Mac Won’t Start? Try These Fixes

Your Mac not starting can be the result of something as simple as a low battery, but it could easily be something more serious. This could be particularly problematic when you need to use your Mac right away. Fortunately, there are various things you can try to start up your Mac.

Mac Won’t Start? Try These Fixes

In this article, we’ll go through all the possible reasons why your Mac won’t start. We’ll also offer the best solutions for each.

Mac Won’t Start – Here’s What You Should Try

A Mac may not start for different issues. Before doing anything else, try to force restart your Mac. This is how it’s done:

  1. Press and hold the power button for 10 seconds.
  2. Wait for at least 1 minute to go by.
  3. Press the power button again and wait for it to start.

The most common reason why a MacBook, or any other laptop, won’t start is an empty battery. To see if this is the case, plug your Mac in and wait a couple of minutes. If it starts, make sure to charge it all the way before unplugging it. However, if it’s still unresponsive, there might be some other reason.

If your Mac doesn’t seem to be charging after a couple of minutes, it’s possible that the charging cable isn’t plugged in all the way or that the power adapter might not be connected properly. To make sure your outlet is working, try plugging your Mac into a different outlet. There’s even a possibility that there’s something wrong with your battery. If that’s the case, you should take it to Apple to have it serviced.

Mac Won’t Start in Safe Mode

If your Mac won’t start, Safe Mode can help solve a slew of issues that are causing it, including your startup disk. Safe Mode is also a quick fix if your Mac is slow or if you’ve installed an app that’s making it lag or crash.

If your Mac keeps restarting or shutting down while it’s in Safe Mode, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Hold and press the power button for 10 seconds.
  2. Turn your Mac on.
  3. Immediately press and hold the “Command” and “R” keys at the same time.
  4. On the “macOS Utility” window, select the “Disk Utility” option.
  5. Run “First Aid” on the drive.
  6. Press and hold the “Shift” key at the same time until you see the Apple logo.
  7. Log in. If you have FileVault on, then you might need to log in twice.

If this method doesn’t work, it’s best to either contact Apple Support or take your Mac to an Apple Store.

Mac Won’t Start in Recovery Mode

Recovery Mode is used when you need to troubleshoot your Mac, wipe all the data from the hard drive, or reinstall the operating system. Another common occasion when Recovery Mode is used is if your Mac doesn’t want to start. But what happens when your Mac won’t start even in Recovery Mode?

The mode is activated by force restarting your Mac and holding the “Command” and “R” keys at the same time. However, this isn’t how you start a Mac that uses an M1 chip, just those with an Intel processor. If your Mac is new (from 2020 or later), then you can try enabling Recovery Mode in this manner:

  1. Turn off your Mac by pressing the power button for 10 seconds.
  2. Hold the power button to turn it on until you see the Apple logo.
  3. Access “Startup Options.”
  4. Select “Options.”
  5. Go to the “Continue” button.

This will start Recovery Mode, which will get your Mac to start. If this method doesn’t work, it might mean that your Mac is too old. If you have the X Snow Leopard operating system or older, then Recovery Mode won’t be available on your Mac. If it’s older than Sierra, you also might not have all the Recovery Mode options as some of the newer versions.

Mac Won’t Start After Update

If you are in the process of updating your Mac’s operating system when you run into this problem, you will need to troubleshoot it. This issue usually occurs when you’re installing one of the following operating systems: Big Sur, Catalina, Mojave, High Sierra, or anything older than Sierra.

The first solution to try is to reset the PRAM (parameter random-access memory) or NVRAM (nonvolatile random-access memory) on more modern MacBooks. This is a common troubleshooting procedure, and here is how it’s done:

  1. Turn off your Mac by holding the power button for 10 seconds.
  2. Press these keys at the same time: “Command,” “Option (Alt),” “P,” and “R.”
  3. Restart your Mac.
  4. Release the keys when you see the Apple Logo.

If this doesn’t work, you can also try resetting the SMC (System Management Controller). If you have an M1 Mac, this isn’t an option for you. Follow the steps below to reset your Mac’s SMC:

  1. Turn off your Mac.
  2. Plug the charging cable out and then back in.
  3. Hold down the power button and these keys at the same time: “Shift,” “Ctrl,” and “Option/Alt.”
  4. Press the keys until you see the Apple logo on your display.

Mac Won’t Start Up All the Way

When you try to turn on your Mac and it doesn’t show your home display, it could mean a number of things. This depends on the type of symbol that appears on the screen.

For example, if you see a circle with a line through it, this indicates that your startup disk has an operating system that isn’t compatible with your Mac. This is also known as the prohibitory symbol. Here’s what you need to do if you see this symbol on your screen:

  1. Turn your Mac off by pressing and holding the power button for 10 seconds.
  2. Restart your Mac.
  3. Launch macOS Recovery by pressing the “Command” and “R” keys on your keyboard at the same time.
  4. On the “macOS Utilities” window, choose “Disk Utility.” Doing this will repair any errors on the startup disk.
  5. Wait a couple of minutes for the “Disk Utility” to scan the startup disk and fix any issues.

If the Disk Utility scan didn’t detect any errors, your only other choice is to reinstall macOS. Another thing you can do at this point is contacting Apple Support.

If your Mac won’t start all the way and you’re seeing a folder with a question mark icon, this could mean two things. The first is that the startup disk isn’t available for some reason. The other possibility is that your macOS has some sort of dysfunction. If that’s the case, repeat the same steps for the prohibitory symbol.

In other scenarios, you could see a black or gray screen when you try to turn your Mac on. If this happens, try holding the power button on your Mac for at least 10 seconds. If your Mac has an Intel processor, then try using the Disk Utility feature to repair the error. If you have an Apple chip, do the following:

  1. Wait for the “Startup Options” window to appear.
  2. Click on the “Options” gear icon.
  3. Choose “Continue.”
  4. Proceed to the “macOS Utilities” window.
  5. Select “Disk Utility” and wait for it to scan your startup disk for issues.

Try One of These Quick Fixes to Start Your Mac

Both new and old MacBooks can refuse to start, no matter the macOS version. Thankfully, a force restart and the Recovery Mode feature can solve the majority of these problems. If none of these solutions work, the best thing to do is contact Apple Support or take your MacBook to an Apple Shop.

Have you ever encountered this problem with your Mac before? How did you fix it? Let us know in the comments section below.

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