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Old 03-15-2012, 11:03 PM   #1
Diogones
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The story of the stuck disc in the Black Macbook

Stay awhile and listen; I have an unusual Mac repair story.

I was once helping a friend with her black Macbook, which she used to watch DVDs on all the time. Apparently she had stuck the original Saw movie in the slot-loader, and it was stuck and wouldn't eject. She assured me that the disc had been placed in correctly, with the label side up. When she tried to turn on the Mac, it would reach the grey loading screen and freeze. OS X simply wouldn't boot up; she was using Snow Leopard at the time.

Well I tried booting up while pressing and holding the trackpad left-click button, which usually forces a disc out at startup, but no luck. I tried pressing and holding the eject key, but that didn't work either. I also tried pressing and holding the "D" key, so that the Mac would boot up from the first partition, but the Mac remained obstinate. I finally had to use the old credit card trick to press the internal guts of the slot loader so that the drive would release the DVD. After a minute of fiddling with it or so, it worked! I examined the disc after I got it out: aside from being extremely scratched, the disc was unique in that it was shaped like an actual saw blade. Clever, but the pointed edges probably didn't help the disc eject properly.

I find it interesting that the Mac was completely locked up while trying to boot with the DVD in the drive. The disc hadn't been selected in the Startup Disk Preferences, and the owner had shut the Mac down normally with the disc in the drive. It was like the Mac thought it was a bootable disc, and upon finding it wasn't, it simply hung at the boot process and wouldn't respond to anything, startup keystrokes or mouse clicks.

I guess it was just because the computer couldn't read the disc properly, and so it kept trying to check the disc before it completed booting, and since the disc was stuck, everything ground to a halt.

Anyway that's my story, and I'm sticking to it! Just an example of some of the unusual circumstances anyone can encounter while using a Mac.
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Old 03-15-2012, 11:11 PM   #2
NaOH
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diogones
I also tried pressing and holding the "D" key, so that the Mac would boot up from the first partition, but the Mac remained obstinate.

I've never heard of that shortcut, and it doesn't appear to be in Apple documentation. But I would have tried holding the Option key at startup to see if that would let me select a boot volume.
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Old 03-15-2012, 11:55 PM   #3
Diogones
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I'm glad you brought that up NaOH; you are absolutely right, Apple doesn't mention it, but it does exist! Check out David Pogue's Master Mac OS X Secret Keystroke List, which is an appendix from his book "Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, the Missing Manual."

I also did try the Option trick; I neglected to mention that in the original post. Still didn't work though.
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Old 03-16-2012, 12:11 AM   #4
NaOH
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On an Intel Mac, holding D at startup is supposed to boot into the Apple Hardware Test (AHT) or, on some computers that shipped with 10.7 Lion, an Internet-based version of AHT.
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Old 03-17-2012, 12:31 AM   #5
Diogones
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Right you are NaOH - if you have an Apple Install Disc that shipped with your Mac in the optical drive, that is. Otherwise, it will boot to the first partition. The other exception to this rule is of course, a Lion installation that has a Recovery HD with the Web-based version of AHT.

Last edited by Diogones; 03-17-2012 at 12:46 AM.
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Old 03-17-2012, 01:01 AM   #6
NaOH
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Actually, no. AHT was often pre-installed on Mac hard drives, but it could still be accessed from the Install discs if, for example, the volume had been erased. That's why the instructions at the link I last gave didn't tell users to first insert an Install disc to use AHT. Here are additional examples,

iMac (mid 2007)
MacBook Air
Older MacBook and MacBook Pro models

I suspect the discrepancy between what Apple has in its support articles and what Pogue wrote is connected to the transition that took place from PowerPC to Intel processors. Command-D was the Open Firmware instruction telling PowerPC computers to start up using a bootable internal volume (if present) regardless of what boot disk had previously been assigned, but that went away with the switch to Intel.
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Old 03-17-2012, 10:19 AM   #7
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My 2006 iMac has had a slightly dodgy optical drive since day 1. I think the drive and the case don't quite marry up correctly. About 50% of the time, I have to insert a business card into the slot to assist ejection.

Another startup modifier key missing from that list is <Mute>. If you hold down the mute key at startup, then you don't get the chime. Very useful in libraries if you've previously had the volume up high.
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Old 03-18-2012, 01:27 AM   #8
Diogones
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Impecable research NaOH; thanks for pointing out that discrepancy between Apple's article and Pogue's list. It seems we had to beat around the bush a bit to figure it out! I'm not sure if the MacBook my friend had came with AHT installed on the HDD, since the drive was erased and upgraded to Snow Leopard (it was an 08' model). This might explain why holding D at startup did not help, not only was AHT no longer on the drive - if it had been there in the first place, although I'm guessing it was, since Apple did have a separate support article for Macbooks - but it was not a PowerPC Mac either.

Still, the DVD was lodged in there such that not even holding the Option key would work, leading me to believe that D wouldn't have worked anyway, even if it had been applicable in this instance.

Thanks for the hidden startup keystroke tip, benwiggy! I never knew you could mute the startup bong! Very useful indeed.
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Old 03-18-2012, 06:34 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by benwiggy
Another startup modifier key missing from that list is <Mute>. If you hold down the mute key at startup, then you don't get the chime.

For what its worth, there is also a prefpane one can download, called StartupSound, which allows one to adjust the loudness of the startup chime - or even mute it permanently. Very handy for a laptop that gets started up in the weirdest places !! I know it works on SL - not sure about Lion.
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Old 02-10-2013, 01:44 PM   #10
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benwiggy,
How do you use the business card trick? I quite frequently have an issue with discs not being read/mounted on my early 2009 Mac Pro. Heretofore, I've been restarting my computer in order to get the disc to read properly. Perhaps your ploy will work better for me.
Edit: I should state that the eject key doesn't work, but not because of misalignment or anything; more likely an inability of the computer to "see" the disc.
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Last edited by tommaso; 02-10-2013 at 01:53 PM.
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Old 02-10-2013, 02:36 PM   #11
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The "business card" trick probably won't be helpful to you, for the same reason that you can't see how to use it. It's useful for slot-loading optical drives, but not likely with the tray loading drive in your MacPro.
The slot-loading drives have a mechanism that senses the presence of the disk. If that sensor is out of position, for a variety of reasons, the disk won't eject properly (or no eject at all). The business card can gently move the disk sensor levers to trigger an eject. A tray loading optical drive does not have (and doesn't need) that mechanical sensor.
You can easily find new SATA optical drives for less than $30
Replacing the original (or adding a second drive) should take, at most, two minutes.
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Old 02-10-2013, 04:01 PM   #12
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Is the optical drive pretty certain to be SATA? I know the HDDs are...
Sounds like I could give it a go...
Thanks, DeltaMac
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Old 02-10-2013, 04:15 PM   #13
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If yours is the MacPro4,1 (the Early 2009 MacPro) then yes, the optical connections are SATA.
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Old 02-10-2013, 06:27 PM   #14
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It is. Does it sound like a hardware issue to you?
Many thanks.
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Old 02-10-2013, 07:18 PM   #15
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If that is an issue that has started at some point, and is now getting worse, then it would be a simple trick to try a different drive. As I said, it's an easy swap, and doesn't cost much. Here's an example: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...ree%20Shipping
Actually several examples
One is less than $16, and free shipping, too!
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Old 02-10-2013, 11:34 PM   #16
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Kewl.
Thanks again.
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