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I read and printed the article on shutting down however my issue was:

it would start - just got a white screen with Apple logo and spinning ball. No way to shut it off! Tried holding down power button, nada....held it down for awhile too...didn't try the control-command + the button though - have a feeling that it wouldn't have worked either....the machine was totally dead in the water.

Didn' know what else to do other than pull the plug...had to do it several times, hope I didn't hurt anything. It "appears" that all o.k. now as I posted, hopefully the problem is fixed and I just have to accept that I don't know what th'hell went wrong and less about exactly how it got fixed other than just flailing around as I did, must have done something that repaired it (as described).

Also read about the Target Disk Mode and the Firmware option, I'm sure my iMac is intel-based so it seems like that would not be a viable option also, as you might have guessed, I'm not very techie....most of this is a total mystery to me although I try, and try, and try..... ;)

thanks for all your help.
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