.

Instructions on how to fix it can be found in this thread.

I'm reposting them here for the sake of making this information as widely available as possible.

Disable your AMD graphics card by doing the following (it'll force you to use your intel graphics card instead -- not powerful, but functional).

/sbin/fsck -fy /
/sbin/mount -uw /
mkdir /Disabled_System_Library_Extensions
cd /Disabled_System_Library_Extensions
mv /System/Library/Extensions/ATI* .
mv /System/Library/Extensions/AMD* .
touch /System/Library/Extensions

Reboot and your computer will startup as normal.

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