Why Does My Mac Screen Just Show Two Buttons with Arrows? [Ask MacRx]


Inheriting an old Mac does not always mean it’s ready to go with freshly reinstalled software. The Startup (Boot) Manager might show its friendly face sometimes when a valid boot drive can’t be found:

Recently I have been given a iMac G5 (light sensor). The guy who gave it to me has wiped the HD so I can start again. I intend to give this Mac to my parents for a present but before I go and buy a copy of OSX i decided to try and install a borrowed copy just to make sure the computer still works. As far as I know the copy works. But my Mac won’t have any of it. (don’t worry, I’m not asking you for advice on pirating). All that shows on the screen are two buttons. One has a circular arrow and the other has a straight arrow. Nothing happens when I click on either of them.

Do you think this has something to do with the hard drive being wiped? Is it possible that something is seriously wrong? I rang apple and they were little help (in fact, the guy didn’t even know what model Mac I was talking about even though I explained it was a iMac G5 sensor light.) Hope you can give me an idea of what is going on. I don’t know much about macs so i really don’t know what to make of all this. What would you do?

Regards- Kelly

Hi Kelly,

What you’re seeing the startup manager unable to find a valid boot disk, normally one or more disk icons would appear between the Rescan (circular arrow) and Continue (straight arrow) buttons. The machine’s hardware is likely OK, but your current installation of the OS is not bootable.

The best OS for an iMac G5 is Mac OS X Leopard. You can find retail install DVDs on eBay, expect to pay between $100-$150 for a copy. Hold down the C key to boot from the DVD, then reformat the drive (if necessary) and reinstall Mac OS X.

Are you referring to an iMac G5 with the iSight camera?

Thanks so much- I now have hope! The Mac I’m referring to is this one:
iMac G5 (Ambient Light Sensor) It’s not the iSight one.

Gotta love Apple’s product naming schemes – even an Apple rep gets confused about which model is which! Enjoy your iMac.

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About the author

Adam RosenAdam Rosen is an Apple certified IT consultant specializing in Macintosh systems new and old. He lives in Boston with two cats and too many possessions. In addition to membership in the Cult of Mac, Adam has written for Low End Mac and is curator of the Vintage Mac Museum. He also enjoys a good libation.

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