9 Things To Do When Your MacBook Pro Won’t Turn On

We get it. Few things in life cause the heart to sink like an unresponsive computer. 

There’s never a good time for your MacBook Pro not to turn on. But it’s so often when we need it the most that we find ourselves staring back at our reflection in the face of a black, unresponsive screen.

Midway through that important essay? About to finish that spreadsheet you’ve been working on for the past few weeks? Just putting the finishing touches on your holiday snaps? 

Chances are, you bought your MacBook Pro because you were looking for reliability and user-friendliness. Yet even Apple’s computers are not impervious to the occasional malfunction. 

Thankfully though, we’ve got some easy fixes that should have you tapping and browsing again in no time.

 Check the power source.

Let’s start with the basics, is your MacBook charged?

Press and hold the Power button on your MacBook Pro. If there’s no startup chime, no fan or drive noise, and the Apple logo doesn’t appear at all on the display — then your MacBook Pro simply isn’t turning on. 

Check your power connection.

Unplug and then plug your MacBook Pro back in. Depending on the age of your MacBook, your MagSafe charging cable will show you a green light if the computer is charged and amber if it’s charging. If it’s amber, give the MacBook some time to charge and then try again.

Try a different power cable or adapter.

It might be that the issue lies with your power cable. Check the full length of the charger itself for any damage. Try swapping out the charger and see if this resolves the situation. Again, if your Mac now starts charging, give it a little time — it probably won’t start up straight away after having the battery drained.

 Perform a power cycle 

If you’ve tried the above and your MacBook Pro is still showing no signs of life, it’s time to try a power cycle.

In a power cycle, you’re essentially cutting the power to your MacBook and forcing it to restart. 

On a modern MacBook Pro without a removable battery:

  1. Unplug the power cable
  2. Hold down the power key for 10 seconds (you’ll hear an audible power ‘cut’)
  3. Press the power button again to start the MacBook 

On a MacBook with a removable battery:

  1. Shut the MacBook down
  2. Unplug it
  3. Remove the battery
  4. Wait ten seconds, then reinsert the battery 
  5. Turn the MacBook on

 Boot your Mac in safe mode

Safe mode limits your MacBook Pro to its most basic functions — bypassing some of the small processes that might be hindering your MacBook from working properly.

If successful, you can get your struggling MacBook to start up in Safe Mode before restarting it and returning to normality:

  1. Turn off your MacBook
  2. Power it back on while holding down Shift
  3. Release Shift when you see a login menu
  4. Follow the on-screen prompts

Check your file system.

OK, this step might seem a little bit more complicated, but it’s still relatively simple:

  1. Turn the MacBook Pro off, and start it again while holding Command (Cmd) + S to launch in Single User Mode. Release the keys when the white text begins to appear on the screen
  2. Wait until the command-line prompt appears once all of the text has finished scrolling past. 
  3. Type fsck-fy and hit enter/return — then wait for up to several minutes
  4. Eventually, after your MacBook Pro has completed a series of checks, you should receive one of two messages
    1. “The value [your MacBook’s name] appears to be OK,” OR
    2. “FILE SYSTEM WAS MODIFIED”
  5. If your received message 1 — type “reboot” and hit enter/return
  6. If your received message 2 — retype the command fsck-fy and then hit enter/return

If this doesn’t work, it’s time to move on to the next solution.

 Reset the NVRAM

NVRAM refers to special memory sections of your MacBook that store data, even when your MacBook is turned off. 

Resetting this data isn’t harmful but can sometimes offer an unlikely solution to restoring your MacBook to life. 

  1. Hold down the following keys: Command (cmd), Option (alt), P and R, and turn on the MacBook
  2. Keep holding the keys down until you hear the MacBook restart
  3. Listen for a second restart, and then release the keys

Sometimes resetting the NVRAM will cause the MacBook to restart normally. 

Other times, you’ll be presented with a progress bar. If this progress bar fills up and the MacBook starts up, you’re good to go. Occasionally the progress bar will fill up halfway, but the MacBook will then shut down.

If this happens, unfortunately, it hasn’t worked—time for the next step. 

Reset the SMC

Again, don’t be worried about the unfamiliar acronym here. SMC refers to your Systems Management Controller; it handles things like battery settings and display reactions, and resetting it is easier than you might think.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Shut down the MacBook Pro
  2. Unplug and then reconnect the power cable
  3. Press Shift + Control (ctrl) + Option (alt) keys and the power button at the same time
  4. You might see the light on the power cable flicker
  5. Restart your MacBook 

Boot your MacBook Pro in Recovery Mode

If none of the above has worked, your MacBook Pro issue may lie within its Hard Drive. Thankfully, Apple has a handy way to check this via Disk Utility, which can be accessed through Recovery Mode. 

  1. Make sure your MacBook Pro is completely shut down
  2. Hold Command (cmd) + R and turn your MacBook back on
  3. A new window will pop up with several options to choose from — Click Disk Utility ➙ Continue
  4. Select your hard drive
  5. Click First Aid
  6. After the process is finished, turn your MacBook Pro off and on

Use Target Disk mode to copy files.

This is more a preface to step 9, but if you don’t regularly back up your MacBook Pro (if you don’t, you really should start), then you’ll want to do this to avoid losing all of your data. 

For this step, you’ll need a second MacBook, so it might be time to get in touch with a friend. You’ll also need to invest in an Apple Thunderbolt cable (£39).

  1. Connect both MacBooks using the Apple Thunderbolt cable
  2. Switch off your MacBook Pro
  3. Start up your MacBook while holding the T button on the keyboard
  4. Keep holding the T button (you’ll hear the startup chime) until the Thunderbolt icon appears on your screen 
  5. Your MacBook will now be placed in Target disk mode and will act as a second hard drive
  6. On the second MacBook, find the hard drive for your faulty MacBook and make a copy of all the files you wish to keep

 Install a new macOS

The final option when all else has failed (provided you’ve done step 8). Reinstalling the macOS should fix any software-related issues. It’s the same process as starting your MacBook Pro in recovery mode, but we’ll select a different option:

  1. Make sure your MacBook is completely shut down
  2. Hold Command (cmd) + R and turn your MacBook back on
  3. Once in recovery mode, click to install the latest OS and follow the on-screen prompts 

Still not working?

Hopefully, one of the above steps has seen your MacBook Pro whir back to life, and you’re now happily working away again. In the unlikely situation that the problem persists, however, don’t fret!
You can reach out to our team here at ScreenWorks. We’re happy to answer any questions you have about your devices. Together, we’ll get your MacBook Pro back to life!

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