Posts Tagged ‘computer’

Fixing the Blank Screen on my Macbook Pro – Deleting the sleepimage

August 24th, 2009 38 comments

In the midst of a super-busy week I experiencing a heart-sinking feeling: I opened the lid to my macbook pro and all I got was a blank screen.  Earlier in the day I had closed my computer to take it with me to meeting.  Every other time it simply went to sleep and then “woke up” when I opened the lid.  If I had left it unplugged for a while it would take a bit to start up, but this time I got nothing.  I tried charging it, but then when I tried starting it, I would get the start up sound, but then just a black screen staring at me.  It would accept some start up commands (like zapping the PRAM), but beyond that it was dead.  I thought it might just be the screen went out, but it was obvious no other functions worked (i.e. volume, keyboard brightness, etc.).

Blank Screen on a MacBook Pro (obviously not mine).

Blank Screen on a MacBook Pro (obviously not mine).

After trying everything I could think of, I finally found a message board that suggested it could be a corrupted sleep image.  After deleting the corrupted file, I was able to get things running.  It was such a frustrating and nerve-wracking experience, I figure I could go through the steps I took and hopefully save someone else some grief if encounter a similar problem.  Here is what I did to fix my problem.

  1. Start your macbook (pro) in target disk mode
    • Connect your computer another mac via firewire.
    • Start up the working mac and then press the power button on the mac that is not working
    • While it is starting, hold down the “T” key.
    • Your mac should show up as an external hard drive in the finder of the other mac
  2. Delete the Sleep Image
    • Open Finder in the working computer
    • Press CMD+Shift+G
    • Enter “/volumes/Your Computer/private/var/vm/” where “Your Computer” equals the name of the broken mac as seen in Finder.
    • Delete the “Sleepimage” file
      • I also deleted the “swapfile0” file which was there, but I am not sure if this is necessary.
    • Empty the Trash
  3. Delete the Extension files
    • Navigate to the /System/Library folder on the broken mac
    • Delete the “Extensions.mkext” file
      • I also deleted the “Extensions.kextcache” file which was there, but I am not sure if this is necessary.
    • Empty the Trash
  4. Eject the broken mac just like you do a regular external hard drive.
  5. Press the power button on your mac if it is still running and remove the firewire cable.

If everything goes like it should, your macbook (pro) should work like normal.  I immediately backed up all my important files and disabled sleep mode via the preferences pane.

Note: The first time I tried this I followed the directions found here, but it did not work.  I tried it again and deleted the additional files noted above and emptied the trash can and everything worked that time around. HT to for getting me in the right direction.

UPDATE: For me, this problem escalated from a one time thing, to a frequent occurrence, until finally I could not shut the computer off without getting the blank screen.  I took it to the IT Department at the University where I work.  They ended up sending it off to Apple who replaced the Nvidia graphics card.  Even though my MBP was out of warranty they replaced everything free of charge because this is a known issue for them.