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Mac Has a White Screen on Startup, How to Fix?

Updated on Friday, August 19, 2022

iBoysoft author Rivers Wong

Written by

Rivers Wong
Professional tech editor

Approved by

Jessica Shee

How to Fix Mac White Screen on Startup?

Summary: A complete guide to fix the Mac white screen issue. Besides, if you want to recover your valuable files when your iMac/MacBook Pro faces the white screen of death, don't hesitate to use iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac.

Mac stuck on a white screen

Oops! All of a sudden, you find your Mac, like MacBook Air/Pro, has a white screen on startup. Does it mean you can never boot your Mac normally? What should you do with all the valuable files on that MacBook with a white screen?

Don't worry! This post will help you fix the Mac white screen issue quickly. Also, you will learn the way to recover files from your malfunctioning Mac. Let's get started!

Fix Mac white screen

Table of Contents:

What does a white screen on a Mac mean?

Once a white screen shows on your Mac during startup, it means that there is something wrong with your Mac. Apart from the white screen, you may also see a pink, grey, or blue screen on your Mac. They are similar issues and could be caused by hardware, software, firmware, or even the Mac models' design defect. But, it often occurs after a macOS update.

Your Macbook won't turn on if it is stuck on the login screen, leaving you no access to the data stored on it. There's no reaction but a Mac white screen with no chime or MacBook Pro having a white screen on startup with no logo.

How to fix MacBook Air/Pro white screen on startup?

When Mac like MacBook Pro or iMac faces a white screen of death on boot, you can follow the following solutions to fix the problem.

1. Disconnect all peripheral devices

This solution is easy but helpful in some cases. It's easier to isolate and identify what causes your Mac, like MacBook Air or iMac, stuck on a white screen.

You can remove hardware as much as you can. That includes RAM, external drives, Type-C adapter, and even your keyboard, and mouse. Later, you can reconnect one device each time and restart the Mac. If there is any hardware failure, you'll figure it out.

For the hardware inside your Mac, it's not easy to disconnect. But you can try Apple Diagnostics or Apple Hardware Test (Mac introduced before June 2013) to have a check.

2. Boot into Safe Mode and Verbose mode 

If the hardware is not responsible for this white screen problem on your Mac, you should move to check the software in Safe Mode. After all, It's common to see that Macbook won't turn on after update.

Possibly, the system fails to deal with incompatible drivers after the macOS update. Or some applications fail to upgrade. Such software could result in a blank white screen on Mac.

First, you need to boot Mac into Safe mode to check if it's a software issue:

For an Intel-based Mac, you can restart your Mac and hold the Shift key. When you see the Apple logo, release the Shift key.

For an M1 Mac, you should shut down your Mac. Then, press and hold the power button until seeing the startup disks and Options. Next, hold the Shift key. Finally, click Continue to enter into Safe Mode.

If you can boot your Mac into Safe Mode, it means that the Mac white screen problem should be caused by a software issue. You can uninstall the recently installed software in the Application folder to fix this issue.

If it still doesn't work, go on booting into Mac Verbose Mode to find out the specific troublemaker:

Reboot your Mac and immediately hold Command + V key combinations. You can see a live report when Mac is booting up. If the Mac stops at some point, you should see which program causes the problem in the report.

Boot into Verbose mode to check program issues

And last, to fix the MacBook white screen problem, you can simply give the Mac a safe boot again. Then, remove the specific conflicting programs

3. Reset SMC and NVRAM/PRAM of your Mac

SMC, short for System Management Controller, is a chip on the logic board of Intel-based Macs. It controls all power functions for your Mac like battery charging and sleep settings.

So, you can reset SMC by holding Control + Option + Shift keys when rebooting your Mac to fix the white screen issue on your Mac. For an M1 Mac, there's no SMC.

NVRAM (Non-volatile Random-Access Memory) and PRAM (Parameter Random-Access Memory) are small memories that your Mac uses to store certain settings. That includes display resolution, startup-disc selection, recent kernel panic information, and more.

Hence, resetting the NVRAM/PRAM is another way to fix the Mac white screen issue. You should hold Command + Option + P + R keys at startup. But For an M1 Mac, NVRM is automatically running tests at startup and resets if needed.

4. Check and repair startup disk in macOS Recovery mode

Try this solution if you can see the Apple logo on the white screen (with or without the loading bar). The Apple logo means that the system finds the startup disk. However, for some reasons like file system corruption, the operating system directory can't be loaded.

You can boot into Mac Recovery mode and check and repair the startup disk with the First Aid feature in Disk Utility, then restart your Mac. If it works, the issue of the MacBook with a white screen will be fixed. Here's how:

  1. Power down your Mac completely and restart it.
  2. Immediately hold down the Command + R keys at the same time.
  3. Release the keys when you see the Apple logo.
  4. Select Disk Utility and click Continue.
  5. Choose the startup disk and click First Aid.

If First Aid reports the hard drive is about to fail, or it is not even showing up in Disk Utility, you have to replace this drive with professional help. After reboot, If your Mac still has a white screen on startup, it means that the disk errors can't be repaired.

5. Reformat the startup disk and reinstall macOS

As the corrupted Mac hard drive can't be repaired by First Aid, you need to reformat the startup disk and reinstall macOS. Reformatting will give a new file system so the drive can work again. However, it will also erase all of your files from the startup disk.

So, check if you have backed up your Mac before. If not, to prevent unnecessary data loss, you need to recover data from the Mac that won't be caused by a white screen of death first. Then you can proceed with the following steps.

  1. Make sure your Mac has an Internet connection. Then, you need to reboot your Mac into Internet Recovery Mode by holding Option + Command + R keys.
  2. Click Disk Utility and select the startup disk.
  3. Click Erase at the top menu of Disk Utility. 
  4. Fill in the required information like name, partition scheme, and format.
  5. Click Erase to confirm this operation. And then you can go back to macOS Utilities (the older version will be Mac OS X Utilities).
  6. In macOS Utilities, choose Reinstall macOS and continue. Reinstall macOS in macOS Recovery mode

Then, things would be intuitive if you follow the on-screen instructions. After macOS reinstallation, you can restart the Mac and check if the Mac white screen or grey issue is fixed.

6. Check the GPU of your Mac

Chances are that Mac or iMac shows a white screen on boot still. Sometimes, You can't even find anything abnormal after trying Apple Diagnostics. Then you should check the GPU (graphics processor) of your Mac manually.

Many MacBook Pro and iMacs have two graphics processors - a discrete GPU and an integrated GPU. The discrete GPU provides substantial graphics performance but uses more energy. The integrated GPU uses less energy.

However, discrete GPU is the default option for Macs with two switchable graphics cards. So, it's necessary to force your Mac to boot in integrated graphics. But you should not try this unless you are a specialist.

To disable the discrete GPU on boot to fix the iMac white screen of death issue:

1. Boot into macOS Recovery mode and open Terminal in Utilities.

Open Terminal in macOS Recovery mode

2. Type in the following command in Terminal window and disable discrete GPU.nvram fa4ce28d-b62f-4c99-9cc3-6815686e30f9:gpu-power-prefs=%01%00%00%00

3. Type in the following command line. It enables verbose boot mode so that you can see an intuitive report at startup.xnvram boot-args="-v"

4. Reboot Mac into Single User-mode by holding Command + S at startup.

5. Type in the following in Terminal to mount root partition writeable./sbin/mount -uw /

6. Then you can make a kext-backup directory by this command:mkdir -p /System/Library/Extensions-off

7. Type this command in Terminal to allow only move one offending kext out of the way.mv /System/Library/Extensions/AMDRadeonX3000.kext  /System/Library/Extensions-off/

8. Inform the system to update its kextcache by this command:touch /System/Library/Extensions/

Now you can end it up with a Mac restart. This should accelerate your display's performance. As a result, the MacBook Pro or MacBook Air white screen issue should have gone with the wind. But at the same time, you'll lose some features like the ability to drive an external display from the Display Port.

To check if the GPU is incompatible with your Mac or broken physically, you can consult the Apple support and repair service.

Retrieve files from Mac that stuck on a white screen

The white screen on your Mac prevents you from accessing all files on your Mac. Be caution! You are at risk of losing data. This video will tell you how to recover data from Mac that can't boot up.

 Recover data from Mac that won't turn on 

To recover data from your unbootable Mac, only data recovery software like iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac can help you.

  • Start your Mac and then press Option + Command + R keys to enter into macOS Recovery mode. (Make sure the network of your Mac is well-connected).
  • Click Utilities > Terminal.
  • Run the following command to launch iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac.sh <(curl http://boot.iboysoft.com/boot.sh)
  • Follow the on-screen instructions to scan, preview, and recover the desired data.

Conclusion

Once your M1 Mac, MacBook Pro/Air, or iMac starts or restarts into a white screen of death, any software, firmware, or hardware could be the reason. They are either corrupted or incompatible with your Mac. You should calm down and check them one by one to fix the problem.

At the same time, don't forget to recover data from your Mac with iBoysoft Data Recovery in macOS Recovery mode to another destination. Or, you'll face permanent data loss.

FAQs about Mac white screen on startup

A

To reset your MacBook Pro white screen on startup, here's how:
1. Restart your Mac and immediately press down Command + Option + Shift + R keys together to enter into macOS Recovery mode.
2. Choose Disk Utility, click Continue, select Macintosh HD and click Erase from Disk Utility's toolbar.
3. Name the volume and leave the format as APFS. Use GUID Partition Map as Scheme.
4. Click Delete Volume Group to delete Macintosh HD, Macintosh Hd Data, and any other volumes you created.
5. Click Erase to confirm.
6. Select Reinstall macOS in the macOS Utilities window and then follow the onscreen instructions to reinstall macOS.

A

If your Mac is stuck on a white at startup, it could be caused by the problems of hardware, software, firmware, or even the Mac models' design defect. Often, it occurs after an operating system upgrade. Also, when there are incompatible drivers on your Mac, it will be stuck on a white screen at startup sometimes.