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How to Fix It When MacBook Screen Goes Black (10 Ways)

MacBooks are among the most trustworthy laptops because of their consistent performance. As trustworthy as they are, you can still run into problems such as app crashes, and your screen can even turn black. Many users struggle with how to fix it when their MacBook screen goes black.

Reboot the System Management Controller when your MacBook screen goes black to fix it. You can do this if you press the Shift, Control, Option, and Power for 10 seconds. This fix works if your screen goes black due to battery problems. Restart your MacBook, reinstall the operating system, or enable safe mode if that doesn’t fix it and your MacBook screen stays black.

You can also fix a black screen on a MacBook if you reset the PRAM and NVRAM because they help control the display settings. Follow along as we explore how to fix it when a MacBook screen goes black.

Why Did My Mac Screen Go Black?

Software Glitches

As reliable as Apple is, your MacBook is still prone to software glitches. This can cause everything from browser crashes and slow video playback to a black screen. If your MacBook screen goes black repeatedly and goes back to working like usual, it could be because the software is outdated.

You must update the macOS software to fix the problem if your screen keeps going black, but you can still access the screen. Open the settings menu on your MacBook when the black screen goes away and select “General”. Scroll down, select “Software Update” and wait for it to install.

Ideally, you should enable automatic updates if the screen goes black from time to time without explanation. Not only will you avoid black screen problems, but your MacBook will perform much faster. Open settings, click on “General”, “Check for Updates”, and click “Download new updates when available.”

Hardware Error

Hardware errors are just as bad for your MacBook as software glitches, if not worse. If your screen goes black, it could be because of a RAM error or a problem with the logic board. A bad hard drive can also explain why the screen goes black on your MacBook.

Unless you have experience with replacing computer parts, you will have the best luck if you bring your MacBook to an Apple store.

Outdated Battery

If your MacBook’s battery is outdated or damaged, your screen can go black. Luckily, your MacBook should warn you that it’s time to replace the battery before it’s too late. If you notice a “Replace soon” notification”, you may want to visit your local Apple store.

The final notification that will appear on your MacBook before the screen goes black or worse says “Replace now”. Not only will the screen go black, but you won’t likely be able to turn your MacBook on or restart it until you replace the battery.

Your MacBook Overheated

Like any computer, your MacBook can overheat from excessive use. This can explain why your MacBook screen goes black, and it’s more common with older batteries. MacBooks are set to shut down when they overheat to avoid further damage.

The best way to keep your MacBook from overheating is to put it on a surface with some ventilation. Laptop stands can prevent overheating. Avoid putting your MacBook on a flat surface that blocks the vents on the bottom of your MacBook.

Water Damage

Water damage can be devastating for your MacBook, and it may be why your screen turned black. If you spill water on your MacBook when the screen is already cracked, you can cause irreversible damage. Bring your MacBook to an Apple store a professional to make sure the screen is the only problem.

If no hardware was damaged and the screen is the only problem, you can replace it at an Apple store.

How to Fix a Black Screen on a MacBook

Reboot the System Management Controller

If your MacBook screen goes black because of battery problems, you must reboot the System Management Controller or SMC. The SMC helps regulate your MacBook’s hardware and battery. First, you must turn off your MacBook and unplug it from the charger unless the battery is dead.

Hold the Shift, Control, Option, and Power keys simultaneously for 10 seconds. Let go of the keys and turn it back on. This will reboot the SMC, and it should help boost your battery’s performance.  

Restart Your MacBook

Luckily, you can restart your MacBook even if the screen goes black. You may simply need to restart your MacBook to fix a macOS glitch that makes the screen turn blank. Press and hold the power button to turn it off, wait a moment, and press it again to restart your MacBook. You must keep troubleshooting if the screen stays black.

Enable Safe Mode

The inclusion of Safe Mode in MacBooks makes it easy to solve many problems, such as a black screen. This feature is Apple’s failsafe mode that simplifies the processing capabilities of your MacBook to get to the root of the problem. As some Redditors pointed out, Safe Mode essentially temporarily disables any unnecessary activity and apps on your MacBook.

You can enable Safe Mode with your keyboard if your screen goes black. Turn on your MacBook and press Shift right away. Hold the Shift key until the login menu appears and let go of it. This will launch Safe Mode, and your MacBook will automatically run a diagnostic test.

From there, you should be able to tell what’s wrong with your MacBook, whether it be the software, hardware, or battery.

Reinstall the Operating System

MacBooks run on macOS which is a powerful and smooth operating system. However, errors can occur that you can only fix if reinstall the software. If your screen goes black and you suspect an operating system error, simply hit the power button, and press the Command and R keys simultaneously.

A menu should appear unless your battery is dead or broken. Click on “Reinstall macOS” to reinstall the operating system. This may take a few minutes, but your screen will no longer appear black if an operating system error caused the problem.

Reset the PRAM and NVRAM

Your MacBook’s PRAM and NVRAM are largely responsible for the display. If your screen goes black, it may simply be because of a glitch with your PRAM and NVRAM. They are responsible for everything from display and resolution to time zone settings and volume controls.

Turn your MacBook off for a moment, then press the power button to turn it back on. Press the Command, Option, P, and R keys simultaneously and hold them until you hear the standard startup sound. This will reset the PRAM and NVRAM as well as restart your MacBook.

Use the Apple Diagnostics Tool

MacBooks come with a diagnostics tool that you can use to help fix nearly any problem with your computer. This diagnostics feature can tell you whether you have a software or hardware problem and help pinpoint the exact issue. With this information, you can figure out which of the fixes in this guide would work for you, or you can simply visit an Apple store and provide them with the test results.

Turn off your MacBook, press the power button, and press D. The Apple diagnostics menu should appear within a few seconds and prompts will appear on the screen that vary based on the problem.

Reach Out to Apple

If your MacBook screen goes black and is unresponsive, you may simply need to reach out to Apple. Apple has a comprehensive support page full of troubleshooting tips. You can also reach Apple team members via email, chat, and phone through the support page.

However, you can save yourself time by visiting an Apple store if none of the fixes mentioned in this guide fix your MacBook. An Apple support team member will likely tell you to visit an Apple store or send your MacBook in if troubleshooting doesn’t work anyway. Otherwise, they may provide the right tip to fix the problem when your MacBook screen goes black.

Check the Battery Health

If your MacBook still works but the screen goes black every so often, you may need to check the battery’s health. This only works if you can access the display on your MacBook and sadly isn’t an option if your screen stays black. Before you can change the power settings, you must turn your MacBook off and back on.

Tap the Apple icon in the top left corner, select “About This Mac”, “More Info”, “General”, and “System Report”. Scroll down, click “Power”, and look under the “Health Information” section. This will tell you your battery’s condition and cycle habits. Replace your battery if the condition says “Poor”.

Clear the Cache

If the screen goes black and goes back to normal intermittently, it may be due to corrupted data. A MacBook’s cache can become full and corrupted, especially if you use many apps and browse the Internet frequently. You can easily clear the cache on a MacBook via the CleanMyMac app.  

Open the app, select “System Junk”, and click “Scan”. It may take a moment for the app to scan your MacBook for junk files and data. After a moment, a list of junk data will appear on your screen. Press “Clean”, and the app will remove the junk data and clean your MacBook’s cache.

Restart your MacBook once the junk data is removed. Your screen should no longer go black if the problem is due to corrupt data.

Adjust the Sleep Settings

Many users who are new to MacBooks panic when the screen goes black after a few minutes. In many cases, this happens because of the sleep settings on your MacBook. MacBooks are automatically set to go to sleep after 2 minutes when the user is inactive.

The screen will appear black when a MacBook goes to sleep, but it will return to normal if you move the mouse or press a key. If 2 minutes is too soon, you can always adjust the sleep settings on your MacBook. Click the Apple icon on the home screen and click “Lock Screen”.

Click next to “Turn display off on battery when inactive” to pull up a list of sleep time options. You can set your MacBook to enter sleep mode from 1 minute to 3 hours of inactivity. However, you can help preserve your battery if you set your MacBook to go to sleep after a reasonable time, like 2-10 minutes.

So, How Do You Fix a Black Screen on a MacBook?

Restart your MacBook or reboot the System Management Controller when your screen goes black. You can also fix this problem if you replace the battery if you recently got a “Replace soon” notification. Otherwise, you can use the Apple diagnostics tool or reset the PRAM and NVRAM on your MacBook to reboot the display settings and fix the black screen.