MacBook Pro Screen Black? How to Fix

For many users, a Macbook from Apple is an absolute dream device. No wonder: The devices are robust, durable and have powerful and enduring batteries that are still good after many years. In terms of performance, a Macbook – even in the smallest version – is always snappy enough for everyday tasks thanks to the perfectly tuned macOS operating system. However, even MacBooks are not immune to errors. Sometimes the screen simply stays black. We help with troubleshooting.

How to Fix MacBook Pro Screen Black

In many cases, a black screen on a Macbook is simply the result of an operating error. In principle, however, there can also be a software error. In the worst case, the hardware is not in order, for example because of a broken cable or a burned-out graphics card. Therefore, you should carry out the troubleshooting according to a scheme that slowly moves from the simplest to the most complex possible problem.

Shut down your Macbook (Pro)If you notice that your Macbook Pro only displays a black screen, you should shut down the device first. On older Macbook models without a Touch Bar, such as the Macbook Air, the small Pro, or the 12-inch Macbook, you can simply hold down the power button. The computer will shut down as a result.

On Macbooks with Touch Bar, the procedure is identical: press and hold the Touch Bar power button (far right on the bar) until the device turns off.

Rule out power supply problems. Connect the Macbook to its power adapter. Be sure to take the original power adapter that matches the model: especially for Macbooks with Thunderbolt 3/USB-C charging, the power supply may simply be the cause. Leave the device connected to the power supply for a while and then try to turn it on. If the screen still remains black, you should first move the Macbook to a dark environment and check if the keyboard and screen are lit. Then you can take further steps.

Exclude monitors and hardware as a source of error if you have connected the Macbook (Pro) to external devices, you should disconnect them now: Turn off the Book (step 1) and disconnect all plugs except the power supply. Especially models that only have Thunderbolt-3 or USB-C might think they are attached to an external display when using peripheral devices – and therefore do not show an image on the internal monitor. Do not use hubs, monitors or the like, but only the power supply via the included power adapter. Now turn on the Macbook. If the screen still remains black, you have to search further.

Perform PRAM and SMC reset. In some cases, the cause of a missing display is an incorrect value in the Macbook’s deep system memories. The so-called parameter RAM ("PRAM") and the system management controller ("SMC") take effect even before the operating system starts. Reset the PRAM by holding down the [CMD] + [Option] + [P] + [R] keys while powering on until the Macbook reboots once.

Is there still no display? Then you should try the SMC reset. This is done on current Mac notebooks as follows: While the computer is turned off, hold down the [Shift] + [Ctrl] + [Option] keys and the power button for 10 seconds. On devices with Touch Bar, the Touch ID is the on/off switch. Then release all four keys and turn the Macbook back on. Ideally, everything will now work again.

Exclude a driver problem if the screen remains black, there could be a driver problem. To determine this, you have to boot into the lowest possible operating mode of the macOS system, the so-called single-user mode. This corresponds to the safe mode of a Windows system: First switch off the Mac and then switch it on again. While doing so, hold down the [cmd] + [S] keys. You should now see a command line.

If this is the case, it is probably due to a driver. In this case, you need to restart your Macbook again and press [cmd] + [R] to enter the recovery environment. Here you can reinstall macOS over the existing installation. All data will be preserved, but problematic system extensions will be shut down.

Isolate hardware problems if you do not see an image even in single-user mode, many things point to a hardware problem. The Macbook will probably have to be repaired. However, you should first test where exactly the problem could be. If you have an external monitor at hand, you should connect it to the switched-off Macbook and switch it on. Make sure that the monitor is set to the correct port. Then start the Macbook. If it starts normally on the external monitor, you have narrowed down a hardware problem: The graphics card is apparently fine, but the connection between it and the internal monitor is broken. Possibly there is a cable break. Or the screen itself is defective. If it works out that way, you can at least save some data before sending the Macbook for repair.

The external screen on the Macbook also stays black If the external screen also stays black, there is obviously a bigger problem. Most likely, your Macbook has a major hardware damage that either affects the graphics card – and thus the motherboard, the so-called logic board. However, you should double-check, because maybe just one of the graphics or USB-C/Thunderbolt ports is spinning. Try the display on all ports. Do not forget to shut down the MacBook between plugging in the ports to exclude this source of error.

If everything doesn’t help…

Unfortunately, these measures exhaust the possibilities for self-diagnosis. If you don’t succeed with any of the solutions, there is probably a serious defect and the Macbook needs to be repaired. In this case, take it to your trusted Apple service partner, they will analyze the defect again, find more solutions if necessary and, in the worst case, tell you how much it will cost to fix the damage.

Take a Backup before Hardware Change

Basically, no Macbook – like no Mac in general, by the way – is immune to such failures. So if you want to be on the safe side, you must always make sure that you have an up-to-date Time Machine backup on hand, preferably on an external hard drive with a USB connection. This will allow you to restore a replacement device or a Macbook that may have been deleted during repair at any time. The hardware damage may be bad, but the loss of valuable data is much more serious. Therefore, you should be prepared against it at all times, especially since it also protects you against theft and other hardware damage like hard drive failures. How to create a Time Machine backup of your Mac is explained in this guide.