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My Mac's Monitor or Screen Won't Turn On

Authored by:
Support.com Tech Pro Team
This Guided Path® was written and reviewed by Support.com’s Tech Pro team. With decades of experience, our Tech Pros are passionate about making technology work for you. We love feedback! Let us know what you think about this Guided Path® by rating it at the end.

Introduction

The most common way that a Mac computer fails to "turn on" is when it 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 the screen. Obviously, this is a frustrating situation that will prevent you from using your Mac altogether.

There are a few things we can help you check to get it back into a usable state. The following steps are listed in order, so start with the first one, see if that helps, and then continue with the next one if it doesn't.

iMac

 

1 Adjust the Screen Brightness

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.

2 Determine the Mac Type

Apple produces 3 different forms of Mac computers. In order to continue, we need to determine the type of Mac you have.

MacBook
MacBook Pro. Laptops that are portable and have a battery, track pad, and keyboard built-in. This includes the MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro.
iMac
iMac Pro. Desktop computers with the computer itself built-in to the screen. This includes the iMac and iMac Pro.
Mac Pro & Mac Mini
Mac Pro & Mac Mini Desktop computers with an external monitor. This includes the Mac Pro and Mac Mini.

3 Check the Power Connection to the Mac

Make sure the power connection to your Mac is proper. This depends on the type of Mac you have:

MacBook

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.
iMac
  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.
Mac Pro
  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.
Mac Mini

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.

4 Check the Connections to an External Monitor

With a computer that has an external monitor you'll need to make sure the monitor is properly connected to the computer and electrical outlet:

  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 an electrical outlet.
    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 the computer.
  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 an electrical outlet
    • And sometimes, a third (3) connector plugs into the supply itself
    Monitor power supply connectors annotated.
  5. Monitors can be connected to a computer through a variety of connectors. 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 connector. This varies greatly by brand and model. If you're unsure how to do this please refer to the monitor's documentation.
  7. Try another monitor if you have a spare one.

5 Eliminate any Residual Electrical Charge in the Device

Electronic devices may sometimes keep a residual electrical charge after they are turned off. This may cause them to not turn on anymore. To fix this you have to eliminate this residual electrical charge manually:

If you have multiple devices connected together, like a computer and monitor, you may need to do this to both devices.

  1. Unplug the device from the electrical outlet.
    Power connector being unplugged from outlet.
  2. Press and hold the power button for 10 seconds then release it.
    Power symbol.

    If the device has a power light, this may flash briefly indicating the residual electricity was discharged.

  3. Plug the device back into the electrical outlet and press the power button to turn it on.

6 Reset the NVRAM or PRAM of the Mac

NVRAM and PRAM are small amounts of memory that store specific settings on a Mac computer. If these settings become corrupted the Mac may no longer work properly. Resetting this type of memory clears these settings and may fix certain issues the Mac may be having.

Resetting NVRAM or PRAM is safe, however you will need to reconfigure some of preferences, such as volume, time zone, or screen resolution.

  1. Make sure the Mac is turned off.
  2. Press the Power button to turn the Mac on.
    Power symbol.
  3. 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.

If the Issue Persists

Please contact the product manufacturer for further assistance.

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The most common way that a Mac computer fails to "turn on" is when it 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 the screen. Obviously, this is a frustrating situation that will prevent you from using your Mac altogether.

There are a few things we can help you check to get it back into a usable state. The following steps are listed in order, so start with the first one, see if that helps, and then continue with the next one if it doesn't.

iMac

 

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. In order to continue, we need to determine the type of Mac you have.

MacBook
MacBook Pro. Laptops that are portable and have a battery, track pad, and keyboard built-in. This includes the MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro.
iMac
iMac Pro. Desktop computers with the computer itself built-in to the screen. This includes the iMac and iMac Pro.
Mac Pro & Mac Mini
Mac Pro & Mac Mini Desktop computers with an external monitor. This includes the Mac Pro and Mac Mini.

Make sure the power connection to your Mac is proper. This depends on the type of Mac you have:

MacBook

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.
iMac
  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.
Mac Pro
  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.
Mac Mini

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.

With a computer that has an external monitor you'll need to make sure the monitor is properly connected to the computer and electrical outlet:

  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 an electrical outlet.
    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 the computer.
  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 an electrical outlet
    • And sometimes, a third (3) connector plugs into the supply itself
    Monitor power supply connectors annotated.
  5. Monitors can be connected to a computer through a variety of connectors. 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 connector. This varies greatly by brand and model. If you're unsure how to do this please refer to the monitor's documentation.
  7. Try another monitor if you have a spare one.

Electronic devices may sometimes keep a residual electrical charge after they are turned off. This may cause them to not turn on anymore. To fix this you have to eliminate this residual electrical charge manually:

If you have multiple devices connected together, like a computer and monitor, you may need to do this to both devices.

  1. Unplug the device from the electrical outlet.
    Power connector being unplugged from outlet.
  2. Press and hold the power button for 10 seconds then release it.
    Power symbol.

    If the device has a power light, this may flash briefly indicating the residual electricity was discharged.

  3. Plug the device back into the electrical outlet and press the power button to turn it on.

NVRAM and PRAM are small amounts of memory that store specific settings on a Mac computer. If these settings become corrupted the Mac may no longer work properly. Resetting this type of memory clears these settings and may fix certain issues the Mac may be having.

Resetting NVRAM or PRAM is safe, however you will need to reconfigure some of preferences, such as volume, time zone, or screen resolution.

  1. Make sure the Mac is turned off.
  2. Press the Power button to turn the Mac on.
    Power symbol.
  3. 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.

If the Issue Persists