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. Greetings all. I have tried each and every one of these steps to make my screen come on and nothing has worked. The computer itself comes on, but the screen is black. When I flash a light against it, I see nothing and no matter what I do the screen will not turn on. Is there anything else I may be able to do in order to make this work?

  2. My MacBook Pro is old (early2008) and even though I primarily use my iPhone and iPad, there are still some tasks I do on my laptop and I wasn’t ready to give it up. I experienced the same sudden black screen issue. I tried various ways of staring it using the shift key as described but nothing. I tried the command, option, P, R trick and still nothing. The second time I tried starting it while pressing command, option, P and R it came on to a disk utility screen with several options. However it wouldn’t react to any of the options. Then in the upper left under disk utility drop down menu I pressed restart and now everything is fine! Yea! Thanks a lot
    ,

  3. Im having a probmlem with my new macbook, when i turn it on the power light is visible but the screen is totally black. Any help for me plssss. I need need help badly.

  4. Im having a probmlem with my new macbook, when i turn it on the power light is visible but the screen is totally black. Any help for me plssss. I need need help badly.

  5. Hello,
    Ronan apple make us think that their apple computer are the best, but we us user know the true…. apple computers has many issues that have been not fix yet, or will never be fix… their OS is mediocre for now-days. just run a test, we all know it =)
    att
    Jackson Punguil Bravo

  6. Can this help with iMac? Mine is going black and it’s out of warranty. It’s cheaper for me to buy a new one. Help!?

  7. Ok so my screen went black. I followed the instructions above and they worked for about 24 hours. But now when I turn it on it the screen stays black and the above instructions will not work . Anyone have any idea what i can do now?
    Thanks.

  8. Christopher’s post said to open the terminal in step 4. What does that mean? How do I open the terminal to type that in?

    1. The Terminal is the Mac’s Terminal.app. On my iMac it is in: Hard Drive > Applications > Utilities > Terminal.app
      It’s kind of the same thing as the DOS window on Windows, where you can type DOS commands into your Windows PC.
      If you open the Terminal app, you can type Unix commands into your Mac.

      -Colin

  9. This has just happened to my computer, one minute i was using it, one minute the screen went black. I thought i just needed to reboot it so i held down the power button to shut it down and then restarted it. I heard the same start up sound however i saw nothing on the screen. But after looking a bit closer i realised that the stuff on the screen WAS there but so so so faint. I also found that when i pushed f1 (lower brightness) all the way down and then back up again with f2 my screen would come up as normal for a split second. When i kept doing this (back and forth on the brightness) it eventually stayed bright in short time periods so i eventually could navigate my way to the system preferences and this is what I changed:

    > Apple button (top left corner)
    > System preferences
    > Hardware > Energy Saver
    > Untick everything under the “Power Adapter tab”
    > Put the Computer sleep and Display sleep to “Never” by moving the time slider to the right
    > Do the same thing for the “Battery” tab

    It probably took 40 back and forths and I started seeing results. Be patient. It’s not dead, you can always get a separate monitor and link it via HDMI cord and still use your same hard drive. There’s hope!

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