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How to Fix a Black Screen Issue on a Mac: 19 Best Ways

Troubleshoot and resolve Mac’s black screen problem effectively.

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Last updated: December 20, 2023

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TL;DR

To fix a black screen issue on a Mac, try one of the following fixes:

  1. Force restart by holding the Power button for about 10 seconds.
  2. Reset the SMC by holding the Shift ⇧ + Control ^ + Option ⌥ + Power button for 10 seconds.
  3. Boot in Safe Mode by holding the Shift key during startup.
  4. Reset NVRAM/PRAM by holding Command ⌘ + Option + P + R during startup.
  5. Update macOS to install any available software updates.
  6. Run Apple Diagnostics to check for hardware issues.
  7. Use Target Disk Mode to use another Mac to access your hard drive.
  8. Reinstall macOS if nothing else works, but backup your data first.

I’ve encountered the dreaded black screen issue on my Mac more times than I care to admit. It’s a problem that can strike out of nowhere, leaving you staring at a dark display. In this guide, I’ll share the most effective solutions to fix a black screen on your Mac that I’ve discovered through trial and error. From quick checks to deeper troubleshooting, these steps can fix your Mac’s screen in no time.

Before We Begin

Corrupt and outdated apps can cause a black screen on a Mac. Download MacKeeper to use its Smart Uninstaller to detect and delete unnecessary apps causing the black screen of death on Mac.

Basic Troubleshooting for Black Screen on Mac

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Before diving into more advanced methods, address some rookie mistakes that might be causing the issue. Here are some common mistakes to avoid and steps to take to fix the black screen issue on a Mac:

1. Check the Power Source and Display Connections

Always check for hardware issues like power source and display connections before moving to any advanced method. Perform the following checks:

  1. 🔋 Power Check: Make sure your Mac is on. Look for the power light. If it’s off, press the Power button to turn it on. Then, see if the screen looks okay.
  2. 🔌 Charge if Needed: If your Mac’s battery might be dead, plug it in. Wait 5 minutes, then turn it on and see if the screen shows up.
  3. 🎛️ Check Connections: Look at your Mac’s screen settings and ports. If anything is plugged in, like an external monitor, unplug it. This might fix the screen issue.

2. Increase the Brightness to Maximum

Sometimes, if your screen looks black, it might just be that the brightness is too low. To increase the brightness, find the brightness controls on your keyboard.

You’ll find two keys, one with a smaller sun and one with a bigger sun. On older MacBooks, these are F5 and F6 keys. On newer ones with a Touch Bar, they’re near the Esc key. On my MacBook Air M1 (2020), the brightness keys are F1 and F2.

Press the key with the bigger sun to turn up your screen’s brightness to 100%.

macbook pro f6 key

Pressing the smaller sun button will decrease the brightness, eventually dimming the screen to 0%.

3. Let the CPU Cool Down

avoid extreme temperatures

Overheating can cause various issues, including a black screen. If your Mac’s CPU is overheating, shut it down and let it cool down for about 20 minutes. Once it cools down, restart it to see if the black screen issue persists.

Also, make sure nothing’s blocking the cooling vents. Place your Mac on a flat surface for good airflow. If your Mac gets hot often, a cooling pad can help keep it cool.

4. Check Surroundings for Magnets

Older laptops had latches to close the lid and put them to sleep. But Apple uses magnets in newer MacBooks. So, magnets near your MacBook can trick it into thinking the lid is closed, turning the screen black.

Look for magnets near your Mac, like in speakers, hard drives, or other electronics. If you find any, move them away from your Mac. This might fix the black screen issue.

5. Force Restart Your MacBook

Sudden shutdown or abruptly powering up your macOS often causes errors, glitches, or bugs in the booting sequence, causing a black screen at the startup. To fix this issue, force restart your MacBook with these steps:

  1. Locate the Power button on your Mac. It is often on the top-right corner of your keyboard.
macbook air touch id
  1. Press and hold the Power button. 
  2. After approximately 10 seconds, release the Power button.
  3. Now, turn on your Mac by pressing the Power button again.

12 Advanced Fixes for MacBook Black Screen Issue

If you have tried the above steps and the black screen issue persists, there may be other underlying causes, like software conflicts or hardware problems. Below, I’ve shared some advanced troubleshooting steps for a black screen issue on a Mac.

1. Reset the System Management Controller (SMC)

When the SMC encounters a glitch or corruption, it may lead to problems like the black screen issue. Resetting the SMC restarts the hardware settings related to these functions and restores them to their default state.

This method is not applicable on Macs with M1 or M2 chips, as they automatically perform an SMC reset on every shutdown and restart.

Here’s how to reset the SMC on your MacBook:

  1. Shut down your MacBook.
click the apple icon and select shut down
  1. Press and hold these keys for at least 10 seconds: Shift ⇧ + Control ⌘ + Option + Power button.
macbook air power shift control option keys
  1. Release the keys and press the Power button to turn on your MacBook.

2. Boot Into Safe Mode

Safe Mode starts your Mac in a basic state with a minimum number of necessary kernel extensions. It automatically checks and repairs directory issues on the startup disk, which might resolve the black screen issue.

To boot your Mac into Safe Mode, follow these steps:

  1. Restart your Macbook and immediately press the Shift ⇧ key.
  2. Keep holding the Shift key until you see the login window.
macbook air shift key
  1. Log in to your device.
  2. Wait for the system to complete its booting sequence. You will see Safe Boot in the menu bar.
safe boot mode on mac
  1. Restart your MacBook again to exit Safe Mode.

3. Reset NVRAM or PRAM

When the NVRAM becomes corrupt or contains incorrect settings, it can lead to various issues, including the black screen problem on Mac. Resetting the NVRAM restores these system settings to their default values, resolving inconsistencies contributing to the black screen issue.

Follow these steps to reset the NVRAM on your Mac:

  1. Turn off your Mac.
  2. After a few seconds, power up your MacBook.
  3. Immediately press and hold the Command ⌘ + Option ⌥ + P + R keys.
macbook air option command p r keys
  1. Keep holding the keys until you hear the startup sound twice.
  2. Release the keys, and your MacBook will restart.

Here’s a quick tip from online forums: If the black screen persists after an NVRAM reset, give the steps another go. Many users have reported attempting this method at least twice, with some even trying up to six times.

4. Update the macOS

macOS updates include patches for known issues, compatibility improvements, security enhancements, and performance optimizations. By updating the macOS, you can ensure your system is running the latest software, which might resolve any underlying issues causing the black screen problem.

Here’s how you can check for updates and update macOS on your Mac:

  1. Head to the Apple icon and select System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. Select General and click the Software Update option.
click general and select software update
  1. Install the updates, if any are available, by clicking the Update Now button.
click the update now button
  1. Once the update is installed, restart your device.

5. Disable Lock Screen Settings

Sometimes the black screen issue occurs due to incorrectly configured Lock Screen settings. To check and adjust these settings, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Apple menu and select System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. Click Lock Screen in the left sidebar.
click lock screen in system settings
  1. Make sure the Turn display off on battery when inactive and Turn display off on power adapter when inactive options are set to a reasonable time. Alternatively, select Never to disable them temporarily.
set turn display off on battery when inactive and turn display off on power adapter when inactive options to never
  1. Restart your Mac and see if the black screen problem persists.

6. Run Apple Diagnostics

When it comes to running Apple Diagnostics, the instructions may differ depending on whether your Mac is powered by Intel or Apple Silicon. Below, I’ve shared the steps to run Apple Diagnostics on Macs with the Silicon chip and Intel processor.

If you’re unsure about your Mac’s processor, check Apple’s website to find out.

On Apple Silicon Mac

  1. Disconnect all peripheral devices except the keyboard, mouse, Ethernet, display, and power cable.
  2. Shut down your Mac.
  3. Power on your Mac and hold the Power button until the startup options screen with the Options icon appears.
startup options screen
  1. Press the Command ⌘ + D keys.
Press the Command D keys

On Intel-Based Mac

  1. Disconnect all external devices except the keyboard, mouse, Ethernet, display, and power cable.
  2. Shut down your Mac from the Apple menu.
click the apple icon and select shut down
  1. Press the Power button and immediately press and hold the D key until a list of languages appears.
Press the power button and D
  1. Select a language, and Apple Diagnostics will start automatically.
select a language touse apple diagnostics
  1. Once the checking process is completed, you’ll see a report listing detected issues. If you see an error message or reference code, note it and contact Apple Support or an authorized Apple service provider for further assistance.

Check out this list of all possible error codes you can see after running an Apple Diagnostics test.

report listing any issues detected
  1. To finish the test, click Restart or Shut Down.
click Restart or Shut Down

7. Use a Keypress Sequence

If your black screen issue still persists, I have another potential fix you can try that I found while researching on different forums. This fix is not found in Apple’s guides but is often successful, according to many users. Here’s how to go about it:

  1. Press the Power button once. This brings up a dialog box you can’t see on the black screen.
macbook air touch id
  1. Press the S key. This is the shortcut for putting your Mac to sleep.
macbook pro s key
  1. Hold down the Power button for four seconds. This will force your Mac to shut down completely.
  2. Wait about 15 seconds, then press the Power button again to turn your Mac back on.

8. Create a New User Account on the Mac

Some apps or settings in your user account may conflict with macOS, leading to the black screen problem. This issue can also occur due to a corrupted preference file or a problematic startup item. When you create a new user account, it starts with default settings, which can identify the culprit.

To create a new user account on a Mac, you can follow these steps:

  1. Head to the Apple icon and select System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. Click Users & Groups and tap the Add User button.
click add user in user and groups
  1. Enter your administrator’s name and password and tap Unlock.
enter your admin id and password in user and groups pop up and click unlock
  1. Enter the required information, including the user’s name, account name, and password, and click Create User.
fill in the details and click create user
  1. After creating the new user account, log out of your current account and log in to the newly created account. Check if the black screen issue persists.

9. Repair Disk Permissions

Repairing disk permissions on a Mac ensures the files and folders on your system have the correct permissions, resolving issues related to software installation, accessibility, and system performance. However, this process was more relevant for older versions of macOS, particularly those before macOS El Capitan (10.11). In newer versions, macOS automatically repairs file permissions during software updates and installations, making manual repair less necessary.

If you’re using an older version of macOS (pre-El Capitan) or if you still want to perform this task on a newer version for troubleshooting purposes, here’s how to do it:

For macOS Yosemite (10.10) and Earlier

  1. Go to Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility.
  2. Choose your startup disk (usually named Macintosh HD) from the list on the left.
  3. Click the First Aid tab.
  4. Click Repair Disk Permissions.

This process might take some time, depending on the size of your disk and the number of files.

For macOS El Capitan (10.11) and Later

In these versions, you can’t repair disk permissions from Disk Utility due to System Integrity Protection (SIP). However, if you still want to try, you can do it through the command line. Always backup your data before performing system operations like this.

Here’s how to go about it:

  1. Go to Applications > Utilities > Terminal.
launch terminal from utilities
  1. Type the following command and press Enter:
sudo /usr/libexec/repair_packages --verify --standard-pkgs /
  1. Then type the following and press Enter:
sudo /usr/libexec/repair_packages --repair --standard-pkgs --volume /

This will run a permissions check and repair.

On newer Macs, SIP may prevent certain system modifications. If a command doesn’t work, it might be due to SIP.

10. Reinstall macOS

Reinstalling macOS may resolve the black screen issue with its fresh files. However, this solution will erase all data on your device. So, back up your Mac data before attempting this solution.

Here’s how to reinstall macOS on your Mac:

  1. Restart your device, and hold down Command ⌘ + R until it boots up.
macbook air command r keys
  1. Select Reinstall macOS from the list of options and click Continue.
macos recovery screen
  1. Follow the prompts to complete the reinstallation process.

Check out my complete guide to reinstalling macOS on your Mac for a step-by-step process.

11. Use Target Disk Mode

Target Disk Mode on a Mac usually isn’t a direct fix for black screen issues. It’s mainly for data transfer and troubleshooting, not display problems. But, if a software or OS glitch is causing your Mac’s black screen, Target Disk Mode can help. It lets another Mac access your troubled Mac’s hard drive to diagnose and possibly fix the issue.

Here’s how you can use Target Disk Mode on Mac:

  1. Start by shutting down the Mac with the black screen issue.
click the apple icon and select shut down
  1. Connect the two Macs using your FireWire or Thunderbolt cable.
  2. Turn on the problematic Mac and immediately hold down the T key.
macbook pro t key
  1. Keep holding it until you see the FireWire or Thunderbolt icon displayed on the screen. It means the Mac is ready to use as an external drive.
  2. On the other Mac, you should see the external drive appear as an available disk in the Finder.
  3. You can access the files and data on the troubled Mac’s hard drive from the functional Mac and perform troubleshooting steps, like scanning for malware, repairing disk permissions, or reinstalling the operating system.

12. Seek Professional Help

If none of the solutions listed above work to fix the black screen issue on a Mac, it may be time to seek professional help. You can contact Apple Support or take your Mac to an Apple Store to get it checked by a professional.

Prevent Black Screen Issues on a Mac Using MacKeeper

MacKeeper is a comprehensive utility software designed to optimize, clean, and protect your Mac. It offers a range of tools to maintain your system’s performance and potentially resolve various issues, including black screen problems.

To use MacKeeper to clear your Mac and potentially fix a black screen issue, follow the steps below.

1. Clear Your Mac Using Safe Cleanup

Over time, your Mac collects a lot of data, which can slow it down and lead to issues like the Mac’s black screen problem. Regularly deleting unneeded files helps maintain your Mac’s performance. MacKeeper’s Safe Cleanup tool can remove these files and improve your device’s performance, possibly fixing the black screen issue.

Here’s how to quickly clean up your Mac using MacKeeper:

  1. Download and install MacKeeper on your Mac.
  2. Launch MacKeeper and go to the Safe Cleanup tab.
click safe cleanup under the cleaning section
  1. Click Start Scan and wait for the results.
click start scan in safe cleanup
  1. Review the items you want to remove. Select them individually or click Check All.
select junk files to remove or click check all
  1. Next, click Clean Junk Files.
tap clean junk files
  1. You’ll get a Cleaning Completed notification on your screen. Click Rescan to repeat the process.
click rescan to scan the system again

2. Remove Apps Using Smart Uninstaller

MacKeeper can also help remove unnecessary applications, related files, and preferences. So, if a corrupt app is causing your Mac’s screen to turn black, you can fix it by uninstalling the app.

Here’s how to uninstall any app on Mac using MacKeeper:

  1. Download and install MacKeeper on your Mac.
  2. Launch MacKeeper and navigate to the Smart Uninstaller under Cleaning.
click smart uninstaller in the left sidebar
  1. Click Start Scan.
click start scan in smart uninstaller
  1. Wait for the scan to complete, click Applications in the left panel, and select an app you want to remove. You can also select multiple apps from the list.
  2. Next, click the Remove Selected button.
select the applications you want to remove and click remove selected
  1. Confirm the deletion by clicking Remove on the pop-up.
click remove on the pop up window in smart uninstaller
  1. It will remove the unwanted apps from your Mac, and you’ll get a Removal Completed message. Click Rescan if you want to scan your Mac again.
click rescan in smart uninstaller

What Else Can MacKeeper Do?

Besides clearing temp files on your Mac and uninstalling conflicting apps, MacKeeper can remove duplicate files, delete login items, and free up RAM on your Mac. To learn more about its amazing features, read my detailed MacKeeper review.

What Causes Black Screen Issues on a Mac?

Black screen issues on a Mac can be caused by a variety of factors, ranging from minor software glitches to more serious hardware problems. Understanding these causes can help in troubleshooting and resolving the issue more effectively.

Here are some common causes:

  • 🐛 Software Glitches: Temporary glitches or software bugs in macOS can lead to a black screen, especially during or after updates.
  • 🔌 Display Connectivity Issues: Loose or faulty connections between your Mac and its display can result in a black screen, more common with external monitors.
  • 🔋 Power Supply Problems: Issues with the power supply, like a drained battery or faulty adapter, can cause the screen to remain black.
  • 🛠️ Hardware Malfunctions: Problems with hardware components like the GPU or logic board, or overheating, can lead to a black screen.
  • 💤 Sleep Mode or Screen Saver Settings: The Mac might appear to have a black screen if it’s in sleep mode or due to certain screen saver settings.
  • 📁 Corrupted Disk Permissions or System Files: Corrupted disk permissions or critical system files can prevent proper booting, resulting in a black screen.
  • 💾 Faulty RAM or Storage: Issues with RAM or internal storage, such as failure or improper seating, can also lead to black screen problems.
  • 📱 Third-Party Apps or Peripheral Devices: Conflicts caused by third-party applications or connected peripherals can result in a black screen.
  • 👤 User Account Issues: Problems with specific user accounts or settings can sometimes cause a black screen, particularly upon login.
  • ⚙️ Firmware Issues: Corrupted firmware updates or issues within the Mac’s firmware can also lead to a black screen.

Fix Your Mac’s Black Screen Quickly

A black screen issue on your Macbook can be a frustrating experience. But there are some things you can do to prevent it from happening in the future. Here are some tips to help you out:

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How can I resolve black screen issues on my Mac?

    You can resolve black screen issues on your Mac by checking the power source and display connections, restarting your Mac, resetting the SMC, booting into Safe Mode, updating the macOS, resetting NVRAM/PRAM, or reinstalling macOS. If none of these work, seek professional help from Apple Support.

  2. How do you restart a Macbook when there is a black screen?

    To restart a MacBook when there is a black screen, try a force restart. To do this, press and hold the Power button for 10 seconds until the screen turns off, then release the button. Then, press it again to turn on your Mac.

  3. How to fix iMac that won’t turn on the black screen?

    To fix iMac that won’t turn on the black screen, try plugging the power cable into a different outlet. If this doesn’t work, reset the SMC. If none of these steps work, you may need to take it to a technician for further diagnosis and repair.

Hashir Ibrahim

Author

I'm Hashir, a tech journalist with a decade of experience. My work has been featured in some of the top tech publications like MakeUseOf and MakeTechEasier. I have a bachelor's degree in IT, a master's in cybersecurity, and extensive knowledge of Apple hardware, specifically MacBooks. As the senior writer at MacBook Journal, I write in depth guides that help you solve any issues you have with your mac and unbiased reviews that help you make the right buying decisions.

Ojash

Reviewer

Hi there! I'm Ojash, a tech journalist with over a decade of experience in the industry. I've had the privilege of contributing to some of the world's largest tech publications, making my mark as a respected Mac expert. My passion lies in exploring, using, and writing about MacBooks, and I enjoy sharing my expertise to help others make informed decisions and get the most out of their MacBook experience. Join me as we delve into the fascinating world of MacBooks together!

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