My Computer Monitor or Screen Won't Turn On

Introduction

The most common way that a computer fails to "turn on" is when your machine actually does power on, but doesn't display anything on the screen. You may see lights on the computer itself, you may also hear fans running from the inside, and may even hear sounds - but nothing at all shows up on your screen. Obviously, this is a frustrating situation that will prevent you from using your machine altogether.

There are a few things we can help you check to get your computer back into a usable state.

Monitor not powered on.

1 OS Choice

There are 2 main Operating Systems for personal computers currently available, Windows and macOS.

Windows
Windows runs on computers produced by multiple companies, such as Lenovo, Asus, Dell, Toshiba, Hewlett Packard, Acer, and Sony.Windows 10
macOS
Apple is the only company that makes macOS computers.macOS Mojave

? What Operating System are you using?

  1. Windows
  2. macOS

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The most common way that a computer fails to "turn on" is when your machine actually does power on, but doesn't display anything on the screen. You may see lights on the computer itself, you may also hear fans running from the inside, and may even hear sounds - but nothing at all shows up on your screen. Obviously, this is a frustrating situation that will prevent you from using your machine altogether.

There are a few things we can help you check to get your computer back into a usable state.

Monitor not powered on.

There are 2 main Operating Systems for personal computers currently available, Windows and macOS.

Windows
Windows runs on computers produced by multiple companies, such as Lenovo, Asus, Dell, Toshiba, Hewlett Packard, Acer, and Sony.Windows 10
macOS
Apple is the only company that makes macOS computers.macOS Mojave
Show Me How

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

Make sure the screen brightness on your Mac wasn't turned down too far accidentally.

  1. On your keyboard, look in the top-left. The F1 and F2 keys usually have sun symbols. The symbol on the right has longer rays, indicating it makes the screen brighter.
    Mac Laptop Keyboard inset, showing brightness controls.
  2. Try tapping the brighter key.
  3. Try holding the FN key on the bottom-left, then tapping the brighter key.

Apple produces 3 different forms of Mac computers.

MacBook
Laptops that are portable and have a battery, track pad, and keyboard built-in. This includes the MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro. MacBook Pro.
iMac
Desktops computers with the computer itself built-in to the screen. This includes the iMac and iMac Pro. iMac Pro.
Mac Pro & Mac mini
Desktop computers without a monitor. This includes the Mac Pro and Mac mini. Mac mini.
Mac Pro.

There are two ways to power up a MacBook:

  • Using the power supply without the extension cord:
    MacBook being connected to power with power supply without extension cord.
    1. Examine the cable and connectors for visible damage. If they are damaged, they may need to be replaced.
    2. Make sure the power supply is firmly plugged into the power socket and power connector into the computer.
  • Using the power supply with the extension cord:
    MacBook being connected to power with power supply with extension cord.
    1. Examine all cables and connectors for visible damage. If they are damaged, they may need to be replaced.
    2. Make sure the power supply is firmly plugged into the power socket, the extension cord into the power supply and power connector into the computer.

  • The power adapter shapes and way of connecting them have stayed the same over the years, however the connector types that plug into the computer have changed somewhat and can be of the following types:
    1. Magnetic T style
    2. Magnetic L style
    3. USB-C style

    Different types of MacBook power connectors.
  1. Unplug the computer from the power outlet.
    Power connector being unplugged from outlet.
  2. Press and hold the power button for 10 seconds then release it.
    Power symbol.
  3. Plug the computer back into the power outlet and press the power button to turn it on.

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. An iMac is powered up by plugging it in directly into a power socket.
    iMac being connected to power.
  2. Examine the cable and connectors for visible damage. If they are damaged, they may need to be replaced.
  3. Make sure one end is firmly plugged into the back panel of the iMac and the other end into a power socket.
  1. A Mac Pro has an internal power supply included in the case.
  2. The power cable looks like below. Examine the cable and connectors for visible damage. If you find any damage, the cable may need to be replaced.
    Mac Pro power cable.
  3. Make sure one end of the cable is firmly plugged into a wall outlet.
  4. Make sure the other end is firmly plugged into the power socket on the rear side of the case.
    Power socket highlighted on rear side of Mac Pro.
  1. Examine all cables and connectors for visible damage. If they are damaged, they may need to be replaced.
  2. Make sure one end of the power cable is firmly connected to the back panel of the monitor and the other end into a power socket.
    Monitor being connected to power and video source.
  3. Make sure one end of the video cable is firmly connected to the back panel of the monitor and the other end into video source device, such as a computer, gaming console, media player, etc.
  4. If the monitor has an external power supply, make sure all connectors are firmly plugged in:
    • One connector (1) plugs into the monitor
    • The other connector (2) plugs into a power socket
    • And sometimes, a third (3) connector plugs into the supply itself
    Monitor power supply connectors annotated.
  5. Monitors can be connected to video source devices through a variety of connection types. The most common ones are shown below:
    Video connector types.
  6. Make sure the monitor is powered on and set to the video input source matching the connection type. This varies greatly by brand and model. If you're unsure how to do this please refer to the monitors documentation.

Mac Mini with internal power supply

  1. Some Mac Mini computers have an internal power supply:
    • One connector (1) plugs into the computer
    • The other connector (2) plugs into a power socket
    Mac Mini being plugged into power.
  2. Examine all cables and connectors for visible damage. If they are damaged, they may need to be replaced.
  3. Make sure all connectors are firmly plugged in.

Mac Mini with external power supply

  1. Other Mac Mini computers have an external power supply and plugs in like below:
    • One connector (1) plugs into the computer
    • The other connector (2) plugs into a power socket
    • A third (3) connector plugs into the supply itself
    Mac Mini being connected to power.
  2. Examine all cables and connectors for visible damage. If they are damaged, they may need to be replaced.
  3. Make sure all connectors are firmly plugged in.
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