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The computer cannot find the operating system files to start up. Use a start-up disk or utility disk to start the computer then re-install the system files.Hold down C key while starting from disk. DO NOT REFORMAT the disk or you will lose all your files. Just do a simple System install.
It looks like a dead hard drive... To check your hard drive and see if you can repair it yourself,
reboot your computer
press simultaneously the "cmd" and "s" keys at startup
if you see a black screen with white text, type:
fsck -f and hit enter
this does a "file system check", when finnished, type "reboot" and press enter.
If nothing better happens, you'll certainly have to brinng it to an Apple Authorized Center
The blinking file folder with the question mark can happen when the computer doesn't "see" your System.
It can be caused by a faulty hard drive, or by a damaged operating system.
You can try to reboot the mac, hold the mouse button during 20 seconds to eject the CD, then insert you installation DVD (leopard). Reboot the Mac again, and hold the "C" key. Select english, the go to the tools menu, and Disk Utility. Go to the SOS tab, select your drive and click "repair". If something red appears, it means that it has found something wrong on your hard drive.
The flashing folder means that the computer can't find the boot system on the hard drive. If your girlfriend's step-dad has removed some parts of the OS, then the system will not start giving the 'flashing folder' result. You will need to re-install the OS from the system disk. Insert the disk into the computer and it will boot from that and take you through the install procedure.
The flashing folder with hard drive symbol is telling you that the computer cannot find a bootable system folder (operating system). This could be because the hard drive is working properly, or the operating system folder has become corrupted. Try booting up from the system CD or DVD that came with your Mac Book Pro and see if it can repair your hard drive.