macbook pro turns on but screen stays black — my solution

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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)

470 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for that information. I tried your first suggestion (to press power , wait for 5 minutes, and press power shift), and it worked immediately.

    Again, thank you so much.

    There are two things I’d like to ask. I hope it’s appropriate to ask these questions here, I mean, right after a “thank you” response for your assistance.

    But my mac Book Pro 13 inch laptop , the keys and everything on it are not working. I have been using an external keyboard for quite some time now. Also the sound, when listening to music or a video, is not clear. I’m getting a cracking sound and the sound is not at the maximum level

    Can you give me advice on how to correct these?

    I would appreciate this very much.

    Thank you much.

    if you could send it to my email, I would appreciate it. If so,, my email is [email protected]. The “S” is uppercase.

  2. My MacBook Pro 2011 17” has been giving me the same trouble – machine boots however the screen remains blank.

    After much R&D, trial and error, here’s a logical Fix I have discovered for myself with my laptop

    1- One of the main reasons the screen may not be coming on is because the machine may be over heating. This is a common problem if you’re using an old MBPRO in 2020 where even google chrome is a heavy program for the hardware. Even if the screen does come on miraculously after 100’s of SMC resets PRam resets, I realised that machine would usually come on only after it has cooled down to a certain temperature. While trying all these reset sequences I had a charger plugged in which would keep temperature constant at certain level, hence I would have to wait for a few hours before I could restart the machine and try my luck. However it struck me that if this is truly a heat issue than I needed to try a simple experiment…

    Experiment – 1 – Run the machine in an air conditioned room constantly. This had a good result in terms of performance, however the blank screen issue still persisted during the reboot sequence – (though a less than in a normal room with the machine always plugged into the charger). I wanted a 100% solution, which lead me to the next experiment

    Experiment – 2 – I unplugged my laptop from the charger once I was done with my work and left it to cool over night. I did this for a week and the machine rebooted with much more consistency than the first experiment which lead me to the next stage.

    Experiment- 3 – Having ruled a few issues through simple observation in the first 2 experiments, I added one more step in the mix and created a sequence. I tested this for a week and have got consistent results (100%).

    Step 1- always shutdown your machine after you’re done using it and unplug it from the charger to allow it cool down completely before your next restart. Note that in my case, once my machine starts, it doesn’t shut down, even if it heats up, so I am able to finish my tasks. However each machine has its own quirks, but this startup process works the same way on all of them.

    Step – 2 – Ensure your machine has cooled down without the charger plugged in

    Step – 3 – Plug in your Charger, Perform an SMC reset for 5-8 secs and release. This is only a precaution, because this issue can stem from a bad battery, so you want to give the system a fresh start similar to resetting your Pram.

    Step – 4 – power up, and your screen will come on with consistency, in my case regardless of the underlying issues

    Parting Notes-
    I believe the issues of my machine stem from 3 major areas

    1- The Mother Board, since it’s so old and I live close to the ocean, so the rusting of components is inevitable. This could be causing the power management to malfunction

    2- The on board fans have stopped working so the machine isn’t able to cool itself

    3- I had to change the battery on my machine a few years ago and I am not using an original Mac battery

    Whatever the case may be, I hope the solution I have shared helps you make your life easier.

    P.S. Stop using chrome for extended periods of time, it really is a Power taxing browser and can speed up the heating process for such an old machine.
    Although, I have used tons Of VSTs, DAWs, Audio engines With raw audio multi tracking for hours on end for massive projects, they haven’t heated up my machine as much as chrome has…

  3. To the macbook air 2018-2019 user.

    If your mac hassent been damaged by fall and you are sure that it hasn’t been broken but your screen is black, dont worrie. Alot of people believes that the power button in the macbook air 2018-2019 is the ID-censor and that’s true. But then some people may ask why it wont turn on when you hold your finger on the ID-censor. Alot of people dont know that you can press down the ID-censor as a button like all other buttons on the keyboard. That’s how you turn on your display (click down on the ID-censor as a button) 😉

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