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Late 2011 model, A1278 / 2.4 GHz i5 or 2.8 GHz i7 processor.

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When I switch on I get a black screen with only the pointer


When I switch on I have a black screen with only the pointer showing. It happens every time.

I did a search and found a way to get back in... shutting down, then holding shift when I switch back on. Then typing username and password into the darkness. It works... till the battery dies, then it's the same each time.

I've had some trouble since a few times when I tried an old cinema display and adapter (with the macbook pro). Not sure if it's a coincidence. Also, it's been incredibly slow of late, despite 8GB RAM and plenty of HD space. Perhaps a separate issue though.

Any assistance would be gratefully received.


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Dear fixers, the problem remains since reinstalling the OS. I'm not sure what to do next... besides pulling out what little hair remains on my head!

Any further assistance would be most gratefully received .


ps. no problems show up on the drive in Disk Utility, and it's a new-ish one.


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Your drive's OS is corrupted! You'll likely need to do a few different things here to fix this.

First lets see if you can boot up under Safe Mode. Restart your system and after the bong press and hold the Shift key are you able to get to the desktop now?

If not you'll need to boot up under an external boot drive. Again, when restarting the system after the Bong press the Option key so you can select the other drive. Of course you'll need to have an external drive and have already made it bootable. If you haven't you'll need to visit a friend who has a Mac and setup a USB thumb drive with a copy of OS-X/MacOS you are using on your system How to set up and use an external Mac startup disk & How to set up and use an external Mac startup disk

As an alternative you can also try booting up under the hidden recovery partition About macOS Recovery, check your drive using Disk Utility as well as reinstall your OS. And lastly you can also try using Internet Recovery if your drive is not setup with the recovery partition. I must warn you is't quite slow on most peoples internet connections. So make sure you have a fast link or can leave it connected unintended.

But! Given the fact your system is slow I suspect you have a deeper hardware problem here!

The HD cable in this series has a tendency to breakdown. You might want to visit an Apple Store or Apple authorized service center to have them replace the cable. Apple has been quietly replacing the cable for Free! So its worth getting it replaced. If you can't get to either here is the IFIXIT guide to replace the cable: MacBook Pro 13" Unibody Late 2011 Hard Drive Cable Replacement as for the part I strongly recommend you use this one: MacBook Pro 13" Unibody (Mid 2012) Hard Drive Cable This newer version of the cable is better built.

Update (03/15/2017)

Ah! I think you're stuck in a tailspin here. Sadly, you still have an OS issue. The problem is you are really over-writing the OS on top so the corrupted driver (or its location on the drive) is not being replaced.

Sadly, you need to scratch the drive and reinstall the OS. But before we do this we still need to make sure if the drive has a bad sector so you don't re-use it. Disk Utility can be misleading as just like a shoe cobbler he can't fix your shoe while you're still in it ;-}

Here we need to use an external bootable drive (not the hidden recovery services either as thats still on the disk). Using Internet recovery would only work if you had a clean unformatted drive. If it see's a GUID partition it will cache to it which then messes things up again.

Of course make a backup before you do anything.

After booting up on the external disk we want to erase the drive using the security Options a single pass will do for us here. The newer versions of Disk Utility are a bit limited. You might find using an older version (older OS) better as it allows you to do a drive integrity test. Or, use a 3rd party tool Like Disk Genius if you have it. The last option is to use the UNIX command line under terminal.

Once the drive is scratched you can then re-install your OS from the OS installer and the test the system. Is it working now? If it is carefully restore your apps and data making sure you don't over-write the OS. That should do it!

If you're brave here's the terminal DISKUTIL commands: Format commands under Term

MacBook Pro 13" Unibody (Mid 2012) Hard Drive Cable Görseli


MacBook Pro 13" Unibody (Mid 2012) Hard Drive Cable


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Thanks Dan! I have been putting off the dreaded moment, but attempting to sort my computer out today. It's been chugging along, but time to reinstall the OS... and that cable is on order. Thanks for your advice!


@danj is there any chance the black screen with only cursor could also be an issue with the HD cable? I've reinstalled the OS and the problem remains...


As you do see a pointer that removes issues with the CPU or GPU logic leaving the OS services being the root issue.

I gave you a few diagnostic steps what happened when you did them Booting up under Safe Mode as well as booting up under an external bootable drive. In both the screen should show up correctly. Does it?

As you did have issues with the external Cinema display the only other possibility would be a corrupted NVRAM setting do to the loss of power. More often in this series its the OS & drive cable.


Thanks @danj . Safe mode gets me back in ok every time. I did the reinstall over the internet (a good, fast connection) and I've checked the hard drive with disk utility... all seems fine. I replaced the HD not so long ago.


The screen looks ok in safe mode (a solid grey dock though...) but things don't work so well until I restart. Then it's fine... until the next time I start up.

I was confident it'd be fine after reinstalling the OS. All looked good, until I shut down, then back to the same problem.


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