Like every other work of technology, MacBooks are prone to issues too. MacBook not turning on is a problem many of us have faced, and thanks to articles like this, we’ve often successfully rectified it.
The solutions on this article have been tested, and you should attempt all of those you can before taking it to the repair shop, so, without much ado, go below to see what you should do if your MacBook Pro won’t turn on.
My iMac Won’t Turn On; What Exactly Is Wrong?
Before getting straight to the solutions, let’s know what exactly is wrong.
MacBook not turning on is different from MacBook not starting up; while both may sound the same, they are pretty different.
If pressing the Power button doesn’t make any sound on your MacBook, no startup chime, no fan or drive noise, no signs of life on the screen, no images, videos, Apple logo, visuals, or lighting of any sort, then know your MacBook isn’t turning on.
For your MacBook not to startup, you need to get past the conditions above; you might hear the startup chime, lighting on your keyboard, or screen, a visual of some sort, etc. The catch here is, you may be stuck in the Apple logo with boot up not moving forward, or you get the dreaded black screen of death.
Note that both problems have different approaches, and this article cuts across solutions for both.
Why Won’t My MacBook Pro Turn On?
If your MacBook Pro won’t turn on but is charging, then this is what may be happening.
Your MacBook is made up of these components, battery, logic board, keyboard, screen, SSD Drive.
These components are pretty integral and have a connection of some sort with the part of the system responsible for power, so a fault could result in the MacBook Pro not turning on.
The SMC is in charge of the MacBook power-on process.
When you initiate the power-on command by pressing your Power button or Touch ID, a series of complicated actions occur.
When the SMC detects the power on command, it reaches out to the chipset, which creates a “mini power supply” of different voltages (5V, 3.3V, 1.2V, 1.8V, etc.) following a specific sequence.
They then created “mini power supplies” power on your CPU, hard drive, Mac’s memory, keyboard, trackpad, and screen.
So, if you notice your MacBook Pro won’t turn on but is charging, know your SMC hasn’t received power, a function somewhere has failed, or it wasn’t able to create the needed “Mini power supplies.”
MacBook Pro Won’t Turn On | Top Fixes
If your MacBook Pro will not turn on, this section has you covered. However, most fixes here are pretty technical and involve you initiating critical commands.
So, to be safe, follow the steps below to carry out an emergency backup.
- Get a thunderbolt cable and another Mac.
- Connect both Macs via thunderbolt.
- Completely turn off the second Mac.
- Power it back on while holding down the T key and watch for cable to appear on your screen.
- Your Mac’s hard drive would appear as an external hard drive on the second Mac’s Finder.
- Copy your needed files.
1. Faulty Screen
This is more of a diagnostic than a solution; the result determines if your MacBook Air won’t turn on or Mac won’t startup. Most times, our Mac might be on, but our display (screen) is just black. So, to be safe, it’s best you check for signs of power like lights or sounds.
- Check for sound
If you hear a chime on pressing the power button, then know your device is on; after the chime, allow for at least two minutes while watching the screen for signs of life, even a quick flash.
Take your ear close to the vent holes and listen for any sound, fan noise, or hard drives. If you hear any sound or fan air, know your device is on but stuck; this is a logic board problem.
- Check for light
You might have accidentally reduced your screen brightness; shine a flashlight at the Apple logo behind your screen; if you notice a dim image, then increase your screen brightness from your keyboard. If it remains dim, you have a backlight problem.
Most Mac keyboards have two keys often at the top; these keys are designed with sun icons for toggling display brightness.
Typically, no matter how low you reduce the brightness, you should still see some light. Nevertheless, to leave no stones unturned, try this.
Strike the Caps Lock key; if its light comes on, we have a screen problem here. You can connect your Mac to an external monitor with a thunderbolt or HDMI port to troubleshoot.
Screens and logic boards are pretty expensive parts of your Mac, don’t fret; check other solutions below.
2. Unplug all Accessories
This may seem unproductive, but if your MacBook Pro won’t boot up, you should unplug every other accessory connected to it like USB devices, headphones, printers, external keyboards, and try rebooting your device.
These peripherals could be diverting the SMC. Also, if you recently added a new RAM or hard drive to your Mac, consider temporarily replacing them with the old ones (if possible) or ensure they are properly connected and compatible.
3. Perform a Power Cycle
A power cycle entails forcing your MacBook to restart after killing its power. Quit all active programs and save progress.
Hold down your power button for at least ten seconds, then release it after your Mac squeaks and goes off. Give it a ten to thirty seconds break, then try restarting it.
Unplug it from the power source for desktop Macs, leave it untouched for at least thirty seconds, then restart it.
4. Faulty External Hard Drives
If any of the peripherals attached to your Mac, external hard drives, have short circuits or suck an unusual amount of current from your Mac, the SMC activates a security measure by cutting short the power-on process; this protects your Mac.
So, again, unplug every external peripheral and restart Mac. This is typically the case when the MacBook pro won’t turn on but is charging.
5. Check the Display
This solution is best suited for Mac Pro or Mac Mini users. Besides checking for sound or light as discussed in solution one, below are other things to look out for.
- Investigate the power supply to the Mac; if the display uses a different power source, go through it too.
- Temporarily take off display switches and extenders alongside other devices or components that are present between the monitor and Mac.
- If you use a different monitor, unplug its video cable.
- Be sure every necessary cable is properly connected.
- If you have monitors connected in a “daisy chain,” unplug and try restarting your device.
- Get a different adapter or display; we suggest you go for DVI over VGA.
6. Boot in Safe Boot
If you can get the device on by chance, then entering Safe Boot can help you prevent the problem from happening again. Safe Boot limits startup functions and carries out specific diagnostics.
On an Intel-powered Mac, to enter Safe Boot, you’ll need to power on your device while holding down the Shift key. For the record, it may take a moment before it comes on.
To have a bird-eye view of what you are doing on an Intel-powered Mac, power on your Mac while pressing down Shift, Command, and V keys.
These keys enter both the Safe Mode and a different mode called Verbose mode. This new mode keeps you updated on what’s happening as you proceed in Safe Boot by highlighting commands with explanations.
On an M1-powered Mac, to enter Safe Mode, press down the power button till you can see startup options. From the options there, select the startup disk.
Press down Shift, click on Continue in Safe Mode. Immediately release the Shift key. To confirm you are in, Mac would display “Safe Mode” at the top-right menu.
You can do a lot from the Safe Mode, reinstall macOS, update software, and much more. If your MacBook Air won’t turn on but is charging and you’ve successfully gotten into the Safe Boot, then probably a startup item is interfering.
Go to System Preferences, then Users & Groups; remove all the items present (click the minus – button). You can remove one after the other while checking which startup item is a menace – trial and error.
7. Reset the SMC
As we discussed above, if your MacBook Pro won’t turn on but is charging, the SMC (System Management Controller) may be in trouble, and a reset should resolve it.
Resetting your SMC is renowned for solving many issues, including start-up problems or when your Mac doesn’t light up after opening its lid.
However, carrying out an SMC reset is unique to different Macs, as you’ll see below.
How do I reset SMC on Mac with removable batteries?
- Take off the battery.
- Press and hold down the power button for five to ten seconds.
- Replace the battery and try restarting your device.
How do I reset SMC on Macs without removable batteries?
- Combine these keys left Shift + Options (Alt) + Control keys then power button (touch ID) for about ten seconds.
- Mac should go off, release all keys, and restart it.
How do I reset SMC on Desktop Macs?
- Unplug the power cord and wait for up to 15 seconds.
- Plug back the cord and allow for about five seconds.
- Restart your Mac.
How do I reset SMC on MacBook with a T2 security chip (2018 MacBook Pro)
- Press down the right Shift + left Option (Alt) and left Control key for about seven seconds.
- Next, press your power button for another seven seconds.
- Release all keys and allow for a while, then restart your device.
8. Reset the PRAM/NVRAM
If the MacBook Pro won’t start up, we could reset the PRAM and NVRAM.
These are memories that store data when your system is off, data like screen resolution, volume settings, screen brightness, and much more.
It isn’t difficult, but you may need extra fingers, to get someone to assist.
- Press and hold down these keys; Command + Option (Alt) + P + R and power on your Mac (this is to reset your PRAM and NVRAM).
- Maintain holding down these keys until you hear the Mac restart.
- Keep listening till you hear a second reboot, then release the keys.
Most times, the Mac will restart while other times a progress bar comes up; when the progress bar fills up, everything is good; other times, Mac shuts down halfway through the progress bar.
9. Try Disk Utility
If the Mac won’t startup, you can fix it with Disk Utility from Recovery Mode. This is possible when the operating system isn’t loading up; your Drive may be corrupted.
To access Disk Utility for Macs running Mountain Lion or above, we need to get into Recovery Mode first.
For Intel Macs
- Completely turn it off; if it is stuck on the annoying blue, grey, or white screen, press down the power button until it goes off.
- While pressing the Command and R keys, power the Mac back on. Maintain holding the Command and R keys while your device boots up till you see the Apple logo.
For M1 Mac
- Press down the Power button; Mac then displays the startup options, selects options, and continues to enter Recovery.
- While in Recovery mode, follow the instructions below.
- From the macOS Utilities menu, select Disk Utility
- Locate your Mac’s drive; it is often Macintosh HD and selects it.
- Click on First Aid.
- Disk Utility then goes through your drive-in search of errors. It then seeks your permission to repair it.
- Click on Repair Disk.
10. Faulty RAM
If MacBook Air won’t turn on, but you can hear beeps, we’ll need you to listen closely as these beeps could signify a RAM issue.
- One beep repeating every 5 seconds indicates your device can’t detect any RAM.
- 3 successive beeps after a five-second pause indicate your Mac RAM doesn’t pass an integrity check.
The solution here is risky and should be left to professionals; however, if you’ve upgraded or changed your RAM recently, check if you properly installed it.
MacBooks typically come with the memory chips soldered to the logic board, eliminating the possibility of troublesome RAM slots, thereby boosting reliability, so if you hear any of those beeps, you should meet a competent Apple repairer.
11. Faulty Trackpad
Your SMC uses an “always-on” power rail. Coincidentally, Mac’s trackpad also shares this rail with the SMC so therefore a faulty trackpad could affect SMC.
If your trackpad is wet or short (circuit), it could affect the rail; it may pull down the power rail, breaking the connection between the SMC and power.
Compared to other parts of the computer, trackpads are pretty affordable. If you aren’t sure of what to do here, take it to a repair shop.
12. Faulty Keyboard
If your Mac still won’t power on, you may have a faulty keyboard. Again, the Mac keyboard also uses the “always-on” power rail alongside SMC and the trackpad, so if a faulty keyboard drags down the power rail, the SMC won’t respond to power-up instructions.
If the liquid has recently touched your keyboard, you should have a clue of what’s wrong. First, unscrew your Mac and remove the keyboard connector; now, connect your MacBook charger to a charging source.
Mac should automatically come on; if it does, you need to replace your keyboard. But, again, solutions like this should be carefully carried out.
13. Check File System
Hold down Cmd + S while starting your computer; it logs you into the Single User mode. A completely black screen comes up with white text (it feels geeky *wink*).
Allow the texts to scroll past, a command-line then appears. Next, type in fsck -fy, then hit Return (Enter). Wait for a considerable amount of time.
After about five checks, you should see this message “The Volume [Your Mac’s name] appears to be OK” or “FILE SYSTEM WAS MODIFIED.”
If you see the first message, type reboot, then strike Return.
If you encounter the second message, you need to rerun the fsck -fy command again; retype the command, and punch Return.
14. Update M1 Mac Firmware
If you have an M1 Mac which is still not turning on, you can try updating its firmware using another Mac to run Apple’s Configurator 2.
- Using a USB-C to USB-C cable or a USB-C to USB-A cable, connect both Macs.
- On Mac 2 (working Mac), open Apple’s Configurator 2.
- Press and hold down the power button on the dormant Mac while using the following combination right Shift + left Option (Alt) + left Control.
- Maintain hold for ten seconds, then let go of other keys except for the power button.
- The dormant Mac should appear on the Configuration software on Mac 2.
- Go to Actions, then Advanced.
- Click on Revive Device. The firmware on the dormant Mac should be updated.
15. Run Apple Diagnostics
At this point, your device should come on; however, if the MacBook Pro won’t start up, then we can try Apple Diagnostics.
- Unplug all external devices; you can leave your keyboard, mouse, and monitor if you can’t do without them.
- Press the power button, then press and hold down the D key.
- Hold it till you see a screen asking you for languages.
- Select a language and allow Apple to run a series of tests.
When done, it may suggest fixes and give you room to rerun the test.
Sometimes it may provide general reference codes of different problems, which you can search on the Apple Diagnostic page.
16. Install New MacOS
This is a nuclear option and should be considered carefully. However, before going with this, ensure you’ve carried out a complete backup of your device.
Recall Recovery Mode, one of the solutions above; you can get the reinstall option following the steps there.
- After booting into Recovery mode (that is, pressing and holding the Command + R keys while powering on, or pressing and holding down the power button on M1 Macs)
- Locate the Install the latest OS button and follow all on-screen instructions.
- Visit a Repair Shop
If none of these fixes work, you have to visit a recommended Apple repair shop.
Some other solutions like restoring corrupted T2 security chip firmware and checking for a faulty battery data cable are best done in an Apple shop.
If your MacBook Pro won’t turn on, this guide must have helped.
We explained the difference between when MacBook Air won’t turn on and when MacBook pro won’t power on along with probable causes. We’ve documented over 15 solutions.
While a few fixes here would require professional expertise, you can handle the others; check for faulty external drives, faulty screen, and displays, reset SMC, NVRAM/PRAM, and much more. Let us know if they work or whatever does!
Q. How do you force start a Mac?
We suggest you consider this a last resort, but if your system is frozen, it’s understandable if you go with this. Press and hold the Command-and-Control keys while pressing the power button. The screen would go blank, and the system would restart.
Q. How to fix a MacBook Pro that won’t turn on?
First, make sure if the issue is that your MacBook Pro won’t turn on and not if your MacBook won’t boot. We have detailed out the difference between these two issues in the blog. Next, ensure all cables are properly plugged in, check your display, listen for any sound or any flash on the screen. Finally, disconnect all external hard drives then try restarting it again.
Q. How do I fix the black screen of death?
First, ensure the computer is charged or connected to a power outlet. Next, disconnect all external peripherals, and try restarting your device. Also, ensure your screen brightness isn’t low by using the keys on the keyboard. Next, you can reset the NVRAM/PRAM and SMC; check the blog to see how.
Q. How do you turn on MacBook Pro without a power button?
The newer generations of Mac can be turned on by opening the lid or using the Touch ID. Also, if it went off while the lid was open, strike any key.