Model A1311 / Late 2011 / 3.1 GHz Core i3 processor / Education only model

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Upgrade hardware and OS

Hi all,

Looking to upgrade my iMac. The wife bought a new one and accidentally deleted the OS High Sierra so it now has the flashing folder with a ?. I was wondering what I would need hardware wise to upgrade it to make it a bit faster for using photoshop for editing pictures. Also, would I be able to upgrade to Catalina?

I’m newer to the Mac world so please be gentle :)

Thanks in advance!

Here is the link to my model

Apple MC978LL/A Intel Core i3-2100 - 3.1GHz, 4GB, 250GB 21.5in Screen,Silver (Renewed)

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What do you mean "it now has the flashing folder with a ?."? Where is this folder?


It is a picture of a file folder with a question mark on it it happens at start up and it is a white screen with the older flashing on it





Boot the machine up and hold down the Option & R keys to see if you have a working repair portion. If so run Disk Utilities. This failing, you can also attempt an internet system reinstall from the repair partition.

This was the bottom of the line iMac (educational model). Maximum operating system is high Sierra 10.13

It shipped with 2GB of RAM and a 250GB Hard drive. You can RAM it up to 16GB and install a SATA II 3.0 Gb’s SSD. It’s worth about $250 now.

Here’s how to replace the hard drive:

iMac Intel 21.5" EMC 2638 Hard Drive Replacement

As to upgrading it please look at my answer here:

What cpu can I upgrade my iMac to?


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He doesn't need to necessarily replace the Hard Drive yet. He might just have to reset to PRAM/NVRAM.



The flashing folder probably means that your Mac can't find your startup disk so it can't boot the OS. There are some things to try to fix this:

First, shut down your Mac. If you can’t do it using the mouse and display, you can always just shut it down by holding the power button until the screen shuts off.

Once it’s shut down, make sure everything (wires, cables, etc.) is disconnected from the Mac.

Then, restart your Mac by holding the power button until the Apple logo shows up.

If this doesn’t work, there are other things we can try, so don’t worry, but make sure you do this first before we continue. Tell me what happens.


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I’ve tried that a few times no luck so far I’d be happy to go through some trouble shooting tips


@Kram2718 Okay, then we can try giving the system a Safe Boot. To do this, follow these steps:

1. Shut down your system.

2. Turn it back on and as it starts up, immediately press and the Shift key.

3. When you see the login window, release the Shift key. If you did it properly, "Safe Boot" should appear in the upper-right corner.

4. Finally, see if you can log in.


No luck. Still showing the flashing folder. It has an after market Mac keyboard if that makes a difference.


@Kram2718 Maybe. Do you have a Mac one around?




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