Experiencing an unrecoverable error on your Mac and not being able to boot up after uninstalling an app can be extremely frustrating. Your Mac getting stuck on the loading screen or showing a prohibition sign means the operating system has run into a serious error and cannot start up properly.
Don’t panic just yet, as there are several troubleshooting methods you can try to fix this issue and get your Mac functioning again. In this detailed guide, we’ll walk through the step-by-step solutions to troubleshoot an unrecoverable error on Mac when it fails to boot up after removing an application.
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Understanding the Unrecoverable Error Mac Can’t Boot
When certain critical system files or boot resources become damaged or go missing on your Mac, it results in an unrecoverable error. This prevents your Mac from starting up and loading the operating system as it doesn’t have access to the components required to complete the process.
Some common causes for this error on Mac include:
- Corrupted system files: Important OS X system files under the Library folder may have become corrupted. This prevents bootup and system functioning.
- Issues with startup disk: Errors in the startup disk like partition problems or file system damage can lead to unrecoverable errors.
- Incompatible software: Installing incompatible or damaged third-party apps can sometimes cause boot problems.
- Improper uninstalls: Not uninstalling applications properly before deleting them may remove vital files, causing errors.
- Hardware problems: Faults with the RAM, hard drive, or other hardware can also result in unrecoverable errors.
When you try to boot your Mac and it displays a prohibitory sign or gets stuck on the loading bar, it’s typically indicative of an unrecoverable error caused by one of these factors.
Step 1 – Start up in Recovery Mode
The first troubleshooting method to attempt is starting up your Mac in macOS Recovery mode. Here are the steps to boot into Recovery:
- Press the power button to turn on your Mac
- Immediately press and hold the Command (⌘) + R keys simultaneously after you hear the startup chime
- Keep holding the keys until you see the Apple logo or spinning globe appear on screen
- This will boot your Mac into Recovery mode rather than normally starting up the operating system
Recovery Mode provides access to various utilities that can help diagnose and fix problems with your Mac. Now you can try the following steps:
Reinstalling the macOS through Recovery is one of the best ways to fix unrecoverable errors. Follow these steps:
- When in Recovery Mode, select Reinstall macOS from the Utilities window
- Click Continue and follow the on-screen instructions
- Select your startup disk when prompted
- This will reinstall a fresh copy of the operating system, replacing any damaged system files
- Try booting up normally after the reinstallation completes
This should hopefully resolve any corrupt system files or software issues that were preventing startup.
Run Disk Utility
You can also try running Disk Utility from Recovery Mode:
- Open Disk Utility from the Utilities window
- Select your startup disk and click First Aid
- Disk Utility will check for and repair directory damage, file system errors, or other issues
- After completing Disk Utility, restart your Mac to see if the problem is fixed
Running First Aid can help resolve disk issues or file system corruption causing unrecoverable errors.
Restore from Time Machine
If you have a Time Machine backup available:
- Open Restore From Time Machine Backup utility in Recovery mode
- Select your backup drive and restore your Mac to a previous working state
- Restart your Mac after the restoration process is complete
This will roll back your Mac to a time before the errors occurred and restore the boot files required to start up properly.
If the unrecoverable error still shows up after trying these Recovery mode options, proceed to the advanced steps below.
Step 2 – Boot in Safe Mode
Safe Mode is a special diagnostic mode that loads only essential macOS components required for startup. Here’s how to boot in Safe Mode:
- Fully shut down your Mac
- Restart your Mac and immediately press and hold the Shift key
- Keep holding Shift until you see the login screen appear
- This will launch Safe Mode rather than a normal startup
Now, test if the issue reappears in Safe Mode. If your Mac boots up successfully, it indicates that third-party apps or login items were likely causing the errors.
You can isolate which apps or login items are problematic by turning them off one by one and testing bootup each time. Eliminate any software or login items causing conflicts.
Running a malware scan using antivirus software can also help remove any infected apps leading to boot failures.
After isolating and removing any conflicting apps, perform a normal restart to see if the errors have been resolved.
Step 3 – Reset NVRAM and SMC
Resetting the NVRAM and SMC can help troubleshoot unrecoverable errors in many cases. Here’s how to reset them:
NVRAM (non-volatile random-access memory) stores certain settings and information required during bootup. Follow these steps:
- Shut down your Mac fully
- Turn it back on and immediately press Option + Command + P + R
- Hold the keys down until your Mac restarts again and you hear the startup chime for the second time
- Release the keys after the second startup chime
This will reset the NVRAM and may resolve the errors if they were caused by corrupted NVRAM settings.
The SMC (System Management Controller) controls low-level functions like power management. To reset it:
- Shut down your Mac fully
- For MacBooks, press Shift + Control + Option + Power button at the same time
- For iMac and Mac Pro, unplug power cable for 15 seconds then plug back in
- Wait a few seconds then restart your Mac normally
Resetting the SMC can fix hardware and power-related causes of the error.
Step 4 – Boot into Single User Mode
Single User Mode starts your Mac in a command line interface without loading the full operating system. Try it by:
- Restart your Mac and hold down Command + S as it boots
- Keep holding the keys until text appears on the screen
- This will enter Single User Mode rather than launching the GUI
Now you can run certain commands to repair your startup disk:
- Run fsck -fy to check and repair any file system errors
- Run mount -uw / to remount the root file system as writeable
- Run rm /var/db/.applesetupdone to delete the setup file
- Type exit to continue booting normally
These commands can help resolve file permission issues or corrupt setup files causing unrecoverable errors.
Step 5 – Reinstall or Update Incompatible Apps
If you suspect a certain third-party app may be the culprit, try reinstalling it:
- Download the latest version of the app from the developer’s website
- Make sure to completely uninstall the existing version using AppCleaner or similar utility
- Install the freshly downloaded version
- Check if this resolves the bootup issues
Alternatively, you can update incompatible apps if newer versions are available:
- Open the App Store on your Mac
- Click Updates and install any pending updates for apps
- Updated apps may fix conflicts or bugs causing startup failure
Updating or reinstalling the problematic app can help troubleshoot application-related causes of unrecoverable errors.
Step 6 – Erase and Reformat the Startup Disk
If all else fails, completely erasing your startup disk may be required:
- Boot into Recovery mode and launch Disk Utility
- Select your startup disk and click Erase
- Choose a format like APFS or Mac OS Extended
- Rename the disk if needed and click Erase
- Quit Disk Utility and reinstall macOS on the empty disk
This will wipe your startup drive and reformat it from scratch, removing any corrupt files or settings. Reinstalling the OS on the erased disk can eliminate complex software issues.
However, this will erase all your data – so first back up your important files and settings.
When to Seek Professional Help
If you still encounter unrecoverable errors or failure to boot up even after trying all these solutions, your Mac may require professional servicing to fix hardware defects or critical file system problems that cannot be resolved with basic troubleshooting.
Some signs indicating you should take your Mac to a repair center include:
- Persistent prohibitory symbols or error messages on startup
- Inability to reinstall macOS or erase startup disk
- Startup disk detected as unmountable or unreadable
- Visible damage like cracks, dents or liquid spills on Mac
- Boot failures accompanied by hardware problems like display or trackpad issues
- Out of warranty machines (as repairs can be expensive)
Apple Authorized Service Providers have the advanced tools, diagnostics, and components to correctly identify and fix these complex hardware or software-related boot failures.
While unrecoverable errors when uninstalling apps can seem intimidating at first, methodically trying the stepwise solutions covered in this guide should help you isolate and troubleshoot the issue in most cases. But if the problem still doesn’t resolve or returns after fixing, getting professional assistance is recommended to address any deeper underlying hardware or disk issues causing the error.