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Chapter 5. Startup and Disk Problems: St... > Understanding the Startup Sequence

Understanding the Startup Sequence

What Is a Normal Startup Sequence?

For most users, the startup disk is usually an internal hard drive. Assuming that this is the case for you, here's how a normal startup sequence proceeds:

  1. Turn on your Macintosh. I am assuming that you already know how to do this. If you have any questions, check the section in Chapter 4 on turning your Mac on and off.

  2. The Macintosh immediately begins a series of diagnostic tests that check the condition of the hardware. Because I am describing a normal startup, I will assume that no problems are found.

    In this case, the Macintosh plays its normal startup tone. The tone may be a single note or a chord, depending on what type of Macintosh you are using (yet another example of how Apple continues to make life difficult for those of us who would like to be able to describe these matters without needing to cite numerous exceptions and variations!). The Power Macs have a startup sound not used on any previous models.

  3. You may or may not briefly see a folder or disk icon with a ? inside it.

  4. The Macintosh checks all available disks (in a prescribed order, to be described later in this chapter) to see whether any of them are startup disks (typically, this means a disk with a valid System Folder on it). If it finds one, you briefly see the (smiling) happy Mac icon. The Macintosh has now passed all of its initial diagnostic tests.

    Figure 5-1. The smiling Happy Mac icon, a sign of a successful startup.

  5. Eventually, the Mac OS splash screen appears. The words "Welcome to Mac OS" briefly appear below the Mac OS logo, followed by the words "Starting up..."

  6. Startup extensions (and related files) load. You can usually identify this activity by the sequential appearance of small icons along the bottom of the screen. These are the icons of the loading startup extensions (see Chapter 1 and Fix-It #3). Not all extensions display an icon here, but you will almost assuredly have at least a few that do.

  7. Finally, the Finder's desktop appears. The startup disk icon appears in the top-right corner of the screen. This icon means that the disk has mounted.

    The term mounted is used to describe all volumes, not just the startup disk, that appear on the right border of the desktop. You can have both a CD-ROM disk and an internal hard disk mounted at the same time. The icons for both disks then appear on the desktop.

    The icons for other disks, if any, appear below the startup disk's icon. That is, the startup disk is always the disk that initially is at the top of the stack of disk icons. You can change the icon's location with the mouse, though this does not affect which disk is the startup disk.

    Figure 5-2. When you reach the desktop, the topmost disk icon displayed (Solo in this case) is the startup disk.

  8. If you placed any files in the Startup Items folder, these files are launched next, and the startup sequence concludes.



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