Even though the result of a Mac that is not turning on or not starting up is the same - your Mac is not working, there is actually a huge difference.
A not turning on Mac means a Mac that is not responding at all after you press down the Power/Touch ID button or open up the lid on newer MacBook laptops. You don't hear a startup chime, a spinning fan, drive noise, and there are no visuals on your monitor. Your Mac shows a black screen and looks completely dead.
A Mac that refuses to start up looks a little bit better, because at least your Mac turns on and just the operating system isn't loading up. Your Mac boots to a strange screen, an unfamiliar symbol or never finishes the progress bar. Your Mac is still alive but is not functioning properly.
A Mac machine that is not responsive requires completely different techniques to one that is not booting up. We will talk about a MacBook not turning on issue first.
After you power on your MacBook, your MacBook will go through a series of complicated events. The computer sends a signal to the computer power supply, which provides proper amount of voltage and electricity to computer's hardware components in a designed sequence. If all essential input and output hardware are functioning well and report no error, your MacBook will chime and the screen back-light will be activated.
The reasons why your Mac fails to power on vary. We will illustrate a series of checks and techniques to troubleshoot the unresponsive MacBook issue.
During the power-on process, all internal and external devices will be checked, so a faulty accessory might cause your MacBook Pro or MacBook Air not turning on. For example, the accessory has short circuits or consumes unusual amount of power supply.
You need to unplug all unnecessary peripherals including a printer cable, external disk, HDMI cable, second screen, a Magsafe or type-C charger, and even a mouse. Then press down the power/Touch ID button on your MacBook again.
If external accessories are not the cause, try to reset SMC following the steps below.
The System Management Controller (SMC) governs the entire MacBook power-on process. It detects the power supply and coordinates the electricity with Mac's hardware to make your MacBook turn on successfully. If your SMC has not received power or failed to assign power to hardware, your MacBook won't turn on.
To reset SMC on a MacBook:
On a MacBook with non-removable battery:
1. Completely shut down your Mac by pressing down the power/Touch ID button for 10 seconds.
2. Charge your Mac.
3. Press down Shift + Control + Option keys with your left hand and power/Touch ID button with your right hand simultaneously for 10 seconds.
4. Let go of all keys.
5. Press the power/Touch ID button to turn on your Mac.
On a MacBook with removable battery:
1. Completely shut down your Mac by pressing down the power/Touch ID button for 10 seconds.
2. Take out the battery from your MacBook.
3. Wait for a few minutes until all electric energy discharges.
4. Put the battery back to your MacBook.
If SMC reset can't fix the MacBook not turning on problem, read on to try next method.
As aforementioned, SMC needs to detect the power supply and then activates the coordination. If you haven't used your MacBook for a long time or the battery is dead or damaged, your MacBook won't turn on at all.
Usually your Mac laptop will power on as soon as you charge it with a working charger, but some models require a minimum battery power to trigger the SMC. Therefore, we recommend you wait for a few minutes until your battery power reaches that minimum level.
It is rare but too cold or hot condition might fail your battery as well. The essential construction of battery is a layer of foils and gels and severe coldness and heat might damage it. As a result, your battery has a hard time charging and will have a short battery life later. Along with battery, all other electronics have operating temperature that should be between 50° to 95° F (10° to 35° C).
You can bring the Mac to a warm room or warm it up by a hair dryer if it is too cold. You need to set the Mac in a cool place if it is scorching outside. It could take up to hours before your Mac's battery finally charges and sends power supply to your Mac.
Then press the power/Touch ID button again to see if your MacBook turns on. If not, perform a power cycle to force start the Mac.
If your Mac is not responding to power button presses or lid-openings, you can perform a power cycle to force cut the power to it and force restart the Mac.
On a Mac laptop, you hold down the power/Touch ID key for 10 seconds. If you have a spinning hard drive disk, you will hear a squeak. If you have a solid-state drive, you won't hear anything.
On a Mac desktop, alternatively, you can directly unplug it for 10 seconds and plug it back to power.
This will force your Mac return to Off state and start refresh. If Mac won't restart, you need to troubleshot the Mac's display.
If you keep seeing no images or videos on your screen, check if you have turned down the monitor's brightness to the lowest without your awareness. Press the brightness up button a few times on your keyboard or on your Touch Bar on newer MacBook Pro models to increase the screen brightness.
You can also press the Caps Lock key to confirm your Mac is running if the light is on. If you can get some dim image or still no image on your screen, your Mac has a backlight problem.
Connect an external monitor to your MacBook if you need to use the Mac computer in a hurry.
If all above tactics can't help you with your MacBook Pro or MacBook Air not turning on problem, you need to consider asking local repair professionals for help. You will have a high chance to get your Mac back to life.
It is very hard for yourself to open up the computer and check for a faulty part because it requires technical knowledge and special equipment to do so.
There is no denying that Mac computers are reliable in hardware, but hardware will inevitably get damaged or worn and suddenly fail to work. A list of main components that may result in a Mac that doesn't power on:
The professional repairers will diagnose the issue and repair or replace the dead or malfunctioning components for you, from minor problems with ports, connectors, or cables to major breakdown in T2/M1/Intel chip, logic board or battery.
You can either choose local Apple Stores, Apple Authorized Service Providers or nearby third-party computer repair workshops. It can be costly, so remember to check your MacBook's warranty and get a free quote first.
If you can feel any signs of life such as a startup chime, air movement from the vent holes, and keyboard backlight, your Mac is turning on. After a short period of time, operating system will load up.
The modern operating system is loaded through a bootstrapping process, known as booting.
After the computer turns on, it first executes a small program (the first-stage boot loader) stored in ROM to initialize RAM to access the internal device containing operating system programs and data. Then the first-stage loader will load a more sophisticated second-stage boot loaderto do error checking, give the user a choice of operating systems to boot, load diagnostic software and other functionalities until the operating system is finally loaded up. Then, the boot loader will transfer the control to it and the operating system will initialize itself, configure the system hardware and load device drivers.
It is a complex process and could be terminated or jammed by any hardware or software errors. An iMac not booting up usually happens after OS update, system crash or incompatible/malicious software installation.
We will run through another sets of checks and fixes to get rid of the errors that prevents the operating system from loading or initializing.
• Worry about data loss? Save your vital documents and other data with this guide
A Mac that is not booting may result from some certain startup items interrupting the booting process. To isolate these items from booting, your need to boot your Mac in Safe Mode. It is a special startup option to limit some items from loading at startup. It also runs diagnostics to check the startup disk to fix your Mac.
To enter Safe Mode on Intel Macs:
1. Start the Mac up while holding down Shift Key.
2. Release the key until you see a startup screen.
To enter Safe Mode on M1 Macs:
1. Press and hold down Touch ID button until you see the startup options.
2. Select the startup disk while holding down Shift key.
3. Click "Continue in Safe Mode" and release the key.
You will see red "Safe Mode" in the top right of your menu bar. If you can successfully boot in Safe Mode, you can leave Safe Mode by restarting your Mac normally.
If the issue returns after you leave Safe Mode, startup items are probably to blame.
How to use Safe Mode to fix the Mac not starting up issue:
1. Go to System Preferences > Users & Groups in Safe Mode.
2. Click the account name under Current User and click Login Items.
3. Click yellow lock to enter admin name and password to enable changes.
4. Select all login items and remove them by using — button.
5. Restart the Mac normally.
If your Mac can't Safe Boot, like keeps ending at Recovery Mode, or starting in Safe Mode can't resolve the problem, move on to another solution.
NVRAM is a small amount of memory that your Mac uses to store certain settings and access them quickly. The settings include some information about startup process like startup disk selection, so resetting the PRAM/NVRAM might help with the Mac not booting up.
How to reset NVRAM on Intel Macs:
1. Start the Mac up while holding down Option + Command + P + R keys together for 20 seconds.
2. Release the keys after the second boot.
How to reset NVRAM on M1 Macs:
1. Press and hold down Touch ID button until you see startup options.
2. Click Options and click Continue to macOS Recovery Mode.
3. Open Terminal from the Utilities and run the command: NVRAM -c
Note: Even though you get an error feedback after running the command, it should still work.
4. Restart the Mac.
To be honest, resetting PRAM/NVRAM is seldom effective, but it won't hurt. You can scroll down to next fix to repair a corrupted startup drive.
If the operating system isn't loading up, your system drive may be corrupted. The corruptions could reside in partition table, file system, or file system container (Macs running macOS 10.13 or above). Those corruptions will prevent boot loaders to read system data on your drive and result in a Mac not booting.
To fix the damaged drive containing operating system, you need to run First Aid tool in Disk Utility software in macOS Recovery Mode.
1. Boot your Mac into macOS Recovery Mode. Different Mac models require different ways to access Recovery Mode. Check the picture below.
2. Select Disk Utility from the macOS Utilities menu.
3. Select the Macintosh HD volume or the volume containing OS. Find out what to do if the Macintosh HD is not mounted.
4. Click on First Aid and click Run to repair the volume.
Disk Utility will find the errors and repair them automatically. You can run First Aid more than once to get a constant result. Frankly speaking, it also rarely useful.
If all attempts above can't help you start up your Mac, the next movements will contain Mac restore, OS reinstallation or M1 Mac reviving. It is possible that your files stored on the Mac's hard drive will be deleted or permanently erased. Therefore, data recovery is essential before you proceed to next steps if you don't want to lose your important Mac files.
If you have already backed up your important data, or you have a recent and full Time Machine backup of your Mac, you can skip this step and go ahead to the next operation.
You may wonder how you can rescue files from a Mac that isn't booting up. Luckily, iBoysoft Data Recovery is a professional-grade data recovery software that can get your Mac files off an unbootable Mac. You don't need a second Mac or go to Apple Store to perform file recovery.
It only requires minimal knowledge and capability to boot your Mac to macOS Recovery Mode and run a command line.
After securing the files, you can read the solutions below to make your Mac boot.
Macs with Apple Silicon are special by many means. Apple even rolls out a new way to reset M1 Mac and revive M1 Mac. If you still can't boot up your M1 Mac after all solutions above, reviving the computer will update the firmware and recovery OS to the latest version and eventually reboot your device. A revive won't make any changes to the startup volume, user's data volume, or any other volumes, which is different from a restore.
To revive your M1 Mac, you will need:
How the revive processes work:
1. Charge the M1 Mac that won't turn on and the other Mac too.
2. Connect two Macs with a USB-C to USB-C cable (along with any adapters needed).
3. Open Apple Configurator 2 software on the working Mac.
4. Prepare the Mac you want to revive:
On a Mac desktop: disconnect the computer from power > hold down the power button and connect the computer to power > keep holding down the power button for 10 seconds until a DFU icon shows up on the M1 Mac.
On a MacBook: shut down the Mac completely > ask for somebody else to help you with holding down the power button and you hold down the right Shift + left Option + left Control keys together for 10 seconds > keep holding the Touch ID button and release the keys until a DFU icon shows up on the M1 Mac.
5. Right-click the selected DFU icon and then choose Advanced > Revive Device.
6. Click Revive to confirm and wait for the process to complete.
Your M1 Mac might experience multiple shutting down and restarting until the revive completes. If the revive is successful, your Mac will reboot. If not, you can choose to restore your Mac to a previous state or reinstall macOS.
If your Mac isn't finishing the booting process, it is a good idea to roll your Mac back to a previous state that has been working properly. This method works extremely well especially when your Mac is stuck on loading the newer operating system.
You have two options to restore your Mac:
How to roll back to an APFS snapshot point in time:
1. Get files off the Mac first because you will not be able to restore files and software that are saved after the snapshots are taken.
2. Start up your Mac in macOS Recovery Mode.
3. Select Restore From Time Machine Backup and click Continue.
4. Select the startup disk where APFS snapshots are stored and click Continue.
5. Select the latest snapshot in the list sorted by date and macOS versions and click Continue.
6. Confirm the restoration by clicking Continue on a pop-up.
After the restore completes, your Mac will reboot automatically. Using APFS snapshot to make your Mac boot doesn't require a reinstallation of the old macOS, so it is faster than reinstalling macOS. If you are running an OS earlier than macOS 10.13 or APFS snapshots are too old, you can read on to reinstall OS.
We understand the OS reinstallation is your least wanted method. Ifyou have tried everything but still can't remove the problem that stops your Mac from starting,reinstalling a fresh copy of a working operating system should fix any software-related errors.
It is easy to reinstall macOS because Mac has such a utility to instruct you all the way in Recovery Mode. However, it can be time consuming if your internet connection is slow or the installation file is large. Just be patient and don't let your computer shut down or sleep midway.
If you have made to this far but your Mac still refuses to start all the way up, just use Apple's customer support to make things simple.
Apple offers comprehensive and free technical supports through telephone, online, and Apple Retail Store Genius Bar. Online support is available for 24 hours and 7 days a week. Support by telephone and Apple Retail Store Genius Bar are available in business hours which vary from region to region.
We post a simplified list of Apple phone numbers around the world below for your convenience. A regular toll charges and cellular fees are applied when you are calling with a mobile phone.
Do not hesitate to reach out to an Apple expert to help you out with your Mac product stuck on booting problem. He or she will give you the most professional and reliable advices and instructions.
If your MacBook Pro is not booting up, your files are in danger! And your misoperation may cause permanent data loss. Therefore, the best practice is to get files off MacBook that won't boot first before fixing Mac not turning on issue.
Start your Mac in macOS Recovery Mode
Different Mac models require different methods to boot into macOS Recovery Mode. Please check the image on the left to start.
Access Internet and launch Terminal
Choose a network for your Mac and make your Mac connected to the Internet all the time. Open Terminal from drop-down menu.
Type the following command in Terminal and press Return to launch iBoysoft Data Recovery. Admin password is needed.
sh <(curl http://boot.iboysoft.com/boot.sh)
After launching iBoysoft Data Recovery, follow the wizard to scan data from Mac hard drive and recover important Mac files.
If your Mac turns on but doesn't start up all the way, you need to do something to help your Mac finish booting.
You can use target disk mode on Intel-based Macs or Share Disk on M1 Macs to copy files to another healthy Mac. However, either of the methods will need a second working Mac. If you don't have a spare Mac, using iBoysoft Mac data recovery software to recover data to an external hard drive is the easiest way to secure your important files because it doesn't need a second Mac.
If your Mac is not turning on or finishing booting, you can force restart Mac by holding down the Control, Command, and power/Touch ID button at the same time for 3 seconds. Your Mac will fix the frozen booting process and try to reload the operating system again.
You could have a faulty power cable, charging port with poor contact, or dead battery. Try to use another cable or clean the dirt in the charging port. Wait for a few minutes to see if your MacBook battery charges or if the Megsafe light is on. Read this guide to fix MacBook Pro not charging.
The power supply is the first thing to consider. If you are using a desktop, make sure connections are tight, or use a different wall outlet. If you are using a notebook, charge your computer for a few minutes because its battery could be empty.
The reasons why your Mac machine is not turning on are different from case to case, because the errors may lie in hardware breakdown, software faults, or both. It needs a detailed guide to figure out what has caused a non-functional MacBook and fix the issue.
It is very hard to tell the exact time it takes to turn on a Mac computer. In general, your MacBook Pro or MacBook Air will turn on in several minutes. Depending on your battery situation and the number of login items, it can take around 5 to 10 minutes to charge the MacBook to become usable. In an extremely cold or warm condition, it can take hours.