Clicking the power button on your MacBook should light up the screen & keyboard, play a startup chime, display the Apple logo & a startup progress bar, and finally, boot into the authentication screen where you enter a password. That’s the usual routine. However, if all you see is a black screen when you power on your Mac, we will help you fix that with this guide.
Before anything, ensure that your Mac’s battery has enough juice. Plug the device into a power source and try again. Additionally, unplug any external accessories (monitors, disk drives, etc.) connected to the Mac. These devices could interfere with the startup process of your PC. If nothing changes after running these preliminary checks, try out the troubleshooting solutions we’ve listed below.
1. Close and Reopen Lid
This may look pretty basic, but it works. If your MacBook isn’t booting past a black screen, close the lid, wait for about a minute or two and reopen the lid.
2. Proceed With Authentication
Some users discovered that ignoring the black screen and typing their Mac’s security credentials fixes the startup black screen issue. If the issue persists after closing and reopening your MacBook’s lid, enter your password and hit the Return key.
Alternatively, if your Mac has Touch ID, place your finger on the fingerprint sensor and wait for the black screen to vanish.
3. Disable Automatic Graphics Switching
Automatic graphics switching is a macOS feature that optimizes the graphics-related performance of apps installed on your MacBook. You’ll find this feature mostly on MacBook Pros with two graphics cards. Graphics switching comes with its benefit (e.g., improved battery life), but it could be responsible for the Mac booting with black screen issue.
To prevent this from happening in the future, disable automatic graphics switching.
Step 1: Launch System Preferences and select Energy Saver.
Step 2: Uncheck ‘Automatic graphics switching.’
Can’t find the automatic graphics switching option on the Energy Saver menu, this means your Mac has just one dedicated graphics hardware.
4. Reset PRAM or NVRAM
If your Mac cannot detect, identify, or remember the primary startup disk, it might encounter difficulties booting up normally. To fix this, reset the non-volatile random-access memory (NVRAM) or parameter random-access memory (PRAM) to factory default.
Step 1: Shut down your Mac.
Step 2: Press the power button and immediately hold Option + Command + P + R on your keyboard.
Step 3: Hold the four (4) buttons for about 15 seconds until your Mac restarts.
Step 4: Release the keys when the Apple logo appears on the screen.
5. Reset the System Management Controller
When you click your Mac’s power button or open the lid, it’s the System Management Controller (SMC) that powers the action that ensues. Apart from the lid opening or closing action trigger, SMC also controls your Mac’s fan, battery, and keyboard backlight. It’s also responsible for supplying power to USB ports and charging your PC’s battery.
If a black screen is all you see when you fire up your Mac, resetting the System Management Controller could resolve the issue. There are two ways to reset the SMC, and the method you use depends on whether or not your Mac has the Apple T2 Security Chip.
Reset SMC on Mac With T2 Security Chip
MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros launched in 2018 or later carry the Apple T2 Security Chip. So if you have one of those models, shut down your Mac and follow the steps listed in the sections below to reset its SMC.
Step 1: Hold the power button for 10 seconds and release it.
This will power on your Mac and shut it back off.
Step 2: Wait for about 5 seconds and click the power button to turn on your Mac.
Your Mac should now boot up correctly. If it still gets stuck on a black screen during startup, shut down your Mac and proceed to step #3 to continue the SMC reset process.
Step 3: While powered off, press and hold Control (on the left side of the keyboard) + Option (on the left side) + Shift (on the right side) simultaneously for about seven (7) seconds.
Step 4: Without releasing the three keys you’re holding, press and hold your Mac’s power button.
That makes it four (4) keys you’re holding. Again, hold the keys for seven (7) seconds and release them. Your Mac will come on and go back off in the process.
Step 5: Finally, click the power button to turn on your Mac.
Reset SMC on Mac Without T2 Security Chip
MacBooks launched before 2018 (mid-2009 through 2017) do not have the T2 Security Chip. So those who have one of those older MacBooks, follow the steps below to reset the System Management Console (SMC).
Step 1: Shut down the Mac and wait for some seconds.
Step 2: Press and hold the Shift + Control + Option keys (on the left side of the keyboard) simultaneously for about 7 seconds.
Step 3: Without releasing the keys, hold the power button.
Hold these four (4) keys for 10 seconds and release them.
Step 4: Click the power button to turn on your Mac.
6. Boot into Safe Mode
When you boot into Safe Mode, macOS runs a diagnostic check on your Mac’s startup disk. This has the potential of repairing issues preventing your Mac from booting up normally.
Step 1: Turn off your Mac and wait for about 10 seconds.
Step 2: Press and hold down the Shift key immediately the screen lights up.
Step 3: Release the Shift button when the Apple logo appears on the screen.
Because you’re booting into Safe Mode, it might take longer than usual for your Mac to startup. Now, restart your Mac (click the Apple logo icon and tap Restart) and check if it goes past the black screen when booting up.
Turn On the Mac
There’s one last thing you can try—if none of the solutions resolves the issue, that is. Reboot the Mac in macOS Recovery Mode. And if that also doesn’t yield the desired result, there’s a possibility that the problem is hardware-related. Perhaps a faulty screen or damaged hard drive. In that case, you might want to pay any Apple repair store near you a visit.
Next up: There are several reasons why the folder with a question mark appears on your Mac’s screen. Read the guide linked below to find out what causes this error and how you can resolve it.
Last updated on 13 July, 2021
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