macbook pro turns on but screen stays black — my solution

The Apple Macbook Pro would turn on, but the screen would not.  The screen would stay black.  I could tell the computer was on because when I hit the “caps lock” key, the green light on the key would turn on and off.

I fixed this the following way (this is basically resetting the Power Management Unit — PMU):

I disconnected the computer from the power cord, and from all other cables.

I held down the power button for several seconds to turn off the computer.

I let it sit 5 minutes.

I restarted the laptop while holding down the Shift key.  This restarted the computer in Safe Mode, with the screen visible again.

After I logged in (in Safe Mode) to make sure everything was ok, I simply restarted the computer the normal way, and the screen behaved normally again.

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If that doesn’t work for you, you could try these steps, documented at apple.com:

Holding down Command, Option, P, and R to reset your PRAM and NVRAM

Resetting PowerBook and iBook Power Management Unit (PMU)

464 Comments

  1. THANK YOU SO MUCH this worked for me after my laptop fell off my bed this morning. However, I shut my Macbook and put it away for a few hours, then I opened it back up it went back to the same dark blue screen again. Do you know why this is happening again especially because it was working earlier?

  2. This is amazing! About 3 years ago I had to take my 17″ MacBookPro the the Mac store because the screen was completely black and I could not get it to come up. The boys at the Genius bar said it was not possible to fix at a reasonable price.

    They happily sold me on a new Mac book 13″ with back resolution for $1500!!!

    I have been miserable without my old 17″ Mac Book Pro. I have no idea why but today I googled “blank screen on Mac Book Pro” and your blog came up, Colin. Thank you sooooo much. I tried your trick. First I had to charge the battery as it had been sitting for almost 3 years, then I started it up, held the shut-down button down then I restarted holding the shift key down….OMG!!! All 17″ lit up like a christmas tree!! woo hoo! I am soooo happy. After all these years I will be taking it back to the geniuses at the genius bar and request that they transfer all data from the 13″ Mac to my 17″. (NOTE: When I bought the new 13″ I was able to get all the info off the 17″ onto the13″….now I have 3 yrs. of photos, bookmarks, emails and software to move the 17″……Not happy with the genius’ anymore…..but soooo happy for Colin’s solution….you are the true genius! Thank you so much!!!! I love you….

    1. Hi Cindy,

      I’m really glad that this page was able to help you. Thank you for your feedback.
      When I first posted this ‘little tip’ back in 2010, I did not know if it would be useful or not to others. I’m glad that is has turned out to be helpful, and I also want to thank all of the other commenters here who have posted additional information about how to solve this issue. -Colin

  3. Problem black screen!
    Last night, I was on my (2008) MacBook Pro
    And I accidentally hit the “yes” button for that
    New (well, new to me) photo thing (I think it was in agreement
    to let them show me how I can organize all the photos)
    Then I see it’s downloading like 3000 of my photos! Then it
    Kind of froze….so I just closed laptop
    Then when I tried getting it to work it’s been black
    Ever since! Yesterday!!
    I have tried all those things for restarting
    the pram & etc. etc.
    The shift- power
    Everything… It turns on and then after
    about a minute my keyboard lights up for a minute
    Or so… Then Dims off but I can
    still hear my laptop running- help?
    🙂

  4. My macbook (pro 2011) decided to stay black for several days. Only the fan and the sleepligth indicator worked. No respons on the screen whatsoever. Tried all combinations of startup procedures, without luck. One time with the C+O+P+R+Power the fans ran like crazy, but nothing more happened. I opened it up, ejected the ram, and cleaned the fans and tried startup again, but again no response.

    The solution was to let it run out of power (battery), then run all startup procedures connected to the charger. Shift+control+option+power, and C+O+P+R+Power. No response at all. I where afraid I had killed the mac once for all and went to bed. But suddenly it fired up and are back to normal. What a relief!

  5. Help, please! The screen has gone black on my 2013 MacBook Pro (13 inch Retina display). I’ve tried all of the troubleshooting suggestions I found online (PRAM, SMC, flashlight, etc)…the only change is that the screen will go from black to grey, but nothing else happens. Took it to the Apple Store, and they said I need a new display to the tune of $450… Ouch! I hate to spend that much on a 3 year old Mac. This is my first Mac and I don’t have any spare parts, nor technical ability to do the repairs myself. Any other (less expensive) suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

    I did just recent update Adobe Flash Player in order to complete required online training. Might that be causing the problem? I don’t have an external monitor…should I take the Mac back to the Apple Store and ask them to connect to an external monitor to see if they can uninstall Adobe Flash Player?

  6. Fabulous. Helped me. I was sure I had a bad graphics card. I had green spots all over my screen followed by the black screen. Nothing helped, including reseating the RAM. But your simple solution was perfect. Bless you!

  7. I tried all of the above but the screen does not come up. The power cord works and the orange light is on. The sound comes on as well, but I dont know if that is to indicate that I turned the computer off, or that I turned it on, because The screen is black!!
    What else can I do??

  8. If the solution above fails to help, then most likely your laptop suffers from lack of connection with the LCD panel driver. That was my issue.
    The LVDS connector is a very small and delicate piece but the LED backlight needs quite a lot of current compared to the size of the pins. I figured out what was the cause of the problem when I removed the LCD. Its socket (yes, from the LCD side, not from the laptop mainboard side) was almost burned, perhaps because of the moisture. Cleaning it carefully solved the problem. Resoldering may also help, which I also have got done.
    The socket was also making the backlight appear uneven (there are six pins responsible for the LEDs, fault of any of them will cause the effect).
    I suppose (I haven’t checked that) the LVDS signals are something like HDMI or DVI format, which involves I2C communication, so if any of video data pins don’t work, you will see mess on the display, but if one of I2C pins fail, the mainboard won’t detect the display at all and you will see nothing.

  9. After 2 days of trying all of the ‘reset’ solutions I called Apple Support. He had me try the same ‘reset’ solutions and to no avail we ended up setting up an appt at the Genius Bar. Dreading that drive I decided to try again. Here is a description of my problem and the solution….Yay, the solution! When I turn on my MacBook Pro there was no sound, and no keyboard lights. The only way I could tell it was on was to look at the Apple icon on back of the monitor, it was lit up. The technician suggested I try the Option-Command-P+R after I start it up and hear the beep. Since I had no sound I waited until I saw the apple light up, then I tried that sequence of keys. It didn’t work. After I got off the phone with him I decided to try it again, but this time I did not wait until the apple lit, and right away I heard the beep and it started correctly. So I just hit the start button and right after I did the Option-Command-P+R and held it for 2 or 3 seconds and then let them go. So glad to hear that sound!…

  10. my computer got wet and now the screen is black. i was able to use an hdmi cable and view things on the tv. so now i can transfer everything onto an external drive.

  11. Thanks for the fix.

    I had the same issue. 2011 Macbook Pro. Machine starts but screen stayed black. Works fine if I plug into an external monitor.

    I reset the PRAM as described above (P-R-opt-command-Power) I had to turn the brightness up before I could see it. Worked!
    !

    My machine falls into the group that Apple is repairing free of charge but this only continues through 2016. Check with Apple.

    https://www.apple.com/support/macbookpro-videoissues/

  12. I dropped my MacBook Pro and almost cried. The first technique didn’t work, but the second (resetting the PRAM did- it didn’t seem like it did at first, -and I was just standing there googling on my iPhone when the screen on my
    Mac kit up! Thank you so much!

  13. I tried everything, all of the above and then some. I happened to find someone saying “just enter your password on the black screen”. Wow! It worked. I’m on a MacBook Pro 2015 running OS Sierra.

  14. Apple will replace your motherboard for free, I have done so for the same problem for a 4 year old laptop. Don’t waste your time with temporary solutions.

  15. 2008 MacBook Pro starts up with the windows start up logo (my dumb ass nephew tried to be his own engineer, wiped out the original apple OS X and installed a clean windows lol), and seconds later the screen goes black. But it works normal when connected to an external monitor/tv. The reset steps didn’t work, but again it’s on windows, who knows whether those resetting steps apply to windows too or limited to OS X. But haven’t tried the safe mode. I’ll try that later. We tried to restore the original OS X, it started a bit to select the drive to set it up, then went on to black screen again. I didn’t even know you could wipe out original OS X and install windows without OS X installed or without bootcamp assistance. However he managed to do that I have no clue, but I was pest when he did that. I guess he found it too splendid a free MacBook Pro from uncle. I was going to send him my second MacBook Pro 2011, but I thought twice and changed my mind. They don’t appreciate anyways. He’s lucky Tim Cook doesn’t know that my nephew betrayed apple for Microsoft. Any help/advise appropriated. Thanks.

  16. I was also facing the issue with My macbook Air. But i came to know that its because of the memory related issues that i had in my mac. I was not having enough space to save new files and all. Also running several software programs for my work. That lead this problem. Later i ve moved all the data to another SSD and removed few software programs. It’s working fine now.

  17. THANKYOU SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!! Terima kasih banyak! mine worked with the first method! it worked miraculously. God bless you!!

  18. THANK YOU …. THANK YOU …. We’re not geeks but you solution worked amazing …. we are of the aged group of people that know nothing about computers BUT YOU N I DID IT TOGETHER …. once again …. thank you …. x

  19. Command option PR worked for me too! I had to keep holding it while the laptop tried to reboot several times then finially the screen came on and i knew things were looking up.

  20. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. Not sure if this matters, but I tried the shift button on the left, it didn’t work. Tried again with the shift button on the right…it worked!! Thank you, Thank you!!

  21. This thread may be outdated, THANK YOU!!

    I dropped my macbook pro 13′ 2015 and although the hardware would turn on, the display would not. This was the case after countless reboots & reboots with option + command + P + R pressed down.

    Restarting the computer while holding the SHIFT key down (safe mode) made the display activate.

  22. it hasn’t worked for me but im not sure if its because i have a different macbook pro then the one that has been working for everyone else, does this method work on all macs or on a specific type?

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