My 2012 MacBook Pro running OS X 10.7 Lion would not start up properly (it has the doomed flashing white question mark on a grey folder). I have tried the following: couldn't access Safe Mode; holding the 'option' key when turning on does not show 'Macintosh HD' only 'internet recovery'; there is no Recovery HD drive present; tried Internet Recovery -> Disk Utility, but my Startup Disk (named "Macintosh HD") doesn't appear in the left column (only SuperDrive appears, and disk0); and PRAM & SMC reset didn't help. I also tried booting a Linux OS from the CD Drive, but it would not boot as there was 'no bootable device, please insert disk and press any key'.

I do not have a backup of this data on Time Machine (my big mistake). My MacBook doesn't seem to recognise the internal hard drive.

Is there a way to transfer the files to another external drive or get my MacBook working again? or is the data doomed to be lost forever?

More information: Disk utility image

diskutil list output:

-bash-3.2# diskutil list
#:                                   TYPE NAME                    SIZE         IDENTIFIER
0:                 Apple_partition_scheme                         *1.4 GB      disk0
1:                    Apple_partition_map                         30.7 KB      disk0s1
2:                     Apple_Driver_ATAPI                          2.0 KB      disk0s2
3:                              Apple_HFS Mac OS X Base System     1.4 GB      disk0s3
#:                                   TYPE NAME                    SIZE         IDENTIFIER
0:                               untitled                       *524.3 KB      disk1
#:                                   TYPE NAME                    SIZE         IDENTIFIER
0:                               untitled                       *524.3 KB      disk2
#:                                   TYPE NAME                    SIZE         IDENTIFIER
0:                               untitled                       *524.3 KB      disk3
#:                                   TYPE NAME                    SIZE         IDENTIFIER
0:                               untitled                       *524.3 KB      disk4
#:                                   TYPE NAME                    SIZE         IDENTIFIER
0:                               untitled                       *524.3 KB      disk5
#:                                   TYPE NAME                    SIZE         IDENTIFIER
0:                               untitled                         *6.3 MB      disk6
#:                                   TYPE NAME                    SIZE         IDENTIFIER
0:                               untitled                         *2.1 MB      disk7
#:                                   TYPE NAME                    SIZE         IDENTIFIER
0:                               untitled                         *1.0 MB      disk8
#:                                   TYPE NAME                    SIZE         IDENTIFIER
0:                               untitled                       *524.3 KB      disk9
#:                                   TYPE NAME                    SIZE         IDENTIFIER
0:                               untitled                       *524.3 KB      disk10
#:                                   TYPE NAME                    SIZE         IDENTIFIER
0:                               untitled                         *1.3 MB      disk11
  • Please add a pic of the Disk Utility window/output of diskutil list entered in Terminal booted to Internet Recovery Mode
    – klanomath
    Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 14:27
  • OK, I have added the 2 pictures of the Disk Utility and Terminal.
    – Charlie
    Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 15:51

4 Answers 4


If you happen to have a thunderbolt cable and a spare mac you can try your luck with target disk mode. Target Disk Mode is a feature that allows a Mac to act as an external hard drive.

  1. Connect the two computers with a FireWire or Thunderbolt cable.
  2. Start up the computer to be used as a disk in target disk mode:

    • If the computer is off, start it up while holding down the T key.
    • If the computer is on, choose Apple menu > System Preferences, click Startup Disk, and then click Target Disk Mode.

    When the computer has started up, a disk icon appears on the desktop of the other computer.

  3. Transfer files by dragging them to and from the disk.

  4. Eject the disk by dragging its icon to the Trash. While you drag, the Trash icon changes to an Eject icon.

  5. On the computer you used as a disk, push the power button to shut it down, and then disconnect the cable.

Instructions thankfully provided by Apple's KB

  • 1
    If the HDD is dead (or something's wrong with the SATA connector) that won't help much though!
    – klanomath
    Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 14:25
  • @klanomath, indeed it wasn't clear from the question if the drive was completely dead.
    – Chrisii
    Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 19:50

Based on your "diskutil list" it looks like your partition map is gone. This will most likely warrant data recovery options. You could try using Data Rescue (http://www.prosofteng.com/datarescue4/ or something like it) and Target Disk mode to scan it yourself - if you have a second Mac.

But if the disk is physically failing (which it appears to be), the more you work on it the the less likely you are to recover your data. I'd recommend you find an Apple Authorized Service Provider (AASP) to assist you.

https://locate.apple.com/ will help you find the nearest service provider.


disk0 - visible in the pic and the output - is the recovery system you booted to in Internet Recovery Mode and it's no real disk in the sense of a HDD or SSD. All other disks (disk2 - disk11) are related to this recovery system.

Essentially your HDD, the SATA-controller or the SATA-cable is dead.

You may open your MacBook Pro with this guide or another one available there if you have a 13" and check the seating of the cable.

Check other answers here at apple.stackexchange.com (e.g. this one) or at superuser.com how to proceed then.


You could try using The Data Rescue Center. They have good services available for data recovery. It's especially nice because they don't need to send your hard drive elsewhere since they have a clean room on the premises.

My mother recently used them to get thousands of pictures back off an old hard drive that crashed. Overall her experience was really great and they got everything safely off of it.

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