My iMac went dead, and was trying to recover data from it by connecting Thunderbolt. The dead iMac's hard drive did not appear on the other Mac.
As a next step, I was trying to reboot to use Disk Utility for Target Disk mode, when my iMac showed this blinking icon with file and question mark.

What does this mean and what am I supposed to do?

enter image description here

marked as duplicate by Allan, IconDaemon, Ɱark Ƭ, user151019, fsb Nov 10 '16 at 14:07

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  • If you are not seeing your drive in Target Disk mode and You can't see it when booting from Internet recovery, then most likely your drive has died. It's time to replace it. – Allan Nov 10 '16 at 10:51

The folder with the question mark means your iMac can't find a bootable operating system. You can try the following:

  1. Press and hold the power button for a few seconds to power down your iMac
  2. Press the power button once to turn your Mac back on and immediately press and hold the R keys on your keyboard to try starting your iMac from Recovery. Keep them pressed down until you see an Apple logo or globe.
  3. If prompted, select a Wi-Fi network to connect to the Internet as part of startup.
  4. After the Utilities window appears, choose Startup Disk from the Apple menu.
  5. Select your startup disk
  6. Click Restart.

Hope this helps. Let me know how you go.

NOTE If you don't see your startup disk in the Startup Disk window at Step 5 above, try the following steps:

  1. From the Utilities window, open Disk Utility
  2. Select your startup disk from the left-hand side of the window
  3. Click on the First Aid tab.
  4. Click on the Repair Disk button
  5. When it's finished quit Disk Utility.
  6. Choose Startup Disk from the Apple menu.
  7. Select your startup disk
  8. Click Restart.

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