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How to Solve MacBook Startup Problems



It’s an unlucky day when you turn on your MacBook after an update or happy charging of sleep – and something goes wrong. Maybe nothing happens at all. Maybe your Mac is trying to turn on but will not get to the login screen without shutting down again.

If this happens, you will no doubt want to fix the problem as soon as possible. Taking your Mac to an Apple Store is always an option, but a repair deal can take time and money. We suggest that you test these common solutions first. These tips work for any MacBook, MacBook Air or MacBook Pro.

Make sure it is not a screen problem

Review of Macbook Air (2018)
Riley Young / Digital Trends

Does your MacBook make noise when you turn it on? That is, can you hear it buzzing, chiming when it starts or turning on the fan when it works? Do the lights on the keyboard light up? All of these are signs that your Mac is starting up as expected, but there is something wrong with your screen.

The good news is that a screen problem is obvious and it has probably not affected your data at all. The bad news is that you can not really fix a MacBook screen on your own. You can try connecting your Mac to an external monitor if you desperately need to use it, but in the meantime you should call an Apple Store and arrange a meeting to see if the monitor can be fixed or replaced.

Check for electrical problems

MacBook charging cable

If something is wrong with your MacBook’s power, it may not have enough charge to turn on when the battery runs out. These problems are relatively easy to diagnose. First try switching to different sockets to see if your current socket is incorrect.

Second, inspect the power cord and adapter for signs of damage. Even if it looks good, try to find a compatible MacBook charger and turn off the charger for this model to see if it works. If it solves the problem, it means that the charging cable failed and you need to replace it.

You can also check if other hardware connections are causing problems. Sometimes peripherals (especially those not manufactured by Apple) can cause power issues that prevent MacBooks from starting completely. Remove all third party mice, devices and other accessories. Then connect your MacBook to the charging cable and see if it starts properly. If that works, one of your accessories may not be compatible with the current version of MacOS.

Restart your Mac with a power cycle

Review of Macbook Air (2018)
Riley Young / Digital Trends

You can also turn off your Mac to try to clear any internal inconsistencies that may prevent proper startup. This works if your Mac at least tries to turn on, but it may not be effective on a completely dead MacBook.

Unplug everything connected to your MacBook before you begin. Just hold down your MacBook Power button and count for ten seconds. Then release and press the power button as usual to turn on the Mac. This can solve your problem or at least let you explore the additional options below.

Start in Safe Boot

If your MacBook can start up before it shuts down, there is a chance that you can get it working by going to Safe Boot. This will boot your Mac with only basic functionality, which can often get your Mac up and running and allow you to perform simple tasks. To start Safe Boot, start and hold your Mac Move key when lit.

If this works, try shutting down and restarting your Mac normally: A safe boot can sometimes restore things to work again.

If Safe Boot does not work, try an option: Press D when you turn it on, running a diagnostic test that can give you valuable information about what exactly is happening to your MacBook.

Reset SMC and PRAM / NVRAM

reset a Mac to factory settings

SMC stands for System Management Controller, which handles many important hardware settings on your Mac. PRAM / NVRAM stands for Parameter / Non-Volatile Random Access Memory and stores setup data for many Mac startup procedures.

Restoring both of these can solve problems related to your Macbook’s battery, fans and power, among other features. Doing so often helps solve problems with MacBooks that start up poorly. We have a guide here who can go through the steps, but do not worry: the process is quite simple and only takes a few minutes to complete.

Reset MacOS in recovery mode

MacOS tools

Mac recovery mode is helpful in a variety of ways. You can use macOS recovery mode to fix Time Machine issues, remove or repair a hard drive, and get help online from Apple, among others. You can also choose to overwrite your MacOS with a new version while still retaining your data, essentially wiping and restarting. This can often help solve problems that prevent MacOS from fully charging.

Our guide to restoring MacOS should help. In our comprehensive guide, we will cover everything from completely erasing things on your Mac, reinstalling the operating system and restoring your computer to its original factory settings. It also contains options for an overwrite installation. In short, you want to restart your Mac and hold down the Command and R keys until a menu appears. Then select Reinstall MacOS to get started.

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