MacBook Would Not Finish Booting - Now Only Starts In Disk Recovery

Hello all,


Just a note before I begin my tale of woe; I have not yet contacted Apple support but plan to if I cannot find a solution here (partly because I'm sure they will suggest going to an Apple store, but I am studying abroad for the next few months and will be unable to reach an one until I return home).


This morning, I turned on my MacBook Pro (late 2011) and was greeted with an unusually long boot time, which became a problem when it showed no signs of ever booting (I later left it to load for over an hour to no avail). The startup tone plays, the logo appears, the loading bar fills half-way and then slows down almost to a halt, eventually filling the bar after 15+ minutes but never doing anything after that.


I've grown up with a love for computers and while I'm certainly a novice in the grand scheme of things, I always like to troubleshoot and learn how to fix things myself so I went through the usual startup options to see if anything helped:

  • Safe-boot appeared to do nothing. I was also unable to tell if it had booted in safemode, but followed the instructions and tried a number of times.
  • No change occurred from SMC and PRAM resets (which did work because I had the laptop muted the day before and the startup tone returned afterwards).
  • The hardware test showed no issues.


Finally, I tried disk repair which was suggested on various discussions from others suffering from the same issue. I ran first aid on all drives which came back with no issues. However, I may have made a mistake after this as I can't recall what I did exactly, but I think I accidentally wiped my HDD (which I don't think is backed up but anything irreplacable is in the cloud [...I hope]). I think I tried to restore the HDD or something; I certainly didn't click erase or unmount.


However, this caused a new problem: the Mac now boots straight to disk recovery and my HDD isn't listed, just the Hitachi drive and what used to be my Macintosh HD which is now called OS X Base System. I tried to reinstall High Sierra onto the drive assuming I accidentally wiped everything and needed to reinstall the OS for a clean slate. However, upon agreeing to the license agreement, it tells me I don't have permission to install it to the OS X Base System (which is the only drive listed). I googled this issue and was told to erase the drive and rename it to Macintosh HD, but the erase option is greyed out and renaming it is possible but reverts back every time.


So I'm now at a dead end and a little stressed as I think my attempts to fix the problem have made it much worse. I don't have the system specifications or OS version to hand at the moment but I'll try to get them tomorrow and add them this post.


I'd greatly appreciate any help or suggestions on what to do as I have exams coming up and want to get it back running as soon as I can! Thanks!

Pro, iOS 11.2.2
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Here's what you will have to do:


Install El Capitan or Later from Scratch


     If possible backup your files.


  1. Restart the computer. Immediately after the chime hold down the Command and R keys until the Apple logo appears. When the Utility Menu appears:
  2. Select Disk Utility from the Utility Menu and click on Continue button.
  3. When Disk Utility loads select the volume (indented entry, usually Macintosh HD) from the Device list.
  4. Click on the Erase icon in Disk Utility's main window. A panel will drop down.
  5. Set the Format type to Mac OS Extended (Journaled.)
  6. Click on the Apply button, then wait for the Done button to activate and click on it.
  7. Quit Disk Utility and return to the Utility Menu.
  8. Select Install OS X and click on the Continue button.


This will install the version of OS X you had installed.

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