I have two Macbooks, pretty old. One of them is stuck in some endless loop at startup, the spinning wheel appears, and nothing more happens, have had it running, or should I say stuck, like that, for hours.

I have very little experience from Macs, but I noticed you can make a startup disk in System Preferences. According to the Apple support page, you can use a USB for that, make a live OS X USB.

My question is this: Can I make such a startup USB, on the healthy Macbook and use it to reinstall OS X on the broken one?

  • You can't make a Startup Disk from sys prefs, only choose an existing one. We need to know the exact model of each machine & current OS. In the meantime, try holding cmd/R at the boot chimes & see if you get to Recovery Mode.
    – Tetsujin
    Sep 2, 2016 at 12:47
  • I think I've tried every possible key press/startup combination, including cmd/R, and the only one that worked, was the ALT key, which enabled me to boot the MacBook to Ubuntu Linux on a live USB stick. I'm not sure of the model number, for neither machine. These computers are not mine. I know the healthy one is a Macbook Air with OS X 10.6, but since the other one doesn't start up, I can't check it's OS X version. It's white, says Macbook on it, couldn't find any sort of a model number.
    – theodorn
    Sep 2, 2016 at 14:33
  • 1
    The method depends on the model & original/current installed OS. Without knowing this info, then holding Cmd/R is about all you can do to test if they can use Internet Recovery. If both machines were still on 10.6, then you will definitely need a boot DVD, which you'd have to buy from Apple. Your best bet is take it to an Apple Store. They will do it for free.
    – Tetsujin
    Sep 2, 2016 at 14:42
  • Will they do something at the Apple Store for free, if the machine is out of warranty?
    – theodorn
    Sep 2, 2016 at 19:20
  • 1
    They will install a fresh clean OS, yes. Apple are extremely good at 'service' usually.
    – Tetsujin
    Sep 2, 2016 at 19:25

1 Answer 1


Not answering, just informing that the question has been answered in comments. I went to the Apple Store in Malmö, and Tetsujin was right, the staff was very nice, and one assigned, connected another device to the Macbook, think it was an iPad.

It turned out the hardware parts of the Macbook, didn't turn up on the other device, which indicated the motherboard was broken, possibly the hard disk. The Apple representative said, if I came back with the machine, and an SSD, they would install a new OS X on it, if nothing else is broken, I assume.

So with these few (or many?) lines, I'm declaring this case solved - sort of.

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