< The MacPaw How-tos

Mac won't turn on: What to do?


When your Mac won't load or hangs on startup it’s not the end of the world. You still have pretty good chances of fixing it, even without a technician’s help. Before you read next, check if your Mac is plugged in. Your first guess should be your Mac has run out of battery. If it’s not the case, you are welcome to try some of the following easy tips.

1. Check your charger’s cable

Mac doesn't start

Carefully examine the cable along its full length to see if the charger is intact and all connections are in place. Also, check the AC power socket is working. To isolate the source of the problem, look into the following:

  • Does your Mac make any noise? If the fans are working but you can’t hear any other sounds, this might indicate logic board failure.
  • Could it be the display? Press the Caps Lock to see if it lights on. If it glows, then your display is probably off.

2. Perform the special power cycle

There are cases when your Mac wouldn’t start despite being normally plugged in, even with a green power indicator glowing. You may try rebooting your MacBook in a special mode, called "special power cycle" which involves the following steps.

  1. Unplug the power cable.
  2. Hold down the Power button for about 10 seconds.
  3. Without releasing the Power button connect the power cable.
  4. Wait 10 more seconds holding it.
  5. Let go of a button and start your Mac in a normal way.

Macbook Pro won't load

3. MacBook won’t boot? Start it in a Safe mode

Safe mode limits the macOS to its most basic functions while allowing you to recover your Mac. Sometimes it’s the single most effective solution when your Mac won’t turn on, or continuously crashes.

Press the Power button while holding down Shift
Release the Shift key after login dialogue shows up

Mac doesn't start

Did your Mac wake up? Congrats, you’re in the Safe mode. At this point, you at least have some freedom of actions to investigate and troubleshoot the issue. While in the Safe mode, you might try running a couple of maintenance utilities. I've been using CleanMyMac for some years now because of its Verify Startup Disk tool, which may give you a clue why your Mac is not booting up. 

1. Launch CleanMyMac (you can get its free version here)
2. Click section "Maintenance"
3. Check "Verify startup disk"

4. Fixing a Mac booting to black screen

The common issue reported on many Apple forums is Mac’s screen going black on startup. This is typically followed by recurring “Reset Password” message. The problem appears to be somehow concerned with the battery power circuit with Mac failing to light up the screen. There is a fairly simple solution to it, though, quite an odd one — involving a flashlight or a lamp. The trick works because your login screen is still there but you can’t see it.

fix macbook booting to black screen

Image source: Reddit

Shine the flashlight through the Apple logo on the back of your screen. Bringing this extra light should help you see the login icon and you’ll be able to put the cursor in the right spot and log in. The screen should light up normally right after that. A variant of this solution is to shine a flashlight across the screen from left to right (on the front side of the screen). Try this in a dark room for greater effect.

How to fix a Mac that won't start

5. Reset System Management Controller (SMC)

System Management Controller is responsible for many ground-level functions of your Mac. Among those are battery settings, display reactions, and specifically the Power button functions. Use the following technique to reset SMC if your MacBook won’t load.

Mac won't boot how to fix it

If your MacBook’s battery isn’t removable:

  1. Shut down Mac and plug in the power cord.
  2. Press Shift-Control-Option, then press Power button.
  3. Hold the keys for about 10 seconds.
  4. Release the keys.
  5. Press Power as you would normally start your Mac.

If you have a Mac with removable battery:

  1. Take out the battery
  2. Press and hold Power button for about 5 seconds
  3. Re-insert the battery and press Power button again

If you’re on a desktop Mac or Mac Pro:

  1. Unplug the power cable
  2. Give it 15 seconds
  3. Plug the cable back in
  4. Wait 5 more seconds and press Power again

6. Try Recovery mode when the Mac won't load

If the issue repeats and your Mac won’t turn on again, you can try some of these:

  • Set your Mac back using Time Machine
  • Reinstall the operating system
  • Use Disk Utility to recover your drive
  • Run some dedicated Mac maintenance app

All these options are available via Recovery mode—not to confuse with the Safe mode—and to enter it you’ll need to once again press a few spell-invoking special buttons. Needless to say, they are of no use if your MacBook won’t load in the first place.

How to enter Recovery mode:

Got to Apple menu > Restart
Wait for Mac’s startup sound
Immediately press and hold Command + R
Don’t release the keys until you see Apple logo

Macbook won't start

Give your Mac a bit of time to load and you’ll be taken to Utilities. From there on, you’ll see several to recover your Mac.

A few more reasons your Mac won’t turn on

Putting hardware-related issues aside, there would be still many explanations for your Mac's misbehavior. But to give you a perspective, here are a few more ideas to check:

  • Corrupted caches: critical system files from the boot sector are corrupted.
  • Incompatible Login Items: some apps may affect the boot process.
  • Broken hard disk permissions: conflicting user accounts

All these can be fixed using just software solutions. To get a health check for your Mac, start with a simple maintenance tool for Mac —a free version of CleanMyMac will do. It could help you locate hidden junk files and detect various hard drive errors which prevent your Mac from booting up. Most often than not a quick digital cleanup will do the job.

MacBook crashes and won't turn on

OK, that’s all there is to it. Feel free to share this article if you found it helpful.


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