How to Fix Mac Flashing Folder With A Question Mark

If you are seeing the folder with a ? then it probably means that your Mac is unable to find the start-up disk therefore unable to boot your Mac OS. There are three possible causes for this.

  • The system files needed to start-up and boot are corrupt.
  • The hard disk drive has failed.
  • A cable connecting the drive to the motherboard has failed.

If the disk drive has failed then you will need a trip to the Genius Bar. To book appointments with Genius Bar online visit here.

Mac Flashing Folder With A Question Mark

However, before deciding to go with the Genius Bar we have listed some methods that may get you back if the issue is not the disk failure. If the disk has failed, then the only option would be to replace the disk and recover your data to the new disk from the time-capsule or any backup device you may have been using.

If you were not backing up then it may be possible to get the data recovered by locating a recovery company that can be Googled.

Method 1: Disconnecting the Network Cables and the Peripheral Devices

  1. Shutdown your system. If you are unable to shut down your MAC the normal way, then hold down your system’s power button for a few seconds until it shuts down.
  2. Disconnect all the devices including the printers, external hard drives, and the Ethernet cables attached to your System.
  3. Restart your MAC system.

Method 2: Give System a Safe Boot

  1. Shutdown your system. If you are unable to shut down your MAC the normal way, then hold down your system’s power button for a few seconds until it shuts down.
  2. While starting your MAC again, immediately press and hold the Shift key. This will start the safe boot.
    Shift key – macOS
  3. If by performing the safe boot, MAC performs as expected; restart the system again to check normally.

Method 3: Resetting the PRAM/NVRAM

  1. Shutdown your system. If you are unable to shut down your MAC the normal way, then hold down your system’s power button for a few seconds until it shuts down.
  2. Turn on the system.
  3. Press and hold the Command-Option-P-R keys before the gray screen appears simultaneously.
    Resetting PRAM or NVRAM
  4. Continue holding the keys until the system restarts and you hear the start-up sound for the second time.
  5. Release the keys.

Method 4: Start system from MAC OS X Installation Disc

  1. Insert your MAC OS X installation disc.
  2. Shutdown your system. If you are unable to shut down your MAC the normal way, then hold down your system’s power button for a few seconds until it shuts down.
  3. Restart your system while holding down the C key while you will start the system from the inserted installation disc.
  4. From the Utility Menu, choose Disk Utility once the system starts using the installation disk.
  5. Carry out a disk repair of your OS X volume using the Disk utility.
  6. Repeat step 5 if issues are found during Disk repair.
  7. After the completion of the Disk repair operation, restart your MAC system without holding any keys.

Method  5: Remove any Third Party RAM

  1. Shutdown your system. If you are unable to shut down your MAC the normal way, then hold down your system’s power button for a few seconds until it shuts down.
  2. Remove your MAC’ casing cover in order to access the RAM physically. You can refer to the user guide that came with your MAC system as to how to access the memory or the RAM slots of your MAC.
  3. From the memory slots, remove any non-Apple or the third party RAM from your MAC.
  4. Reinsert the actual Apple RAM that came with the MAC. Please note that different OS X of MAC supports different sizes of minimum RAM.
  5. If your MAC starts successfully without any unexpected error while using your Apple RAM, then you should contact your third party RAM vendor for further troubleshooting.

Kevin Arrows


Kevin is a dynamic and self-motivated information technology professional, with a Thorough knowledge of all facets pertaining to network infrastructure design, implementation and administration. Superior record of delivering simultaneous large-scale mission critical projects on time and under budget.

Expert Tip

How to Fix Mac Flashing Folder With A Question Mark

If the issue is with your Computer or a Laptop you should try using Restoro which can scan the repositories and replace corrupt and missing files. This works in most cases, where the issue is originated due to a system corruption. You can download Restoro by clicking the Download button below.

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