Sad mac

One version of the Sad Mac icon, this one indicating that an illegal instruction exception occurred. Normally the Sad Mac and code would be very small on the screen.


Another version showing that the ROM checksum is incorrect on a Macintosh Plus.

A Sad Mac is a symbol used by older-generation Apple Macintosh computers (hardware using the Old World ROM), starting with the original 128K Macintosh,[1] to indicate a severe hardware or software problem that prevented startup from occurring successfully. The Sad Mac icon was displayed on a black screen, along with a set of hexadecimal codes that indicated the type of problem at startup. Different codes were given for different errors. This was used in place of the normal Happy Mac icon, which indicated that the startup-time hardware tests were successful. In 68k models made after the Macintosh II, a tune (Chimes of Death) was played.

Models prior to the Macintosh II crashed silently and displayed the Sad Mac, without playing any tone. PowerPC Macs played a sound effect of a car crash, and computers equipped with the PowerPC upgrade card used the three note brass fanfare death chime(A, E-natural, and E-flat) same as the Macintosh Performa 6200 and Macintosh Performa 6300.

A Sad Mac may be deliberately generated at startup by pressing the interrupt switch on Macintosh computers that had one installed, or by pressing Command and Power keys shortly after the startup chime. On some Macintoshes (e.g. PowerBook 540c) if the user presses the command and power keys before the screen comes up, it will play the chimes of death; the chimes are a fraction of normal speed and there is no Sad Mac displayed.

The strings of text that appears with the Sad Mac screen have different meanings on different models of the Macintosh system. Also, on older models like the Macintosh Plus, the Sad Mac has a checkerboard pattern around the icon instead of a black background, making the icon look like it has a gray border around it.

Sad iPod

Sad iPod

Sad iPod

A Sad iPod signifying an unrecoverable error was detected in a Disk Scan.

On the iPod, if damage or an error occurs in the hardware or the firmware, for example, if its files are deleted, or a serious unrecoverable hard drive error is found in a disk scan, a Sad iPod appears. This is similar to the Sad Mac, but instead of a computer, there is an iPod with a sad face, and doesn't play a death chime. The icon also lacks a nose, and the trail off is on the other side.

Sad Tab of Death

On the Google Chrome Application, it is possible to "kill" a page, however there are several methods to do so. Upon doing so, it will cause a version of the Sad Mac to appear, with a caption clip that can say either "He's dead, Jim", "Aw, Snap!" etc. This will lead the user to refresh the page by force. Sad Tab of Death comes in the form of the first tab of a folder, with an "x~x" facial expression on it, and was created for comedic purposes.


  1. Macintosh: "Sad Macintosh" Error Code Meaning. Apple (November 30, 2003). Archived from the original on June 17, 2009. Retrieved on August 24, 2008.

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