What to Do When MacBook Pro Turns off When Unplugged

Sometimes your computer might not operate correctly.

Nobody enjoys it when this happens but the reality is, any computer can experience problems – even high-end machines like a MacBook Pro. It could be a small issue that is easy to resolve and caused by user error or the problem could be some sort of mechanical malfunction.

Either way, when you experience a problem with your computer it’s nice to know how to get help.

One alarming issue that can affect your MacBook Pro is when your computer suddenly shuts down when the charging cord is unplugged. This is an infrequent problem but it does occur on this type of computer and if you’ve found this article, it might have happened to you.

Let’s take a look at what might be causing this issue and how to fix the problem and get your computer back to normal again.

Symptoms of This Problem

If your MacBook Pro is shutting off when disconnected from its charger, you are most likely frustrated and concerned about what is causing this problem.

Unfortunately, there have been a number of reports of MacBook Pro owners experiencing this same issue and while it is not a common issue, it has happened enough to make it a possibility for any MacBook owner.

This problem occurs after the computer is unplugged from a charging adapter and causes the machine to shut off completely immediately after being removed from the power source. Even if the battery is fully charged, this problem can still occur, making it a confusing and troubling issue if you are experiencing it. Computers affected by this issue seem to only work correctly when connected to a power cord, which limits the functionality of your MacBook.

What makes this problem seem even more strange is that there are usually no signs or symptoms leading up to the computer shutting down unexpectedly.

You would probably think this could be a sign of a bad battery, but many who experience this issue have batteries that are in good condition and operating normally.

What to Do if This Problem Happens to You

The good news about this problem is that it is usually not as big of a deal as it first seems. One of the solutions below should work to get your computer operating normally again and prevent it from shutting off when the power cable is unplugged.

If none of these solutions work, you may have to take your MacBook Pro into an Apple store or other computer repair shop to diagnose and fix the issue.

1. Start With the Small Stuff

If this problem happens to you, start with a quick check on small issues that might be causing your computer to turn off when unplugged. Check on your battery health by holding down the Alt (Option) key and then clicking on the battery symbol from the top menu of your screen. If the condition of your battery says anything other than Normal, your issue might be with your internal battery.

Also, check to make sure that the connection between your computer and charging cable is clean and in good order. Clean any dirt or debris from the connection points as these are magnetic and can collect particles, leading to a poor connection. Inspect your charging adapter for any signs of damage. You might need to get a new cable but do not do so until running through all of the steps listed here.

2. Reset SMC and Cycle Battery

A common cause of this problem is due to leaving your computer plugged in a lot of the time.

This can cause the System Management Controller (SMC) to believe the power level is below a set threshold resulting in it triggering the computer to go into deep sleep mode and shutting off when unplugged.

You can fix this by resetting the SMC and letting the battery go through a few complete charging cycles.

To reset the SMC:

  1. Shutdown your computer if it is not already.
  2. Press the Shift, Control, and Option keys at the same time.
  3. While holding Shift, Control, and Option press the power button.
  4. Hold these four keys for about 10 seconds.
  5. Release the keys.
  6. Power your computer back on.

If you have an older MacBook with a removable battery, remove the battery before running through the SMC reset steps above.

Next, let your battery run through a few complete battery cycles. A full battery cycle is from full charge to no charge, so let your battery fully charge and then operate it without connecting to power until it dies. Do this 2-3 times after the SMC reset and you should not experience the problem any longer.

3. Perform a PRAM Reset

Another option to try and resolve this issue is to reset the PRAM on your MacBook Pro. Do this by following the steps below:

  1. Shut down your computer.
  2. Press the power button to turn back on.
  3. Hold down the Option, Command, P, and R keys all at the same time.
  4. Hold down these keys until you hear 2 startup chimes.
  5. Release keys and allow your computer to start up normally.

If this didn’t work, complete the steps again but wait until you hear 3 startup chimes instead of 2.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, one of these steps above helped to fix your problem of what to do when your MacBook Pro shuts down after being unplugged.

I’ve had this happen to an old MacBook I had and the PRAM reset did the trick. If none of these steps worked, you might need to take your computer into a repair shop or get a new charging adapter and/or battery.

Also, run through the resets listed above a few times if the problem isn’t fixed on the first attempt.

Have you ever experienced this issue? What worked to fix the problem?

8 thoughts on “What to Do When MacBook Pro Turns off When Unplugged”

  1. How does one cycle the battery if the MBP shuts down immediately upon power adapter disconnect?

    FYI New battery, System and Coconut report Normal health and 100% charge.

  2. Hello. I tried both these methods, but my laptop is still unable to survive being uncharged. The battery percentage doesn’t show on the upper right corner, nor will the box that allows the battery percentage to show on the tab be pressed or checked out.

    This happened all of the sudden. I am using a MacBook Air which is pretty old. It doesn’t have a removable battery, though.

    Nothing seems to work.

  3. I’ve seen the reset SMC then power down solution many places. But none explain how u do a complete power down when the computer shuts down the minute it is unplugged??

  4. The answer is on this page. SMC reset.

    Leave the MacBook off, when the battery is charged disconnect charger and turn on, run it completely flat. Leave the MacBook off and change.. repeat this step a few times.

    No point in trying to run a charge cycle whilst the system is in use.. it must charge whilst off..

    Check your charger! If it says 60w that will be the problem. It needs a 85w charger. But your battery will need conditioning the method that this website suggested.

    SMC reset, do not power the MacBook up until the charge indicator is green! Or press battery level button. Remove charger and turn machine on and drain battery. It’s that simple 🙂

    And buy a 85w charger!

  5. I have the same issue. Battery says 99%. As soon as I unplug it from a.c. power, computer dies.

    I’ve done the reset power cycle thing innumerable times.

    Is there a thermal switch inside the machine that may be disconnecting the battery?


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