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The mac starts up fine and goes to the login screen. After I enter my password the losing bar circles once then freezes, followed a few seconds later by the cursor changing from normal to the frozen-working-stuff-out-wheel-of-many-colours. The mac then stays in this condition perpetually.

I will gladly accept suggestions as to a course of action.

RELEVANT INFO:

2008 Late, MacBook pro 13, running High Sierra

For some reason (which I'll gladly accept an explanation for) I cannot use any commands on startup, such as recovery, safety, and NVRAM, as it simply doesn't load anything. (I have a feeling that's related to me forcefully boot-installing the MacBook to high Sierra (HS) a few years ago, because originally it's spec wasn't up-to-date-enough to support HS, but am open to other ideas for the cause of that.)

There is no vital data on the machine, as I am operating entirely from Google drive.

I have the spare (so-slow-it's-effectively-non-functional) original HDD from the Mac (which I removed during a recent SSD upgrade.)

due to my internet speed being quite slow, I'd much prefer not wiping the machine and starting afresh, if it can be avoided.

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    Start off by creating a new user and see if the problem exists there. Don’t migrate anything, it’s just for diagnostic purposes. Likewise, try booting into Safe Mode (hold Shift while booting). See if the problem persists.
    – Allan
    May 9 '20 at 17:54
  • Also, which late 2008 did you have. There were several models. Does yours have the integrated graphics or the discrete (NVIDIA) GPU?
    – Allan
    May 12 '20 at 17:50
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ONE SOLUTION: if you've a spare OSX hard drive, re-fit it, and connect the SSD via SATA_USB cable. Boot holding alt, and select the SSD. It should be able to logon without issue. Next, shut the machine down, take out the old hard drive and refit the new, power her up, and the problem, for me at least, was solved.

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(1) I'd boot in recovery mode and run disk utility check disk.

command + r

(2) You need to sort out whether this is a hardware or software problem. Booting from your old hd will provide a clue. Or, boot some linux distro from a flash drive.

(3) Could be a corruption of your user id files. Here is a way of creating a new user from single user mode.

Get the Mac to set up an additional administrative account. This will work in all releases of Mac OS X so far.

You need to get into single use mode for steps one and two that are listed below. Start with your computer power off. Hold down command-s. Power on your computer. Continue holding down command-s until you see some text on the screen.

This page will give more details on how to get into single user mode. http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1492

Type in the following:

The first two commands will depend on your release of Mac OS X. Look at what is typed out in the console to determine the exact format. You do not need to type in the lines beginning with an ampersand, #, they are comments.

# Type the follow two instructions to access the startup disk in read/write.
# Press return after each command.
# in case of partial success repeat this command until errors go away.

/sbin/fsck -fy
/sbin/mount -uw /

# Get setup to activate a new administration account
cd /var/db
pwd
#List all files. The l is a lower case L.
ls -a

# The move command acts as a rename command in this format.
# In Yosemite, this file is zero bytes.
# the disappearance of .AppleSetupDone causes a new administration account
# to be added the next reboot.
mv -i  .AppleSetupDone .AppleSetupDone.old

# reboot  your mac
shutdown -r now

Once you've done that the computer reboots and it's like the first time you used the machine. Your old accounts are all safe. From there you just change all other account passwords in the account preferences!!

Limnos adds detailed information: http://discussions.apple.com/message.jspa?messageID=8441597#8441597

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  • Please note that upon booting of either hard drive the following keyboard shortcuts do not seem to be working: command+r ; shift ; command control+P+R The old HDD boots and logs in fine. May 10 '20 at 15:54
  • "The old HDD boots and logs in fine." You saying you put your old harddrive back in the machine and your machine is now working? If so, this points to a bad ssd drive. Can you put the drive in an encloser and try it on an other machine or in your working machine? ... bad ssd drive. May 10 '20 at 20:14
  • Do you have some type of firmware password on the machine? You need to be real quick on entering the keys after boot. I hold down the keys then power on the machine to boot. You will boot default startup drive. continue holding to you see something on the screen. May 10 '20 at 20:19
  • I've never set up a firmware password, but checking out what it is it sounds like something I should do (do like the sound of a bit extra security) ___________________________________________________________________ As for the SSD, I've just plugged it in via a SATA-USB cable to my Macbook running the HDD. I can fully navigate through Finder accessing all files and folders on the SSD. May 11 '20 at 8:22
  • Now that's an interesting development.... Through experiment, I've found that "powering on + alt" is apparently the one and only startup shortcut that DOES work, and that brings up my HDD, Recovery (which when booted from is blank) , and my SSD which is connected by SATA_USB cable. Selecting the SSD from these options has it boot up completely normally, I enter my password, and it logs in fine, without freezing or so much as a hitch May 11 '20 at 9:01

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