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Mac won't turn on: What to do?

When your Mac won't load it's probably less usable than ever (excuse the joke). But yet it’s too early to play the worst-case scenarios in your mind. 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 wall outlet 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, your display is probably off.

2. Perform the special power cycle

There are cases when your Mac wouldn’t start despite being plugged in, even with a green power indicator on. You may try rebooting it in a special power cycle mode 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.

3. Check your startup drive

A very common problem occurs when your Mac can’t find proper software to boot from, therefore Macbook won’t turn on. You will see a question mark next to your startup drive icon. Check out this article to repair your startup disk.

4. 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

5. 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 test your Mac and troubleshoot the issue. While in the Safe mode, we suggest you to run a couple of maintenance utilities, CleanMyMac being our favorite. The mentioned app has a Verify Startup Disk tool, which might give you a clue why your Mac is not booting up.

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 a few proven apps for Mac maintenance

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

Even we leave out hardware-related issues, there would be still countless possible explanations for such behavior of your Mac. But to give you a perspective, here are some 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

To cheer you up all 3 above reasons can’t be solved using the software. From our experience, CleanMyMac 3 app is pretty effective to put any problematic Mac back in shape. The program removes outdated caches, manages login items plus various HD drive errors, and does a few more tricks in terms of disk space and maintenance.

CleanMyMac 3 is available for a free download here.

OK, that’s all there is to it. For more guidance on maintaining your Mac, check out 15 ways to improve your MacBook’s performance. 

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