Mac won't start? Try These Fixes

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Matthew M. White
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Your Mac not starting can be the result of something as simple as a low battery, but it could easily be something more serious. This can be particularly problematic when you need to use your Mac immediately. Luckily, you can try different things to start your Mac.

In this article, we will go through all the possible reasons why your Mac won't boot. We will also suggest the best solutions for each.

Mac Won't Boot – Here's What You Should Try

A Mac may fail to boot due to various issues. Before you do anything else, try to force restart your Mac. This is how it's done:

  1. Press and hold the power button for 10 seconds.
  2. Wait at least 1 minute to pass.
  3. Press the power button again and wait for it to boot up.

The most common reason a MacBook, or any other laptop, won't boot is a dead battery. To see if this is the case, plug in your Mac and wait a few minutes. If it does start, be sure to fully charge it before unplugging it. However, if he still does not respond, there may be another reason.

If your Mac doesn't seem to charge after a few minutes, it's possible that the charging cable isn't fully plugged in or the power adapter isn't properly connected. To make sure your outlet is working, try plugging your Mac into a different outlet. It is even possible that there is a problem with your battery. If so, you should take it to Apple for repair.

Mac won't boot into safe mode

If your Mac won't start, Safe Mode can help fix many of the issues causing it, including your startup disk. Safe Mode is also a quick fix if your Mac is running slow or you have an app installed that is causing it to slow down or crash.

If your Mac keeps restarting or shutting down while in Safe Mode, here's what you should do:

  1. Hold and press the power button for 10 seconds.
  2. Turn on your Mac.
  3. Immediately press and hold the "Command" and "R" keys at the same time.
  4. In the "macOS Utility" window, select the "Disk Utility" option.
  5. Run "First Aid" on the drive.
  6. Press and hold the "Shift" key at the same time until you see the Apple logo.
  7. Log in. If FileVault is enabled, you may need to log in twice.

If this method doesn't work, it's best to contact Apple Support or take your Mac to an Apple Store.

Mac won't boot into recovery mode

Recovery mode is used when you need to troubleshoot your Mac, erase all data from the hard drive, or reinstall the operating system. Another common occasion to use recovery mode is if your Mac won't start. But what happens when your Mac won't even start in recovery mode?

The mode is activated by force restarting your Mac and holding down the "Command" and "R" keys at the same time. However, this is not how you boot a Mac using an M1 chip, only those with an Intel processor. If your Mac is new (from 2022 or later), you can try enabling recovery mode like this:

  1. Shut down your Mac by pressing the power button for 10 seconds.
  2. Hold down the power button to turn it on until you see the Apple logo.
  3. Go to "Boot options".
  4. Select options. »
  5. Go to the “Continue” button.

This will start recovery mode, which will boot your Mac. If this method does not work, it may mean that your Mac is too old. If you have the X Snow Leopard operating system or earlier, Recovery Mode will not be available on your Mac. If it's older than Sierra, you may also not have all the recovery mode options like some of the newer versions.

Mac won't start after update

If you're updating your Mac's operating system when you encounter this problem, you'll need to fix it. This problem usually occurs when you install one of the following operating systems: Big Sur, Catalina, Mojave, High Sierra, or any system older than Sierra.

The first solution to try is to reset the PRAM (parameter random-access memory) or NVRAM (non-volatile random-access memory) on more modern MacBooks. This is a common troubleshooting procedure, and here's how to do it:

  1. Shut down your Mac by holding down the power button for 10 seconds.
  2. Press these keys at the same time: "Command", "Option (Alt)", "P", and "R".
  3. Restart your Mac.
  4. Release the keys when you see the Apple logo.

If that doesn't work, you can also try resetting the SMC (System Management Controller). If you have an M1 Mac, this is not an option for you. Follow the steps below to reset your Mac's SMC:

  1. Shut down your Mac.
  2. Disconnect then reconnect the charging cable.
  3. Hold down the power button and these keys at the same time: "Shift", "Ctrl" and "Option/Alt".
  4. Press the keys until the Apple logo appears on your screen.

Mac won't start completely

When you try to turn on your Mac and it doesn't show your home screen, it could mean a number of things. It depends on the type of symbol that appears on the screen.

For example, if you see a crossed out circle, it indicates that your startup disk has an operating system that is not compatible with your Mac. This is also known as the prohibition symbol. Here's what to do if you see this symbol on your screen:

  1. Shut down your Mac by pressing and holding the power button for 10 seconds.
  2. Restart your Mac.
  3. Launch macOS Recovery by simultaneously pressing the "Command" and "R" keys on your keyboard.
  4. In the "macOS Utilities" window, choose "Disk Utility". This will repair all errors on the startup disk.
  5. Wait a few minutes while “Disk Utility” scans the startup disk and fixes the issues.

If the Disk Utility scan found no errors, your only other choice is to reinstall macOS. Another thing you can do at this point is contact Apple Support.

If your Mac won't start completely and you see a folder with a question mark icon, it could mean two things. The first is that the startup disk is not available for some reason. The other possibility is that your macOS is malfunctioning in some way. If so, repeat the same steps for the prohibition symbol.

In other scenarios, you might see a black or gray screen when trying to turn on your Mac. If this happens, try holding down your Mac's power button for at least 10 seconds. If your Mac has an Intel processor, try using Disk Utility to fix the error. If you have an Apple chip, follow these steps:

  1. Wait for the "Boot options" window to appear.
  2. Click on the “Options” gear icon.
  3. Choose "Continue".
  4. Switch to the “macOS Utilities” window.
  5. Select "Disk Utility" and wait for it to scan your startup disk for problems.

Try One of These Quick Fixes to Boot Your Mac

Both new and old MacBooks may refuse to boot, regardless of macOS version. Luckily, a force restart and the recovery mode feature can fix the majority of these issues. If none of these solutions work, the best thing to do is to contact Apple Support or take your MacBook to an Apple Store.

Have you ever encountered this problem with your Mac before? How did you fix it? Let us know in the comments section below.

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