If one day, on booting your Macbook (likely, after doing some serious modification to your hdd or filesystems), you hear the startup chime but you get an empty white screen showing no activity at all, which stays there forever, then you’ve come across the dreaded white screen of death.
In order to fix it, first you can try the (sufficiently explained somewhere else) recommendations of the sort: insert the System Install medium, reset the SMC, reset the PRAM, hold down the Option, C or N keys, boot off the network, etc. But if nothing of that works, don’t panic! Don’t pay much attention to posts out there saying that your hard drive/motherboard is “fried”, nor take yet your machine to the Apple service for getting stolen once again. There are many chances that nothhing is wrong with your hardware. Follow the steps I explain here and, instead of a very expensive repair bill, you’ll probably only spend (depending on your model) $12 on a Phillips #00 screwdriver, plus maybe $14 on a Torx T5.
Now, before you proceed to the fix, I think it’s good you read this brief explanation about how a Macbook boots, so you know what’s going on.
The sequence is more or less like this: the EFI firmware tries to boot either off the hard drive or off another bootable medium (a CD/DVD unit, an install USB stick, the network, etc), if previously so set via OS-X’s Startup Manager. Now, let’s consider the two cases, starting from the second: when the firmware is NOT set to boot off the hard drive, it looks, as instructed, for the alternative boot medium that it was told; but if it doesn’t find it (or the medium isn’t bootable), then it will automatically revert to booting off the hard drive. However, when the firmware is set to boot off the hdd (which is the default) and this drive isn’t bootable (for whatever reason) then it WILL NOT automatically try to find any other alternative boot media, so it doesn’t boot at all, thus presenting to you the white screen of death. This is the stupid logic for which you’ve paid a fortune, instead of buying a cheaper and bullet-proof PC.
Now, how can you work around this problem? Here comes my “copyrighted” fix. It’s quite simple:
Step #1. With the help of the screwdrivers that I mentioned above, remove your Macbook’s back cover and unattach the hard drive from the motherboard (in iFixit you have a great tutorial on how to do it. Don’t be afraid. It’s extemely easy, and even fun. I’m sure you can do it). Having NO hard drive at all is the only way to force the system firmware to automatically look for alternative boot media. So, now
Step #2. simply make available such medium (USB, DVD, network…) and, voilá!, after one minute or so, you’ll take a deep sigh because when you see the little spinning icon, and the laptop will boot. Congratulations: you’ve done the most difficult part; the rest is easy:
Step #3. Once your laptop booted, it’s essential that you go to the Utilities menu, open the Startup Manager and set the computer to, next time, boot off anything except the hard drive, or you’ll be in the same SHITuation upon next boot! Next,
Step #4. attach again the hard drive to the motherboard and reboot. It should boot as instructed, presenting no white screen. Now go again to Utilities menu and, using the Disk Utility, repair or (in the worst case) format your hard drive, as needed.
That’s all! SHAME on Apple for neither fixing their firmware nor offering this solution it in their support webpage, but, instead, joyfully getting your money twice: first when selling their crap, second when fixing it.
Notice: I am the “discoverer” of this fix, and I’ve published it here for Apple’s shame and for your benefit. If I’ve spared you one week anguish and/or a $500 bill at the nearest Apple workshop, you might like to show your gratefulness by inviting me a beer. Simply donate here what you’d pay for a beer in your favourite bar. Cheap and nice, huh? 😉
(One last word: due to the excessive amount of comments to this thread, no newer can be posted. I believe that most doubts or questions have already being posted and replied. Please read carefully throughout the comments, because your answer is probably there.)