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Mac Won’t Shut Down? 15 Quick Ways to Fix It

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Last updated: September 6, 2023

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Is your Mac refusing to shut down? It can be frustrating when you’re ready to call it a day or power down your Mac for other reasons, only to find that it simply won’t shut down.

In this guide, I’ll share some quick and effective ways to resolve the issue where your Mac won’t shut down. Whether you’re experiencing a frozen screen, unresponsive apps, or any other shutdown-related problems, these troubleshooting techniques will help you find a solution. So let’s dive in.

Before We Begin

Your Mac might not shut down for several reasons, and MacKeeper can help fix most of them. From malware to incompatible apps, MacKeeper provides the perfect solution. With its real-time antivirus, Smart Uninstaller, Safe Cleanup, and more, MacKeeper offers comprehensive assistance.

Why Your Mac Won’t Shut Down

If you’re experiencing issues with your Mac not shutting down properly, there can be several potential reasons. Here are some common causes and troubleshooting steps to help you resolve the problem:

  1. 🖥️ Software issues: Check if any applications or processes prevent your Mac from shutting down. Close all open applications and try shutting them down again. If that doesn’t work, force quit any unresponsive programs by pressing Command ⌘ + Option ⌥ + Escape and selecting the problematic app.
  2. 🔄 Background processes: Some background processes or tasks may prevent your Mac from shutting down. Open the Activity Monitor (Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor), check for any resource-intensive processes, and force quit them before attempting to shut down your Mac.
  3. Updates in progress: If your Mac installs updates, it may delay the shutdown process. Wait for the updates to complete, and try shutting down again.
  4. 🔌 Hardware peripherals: Disconnect any external devices (e.g., printers, external hard drives, USB devices) and try shutting them down. Faulty or incompatible peripherals can sometimes interfere with the shutdown process.
  5. 🚨 File or system corruption: Occasionally, file or system corruption can prevent a Mac from shutting down properly. Run Disk Utility to check and repair any disk errors. Open Finder, go to the Applications folder, then the Utilities folder, and launch Disk Utility. Select your startup disk and click First Aid to perform verification and repair.
  6. 🧩 Kernel extensions or third-party software: Some kernel extensions or third-party software may cause conflicts that prevent your Mac from shutting down. Try booting your Mac in Safe Mode by holding the Shift key while starting up. If the shutdown works in Safe Mode, it indicates a problem with third-party software or drivers. Remove recently installed extensions or applications and test shutting down again.

If the above steps don’t resolve the issue, it’s recommended to contact Apple Support or visit an authorized service center for further assistance.

What to Do If Your Mac Won’t Shut Down

It can be frustrating when your Mac refuses to power off, leaving you wondering what steps to take next. Whether you’re encountering a frozen screen, unresponsive apps, or other issues preventing your Mac from shutting down, I’ve shared multiple solutions below to fix this issue.

1. Wait for a Few Minutes

Before rushing to any conclusions, give your Mac a few minutes. Your computer may be just processing a large task or updating software in the background. Patience is sometimes the best remedy.

If your Mac won’t shut down after waiting for a while, you may need to troubleshoot the problem. You can try one of the following solutions.

2. Use a Keyboard Shortcut

If waiting didn’t resolve the issue, try using a keyboard shortcut. To shut down your Mac using a keyboard shortcut, you can follow these steps:

  1. Make sure you have no unsaved work or open applications, as shutting down your Mac will close all programs and documents.
  2. Press the following key combo: Control ^ + Option ⌥ + Command ⌘ + Power button (or Control + Option + Command + Eject key on Macs with an eject key instead of a power button).
macbook pro command option control power
  1. A dialog box will appear, asking if you want to shut down your computer. Click the Shut Down button or press the Enter key to confirm.
  2. Your Mac will begin the shutdown process, and once it completes, the screen will turn off, and the computer will no longer be running.

3. Force Quit All Apps

Force-quitting apps can help shut down your Mac in certain situations where unresponsive or problematic applications prevent a smooth shutdown. When you force quit an app, you forcibly terminate its processes, allowing your Mac to close the application and free up system resources.

Here’s how to force-quit apps on Mac:

  1. Press the following keyboard shortcut: Option ⌥ + Command ⌘ + Esc.
macbook pro option command esc
  1. The Force Quit Applications window will appear, displaying a list of currently running applications.
apps currently open in force quit window
  1. Find the app you want to force quit from the list. Select the application by clicking it once. Click the Force Quit button in the bottom-right corner of the window.
force quit any processes that are causing problems
  1. A confirmation dialog will appear, asking if you want to force quit the selected application. Click Force Quit to proceed.
confirm by clicking force quit
  1. The application will be forcefully terminated, closing all its associated processes.
  2. If you want to force quit multiple applications simultaneously, hold down the Command ⌘ key while clicking the desired applications and tap the Force Quit button.

Please note that force-quitting applications should be used as a last resort, as it may result in losing unsaved work. I recommend saving your work before force-quitting apps.

4. Press and Hold the Power Button

Another quick solution is to press and hold the Power button to force your Mac to shut down. However, this should be a last resort as it can lead to data loss if any apps are running or files are open.

Follow these steps to shut down your Mac by pressing the Power button:

  1. Locate the power button on your Mac. The placement of the power button varies depending on the model:
    • 🖥️ Desktop Macs (iMac, Mac Pro): The power button is usually on the computer’s back.
    • 💻 MacBook Pro, MacBook Air: The power button is typically on the top-right corner of the keyboard.
    • 👩🏽‍💻 MacBook: The power button is integrated into the keyboard in the top-right corner above the Delete key.
  2. Save important work and close all applications.
  3. Position your finger on the power button and press and hold it for about 5-10 seconds. You should feel a slight resistance when pressing the button.
macbook pro touch id
  1. Keep holding the power button until your Mac completely turns off. You may see the screen go blank, and Mac’s fans and other indicators will stop running.
  2. After your Mac has shut down, release the power button.

Only use this method to shut down your Mac if other methods have failed or your Mac has become unresponsive. I recommend using the regular shutdown procedure or force quit applications before resorting to a forced shutdown with the power button.

5. Reset the SMC

The System Management Controller (SMC) governs many low-level functions on your Mac. Resetting the SMC can resolve power-related issues, so if your Mac won’t shut down, you can try resetting the SMC.

The process to reset the SMC varies depending on your Mac model. Below, I’ve shared the steps to reset the SMC on your Mac:

a. With a Removable Battery

  1. Shut down your Mac. 
click the apple icon and select shut down
  1. Remove your MacBook’s battery.
remove mac s battery
  1. Press and hold the Power button for 5 seconds while the battery is removed.
press and hold the power button on your mac
  1. Release the Power button and reinstall the battery.
reinstall macs battery 1
  1. Turn on your Mac by pressing the Power button.
press and hold the power button on your mac

b. With Non-Removable Battery

  1. Tap the Apple icon and select Shut Down from the drop-down menu.
click the apple icon and select shut down
  1. Press and hold the Shift ⇧ + Control ^ + Option ⌥ keys with the power button for 10 seconds.
macbook air power shift control option keys
  1. Release all the keys and press the power button to turn on your MacBook.

6. Reset the PRAM/NVRAM

Parameter RAM (PRAM) or non-volatile RAM (NVRAM) stores certain settings your Mac uses during startup. Resetting these can fix various issues, including problems with shutting down.

Follow these steps to reset the NVRAM or PRAM on your Mac:

  1. Turn off your Mac.
  2. Press the power button to turn on your Mac.
macbook air touch id
  1. Press and hold the Option ⌥ + Command ⌘ + P + R keys simultaneously on your Mac’s keyboard before the gray screen appears.
macbook air option command p r keys
  1. Hold the keys until your Mac restarts, and you hear the startup chime twice or see the Apple logo appear and disappear twice.
  2. Release the keys and let your Mac start up normally.

If you have an M1 or M2 Mac, you don’t need a keyboard combo to reset the NVRAM. It happens automatically during the restart.

7. Try the Safe Boot

Safe Boot starts your Mac in a basic state with only the necessary software. It helps check if any startup items are causing the shutdown issue. The steps to enter Safe Mode differ depending on your Mac model.

You can follow the steps below to boot your Mac into Safe Mode, depending on your model:

Apple Silicon Mac

  1. Click the Apple icon and choose Shut Down from the drop-down menu.
click the apple icon and select shut down
  1. Wait for your Mac to shut down completely, and press the Power button to turn it on.
macbook air touch id 2
  1. Keep holding the Power button until you see the Loading startup options screen.
loading startup options screen on mac
  1. Select a volume from the options.
select a volume
  1. Press and hold the Shift ⇧ key and click Continue in Safe Mode.
macbook air shift key 1
  1. Your Mac will restart automatically, and you will see Safe Boot in the menu bar when the login screen appears.
safe boot mode on mac 1

Intel-Based Mac

  1. Restart or turn on your Mac and press and hold the Shift ⇧ key immediately.
macbook air shift key 2
  1. Keep holding the Shift ⇧ key until you see the login screen.
  2. Release the Shiftkey and log in to your Mac.
  3. You’ll see Safe Boot in the menu bar on your first or second login window.
safe boot mode on mac 2

8. Repair Disk With Disk Utility

Repairing the disk with Disk Utility can potentially fix certain issues that could be causing a “Mac won’t shut down” problem. Disk Utility is a built-in macOS tool that allows you to verify and repair disk errors, file system inconsistencies, and permissions problems.

Here’s how to repair your Mac’s startup disk with Disk Utility:

  1. Before you repair your startup disk, back up your data on Mac.
  2. To repair the startup disk on your Mac, boot it into Recovery Mode. Follow the steps below, depending on the model, to boot your Mac into Recovery Mode:

    Apple Silicon Mac

    1. Shut down your Mac.
    2. Press the Power button to restart your Mac.
    macbook air touch id 3
    1. Keep holding down the Power button until the startup options page appears. Select Options.
    click options on startup options page
    1. If prompted, provide your administrator password to log in to your user account.

    Intel-Based Mac

    1. Shut down your Mac.
    2. Press the Power button to start up your Mac.
    macbook air touch id
    1. Immediately press and hold the Command ⌘ + R keys.
    macbook air command r keys
    1. Keep holding both keys until the macOS Recovery screen appears.
    macos recovery screen
    1. If prompted, provide your administrator password to log in to your user account.

    After booting your Mac into Recovery Mode, start repairing your disk by following these steps:

    1. Click Disk Utility on the macOS Recovery screen and tap Continue.
    select disk utility from macos recovery screen 1
    1. Click the View icon in the top left corner and select Show All Devices from the drop-down menu.
    click the view icon and select show all devices 1
    1. You’ll see all connected disks, containers, and volumes on your Mac in the left-hand sidebar. The order is Disk Container Volume, with each level nested inside the previous one.
    disk container volumes in disk utility
    1. Select the volume, container, or disk you want to repair from the sidebar.
    2. Click the First Aid button at the top of Disk Utility.
    select startup disk and click first aid 1
    1. Click Run on the pop-up window. You may be asked to enter your administrator password.
    click run on the first aid prompt 1
    1. Wait for First Aid to complete, and then click Done. Repeat these steps for the next volume, container, or disk.
    2. After repairing all of the disks on your Mac, go to Apple Restart from the menu bar and restart your Mac.
    click the apple icon and select restart

      9. Run Apple Diagnostics

      Running Apple Diagnostics, also known as Apple Hardware Test (AHT) or Apple Diagnostics, is a built-in tool on Mac computers that allows you to diagnose and detect hardware issues. While it is primarily used to identify hardware problems, it may indirectly help with certain software-related issues causing a “Mac won’t shut down” problem.

      To run Apple Diagnostics on Mac, follow these steps:

      On Apple Silicon Mac

      1. Disconnect all peripheral devices except the keyboard, mouse, Ethernet, display, and power cable.
      2. Turn off your Mac.
      3. Power on your Mac and continue holding 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. Unplug 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 on your keyboard 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 initiated, completing it usually takes 2-5 minutes.
      2. You’ll see a report listing any issues detected when the test completes. If you see an error message or reference code, note it and contact Apple Support for further assistance.
      report listing any issues detected
      1. To re-run the test, click Run the Test Again or press Command ⌘ + R.
      press Command R
      1. If you don’t want to repeat the test, click Restart or Shut Down.
      click Restart or Shut Down

          10. Use a Terminal Command to Force Shut Down

          Using a terminal command to force shut down your Mac can be helpful in situations where the regular shutdown process is unresponsive or not working. Here’s how you can use a terminal command to force shut down your Mac:

          1. Launch the Terminal application. You can find it in the Utilities folder within the Applications folder. Alternatively, you can use Spotlight (press Command ⌘ + Spacebar) and search for Terminal.
          type terminal in spotlight search
          1. In the Terminal window, type the following command and press Enter:
          sudo shutdown -h now
          type the shut down command in terminal
          1. You will be prompted to enter your administrator password. Type your password (you won’t see the characters as you type) and press Enter.
          2. The command will initiate the shutdown process immediately without confirmation.
          3. Wait for a few moments, and your Mac should force shut down.

          Using the command line shuts down your Mac immediately. There are no confirmations, warning dialogs, pauses to save documents, or prompts to close apps and save work. So, save everything you need before shutting down your Mac.

          11. Identify and Troubleshoot Problematic Apps

          If your Mac won’t shut down still, a problematic app may be the culprit. Sometimes, certain applications can interfere with the shutdown process, causing delays, errors, or preventing the Mac from shutting down altogether.

          Identifying and troubleshooting problematic apps on your Mac can help fix this issue. Once identified, you can either update these apps, reinstall them, or remove them if necessary.

          You can use MacKeeper to update apps on your Mac. Here’s how:

          1. Download MacKeeper on your Mac.
          2. Launch MacKeeper and click the Update Tracker tab in the left sidebar.
          click update tracker under performance 1
          1. Click Scan for Updates.
          click scan for updates 1
          1. MacKeeper will scan your Mac for outdated apps and display a list. To select an app, check the little box next to it or click Check All to select all apps.
          select individual apps or click check all 1
          1. Click Update All.
          click update all in update tracker 1
          1. Wait for the updates to complete. This can take a while, depending on the number and size of updates.
          wait for the updates to complete
          1. You’ll get an Update Completed notification. Click Rescan if you want to update more apps. 
          click rescan to run the scan again 1

          If you don’t have MacKeeper, you can follow these steps to check app updates in the App Store:

          1. Click the Apple menu in the top left corner of the screen and select App Store.
          click the apple icon and select app store
          1. Click the Updates tab in the App Store window.
          click updates in the left sidebar 1
          1. You will see a list of apps with available updates.
          available app updates in app store

          With MacKeeper’s Smart Uninstaller, you can get rid of problematic apps in just a few clicks. Follow these steps to uninstall apps on your Mac:

          1. Download and install MacKeeper on your Mac.
          2. After installation, launch MacKeeper and click the Smart Uninstaller in the left-hand menu.
          click smart uninstaller in the left sidebar 2
          1. Click Start Scan.
          click start scan in smart uninstaller 1
          1. Select the applications you want to delete from the list and click Remove Selected.
          select the applications you want to remove and click remove selected
          1. Tap the Remove button on the pop-up to confirm the deletion.
          click remove on the pop up window in smart uninstaller 2
          1. MacKeeper will uninstall the apps and remove associated files and folders. You will get a Removal Completed notification. If you want to scan your Mac again, click Rescan.
          click rescan in smart uninstaller 3

          What Else Can MacKeeper Do?

          Besides updating and uninstalling apps on your Mac, MacKeeper can free up RAM on your Mac, manage login items, and stop annoying ads. Read my detailed MacKeeper review to learn about its features in detail.

          12. Boot Your Mac Into Recovery Mode

          Booting your Mac into Recovery Mode can potentially fix the “Mac won’t shut down” issue by allowing you to perform various troubleshooting and repair actions. Recovery Mode provides tools to diagnose problems on your Mac and reinstall macOS if needed.

          Here’s how to boot your Mac into Recovery Mode:

          1. Click the Apple menu in the top-left corner of the screen and select Shut Down.
          click the apple icon and select shut down
          1. Press the power button to turn on your Mac. Wait for the startup chime, then immediately press and hold the Command ⌘ + R keys on your keyboard until the Apple logo appears on the screen. It indicates your Mac is booting into Recovery Mode.
          press Command R
          1. The window provides a range of utilities to troubleshoot and repair your Mac. You can select the utility you want to use from the macOS Utilities window to troubleshoot and repair your Mac.

          If you’ve tried every other solution, but your Mac won’t shut down, your system may have a hardware issue. Here’s how fixing hardware-related issues can help:

          1. ⚡️ Power Supply Problems: Inadequate or unstable power supply can cause various issues, including problems with shutting down. Ensure your Mac is connected to a reliable power source and the power adapter or battery is functioning properly.
          2. 🔧 Faulty or Failing Hardware Components: Hardware components such as the logic board, memory (RAM), storage drive, or other internal components can develop faults over time. These faults can lead to instability during the shutdown process.
          3. 🖥️ Peripheral Device Interference: Connected peripherals or external devices can sometimes cause issues with shutting down. Disconnect all external devices, such as USB devices, external drives, printers, and other peripherals, and attempt a shutdown.
          4. 💾 Memory Issues: Faulty or insufficient memory (RAM) can cause various issues, including problems with shutting down. Ensure your Mac has enough RAM for your running applications and processes. Consider upgrading the RAM on your Mac if it is insufficient or experiencing issues.

          14. Let Your Mac Cool Down

          avoid extreme temperatures

          Overheating can affect your Mac’s performance and stability, including the shutdown process. You must prevent your Mac from overheating, or it may not shut down correctly.

          Ensure your Mac is properly ventilated, and clear out dust or debris from the vents or cooling system. Use third-party apps to check your Mac’s temperature and ensure it is within safe limits.

          15. Unplug Peripherals

          Unplugging peripherals can potentially fix the shutdown issue by eliminating any interference or conflicts caused by external devices. Here’s how unplugging peripherals can help:

          1. Certain peripherals, such as USB devices, external drives, printers, or other connected devices, may not be fully compatible with your Mac, or their drivers may cause conflicts during the shutdown process.
          2. Sometimes, incompatible or outdated drivers for peripherals can interfere with the proper shutdown of your Mac. By disconnecting the peripherals, you can confirm if they are the source of the problem.
          3. Certain peripherals may draw excessive power from your Mac or cause power fluctuations, affecting the shutdown process. By disconnecting these peripherals, you can eliminate potential power-related issues and ensure a clean shutdown.

          To unplug peripherals, follow these steps:

          1. Shut down your Mac completely.
          2. Disconnect any peripherals or external devices connected to your Mac, such as USB devices, external drives, printers, scanners, or other devices.
          unplug your macbooks charger
          1. Leave the peripherals disconnected.
          2. Power on your Mac and attempt to shut it down.

          If your Mac shuts down properly after unplugging the peripherals, it indicates that one or more disconnected devices were causing the problem.

          To further troubleshoot, reconnect the peripherals individually, and observe if the shutdown issue reoccurs after connecting a specific device. This will identify the problematic peripheral, and you can focus on updating its drivers or seeking support for compatibility issues.

          Power Off Your Mac In No Time

          Now that you know what to do if your Mac won’t shut down, you may want to know more about Mac startup and shutdown issues. Here are a few tips to get you started:

          Frequently Asked Questions

          1. Why is my Mac not shutting down properly?

            Your Mac may not shut down properly due to several reasons. Some common causes include software issues, unresponsive apps, background processes, updates in progress, hardware peripherals, file or system corruption, and conflicts with kernel extensions or third-party software.

          2. How can I force quit unresponsive apps to help shut down my Mac?

            You can force quit unresponsive apps to help shut down your Mac using the keyboard shortcut: Option ⌥ + Command ⌘ + Esc. It will open the Force Quit Applications window. From there, select the problematic app and click Force Quit to terminate it forcefully.

          3. How do I force my Mac to shut down without the power button?

            To force your Mac to shut down without using the power button, you can use a keyboard shortcut. Press Control ⌃ + Option ⌥ + Command ⌘ + Power button simultaneously. This will prompt a dialog box asking if you want to shut down your computer. Click Shut Down or press Enter to confirm.

          Emman Zahid


          Emman is a MacBook and Apple enthusiast with a strong foundation in Computer Science. Her passion for Apple products started during her college years when he got her first MacBook. Over the years, he has built profound expertise in the Apple ecosystem, which he has eloquently shared through writings featured in tech publications such as Laptop251, NotJustLaptops, and TechanZone. Furthermore, marketing giants like OptinMonster, TrustPulse, and WPRocket have leveraged her insights. Emman's strength lies in simplifying complex technical details into understandable information for both tech experts and novices. He currently contributes to the MacBook Journal, ensuring her pieces are accurate, detailed, and engaging. Outside of writing, Emman continues to explore Apple's innovations, always eager to discover and share new insights with fellow Apple enthusiasts.



          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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