Fix MacBook not turning on after macOS update (The Definite Guide)

By Jenny | Updated to Home > Mac Data Recovery Tips > Mac won't Turn on Tips on October 26th, 2021

Summary: Here are solutions for fixing your Mac that won't turn on after a minor macOS update or a major macOS upgrade. Need to restore data on your unbootable Mac? Run iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac in Recovery mode.

Mac won't turn on after macOS update

Apple releases macOS and software updates periodically for better user experience. However, it backfires when your Macbook won't turn on after a macOS update. You may see a Macbook black screen, or encounter other screen of death issues.

The MacBook won't turn on after macOS Monterey update drives you crazy because it blocks you from using Mac. More importantly, you can't access all data on your Mac.

Take it easy. This post will help you retrieve data from the unbootable Mac and walk you through the MacBook not working after macOS 12 update issue.

Fix Mac won't turn on after macOS update

Recover data from Mac that won't turn on after macOS update

Note: Usually, it is advised to recover data from your Mac first, and then fix the unbootable Mac. That's because your attempts to fix this issue will write new data on your Mac, which will overwrite the old data and lead to permanent data loss.

Watch the video below to learn how to easily recover files from an unbootable Mac in macOS Recovery with iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac:

To recover data from the MacBook that can't start up, data recovery software is necessary. iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac, a software with a high data recovery rate, fully supports recovering data from corrupted, unmountable, and unreadable Mac hard drive and various external hard drive.

Run iBoysoft Data Recovery

How to run iBoysoft Data Recovery in macOS Recovery Mode?

Alternatively, you can read this detailed text guide, telling you two ways to use iBoysoft Data Recovery in macOS Recovery Mode with or without a bootable USB drive. Read more >>

What to do when MacBook won't turn on after update?

Here are some proven efficient solutions for fixing MacBook that won't restart after macOS 12 Monterey update, also applicable to macOS Big Sur or other versions of macOS update.

Check the power connections

Sometimes, your Mac won't turn on after an update is simply due to the lack of power or power outage. Press the power button. Then, check if you can hear a startup chime or drive noises or not.

If you can't hear any noise, your Mac has power connection issues. Just try these fixes:

  • Make sure the wall outlet, charger cable, or adapter is okay.
  • If you use a MacBook, charging the battery for a while to avoid a dead battery.
  • Press the power button again to restart your Mac. Read to know how to restart a Mac.

If you can hear the startup chime but Mac still won't boot, try to do a Power Cycle. Power Cycle allows fully cutting all traces of power from the Mac, and then restarting the Mac from scratch.

To perform a Power Cycle:

  • For a MacBook without a removable battery, press the power button and hold it down for ten seconds. Then, restart your Mac.
  • For an iMac or Mac mini, unplug the power cable, leave it unplugged for ten seconds, and then plug it back in and restart the Mac.

Hopefully, your MacBook Air/Pro can turn on normally after forcing it to return off state and then on state.

Disconnect all peripherals

Rare but not impossible - the external accessories connected to your Mac lead to the Mac frozen and not starting up normally. You can unplug the recently plugged external hard drive or other devices, or unplug all the peripherals at once. Then, restart your Mac to check if the peripherals cause this issue.

Reset SMC

SMC (System Management Controller) takes charge of your low-level settings, like thermal and battery management. So, reset SMC on your Intel-based Mac via pressing down Control + Option + Shift keys during Mac rebooting. This will give a chance to fix the unbootable Mac.

Reset the PRAM / NVRAM

PRAM (Parameter Random-Access Memory) and NVRAM (Non-volatile Random-Access Memory) are small memories on your Mac. They are used to store certain settings, including startup-disc selection, recent kernel panic information, and system volume.

To fix the Mac that won't boot up after the macOS 12 Monterey update, resetting PRAM/NVRAM (hold down the Command + Option + P + R keys at startup) sometimes works.

Note: For an M1 Mac, NVRM is automatically running tests and reset at startup if needed.

Boot your Mac into Safe Mode

If Mac won't restart after a macOS 12 update, another possible reason could be that the login items, installed drivers or third-party applications are not compatible with macOS 12 Monterey yet. They interfere the loading of the operating system.

To fix the Mac that won't restart, you can boot Mac into Safe mode to verify any program not compatible with your updated macOS. It will only launch some basic necessary programs at the startup and then you can remove incompatibility software that makes your Mac unbootable.

Make sense, right? Then let's dive into details on how to do this.

To boot an Intel-based Mac into Safe Mode:

  • Press and hold the Shift key when restarting your Mac.
  • Release the key until you see the login window.

To boot an Apple M1 MacBook Pro or MacBook Air into Safe Mode:

  • Shut down your Mac.
  • Hold down the power button until the startup disks and Options appear on the screen.
  • Select your startup disk and press and hold the Shift key, then click Continue in Safe Mode.

If you boot into Safe Mode successfully, you'll see Safe Boot at the right top. At least, it indicates that the macOS Monterey update is complete. Then, the troublemaker should be third-party software incompatibility.

boot into mac safe mode

But to figure out exactly which program makes your Mac unbootable, you need to reboot into Mac Verbose Mode. Verbose Mode allows you to see what's happening during macOS booting up.

To enter into Verbose Mode, you need to shut down your Mac and hold Command + V at startup. Then you'll see a live report when your Mac booting. Once you find out the culprit, you can simply uninstall the apps in Safe Mode.

boot into mac verbose mode

Boot into macOS Recovery mode

If you fail to boot into Safe Mode, it means that your Mac not booting might result from a macOS Monterey update failure. Your startup disk might have a corrupted APFS file system.

In this case, you can try to repair the hard drive with Disk Utility under Mac Recovery mode. Read to know How to use Firsy Aid to repair Mac disk and help macOS Monterey load from a good startup disk.

If your Mac still won't boot after running First Aid, you should reinstall macOS in macOS Recovery mode.

Simply return to the Disk Utilities window and choose Reinstall macOS. If you don't want to install macOS Monterey for now, you can restore your Mac to a previous state using an APFS snapshot through Time Machine.

Ask Apple repair store for help

If you have made it to this far and still cannot start up your Mac, your Mac might have some hidden hardware damages.

It needs professional knowledge and equipment to check and repair hardware-related issues with a Mac machine. So, as an average user, you had better take your Mac to a certified Apple repair workshop or make an appointment with Apple Genuis Bar.

Why is the MacBook not turning on after macOS Monterey update?

Why Mac won't update successfully? It's fair enough to say, most of the time, Mac won't turn on after a macOS update because of update failure, software incompatibility, and bugs.

As new programs and hardware to be released constantly, your Mac needs to update to work with the new software and hardware. Sometimes, it's an overall macOS update. And sometimes, it's a tiny patch like this.

Mac update is available

In detail, a macOS update could involve those activities.

  1. Upgrade certain necessary drivers. Sometimes, it simply installs patches to fix bugs. But sometimes, it will replace the whole driver structure to better use hardware.
  2. Upgrade the Kernel programs. Such updates will improve the security, accessibility, and management of core data.
  3. Redesign or update certain built-in applications. Utilities like Disk Utility, Safari, and Mail come along with the operating system.
  4. Other updates like operating system structure, file system, user interface, etc.

These updates are usually for a better user experience. Or they are for better supporting most of the latest hardware and software. However, as it is pointed out, the updated macOS can only work "most" of them.

For example, Nvidia GTX 750 Ti can't work with Mac OS X earlier than Yosemite. After such a software update, Mac is not working, or the Mac or MacBook stuck on loading screen after macOS update. Once the third-party software and hardware on your Mac won't work with the latest macOS, your Mac won't turn on.

How to avoid macOS Monterey update failure?

Avoid Mac crash before macOS update

Every time there is a new macOS Monterey update available, you'll receive a notification. It asks "Do you want to restart to install these updates now or try tonight?". However, it's not safe to update directly because your Mac could get stuck on updating or even lose important files.

In case the Mac won't boot after macOS Monterey or Big Sur update, you surely can do some preparations in advance.

  • Read several reviews from tech enthusiasts to learn problems when a new macOS beta is released.
  • Make sure your Mac model and its hardware work with the updated macOS.
  • Read macOS update instructions carefully when you are up to update your system.
  • Back up your files, photos, documents, etc.
  • Make sure there is enough free disk space for macOS updates.
  • Make sure your Mac is connected to power to avoid the black screen of death during the macOS update.

Common boot problems after macOS update

A macOS update is supposed to be easy by using Software Update, but a major macOS upgrade can cause serious problems due to different update environment on each Mac computer.

1. Mac won't boot after macOS Monterey/macOS Big Sur update

To reduce the risk of macOS update failure, Apple temporarily (or for good) discontinued to offer delta or combo macOS updates and requires all users download the same installer for a update regardless of what version of macOS running on Mac.

macOS Monterey and Big Sur update installers become large, so it asks for more free space for update. A full startup disk could jam the macOS reinstallation and loading and then an unbootable Mac.

2. Mac won't start up after macOS Catalina update

macOS Catalina update is the first macOS update that will automatically divide your hard drive into two volumes: the read-only Macintosh HD system volume and Macintosh HD - Data for saving your files.

If there is not enough free space for an update, you'll get an update failure. What's worse, you might see the Mac folder with question mark at startup because the macOS Catalina update is not found.

In macOS Catalina, unauthorized applications are not allowed to access the Kernel resources. When you boot up, these programs will ask for resource permission constantly and thus cause your iMac stuck on loading screen.

3. Mac won't restart after macOS Mojave update

As you might know, Apple introduced the System Integrity Protection (SIP) feature since OS X EI Capitan. Once this feature was disabled previously before you update to macOS Mojave, it could cause boot problems.

For example, the Google software update on September 23, 2019, was shipped with a bug. This flaw damages the macOS file system on computers where System Integrity Protection is disabled. Many video professionals reported that their Mac crashed due to this.

So, just think about it, even Google can't avoid such software conflict, how about other third-party software? That's one of the reasons why many users who disabled SIP previously get Mac crashed after installing macOS Mojave.

4. Mac won't boot after macOS High Sierra update

One of the major updates in macOS High Sierra is the introduction of the Apple File System (APFS). As a part of the upgrade process, the macOS High Sierra installer will automatically convert the SSD to the APFS file system.

APFS cause problems after macOS update

Even though Apple claims that the conversion process is supposed to be risk-free, many Mac users still meet problems. And the disk corruption during the update is one of them.

When you boot up after an update, you will often find your Mac stuck on login screen or experience the white screen of death on Mac.

Final thoughts

When your Mac won't turn on after an update, please calm down. Follow this guide to recover data from your Mac with iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac and fix this issue. If you have any other feasible solutions to enrich this article, kindly drop us a hint at [email protected]