Without warning, your Mac or Apple M1 Mac becomes unresponsive, which prevents you from continuing your work. A frozen Mac appears rarely, but it indeed exists. If you have caught up in worry but helplessness, this article can help you dispel the dark clouds.
Usually, you may run into the occasions listed below:
- The apps become unresponsive with a spinning wheel.
- The Mac booting process is stuck.
- The Mac has frozen on login screen.
This article is available for unfreezing Mac and M1 Mac, including MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Mac mini, iMac. The difference in detailed solutions varies from different Mac Models.
Unfreeze your Mac from unresponsive applications
Let's start with the most common scenario: your Mac or M1 Mac froze during apps or programs working. Or even worse, it stuck exactly when you open the desktop. Often, wait a few minutes to let the app buffer, and then it can go on working. But sometimes, it is in vain. At this time, you have to find some other ways.
• Unplug the external device
First, if you had plugged an external device recently, unplug it. If it is valid, the frozen Mac may be caused by the corrupted external device. Because bad sectors on the corrupted external device may lock the device's I/O channel. Then, the system can't continue working with other apps or programs.
• Force quit applications
If the first way can't work, force-quit frozen apps and programs. It aims to check if the software is incompatible with the system.
The third-party software incompatibility issue is more usual on the new M1 Mac because much third-party software hasn’t updated to support the powerful M1 Mac and macOS Big Sur.
If you can move the mouse of the frozen Mac, click the Apple icon and select Force Quit. If cannot, press Command + Option + Esc keys to open the Force Quit Applications window. And press the up and down arrow keys to select the apps, then press Enter instead.
• Restart your Mac
Still can't fix your frozen Mac? Just restart your Mac. Restarting the Mac can make it back to good condition. Because when too many apps are running meanwhile, the locked I/O channel will be blocked. Consequently, it can't return the I/O resource to the system for other tasks. Finally, your Mac stuck.
In case that the cursor can't be moved, press the power button for seconds to force your Mac to shut down. Then, press the power button again to restart the Mac.
• Boot into Safe Mode
If you've failed in the above three ways, you have to try to boot into Safe Mode.
Safe Mode can clean up some re-creative cache files to replenish the insufficient memory (RAM), and it can repair some hard drive issues. Moreover, in Safe Mode, you can uninstall the recently installed third-party software that caused your Mac or M1 Mac to be frozen.
To boot into Safe Mode:
For an Intel-based Mac, you should shut down your Mac first. Then restart your Mac and hold the Shift key until the Apple logo appears.
For an M1 Mac, you need to shut down your M1 Mac and wait about 10 seconds. Next, press and hold the power button until seeing the startup disks and Options on the screen. Finally, press and hold the Shift key and click Continue in Safe Mode.
Note: Don't worry that force quit an unsaved document, restart your Mac, or shut down your Mac will make unsaved files lost. In most cases, it won't. Read the following part to recover your unsaved Word.
Fix your Mac frozen on the startup screen
If your Mac became unresponsive during booting, you should consider if it is the recent failing system upgrade corrupted the system. Or because you have updated an incompatible boot drive driver or installed a third-party driver, especially for M1 Mac. Moreover, insufficient RAM for cache files produced from the startup process is also a possible reason.
As the startup process of a Mac is complex, the occasions of Mac frozen on the booting process are always different from people to people. So, you should know which situation you have encountered, and then, try the corresponding solutions. Here we have concluded some solutions for different Mac frozen issues, go to find the suitable one for yourself.
- Fix Mac Stuck on Loading Bar Screen
- Fix Mac Stuck on Login Screen
- Fix Mac won't boot past the Apple logo
- Fix Mac Stuck on White Screen
Boot your Mac from the locked screen
Usually, it is good to protect your Mac by setting it in sleep mode every time you leave. However, this time you back to use the Mac but found it froze.
What happens? That may because the sleeping Mac makes the working CPU powered off suddenly. Thus, the CPU can't finish its work by following a program's instructions to process the data. Finally, it caused the Mac stuck.
And there's also another possible reason: the Mac can't return to the system state that it was. When a Mac is in sleep, only the RAM is left powered. If a power failure happens, data on the RAM (RAM stores the state of the system before it went to sleep) will lose.
Keep calm! At first, wait for a few minutes to check if the Mac can wake up itself from sleep. If it can't, you have no choice but restart your PC first (It won't make unsaved documents lost):
Press and hold the power button for several seconds to shut down the Mac. Then, press the power button again to boot it up.
If it failed, try to boot your Mac into Safe Mode. Next, you need restart your Mac by clicking the Apple icon and select Restart.
Usually, boot into Safe Mode can save your unresponsive Mac. But if no changes, you have to reinstall your macOS because the system is probably corrupted.
Recover the unsaved documents from your latest frozen Mac
You don't worry that forcing quit apps or restarting the Mac will make your unsaved Word or other document loss. On most occasions, it won't. Since Mac has the feature of automatically saving files. Your unsaved documents will be automatically saved in a folder named TemporaryItems. When the Mac is back to normal, you can try to recover the unsaved documents.
The recovering steps are:
1. Open Launchpad and select Terminal
2. Type the follwoing command in Terminal and press Enter to open the TMP folder (It is created automatically to save temporary files).
3. Find out the TemporaryItems folder. Then, right-click the desired unsaved document.
Note: If your Mac froze during the system update, data loss would happen if the system is corrupted.
But, it is also possible that Mac hasn't saved your documents in time. You can try some data recovery software like iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac to recover your files.
Tricks to avoid your Mac freezing again
Unfreezing your Mac doesn't mean that all the problems that caused Mac frozen are solved. Don't turn a blind eye to these issues because they risk freezing your Mac again. If you don't have any ideas about that, take a look at below:
- Update your apps. Click Apple menu > Select App Store... > Choose Updates. Then, update all the apps to be updated.
- Check and clean up your RAM. Open Launchpad > Open Activity Monitor > Click Memory, you can check out which software occupies too much memory but is useless. Then, go to disable or unload the software. You can also delete some out-of-date cache files.
- Check your disk with the First Aid utility. Open Launchpad > Click Disk Utility > Select the boot volume and click First Aid. You can also check and repair other volumes with First Aid.
- Unload unnecessary third-party software. Open Finder > Select Applications and move the undesired software to the Trash.
It is a big trouble that your iMac, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, or M1 Mac is frozen all of a sudden. This article supplies solutions to unfreeze Mac when working, startup, and waking up from sleep, which can help you get out of trouble. Moreover, it also offers you some tricks to avoid your Mac freezing once again. Hope you can get help from this article.