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Mid 2009 Model A1278 / 2.26 or 2.53 GHz Core 2 Duo processor EMC 2326

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MacBook Pro won’t boot from drive (that boots on other machines)

My MacBook Pro won’t boot from the hard drive internally or externally, though I can boot from that drive when plugged into another device via USB in an external enclosure.

When trying to boot up normally, it shows the flashing folder with a question mark icon. When trying to boot to startup manager, the cursor loads but no drives are shown. This is the case with this drive internally on that computer or when plugged in via USB externally to that computer.

I can boot from that drive fine on another laptop, no issue.

I’ve tried everything I can find online, resetting PRAM/NVRAM, SMC, safe mode, disk recovery, everything I can find suggested.

The fact that it won’t work on that machine internally *or* externally suggests to me (perhaps wrongly) that it’s not the hard drive cable, and the fact that it can boot using a different laptop suggests that it’s also not the hard drive itself.

Does this only leave the logic board, or does anyone have any other ideas of something to try? It’s been hard to find this exact set of symptoms online elsewhere, so any help at all is much appreciated!

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Sounds like you are hitting the updated file system GUID/APFS from High Sierra and onward where your system can only access drives which have the older file system GUID/HFS+ (a.k.a. Journaled File System).

When Apple updated the file system they introduced new system firmware so the systems could then boot up under the newer file system. Sadly, your system did not get a firmware upgrade so it can’t boot up under APFS volumes.

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For further context, the drive/laptop in question is a from a 2012 MacBook Pro, I believe running Mojave. I can boot from it when plugging into my 2019 MBP running Catalina, but it won’t boot internally or externally on the 2009 laptop it’s in right now.

Does that match up with the APFS/HFS+ transition you’re talking about above? Forgive my ignorance and thanks so much for your knowledge and input!

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Yes!

You can't use the drive setup with either of your 2012 or 2019 MacBook Pro's both use APFS with Mojave and Catalina macOS's as a boot drive.

Your 2009 MacBook Pro can only support drives setup with HFS+ (Journaled file system). Your 2009 MacBook Pro can only go upto El Capitan OS-X 10.11.8 for a boot OS and it must be installed on a HFS+ file system..

Using Disk Utility you can format the drive to either! But the OS installer on your newer systems will convert it to APFS+ (High Sierra, Mojave and Catalina).

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Matt Baccari будет вечно благодарен.
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