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 black screen some MacBook Pro 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.

MacBook Pro Black Screen: 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: 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 6: 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.

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.

28 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…

  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.

  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”.

  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.

  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

  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?

  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???

  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..

  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.

  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..?

  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.

  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?

  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!

  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?

  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.

  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.

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

  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.

  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.

  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?

  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

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