Basic Troubleshooting When Your Mac Wont Turn On

Basic Troubleshooting When Your Mac Wont Turn On

Powering Up: The Mac’s Turning Point

Ah, the dreaded moment – you press the power button on your trusty Mac, eagerly anticipating the familiar chime and the sprightly display coming to life. But instead, you’re met with a lifeless screen and an eerie silence. Don’t worry, fellow Mac enthusiast, you’re not alone in this predicament. In fact, I’ve been in your shoes more times than I’d like to admit. But fear not, for I’m here to guide you through the basic troubleshooting steps that just might revive your beloved machine.

Let’s start with the obvious, shall we? [1] First, make sure your power cable is firmly plugged into both your Mac and a working electrical outlet. You’d be surprised how many times a loose connection is the culprit. If that doesn’t do the trick, check the cable itself for any signs of damage. You know, the kind of wear and tear that comes with being the unsung hero of your daily computing routine.

Now, if the power cable checks out, it’s time to put on your detective hat and investigate further. [2] Unplug all those pesky accessories, like printers, drives, and USB hubs, that you’ve accumulated over the years. These little buggers can sometimes interfere with your Mac’s startup sequence, so it’s best to eliminate them from the equation. And while you’re at it, double-check that any recently installed RAM or hard drives are properly seated. After all, an improper installation can wreak havoc on your Mac’s ability to boot up.

The Power Cycle: Resetting the Balance

If the basics haven’t done the trick, it’s time to try a more drastic measure – the power cycle. This essentially involves forcibly restarting your Mac by cutting off the power supply. [2] On a desktop Mac, you can do this by unplugging the power cable, waiting a few seconds, and then plugging it back in. For laptops, press and hold the power button for about 10 seconds until the machine shuts down, then try powering it back up.

Now, I know what you’re thinking – “But won’t that erase all my precious data?” Relax, my friend, a power cycle won’t cause any permanent damage. In fact, it’s a tried-and-true troubleshooting technique that can often resolve those pesky startup issues. [1] And if you’re using an M1 or M2 Mac, you can even try resetting the NVRAM, which is the modern equivalent of the old PRAM reset. It’s a bit of a dance, but trust me, it’s worth a shot.

Booting Up in Safe Mode: Diagnosing the Dilemma

If the power cycle doesn’t do the trick, it’s time to get a little more hands-on. [2] Try booting your Mac in Safe Mode, which limits the startup process to the bare essentials. This can be particularly helpful if you suspect a software-related issue is the culprit. Just hold down the Shift key during startup, and if you’re lucky, your Mac will oblige and boot up in this stripped-down mode.

Now, while you’re in Safe Mode, take a moment to explore your options. [2] You can run some basic diagnostics, such as checking the file system or trying to reinstall macOS. Who knows, perhaps a little digital housekeeping is all your Mac needs to get back on its feet. And if you’re really feeling adventurous, you can even experiment with removing those pesky startup items that may be causing the problem. Just don’t go deleting anything important, alright?

The Nuclear Option: Resetting the SMC

Alright, so the Safe Mode trick hasn’t solved the mystery, and you’re starting to feel like a tech-savvy Sherlock Holmes on the brink of a breakthrough. [2] Well, here’s one more trick up my sleeve: resetting the System Management Controller, or SMC, on your Intel-based Mac. This is the equivalent of a nuclear option, as it involves some rather intricate button-pressing and key-holding maneuvers.

Now, I know what you’re thinking – “But I have an M1 or M2 Mac, so I can’t reset the SMC!” [2] True, that particular feature is no longer a thing on the latest Apple silicon. But fear not, my friend, there are still ways to tweak those under-the-hood settings that the SMC used to control. It’s a bit different, but the principle is the same – sometimes a good old-fashioned reset can be the key to reviving a stubborn Mac.

The Final Frontier: Reinstalling macOS

Alright, if you’ve made it this far and your Mac is still playing the silent treatment, it’s time to get serious. [2] We’re talking about the nuclear option – reinstalling the macOS operating system. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “But what about all my precious data?” Well, my friend, that’s why we always recommend keeping a solid backup plan in place. (You do have one of those, right?)

Once you’ve ensured your valuable files are safe and sound, head on over to macOS Recovery and let the reinstallation process commence. [2] It’s a bit of a dance, but trust me, it’s worth it if it’s the only thing that can bring your Mac back from the brink. And who knows, maybe a fresh start is exactly what the doctor ordered. Just don’t forget to restore your backup once the installation is complete – we don’t want you to lose all those precious cat photos, now do we?

Well, there you have it, my fellow Mac enthusiasts. From the simple power cable check to the all-out macOS reinstallation, I’ve laid out the basic troubleshooting steps that just might save your Mac from the abyss. Remember, when it comes to technology, patience and a bit of creative problem-solving can go a long way. So, take a deep breath, grab a cup of coffee, and let’s get that trusty Mac of yours back in action. Onwards to digital victory!


[1] Apple Support, “If your Mac doesn’t seem to turn on after you press the power button,”

[2] Macworld, “MacBook won’t turn on? Here’s how to get it working again,”

[3] Reddit, “My MacBook Air 2020 is not powering up. I used a 3rd party charger and now it’s not charging,”