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. I’m adding my “awesome, it worked” to the other comments that say this. So far so good!! Thank you very much for posting this solution.

  2. Any ideas what actually causes this to happen. My MacBook is constantly doing this now, sometimes it even goes black when using Skype or watching movies. Very frustrating & warrant ended just as this all started happening.

  3. Try to turn your Mac off by pressing the power button for around three seconds..

    Then press the power button plus left shift plus control plus option keys simultaneously.

    Power on your Mac then immediately press and hold option + command + P + R also simultaneously until you hear the boot sound twice. Release the keys, then press again once you see the apple logo.

    Hold on the keys until it boots the desktop.

  4. I went on many different troubleshooting sites and your solution is the only one that worked ( holding down the shift while turning on power)

    Thanks a million!

  5. I panicked when my screen went blue after start up…I followed your solution which was really easy to follow and thank heavens my Mac is working normally again. Big thanks!

  6. THANK YOU!

    my computer was running at 75% when the screen went black. Since it had never happened, I completely freaked out thinking I’d spend hundreds at the Apple store since its out of warranty. Hope it doesn’t happen again! Your steps worked.

    But, do you think the problem is because the logic board does need replacing eventually or I need to update my MacBook pro?

  7. When this happens to me changing the brightness of the screen with the button on the keyboard normally lets the screen behave normally again

  8. So I’ve got an issue with my MacBook. It’s only a few months old. When I turn it on the first time the screen stays as if it is off ( although the mac is on ). I hold down the power key to turn it off again than turn it on again and the whole thing starts up as normal.

    I’ve tried the safe boot and restart and that doesn’t work…any suggestions as to how I can sort this out so the screen and MacBook start up as normal 1st time every time?

    Any help would be awesome!

  9. So I’ve got an issue with my MacBook. It’s only a few months old. When I turn it on the first time the screen stays as if it is off ( although the mac is on ). I hold down the power key to turn it off again than turn it on again and the whole thing starts up as normal. I’ve tried the safe boot and restart and that doesn’t work…any suggestions as to how I can sort this out so the screen and MacBook start up as normal 1st time every time?

    Any help would be awesome!

  10. This problem has plagued me time and time again. Shutting down completely several times along with removing the battery is what I did to recover before. Thanks to you I now have a simple fix that doesn’t involve so many steps and so much time.

  11. Hi Colin

    I read the whole thread, tried the Shift/safe mode and the PRAM restart several times. I do see the momentary grey flash (very brief) but otherwise the screen remains black. Should I try the PMU reset? Its a macbook OSX 10.4.7.
    Thanks so much for this thread. Aloha, Brian

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