I've been having a problem with my iMac i7 (mid 2010) for quite awhile. Any kind of restart from a software update, or a user selected restart, causing the iMac to get stuck on the restart gray screen with the rotating loading "carat."

If I power down the machine, then turn it back on it, it boots up fine.

Internal hard drive checks out fine.

I took it to the Apple Store Genius bar, and they could not find anything physically wrong with it, and blamed it on a problem with my user (software), thinking since the OS has been transferred over from several previous machines (an iMac G4 and then a PowerMac G5), that something PowerPC is causing the freeze.

I've tried doing a verbose mode, but not seeing anything.

Any ideas on how to further diagnose this and ultimately fix it so I can restart without having to power down and then back on?


To further diagnose the problem I would try creating a 2nd user account to log in with, while also disabling any kind of automatic log in if that is enabled for your normal account. This could be used to see if it is something specific to your user account.

Test to see if the machine can restart from the login window or the other user account.

If it does then there is a User account problem occurring, and you can try to manually locate what the problem is by doing manual house cleaning tasks.

If the problem still persists I would try seeing if when you boot your mac into Safe Mode and see if the problem still exists.

To start up into Safe Mode (to Safe Boot), do this:

  • Be sure your Mac is shut down.
  • Press the power button.
  • Immediately after you hear the startup tone, hold the Shift key. The Shift key should be held as soon as possible after the startup tone, but not before the tone.

  • Release the Shift key when you see the gray Apple icon and the progress indicator (looks like a spinning gear).

If it goes away then there is some kind of third party driver, etc that may be causing the issue. See more information on what Safe Mode does to find out where to look to troubleshoot next.

If all else fails a very good solution in this case is to backup everything to an external drive, and then do a clean install of OS X. Then you can import just the files you need using Migration Assistant or manually.

  • Thanks. I've got time machine backups, so maybe just jumping to a clean install is the way to go. But at the same time, maybe I should do the other steps you suggest prior. Otherwise, I may end up bringing that stuff back with migration assistant and reintroducing the problem.
    – Keefer
    Mar 5 '12 at 17:00
  • 1
    Yes it really comes down to is it a user account problem or a system level problem. I am guessing its more so a system level issue, legacy cruft not cleaned up from older Mac OS versions and older hardware kernel extensions, etc... So when given the option to migrate just a user account or multiple accounts using migration assistant it should be relatively safe to do with out reintroducing the problem assuming its a system level problem.
    – MrDaniel
    Mar 5 '12 at 17:11

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