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I am working on my macbook pro (2012). I let a colleague borrow it for some work, and they did some weird things with it, but it looked ok when I shut it down yesterday. When I tried to boot it up this morning, it did not load my admin profile for me to log in to, but after about a minute a picture of a file folder with a question mark appeared and was blinking on the screen. After rebooting it several times and then trying safe mode with the same results, I tried to start it in recovery mode with cmd-R (and eventually three other key combinations for recovery mode, but it would only start in internet recovery mode). I can’t use internet recovery right now because my only source of internet is on my phone hotspot, and it won’t even allow me to connect to my phone. Please help.

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    File folder with a question mark means a corrupted file system. However, since you stated that it's continuing to have issues booting up, it's likely that your drive is failing (I'm assuming you're still using the original drive?) See this Q&A for a solution – Allan Feb 24 at 16:48
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Reset your NVram

BTW the recovery partition downloads the OS from online, so you're going to want an Internet connection

From apple: How to reset NVRAM

Shut down your Mac, then turn it on and immediately press and hold these four keys together: Option, Command, P, and R. You can release the keys after about 20 seconds, during which your Mac might appear to restart.

On Mac computers that play a startup sound, you can release the keys after the second startup sound. On Mac computers that have the Apple T2 Security Chip, you can release the keys after the Apple logo appears and disappears for the second time.

Also, the blinking question mark means that the drive needs to blessed, which can be done with this tool.

Unfortunately, this requires you rebooting onto an external macOS drive, or connecting to your computer from another mac with firewire 800 and rebooting into target disk mode.

Frankly, soneone you're working with shouldn't be doing anything that screws with your computer up this much, so when you have a chance make sure SIP is enabled (type into terminal csrutil status). If this is disabled (and you didn't disable it) I'd be concerned.

I hope you have a fairly recent backup in case.

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    The OS will hunt until it can find something to boot from, blessed or not, if its first choice is unavailable; eventually falling back to Internet Recovery. Recovery does not 'download from online' only Internet recovery does that. Blowing the NVRAM rarely fixes anything, it's just an oft-touted 'interwebz fix', same with resetting SMC. – Tetsujin Feb 24 at 17:14
  • I'm sorry, what? – Sam Feb 24 at 17:20
  • From someone who fixes computers on a daily basis, what are you talking about? – Sam Feb 24 at 17:22
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    If you expect @Tetsujin to answer you need to mention them when replying to their comment :-) – nohillside Feb 24 at 17:58
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    Apart from the fact it really sounds like the SATA cable or the drive itself has failed, your answer contains many glaring errors & misdirections. " the recovery partition downloads the OS from online".. no it doesn't, it's right there on the recovery partition. Only Internet Recovery downloads anything. Blowing NVRAM is just 'interweb advice' which rarely fixes anything at all. Drives don't need to be blessed to be bootable, it's merely quicker to find one if it is. Booting from Firewire is possible, but a USB stick would be much simpler [both will require another Mac to begin the process. – Tetsujin Feb 25 at 9:04

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