What to Dо if Yоur Mac Doesn't Turn on or Start up?

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15 / 11 / 2017

What to Dо if Yоur Mac Doesn't Turn on or Start up?

A friend of mine has a 2011 iMac. He had been using it without any regrets or technical issues for quite a long time. One day he called me in panic. His Mac didn’t give any signs of life, and he desperately needed one critical document that was stored on his hard drive. Sooner or later this may happen to everyone, and it’s good to know what to do if your machine doesn’t start up or turn on.

Where to start from?

We have started troubleshooting from determining whether it was a power issue. If you are in the same situation, first press the power button. If there is no startup chime, fan noise or light indicators when you press the Caps Lock button, then your Mac doesn’t turn on. If your machine gives the aforementioned signs of life, then it doesn’t start up. My friend’s Mac didn’t turn on at all. If you are in the same boat, try all tricks that this article describes.

If your Mac doesn’t turn on

Sounds obvious, but you should check the power cable first. Make sure that the connection to the power socket is ok. If it is ok but your machine doesn’t turn on, try a different power cord. The defective power cord may be the culprit. If you’ve recently tried to upgrade your Mac and added RAM or changed your hard drive, make sure that it’s fully compatible. It’s also a good idea to re-install the old memory or hard drive and check if it solves the issue.

System Management Controller reset is your last hope if previously mentioned steps do not give you positive results. This troubleshooting technique is used in various situations. If you are lucky enough, this may work.

To reset the System Management Controller, do the following:

1. Shut down the computer.

2. Disconnect everything from the computer but the power.

3. When the computer is off, press the (left side) Shift-Control-Option keys and power button at the same time. Hold all 4 keys for 5-6 seconds.

4. Release all the keys and the power button at the same time.

5. Press the power button to turn on the computer.

The SMC reset procedure depends on your Mac model. You may find more information here: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201295

If your Mac doesn’t start up

Step 1 Safe Boot

If Mac doesn’t start up, Safe Boot is typically the first thing that comes to my mind. The Safe Mode limits the functionality and makes certain diagnostics.

  1. Turn off your Mac.

  2. Wait for a couple of seconds and press the power button.

  3. When you hear the startup chime, hold down the Shift key.

  4. Wait until you see a usual OS X screen.

  5. Click the Apple logo and choose Restart.

You are lucky if your Mac starts up as usual after Safe Boot. If it didn’t help, try Step 2.

Step 2.  Recovery Mode

It’s possible that some problem is affecting your hard drive if your Mac turns on but doesn’t start up. Disk Utility is the first thing to try in such case. You should run your Mac in the Recovery Mode (turn it off and hold down the Command-R key combination after the startup chime).

After you boot your Mac in the Recovery Mode, do the following:

  1. In the OS X utilities window, select Disk Utility.

  2. Click the name of your Mac’s hard drive in the list.

  3. Find the “Verify Disk” button and click it.

Now you should keep patience until the scan is finished. If no critical issues are indicated, restart your Mac. If the issue is not solved yet, proceed to the next step.

Step 3. Reset NVRAM

This step may resolve a range of issues with your machine. The Non-Violate Random Access Memory (NVRAM) is responsible for a variety of functions. If you experience issues with speakers volume, resolution, or startup disk, NVRAM reset can solve them. This is also a basic troubleshooting step if your machine doesn’t start. Follow these steps to reset NVRAM:

  1. Press the power button to turn off your Mac.

  2. Turn your computer back on.

  3. Press and hold the Command-Option-P-R keys at the same time until the grey screen appears.

  4. Hold down these keys until your Mac restarts and you hear the startup chime for the second time.

  5. Release all the keys.

If you are lucky enough, your machine will start up. If it doesn’t work, don’t give up and try the next step.

Step 4. Target Disk Mode

The Target Disk Mode was a perfect solution in the case with my friend’s unresponsive machine. We successfully transferred the important document to my Mac and saved it. If you have no Time Machine backup and all previous troubleshooting techniques do not solve the issue, then the Target Disk Mode is a good way to rescue important data on your Mac. You’ll need another Mac and a Thunderbolt or FireWire cable.

  1. Connect both machines with the Thunderbolt cable.

  2. Turn on your Mac while holding the “T” key on your keyboard.  

  3. Release the “T” key when the Thunderbolt icon appears.

From this moment a broken Mac starts working like an external drive. You can transfer important files from your Mac and place them on another hard drive. Your important data is rescued now. Time to reinstall OS X.

Step 5. OS X reinstall

OS X reinstall is the last chance for your machine. The Recovery Mode, which was already mentioned, can be used for different purposes. You may also reinstall OS X by using the Recovery Mode. This is a time-consuming procedure, so prepare a cup of your favorite coffee and keep patience.

To reinstall OS X in the Recovery Mode, you should have the valid Internet connection.

  1. Click the Wi-Fi icon at the top of the screen.

  2. Choose your Wi-Fi network.

  3. Enter the password.

Now you can download OS X installer and click “Install Mac OS X”. To find more information about OS X reinstallation, visit this link: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204904

If you’ve already passed through all suggested steps and had no success, schedule the appointment at the Genius Bar. Your Mac is not wasted yet. Hopefully, Apple representatives will find a solution for you.