Mac bricked by Catalina
How to repair Mac rendered unusable by upgrade to Catalina. Using hardware means to reinstall EFI bios (Boot ROM).
Catalina update left many Macs unusable and un-repairable without physical access to the logic board. Apple not only refuses to face the problem in a honest way but also censors valuable information on their forum. Let's help all victims and collect useful repair information!
Hundreds of Mac users report that their Mac worked perfectly before Catalina update and ended totally unusable after it, with no possibility to solve problem by reinstall or any reset keys. Booting from external media is also impossible. Common symptoms include:
- machine does not boot in any way and displays folder with a "+" sign
- machine starts to boot but randomly shutdowns in tens of seconds
See Catalina Bricked my Mac. Now What? for a real story with many details.
Reaction of Apple
With few known exceptions, Apple denies the problem and proposes costly replacement of the whole logic board. This will hopefully change as the problem was already brought to attention of the highest Apple management and Apple engineers work on it but official repair shops still insist that the coincidence of "broken logic board" and Catalina update is random. You may get a free repair if you insist really really strong. If you have an official Apple shop nearby, please try it. At a minimum, try to negotiate a free "diagnostic", the repair shop can decide this. For free repair, they have to escalate the request and most often they are not allowed to do that. If you can spare few days to teach them about the problem, please do.
Direct link to a page like this one will likely be promptly censored on Apple forum. You may still try, moderators might overlook your post. Or you may try to be less direct. In any case, your post will be delivered by email to people following the thread, later censorship cannot undo this. However we must mostly rely on non-Apple media to let people know.
Non-Apple Repair options
- macstube.de in Munchen does the repair for EUR 189. They un-solder the EFI firmware chip, re-program and solder back. They did it many times.
- appleguru.cz in Prague say they could fix it for CZK 6.990 or just CZK 3.990 if you say magic word "VaclavBrick".
- Most decent non-Apple repair shops in your neighborhood should be able to flash EFI bios, too.
Repair it yourself
- www.cmizapper.com sells a small thing called Matt Card for EUR 65 incl. delivery, you just stick it into the logic board. Unscrewing pentalobe screws is up to you but no soldering, no cables. They mention Catalina problems can be fixed with this. They also sell Medusa tool which you may prefer if you want to fix more Macs. Looks very professional to me.
- www.macunlocks.com has thing similar to Matt Card for GBP 50 plus delivery. (They also plan to make fix possible via their EFI Bios Master tool in the future.)
- People messing with things have seen similar EFI problems before - caused not by Catalina but by improper use of software called "clover". This is your keyword to find their adventurous ways to fix it using tools like Raspberry Pi, e.g. here: https://www.ghostlyhaks.com/forum/macboo...
We could write for example these repair guides:
- How to replace EFI bios using Matt Card or MacUnlocks card
- How to re-flash EFI bios using Medusa
Improving this page
This wiki page is a work in progress. It can be made much more useful by adding details and verifying solutions. Huge amount of related material is already scattered around the Internet. Let’s work together and collect here what may help with repair of Macs broken by Catalina.