How to fix a Mac that won’t boot

It’s rare, but you can find yourself in a situation where your Mac won’t start. There are several reasons why it won’t turn on, but you probably just want to turn it back on as soon as possible. There are various checks and modifications that you can quickly apply to resolve the problem.

Is your Mac turning on?

The first obvious thing you should check – is your Mac not turning on or booting? These are two completely different things.

Press the power button on your Mac. If you don’t see the Apple logo, don’t hear a startup chime or fan or drive noise, or your Mac won’t turn on at all, follow the instructions below.

Check your power connection

This is the most obvious step. Check your Mac’s power connection. If you’re using a portable Mac, make sure the battery is charged. Sometimes your Mac won’t show an empty battery indicator and won’t turn on. If so, charge it or switch the AC adapter to another outlet.

Another solution is to try a different power cable or adapter. If you plug in the adapter and your Mac doesn’t ring or the charge light doesn’t turn on, the AC adapter may be the problem. You can borrow one from a friend to confirm it. Sometimes a power outage may have damaged your adapter and you may need a new one. We do not recommend purchasing an inexpensive third-party power cable, as they may be defective and damage your Mac.

If you are using an external display for your Mac, the display may be causing the problem. Check your Mac to see if it beeps during startup.

Disconnect all accessories

Another troubleshooting step is to disconnect all devices connected to the Mac. A connected device (such as a printer or USB hub) can cause problems with the boot sequence.

Fixed Mac not starting accessories

Likewise, if you have recently installed new RAM or a new hard drive, this may be causing the problems. Try reinstalling the old memory or hard drive to see if it helps.

Perform a power cycle

The next step is to perform a power cycle which involves forcing your Mac to restart after you have completely shut down the power.

On a MacBook, press and hold the power key for ten seconds. You will hear a creak as the power to the Mac is forcibly turned off. It should light up now when you press the power button.

If your Mac is a desktop computer, you will need to unplug it and leave it unplugged for at least ten seconds before plugging it back in and trying to restart.

Reset SMC

In some situations, you may need to reset your Mac’s System Management Controller (SMC). This is usually the last step before proceeding to a complete reinstall of macOS.

Apple has a complete guide to do this depending on your type and version of Mac. We have included below the guide to the latest laptops and desktops.

To reset the SMC, follow the instructions below.

On a Mac laptop

1. Make sure the Mac is turned off and unplugged, then reconnect the power cable.

2. Press Offset + Ctrl + Option and hold them down for seven seconds.

3. After seven seconds, also press and hold the power button. If your Mac is on, it shuts down when you hold down the keys.

4. Press and hold the four buttons for another seven seconds, then release them.

5. Wait a few seconds, then press the power button to turn on your Mac.

On a Mac desktop

1. Shut down your Mac, then unplug the power cable.

2. Wait 15 seconds, then reconnect the power cable.

3. Wait five seconds, then press the power button to turn on your Mac.

Run the disk utility in recovery mode

If your Mac is on but macOS isn’t loading, you may have a corrupted hard drive or operating system. This can be resolved very easily via the recovery mode.

To launch in recovery mode, follow the steps below.

1. Make sure your Mac is turned off. Hold the button Order and R keys and press the power button.

2. While your Mac starts up, keep these keys pressed until the Apple logo appears.

3. Your Mac should automatically start in recovery mode. Click Disk Utility.

Fixed Mac not starting recovery modeFixed Mac not starting recovery mode

4. Select your Mac’s hard drive and click “First Aid”.

5. If there are errors with your disk, Disk Utility should find them. Choose to “Repair Disk” if errors are detected.

Fixed Mac not starting first aidFixed Mac not starting first aid

Once done, try restarting the Mac to see if it starts up properly. If not, you can again open recovery mode and choose to restore your Mac from a Time Machine backup or install a new copy of macOS.

Repair Mac Not Starting Reinstall MacosRepair Mac Not Starting Reinstall Macos

If your Mac does not start after trying these steps, we recommend that you take it to a Genius Bar or Apple-authorized service center for verification.

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