How to Reset PRAM and NVRAM on Mac Featured Image

How to Reset PRAM and NVRAM on Mac: A Step By Step Guide

Easily reset PRAM and NVRAM on your Mac with this step-by-step guide.

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Last updated: December 8, 2023

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TL;DR

To reset PRAM and NVRAM on Mac, follow these steps for your respective model::

  1. On Intel-based Macs: Press and hold the Option ⌥ + Command ⌘ + P + R keys until your Mac restarts and you hear the startup chime twice.
  2. For a Mac with the T2 Security Chip: Keep holding the Option ⌥ + Command ⌘ + P + R keys until the Apple logo appears and disappears twice.
  3. For Apple Silicon Macs (M1, M2), NVRAM resets automatically if needed during restart.

I’ve been using a Mac for years and have run into some weird problems, like my keyboard not working or fan being too loud. Usually basic troubleshooting fixes these issues, but last month, my Mac’s audio was acting up and I couldn’t fix it with regular methods. That’s when I found that resetting the PRAM and NVRAM can easily resolve these issues. So, in this guide, I’m going to show you how to reset PRAM and NVRAM on Mac.

Before We Begin

Before resetting NVRAM/PRAM on your Mac, download MacKeeper and use its Memory Cleaner. This feature helps eliminate problematic factors and frees up available RAM which often resolves Mac performance issues.

What Is NVRAM and PRAM?

NVRAM, or Non-Volatile Random Access Memory, retains your Mac’s info even when it’s powered off. Alternatively, PRAM, short for Parameter Random Access Memory, is a subset of NVRAM. It focuses on specific settings, like sound volume, display resolution, and time zone.

NVRAM and PRAM work together as a dynamic duo, making sure your Mac remembers essential settings and preferences, even when it’s taking a power nap.

Before You Reset PRAM and NVRAM

Resetting your Mac’s NVRAM and PRAM should be a last resort. I’ve done it just once when other methods failed. First, try simpler fixes like clearing RAM to speed up your Mac. MacKeeper is great for this, helping manage memory usage efficiently.

Here’s how to free up your Mac’s RAM with MacKeeper:

  1. Download MacKeeper and install it on your Mac.
  2. Open Memory Cleaner in the Performance section of MacKeeper.
select memory cleaner under performance
  1. Click Open.
click open in the memory cleaner
  1. You’ll see your Mac’s available memory. Click Clean Memory to free up available memory without restarting your Mac.
click clean memory
  1. When the cleanup completes, you’ll see how much memory you have freed.
memory cleaned after a cycle

What Else Can MacKeeper Do?

Besides freeing up memory, MacKeeper is a great tool for clearing cache files, removing login items, and uninstalling unnecessary applications. Check out my detailed MacKeeper review to learn more about all its features.

How to Reset PRAM and NVRAM on Mac

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If cleaning up your Mac’s memory hasn’t solved the problem, it might be time to tackle a PRAM and NVRAM reset. This process is pretty straightforward, though it involves a bit of quick action with your keyboard during startup.

The steps for resetting PRAM or NVRAM depend on whether your Mac has an Intel or an Apple Silicon processor. Below, I’ll walk you through how to reset PRAM and NVRAM for both Mac types.

Reset PRAM and NVRAM on Macs With Intel Processors

Older PowerPC Mac models have PRAM, while their Intel-based cousins have NVRAM. But don’t worry about figuring out which one your Mac has because they’re practically like twins when it comes to resetting them. The process is the same for both.

Here are the steps:

  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. Keep holding the keys until your Mac restarts and you hear the startup chime twice. If you have a Mac with the T2 Security Chip, keep holding the keys until the Apple logo appears and disappears twice.
  2. Release the keys and let your Mac start up normally.

Resetting NVRAM or PRAM on Macs With Apple Silicon Processors

M1 and M2 Macs simplify the NVRAM reset process – they do it automatically. If your M1 or M2 Mac needs an NVRAM reset, it’ll handle it during a restart, no key combinations required.

To check your M1 Mac’s NVRAM, just shut down your Mac and then turn it back on.

Before considering an NVRAM/PRAM reset for any Mac issues, I suggest you try other troubleshooting methods, like resetting the System Management Controller (SMC) or using the Disk Utility. These methods might resolve your problems without a full NVRAM/PRAM reset.

When Should You Reset the PRAM or NVRAM?

Resetting PRAM or NVRAM can be a nifty solution to fixing issues related to sound volume, display resolution, and your time zone settings. Here are some situations where you may need to reset PRAM and NVRAM:

  1. 🔊 Inconsistent or unresponsive audio volume on your Mac: If you notice that the sound volume fluctuates or doesn’t respond to adjustments, it could be related to the PRAM settings. This is why I reset Mac NVRAM.
  2. ❓ Unspecified Mac boot volume (a question mark may appear before your Mac boots up): When your Mac cannot find the startup disk, you might see a flashing question mark before it boots, indicating a possible PRAM issue.
  3. 🖱️ Unusual mouse scrolling and clicking speeds: If your mouse behaves erratically, with scrolling and clicking speeds being too fast or too slow, a PRAM reset can fix your abnormal Mac mouse scrolling and clicking.
  4. ⌨️ Erratic keyboard behavior: Unresponsive keys, incorrect character inputs, or unexpected key repetitions could point to a need for resetting your Mac’s PRAM or NVRAM.
  5. ⏰ Inaccurate Mac clock or time zone settings: If your Mac consistently displays the wrong time or time zone despite correcting the settings, a PRAM reset might resolve the issue.
  6. 🖥️ Unchangeable or automatically changing display resolution on your Mac: Difficulty adjusting your Mac’s display resolution or experiencing unwanted automatic changes could indicate a problem with the PRAM or NVRAM settings.
  7. 🧊 Mac not starting up correctly or freezing during boot: If your Mac struggles to start up, freezes, or takes longer than usual to boot, resetting the PRAM or NVRAM could potentially help.
  8. 🛠️ Mac not recognizing newly installed hardware, such as RAM or a hard drive: When your Mac fails to acknowledge new hardware components, it might be due to incorrect PRAM or NVRAM settings.
  9. 🔧 Recent changes to your Mac’s firmware settings causing issues: Sometimes, after updating or altering your Mac’s firmware settings, you might encounter issues that can be resolved by resetting the PRAM or NVRAM.

Remember, resetting PRAM or NVRAM should be done cautiously and typically after other troubleshooting steps have been attempted.

Best Practices for Resetting NVRAM or PRAM

Resetting your Mac’s NVRAM or PRAM can be a game-changer for troubleshooting, but it’s a tool to use wisely. Here’s my take on the best practices to ensure you’re doing it right and only when necessary:

  • ⚙️ Avoid Unnecessary Resets: I’ve learned through experience that you should only reset PRAM and NVRAM when you’ve hit a wall with other fixes, or you need to revert to default settings. Unneeded resets can sometimes do more harm than good, affecting your Mac’s performance.
  • 🛠️ Try Basic Troubleshooting First: Before resetting NVRAM/PRAM, try other troubleshooting steps. I often start with a system restart, then use a memory cleaner to clear out the clutter, or run a Disk Utility scan. These steps can often clear up issues without needing to reset PRAM and NVRAM.
  • 💾 Backup Your Files: This is crucial. Always back up your files before a reset. I’ve seen cases where a reset leads to data loss, and having a backup is your safety net. Use Time Machine or your preferred backup software to secure your data.
  • 🚨 Follow Model-Specific Instructions: Each Mac model and processor type has its own reset method. Make sure you’re following the right steps for your specific Mac to avoid any complications.
  • 👨‍💼 When in Doubt, Consult an Expert: If you’re unsure or if something goes wrong, reach out to Apple Repair or a certified Apple technician. They’ve been a lifesaver for me in tricky situations and can ensure your reset goes smoothly.

The Bottom Line

Resetting NVRAM and PRAM can fix those pesky display, sound, and system setting issues on your Mac. And, since we’re on a roll here, let’s go the extra mile and make your Mac experience even more amazing with these awesome tips:

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What does resetting NVRAM/PRAM do?

    Resetting NVRAM/PRAM clears old system settings and preferences and restores default ones. It can resolve issues related to display, sound, and other system settings and improve overall system performance.

  2. Will resetting NVRAM/PRAM delete any of my files or data?

    No, resetting NVRAM/PRAM will not delete any of your files or data. However, it’s always a good idea to back up your important files and data before resetting NVRAM/PRAM to avoid data loss.

  3. How often should I reset NVRAM/PRAM?

    You should only reset NVRAM/PRAM if you’re experiencing issues or need to restore default settings and preferences. Don’t reset it unnecessarily. It’s also a good idea to try other troubleshooting steps first, such as resetting your SMC or running disk utility, before resetting NVRAM/PRAM.

  4. Will resetting NVRAM/PRAM affect macOS updates?

    Resetting NVRAM/PRAM will not cause issues with updating your Mac’s operating system. However, following the correct steps after resetting NVRAM/PRAM is important to ensure a smooth update process.

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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