Mac Desktops forum


Gray Screen

by glenvern1 / January 1, 2013 7:17 AM PST

I get the gray screen with folder and question mark on boot up.
I am told by apple man I need to either
remove some data from HD or use an external HD.
or Replace HD.

1. Will external HD work without any OS installed on it?
2. Will OS disc automatically install to external HD?
3. Any other/better suggestions please

Answer This Ask For Clarification
Discussion is locked
You are posting a reply to: Gray Screen
The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Please refer to our CNET Forums policies for details. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Track this discussion and email me when there are updates

If you're asking for technical help, please be sure to include all your system info, including operating system, model number, and any other specifics related to the problem. Also please exercise your best judgment when posting in the forums--revealing personal information such as your e-mail address, telephone number, and address is not recommended.

You are reporting the following post: Gray Screen
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.

All Answers

Collapse -
The folder and question mark means
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / January 1, 2013 8:54 PM PST
In reply to: Gray Screen

that your computer cannot find a valid System folder from which to boot.

I note that the "Apple man" has covered all the possibilities without coming up with an answer.

To answer your questions:
1. NO
2. Not automatically, it will offer you a choice of installation locations and it is up to you to choose the external HD
3. No, except to say, when you have the OS installed on the external HD and the machine is running again, you need to get all your data, pictures/music/document/etc., off the hard drive if possible.
Or you could just use your backups to replace your data onto the external drive


Collapse -
Gray screen
by glenvern1 / January 2, 2013 6:37 AM PST

Thanks for the response.
With an external HD plugged into the USB will the OS disc find it, it does nothing when inserted at this time and is difficult to eject. The only way I can get it out is to keep shutting down the power and then restarting then eventually it will eject.

Collapse -
Shut down the computer,
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / January 2, 2013 7:24 AM PST
In reply to: Gray screen

whatever model it is!

Restart and hold down the OPTION key at the chime. Keep it down until you see the spinning gear.

If the disk is good, then it will boot the computer.

Follow the installers instructions and choose the external HD as the install destination


Collapse -
gray screen
by glenvern1 / January 3, 2013 4:44 AM PST

Your reply to question 2 (not automatically) not sure I understand how it will offer me a choice if the HD is not working?

Or will it just offer me the external HD.

Collapse -
The installer will offer you choices based on
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / January 3, 2013 7:53 AM PST
In reply to: gray screen

the availability of hard drives.

If the external is the only one working, then that will be the only viable choice.


Collapse -
Gray screen
by glenvern1 / January 3, 2013 8:45 PM PST


Popular Forums
Computer Help 49,613 discussions
Computer Newbies 10,349 discussions
Laptops 19,436 discussions
Security 30,426 discussions
TVs & Home Theaters 20,308 discussions
Windows 10 360 discussions
Phones 15,802 discussions
Windows 7 7,351 discussions
Networking & Wireless 14,641 discussions


$16,000 used SUVs

Whether you like your SUVs cute or capable, or some blend of the two, we've got a wide variety of choices in Roadshow's first collection of Editors' Used Picks.