So my buddy's macbook one day just booted up with a folder with a question mark in it. Its an old laptop from work, which he doesn't work at anymore. I've been trying to help him out, but I've exhausted my knowledge. We tried to hold down the option key, but it wants the firmware password, which we can't get. I've seen an article on how to decrypt it, but we can't get it to boot, so we can't use terminal, and single user mode wasn't working either. Is there any way we can grab the password or get it to boot in single user mode some other way than holding Command + S?


  • It depends how surgical you want to go. The password is saved in the EFI partition on the Hard drive. Using a external os x boot you could just trash the old EFI and reformat the disk. Now install new OS X from that USB. – Ruskes Feb 4 '15 at 23:50

Note: This RAM change trick no longer works on 2010 or newer Macs. I haven't done this in many years, but it did help back when I needed it.

If your laptop is old enough, and you can easily get to the RAM, (depending the model):

Shut down the Mac

Disconnect the power.

Open the MacBook and change the RAM configuration. Add or remove RAM so the amount is changed. Since the HD is dead, you won't need to have minimum RAM to boot OS X.

Close up the MacBook.

Start up and reset the PRAM by holding down Command+Option+P+R. Hold these keys down continuously until you hear the MacBook chime 3 times. Release the keys.

When you see the question mark/folder, power it down by holding down the power button.

Open the MacBook and reinstall the RAM, as well as a brand new HD.

Close it up.

Restore the OS with the installer of your choice.

  • Unfortunately its a 2011 macbook :( – BlueSpud Feb 4 '15 at 22:59

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .