End of an Era - 2009 21.5" iMac will not boot up

Yesterday marked the end of an era for a beloved piece of technology in my life - my late 2009 iMac. This machine wasn’t just a computer; it was a companion that witnessed significant milestones, from apartment shifts to my grad school days and the early stages of my professional career. Its departure from functionality offers a moment to pause and appreciate the journey we shared.

A Testament to Durability and Design

For 14 years, this iMac stood by me. Its longevity is a testament to the enduring quality of Apple’s products. The all-in-one form factor of this Mac, often underrated, provided a seamless blend of aesthetics and functionality that newer models continue to emulate. While my current M2 Mac Studio boasts impressive specs, there’s an unmistakable charm and simplicity in the older iMac’s design, especially its integrated camera, something I miss in my current setup with a separate monitor and camera. I even mention that the monitor hooked up to the Mac Studio isn’t the best. Now I have to work towards purchasing an Apple Studio Display.

The Final Days

The decline of my 2009 iMac was sudden and unexpected. It began with a simple yet ominous message: “Bluetooth isn’t available at this time.” This warning sign was the first in a series of events leading to its ultimate demise.

In an attempt to rectify this issue, I decided to give the iMac a security update, hoping for a quick fix. Unfortunately, the update attempt made things worse. The iMac accepted it but never booted up again, marking the end of the iMac’s life.

Moving forward

I have a tentative plan to remove the internal ssd from the iMac and put it into an external enclosure. If everything goes as planned the iMac will never really be gone.


Have you tried Safe Boot?

My little daughter is still using my 2011 21.5 inch iMac fondly, no issues whatsoever.

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So do a safe mode boot up and then what?

Yes, they are great machines. My iMac is from late 2009.

If it boots in Safe Boot, you will know that it’s not a Motherboard failure, for instance.

And you may be able to run Disc Repair. The failure of Bluetooth and the failure to install the patch may be unrelated, and know the drive mounts will be reassuring when/if you remove it.

Mine from ‘07 still works though it just remains turned off in an upstairs room.

I can’t part with it, but I also don’t dare try to connect it to anything online. Maybe it’s time to see it off. :flushed:

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When you mentioned the Bluetooth message, the former technician side of me thought “yep, that is a failing logic board.” I state this because you have replaced the HD already and are 6 years farther along than the expected lifespan.

Congrats on having this iMac last so long!

It is hard losing a machine that has been a “friend” for so long and a large part of your life.

Pour one out for a 14 year old iMac. :beers: Cheers mate.

I gave my father my old 2007 iMac and he still uses it regularly. I just wish newer software supported it.

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Fair to say those machines don’t owe us anything hahaha

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I tried booting into Safe Mode by holding the Shift key down and booting the iMac until the loading bar on the white apple logo pager completed but nothing happened after going through that process. I waited until the iMac went to sleep on that boot screen.

CleanShot 2023-11-16 at 10.10.15

The iMac had macOS High Sierra installed.

My father finally replaced his hand-me-down 2009 iMac with a new M1 iMac in 2021. He still pays his bills and reads two newspapers a day on it at age 95!


They are great machines. I got an M2 Mac Studio in July, but I was still using the '09 iMac until a few days ago for watching videos, light web browsing and such.

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My 2010 is still running like a champ. It’s not my “daily driver”, but it serves up all my saved media content. It also runs an older version of Parallels that has Windows 10 installed to run the single PC application we use for the childcare program I manage for our church, which I can access and operate remotely via Anydesk from my iPad. It’s a lot to ask of the 13 year old machine, but it continues to do these tasks amazingly well.

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My 2014 iMac 27" died. Fortunately, its death throes lasted longed enough that I had a warning and could buy and setup a new MacStudio before it finally truly gave up. It was a great machine in terms of doing a lot of work projects right to the end.

My wife has a 2011 iMac 27" and it still works fine but my experience made me nervous enough that we did a preemptive upgrade to a high-end Mac mini and Studio Display for her.

Although over a decade old, these old iMacs were not “hopelessly” slow in any way IMO.

I am glad to transition to the monitor/computer “split”. Thunderbolt cables in the modern era can run 5K monitors well. That was not the case when these old iMacs came out.

It was a little painful and wasteful to throw away a perfectly functioning 27" monitor when the computer died. I think that Apple’s decision to not produce a 27" iMac going forward is a correct one.

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Yes, I run an Emby and Plex media servers on a 2010 Mac Mini as well.