How to Run Diagnostics on MacBook Pro

Even the best-engineered devices can malfunction. If you suspect your MacBook Pro might have hardware problems, running Apple Diagnostics on it can be worthwhile.

To run diagnostics on your MacBook Pro, shut down the computer, press and hold the power button until your startup options appear, then press command + D on the keyboard.

The procedure is a bit different if your MacBook has an Intel processor. First, shut down the computer. Press the power button to turn the MacBook Pro on again, and immediately press and hold the D key until diagnostics load.

Hi, I’m Andrew Gilmore, a former Apple Certified Macintosh Technician, and Mac administrator. I’ll show you the ins and outs of Apple Diagnostics and how to use the utility to check your MacBook Pro for hardware problems.

In this article, I’ll detail three procedures for running hardware tests on MacBooks of various vintages and answer some common questions.

Let’s get started.

How to Run Apple Diagnostics on M1 & M2 MacBook Pros (with Apple Silicon)

Formerly, the diagnostic utility was external to the Mac, but Apple integrated the tool (via Internet recovery) on all Macs beginning in June 2013.

Whether your MacBook has an M1 or M2 chipset (Apple Silicon), the process for running Apple Diagnostics is the same.

To run diagnostics on your Apple Silicon MacBook Pro:

  1. Shut down the computer.
  2. Unplug all peripheral devices except the power and Ethernet adapter (if present). If you use an external wired keyboard or mouse, you can leave these devices connected.
  3. Press and hold the power button until you see the Loading startup options… message.
  4. Once the Startup Options screen loads, press and hold the command and D keys simultaneously until the diagnostic utility loads. This will take about ten seconds, and the Mac will reboot into the diag tool.
  5. On Silicon Macs, Apple Diagnostics requires an Internet connection to initialize. Once loaded, you have the option to run the utility in offline mode. After the reboot, if you’re not using an Ethernet adapter, click on the Wi-Fi icon in the top right corner of the screen and connect to a Wi-Fi network.
  6. Select your language from the menu screen and click OK.
  7. Choose either Run offline, or I agree at the next screen to begin the diagnostic tests.

How to Run Apple Diagnostics on MacBook Pros with Intel Processors

  1. Shut down your MacBook Pro.
  2. Unplug all peripheral devices except the power adapter, Ethernet, keyboard, and mouse, if present.
  3. Press the power button to turn on the Mac, and immediately press and hold the D key on the keyboard. Note: if you have a firmware password enabled on your Mac, you must disable the password before you can boot into the diagnostic utility.
  4. Select your language to begin the diagnostic tests.

How to Run Diagnostics on MacBook Pros Introduced Before June 2013

MacBook Pros released prior to June 2013 may require different steps for running diagnostics. If the Mac is running Snow Leopard or earlier, you will need an optical disk or flash drive with the OS X media connected to your MacBook.

Otherwise, the steps are similar:

  1. Shut down your MacBook Pro
  2. Unplug peripherals, except for those listed above and the installation media.
  3. Press the power button to turn on the Mac and immediately press and hold the D key on the keyboard.
  4. If your Mac was released in 2011 or later, you can use option + D to boot into diagnostics over the Internet.

Macs released before June 2013 run an older version of diagnostics called Apple Hardware Test (AHT). Once the computer loads AHT, select your language and click on the arrow to proceed. The utility will run a quick self-test, and then you can click Test to run the diagnostics.

FAQs

Here are some other common questions about Apple Diagnostics.

Are Apple Diagnostics reliable?

Apple Diagnostics is reliable regarding the tests it performs. It is unlikely you will receive a false positive, but just because the utility doesn’t detect any problems doesn’t mean your MacBook Pro is in the clear. Apple’s end-user tests are not comprehensive.

If your MacBook Pro passes all diagnostic tests, but you still suspect a hardware problem, you might need to bring the computer to an Apple store. Apple-certified technicians have access to a more thorough battery of tests called Apple Services Toolkit 2 (AST2).

How long does Apple Diagnostics take?

The duration of the tests can vary but expect the process to take between two and ten minutes.

How can I run battery diagnostics on my MacBook Pro?

Apple Diagnostics will check your battery health, but you won’t get much more info than a message that you need to replace your battery if its maximum capacity has fallen below 80%.

On Macs running macOS Catalina or later, you can open the battery applet in System Preferences and click on Battery Health… to see more info.

Can I run Mac diagnostics from Terminal?

Running the command sudo sysdiagnose -f ~/Desktop/ will generate files zipped up in a TAR package on your desktop that can help diagnose problems with your MacBook Pro.

The output can be difficult to interpret, but if you know what you’re looking for, you might find the log files helpful. You will need administrative credentials to run the sudo command in Terminal.

How can I run diagnostics on a MacBook Air?

The process for running diagnostics on a MacBook Air is identical to the steps outlined above. Just make sure you follow the procedure that corresponds to your MacBook Air’s processor and vintage.

My MacBook diagnostics are not working. What can I do?

First, double-check that you don’t have a firmware password set on your MacBook Pro (for Intel Macs). You can’t boot into diagnostics with this password enabled.

Next, verify that you have an Internet connection.

Last, double-check that you don’t have any peripheral devices other than the keyboard, mouse, and Ethernet adapter connected to your MacBook. External devices can cause problems when loading and running diagnostics.

If these three items are in order, you might have a hardware problem precluding you from running diagnostics. For example, if the computer is overheating, it might shut down before Apple Diagnostics can even load.

Contact Apple support or take the computer to an Apple Store or Apple Authorized Service Provider.

Apple Diagnostics is stuck on Wi-Fi. What do I do?

If the MacBook Pro can’t connect to Wi-Fi in diagnostic mode, try an Ethernet adapter if you have one. If not, try connecting the computer to a different Wi-Fi network. If neither of these are options, contact Apple support.

Diagnosing Your Mac Doesn’t Have to Be Difficult

Even though Apple Diagnostics isn’t as comprehensive as we’d like it to be, it is an excellent tool for quickly ruling out or confirming significant problems with your hardware.

MacBook Pros are pretty reliable, but even the best computers can break down.

Have you ever used Apple Diagnostics on your MacBook Pro?

About Andrew Gilmore
Based in Norman, Oklahoma, Andrew is an ex-certified Apple technician with over fifteen years of experience in the IT world specializing in macOS and iOS. When he's not writing, he enjoys video games, reading, and really bad movies.

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