How do I wipe a hard drive on an iMac with a dead display?
February 2, 2011 12:36 PM   Subscribe

How do I wipe a hard drive on an iMac with a dead display?

The primary display on my recently purchased 27" iMac is dead. Apple is refunding my money, but I want to wipe the drive before I send it back.

My 19" secondary monitor works fine but apps default to opening on the dead primary display, making it difficult/impossible to use.

Is there a way to either force the iMac to treat the 19" as the primary display. Or is there a bootable DVD that will run a 7-pass erase without any user interaction?

Or perhaps there's another way? Thanks for your help.
posted by frenetic to Technology (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Try command+F1 to enable display mirroring.
posted by thejoshu at 12:48 PM on February 2, 2011

Best answer: Solution #1: Firewire target disk mode. If you have a second Mac you can do this. Essentially you connect both computers using a Firewire cable, boot your damaged iMac while pressing the 'T' key. The damaged iMac will show up on the other computer as an external drive. You can wipe the drive using Disk Utilities.

Solution #2: remove the hard-drive, put into an external enclosure, wipe the drive, replace hard drive
posted by mazola at 12:49 PM on February 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Is it an Intel or PowerPC model? If it's an Intel model you can use Disk Boot And Nuke (DBAN) as-is, or if it's a PowerPC model you can try this PowerPC build. I think you still need to be able to type "autonuke" once it's booted, so YMMV.
posted by asymptotic at 1:02 PM on February 2, 2011

This piece says that either F7 or CMD-F1 might turn on Display Mirroring, which would let you use the external monitor. From there you could reboot from a DVD and wipe the drive.

Firewire target disk mode, as mentioned above, is what I'd try next. May need to borrow someone's machine to do it. and 7-pass wiping takes a long time, overnight or longer.
posted by davextreme at 1:16 PM on February 2, 2011

Seconding DBAN, if you have an Intel Mac.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:10 PM on February 2, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions. Display Mirroring didn't seem to do anything, DBAN nearly worked (it showed up on the second monitor) but it kept failing with an error. Wound up having to break down and go buy a $60 Firewire 800 cable and that worked first try.
posted by frenetic at 11:48 AM on February 6, 2011

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