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gridbug
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« on: May 07, 2023 @844.72 »

Hello everyone,

My sister's laptop has finally gone kaput. The screen shows a beautiful array of lines and squiggles, and the bottom quarter or so is occasionally just solid black or white. It's a 2017 Macbook Air, and I am trying to migrate the files from it to a new machine, and then send this thing to the recycling center.

Being the clever clogs I am, I decided to buy a small adapter so I can connect the computer to an external monitor via hdmi, so I could use the computer long enough to migrate the files and programs from the old mac to the new machine using the Mac migration assistant. But things are not going as I would like. For a brief moment, I was able to use the computer, seeing it on the external screen, it would stop occasionally, but I was able to get it to work for a bit until the signal was lost.

Now the only time I get any signal and image displayed is when it goes to a hard drive recovery dialogue. I've gone through it, tried restarting, and none of it has allowed me to get to actually using the computer.

I'm at my wits end. I know this isn't a fun discussion topic, or at least it isn't for me it's just annoying to me, but if anyone has any suggestions or experience trying to recover files from a working laptop with a broken screen (everything else, as far as I know, works just not the screen). Is there any way to get it to use the external monitor if I can't select any display settings? I've tried using the PRAM command a few times, plugging and unplugging it, restarting the machine with it plugged in, plugging it in after starting up. I've nearly lost all hope. I can feel my hairs going grey and falling out trying to get this thing to display correctly.

Hooting and hollering,

Gridbug
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« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2023 @857.94 »

Easy as a lemon squish  :grin: Iv worked with some doomsday mac situations before!

You can boot the laptop into something called "target disk mode" - this lets you plug it into another mac and then you can copy the files off like it was an external harddrive. It's very handy! There is a lil tutorial here: https://support.apple.com/en-ie/guide/mac-help/mchlp1443/mac

Failing all of that there are some techy ways you can copy files off from the recovery partition using Terminal and SSH (enable SSH access on another computer and then use Terminal on the failing mac to copy files to it) but target disk mode is a much easier first option.

Finally, to be very unhelpful, this is a reminder of why you should keep Time Machine backups every day  :ok:
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gridbug
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« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2023 @956.05 »

Easy as a lemon squish  :grin: Iv worked with some doomsday mac situations before!

You can boot the laptop into something called "target disk mode" - this lets you plug it into another mac and then you can copy the files off like it was an external harddrive. It's very handy! There is a lil tutorial here: https://support.apple.com/en-ie/guide/mac-help/mchlp1443/mac

Failing all of that there are some techy ways you can copy files off from the recovery partition using Terminal and SSH (enable SSH access on another computer and then use Terminal on the failing mac to copy files to it) but target disk mode is a much easier first option.

Finally, to be very unhelpful, this is a reminder of why you should keep Time Machine backups every day  :ok:

Oh my goodness thank you so much, I have never heard of target disk mode. I tried it, and it doesn't seem to work with the USB-C to USB-A cable I already have; according to the Apple website you linked I need a lightning cable. Well I guess that means I'm back to the cable mines, the thing is I cannot find a thunderbolt 2 to usb-c cable, and I don't even know if that will do what I want it to do ༼☯﹏☯༽

It's funny I used to be much more tech-y when I wasn't in college, I installed arch linux on an old laptop and did all kinds of fun stuff with computers but I feel like I've forgotten how to do so much stuff. I just generally have less patience for computer nonsense now, it no longer feels as fun and whimsical as it used to. I will report back if I can figure out what works, or how to pry the files out of the computer.

As for time machine, I backed up my laptop once several years ago and I refuse to learn the error of my ways...wait no actually thinking about it now losing all of that stuff would be a real pain I'm going to find my hard drive and back it up now.
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« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2023 @965.27 »

Yeah.. that cable may be a hard one - you need a true Thunderbolt cable (it looks the same as USB-C but its different! Thunderbolt 3 looks the same as USB-C, but it will have a thunderbolt symbol on it, where as Thunderbolt 2 is like a lil house and is the same as MiniDisplayPort except it has a thunderbolt symbol)

Apple used to sell Thunderbolt-2 to Thunderbolt-3 adapters, but those were really expensive  :ohdear:

The 2017 mac I assume is Thunderbolt 3, so your best bet is to find someone with another mac made after 2016, and then find a Thunderbolt 3 cable or buy one (although they are also expensive, so if you know some who uses one already for a hub or an e-gpu that would be best!) - I use one with my CalDigit dock, that might be one of the most common use cases.

If you can't find one this topic about copying your data to an external drive from recovery mode might be helpful! https://apple.stackexchange.com/questions/274032/backup-to-external-in-recovery-mode-terminal-or-time-machine
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« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2023 @363.09 »

What about extracting the hard drive from the case? I've heard, that's not intended to do on Apple products, but if it's kaput, can't be more kaput, right?

Although this looks not too bad:
https://yewtu.be/watch?v=Ve4IjPr4oYY

That's an odd SSD on an PCIe card. You probably need an adapter to put it in other computers.
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gridbug
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« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2023 @677.53 »

What about extracting the hard drive from the case? I've heard, that's not intended to do on Apple products, but if it's kaput, can't be more kaput, right?

Although this looks not too bad:
https://yewtu.be/watch?v=Ve4IjPr4oYY

That's an odd SSD on an PCIe card. You probably need an adapter to put it in other computers.

What's funny is I know the machine still works, I can get it to display stuff on an external screen so I know it's working, but it just doesn't work consistently. I don't know what sort of state it was in. Not to put my sister on blast but she is not very tech literate, there were a gajillion files open any time she asked me to fix something, and she seemed to never close anything or know to save anything. It might just have been too much for the poor computer, but again I'm not sure what the issue is beyond the screen not working. Extracting the hard drive might work, I'll have to look into that, thanks for the video!

Yeah.. that cable may be a hard one - you need a true Thunderbolt cable (it looks the same as USB-C but its different! Thunderbolt 3 looks the same as USB-C, but it will have a thunderbolt symbol on it, where as Thunderbolt 2 is like a lil house and is the same as MiniDisplayPort except it has a thunderbolt symbol)

Apple used to sell Thunderbolt-2 to Thunderbolt-3 adapters, but those were really expensive  :ohdear:

The 2017 mac I assume is Thunderbolt 3, so your best bet is to find someone with another mac made after 2016, and then find a Thunderbolt 3 cable or buy one (although they are also expensive, so if you know some who uses one already for a hub or an e-gpu that would be best!) - I use one with my CalDigit dock, that might be one of the most common use cases.

If you can't find one this topic about copying your data to an external drive from recovery mode might be helpful! https://apple.stackexchange.com/questions/274032/backup-to-external-in-recovery-mode-terminal-or-time-machine

My Macbook Pro is a 2013 (it might be '14) model, so I might be able to connect with a thunderbolt 2 cable and get the file transfers that way. I don't know why they changed it for computers running later versions of Mac OS that you had to use thunderbolt, and I don't know if it would accept the old thunderbolt/mini display port cable. I guess if it doesn't work I will just return the cable, but fingers crossed this will do it  :unite:
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« Reply #6 on: May 09, 2023 @693.90 »

All macs made after 2016 have soldered SSDs, they can’t be removed so that won’t be an option  :sad:

Your 2013 model would be a 13” they didn’t do 14” back then!

As far as I know the enforced thunderbolt is a security thing. Later Macs use something called a T2 chip that basically destroys all data on the computer is someone tries to tamper with it - Thunderbolt allows for a much more secure hardware level connection than USB.

A thunderbolt 2 to 3 adapter will definitely work if you can get one!  :grin:
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gridbug
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« Reply #7 on: May 09, 2023 @820.57 »

Of course the thing is glued on. Fortunately I would never have opened the machine in the first place, Macs are not exactly made to be easy to repair, at least the laptops aren't, which is true for most laptops to be fair.

I meant that it would be a 2014 model or that it was made in 2014, My overview page says mid 2014, and I'm not sure which one of those two things it means.

I will post whenever I get a chance to try the thunderbolt cable for file transfers. I'm glad there is at least some reason for the switch to only thunderbolt, I assumed it was just another ploy to sell more cables and accessories : P

You will be happy to learn that I am actually running time machine as I type this, I have an old portable mechanical hard drive that my backup is on so this will take forever, I should probably just get an SSD for backups. I checked the backup history and it says the last time I backed it up was in 2016, which means I would lose just about all of my stuff if I didn't go through with this.
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