What to do if MacBooks or iMacs won't boot past Apple logo?

By Katrina | Posted to Home > Mac Data Recovery Tips, November 24th, 2020 |

All computers could meet errors when booting up. For instance, a MacBook Pro stuck on Apple logo or iMac won't boot past Apple logo. Sometimes, you could see Mac stuck on a loading bar with Apple logo or a spinning wheel (or both). Some other times, as startup continues, the Mac gets stuck on the login screen.

In this case, you can't boot up the Mac machine. You can't access files stored on the Mac either. Then, what can you do if the iMac or MacBook Pro won't past Apple logo?

MacBooks or iMacs won't boot past Apple logo

This article shows you how to prevent data loss when Mac is not booting up. Also, it explains how to fix when iMac/MacBook stuck on Apple logo.

First of all, let's see what happens internally when Mac is turning on. It helps you understand why your Mac won't boot up.

How does a Mac boot up normally?

Normally, when a Mac is booting up, you can only see the apple logo with a loading bar. It's intuitive and simple for users. But internally, the system has to prepare and load many things at startup.

Once you press the power button, the machine starts to check and verify hardware connections. Then, it checks if RAM, CPU, hard disk, GPU, and more are working. After making sure these parameters are right, the system loads the startup hard drive and its system volume.

Then, the operating system (macOS) takes control of all hardware and software on your Mac. And finally, the Mac boots up.

An apple logo appears if the startup hard drive is detected. However, if the system fails to load the macOS information, or the macOS loses control of certain programs, the Mac won't boot past the apple logo. It usually results from file system corruption and software incompatibility.

How to fix the Mac won't boot past Apple logo issue?

When a Mac gets stuck on the Apple logo screen, you surely can do something to fix it. But to prevent data loss, you should make sure you have backed up your Mac.

With a data backup in hand, you are safe to check those 6 solutions.

  • 1. Disconnect all third-party peripherals
  • 2. Start the computer in Safe Mode
  • 3. Reset your Mac's PRAM and NVRAM
  • 4. Reset the System Management Controller (SMC)
  • 5. Boot the Mac into macOS Recovery Mode and use recovery tools
  • 6. Check hardware errors with Apple Hardware Test

Fix 1: Disconnect all third-party peripherals

Sometimes, third-party peripherals connected to your Mac could cause trouble. You can first shut your Mac down, and then disconnect all wired and wireless peripherals. This includes your printers, USB C adapter, keyboard, mouse, etc.

Then you can restart your Mac, wait for it to boot up, and see if it can go past the Apple logo screen. If it doesn't work, you can step further.

Fix 2: Start the computer in Safe Mode

To diagnose which part goes wrong more easily, you can try to boot your Mac into Safe Mode. A Mac safe boot will verify your startup diskand repair file system errors. What's more, a safe boot can move unnecessary caches to the Trash and disable all login items. This will isolate other related programs, making it easier to fix this issue.

To boot up your Mac in Safe Mode, you need to

  • 1. Long press the power button to completely shut the Mac down.
  • 2. Restart the Mac while holding down the Shift key.
  • 3. Release the Shift key when you see the loading bar.

If your Mac loads successfully in Safe Mode, there should be a software incompatibility. That's the reason why your Mac won't boot past the Apple logo screen.

In this situation, you can restart your Mac into Verbose mode (Command + V at startup). In Verbose mode, you can see a live report of the booting process. Then, you'll know which part your Mac gets stuck with. Once you find the incompatible programs, you can simply uninstall it in Safe Mode.

Fix 3: Reset your Mac's PRAM and NVRAM

NVRAM and PRAM are memories used to storesetting information. They include sound volume, display resolution, startup-disk selection, time zone, and recent kernel panic. So, when Mac can't boot up normally, you can try to reset these settings.

  • 1. Press and hold Power button for a few minutes till Mac turns off.
  • 2. Wait a few seconds and press Power button to turn on Mac.
  • 3. Hold Command + Option + P + R keys while booting Mac to reset NVRAM.
  • 4. Reboot computer again to see if the Mac computer can boot past the Apple logo.

Fix 4: Reset the System Management Controller (SMC)

SMC is responsible for power, battery and charging, fans, and sensors. When you Mac sleeps or shuts down unexpectedly and you can't reboot it, you can try resetting the System Management Controller (SMC).

For Notebook computers with the Apple T2 chip, you need to:

  • 1. Force your Mac to turn off.
  • 2. On your built-in keyboard, press and hold Command + Shift + Control keys for 7 seconds.
  • 3. Then hold and press the Power button as well. You need to keep hold all four keys for another 7 seconds.
  • 4. Wait for seconds and then restart your Mac.

It works for all Macs using non-removable battery. It includes MacBook Air models, as well as MacBook and MacBook Pro models introduced in mid 2009 or later. But it excludes MacBook (13-inch, Mid 2009).

It's different to reset SMC for Notebooks using removable batteries and desktops like Mac mini and iMac. You can click here to know how to reset the SMC when your MacBook is stuck on Apple logo.

Fix 5: Boot the Mac into macOS Recovery Mode

macOS Recovery Mode is a built-in recovery system on your Mac. For most current Mac computers, it's also the way to access Single user mode. When Mac won't go past the apple logo, macOS Recovery Mode allows you to fix many issues.

How to boot into macOS Recovery Mode?

You can follow these steps to boot your Mac into macOS Recovery Mode. It works for iMac, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac mini.

  • 1. Force your Mac to turn off by long pressing the power button.
  • 2. Restart the Mac and immediately hold Command + R keys. You can release the keys until you see the Apple logo.

Tips: Sometimes you can't boot into macOS Recovery mode. Then you might want to boot into macOS Recovery mode over the Internet. You can simply press and hold Option + Command + R or Shift + Option + Command + R at startup.

How to Boot into & Use M1 Mac Recovery Mode

1. Repair Mac hard drive in macOS Recovery mode

If your Mac is booting but the operating system is unable to load up, Macintosh HD may be not mounted or unreadable. Fortunately, you can repair the disk with First Aid in macOS Recovery mode.

2. Free up Mac hard drive's space

Insufficient storage space in Mac hard drive leads to several issues. The Mac could be frozen at startup. It could perform slow. Or the Mac gets stuck with a spinning beach ball while working.

In these cases, you can try to free up the hard drive space.

Tips: If your operation is denied or not permitted, you might need to disable the System Integrity Protection (SIP) in this process.

  • 1. In macOS Recovery mode, open the Terminal utility.
  • Free up Mac hard drive's space when Mac won't boot
  • 2. Type ls /Volumes in the command prompt and hit Enter. It will list all volumes on your Mac. You need to find the startup hard drive (often called Macintosh HD or macOS) by its name.
  • 3.Type cd /Volumes/"Macintosh HD"/Library/ and hit Enter.
  • 4.Type rm -rf Logs/* and hit Enter. This will remove some log files.
  • 5. Type rm -rf Caches/* and hit Enter to remove caches.

You can also run the find /home -size 1G command to locate files bigger than 1 GB. Then, you can choose to run mv command to move the files to an external hard drive. Or you can use rm command to delete them.

3. Remove incompatible Kernel extensions

Have you recently updated the Mac operating system or downloaded any patches? Mac not booting up could be caused by software incompatibility. So, if the Mac can't boot past logo after an update, you can remove the conflicting kernel extensions.

  • 1. Open Terminal in macOS Recovery mode.
  • 2. Type mount -rw / to mounts your hard drive as writable.
  • 3. Type cd /Volumes/Macintosh\ HD/Library/Extensions/.
  • 4. Type mkdir Unsupported.
  • 5. Type mv *.kext Unsupported.

Then the clashing extension would be removed. You can try to restart your Mac again.

4. Recover the system by APFS snapshot

Sometimes, the macOS update won't work with your model. But if you use macOS High Sierra, Mojave, or Catalina, you might have a chance to roll back system with APFS snapshot.

Note: Rolling the unbootable Mac to a previous state may cause data loss. So, you'd better rescue files from the Mac first if you have anything important.

5. Reinstall macOS in macOS Recovery mode

If the solutions above cannot fix the boot failure, you have to reinstall macOS. The operation will erase the whole startup drive, please make sure you have backed up. If you don't have any back up, you can get files off the Mac with iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac.

  • 1. Boot your Mac to macOS Recovery mode.
  • 2. Select Disk Utility from the macOS Utilities menu.
  • 3. Select the startup disk from the side bar.
  • 4. Click on Erase from the top.
  • erase Mac hard drive to reinstall macOS
  • 5. Setup the required information to reformat the disk and click Done when it's finished.
  • 6. Go back to macOS Utilities screen and select Reinstall macOS.

Fix 6: Check hardware errors with Apple Hardware Test

If you are unable to erase the boot drive, there might be some hardware malfunctions on the drive. You can use Apple Hardware Test to help determine whether the startup disk is physically damaged. If your Macintosh has hardware problems, you should send it to a local repair center.

How to prevent data loss when Mac won't boot past Apple logo?

Sometimes, the files on the Mac values more than the Mac machine itself. To prevent data loss, you should get files off the unbootable Mac first.

If you have turned on Time Machine backup, you can restore files from it. But if you haven't, you can still recover lost data with the help of professional data recovery software.

iBoysoft Data Recovery Software for Mac can recover lost data from unbootable Mac computer. It can recover data from Apple T2 secured Mac, and recover data from failed internal Mac hard drive, unmountable APFS boot volume, corrupted Macintosh HD, and much more. It works with macOS Big Sur 11/10.15/10.14/10.13/10.12 and Mac OS X 10.11/10.10/10.9/10.8/10.7.

To recover data When your Mac won't boot, you need to run iBoysoft Data Recovery in macOS recovery mode.


Besides the Mac stuck on Apple logo screen issue, there are any other boot problems. Mac could boot into black screen, or Mac stuck on a white screen with a loading bar (or a mouse). In either case, you should always keep your files in a safe condition first.

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