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Macintosh OS/Software updates causes black screen on macbook


QUESTION: The Macbook prompts software updates in which the macbook is supposed to restart after the software installs. I’ve received this ‘Install software’ prompt twice since I’ve had this macbook.

After each software update the macbook doesn’t restart, there’s just a black screen, but the power light is on. I’ve had to zap the pram in order to get the computer to work. This latest incident happened after the macbook prompted a Firmware update. The Firmware software installed, then there was an odd, high-pitched squeak sound and the screen went black, same as the last time. I once again tried zapping the pram, but this time I had to try it 3 times before the computer came back on.

The laptop is an Apple Unibody MacBook Intel Core 2 Duo, processor - 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo. Memory - 2 GB 1067 MHz DDR3. OSX 10.9.1 Maverick. This is a refurbished macbook. I emailed the above incident to the place where I purchased the macbook ( and was told:

“The black screen and high pitched noise are normal for a firmware
update. You are supposed to leave it in that start for about 30 minutes to an hour while it is updating. If the system is manually shut down during that process it can cause significant firmware damage, which a PRAM reset may fix, but dependent on how far it gets, may not be repairable. if you are still able to get into the system, please run the firmware update while the system is plugged in and leave it until it comes back. if it takes longer than an hour, please contact me prior to unplugging or restarting the system.”

The above states that the high pitched noise and black screen are normal for a firmware update, but the same thing happened the first time the laptop prompted an update of software, and the software wasn’t firmware.

I’m fearful of even trying another firmware update, for fear of the dreaded black screen. Can you confirm that the above instructions from megawatts is correct?

ANSWER: READ THIS CAREFULLY, then read it again.

   Locate the appropriate update for your Macintosh model, and download it to your computer by clicking the update's title, then clicking on the file size indicator in download details or at the bottom of the page. The download will place the disk image on your desktop which contains an installer. If you downloaded via Safari, Safari will notify you that an application is in the image. Click OK to continue.
   If "Open safe files after downloading" is checked in Safari preferences, the disk image file will mount by itself. If that preference is not enabled in Safari, double-click on the disk image to mount it.
   On the mounted disk image, you will find a file named either MacBookFirmwareUpdate.pkg, MacBookProFirmwareUpdate.pkg, MacMiniFirmwareUpdate.pkg, MacProFirmwareUpdate.pkg, or iMacFirmwareUpdate.pkg.
   Double-click the appropriate package for your computer to start the firmware update process. (The installer puts the Firmware Updater in the /Applications/Utilities folder, and launches it automatically.)
   Read the onscreen instructions and click Shut Down to proceed with the update. The firmware image will be loaded on your machine, and your machine will shut down, but the update will not be installed until the next step.
   Hold down the power button until the power indicator light flashes, then release it. A long tone will be heard, then a gray screen with an Apple logo appears. There is a progress bar under the logo. As the progress bar moves, your firmware is being updated.

   Important: Do not unplug, shutdown, or restart your computer while the update is taking place. Interrupting a firmware update can render your computer unusable. If this happens, take your machine to an Apple store or authorized service provider or perform the recovery yourself using another Macintosh computer to download the Firmware Restoration CD disk image from This software allows you to create a CD which you can use to restore your machine to working order.

   Installation takes a few minutes.
   After your firmware has been updated, your machine will restart.
   After you log in, a dialog box will appear indicating the firmware update has been successful. Click OK to dismiss this dialog.

If there is an installation issue

If the updater was not successful, try installing again by opening the Firmware Updater application, which is located in the Utilities folder (/Applications/Utilities). Then go to Step 4 above.

In the unlikely case that your computer displays a black screen after starting up, you can restore your computer's firmware back to factory condition. Follow the directions to restore your firmware.

Important: An Intel-based Mac's hard disk must be formatted with the GUID partition scheme to apply a firmware update. Intel-based Macs are shipped this way from the factory. If you have reformatted your hard drive, you should check which scheme your hard disk is currently using before applying a firmware update.

Note: If you are applying a firmware update using a version of Mac OS X earlier than version 10.5, you cannot apply firmware updates on a computer that starts up from a software RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) volume. If you are starting up from a software RAID volume, you must start up from a storage device other than a software RAID volume to apply this update.

Some USB and FireWire devices may prevent firmware updates from installing correctly. If you are having trouble installing an update try disconnecting non-essential devices and use only an Apple keyboard, mouse, and display.

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firmware update
firmware update  
QUESTION: I’ve attached a screenshot of my macbook’s software update screen, please note that the screen shows that there was an update to the firmware on 12/30/13, yet it also says that the same firmware updates that uploaded on 12/30/13 are still available, I’m confused. Do you have any idea why this is still showing as “1 Update Available”? Thank you

ANSWER: Normally there will be a change in the Firmware code, this code version is listed on the Apple Information page.
Software Updates can be ignored and not displayed by Menu Options in Software Updater.

OS X: How to ignore a Software Update

Hard drives need repair occasionally and can only be done by Terminal commands, Safe Boot Mode, Target Mode, or booting from another startup disk.

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Thank you so much for your reply. I’ve included a link to the screenshot I mentioned earlier. I hate to be a pest, but the limited warranty runs out on this laptop soon, so I need to be sure.

So just to confirm, the above link indicates that the software has been installed, correct? So I can just ignore the notice that says that the firmware still has to be installed?

If there was a glitch, it may have noted INSTALLED in Software Update, when it was not completed.

This is the list of Firmware updates and a picture of how to determine the firmware version on your MacBook.  If it matches the version that the update installs, then it is up to date.

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David Anders


Seattle - The Computer Guy - 15 yr veteran Mac/PC/network problem solving. Clients are design firms, artists, freelancers and photographers. PLEASE PLEASE provide EXACT info for Mac Model and OS Version. RAM installed - added cards - external devices - recent changes. Do you do MONTHLY MAINTENANCE? With what Utility? What you have tried and what result do you want.


First computer experience 1969. Worked in 3 computer stores. Setup First Mac and First IBM-PC.

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