How to Fix It When MacBook Screen Goes Black

Even if you’ve never been a Windows user, you should have heard the phrase “black screen of death” (BSOD) or something similar. You also may have thought Mac had nothing similar… until now.

The Macbook Pro screen goes black when fully opened users may experience is hardly a death sentence, but it is fairly annoying and ruins whatever activities you were previously engaged in.

It’s exactly the kind of problem that brings things grinding to a halt while being frustratingly unpredictable, so we’ve collected a few ways to help you fix it.

Why Did Your MacBook Pro Go Black: Possible Causes

Power Issues

It might sound kind of obvious, but power issues are the most common reason your Mac’s screen is blank. Whether it’s a bad battery or a faulty charging cord that lets you fall into the black screen trap, this is always a good place to start looking.

Waking from Sleep

Black screen issues are most common when waking your MacBook from sleep. Whether this is an issue on Apple’s end or the user remains unclear, but it is usually described as opening the lid of your MacBook only to have your screen refuse to wake up. Although it may seem like your computer has turned on (via the activity indicator, fans, or noises), the screen remains blank. The cause of this scenario remains unclear, but it is a well-recognized situation.

Broken Disk Permissions or Login Items

Sometimes, the cause for your Mac to go black screen or even not allow your laptop to boot up normally is due to broken disk permission issues; While other times the culprit is certain apps that sneak into the auto startup list and affect your MacBook’s booting. If that’s the case, you’ll have to check those problems and fix them (see Step 5 for more).

Software/App Error

Everybody wants to blame things on a glitch. It’s a simple answer to a seemingly otherwise unsolvable problem, especially if you’re booting to a black screen or something equally infuriating. Some known bugs could be causing the issue, however, so this is a valid possible cause. Make sure to check official Apple channels such as the security update list or Apple Community Forum to find out if this is your case.

How to Fix Unresponsive Black Screen

In this section, we’ll take it from the top and show you how to change an unresponsive black screen back to normal.

Step 1: Check Your Power

If your MacBook Pro was previously charging, make sure the plug wasn’t suddenly yanked out of the wall or that anyone tripped over the cord. You should also check your battery cycles to see if it needs to be replaced.

To do this, go to the Apple menu from the top left of your Mac and select “About this Mac”, then “System Report”. Once the report opens, pick “Power” from the right-hand side.

From the power panel, look down until you find the cycle count and condition for your battery. If it says “Poor” or “Bad”, it’s time to consider purchasing a new battery for your MacBook Pro.

If you can’t buy a battery right now or need a solution in the meantime, keeping your MacBook plugged in should provide temporary relief. While it does reduce the working capacity of having a laptop, it’s only a temporary solution.

Also Read: Common MacBook Pro Battery Issues and How to Fix Them

Step 2: Restarting

If it’s not the battery (or if you can’t access the system report at the moment to check), your next best solution is restarting the machine. You can do this in a couple of different ways:

  1. Use the CNTRL + EJECT keys to bring up the dialog box, then press ENTER even if you can’t see the dialog box since “Shut Down” is automatically selected. Then press the power button again once the computer has finished shutting down to restart it.
  2. CNTRL + CMND + EJECT will automatically trigger a restart.
  3. Hold the power button for 5 seconds to have it shut down. Wait 15 seconds and press it once again to reboot.

Your MacBook should restart to its normal state, resolving the black screen issue.

Didn’t work? Move onto the next step listed here for a special key pattern that might do the trick.

Step 3: Try a Known Key Sequence

Some users have reported that a specific key sequence dug from the depths of the MacRumors forum has helped resolve their black screen booting issues, so it’s worth a shot trying. This is what you have to do:

  1. Press the power button once, which normally brings up a shutdown dialog box (you won’t be able to see it with a black screen).
  2. Press “S”, the hotkey for sending your Mac to sleep.
  3. Hold the power button to force a hard shut down.
  4. Wait around 15 seconds before pressing the power again to restart.

And voila, your MacBook should boot as normal instead of to a black screen.

Step 4: Resetting the NVRAM/PRAM

Or… not. If you’re still having problems even after trying multiple methods or the problem is re-occurring it might be time to take a bit more drastic measures. You’ll be resetting the NVRAM/PRAM on your Mac — here’s how to do it.

  1. Shut down your Mac (see above if you aren’t sure how).
  2. Press the power button. Once you hear the startup chime, hold down CMND + OPT + P + R.
  3. Hold these until you hear another startup chime, then release them.

Your Mac should boot normally now, although you may have lost some setting along the way so make sure to check system preferences to see if your display, date/time, and disk options are all in order.

Step 5: Reset the System Management Controller

An SMC reset is another thing you can do to fix a black screen. This is a good thing to know how to do because it can resolve several other issues you might experience with your MacBook, such as overheating slowdowns. 

To reset the SMC on your MacBook, follow these steps: 

  1. Shut down the computer
  2. Connect to the power source
  3. With the MacBook powered down, hold down Shift, Control, Option, Power at the same time for about 10 seconds
  4. Release the keys
  5. Restart the computer
  6. The SMC should now be reset

The SMC reset can vary from this if you have an older MacBook; check out here for more

Step 6: Boot into Safe Mode

You might be experiencing a black screen for several reasons, and one of them might be issues with your startup disk.

You can fix this problem by booting your MacBook into safe mode and allowing it to run a check on the disk. 

To boot in safe mode, follow these steps:

  1. Turn of your computer
  2. Hold down the Shift key while powering back up until you see the Apple logo
  3. Let go of the key after the logo appears

The computer will now start up into safe mode and might take a little longer than you expect as it runs diagnostics on your startup disk.

Once it boots up completely, you can restart again to enter into a normal startup and see if the black screen issue is resolved. 

Step 7: Check & Repair Disk Permissions

Like I said, one of the causes for black screen is due to broken disk permissions. Fortunately, it’s easy to diagnose and fix.

All you need is run CleanMyMac on your Mac. Open the app, go to Maintenance > Repair Disk Permissions, click “Run” and you’re all set.

Step 8: Check for App Issues or Bugs

Again, the best way to identify those suspicious apps is to run CleanMyMac.

In the Extensions section, check Launch Agents and Login Items. If you find some apps that launch automatically (often without your consent), feel free to disable or remove them.

Another way to do this is by searching the Apple Community for a post that most matches yours to see if any bugs (and ways to squash them) have been identified, although you can also make your post.

Other forums such as MacRumors and iFixit are also great places to start, as well as searching for general articles.

For example, Mark Gibbs from NetworkWorld discovered that using his iCloud password caused the computer to experience an error where it booted to a black screen with just his mouse and no login options.

It’s a strange correlation, but sometimes very random things can send your computer into a frenzy, so it doesn’t hurt to look.

Read: How to Replace MacBook Pro Screen

Final Words

Black screens are never fun to deal with. Besides the unending frustration, rebooting and potentially losing your work aren’t exactly enjoyable activities. Hopefully, this guide has helped you alleviate the issue and sets you back on your feet.

We’d also love to hear from you if you have another way of fixing the black screen on a MacBook Pro — leave us a comment below to tell us more about it.

72 thoughts on “How to Fix It When MacBook Screen Goes Black”

  1. Yeah, many thanks – my MacBook Pro doesn’t have a POWER button or EJECT. Everything switches on, I can hear little chiming, touch pad lights up showing options – the screen is dead no matter what…

    Reply
  2. “Service Battery” Notice with only 304 cycles, from February 2017 – June 2018 (no touch bar). The new battery is not as good by any stretch of the imagination when compared with my 2012 MacBook. Of course the warranty is over, and no word from Apple.

    Reply
  3. I’ve found with my MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Early 2013) that when it happens, if I press (not press and hold) the power key, the screen comes back. However when it happens on mine, the whole system is unresponsive so mine may be a different problem. My system is rather old and the battery condition is “service Battery”.

    Reply
  4. Nothing has worked on my 2014 MacBook Air. I was typing and it went black. I plugged it in, but the battery wasn’t low.
    It doesn’t make any sounds. It seems completely dead. Which I hope it isn’t!
    Is there something I can do?
    Thank you for any help you can give me.

    Reply
  5. Tried all of them and still getting the start up page and about half way down the car it goes to a black screen with the spinning wheel and after a few minutes it is just locked up. It’s a 2013 15 inch MacBook Pro. Not one issue until yesterday. Ugh

    Reply
  6. I tried everything possible that was suggested above and nothing work. The screen is still black and the fan is still Running. What now?

    Reply
  7. Hi, I’m never one to be ungrateful but steps 1 and 5 need a screen that isn’t black….so how does that work? Why suggest something you need a working screen for to fix a black screen….have I misread this? ….this is seriously hurting my brain thinking about it???

    Reply
  8. This is completely stupid!!! My screen won’t turn on!!! How the heck am I supposed to check anything???? I hear noises my keypad lights up but nothing but solid black screen. There is no desktop u can’t sign in u can’t get to anything on the computer at all..

    Reply
  9. My macbook pro turns on, keyboard lights up, it makes noise on startup. But as the title says black screen is unresponsive. You can not sign in, or see anything but a black screen. No way to get into actual computer. Because the screen is black. Battery is brand new just bought. Was working perfectly fine. I left for hour came back turned on and all black screen I’ve tried everything I have been reading in other sites nothing works. That whole shift ctrl option power does nothing..I’ve had no problems this just all of a sudden.

    Reply
  10. Nothing I have tried worked. I tried a new video connector, new screen
    The fan spins up and the hard drive makes noise but the screen stays dead.
    What option should I use..?

    Reply
  11. Thank You very much.

    Holding the power button on did the trick for this NEW 85-year-old user.

    You’re a lifesaver! Two 2 inch thick Mojave books did not recommend this solution.

    Reply
  12. My macbook goes to the black screen while I’m operating it and with no notice to reason it is then unresponsive an i have to restart the computer the above tread i have tried but to no success
    does anyone have any other reason for this?

    Reply
  13. I was battling this recently as well and then remembered that it also had happened on a Windows laptop I had years ago and the solution for me was to not use the “Sleep” mode at all! Just Lock Screen (if you want) and close lid. Never use Sleep – it is a bug with that feature on many boxes I think!

    Reply
  14. sometimes my Mac screen goes black for 30 seconds or longer. it’s terrifying but it always comes back with nothing lost. i’m worried that one of these times it will simply die on my and i’ll lose my precious data. any chance of that?

    Reply
  15. My Mac book pro opens only half, the screen of my Mac book only works when I put my half open and it goes black when it’s fully opened. The keyboard light is still there so I guess the Mac book is still working. Can anyone help me know my problem and how to solve them.

    Reply
  16. Thanks for sharing this amazing and helpful information, that will really help in fixing the screens. I really appreciate your work, keep it up.

    Reply
  17. Thanks so much! My macbook was suffering from ‘black screen synsrome’. The “Try a known sequence” fix worked.

    Reply
  18. Do nothing.

    The problem comes when it falls to sleep then wakes but won’t turn on the screen.

    Letting the system fall back to sleep on its own resolves the problem.

    Reply
    • Sounds hopeful makes a bit of sense
      mine hasn’t woken yet ,Ill give it a few more shakes
      I tried the codes nothing worked
      ..starting to think theres a conspiracy …,,,to MAC users …..
      new wave screen black outs…..who the EF know …today what can be done
      …………..this should not be happening all of a sudden ,,,time line observation

      Reply
  19. What kind of idiot are you?
    Black screen……so how are you getting into the on screen dialogue windows?
    A complete waste of pixels.

    Reply
  20. So I have tried logging into my laptop multiple times and it doesn’t work when I log in it loads halfway across the bar the screen turns black and turns off, I went and bought a new charger because the old one was broken and tried everything I could find but it still won’t turn on. Any ideas on what’s wrong?

    Reply
  21. none of this is working please help. i was in the middle of work and there were no problems it just went black out of nowhere

    Reply
  22. My sons’s 2016 MB pro is just starting to have black screen issues when he tilts the screen 90 degrees. Did those steps it came back on yet slowly. Yet my2015 aluminum case Mb pro runs like a charm maybe I’ll buy one of those used as it seems to be a solution?

    Reply
  23. Waking computer from dead sleep ..
    installed a cd
    lets it try to boot
    turned off computer
    turn back on to eject…..walla ….screen back on .
    RESET SLEEP MODE ..TO NEVER…

    Reply
  24. Still trying to resurrect my workhorse (early 2013 15″ Retina). Desperately needing a couple of files, I bought a new Macbook Air to use as I operated on my old one. I removed the hard drive and used this adapter to transfer my files:
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07C5TPD7K/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1
    That part worked, so I’m breathing A LOT easier regarding the much-needed file, and now I’m back to trying to get the old one going. Tried all the steps listed (at least the steps I didn’t need to see the screen), to no avail. I’m going to keep trying and will report back if successful.
    Note: check the pins on your hard drive – that part is super important!
    And yes, I’m backing up that super important file on a cloud.

    Reply
  25. I have been able to solve my screen problem temporarily after resetting the SMC. But if i leave my mac off for a few minutes, its the same problem again. How to stop this permanently?

    Reply
  26. Just bought a second hand Mac Pro 11. Plugged in all charged up. Keyboard lights as does apple logo but no screen. Have tried steps. . No success

    Reply
  27. I have a MacBook Pro early 2013, one day the screen went blank while using it, rebooting did not fix, just brings up a black screen. Tried the options here and nothing worked, the Mac boots fine but the screen remains black. If I wait a few days and boot it up I sometimes get a screen for a few minutes then it goes black again without warning. Will have to take it in for repairs as none of the solutions mentioned worked.

    Reply
  28. Nothing worked for me..keys are lit so I know it is on, but can’t get rid of that black screen. Why do these things happen when you need your laptop the most. Trying not to let this ruin my day.

    Reply
  29. This post didn’t help as my computer will not start/ re boot to take next steps. Can anyone help? My MacBook Pro is only 2 years old. Could it be the battery? Cheers jane

    Reply
  30. I don’t have a black screen after logging in, but I do get a load of white error text on a black background that starts with Panic (cpu 2 caller… etc)
    I tried step 4 but no joy
    Any other thoughts would be most welcome please?

    Reply
  31. NONE of the proposed steps worked for me. HOWEVER I managed to solve it by doing the following:

    1-Shut down the Mac
    2-Press the ON button and IMMEDIATELY after, CLOSE the lid bringing the computer to Sleep.
    3-Open the lid (which wakes up the computer into the starting screen)

    After spending hours I just could not believe it was so simple.

    Reply
  32. Step 4 fixed it for me! God Bless you! Thank you.

    If you are not saved, please turn to Jesus before it is too late!!!

    Reply
  33. I had no trouble with my MacBook had it for years then updated it shortly after black screen now I cannot turn on my MacBook always a black screen what is it deliberately done so I had to purchase a new MacBook Pro yes I believe so. best way to fix this. Is to buy a Dell it a HP.

    Reply
  34. More than half of your suggestions require a working screen. So they are useless if I have a black screen. Am I the only one to notice this or am I missing something?

    Reply
  35. it worked for me :
    Shut down your 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.

    Reply
  36. So the topic is “black screen” & you provide us with solutions that can only work if you don’t have a black screen?? Are you some kind of emotional psychopath?? Since when did modern MacBooks (or any modern laptop) have an EJECT button? What would they be ejecting? Thank you for stealing 30 minutes of my life that I will never get back

    Reply
  37. I have a MacBook Air 2013 13”
    Step 3 worked for me!
    Power button once & the letter S once & she came right on! Thanks

    Reply
  38. I tried all the steps and it’s not working for me, please help.
    Did anyone face the same issue as me?
    I have Macbook Pro 2017, when i open my screen like half (less than 40 degrees) screen is working and it goes black when i make it perpendicular.
    Thanks !!

    Reply
  39. None of these worked. Thankfully I have a new Mac Mini and I can share the screen of my MacBook Pro. som I can see it but on the laptop it is black. I tried plugging in external monitor and it was black. It’s as if the video connections are not working but I guess the graphics card is because I can screen share??

    Reply
  40. so, did anyone found a solution to this? as mine is not responding to Cmd+shift+R+P, or any other options suggested. please advise

    Reply
  41. I can’t make Step 4 work. I’m pretty fast at hitting the 4 keys, but the computer starts up before I can get them OR it just goes on anyway with no second chime.

    Reply
  42. My daughter’s early 2013 MacBook Pro 13″ screen suddenly went black. I tried all the tricks listed and no result. I connected an external monitor and the desktop shows up without icons. Turned it off by holding the power button down until it shut down, disconnected the charger and removed the back cover. I disconnected the battery for about 15 seconds and reconnected it. Be sure to put the back cover back on before turning the computer on. It will not start without it. Turned it on and the screen worked normally. This may not be a permanent fix. It worked though for now.

    Reply

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