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My Mac Won’t Turn On: What Do I Do?

You open your Mac to turn it on and nothing happens. Why won’t your Mac turn on? What’s happening? Don’t panic. Read this guide to find out.

Keyword(s): mac won’t turn on

We’ve all been there at some point. You hit the power button of your trusty MacBook, and nothing happens. Then there are the awful few minutes where you hit it again, then hold it down, then check the battery, and then start panicking about your files.

You have work to do and deadlines to meet. Emails to respond to that you don’t want to tap out on your phone. A few minutes later, you resign yourself to the fact that your mac won’t turn on. Now what?

As reliable as your laptop is, once in a while, it needs a bit of help. There are some procedures that you can try before you haul it into a repair shop, and we’re here to teach you some of them. 

First Things First

It’s important that you narrow the problem to your Mac not starting up, or not turning on. Is there any electricity getting to your Mac? Or is power getting to your Mac, but it’s not starting up the operating system so that you can use it.

It can be as simple as the MagSafe connection has come undone and drained your battery, or a breaker has cut the power to the room where your power supply is plugged in.

Check for Electrical Issues

Check the power source. When you push that power button, does anything at all happen? Can you hear the drive start spinning, or the startup chime? Any drives clicking or fans whirring?

If not, you can assume that no power is getting to your Mac. Here are a few steps to take if your laptop has no power:

Remove the battery for a few minutes and then reinstall it. Sometimes this simple reset will help it begin charging again. If your Mac doesn’t have a removable battery, press and hold the power button for ten seconds to fully interrupt the power and force a restart.

Make sure that your power source is working correctly. See that it is plugged in, that the wall socket is still working. You can test the outlet with a small lamp or appliance if you’re not sure.

While you’re checking the power sources, check the cable itself for damage or wear. The MagSafe LED should be working, and the connectors need to be clean. If you have a spare power adapter or can borrow one, try using that to see if your original one is still functional.

If you do use a different cable, make sure you give it some time to charge the battery and then test it again.

The Next Steps If Your Mac Won’t Turn On

If you have gotten this far, and still have no response, try holding down the power button for ten seconds, then push it again. Disconnect any peripherals you have plugged in, like USB hubs, external drives, and printers, and try it again.

If you have attempted everything above and your computer won’t boot, the next step is to reset the firmware. The firmware is called the SMC, or System Management Controller. Once again, there are two different methods to do so that depend on whether your laptop has a removable battery or not.

For Macs without a removable battery, start by plugging in the power cable. Then, on the left side of the keyboard, press the Shift+Control+Option keys, and the power button all at once. Release them at the same time, and press the power button again.

For Macs with a removable battery, unplug the Mac and remove the battery. Hold the power button down for five seconds, and then release it. Reinstall the battery, then plug in the Mac, and push the power button again.


For some people, this old trick is called “zapping the PRAM”. This tactic may not help, but it won’t hurt anything. Hold down the Command, Option, P and R keys while restarting. Continue to hold until you hear the second startup chime and then release the keys. Sometimes your Mac will then restart as normal, or load a progress bar and startup. 

The Power Is Working, but the Screen Is Black

Here is a new set of issues you may have. You hear everything starting up, but you don’t see the apple icon or the status bar. Here are a few things to check:

Make sure your screen’s brightness hasn’t accidentally been turned all the way down. It’s easy to rest items on that button without knowing it, so this is the simplest thing to check first.

Sometimes screens will go dark by themselves and hide the login screen, so you can shine a light through the apple icon to see what’s going on. If your login screen is even barely visible, try logging in; sometimes the display will return to normal once the operating system has loaded.

The Power Is Working, but the Computer Won’t Boot

The first method to try is to start your machine in safe mode. Hold down the shift key while starting up. Your operating system will only load files that it needs to run; verify your hard disk, and delete caches.

If the OS loads in safe mode, you may be able to isolate the problem by examining what isn’t running. You may have a bad font, startup item, or corrupt permissions.

Be prepared; your operating system may look and behave differently in safe mode. You won’t be able to play DVD movies, your Wi-Fi might be limited or disabled, and some external devices may not be available. Your graphics acceleration will cause your menu bars to appear solid, and your display may be erratic during login.

Safe mode exists for your testing convenience. You can’t work in it, as it will be very slow, but you can look at your login items and disable them. Then restart to see if that helped.

If it doesn’t, then you’ll need to factory reset your machine. You can try this method if your MacBook Pro, Mac desktop, or MacBook Air won’t turn on. 

Reinstall Your Operating System

The next step is to install a clean operating system. Your Mac can download and install the OS that originally shipped with it, and this operation will delete and restore system files that could have become corrupt.

It’s imperative that you have backed up your files, either by using Time Machine or by cloning your internal drive to an external hard drive. There are utilities you can use to do this, and they will make an exact copy, so you don’t lose any data.

Once your data is secured, here’s how to reinstall your OS:

  1. Make sure you are connected to the Internet
  2. De-authorize the Mac and sign out of iTunes
  3. Sign out of iCloud using System Preferences. Make sure to uncheck all the boxes of iCloud data it’s asking you to keep
  4. Restart your Mac in recovery mode by holding down the “command” and “R” while selecting restart from the Apple menu.

The restart process may take a few minutes, but you should see a window with MacOS Utilities that list four options: Restore from Time Machine Backup, Reinstall MacOS, Get Help Online, and Disk Utility. 

Choose Reinstall MacOS, and follow the prompts. Once that has finished, your computer will restart, and you should be back in business.

How to Reset a MacBook

Here’s where it gets serious. A factory reset will wipe your hard drive and all its data. This process will return your Mac to its factory state, like it was when it was brand new. 

Make sure you have a backup of your data. Follow the same steps as you would to reinstall your operating system, but choose Disk Utility instead of Reinstall MacOS. Click on the internal drive (usually Macintosh HD) and choose “Erase”.

Once this is finished, choose to reinstall MacOS, agree to the terms and conditions, and wait until the Mac has reinstalled the software and restarted. From here, you can enter your Apple ID and proceed as normal.

Keep Your Cool

Everyone has stressed over an unusable computer. These machines are our connection to the internet, working tools, and entertainment centers. They have archived our personal photos and journals. We need them to work exactly right, right when we need them to.

It’s important to take a deep breath and make sure you are careful with these procedures. There’s a good chance one of them will work, and have you back up and running in an hour or two. 

If these methods don’t help, and still your Mac won’t turn on, you’ll need a reliable partner to help you get working again. A company that understands the urgency of your problem, and has the skills to diagnose and fix your Macquickly and reasonably.

We can help you troubleshoot your Mac and other Apple products promptly and give you reasonable solutions. Most repairs take just a few hours. Our experience with Mac products allows us to offer services that you can’t find anywhere else. Check out what we’re all about and keep us in mind if your Mac needs some help. 

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