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Flashing ? Many Solutions Tried - 09 Macbook Pro

This is a discussion on Flashing ? Many Solutions Tried - 09 Macbook Pro within the Mac Support forums, part of the Tech Support Forum category. Hi all, I have a mid-2009 Macbook Pro with the gray screen and blinking question mark/folder. I've spent hours and


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Old 05-06-2020, 03:42 PM   #1
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Hi all,

I have a mid-2009 Macbook Pro with the gray screen and blinking question mark/folder. I've spent hours and days following tutorials on the internet and am now ready to post in a forum after exhausting the potential solutions Iíve found.

Background
-purchased mid 2009 Macbook Pro (used) in 2013
-currently running El Capitan
-upgraded RAM
-upgraded to Samsung Evo SSD hard drive in 2017
-added a USB mouse because the trackpad cursor was jumping all over. (the usb mouse solved the problem immediately)
The computer has been generally fine until now.

Solutions Attempted:
1. Tried to boot in Recovery Mode (Cntrl and R while holding down power key). Would not boot in Recovery Mode.
2. Tried to boot in Safe Mode (holding down Shift key after power key). Only a cursor appearsÖno files
3. Suspected malfunctioning hard drive. Removed SSD hard drive sent back to Samsung to test and repair under warranty. Got the hard drive back from Samsung and they said they "updated the firmware and the unit tested fine." Installed "repaired hard drive" and was met with the same flashing question mark.
4. Suspected a malfunctioning hard drive cable. Ordered a hard drive cable from Ebay (new) and installed. Was met with the same flashing question mark.
5. Suspected my installation of the hard drive cable was poor. Acquired an external SATA hard drive to USB cable so I could remove the hard drive and connect it externally to the USB port and bypass the internal hard drive cable. Was met with the same flashing question mark.
6. Reset PRAM (held down option+command+p+r after power button) and SMC (disconnected the internal battery and reconnected). Was met with the same flashing question mark.
7. Tried to boot up with Boot Options (held down D key after power key).
8. Followed online instructions to create a bootable USB disk with El Capitan. Used TransMac software to create the bootable USB flashdrive (using a PC) and downloaded El Capitan dmg file from Apple. Tried to boot the macbook pro from the bootable USB flashdrive. Was met with the same flashing question mark.

Most tutorials Iíve sifted through on the internet have suggested all of the above, but I have not found anything that mentions potential problems beyond the hard drive or the cable. Iíve spent quite a bit of time and, for me, have exhausted the options Iíve been able to find. Any ideas would be appreciated! Thank you in advance.
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Old 05-06-2020, 04:50 PM   #2
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As you probably know the flashing ? means that the computer cannot find a Bootable device to boot from, this usually means that the SSD has Failed or is not plugged in. Did you try a standard HDD?
When you try to boot off of the OSX installer did you hold down any key during the boot process? If not, put the USB Flash drive in, start the computer holding down the Options key. After several minutes you should see the Startup Disk window. It should show drives to boot from, if there is an Red X over the SSD there is a problem with it. If there is no SSD, then there is an issue with the drive or HDD cable.in the Boot menu Double click the USB Flash drive if it is showing. This will start the Installer. On the Toolbar you can select Tools/Disk Utility if the SSD is showing on the left panel, you can run First Aid. If the SSD is not showing, then there is an issue with the controller or the SSD. Try a standard HDD to test the that's it's not the cable or connector.
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Old 05-06-2020, 05:47 PM   #3
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Thank you for your response. I actually did have an older HDD that was still in its package. So I tried the following:
1. Held down the Options key when booting with the Flash drive for just about 5 minutes and then stopped. There was still only a cursor showing and the computer felt quite warm.
2. Replaced the SSD with the HDD and tried booting regularly and while holding the Options key. No luck.
3. Took the HDD out and connected externally using the USB Sata cable and tried to boot the computer (regular and with Options key held). Still no luck.

Any other thoughts are appreciated.
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Old 05-06-2020, 07:36 PM   #4
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Do you hear the Chime? That is when you start holding the Options key.
If no chime, Try the PRAM reset, again boot the computer holding the 4 keys down, and you should hear the chime, then let go. For good measure, you can keep holding till it chimes a second or third time. You don't have to remove the battery, If no Chime you have a hardware problem, possibly a Logic Board (Motherboard) fault. Here are some other things to try
https://www.macworld.co.uk/how-to/ma...-boot-3423817/
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Old 05-07-2020, 04:40 PM   #5
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Thank you again for your response and for the link. I DO hear a chime and followed your protocol for entering Safe Mode, but still only got a cursor to appear on the gray screen (after holding Shift for a few minutes). I then followed most of the solutions listed in the link you sent, but many of them were the same as I listed in my original post.

I suspected a problem with the motherboard, but now after you mentioned that hearing the chime indicates it may not be the motherboard, I'm stumped again.
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Old 05-07-2020, 05:22 PM   #6
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Another update: I tried powering on normally by just pressing the power button. This time, I just waited for awhile. The flashing question mark appeared as the new normal and I continued to wait will doing something unrelated. When I came back to the mac, I noticed the fan was running and I was able to see the light on the Caps Lock appear when I pressed it. The computer was also quite warm. Of course, the flashing question mark was still displayed, but I found it interesting that there was still signs of life (fan and caps lock light). I just though't I'd post this info in addition to my last post...just to provide more info. Any other thoughts are appreciated. Could it be something unrelated to the startup like something with the display? Although that doesn't explain why I can't boot in any mode (Safe, Recovery, etc.).
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Old 05-07-2020, 07:13 PM   #7
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Here are more suggestions https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201295 it is still looking like a Logicboard corruption.
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Old 05-08-2020, 10:38 AM   #8
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Have you tried this method?


It will require a good internet connection. If you can't it to work this way then it'll have to go to Apple for them to repair it.
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Old 05-08-2020, 12:56 PM   #9
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Considering that this is an 11 year old computer, it may not be worth fixing, as you can get a refurbished/used one that is newer for less money then the cost of replacing the Logic Board.
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