macbook pro blue screen at startup: monitor and power problem?

It happened again today: came in, pressed the power button for the MacBook Pro and instead of a login screen I got a blue screen. Two blue screens actually, since I’m using an external monitor and keyboard. Argh. The one year guarantee is just days away from expiring, so I thought it worth the time to find out at least whether I could reproduce the problem before taking it in. Sigh.

It goes like this: grey screen, apple appears, gear shows up and turns, blue screen. Game over.

I don’t know exactly when this behavior started, let’s say a very unscientific “lately”. And more often recently, already twice this week.

61 starts and shutdowns later…

There are a few peripherals attached to the laptop so I took the time to do a bunch of starts and shutdowns to try and see if any of them were the problem. The time seems to have been worth it (not only because I cleaned up my desk in the process).

It looks like the one condition when I can count on the blue screen to show up (not every time, but eventually for sure) is when I have the monitor plugged into the laptop *without* the MBP power adapter attached. The battery is charged, maybe not 100% but definitely not even close to empty. It happens whether or not the monitor is already powered on at startup.

I suppose a workaround would be to just make sure I have the power plugged in before starting up the MacBook Pro with the monitor attached. A pain, maybe, but for now it may have to do. I will talk to the friendly tech guy at the Apple store to see if there’s risk of more problems later, especially since the guarantee period is almost over.

Off to googleland to look for others with a similar problem, maybe even post in a forum or two. Argh.

Anyone out there experiencing this?

Just for the record, the culprits:

MacBook Pro, 10.4.10 (all updates as of today), 2.33 Core 2 Duo, 3 GB 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM

Apple Cinema HD Display 23″

Apple 85 W Portable Power Adapter (guilty by absence)

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17 Responses to macbook pro blue screen at startup: monitor and power problem?

  1. Chris says:

    Hey, Noah. I ran across your post via a search on Google re: the BSOD. I got my BSOD on my MBP due to stupidly installing APE after upgrading to Leopard. I was able to boot into single user mode and remove the program. It now boots up normally. So, if you’re in a similar situation, follow the steps laid out here.

    BTW, here’s the direct link just in case:

    If that doesn’t describe your problem, you might try the following:

    Reboot to your OS disk
    Verify then Repair Permissions
    Reboot normally

    If that doesn’t work, then I’d try starting up in Single User Mode, backing up your docs and apps and reinstall your OS.

    Hold down (Option) + (Command) + (S) – this will cause it to boot to Single User Mode (like safe mode for Win)
    Backup your stuff
    Reboot to your OS Disk
    Use Disk Utility to do a zero out erase of your data
    Grab a beer ’cause it’s gonna take about an hour

    That’s all I’ve got, brother, good luck.


  2. noah little says:

    Thanks Chris, I appreciate the tips. I’m still using Tiger, so the situation isn’t quite the same. Before taking the MBP in for service I probably will go through the permissions, and single user mode stuff (fsck and all that). Glad to know you’re all set. Live and learn, eh? 😉

  3. Chris says:

    I’m having the same problem today. No solution yet, currently running disk warrior. Let us know if you find a solution!

  4. noah little says:

    Chris (number 2 Chris), is your problem also related to the external monitor being connected?

    Please do let us know if disk warrior does it for you…

  5. noah little says:

    For people with Leopard, just saw that Apple has confirmed that particular bsod problem:

    I don’t have Leopard so that’s not what’s wrong with my PB Pro. The story gets longer:

    Today I just did an update from 10.4.9 to 10.4.10, restarted and tada: blue screen of death. WTF? I thought updates were supposed to *solve* problems.

  6. noah little says:

    Update: went ahead and used Disk Utility to check and repair permissions. See if that helps…

  7. Pingback: update: no more blue screen of death « noah little

  8. PHOENIX says:

    Guys, I bough Brand NEW MAC BOOK PRO just a week ago, I’ve problem now with startup, Blue screen appears with spinning rainbow and newer ends – I can not even go through safe mode – the same happens when i want to log on to safe mode! Pls help !

  9. PHOENIX says:

    I can not verify and either repair disk permissions using disk utility – It gives me an error “THE UNDERLYING TASK REPORTED FAILURE ON EXIT”

  10. ester says:

    I have little different problem here. I have a macbook laptop and I have blue screen instead of log in page when I start the computer. Is there any ways I can find the solution for that? Please??

  11. dab0mb says:

    hey guys, i was wondering why i got a BSOD just 2 months after i bought my MBP? the tech support people told me that the prob was with the hard disk.. but the laptop is just new! this is actually a brand new replacement laptop already since the first one i got had a defective webcam, 10 days after i got the laptop. now im doubting if MBP’s quality is credible since im always getting a bad unit. does anyone know whats the cause of BSOD on startup?

  12. Emery says:

    I had the BSOD on a 2006 Macbook 1,1. This little macbook has all kinds of problems. I’ve taken it apart and put it back together twice. It has a bad ram slot and it use to freeze a lot. I thought I had it working right and then I started getting the BSOD on start up. If I booted in verbose sometimes it would boot correctly sometimes not. On safe mode it booted fine. I tried all the other stuff PRAM resets, permission repair, resetting the power – even different ram. What worked for me was looking at the startup items under system preferences/accounts. When I removed an app called iantivirus it fixed my problems. I also removed iStat. So I would recommend you check your start up items. When you boot in safe mode those are not loaded. I would also recommend you don’t install iantivirus as it seems to cause lots of problems. I’m running 10.6.4. It appears third party software was the issue. I’ve restarted a dozen times with no problems so far. It also boots much faster now – even with 1 GB in one slot.

  13. brian says:

    I turn on the computer. It makes the normal start up sound and then I get a arrow and then a blue screen. what easy steps can I do to fix the proplem.

  14. Ashy boy says:

    I have a MBP 2007.

    Recently updated harddrive and RAM, though I don’t think they’re the issue.

    I have an Apple 23″ cinema display (about 7 years old?) which when connected to my laptop, after a while it sends the CPU through the roof, and then if too many programs running, I get a blue screen flash for about 10 seconds, then it loads back up and all my programs/windows are closed.
    It’s as if the computer does a refresh because it can’t handle the processing of all my software.

    It’s definitely to do with the graphics card and the additional monitor, as this doesn’t happen when i don’t plug in the 23″ cinema display.

    It is either a firmware or driver issue… that’s about all i know! I just don’t know how to go about finding the right firmware/driver.

  15. Ashy boy says:

    OK think I finally found an answer… Google search this “NVidia FCode flasher 1.1: Information and Download” the first search result is a Apple page. I think this will help (even though it mentions the update being for a different apple mac computer… the update is for the graphics card… can’t see any harm it will do (he says) will post my findings)

  16. Ashy boy says:

    OK no, sorry 😦 STILL NO ANSWER!

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