macbook pro turns on but screen stays black — my solution

Saturday, June 5, 2010 - 1:26 pm
By Colin

The Apple Macbook Pro would turn on, but the screen would not.  The screen would stay black.  I could tell the computer was on because when I hit the “caps lock” key, the green light on the key would turn on and off.

I fixed this the following way (this is basically resetting the Power Management Unit — PMU):

I disconnected the computer from the power cord, and from all other cables.

I held down the power button for several seconds to turn off the computer.

I let it sit 5 minutes.

I restarted the laptop while holding down the Shift key.  This restarted the computer in Safe Mode, with the screen visible again.

After I logged in (in Safe Mode) to make sure everything was ok, I simply restarted the computer the normal way, and the screen behaved normally again.


If that doesn’t work for you, you could try these steps, documented at

Holding down Command, Option, P, and R to reset your PRAM and NVRAM

Resetting PowerBook and iBook Power Management Unit (PMU)

262 Responses to “macbook pro turns on but screen stays black — my solution”

  1. Kim

    Hi, I have Macbook Pro. It turns on chimes and you can see a little light and a faint apple. Tried doing the shift power. Nothing. Tried C, O, P, R and my macbook justs will restart over and over. How long am i supposed to hold down for. Tried inverter didnt help.
    Ty kim

  2. Bev

    My daughter is out of the country and has a problem with her macbook pro. This was purchased Oct 2012 model #A1278 and she discovered today that it is turning on but showing a black screen…we walked her thru all the suggestions posted her and it has not seemed to work….what else could you suggest for this model to avoid have to replace the entire display..UGGGGHH! Thanks so much!

  3. renoes

    Hi, had the same problem here.
    After baking the video card fix on a macbook pro 3.1 2007.

    So, I thought oh no not again! But actually this seems to relate really to some issues with the new mac os x mavericks. Maybe the recent update.

    I was on a flight and without battery it quite felt like the video card did again get crippled. Now when i came back home, first i heard the startup sound again with power connected and nothing on the display. So there was hope, because that was really different to the overheated graphic card syndrome :-).

    How I got it working again was by connecting a monitor to the DVI. I do not know though was that really it, because I also did start it in single mode by pressing shift S during start. But there was nothing on the screen either.
    volume control in normal startup fine and normal hd activity.

    I dont know what it was but after the DVI plugging it works now fine.

    Before I had also a strange screen size that it chose from automatic screen size settings. Maybe it relates to that somehow. Because that is also fine now.

    So, dont give up! Using macbook pro 3.1 on OSX mavericks is quite annoying it seems, because if you once deactivate your WLAN card your in deep trouble to get it on again, because it crashes. Then in safe mode you have to edit the wlan settings. Google it and you’ll find. I hope there will be bug fixes in the future.

    And I would be tempted to say this OS has maybe not been as thoroughly tested as with the newer models, so simply dont give up as easily

  4. Amogh


    Thanks, had the same issue with Mac booting up and Caps key showing on/off but black screen and did the “Command, Option, P, and R” keys to reset the PRAM and NVRAM and this worked fine for me and Mac is now up and running again.


  5. Jann

    You’re awesome! Worked for me! Thank you!

  6. Nigel

    I have what may or May not be a related issue. I run a MacBook Pro A1262 (unibody late ”08). It was running mavericks without issue. After not using it for a week I turned on and nothing. No chime, no screen activity. All I get is an attempt to use the cd drive and fan noise.

    Related or a fried hard drive! Opinions?

  7. Aaron

    My MacBook Pro starts up as far as a fan sound and the front light but no key board lights or screen so I’m not sure what to do any suggestions

  8. Igor

    Thanks alot.
    Like Renoes, my battery went down during my flight and since then, my macbook pro was starting but screen stays black.
    Just did the Cmd Opt P R thing and its working now. Saved me big time. I had a presentation I have to do tomorrow on it.

    Thanks again.

  9. Kayla

    THANK YOU SOOOOOOO MUCH!!!! The holding Shift and power button at the same time worked!!!! :)

  10. Cris

    You are a lifesaver! I loaded the Mavericks update over the weekend and tried to turn on my computer today because I need to take several depositions out of town next week and …. black screen of doom. Thought I was going to have to spend tomorrow trying to find a new computer. Thanks!

  11. Zoli

    I had the same problem too. I fixed it through Disk Utility. Run the ‘Verify Disk’, and after ‘Repair Disk’.
    Of course I had to connect to an other monitor, to see the screen.

    I hope I could help to someone.

  12. DC

    home screen/ password won’t load …. the “Command, Option, P, and R” keys to reset the PRAM and NVRAM did not work…. screen lit up, apple shows, spinner too and bar “filled up, then bar left and spinner just kept spinning. what now?


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