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)

297 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?

  13. Rdv

    Thanks for the advice, i got my macbook working again!

  14. Sanj

    thank you thank you thank you

    life saver, option, command, P and R worked a treat

  15. Hi,

    One day I connected the DVI to the TV, next day I turned on the computer and had the black screen of doom.

    I have Mavericks installed on a late 2011 15 inches MacBook Pro, instead of looking for answers in the forums I made an appointment to the apple store Genius Bar, this was the diagnosis:

    Data transfer: not required
    Issue: Customer reports computer will not boot
    Steps to reproduce: Observed extremely dim apple logo which flashes off, no post chime, however internal fans spin
    Proposed resolution: Send to repair facility to replace all necessary components
    Cosmetic condition: Colorful keycap covers and clamshell totoro sticker, scratches on bottom case and clamshell
    Estimated Turn Around Time: We’ll call you in 3 – 5 days
    Mac OS version: Unknown
    Hard Drive Size: unkno
    Memory size: unkno
    iLife Version: unkno

    Employe: ——–

    Repair Estimate
    Flat rate repair charge, pbg4/mbp15″ $210
    Labor charge, Pbg4/mbp15″. $100

    Total (Tax not included). $310

    One coworker told us that it was a mistake to take the computer to the Apple store, that most likely we will be ripped off. I called apple store to cancel my repair order, fortunately I was on time before it was sent to the repair depot.

    I got it back, and then browsed online for similar problems of other users, fortunately I found this post, I tried the solution “Command – Option – P – R” after starting the computer to reset the NVRAM and PRAM, and it worked!

    The solution took no more than 5 minutes, I tried it 2 times I think, and my computer started working again, I heard the sound at the start and the screen was bright again. No data lost, memory and hd in perfect conditions.

    So the Genius Bar diagnosis was wrong, and the community is right.

  16. Linda

    Restarting in Safe Mode worked for me!!!
    Thank you very much for the tip.

  17. liz

    Does this work more than once a day? I really need to know quickly so I can get it back running again.

  18. nazim

    hi guys,
    im new to apple computer, recently bought used macbook pro 15, model a1226. it worked fine for few days and i loved it. now, after couple of days, im turning it on but screen is black, no light in back apple logo either.
    everything was grand until i bought this carbon fibre casing for it online and put it on. since then it is turning on startup sound, caps lock light but screen is black.
    i tried all the option guys mentioned in the post, c.o.r.p, shiftPOWER but no use.
    being a student i can not afford to pay apple repair charges.
    any help be appreciated.

  19. ferrari


  20. Tanya

    Thank you!!!! Holding the shift button worked!

  21. anum

    i have mac book pro.i had been using it since two years but today when i was working on it and i have sleep it for a while then upon restarting i have a screen whose clours are changing like it first have white then red , green ,blue, then grey and white grey designing.and the colours repeat…!!! why it happen if anybody help to sought it out?

  22. Aubrey

    Thank you this worked!

  23. Johanna

    Thank you from Oslo! Holding down the Shift key worked for me.

  24. Rob Taussig

    I have an old “eMac” with issues.
    The Mac powers up, however, the screen is black and it has a pulsating light which appears to be sending an “SOS” singnal.
    Any solutions ?????

  25. Yanet

    Thanks for your help really appreaciate it

  26. David Endl

    When I plug my MacBook in I have light to laptop and what I believe to be the sleep light in right front corner. Screen stays black but I can hear the drives. I do not get numbers lock light nor the cap lock light. No apple light on back cover lid. Seems likemmonitor and key board are not connected ? Can you please help thank you for your time

  27. Philly Rob

    Got the infamous Black Screen. I tried holding the shift key, toggling the F1-F2 and finally tried the Command – Option – P – R. To no avail, nothing seems to bring my screen back. Any other suggestions to correct this problem? Thanks

  28. super

    I need help also. I’ve tried everything above. My screen stays gray. I can see the mouse. But that’s it. Can anyone help????

  29. Stephen

    This worked thanks

  30. Rob

    Worked. Thanks!

  31. Ron

    I also had a black screen with sounds and only keyboard lights after my late model 2007 MacBook Pro running OS X 10.9.4 went to sleep and never woke up.
    I tried shift + restart first, but it didn’t work. I tried the command- option-P-R reset and at first it only sounded like it just kept restarting, but still no screen. I turned it off and let it sit for about 5 minutes and tried the command- option-P-R reset again and it came back on.

    Thanks this really saved me !

  32. Rico

    Got the same problem nothing from the above worked tried switching and changing the RAM still no go. ANYONE??

  33. Timothy

    Hope this helps. The people who are having no luck with the solutions provided on this page.
    I plugged in my mouse and My screen went black. Technically a deep charcoal grey as I could see a black apple symbol on the screen during startup.
    I turned off computer, waited a bit and tried again. No luck. I found this cool site/page when looking for solutions.
    I tried the shift startup option. I was not ballsy enough to try the second option to of apple p,r. kinda glad I didn’t.

    In panic fear and anger (I personally hate macs but my girlfriend really wanted one.) I contacted support. They went through a series of questions. Stumped the tech asked me to press f2 and adjust the brightness. Worked like a charm!
    Somehow someway plugging in the mouse lowered the brightness. perhaps some other functions caused a similar effect for you folks. Before you try anything else technical, check your brightness to rule that out then continue to other recommendations. F2

  34. Ron

    I have been having the black screen problem with my 15 inch 2008 model Macbook pro. I would shut it down or it would go to sleep and it would not wake up. The computer and keyboard would run but no screen. I first checked the F2 button, but it did nothing. I then tried the shift button restart, but it did not work. I tried the“Command – Option – P – R” and at first it did not work. I tried it a few more times and the screen lit up again. However, the problem continued to happen and became harder to wake up using“Command – Option – P – R”. Until no mater what I did, it would no longer wake up.

    Possible Solution ….. not sure..

    Then, I don’t know what made me think of this, but for some reason I shut it down and held down the sleep indicator or latch release button on the front of my computer as I restarted it and it beeped and woke up immediately. So far I have not had the problem again to test if this was the problem.

  35. Ron

    Sorry, one step forgot to mention. I pressed the apple control key +the sleep button latch indicator + start button.

  36. Chris

    Wow this really sucks. This happened to my MBPr 15inch 2012 model today. The only thing I noticed that there was some updates to the OS. I am not sure if it’s due to that or to a crappy broken retina screen? I tried everything and nothing works. Sometimes I get lucky and it turns on, 90% of the time it stays black.

    Can’t believe these retina screens crap out just a little over a year and some…..

    Very disappointed. Contacting apple about this, hopefully they replace e screen.

  37. cihan

    hello, I switched on my computer and it started to have the colours red, blue, and green for a while. Then I siwtched off and restart again. It did the same. I switched on again and see my screen is black, and the apple logo on the behind does not work anymore. I am sooo upset. I do not know what to do. I tried the solutions like holding shift, and alt+cmd+p+r but it did not work at all. could you please advise me abou twhat to do?

  38. remo


  39. Melissa

    Hey, I’ve OBVIOUSLY tried the brightness keys before ANYTHING else. I’ve tried the shift option when starting…NOTHING AND I’ve tried the command option PR to no avail (it did restart my computer. I’ve removed the back and unhooked the unhookables and RE Hooked them (this worked for me before) but that didn’t work. I did not try the PMU because it has nothing to do with the screen (from what I read). I’ve had this computer (MacBook Pro) since ~October 2011. PLEASE help…I’m at my wits end and almost ready to purchase a…dreaded PC!!!!!

    My screen seems to come up randomly, in flashes with NO rhyme or reason, no regular time intervals. HELP :)

  40. marcel


  41. David

    This works! Phew!

  42. Kristina

    Thank you the shift key worked for me. Before this I was holding down control, command, and power button down for 3 seconds and it would work, but then that stopped being effective

  43. Anon123

    Thank you! The holding down the shift key worked for me as well!

  44. Hello guys...

    No trick is working on my Macbook Pro :-( What I do…?

    Screen is not turning ON..!! :-( while sometimes process gets on but without any screen… !

  45. Marisol

    Neither the shift power or the option command PR worked for me the screen comes on bright white with the apple on screen atarting then when it’s done it goes back to black

  46. MG

    Connecting an external screen with the mac powered on,force shutdown and then normal boot solved it for me!

  47. Dj Bill Kenya

    It worked! Thanks a lot


Leave a Reply