What to Do if Your MacBook Pro Won’t Turn On
Nothing causes that sinking feeling like when you go to boot up your MacBook Pro, and nothing happens. It will usually occur when you have a lot of studying to do, a deadline looming, or an important email to send. Aren’t those scenarios when things like that happen? Of course, they are.
Apple devices are known for being very reliable (reasonably, but their intentional designs like keyboards and others depending on model/release, ensure less longevity, so you’re forced to buy a new one, but we won’t go there in this article). No matter the reputation, every device has issues at one point or another.
This guide assumes you have not made any recent changes to your MacBook Pro, such as adding or replacing RAM or performed any significant hardware modification. In the case of macOS laptops, here is what to do if your MacBook Pro won’t turn on.
1. Check for Black/Blank Screen
When you initially tried to turn on your MacBook Pro, did it not turn on at all, or did the screen stay black?
A black screen is a regular problem for laptops and is not restricted to Apple. Before you do anything else, first make sure you didn’t just accidentally set the brightness to zero.
There are two keys along the top of the keyboard that have sun icons on them. One is to darken the display, and the other is to brighten it. Although most laptops won’t go black with this setting, it stills needs to be confirmed. If the brightness does not affect the black screen, move on. Turn off the laptop, remove all peripherals you have attached, and then turn it on again while listening carefully.
Do you hear any whirring? Any beeps? Fan noises? If you hear something but see nothing, it may be the screen and not the laptop. If you hear nothing, you need to troubleshoot further.
2. Boot to Recovery Mode
If you hear noises and receive feedback while performing actions, but the screen is black, you can try to boot the MacBook into Recovery Mode to repair any issues it’s having. To boot into Recovery Mode, hold down the power button. If this action works, you should see the macOS utility screen.
If Recovery Mode was successful, reboot your Macbook, and it should start normally. If not, continue reading; there may be other issues.
3. Check Power Connections
Plug your MacBook Pro charger into the laptop and the wall socket. Verify both connections are tight. Ensure the power cord isn’t damaged. If nothing happens, try a different wall socket or check the one you’re using with a different device.
If the outlet works, check the power cord or adapter. If you’re fortunate enough to have a spare of either, try them. If you can borrow a spare for five minutes, do that. But first, promise not to break it because it is worth its weight in gold. If the laptop still won’t work with a different charger, continue troubleshooting.
Note: The charger used should match the specs of the OEM charger for your specific model. There are a couple of different chargers at the least. For instance, the Mid-2015 MacBook Pro uses an 85-watt charger.
Make sure that you’re using Apple-branded cables if possible. Some third-party charging cables do not have the correct amperage needed to power your device properly, or the wires are brittle inside and could be damaged. Using the cable and charging block that came with your device may be the trick to getting your computer turned on.
4. Power Cycle
The next step involves performing a complete power cycle of your MacBook Pro. While it sounds involved, it is very straightforward.
All you need to do is hold down the power button for a minimum of ten seconds. This action cuts all power to the laptop and is the equivalent of removing the battery. You may hear a noise as you do this.
Once you have held the power button down and then released it, leave it off for a few seconds and then press it again to start the MacBook Pro as normal. If you’re fortunate, it will boot successfully. If not, the MacBook Pro will still fail to start, and you’ll need to keep reading.
5. Reset the SMC
The SMC is the System Management Controller. It manages all the low-level functions of the Macbook Pro, such as the power button, display, battery, fans, motion sensing, keyboard, indicator lights, and other similar elements. Resetting the SMC is usually left until last as it resets many settings back to their defaults. If you have gotten this far without a successful boot, try resetting the SMC on your MacBook Pro.
- Unplug the laptop from the charger and peripherals.
- Hold down Shift + Control + Option and the power button for ten seconds.
- Let go of all keys and reconnect the charger.
- Then, press the power button to boot your laptop.
If an SMC error was causing the MacBook Pro not to boot, it should now boot normally. You will have to reconfigure some hardware settings once it successfully starts up, but it is a small price to pay for getting your laptop working again. This setback is undoubtedly better than professional maintenance that takes time, and costs money.
6. Remove the Battery
If you’re using an older MacBook Pro, it may have a removable battery. Check underneath to see if the battery is removable or not. You should see a small locking clip next to the battery if it’s comes out. To remove the battery, do the following:
- Undo the locking clip underneath your MacBook Pro.
- Lift the plastic flap to expose the battery.
- Pull the small tab to release the battery and remove it.
- Reverse the process to reinsert or replace the battery, or replace the flap and clip.
A newer MacBook Pro will not have a removable battery, so this procedure will not be relevant to you if you own one.
7. Unplug Your Accessories
It may sound strange, but if your MacBook is having trouble booting up properly, it’s worth trying to boot it with everything unplugged.
Any USB devices, printers, or other connections should be temporarily unplugged. Once done, try to reboot your MacBook by pressing and holding the power button.
If your MacBook Pro still won’t turn on, there is very little you can do at this point without voiding the warranty. It may be better to find your nearest Apple Store and let one of the technicians take a look. What it can hopefully accomplish is getting your laptop working again without affecting the warranty or potentially making things worse!
As mentioned by some in the comments, if your MacBook is powering up but not displaying, then you most likely have an issue with your screen cable, screen, or graphics card.
If your OS reinstall process was interrupted, then your issue could be with a corrupted or now non-existent critical system file. You’ll want to reattempt the reinstall process using a flash drive or network install.
Given their cost, it’s always a hassle when a MacBook won’t power up. If this happens to you, follow the steps above, or take it into a reputable repair shop or Apple Store if it’s still under warranty.
Share your thoughts and experiences on MacBook Pros not powering up below.