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Model A1297 Unibody: Early 2009, Mid 2009, Mid 2010, Early 2011 & Late 2011

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MacBook showing 'Stop sign' on startup

Hey everyone,

I'm looking for some help if possible :)

(Sorry if this is the wrong place to post this, please feel free to point me in the right direction if it is).

So I have a late 2011 MacBook Pro running El Capitan.  Yesterday I decided to install Windows on it via Boot Camp.  So I loaded up the Boot Camp installer through the Mac OS.

I created a partition and then inserted the Windows 8.1 CD and clicked to start the install process via Boot Camp install assistant.

The Mac restarted and loaded up the windows installer.  I installed Windows and everything appeared to be fine (in as much as I was using Windows for the rest of the day once it had installed).

This morning I turn the MacBook on to use the Mac OS as usual, but before the Apple logo appeared I was immediately presented with a 'Stop sign.'

I have attempted a couple of things to remedy this:

  • Tried booting in safe mode holding shift key on start up.  Didn’t work.
  • Tried resetting PRAM holding CMD+option+P+R.  Didn’t work.

I then decided to load into Disk Utility using CMD+option+R:

  • The Macintosh HD is greyed out and it says the Macintosh HD is not mounted.
  • I select Macintosh HD then click ‘Unlock’
  • I can then 'Verify Disk', it says ‘The volume Macintosh HD appears to be OK.’
  • I then ‘Repair Disk’, says ‘The volume Macintosh HD appears to be OK.’
  • Restarted, still get the stop sign :(
  • When I go back into Disk Utility, the Macintosh HD is greyed out again and saying not mounted.
  • So I unlock the disk again.  I can still verify disk and repair disk and it says it's OK.
  • 'Verify disk permissions' and 'Repair disk permissions are greyed out'.  It says I can’t click these because the selected disk is not a start up disk.
  • When I select the '750.16GB TOSHIBA' drive in the sidebar and click Verify disk, I get an alert that says ‘Storage system verify or repair failed.’  It says this when I click Repair disk as well.

I don't suppose anyone has any thoughts on this do they?

I know the likely answer is probably to format and re-install the Mac OS - in this case, does anyone have any support for how I can install Windows without messing up my Mac HD?

Thank you all very much in advance for any help! It will be greatly appreciated :)

Update (04/12/2019)

So it seems like the answer to this question was to either boot into recovery mode with CMD+R and install the OS again with the chance to save your data. This however wasn’t an option for me because it kept trying to boot into internet recovery mode, and that told me I couldn’t install the OS because a newer OS was already installed.

So the option then was to create a bootable USB installer, but El Capitan is extremely hard to hunt down these because the other Mac I was using to create the bootable USB had Mojave installed, and that OS does not let you download El Capitan for some reason. (Apple restricts it, not sure why).

I basically bit the bullet and just erased the HD, then performed a fresh install of Lion, then upgraded it to El Capitan.

I just wanted to say thank you so very much for all your help and support! Really do appreciate people taking time out of their day to help me :)

I wish I had just done that from the start rather than wasting time trying to install the OS without erasing first and creating a USB installer haha.  It just seemed like it should have been a really simple thing to do, that turned out to be weirdly complicated by the obstacle of El Capitan being really hard to hunt down!

Thanks again anyways everyone :)

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Can you give us the exact model you have 13" or 15"

Please verify what you saw: Reference: About the screens your Mac displays as it starts up

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Hey Dan, it's actually the 17" model! :)

And it is the Prohibitory symbol.

Thanks for your quick reply!

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Sounds like you need to re-install the MacOS you had installed. What was it’s version? You maybe running to new an OS for your system.

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I was running El Capitan, I can't quite remember the version number exactly, but I am sure I have had newer OS versions running on it than El Capitan anyways?

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I've found this video that alludes to the idea that I might be able to re-install the OS, without wiping it. I.e. giving me a chance of not losing files. Does this seem plausible? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsRdIRjN...

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Over the years Apple has improved OS installation and recovery. But your system maybe limited on taking advantage of these improvements depending on the version of firmware your system has as well as if your drive was setup with a recovery partition. So lets hope!

Here's the reference on the startup keys Mac startup key combinations

First try Command (⌘)-R that will access the files from the recovery partition. If that fails you'll need to try Shift-Option-⌘-R which will install the newest your system can support. And lastly, you might just go to a an external bootable OS installer drive following this guide How to make a bootable OS X 10.11 El Capitan installer drive. Once you get your system working I do recommend creating an external boot drive for such emergencies.

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Thanks again for your help Dan. I have a couple more questions if that's OK hehe.

So I tried re-installing the OS using the boot key commands you suggest, but when I get to the screen where it asks me to select with HD to install the OS on, I get the following message, 'You can't upgrade this version of Mac OS X because a newer version is installed.' - Don't suppose there is a simple fix for this?

If not, I was looking at the link you provided to create a bootable El Capitan installer drive. I'm probably being a complete idiot, but I can't actually seemingly find an easy way to download the El Capitan installer? I don't suppose you could point me in the right direction could you please? :) Thanks in advance!

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If you have a local Mac repair store give them a try, bring a 16 GB USB thumb drive with you. If you have an Apple Store they should be able to help you not only install MacOS but also help you install BootCamp so you can install Windows as well. Bring in your Windows CD and the license key.

Other than Apples download site I don't trust the others as some have doctored the installer with spyware!

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