Why is my Macbook screen black?

Most of us opt for Macbooks for their reliability. So, when you open your Mac up and find a black screen, it can be a little frustrating.

And, there are a multitude of different reasons why a Macbook Air or Macbook Pro screen may be black.

So, if you’re dealing with a black screen on Macbook, we’re going to run through the most common reasons for this happening, and then more importantly, what you can do to fix it.

Common Reasons Why a Macbook Screen May Go Black

A black screen on a MacBook can be caused by a variety of issues, ranging from minor software glitches to more serious hardware problems.

However, some problems are more frequent than others. Here’s ten of the most likely reasons why your Macbook screen is black:

  1. Software Glitches: Temporary glitches in the operating system can cause the screen to go black.
  2. Display Settings Issues: Sometimes, incorrect display settings or resolution can cause the screen to appear black.
  3. Hardware Problems: Issues with the MacBook’s hardware, such as a faulty display, graphics card issues, or a damaged motherboard, can lead to a black screen.
  4. Power Issues: A depleted battery or problems with the power adapter can result in the screen not turning on.
  5. Sleep Mode or Screen Saver Settings: The MacBook might be in sleep mode or a screen saver might be activated.
  6. Malfunctioning Peripherals: Connected peripherals (like external monitors, USB devices, etc.) can sometimes cause display issues.
  7. Software Updates or Incompatible Applications: Recent software updates or incompatible applications can cause conflicts leading to a black screen.
  8. Overheating: If the MacBook overheats, it may shut down or turn off the screen to protect the internal components.
  9. RAM Issues: Problems with the RAM can also lead to a black screen.
  10. Malware or Virus Infections: In rare cases, a malware or virus infection can cause display issues.

To troubleshoot, run through the following steps to try and get the issue resolved as quickly as possible.

My Macbook Screen Is Black – What Are Some Things I Can Do To Fix It?

Check for Power Issues

First, ensure that your MacBook is adequately charged. A depleted battery is a common cause of the screen remaining black, as obviously when your Mac boots up, it requires a charged battery to function properly.

To deal with this, connect your MacBook to a power source and wait a few minutes. If the battery was the issue, your Mac screen should light up after a short while.

Double check your screen brightness

Although it may sound silly, often the cause of a black screen is having your brightness turned all the way down. On newer Macbooks, if you turn the brightness to zero, the screen will stay black.

Of course, the easy way for you to resolve this is by pressing the F2 button to increase the brightness of your display.

Perform a Hard Reset

If power isn’t the issue, try performing a hard reset. This can sometimes resolve minor software glitches that could be causing the black screen.

To do this, hold down the command and control buttons along with the power button for about 10 seconds, then release it. After a few moments, turn your MacBook back on to see if the issue is resolved.

Reset the System Management Controller (SMC)

Resetting the SMC can help with a variety of hardware-related issues. You don’t need to worry about this if you’re running a Macbook with an Apple Mac chip (M1, M2, M3 etc), as there is no SMC to reset.

However those with an Intel processor can do this quickly and easily by shutting down your Mac. Wait second seconds before restarting your Macbook again.

At the same time as you restart it, press down on the the right Shift, the left Option key, and the left Control key. Hold these keys for 7 seconds whilst holding down your power button.


Non-volatile random-access memory (NVRAM) or Parameter RAM (PRAM) on a Mac stores certain settings in a location that macOS can access quickly. Resetting NVRAM or PRAM can sometimes resolve display issues.

To reset on a Mac using Intel processor, turn off your MacBook, then turn it on and immediately press and hold Option-Command-P-R for about 20 seconds. Release the keys after hearing the startup sound for the second time or after the Apple logo appears and disappears for the second time.

For Macbooks using an Apple Mac chip, all you need to do is perform a hard reset. Your NVRAM will automatically reset when you do this.

Boot in Safe Mode

Booting in Safe Mode can help diagnose issues related to software and drivers. To enter Safe Mode, turn on or restart your MacBook, then immediately press and hold the Shift key until the Apple logo appears.

In Safe Mode, your MacBook performs certain checks and prevents some software from automatically loading or opening.

Check for Display Issues

If your MacBook sounds like it’s working (you hear the fan, the start-up chime, etc.) but the screen is still black, the issue might be with the display itself. Make sure that your display resolution is set to default from within your System Settings.

Connect your MacBook to an external monitor. If the external display works, the issue is likely with your MacBook’s screen.

Check for Software Updates

Outdated software can sometimes cause compatibility issues leading to a black screen.

Boot your MacBook in Safe Mode as described earlier and check for any pending macOS updates. Installing the latest updates can often resolve underlying software conflicts.

Inspect for Physical Damage

Physical damage to your MacBook can also cause a black screen. Check for any signs of damage on the screen, body, or connections of your MacBook.

A common issue with older Macbooks is the backlight power cable failing. There was also Flexgate, and issue with the faulty Flex cable in Macbook Pro devices released between 2015-17.

If you suspect physical damage, it’s best to get it inspected by a professional.

Disconnect External Devices

External devices connected to your MacBook can sometimes cause conflicts resulting in a black screen. This is especially true if you’re connected to an external monitor, as your device may be trying to transmit a signal with no success.

Disconnect all peripherals and restart your MacBook to see if the issue resolves.

Use Disk Utility in Recovery Mode

If you suspect a corrupted hard drive is causing the problem, use Disk Utility in Recovery Mode. Restart your MacBook and hold down Command-R to enter Recovery Mode.

Select ‘Disk Utility’ from the utility window, choose your startup disk, and click ‘First Aid’. If Disk Utility finds errors, it will attempt to repair them.

Create a New User Account

Sometimes, a corrupted user account can cause display issues. Try creating a new user account by booting into Safe Mode.

If the new account doesn’t have the black screen issue, it indicates a problem with your original user account.

Reinstall macOS

As a last resort, you can try reinstalling macOS. This can be done without erasing your data. Boot into Recovery Mode (Command-R on startup), select ‘Reinstall macOS’, and follow the on-screen instructions.

This process can resolve deeper operating system issues that might be causing the black screen.

Remember, while these steps can be effective in resolving a black screen issue on a MacBook, they may not address every possible cause.

If the problem persists, it’s strongly recommended to seek professional assistance to avoid risking further damage to your MacBook. So, take your Macbook to your local Apple Store to see whether they can help you resolve the issue.

Most Common Questions about a Dark Macbook Screen

What if my display is dark gray?

If your display is on but gray, the most likely cause on a MacBook is often related to software issues.

This includes problems during the startup process, such as conflicts with certain startup items, corrupted system files, or issues with the user account settings.

Like a black screen, the best thing for you to do is boot into safe mode, reset your NVRAM and re-install macOS using Recovery mode.

What about if the screen is black, but I can still see my cursor?

A black screen on your MacBook with a visible cursor often points to a software-related issue, particularly with the operating system or graphical user interface.

Booting in Safe Mode is a recommended next step, as well as following the troubleshooting steps above. Safe Mode performs essential system checks and limits the software and services that load at startup, which can often bypass the problem causing the black screen.


When you’re faced with a black screen on your MacBook, it’s important to understand that there are several potential causes. This can range from minor software glitches to more serious hardware issues.

Pinpointing the exact cause can be tricky, but hopefully by running through the steps above, you should be able to get the issue resolved.


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