Summary: Here are solutions to fix Mac stuck on a loading bar screen error. Also, you'll know how to prevent data loss when Mac becomes slow or freezes on startup screen.
Many Mac users have encountered a severe problem. That is iMac, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, or Mac mini desktop hangs on startup. The stuck Apple loading screen frequently occurs after a recent macOS update.
At first, you may regard such a long boot time as a slow startup. But the Mac just got stuck on the loading screen with Apple for hours without any change. Then, you should not wait but do the following things.
- Restart your Mac when Mac progress bar stuck
- Boot your Mac in Safe Mode
- Reset NVRAM/PRAM
- Reset the SMC
- Repair startup disk in macOS Recovery Mode
- Reformat the startup disk and reinstall macOS
- Restore macOS with local APFS snapshot
This guide to fix 'Mac progress bar stuck on boot' issue applies to macOS Big Sur, Catalina, Mojave, High Sierra and some older Mac OS X.
First, let's start with the causes.
Why is my Mac stuck on the loading bar screen?
Normally, Mac would show the Apple logo at startup once it finds your local startup disk. Then, based on if you have encrypted the startup disk, an Apple loading screen appears after or before you log in to the Mac.
The Mac progress bar indicates that the system is checking and loading macOS from the startup disk. It involves macOS structure, corn components, file system, security chip, etc.
However, if something is not going well, the progress bar will get frozen at startup. For instance, the updated macOS Big Sur software is not compatible with MacBook Air before 2013. The file system of the startup disk is corrupted after an unforeseen shutdown. Or you are one of the users whose Mac crashes during boot and asking for help:
- My iMac progress bar stuck at 100% after installing macOS Catalina. How to fix?
- MacBook gets stuck on Apple logo with a loading bar. Any suggestions? (running macOS Big Sur).
- MacBook Pro won't load after an update. Help!
- My MacBook Air stuck on loading screen (fully loaded progress bar) for one hour! Any help is appreciated!
- Mac desktop is stuck on a black startup screen with a status bar. What to do?
How do I fix Mac is stuck on the loading screen issue?
No matter what the situation is, this first thing is to boot up your Mac. The good news is, even though your Mac stuck on login screen, you can fix this issue with 7 available solutions. Now, let's try them one by one.
Solution 1: Restart your Mac when Mac progress bar stuck
Whenever you encounter the boot problem, you can try rebooting the computer. Though not always work, it won't hurt.
When your Mac is stuck on boot screen, you cannot shut it down from the Apple menu. But you can press and hold the power button for a few seconds to turn off the Mac. Then, you can disconnect all peripheral devices from your Mac. This will isolate the problem and leave the Mac alone.
After a few minutes, restart the Mac again.
Solution 2: Boot your Mac in Safe Mode
Mac stuck on startup screen with status bar could be caused by software conflict or incompatibility. So, to confirm it, you can boot the Mac into Safe Mode. A Safe boot will prevent your Mac from launching unnecessary programs and login items at startup. It also does a basic check of your startup disk.
To boot your Mac into Safe Mode, you need to:
- 1. Force your Mac to shut down.
- 2. Press and hold the Shift key while tapping the power button to start your computer.
- 3. Release the Shift key until you see the Apple logo and loading bar.
If your Mac boots past the loading bar screen successfully, it's surely a software or firmware conflict. To find out the exact conflicting program, you need to restart your Mac in Verbose mode with these steps.
- 1. Restart your Mac and immediately hold Command + V at startup.
- 2. Let the keys go after you see the Apple logo.
Instead of a plain loading bar, you will see the booting progress report in Verbose mode. With the live report, it's easier to find out which software stops your Mac from starting up. Then, you can simply reboot your Mac into Safe Mode and get rid of it.
Solution 3: Reset NVRAM/PRAM
PRAM or NVRAM is a non-volatile random access memory. It is used to store system settings on Mac, including startup disk selection and recent kernel panic information.
So, when Mac won't boot after macOS update but stuck at 100% progress bar, resetting NVRAM/PRAM might help. You can simply restart your Mac and simultaneously press Command + Option+ P + R keys. Then, you can restart it again.
Solution 4: Reset the SMC
SMC, short for System Management Controller, is incorporated into the Mac's motherboard. It is used to control a number of Mac core functions, including sudden motion sensor and thermal management. Typically, when Mac freezes on startup, SMC reset helps to resolve such unresponsive issues related to power and hardware.
To reset the SMC on a Mac computer stops loading halfway, you need to at first determine whether the battery is removable or not. The process of resetting SMC of a non-removable battery is quite different.
1. Reset SMC when MacBook Air and MacBook Pro stuck on loading screen
If the battery is removable:
- 1. Turn off your MacBook.
- 2. Remove the battery.
- 3. Press the power button and hold it for a few seconds.
- 4. Reinstall the battery.
- 5. Press the power button to turn on your Mac.
If the battery is non-removable:
- 1. Force shut down the Mac that is frozen on the loading screen.
- 2. Press Shift+Control+Option on your keyboard and press the power button at the same time.
- 3. Hold these keys for 10 seconds.
- 4. Release the keys.
- 5. Press the power button again to turn on your Mac.
2. Reset SMC when Mac Mini, Mac Pro and iMac stuck on loading screen
- 1. Shut down your Mac.
- 2. Unplug a power cord.
- 3. Wait 15 seconds.
- 4. Plug the power cord in.
- 5. Wait several seconds and turn on your computer by pressing a power button.
Solution 5: Repair startup disk in macOS Recovery Mode
Sometimes, the Mac progress bar is not loading further because the startup disk is corrupted. Fortunately, First Aid is a built-in disk repair tool on your Mac. It helps if there is a disk error on Mac internal hard drive. So you can give it a try to fix the Mac stuck on apple logo with loading bar issue.
If First Aid successfully found errors and repaired them, you can restart your Mac. Disk Utility helps Mac boot up, and your Mac desktop or MacBook should be frozen on the startup screen this time.
Solution 6: Reformat the startup disk and reinstall macOS
But sometimes, even First Aid won't work if the startup disk is severely corrupted. In this case, you might want to erase the startup disk in macOS Recovery mode. Disk erasure will reformat the hard drive with a new file system.
This usually will fix this issue. However, at the same time, it will wipe all your files off the drive. So, if you have important files on this Mac, you should first rescue data from the corrupted hard drive. It's necessary especially if you don't have any backup.
If you don't worry about data loss, you can proceed with reformatting the Mac hard drive.
1. Reformat the corrupted startup drive
- 1. Restart your Mac into macOS Recovery mode.
- 2. Select Disk Utility from the macOS Utilities menu and click Continue.
- 3. Select the Mac hard drive (often named Macintosh HD or Apple SSD) from the left sidebar.
- 4. After clicking Erase on the top, you need to name it as Macintosh HD, and then give it a scheme and format.
- 5. Click Erase to confirm this operation, and then wait it to complete.
Now, you have an empty but workable Mac hard drive. To boot your Mac again, you need to continue with the next part.
2. Reinstall macOS in macOS Recovery mode
After erasing the Mac internal hard drive in macOS Recovery mode, you can reinstall a new operating system.
Hopefully, the Mac won't be stuck on the startup screen.
Solution 7: Restore macOS with local APFS snapshot
It's inevitable that a macOS update is not compatible with your Machine. So if your Mac gets stuck on the loading screen because of a recent macOS update, you may want to revert to the previous state.
If your Mac won't boot past Apple logo or have other problems after macOS Big Sur update, you may want to downgrade it.
Fortunately, in macOS High Sierra or later, an APFS snapshot is saved before installing any macOS update. And you could restore your previous OS with the APFS snapshot. But this may erase your hard drive, so you also need to back up data on the unbootable Mac first.
How can I rescue data when Mac won't boot past the loading bar?
Sometimes, the Mac won't load because of startup disk corruption. Then, you need to at first reformat the startup drive and reinstall macOS. This process will wipe all the files on the Mac internal hard drive. Thus, it causes data loss if you don't have a backup copy.
But never mind. You can rescue data from the unbootable Mac with iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac. It helps you get files off efficiently when Mac is not turning on.
iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac is one of the best Mac data recovery tools for Intel- and Apple Silicon M1-based Macs. If the Mac won't boot up and not loading the OS, this software can recover data from corrupted Macintosh HD and external drive. It also can retrieve data from unmountable Macintosh HD, external drive, and recover data from Apple T2 secured Mac. This software can recover photos, videos, documents, music files and emails.
To rescue your files from the unbootable Mac, you need to run iBoysoft Data Recovery in macOS Recovery mode.
If unfortunately, your Mac stuck on the loading screen, you should first check if you have a backup of your data to avoid data loss. If not, iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac will be a good helper to recover lost data from the unbootable Mac. Then, you can try out the solutions above one by one till your Mac boots up.