10 Ways to Fix a Mac That Won’t Turn on

2015 MacBook Pro

Facing hardware or software problems on your Mac can very frustrating, especially when you have an important task to finish. You may come across random issues that you’ve never faced before, such as your MacBook not turning on or booting up.

Although Macs are built to be a reliable and stable machines, they are prone to errors just like many other devices. When your Mac doesn’t turn on, it can be due to various reasons ranging from minor software problems to critical hardware issues.

In this tutorial, we will outline the troubleshooting steps that you should take to fix a Mac that doesn’t turn on.

The tutorial is split into two sections.

  • If your Mac doesn’t turn on after pressing the power button, then read the first section of this tutorial.
  • Otherwise, if it turns on but fails to boot up, then skip to the second section.

How to Fix a Mac That Won’t Turn On

1. Make Sure It Has Enough Power

One of this problem’s common culprits is that your Mac doesn’t have enough battery power left to turn on. So the first thing you need to do is connect it to the battery charger and make sure that the charger works properly. If you’re lucky, this will fix the problem and your Mac should turn on successfully after it has been charged with enough power.

If your charging cable is working properly, you should see a green or orange light on the MagSafe cable. Otherwise, it means that the power cable has issues and should be replaced it with a new one. Newer MacBooks with USB-C charging ports won’t have an indicator light, however you should see a battery indicator on the display while it’s plugged in.

2. Check the Screen Brightness

When you set the screen brightness of your Mac to the lowest level, it looks as if the screen has been turned off even though your Mac is still powered on. It could be possible that you or someone else accidentally reduced the screen brightness to the lowest level, therefore make sure that this is not the case. In most Mac models, you can increase the screen brightness by pressing the F2 key.

3. Perform a Power Cycle

If your Mac still fails to turn on after connecting it to the charger, then the next thing to do is to perform a Power Cycle. Your Mac might be facing freezing issues, which is why the Power button fails to respond. Power Cycle cuts the power to your Mac and forces it to restart.

Performing a Power Cycle is quite easy and can be done in a matter of few seconds.

  • If you own a MacBook without a removable battery, then press and hold the Power button for about 10 seconds. This cuts the power to your Mac and forces it to restart. Note: Make sure that you disconnect the charger before performing the power cycle.
  • If your MacBook has a removable battery, then remove the battery, wait for 10 seconds, and then insert the battery and press the Power button. Ensure that your Mac is not connected to the charger.
  • If you own a desktop Mac (iMac, Mac Pro, or Mac Mini), remove the power cable and leave it unplugged for ten seconds, then plug it back to the power source.

4. Check If Your Display Is Working Properly

It could be that your Mac is working fine, except that the display has issues, which is why you cannot see anything. Check to see if you can hear any sound, such as the startup chime sound, when you press the Power button. If you hear it, then it means that your display has issues and you should get it repaired.

How to Fix a Mac That Doesn’t Boot up After Turning on

1. Reset the NVRAM/PRAM

NVRAM/PRAM is a small memory unit in your Mac that stores important information and settings so that they can be accessed quickly when required. If this becomes corrupt, it can cause your Mac to boot from an incorrect startup disk, thereby preventing it from booting up successfully. In most cases, this issue can be fixed by resetting the NVRAM/PRAM.

To reset, do the following:

  1. Power off your Mac.
  2. Next, turn it on and immediately after hearing the startup chime sound, press and hold the Cmd+Option/Alt+P+R keys.
  3. Release the keys after you hear the second startup sound, which indicates that the NVRAM/PRAM has been reset. Now allow your Mac boot up as normal.

If you own a late-2016 MacBook Pro model, such as the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, then follow these steps instead:

  1. Shut down your Mac.
  2. Turn on your Mac and immediately press and hold the Cmd+Option/Alt+P+R keys.
  3. Keep holding these keys for about 20 seconds to ensure that the NVRAM/PRAM resets successfully.

2. Use Disk Utility in Recovery Mode

If your Mac is booting up, but not loading properly, then it’s possible that the drive has been corrupted. This can be fixed by performing a disk repair in Recover Mode.

  • Make sure that your Mac is turned off. If not, press and hold the Power key until it switches off.
  • Press the Power key to turn on your Mac.
  • As soon as you hear the startup chime sound, press and hold the Cmd+R keys.
  • Keep holding the buttons until your Mac boots into Recovery Mode. At this point, you should see the Utilities screen.
  • Click on Disk Utility.
  • Choose your Mac’s drive and then click Verify Disk.

If there are any problems with your drive, Disk Utility will show them and ask if you wish to repair them. If this is the case, click ‘Repair Disk’ so that Disk Utility automatically fixes the discovered problems.

3. Boot Your Mac in Safe Mode

If your Mac isn’t booting up properly, it could be because of a faulty software that is installed, outdated caches, corrupt startup items, etc. To check this, you can boot your Mac in Safe Mode, which loads only the necessary software and kernel extensions required for startup, thereby allowing your Mac to boot up properly if third-party software or drivers are causing issues.

To boot your Mac in Safe Mode, here’s what you have to do:

  • Turn off your Mac if it is already on.
  • Now press the Power button to turn on your Mac.
  • Press and hold the Shift key immediately after your hear the startup chime sound.
    • If you have FileVault encryption turned on, release the Shift key when you get a popup for unlocking the disk. Type in your password and press Enter to continue.
  • Release the Shift key when you see the Apple logo or the login screen.

Your Mac should be in Safe Mode now. If you can log in without any issues, then it means that the issue was with a third-party software or driver, system service, or an invalidated cache. Find and fix the problem, and then reboot your Mac to go back to normal mode.

4. Reset the SMC

The SMC (System Management Controller) in your Mac is responsible for controlling its display, lights, fans, and more. You may need to reset the SMC if you’re facing booting issues. This is the last troubleshooting step that you should take before reinstalling the operating system on your Mac.

Here’s how you can reset the SMC on your Mac.

  • For a MacBook without a removable battery:
    • Plug in your Mac to the charger.
    • Press the Shift+Control+Option/Alt and Power keys together at the same time.
    • Release all the buttons together at the same time.
    • Now press the Power button to turn on your Mac.
  • For a MacBook with a removable battery:
    • Disconnect the charger from your Mac.
    • Remove the battery.
    • Press and hold the Power button for five seconds.
    • Release the Power button.
    • Insert the battery back into your Mac, and then plug in your Mac to the charger.
    • Press the Power button to turn on your Mac.
  • Desktop Mac (iMac, Mac Pro, Mac Mini):
    • Unplug the power cable from your Mac.
    • Leave it unplugged for 15 seconds.
    • Now plug in your Mac to the power source.
    • Wait for five more seconds.
    • Press the Power button to turn on your Mac.

5. Reinstall macOS

If none of the above methods fixed the issue, then you should consider reinstalling the operating system on your Mac. This can be done by booting into Recover Mode and choosing to install the latest operating system.

  • Make sure that your Mac is turned off. If not, press and hold the Power key until it switches off.
  • Press the Power key to turn on your Mac.
  • As soon as you hear the startup chime sound, press and hold the Cmd+R keys.
  • Keep holding the buttons until your Mac boots into Recovery Mode. At this point, you should see the Utilities screen.
  • Click on Reinstall macOS and follow the on-screen instructions to install the latest operating system on your Mac.

With this method, a fresh version of the latest macOS will be installed on your Mac, fixing any software issues that were present.

6. Head to the Apple Store

If after following all the methods above, you’re still unable to turn on your Mac or it doesn’t boot up properly, then there must be a hardware problem. You should contact Apple Support or take it to a nearby Apple Store to have it inspected and fixed.

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