How to Fix Startup Issues on an Apple Mac

Introduction

Mac OS X does a very good job of taking care of itself; for the most part. Sometimes when updates happen or unexpected shutdown happens it can cause issues preventing your computer from booting. This guide will walk you through a series of steps to provide some troubleshooting steps to help get your computer back up and running.

Mac with spinning wheel on display

? Does the computer power on?

  1. Yes
  2. Yes, but it makes beeping noises
  3. No, it does not power on

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Mac OS X does a very good job of taking care of itself; for the most part. Sometimes when updates happen or unexpected shutdown happens it can cause issues preventing your computer from booting. This guide will walk you through a series of steps to provide some troubleshooting steps to help get your computer back up and running.

Mac with spinning wheel on display

If you computer will not respond to any input and appears frozen, press and hold on the Power button until the computer shuts off.

Power Button

The power button on a Macbook is typically located on or near the keyboard while the power button on a Mac Pro will vary depending on the model. 

Any unsaved work will be lost. 

 

  1. Power on the computer.
    Power Button
  2. Immediately after your Mac turns on (some Mac computers play a startup sound), press and hold the command ⌘ and R keys until the Apple logo appears, then release the keys.
    Command key. Illustration.Plus symbol.R key. Illustration.
  3. You will see a macOS Utilities page once recovery mode loads.
    Recovery Options

Disk Utility is designed to be easy to run, and help fix many small issues with your Mac's storage disk. Keep in mind, though, it is also designed to do major repairs and has the capabilities to cause problems if not used correctly. This guide will walk you through the proper options to select to use it safely.

Running Disk Utility can take a long time, especially on larger hard drives. Please make sure you won't need your computer for at least 1 hour before beginning this step.

  1. Click Disk Utility, then Continue.
    Disk Utility and Continue highlighted
  2. In the bar on the left, highlight your hard disk.
    Internal HDD Selected
  3. Click the First Aid button at the top.
    First Aid button highlighted
  4. Click Run.
    Run button highlighted
  5. Disk Utility will scan your hard drive, and attempt to repair any issues it has.

    If you are prompted to complete the repairs yourself, or get an error about disk failure, reach out to Apple Support immediately.

  6. Click Done to finish.
    Done button highlighted
  1. From the menu bar across the top of the screen, select the Apple menu, then Restart...
    macOS Mojave Apple Menu with Restart highlighted.

NVRAM (nonvolatile random-access memory) is a cache of settings specific to your Mac. Resetting NVRAM is safe, however you will need to reset some of your minor customizations, such as volume, time zone, or screen resolution.

  1. From the menu bar across the top of the screen, select the Apple menu (1), then select Shut Down... (2).
    Apple menu icon highlighted with menu beneath highlighting the shut down option.
  2. Wait for your computer to shut down, and turn off.
  3. Turn your Mac back on by pushing the Power button.
    Macbook power button highlighted on the keyboard.
  4. Immediately push and hold the option, command ⌘, P, and R keys on your keyboard.
    option keyPluscommand keyPlusP KeyPlusR Key
    • If your Mac plays a startup sound, release the keys after the second time it plays.
    • If there is no startup sound, release the keys after the second time the Apple logo disappears.
  1. From the menu bar across the top of the screen, select the Apple menu (1), then select Restart... (2).
    Apple icon in the upper-left corner displaying a menu beneath with the restart option highlighted.
  2. Immediately press and hold the Shift key on your keyboard.
  3. Release the Shift key when you see the login window.
  1. Select the Apple Menu and then System Preferences.
    macOS Mojave Apple Menu with System Preferences highlighted.
  2. Select Users & Groups.
    macOS Users and Groups Preferences
  3. Select Login Items at the top, then your Username on the left. Finally, select the lock in the bottom-left corner to unlock these settings.
    Users and Groups Preferences with Login Items, User, and Lock highlighted.
  4. Enter your macOS password, and select Unlock.
    System Preferences unlock prompt with password and Unlock button highlighted.
  5. Look through the list on the right. If you see an item you don't recognize, or an item you don't use frequently, highlight it by clicking its name, then click the Remove (–) button below to remove it.
    Users and Groups Login Items with an item and minus button highlighted.
  1. Select Apple menu > About This Mac.
    macOS Mojave Apple menu with About This Mac highlighted.
  2. Select Storage.
    About This Mac with Storage highlighted
  3. Free space is the first number you see below the name of your hard drive.
    About This Mac Storage with available space highlighted

    Disk space needs will vary depending on how you use your computer. In general, if you have over 15 GB of free space, you should be fine for updates and upgrades.
    Only proceed if you have less than 15 GB of free space.

  4. Select Manage.
    About this Mac with Manage button highlighted
  5. Under Recommendations on the left, you'll see some very easy-to-use tools to help optimize and clean up your disk space, such as optimizing the files already stored in iCloud, removing items from iTunes you've already watched or listened to, emptying the Trash automatically, and reviewing the files stored on your Mac to delete unused or old ones.
    macOS recommendations
  1. From the menu bar across the top of the screen, select the Apple menu, then Restart...
    macOS Mojave Apple Menu with Restart highlighted.

If your computer is still not working correctly, a last effort you can try is factory resetting your Mac.  If you wish to know more information about this you can click the button below.

Performing a factory reset will erase all your content and revert it to a state as if you just purchased it. If you do not want to perform this step, you will want to contact Apple for further support.

 Show Me How

Clicking this button will open a new guide that will provide you with steps to resolve your issue.

If your computer is still not working correctly, a last effort you can try is factory resetting your Mac.  If you wish to know more information about this you can click the button below.

Performing a factory reset will erase all your content and revert it to a state as if you just purchased it. If you do not want to perform this step, you will want to contact Apple for further support.

 Show Me How

Clicking this button will open a new guide that will provide you with steps to resolve your issue.

Boot issues are problems that typically caused by hardware.  They include the following symptoms

  • Computer does not attempt to power on and there is no fan noise
  • Computer powers on, but beeps and does not load into the operating system.

Click the link below to troubleshoot these issues.

Show Me How

Clicking this button will open a new guide that will provide you with steps to resolve your issue.

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