Summary: The Mac white screen issue affects many Mac models. So, you could see this problem on your MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac, or Mac mini. Anyhow, you can read this post to fix this issue and boot up your Mac again.
If problems are detected at startup, Mac won't turn on even in new macOS Catalina. Instead, it will return some error screens for indication. And the Mac white screen issue is one of them. The Mac just gets stuck on the white screen and won't go any further.
How to fix the Mac white screen issue:
- 1. Disconnect all peripheral devices.
- 2. Boot into Safe Mode and Verbose mode.
- 3. Reset SMC and NVRAM/PRAM of your Mac.
- 4. Check and repair startup disk in macOS Recovery mode.
- 5. Reformat the startup disk and reinstall macOS.
- 6. Check the GPU of your Mac.
What does it mean when your Mac screen goes white?
The white screen on Mac means that your Mac can't boot up because a problem is sensed by the system. It could be the issue of hardware, software, or even firmware.
Even though Mac stuck on white screen mostly results from system crash, it doesn't exclude the Mac models design defect. For example, MacBook Pro from 2011 was widely affected by the white screen of death.
In different situations, the white screen might be a little different. The Mac could be frozen on the white screen with a cursor or spinning wheel. With a grey screen. Mac stalls on a loading bar or it gets stuck on an Apple logo. The Mac may white out after typing password into the profile login screen. And a worse case is that there is no startup chime, no apple logo, nothing, just a blank display.
How to fix the Mac white screen issue?
When Mac boots to white screen on startup, you can follow this guide to fix the problem.
1. Disconnect all peripheral devices.
Believe it or not, this solution is easy but helpful in some cases. It’s easier to isolate and identify what stops your Mac from booting up. You can remove hardware as much as you can.
That includes RAM, external drives, type-C adapter, even your keyboard and mouse. You can even temporarily use another monitor if you have one. 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 the Apple Diagnostics or Apple Hardware Test (Mac introduced before June 2013).
2. Boot into Safe Mode and Verbose mode to fix Mac white screen
If hardware is not responsible for this white screen problem, you should move to check the software in Safe Mode. After all, Mac computer not booting after the latest macOS update happens frequently.
Possibly, the system fails to deal with incompatible drivers after macOS update. Or some applications fail to upgrade. Such software could result in a blank white screen on Mac.
First, you need to boot into Safe mode to check if it's a software issue. You can restart your Mac and hold the Shift key. When you see the apple logo, you can release the Shift key.
If you can boot up your Mac without seeing the white screen of death, it should be a software issue.
Second, you need to boot your Mac into Verbose mode to find out the troublemaker. You need to 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.
And last, to fix the Mac white screen problem, you can simply give the Mac a safe boot again. Then you can remove the conflicting programs.
3. Reset SMC and NVRAM/PRAM of your Mac
SMC is a chip on the logic board that controls all power functions for your computer. NVRAM and PRAM are small memories that your Mac uses to store certain settings. That includes display resolution, startup-disc selection, recent kernel panic information, and more.
So, when your Mac boots into a white screen, you can reset the NVRAM/PRAM by holding Command + Option + P + R at startup. You can reset SMC by holding Control + Option + Shift when rebooting your Mac.
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 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 follow these steps to check the startup disk and fix Mac white screen problem with First Aid.
After a successful disk repair, you can restart your Mac and see if the white screen has gone for good.
If First Aid reports the hard drive is about to fail, or it is not even showing up in Disk Utility, you can only replace this drive. If it finds disk errors that can't be repaired, you can reformat the hard drive and reinstall macOS.
5. Reformat the startup disk and reinstall macOS
If you can't repair the corrupted Mac hard drive, then you need to reformat the startup disk. Reformatting will give a new file system so the drive can work again. However, it will also erase your files from the startup disk.
So, make sure you have backed up your Mac. To prevent unnecessary data loss, you can also recover data from that Mac that won't turn on 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. Select 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 (older version will be Mac OS X Utilities).
- 6. In macOS Utilities, choose Reinstall macOS and continue.
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 grey screen issue is missing.
6. Check the GPU of your Mac
Chances are that Mac stuck on a white screen at startup 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 iMac 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:
- 1. Boot into macOS Recovery Mode and open Terminal in Utilities.
- 2. Type in the following command in Terminal window and disable discrete GPU.
- 3. Type in the the following command line. It enables verbose boot mode so that you can see an intuitive report at startup.
- 4. Reboot Mac into Single User-mode by holding Command + SS 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:
You can end it up with a Mac restart. This should accelerate your display's performance. As a result, the Mac 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.
Once your Mac 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 keep your data in a safe condition.