Why my Mac will not start?


7 Reasons why your Macbook or Mac will not start or is stuck on the startup screen

Without putting the Mac or Macbook through an Apple Diagnostics test, it is impossible to say if you are experiencing one or more than one issue.

However, we list a few of the possible reasons your Mac, MacBook, Pro, Air or Mini will not startup and operate correctly.

Possible reasons your Mac does not start or Hangs

1. Mac not starting or hanging? – Possible Display Issues including GPU (Video Card) Failure

First, rule out the display as the source of the issue. To be sure you’re not having a display issue, press your computer’s power button. If your Mac has power but doesn’t have any video:

  • You may hear a startup chime.
  • You may hear fan or drive noise.
  • You may see a light from the Sleep LED, if your Mac has one.
  • Pressing the Caps Lock key on the keyboard causes it to light.

If any of these things happen and you have an external display, connect to that and see if that shows a picture, get help with video issues on external displays connected to your Mac.


2. Mac not starting or hanging? – Possible Power Issues

If your Mac won’t turn on and you have ruled out display issues, try these steps.

  1. Verify that you have a good connection from your Mac to the wall outlet by confirming the power cord and adapter are securely connected and plugged in. To check if the wall outlet is working, plug in a lamp or other electrical device.
  2. If the wall outlet is working and you continue to have no power, try another power cord or adapter, if available. If you’re using a Mac notebook, learn about troubleshooting MagSafe adapters, and leave the power adapter connected long enough to provide an adequate charge to the battery.
  3. Disconnect all accessories that are plugged in to your Mac. This includes things like printers, USB hubs, or mobile devices.
  4. Hold down the power button for ten seconds. Then press the power button again to see if the Mac turns on.
  5. Reset the SMC.
  6. If you recently installed memory or a drive in your Mac, make sure it’s compatible and installed correctly. If possible, reinstall the original memory or drive to see if the issue persists.


3.Mac not starting or hanging? – HDD (Hard Disk Drive) or SSD (Solid-State-Drive) is full or nearly full.

When the HDD or SSD drive on your computer becomes full or almost full, the OS cannot use the disk space for “caching” and it may stop the Mac from starting correctly.

If the HDD or SSD become critically low on storage you may see a warning, freeing up as much space as possible may improve performance if this is the only issue.

See also The Mac “Startup Disk Almost Full” Message and How to Fix It

4. Mac not starting or hanging? – HDD (Hard Disk Drive) or SSD (Solid-State-Drive) is old/failing and needs replacing

If your Mac is slow to restart after a full power down or update and/or if you can hear an audible clicking sound and your computer is over three years old, the chances are that you have a failed or failing Hard Disk or SSD. Full diagnostics of the drive will be required by a service technician to determine if this is the case.

If your computer is a pre-2012 model then it is most likely to have a conventional HDD, which is now > 4 years old and has a 50% chance of failing as well as slowing down due to age and an accumulation of old programs, utilities and old operating systems.

True speed and performance is gained by replacing the old HDD with a SSD (solid state drive) which is what Apple started to do on it’s post 2012 models.

SSD’s have no working parts and are in essence a very large USB thumb or flash drive and they work 4 times faster than conventional drives.

5.Mac not starting or hanging? – HDD (Hard Disk Drive) or SSD (Solid-State-Drive) SATA Cable failing

6. Mac not starting or hanging? – Failed or Pending Mac OS (Operating System) update

Macs may hang on startup after there has been an attempt to “upgrade” the OS that fails, leaving the computer in a state of “limbo” not being able to revert to the previous OS version and not being any to complete the upgrade to the current one. The following article explains the problem and identifies the symptoms.


Updating non-Apple programs to their latest versions, may solve the problem. For instance Office 365.

Click on “Apple Symbol” > “Force Quit” and close any programs that have become unresponsive and see if this resolves the issue.

7. Mac not starting or hanging? – Motherboard Failure

If all the above tests fail and there is no power, lights or signs of startup activity, the chances are that the problem could be the most serious of all a motherboard (main circuit board) failure which is the most expensive part of the computer to repair.

This is often the case involving liquid-spills.

The cost of repairing this item is often more expensive than a new computer and genuine parts are only available if the model is less than 5 years old. The IT Guys DO NOT RECOMMEND buying non-genuine Apple or second-hand motherboards as they contain no-guarantee and you may not be able to recover your money from overseas or second-hand purchased items.


Only by running a full Apple diagnostic, test and assess at our workshop (or by a qualified Mac technician) can you accurately identify the problem.  If you live in the Perth Metro area, bring your computer to our workshop in Subiaco and for $66 we can diagnose the problem and quote on a fix.


Need more help?

Covid-19 Update: Business as usual for workshop repairs, remote support and onsite support.

If you live in Western Australia, and you need any kind of computer help, please bring your computer to us at 315 Rokeby Road, Subiaco, Western Australia or call us out. You can email us at support@itguyswa.com.au or call:

08 6118 2601 
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Apple Consultants Network

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