Macs are known for their reliability. However, the fact remains that they are machines and still susceptible to different kinds of errors and issues, some of which can be resolved by simply switching the Mac off and then on again. But what if the problem is the Mac does not turn on in the first place?
Typically, your Mac will turn on with just a press of the power button, after which you hear the startup sound, then the boot up comes next. But sometimes, a user won’t get so lucky. As well-built and reliable as Macs can be, a thing or two can still hinder them from performing flawlessly. In this article, we’ll talk about the different possible reasons why a Mac does not switch on, as well as some tips and tricks to make it work.
Before you panic, see that it is not a simple power issue.
A Mac that doesn’t turn on and a Mac that doesn’t startup is not the same, so you need to spell the difference between the two. You first need to rule out power issues before assuming that something is really wrong with your Mac.
However, some power issues can be a bit more problematic than others. Some of them can even be daunting to resolve on your own, but with the right guide and by following the steps carefully, you should be able to fix them without much difficulty.
As a start, there’s a clue for knowing if what you’re dealing with is a power issue: the lack of any light or sound coming from your Mac when you try turning it on.
Below are some things you’d want to check if you suspect a power issue on your Mac:
- Check your power connection – This may sound elementary, and I’m not trying to underestimate your technical knowledge, but checking all aspects won’t do any harm, right? You need to see if your Mac desktop is plugged in correctly. See if the AC plug is pushed all the way into the power outlet to ensure sufficient electrical contact.
- Check the cable and plug or AC adapter – If your Mac desktop is plugged correctly but still won’t turn on, check if any part of the plug and cable has been damaged. Carefully inspect the cable along its full length. Next, see if the plug doesn’t look normal in any way. Do the same with the AC adapter if you are trying to recharge a Mac notebook but it won’t turn on after a while.
- Check the power outlet – The power outlet itself may be compromised due to a number of reasons such as a recent power surge. An old power outlet can also be vulnerable to short circuits that can cause it to suddenly stop working. Try plugging another appliance or device into the outlet to see if it’s working or not.
- Make sure your Mac notebook’s battery is charged – Mac notebooks depend on the battery for juice. If it completely runs out of battery, it may enter a deep sleep power mode, and when it does, it may not turn back on until it’s been charged for a while. Try leaving it plugged on for several minutes before trying to turn it on.
- See if power-hungry accessories are plugged into your Mac – If a number of accessories or devices that use a lot of power are plugged into your computer, they can not only draw a lot of power but also prevent your battery-powered Mac from turning on. Such devices include USB hubs, printers, and mobile gadgets.
Mac still won’t turn on after ruling out power issues? It could be a display issue.
So, you pressed your Mac’s power switch on, heard the startup chime as well as the soft whirring sound produced by the fan or drive — but then nothing comes up on the display. If you’re using a desktop Mac, this could be a display problem rather than a power issue. Fortunately, display-related problems are relatively easy to fix.
Follow these tips to bring your Mac display to life:
- If you’re using a separate display unit, check if it is properly plugged in. Check the cable and plug for damage as well.
- See if all cables are securely connected.
- Verify if the separate monitor unit is compatible with your Mac.
- Try removing display extenders and switchers, and other devices between the monitor and Mac.
- Try unplugging the video cable and back again.
- Try using a different monitor and/or adapter. For instance, use DVI instead of VGA.
Still no luck? Try these other tricks to get your Mac running.
If both power and display issues are ruled out and yet your Mac won’t budge, it’s time to try other tricks, including the following:
- Try a hard restart – Press and hold the power button for about 10 seconds. This will drain any residual energy. Afterward, try to turn it on again. Hopefully, this would jumpstart your Mac. For a Mac desktop, you can also try unplugging it and leave it be for about 10 seconds, then plug it back and attempt turning it back on. This process is also known as a power cycle.
- Check the RAM – If you installed a new memory in your Mac or upgraded your old one, it may have been put in improperly. Try re-opening your Mac, removing the memory, and re-seating it to ensure proper installation. When the RAM is not seated properly and all the way in, the computer will not boot because it won’t have a memory to gather data from and store data to, which are required for the bootup.
Your startup disk may be the culprit.
The startup disk full error is another common issue that a Mac user may encounter at one point. The startup disk, also known as the Macintosh HD by default, is where the OS and other files are stored. Before it gets full, your computer will try to warn you by showing a pop-up message along the lines of…
Your disk is almost full
Save space by optimizing storage.
Another form of a pop-up may also show, which reads…
Your startup disk is almost full.
To make more space available on your startup disk, delete some files.
If you’ve seen these pop-ups before and ignored them each time, you shouldn’t be too surprised your Mac doesn’t boot. This is because, without sufficient space in the startup disk, it will eventually cease to function. And without a functioning startup disk, your Mac won’t be able to find the OS it needs to boot from.
There are several ways to fix the startup disk full error before it could wreak havoc on your Mac, but since you’re likely dealing with an already-full disk, you’ll need to find another way to boot up your computer.
You can try booting your Mac from an external drive or alternate startup disk. Here are the steps to do this:
- Connect an external drive or device where a portable OS is stored.
- Turn the Mac on. Once you hear the startup chime, hold down the Option key until the boot selection menu comes up.
- Click on the external drive you want to boot from.
Try booting in Safe mode
Another way to wake up a Mac that won’t boot is to start it in Safe mode. Essentially, this mode limits the Mac to perform only the most basic functions. Sometimes, this is the only way you can get your Mac to work when it won’t turn on or it crashes repeatedly.
To enter the Safe mode, do the following:
- Press the Power button while holding down Shift.
- Once the login dialogue comes up, release the Shift key.
When in Safe mode, your Mac will seem a bit different, but at least now you will be able to perform troubleshooting tricks instead of staring at a black screen and scratching your head thinking what’s wrong.
While in Safe mode, you may want to run a maintenance utility check, which you can do with programs such as Outbyte Mac Repair if you have one installed. These tools are designed to scan your Mac for problems, giving you an idea where to begin troubleshooting.
Mac still won’t load? Try Recovery mode.
If the issue comes back again and your Mac doesn’t turn on again, you may need to get into the Recovery mode so you can try other essential fixes. To enter Recovery mode, follow these steps:
- Get your Mac to restart.
- Wait for the startup chime.
- Immediately press and hold down Command + R.
- Wait for the Apple logo before releasing the keys.
After a few moments, your Mac should load the Utilities, which typically shows the following options:
- Restore From Time Machine Backup (You have a backup of your system that you want to restore.)
- Reinstall macOS (Reinstall a new copy of macOS.)
- Get Help Online (Browse the Apple Support website to find help for your Mac.)
- Disk Utility (Repair or erase a disk using Disk Utility.)
Among these options, it’s best to start with the Disk Utility to find errors with your disk. After clicking on Disk Utility, locate the icon for your Mac’s drive, then click Verify Disk. Once errors are found, Disk Utility will ask if you would like to repair the errors. Go ahead and click Repair Disk.
After this, you may want to restore your Mac through the Time Machine, a built-in feature that backs up all of your files to an external storage device. See, this is where backing up files proves very handy.
Other reasons why your Mac won’t turn on and how to detect and fix them.
Most of the time, Mac fails to turn on due to hardware-related problems. However, we can’t totally rule out software issues as the cause. In fact, there are countless of possible reasons why your Mac computer won’t behave as it normally would. Aside from the things mentioned above, you may also want to check for the following:
- Corrupted caches – Critical system files required for boot up may be corrupted over time. This should be checked especially with Mac not turning on after an update.
- Incompatibility issues in login items – Some apps and programs may affect the booting process if there are login incompatibility errors.
- Broken hard disk permissions – Conflicting user accounts can also affect Mac’s performance.
However, it could be challenging and time-consuming to check every aspect of your Mac manually. This is where automated Mac cleaners such as Outbyte Mac Repair come in particularly useful.
A Mac cleaning tool works to check the system for faulty and problematic caches, login items, and HD drive files and settings. It also performs other checks and fixes that you can manage with just a few clicks.
Finally, consider calling a friend.
For problems that you can’t just seem to figure out, Apple Support is your friend. If none of the above tricks work on your Mac, maybe it’s time to contact AppleCare to get professional help in resolving the issues. Anyway, if your computer is still under warranty, you might get it serviced for free.