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What to do if Your Macbook Pro Screen Goes Black and Unresponsive


MacBook Pro Screen Goes Black and Unresponsive – Rarely, a Mac may encounter some peculiar issue during system boot that can cause quite a bit of panic, like booting to a completely black screen. It would be easy to interpret that as a potential hardware problem, and in some particularly rare situations that may be the case, but it’s more often a software issue that can be resolved with some simple troubleshooting steps.

What to Do if Your MacBook Pro Screen Goes Black and Unresponsive

A black screen can happen if your Mac doesn’t turn on at all or it might turn on but the display isn’t coming up for some reason. A few different things can cause it. You should test each possibility in the following order. As reported by many of the top Apple blogs, you can walk through the following steps.

Reset the System Management Controller

The first thing you’ll want to do to resolve nearly every power-related issue on a Mac is to reset the SMC, or System Management Controller. This will dump and reset settings for anything power management related and is long known to resolve problems with things like fans, heat, sleeping problems, and of course, display issues.

COPYRIGHT_NOVA: Published on https://www.novabach.com/what-to-do-if-your-macbook-pro-screen-goes-black-and-unresponsive/ by Daniel Barrett on 2022-08-28T14:01:56.000Z

On any modern MacBook Pro or MacBook Air with a built-in battery, which is just about all of them nowadays, this is how you do that:

  • Shut down the Mac and connect it to your MagSafe adapter and a wall outlet as usual
  • Hold down the Shift+Control+Option+Power button at the same time for a few seconds
  • Release all keys at the same time, then boot the Mac as usual

Try a Simple Keyboard Sequence

If your Mac is powering on but the screen stays black, try pressing the power button once then press the S key. This is the shortcut key to putting the Mac to sleep. Next, hold down the power key until the Mac turns itself off. Wait 15 seconds and power it back on.

Also read: How To Type Degree Symbol In Mac OS X

Reset the PRAM

The Mac’s PRAM is the memory that holds some settings for your Mac. These settings carry forward even if you restart or shut down the Mac. If they get corrupted somehow, it can cause problems like a black screen.

To reset the PRAM, power on your Mac, and as soon as you hear the startup chime, hold the Command+Option+P+R keys. Wait until you hear the chime a second time and then let go of the keys. Let the Mac boot and see if the black screen is fixed.

Enter Password, Hit Return

Some users report an interesting alternative finding if they hit the black screen on boot; if they enter their regular login password and hit the Enter/Return key, the Mac boots up as usual and they’re good to go. Try this out, it might work for you:

  • When the Mac boots into the black screen, enter the password you’d use to login to the Mac as usual
  • Hit the Return key

If this works, you’ll know rather quickly because the black screen will give way to the regular Mac OS desktop.

Turn Off Automatic Graphics

Some MacBook Pro models have dual graphics cards that switch automatically. For whatever reason, those models can sometimes boot directly to a black screen. Often this can be remedied by simply disabling automatic graphics card (GPU) switching on MacBook Pro as instructed here:

From the Apple menu choose “System Preferences” then go to “Energy Saver”. Toggle the switch next to ‘Automatic Graphics Switching’ to turn that off

Boot into Safe Mode

Sometimes a black display is the result of corrupt information on the startup disk. You can force your Mac to run diagnostics on the disk by booting into safe mode.

To start up in safe mode, power up or restart your Mac and hold the Shift key until the Apple logo appears on the screen. At that point, let go of the Shift key and let the system start up. It will take longer than normal because it’s running diagnostics during the boot sequence.

After it finishes starting up, restart again to leave the safe mode and start normally to see if the black display problem is fixed.

Also read: How to stop Spotify from opening on startup on your Mac

Unresponsive Apps

Another common problem that Mac users face is one or more apps becoming unresponsive. If this happens, it usually means the app has crashed. In most cases, the Quit command on the application menu won’t work.

Instead, use the Force Quit command to close the app. You can Force Quit an app in three different ways:

  • Click on the Force Quit command on the Apple menu.
  • Press Command+Option+Escape on the keyboard to bring up the Force Quit menu.
  • Right-click or hold the Control key and click on the app in your dock and click Force Quit on the menu that pops up.

If you force quit an app, you’ll lose anything that you were working on if you haven’t saved it before the app crashed. There’s nothing you can do to avoid this if the app has already crashed though, so make sure you save your work regularly.

Kernel Panic

A kernel panic happens when macOS itself crashes. It doesn’t happen very often but even Macs do crash now and then. When a kernel panic happens, the display on your Mac will go dark and show a message that says “You need to restart your computer. Hold down the Power button for several seconds or press the Restart button.”

Similar to a single app freezing, if you have a kernel panic there’s nothing you can do to go back to where you were. You’ll need to restart your Mac.

Hold the power button for a few seconds to force the Mac to power off and then unplug all external accessories you have connected. External drives, printers, monitors, etc. should all be disconnected. Restart without the items connected and see if the problem goes away. If so, something may be incompatible so add them one at a time, restarting each time, to identify the one that’s causing problems.

If no external add-ons seem to be at fault, have you had any recent upgrades or repairs done? Faulty or incompatible RAM will often cause kernel panics so if you’ve had a RAM upgrade done recently, it may be the problem.


Did one of these solutions work to get past the black screen on Mac boot for you? If you happen to run into this unusual issue with your Mac, let us know how you resolved it by leaving a comment below, and if the above tips worked for resolving the boot to black screen problem on your MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and whichever Pro or Air model it may be. And of course, if you have your own solution to the booting to a black screen issue, share that below in the comments as well!

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Daniel Barrett

Daniel Barrett

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