iMac not able to see boot volumes

Hello all,

I am facing a strange problem with my iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, 2017), at startup the computer does not see any boot volume, including the recovery volume. I cannot boot from any external volume either, I only get a dark screen. This is consecutive to an error message I got two days ago saying the Mac has crashed and message has to be send to Apple.
Yesterday I was not able to boot the Mac. This morning I was able to boot from an external volume and I am backing up all my volumes (using Superduper v3.7).
Any suggestion ?

After you complete your backups, you may want to see if you can start Internet Recovery mode. From there wipe the internal storage and reinstall everything from scratch.

If that doesn’t work, then at least the storage has been wiped, which you should do (to protect your privacy) before sending the computer to Apple for servicing anyway.

Is your hardware OK? What does Apple Diagnostics say?

This sounds a lot like a problem considered extensively in Apple Discussions. The short version of the result is the problem is caused by macOS inserting aliases in place of Volumes. The solution is in Finder Go / Go to Folder … /Volumes and find and delete aliases that should not be there. This appears to be a major bug recently introduced in macOS 12, which may remain in macOS 13.

cannot launch with user space relocated off System Disk

Unable to login with user folder on external drive since 12.5.1 upgrade

I have had my desktop system home folder on an external drive for several years so that I have room for my Books library. The last two updates to Monterey ignored the user database entries and created a new home folder. (SURPRISE!). After the first occurrence, I found that just re-pointing to the external user directory was insufficient to fix everything. I deleted the affected user, re-created the user and used advanced settings to point to the external user folder, deleted the spurious user directory entries in /Users, and rebooted.

I have not yet updated this system to Ventura only because of personal time limits. I am confident, based on both beta and production versions of Ventura are quite satisfactory. It will be interesting to see what will happen. I am compulsive about multiple CCC and Time Machine immediately prior to updating. So, no worries.

1 Like

James, did you check as described for Volume aliases? I ask because the experience you report sounds very much like what many of us did, before discovering the Volume problem. Either way, if you do or do not have the improper root level aliases, will be one more bit of data in tracking this strange problem.

Yes. Additions and changes from a working configuration were done by the update process. Once I removed the current User definition, fallacious /User/ entries, and re-created the user again pointing to the desired location, all was well.

Thanks, James. I have added your information to an open Feedback report I have with Apple on this issue.