How to Fix Mac Flashes Folder with Question Mark? [Updated 2023]

Updated by Daisy on Dec 06, 2022
  | Computer Instruction

Are you wary about your Mac suddenly showing a flashing folder with a question mark? Your system might work perfectly well, and you suddenly encounter this one day. Mac flashes folder with a question mark is mainly due to two broad reasons – hardware and software-related issues.

Generally, the Mac flashing a folder with the question mark means that the system cannot locate the operating system. Detecting the OS on the startup disk leads to this error message. In some cases, the problem deescalates quickly with a simple restarting of the system. The Mac usually continues without causing further issues. 

But, sometimes, the problem can persist, leading the users to adopt different solutions. This post will discuss this error and potential solutions to resolve the matter. 

Why Does Mac Flash Folder with Question Mark?

When you start your Mac, you might come across the Mac Flash Folder with the Question Mark issue. What does it mean? As per Apple, the blinking folder containing the question mark indicates a malfunctioning or corrupt operating system. It could also be due to the non-availability of the startup disk.

However, there is no need to panic. It's not an unsolvable matter. You can adopt multiple solutions to resolve the problem. However, it is vital to understand that this issue is due to hardware or software problems. 

For instance, the error can occur due to a failed OS update, a corrupt hard drive, etc. Other reasons include improper NVRAM settings, hard drive cable problems, and more!

Fixed: Mac Flashes Folder with Question Mark? 

There is no reason to panic when your system displays the flashing folder with a question mark. You can adopt multiple solutions to fix this issue. Let's take a look at these solutions:

Method 1. Reset NVRAM

One of the most straightforward solutions to fix the Mac flashing folder with the question mark problem is to reset NVRAM. But, firstly, you need to understand what NVRAM is. NVRAM, or non-volatile random-access memory, is essentially the memory that contains data that remains even when the memory chips are not powered. 

As NVRAM contains the primary booting data, it can help fix the flashing folder with a question mark on the system. To reset NVRM, you need to follow some simple steps:

Step 1. Turn off the system. You must go to the Apple menu and press the "Shut Down" option. 

close the Mac

Step 2. Turn on the system. After that, press the Option + Command + P + R keys immediately. You can release the keys after a few seconds. That will reset the NVRAM. 

Method 2. Check startup system preferences

Another solution to fix the Mac flashing the folder with a question mark problem is to check out the system preferences. You need to ensure that the system opts for the correct startup disk. (consider what if there is no startup disk Mac)

Step 1. Go to the "Apple menu." Now, click on "System Preferences."

Open System Preferences on Mac

Step 2. Click on the Startup Disk option. 

Open Startup Disk

Here, you will see the list of disks available for a startup. 

From this list of disks, make sure you choose the right one. In general cases, the startup disk is Macintosh HD. If you want to make changes, click on the "lock" icon at the left-bottom part of the screen. Enter the password and click on the disk you want to choose to startup the Mac. After that, restart the system. 

Method 3. Reinstall macOS without losing data

If a software-related problem leads to the Mac flashing the folder with a question mark, you can opt for Reinstall macOS. In that case, you only need a steady internet connection. After that, you can download the operating system from the official servers. 

Step 1. Launch the macOS Recovery. If all goes well, you can proceed without losing data. But, there is always a chance of losing precious data. In that case, you must reinstall macOS carefully, ensuring no data loss. 

Step 2. Select "Reinstall macOS." Then, you need to follow the instructions present on the screen. That way, the data will remain intact while the operating system is reinstalled within the startup disk. 


The occurrence of the Mac flashing the folder with a question mark is a common problem. Don't panic! The issues are primarily due to software or hardware problems. Luckily, there are various solutions to fix this error. 

For instance, you can fix the NVRAM settings, reinstall the operating system, etc. After that, you need to see if the issue is resolved. If the problem persists, you need to get professional help. In that case, get in touch with the Apple support team as soon as possible. 

Frequently Asked FAQs

It would help if you tried multiple solutions to fix the Mac flashing folder with the question mark. However, it is imperative to gain more knowledge to keep yourself up-to-date. In that case, look at the questions and answers listed below.

1. How do you fix a corrupted folder on a Mac?

To fix a corrupted folder on a Mac, you can use Disk Utility.

Step 1. Select the hard drive you want to fix.

Step 2. Tap the First Aid button will run the program and check the folder for errors. Apart from that, you can also use professional recovery software tools. 

2. How do I get rid of the ball of death on my Mac?

You can opt for multiple solutions to eliminate the ball of death on Mac.

For starters, you need to close the different background apps running. You must also Force Quit the app that is causing the problem.

Besides, you can use the Control + Option + Command + Power keys to force the shutdown of the system.

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