Sometimes, Mac users may encounter some problems during system boot or when the wake their Mac from sleep state that can cause a panic for them when they see a completely black screen. The problem is quite obvious if you experience it because you will see that the screen stays black, even the computer is obviously awake as often indicated by the keyboard being lit up or even alert sounds triggering from the computer.
This black screen upon sleep wake issue can happen at random. Many users encountered the black screen on wake issue after updating their MacBook to the latest version of MacOS, so although it’s not particularly common it’s also not exceedingly rare.
There is no reason to panic. If you experience an unresponsive black screen when waking your Mac from sleep, you’ll likely be able to resolve the problem with the following troubleshooting steps.
The first idea is that it is a potential hardware problem, which rarely could be a case, but in most cases it’s software issue that can be fixed with some simple troubleshooting steps.
We wanted to share with you some potential ways to solve this issue, and similar problems, in case you encounter a dark screen on system start.
We’ve broken down this troubleshooting guide into solutions from the easiest and most obvious ones to the more complicated.
Solution 1: Check Screen Brightness & Power
Before trying other solutions, check the most common fix for this problem:
- Turn the screen brightness all the way up
- Make sure the Mac is actually powered on
- If the Mac is using an external display, make sure that display is powered on
- Check to make sure the Mac is plugged in to a power source (even a laptop, the battery could be drained)
In most cases the brightness is just turned down low or the computer is actually off and not in sleep mode. Simply turning the brightness up or turning the Mac on will resolve those type of issues quickly.
Solution 2: Power the Mac Off and Back On
The next solution is to turn the Mac off, and then turn it back on. This will in most cases allow you to regain access to the Mac, and it is usually enough to resolve the black screen on wake problem completely. You can force reboot with the following simple instructions:
- Hold down the Power button on the Mac until the computer shuts down
- Wait a few moments and then hold down the Power button on the Mac again until it boots back up again
Sometimes just rebooting the Mac will be enough to fix the issue completely, this is often the case if you encounter the black screen on wake after updating Mac system software.
Solution 3: Reset the System Management Controller to Fix the Black Screen
The first thing you should do to fix almost every power related problem on a Mac is to reset the System Management Controller. This will reset preferences for anything related to power management. This is known for resolving problems with things like heat, fans, sleeping issues, and most importantly, display issues.
On any recent MacBook Air or MacBook Pro with a built-in battery, this is how you do it:
- Shut down the Mac and connect it to your MagSafe adapter and a wall outlet
- Hold the Shift+Control+Option+Power button at the same time for a couple seconds
- Release all keys at the same time
- Boot the Mac
When the Mac boots, hopefully the black screen has gone away and you’re back to normal, but if it doesn’t work, you can try with the next solution.
Solution 4: Try a Keypress Sequence to Fix the Black Screen on Mac
Here’s the exact sequence to do in order to fix the black screen:
- Press the Power OFF button once (this will bring up the dialog box which you can’t see)
- Press the “S” button (this is the shortcut to sleep the Mac)
- Hold down the Power button until a hard shutdown is forced
- Wait for 15 seconds, then press the Power button again
System Management Controller is more likely to solve this problem but many users have reported that the solution with keypress sequence fixed the Black Screen issue for them.
Solution 5: Try a PRAM Reset to Resolve the Black Boot Display
If the solutions above didn’t work, a PRAM reset can sometimes solve the issue. This potential solution to the black screen on boot is done after restarting the Mac. Here are the steps:
- Reboot the Mac and when you hear the boot sound, hold down the Command+Option+P+R keys in the same time.
- When you hear the boot sound one more time, the PRAM has been reset so let the Mac boot again normally.
Now your Mac will boot again as usual and hopefully no longer have the black screen while loading Mac OS or Mac OS X.
Solution 6: Enter Password and Hit Return
Some users reported an interesting alternative way to solve this problem. If nothing above worked for you, try this out it might work for you:
- When the Mac boots into the black screen, type your password to login to the Mac as usual
- Hit the Return key
If this worked, you’ll see the regular Mac OS desktop instead of the black screen.
Solution 7: Turn Off Automatic Graphics Switching if you are dual-GPU MacBook Pro user
Some MacBook Pro machines have dual graphics cards that switch automatically. For some reason those models can in some situations boot directly to a black screen. This can be avoided by simply disabling automatic graphics card (GPU) switching on MacBook Pro by following this steps:
- From the Apple menu select “System Preferences” then proceed to “Energy Saver”
- Toggle the switch next to ‘Automatic Graphics Switching’ to turn this option off
- Restart the Mac
Solution 8: Reinstall your MacOS
Are you still having trouble? If you tried all of the solutions listed above but the Mac still wakes to a black screen continuously, you may need to reinstall your Mac OS. You can reinstall Mac OS without formatting the computer though it’s always a good idea to backup first.
Solution 9: Contact Apple Support
Black Screen on wake still appearing after reinstalling? If you have done all of the steps above and the Mac is still encountering a black screen when waking from sleep or after rebooting, it’s time to call the official Apple support line or to bring your Mac to an Apple Store for service. It could be that a hardware problem is the cause of the issue, or maybe some other problem that has been overlooked is causing the problem. Remember to always contact an official Apple Support channel via Apple.com, or authorized support or repair center for best results.
Did any of these solutions work for you to fix the black screen on Mac boot?
If you encountered this problem on your Mac, please let us know in the comment section which solution helped you to fix this problem and if you have another solution then please share it with us and our readers.