Flashing Folder Macbook
Flashing Folder Macbook

Flashing Folder Icon With Question Mark Troubleshooting

The flashing folder with a question mark on a MacBook Pro indicates that the startup disk is no longer available or doesn’t contain a working Mac operating system​​. This issue can be caused by various factors, including corrupted file systems, damaged hard drives, improper shutdowns, or software conflicts. Here’s how to address the problem.

Troubleshooting Steps

  1. Restart Your Mac:
    • This is the simplest solution and may resolve the issue. Click the Apple logo and select Restart​​.
  2. Reset Your Mac’s NVRAM:
    • For Intel-based Macs: Turn off your Mac, press the Power button and hold down Cmd + Option + P + R until you hear the startup chime twice or see the Apple logo twice​​.
    • For Apple silicon Macs: NVRAM resets automatically when problems are detected at boot​​.
  3. Specify the Startup Disk in System Preferences:
    • Open the Apple menu, select System Preferences, click Startup Disk, unlock with the administrator password or Touch ID, choose the correct startup disk, and restart​​​​.
  4. Force Shut Down and Reboot:
    • Disconnect the charging cable (MacBook) or power cable (iMac, Mac mini), press and hold the Power button, wait 10 seconds, then turn on your Mac​​.
  5. Select the Correct Disk at Startup:
    • For Intel-based Macs: Hold the Option key at startup, select the correct startup disk, and click Continue​​.
    • For Apple silicon Macs: Hold the Power button at startup, select the correct startup disk, and click Continue​​.
  6. Run First Aid via macOS Recovery:
    • Boot your Mac into macOS Recovery, open Disk Utility, and run First Aid to check for and repair any errors​​​​.
  7. Format Startup Disk and Reinstall macOS (if necessary):
    • If Disk Utility cannot fix the issue, format the startup disk and reinstall macOS, noting that this will erase all data on the disk​​.

Preventive Measures


The flashing folder with a question mark on a MacBook Pro is typically a sign of startup disk issues. Following the steps above can help resolve the problem. If these solutions do not work, it may be necessary to contact Apple Support or visit an Apple Authorized Service Provider for further assistance.


  1. What does the flashing folder with a question mark mean on a MacBook Pro?
    • It means that the MacBook Pro cannot access the startup disk or the Mac operating system on it​​.
  2. How can I fix this issue?
    • Try restarting your Mac, resetting NVRAM, specifying the startup disk, force shutting down and rebooting, selecting the correct disk at startup, or running First Aid via macOS Recovery​​.
  3. What should I do if these steps don’t resolve the problem?
    • Consider formatting the startup disk and reinstalling macOS, or seek professional assistance if necessary​​.
Eric Chan

Hi! I’m Eric and I work on the knowledge base at GadgetMates.com.  You can see some of my writings about technology, cellphone repair, and computer repair here.

When I’m not writing about tech I’m playing with my dog or hanging out with my girlfriend.

Shoot me a message at ericchan@gadgetmates.com if you want to see a topic discussed or have a correction on something I’ve written.

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