Click the power button on your MacBook to light up the screen and keyboard, play a startup chime, display the Apple logo and a startup progress bar, and finally boot into the authentication screen you enter a password. This is the usual routine. However, if all you see is a black screen when you turn on your Mac, we’ll help you fix that with this guide.
First of all, make sure that your Mac’s battery is sufficiently charged. Connect the device to a power source and try again. In addition, unplug all external accessories (monitors, disk drives, etc.) connected to the Mac. These devices can interfere with your PC’s startup process. If nothing changes after you run these preliminary checks, try the troubleshooting solutions we’ve listed below.
1. Close and reopen the cover
It might sound pretty basic, but it works. If your MacBook won’t start after a black screen, close the cover, wait about a minute or two, and reopen the cover.
2. Proceed to authentication
Some users have found that ignoring the black screen and entering their Mac’s security credentials fixes the black screen on startup issue. If the problem persists after closing and reopening the lid of your MacBook, enter your password and press the Return key.
Otherwise, if your Mac has Touch ID, place your finger on the fingerprint sensor and wait for the black screen to disappear.
3. Disable automatic graphics switching
Auto Graphics Switching is a macOS feature that optimizes the graphics performance of applications installed on your MacBook. You’ll find this feature mostly on MacBook Pros with dual graphics cards. Graphics switching has its benefits (e.g. better battery life), but it could be responsible for starting the Mac with a black screen issue.
To prevent this from happening in the future, turn off automatic graphics switching.
Step 1: Launch System Preferences and select Energy Saver.
2nd step: Uncheck “Automatic graphic switching”.
Cannot find the auto graphics switching option in the Power Saving menu, it means your Mac has only one dedicated graphics hardware.
4. Reset PRAM or NVRAM
If your Mac cannot detect, identify, or remember the primary startup disk, it may have difficulty booting normally. To resolve this issue, reset Non-Volatile Random Access Memory (NVRAM) or Parameter Random Access Memory (PRAM) to the default values.
Step 1: Shut down your Mac.
2nd step: Press the power button and immediately hold Option + Command + P + R on your keyboard.
Step 3: Hold down all four (4) buttons for approximately 15 seconds until your Mac restarts.
Step 4: Release the keys when the Apple logo appears on the screen.
5. Reset the system management controller
When you click your Mac’s power button or open the lid, it’s the System Management Controller (SMC) that powers the ensuing action. In addition to the lid open or close action trigger, SMC also controls your Mac’s fan, battery, and keyboard backlight. It is also responsible for powering the USB ports and for charging your PC’s battery.
If a black screen is all you see when you turn on your Mac, resetting the System Management Controller may resolve the issue. There are two ways to reset SMC and which method you use depends on whether your Mac has Apple T2 Security Chip or not.
Reset SMC on Mac with T2 Security Chip
MacBook Air and MacBook Pro released in 2018 or later feature the Apple T2 Security Chip. So, if you own any of these models, shut down your Mac and follow the steps listed in the sections below to reset its SMC.
Step 1: Hold down the power button for 10 seconds and release it.
This will turn on your Mac and shut it down.
2nd step: Wait about 5 seconds and click the power button to turn on your Mac.
Your Mac should now start correctly. If it gets stuck on a black screen on startup, shut down your Mac and skip to step 3 to continue with the SMC reset process.
Step 3: While the device is powered off, simultaneously hold down Ctrl (on the left side of the keyboard) + Option (on the left side) + Shift (on the right side) for approximately seven (7) seconds.
Step 4: Without releasing the three keys that you are holding, press and hold the power button on your Mac.
You have been holding four (4) keys. Again, hold the keys for seven (7) seconds and release them. Your Mac will turn on and off in the process.
Step 5: Finally, click on the power button to turn on your Mac.
Reset SMC on Mac without T2 Security Chip
MacBooks released before 2018 (mid 2009 to 2017) do not have the T2 security chip. So, those who own one of those older MacBooks, follow the steps below to reset the System Management Console (SMC).
Step 1: Shut down the Mac and wait a few seconds.
2nd step: Simultaneously press and hold Shift + Control + Option (on the left side of the keyboard) for about 7 seconds.
Step 3: Without releasing the keys, press and hold the power button.
Hold these four (4) buttons for 10 seconds and release them.
Step 4: Click the power button to turn on your Mac.
6. Boot into Safe Mode
When you start in Safe Mode, macOS runs a diagnostic check on your Mac’s startup disk. This has the potential to fix issues that prevent your Mac from starting normally.
Step 1: Shut down your Mac and wait about 10 seconds.
2nd step: Press and hold the Shift key as soon as the screen turns on.
Step 3: Release the Shift button when the Apple logo appears on the screen.
Since you are booting in Safe Mode, your Mac may take longer to start up than usual. Now restart your Mac (click on the Apple logo icon and hit Restart) and check if it goes past the black screen on startup.
Turn on the Mac
There is one last thing you can try: if none of the solutions solve the problem, it is. Restart the Mac in macOS recovery mode. And if this also does not give the desired result, it is possible that the problem is related to the hardware. Perhaps a defective screen or a damaged hard drive. In that case, you might want to pay a visit to any Apple repair store near you.
There are several reasons why the folder with a question mark appears on your Mac screen. Read the guide below to find out the causes of this error and how you can resolve it.
Last updated Nov 1, 2020
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