Picture this: you’re in your creative flow and doing the work you love when suddenly your MacBook Pro restarts out of nowhere. So annoying, isn’t it? Don’t worry; in this article, I will cover five possible reasons your MacBook Pro keeps restarting—including outdated OS, buggy apps, or faulty peripherals—and how to fix them.
Hi, I’m Devansh. I recently downloaded a third-party app on my MacBook Pro, which caused it to restart several times. I fixed my MacBook Pro from restarting, and I wrote this guide to help you fix yours too.
In this article, I’ll go through five possible reasons your MacBook Pro keeps restarting, both software- and hardware-related, their fixes, and some common questions.
If you’re tired of your MacBook Pro restarting unexpectedly every now and again and want to fix it once and for all, keep reading!
Possible Reason #1: Outdated Software
More often than not, running an old macOS version is the root cause of a MacBook Pro restarting frequently. If you can just update macOS, sometimes the error will go away. To update macOS, you need a connection to the Internet. Here’s how to update macOS on your MacBook Pro.
Step 1: Click on the Apple icon at the top-left corner of the screen, click on System Preferences, and then head over to Software Update.
Step 2: Your MacBook Pro will now check for updates. If it says that your Mac is up to date, it means your macOS and all the latest compatible updates for your apps are installed.
However, if it says ‘Update Now’ or ‘Upgrade Now,’ it’s a different story.
“Update Now” means your current version of macOS has an update available.
“Upgrade Now” means a major new version of macOS is available for your MacBook Pro, like going from Big Sur to Monterey.
Step 3: As you can see, there’s also an Automatically keep my Mac up to date option, which you can enable if you don’t want to be worried about manually updating your MacBook Pro in the future. In addition to this, you can also click on the Advanced button for more options.
Step 4: If several updates need to be installed, it’ll take some time for your MacBook Pro to update. Once the update is finished, you can update your apps next. Just open the App Store and head over to the Updates tab. Here you can update all the apps on your MacBook Pro.
I know this might seem like an overly simple solution, but this does really work most of the time, especially if you haven’t updated your MacBook Pro in a while.
Possible Reason #2: Buggy Apps
If you like to download many apps on your MacBook Pro like me, you’ll likely develop restarting issues on your Mac sooner or later. It’s often not deliberately done by the developer. The code they wrote simply makes an unexpected request to your Mac, which forces your MacBook Pro to restart.
This issue is a “kernel panic,” the same one I had personally. I installed a buggy third-party app and got this popup after my Mac restarted every now and again.
As you might expect, I quickly uninstalled the problem app, and the issue disappeared. In your case, it might not be as easy to find the app with the issue. So, here are some steps to deal with buggy apps.
First, get info from the popup message itself. If you click the Report button, a window titled Problem Details and System Configuration will open. It might not tell you much, but take a screenshot since it could come in handy later.
Next, consider booting your MacBook Pro into Safe Mode. Safe Mode checks your startup disk and prevents startup items from loading. Here’s how to boot into Safe Mode.
If you have an Intel-based MacBook Pro:
- Turn on or restart it and press the Shift key until the Login window appears.
- Log in as you normally would. You may be asked to log in a second time too.
- You’ll see a “Safe Boot” message in the Menu Bar on the first or second Login window.
If you have an Apple Silicon-based (like M1 or M2) MacBook Pro:
- Shut it down properly and wait for the screen to go blank.
- Hold the Power button (top right of your keyboard) on your MacBook Pro until you see “Loading Startup Options”
- Select a Volume
- Press the Shift key and click Continue in Safe Mode.
- At this point, your MacBook Pro will restart automatically. In the upcoming Login window, you’ll see a “Safe Boot” message in the Menu Bar.
Once in Safe Mode, use your Mac as you normally would for a couple of minutes. Does the error persist? If it stops, then one of your apps is definitely causing the pesky restarts.
I recommend you go through all your third-party apps (those you didn’t get from the App Store) and check for updates from their official websites. Moreover, you can also uninstall any recent apps you might’ve downloaded, as I did.
It could also help to manage storage space and get rid of unnecessary files. If there’s barely any free space on your hard drive, that could be causing restarts as well. You can also use Disk Utility and run a First Aid check.
To exit Safe Mode, restart your MacBook Pro without pressing Shift. Following these steps should iron out any software-related issues. If it doesn’t, another option you can consider is reinstalling macOS itself. Check out Apple’s Support page for more info.
Possible Reason #3: Faulty Peripherals and Hardware
Sometimes faulty peripherals and DIY hardware upgrades can cause your MacBook Pro to restart. For example, upgrading your MacBook Pro RAM might be the root cause of the restart issue. Follow these steps to fix it.
- Shut down your MacBook Pro.
- Disconnect all non-essential peripherals, like printer, USB hub, external monitor, etc.
- Now, turn on your MacBook Pro and browse for a few minutes.
During that time, either an unexpected restart will occur, or it won’t.
If it restarts, there might be a problem with RAM or any faulty third-party hardware you might’ve installed. Unless you’ve upgraded your RAM by yourself, I wouldn’t recommend opening up your laptop and tinkering around with the hardware. Instead, you can get in touch with Apple Support.
If it doesn’t restart, turn off your MacBook Pro again and start to reintroduce the peripherals one after another to isolate the one causing the error. Once identified, avoid using that particular peripheral.
Possible Reason #4: Overheating
If your MacBook Pro is always running hot even after just a few minutes of normal usage, this could also lead to restarts. Overheating could happen for several reasons: clogged or blocked fans and lack of airflow, high ambient temperature, or close proximity to an external heat source.
Thankfully, there are many options to lower the temperature. You can reduce CPU usage using Activity Monitor, close browser tabs and apps you’re not using, and take the MacBook away from external heat sources and direct sunlight. To supplement your MacBook Pro’s cooling capacity, getting a laptop cooling dock like the CM NotePal X3 would be great too.
If overheating is the primary cause of the restarts, these steps should resolve the restart issue.
Possible Reason #5: Worn Out Battery
Besides the CPU, the battery is one of the most important components in the MacBook Pro. As such, getting a Service Battery Warning is never good news. If you’re not familiar with it (consider yourself lucky), this is how it looks.
There are two types of these warnings.
- Replace Soon or Service Recommended: If you see this, it means that although the battery is working for now, it could degrade significantly in the near future.
- Replace Now or Service Battery: This indicates that you must take action as soon as possible.
A restarting issue usually accompanies these two battery warnings. If you get either battery warning, there are a few steps that you can take to stop your MacBook from restarting.
First, you can reset the System Management Controller (SMC) and also recalibrate your battery. However, ultimately I’d recommend you take your MacBook Pro to your local Apple Store or get in touch with Apple Support to replace the battery.
Here are two frequently asked questions about a MacBook Pros restarting that you might be curious about.
What should I do if I can’t fix my MacBook Pro’s restarting problem myself?
If you cannot resolve the restart issue yourself, take it to an Apple Store or a certified Apple repair shop. Note down some relevant details when the restarts occur. This way, when you show your MacBook Pro to a technician, it’ll be easier for them to determine the root cause of the issue. You can note down the steps that lead up to it, like what kind of workload was being performed or if it was random.
How do you prevent your MacBook Pro from restarting again?
If you want to ensure a restarting issue doesn’t happen again, you should keep your OS and apps updated and avoid overheating your MacBook. Also, be wary of third-party peripherals and software.
Having your MacBook Pro restart randomly is not ideal. Besides being annoying and distracting, it can also put your important files at risk and put you way behind at work.
The most common things that often cause a MacBook Pro to restart are outdated software, buggy apps, faulty peripherals and hardware, overheating, and a battery past its prime.
You can fix these issues yourself with the solutions I shared above. But if the DIY methods don’t work, I recommend taking your MacBook Pro to a repair technician. I hope my article guided you through the restart issue and helped you fix it.
Are there more reasons for MacBook Pro restarting that you’re aware of? Please feel free to share them with me in the comments!About Devansh Kamdar