Seeing the Question Mark Folder on Mac?..
When you turn it on, a flashing question mark folder appears on your Mac screen. You are puzzled, not sure what is going on, and wondering what to do to get the icon off your Mac screen. The troubleshooting steps in this guide should help resolve the issue.
This folder will appear on the screen if there is a (temporary or permanent) problem with your Mac’s startup disk. This basically means that your Mac cannot find or load the Mac operating system from the hard disk drive (HDD) or solid-state drive (SSD).
Please note that the solution to this problem will depend on the cause. However, at least one of the recommendations below should fix the Mac folder flashing error.
1. Restart Your Mac
Rebooting your Mac can fix system errors that cause the flashing question Mac folder to get stuck on your Mac screen. Before restarting your system, disconnect any cables, accessories, or external drives connected to your Mac, including the charging cable.
Hold down the power button for about 10 seconds. Wait for your MacBook to turn off completely, wait a minute and press the power button again. If the affected device is a desktop Mac (iMac or Mac mini), unplug the power cable, wait at least 10 seconds, plug the cable back in, and turn your Mac back on.
Proceed to the troubleshooting steps below if your Mac still displays a flashing folder after reboot.
2. Reset Your Mac’s NVRAM or PRAM
Non-volatile random access memory (NVRAM) is a storage component of Mac computers that stores important settings and information. When you make changes to your Mac’s boot drive selection and other basic system settings (sound, display, date and time, port configuration, and more), your macOS stores them in non-volatile memory.
The settings stored in NVRAM may vary depending on the model of your Mac and the devices connected to your Mac. Your Mac’s NVRAM memory is likely corrupted if it shows a folder with a question mark, a black screen, or other strange startup errors on startup.
Luckily, there is a way to reset NVRAM to factory defaults that can fix these issues. The steps to reset NVRAM depend on the model or generation of your Mac.
Hold down your Mac’s power button until the screen turns off. Wait another 10-30 seconds for your Mac to completely shut down. Turn on your Mac (press the power button) and immediately hold Command + Option + P + R.
Hold down four keys while your Mac boots up. Release the keys after about 20 seconds when the Mac displays the Apple logo or the second startup tone sounds.
If your Mac no longer displays the folder with a question mark during startup, make sure you’ve selected the correct startup drive in macOS’s Startup Drive settings so the error doesn’t reoccur.
Go to System Preferences > Startup Disk, select the lock icon in the bottom left corner and enter your Mac’s password. You can also authenticate with Touch ID if your Mac has a fingerprint scanner.
Reselect the drive (Macintosh HD) as the boot drive and click Restart.
3. Start Mac in Safe Mode
Login items (i.e., software that is loaded with macOS during startup) can sometimes cause startup errors, such as a folder with a question mark. Booting your Mac in Safe Mode can help diagnose and fix the problem.
How you boot into Safe Mode will depend on your Mac’s hardware/processor configuration.
Boot your Intel-based Mac in Safe Mode
On the screen with the question mark folder, press and hold your Mac’s power button for about 10 seconds until it turns off. Wait another 10 seconds, press the power button and immediately press and hold the Shift key.
Release the Shift key when the login screen appears on your Mac’s display.
Boot your Apple Silicon-based Mac in Safe Mode
Press and hold the power button and wait for your Mac to turn off. Wait 10 seconds, press, and hold the power button again until the launch options page appears on the screen.
Select your startup drive, press and hold the Shift key and select “Continue in Safe Mode” on the next page. Enter your Mac’s password at the login screen to enter Safe Mode. Restart your Mac in normal mode and see if that solves the problem.
Login items are not loaded during safe mode boot. So, if your Mac boots correctly in safe mode, the login items are probably the root cause of the question mark folder issue.
4. Remove Login Items
Disabling login items can also resolve startup issues on Mac laptops and desktops. If the problem persists after exiting safe mode, boot into safe mode again and remove login items (or apps from autostart).
Go to System Preferences > Users & Groups and select your account under Current User in the sidebar.
Click the Login Items tab, select the lock icon in the lower left corner, and enter your Mac’s password.
Make a list of login items so you can add them back if disabling the items doesn’t solve the problem.
Select the login items and click the delete/minus icon to delete them one by one.
Restart your Mac and check if it now boots up without the question mark folder. If so, re-add login items one at a time and restart your Mac after adding each item. This will help identify the problematic login element responsible for the launch issue.
5. Run the Disk Utility Repair
The First Aid tool in the macOS Recovery Environment can diagnose and fix disk errors that prevent your Mac from booting properly. Run the recovery tool if all troubleshooting steps fail.
Press and hold your Mac’s power button for about 10 seconds and wait for it to shut down completely.If your Mac uses an Intel-based processor, turn it on and immediately press and hold Command + R on your keyboard. Keep holding down the keys until your Mac loads the Recovery Assistant or boots into recovery mode.
For Macs with an Apple silicon chipset, press and hold the power button until the Startup Options window appears on the screen. Select “Options” and select “Continue” to continue.
Select a Mac user account and click Next. Enter your account password and click Next again.
Select Disk Utility and select Continue.
Click View in the toolbar.
Select “Show All Devices” from the drop-down list.
Check the “Internal” section in the sidebar for your Mac’s boot drive. Run Recovery First Aid on all volumes and containers on the boot drive, starting with the last volume on the drive. Select the disk and select “First Aid” from the toolbar.
Select “Run” at the confirmation prompt.
When Disk Utility has finished checking or repairing a volume, select the next volume above it, select First Aid, and select Run. Run a First Aid check on all disk volumes and the disk itself, then restart your Mac.
Click the red x to close the Disk Utility window.
Open the Apple menu and select Restart.
Contact Apple Support
As mentioned earlier, a folder icon with a question mark can also indicate permanent damage to your Mac’s hard drive. Contact Apple Support or schedule an appointment with Genius Bar if none of these troubleshooting suggestions resolve your issue. The hard drive and other components of your Mac will most likely be checked for hardware problems or physical damage.
Reinstall macOS if you can’t get your Mac to a Genius bar or repair center. This will erase your Mac’s hard drive and you will lose important data. If you manage to resolve the issue, make sure you back up your Mac using Disk Utility or Time Machine to prevent data loss if the error repeats.
Seeing the Question Mark Folder on Mac?.
Seeing the Question Mark Folder on Mac?.