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What To Do if your MacBook Pro Won’t Turn On

Posted by Jamie on December 13, 2018

Nothing causes that sinking feeling like booting up your MacBook Pro and nothing happening. It will usually happen when you have a lot of studying to do, a deadline looming, or an important email to send. Apple devices are known for being very reliable, but no matter the reputation, every device has issues at one point or another. Here is what to do if your MacBook Pro won’t turn on.

This guide assumes you have not made any recent changes to your MacBook Pro, such as adding or replacing RAM or any significant hardware modification.

What to do if your MacBook Pro won’t turn on2

Test and retest

When you initially tried to turn on your MacBook Pro, did it definitely not turn on at all or did the screen just stay black? A black screen is a regular problem for laptops and is not restricted to Apple. Before you do anything else, first make sure you didn’t just accidentally set the brightness to zero. There are two keys along the top of the keyboard that have sun icons on them. One is to darken the display and one is to brighten it. Try those. If those have no effect, move on. Turn off the laptop, remove all peripherals you may have attached, and then turn it on again while listening carefully.

Do you hear any whirring? Any beeps? Fan noises? If you hear something but see nothing, it may be the screen and not the laptop itself. If you hear nothing, we need to troubleshoot further.

Check connections

Plug your MacBook Pro charger into the laptop and into the wall socket. Verify both connections are tight. Make sure the power cord isn’t damaged while you’re there too. If nothing happens, try a different wall socket or check the one you’re using with a different device.

If the outlet works, check the power cord or adapter. If you’re fortunate enough to have a spare of either, try them. If you can borrow a spare for five minutes, do that, but first promise not to break it because it is worth its weight in gold. If the laptop still won’t work with a different charger, continue troubleshooting.

Power cycle

The next step involves performing a full power cycle of your MacBook Pro. While it sounds involved, it is actually very straightforward. All you need do is hold down the power button for a minimum of ten seconds. This cuts all power to the laptop and is the equivalent of removing the battery. You may hear a noise as you do this, but you also may not.

Once you have held the power button down, leave it a few seconds and then press it again to start the MacBook Pro as you normally would. If you’re fortunate, it will boot as normal. If you’re not, the MacBook Pro will still not start and you’ll need to keep reading.

What to do if your MacBook Pro won’t turn on3

Reset SMC

The SMC is the System Management Controller. It manages all the low level functions of the Macbook Pro, such as the power button, display, battery, fans, motion sensing, keyboard, indicator lights, and other similar elements. Resetting the SMC is usually left until last as it resets many settings back to their defaults. If you have gotten this far without being able to boot your MacBook Pro, resetting the SMC is now necessary.

With the laptop unplugged from the charger and any peripherals:

  1. Hold down Shift + Control + Option and press the power button. Hold them all down for ten seconds.
  2. Let go of all keys and reconnect the charger.
  3. Press the power button to boot your laptop.

If an SMC error was causing the MacBook Pro to not boot, it should now boot normally. You will have to reconfigure some hardware settings once booted, but it is a small price to pay for getting your laptop working again. Especially when compared to long professional maintenance can take and how much it can sometimes cost.

Remove the battery

If you’re using an older MacBook Pro, it may have a removable battery. I have an old one from 2008 that has this very thing and will try to remove it to aid troubleshooting. If yours is this old, check underneath to see if the battery is removable or not. You should see a small locking clip underneath next to the battery if it’s removable.

  1. Undo the locking clip underneath your MacBook Pro.
  2. Lift the plastic flap to expose the battery.
  3. Pull the small tab to release the battery and remove it.
  4. Do these steps in reverse to replace the battery, and replace the flap and clip.

A newer MacBook Pro will not have a removable battery, so this will not be relevant to you if you have a newer machine.

Next steps

If your MacBook Pro still won’t turn on, there is very little you can do at this point without voiding the warranty. It may be better to find your nearest Apple Store and let one of the technicians take a look. It may cost money, it may not. What it should do is get your laptop working again without affecting the warranty or potentially making things worse!

Did I miss anything? Got any other checks for if a MacBook Pro won’t turn on? Tell us about them below if you do!

2 thoughts on “What To Do if your MacBook Pro Won’t Turn On”

Fred says:
Hi,
I think my issue is more severe. My machine will only give me sounds that it is powering up, that is all. Nothing works, I do mean nothing works. I was trying to reinstall the OS using the recovery process and the machine just hung up. After about an hour I pressed the power button and turned the machine off. After that it will not start and I have tried all the suggested tricks. Nothing worked because the keyboard seems dead. Have not contacted Apple yet. Any ideas? Thanks
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Rochelle says:
I have turned on my macbook pro and it turned on but then when i was about to insert the flashdrive i noticed some small thing inside the port so i closed down the screen and remived that foreign body out of the port. Then when i open the screen it was all black, the battery is 85% that time. I plughed it to charge and it is charging. The trackpad has the click sound, but the screen wont turn on ☹️ Please help… desperate here…
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