What to do if your Mac won’t boot properly

Apple Macs are usually very reliable and just get the job done with the minimum of fuss. It’s one of the reasons they are so popular. But what if your Mac won’t boot? What if it gets stuck on the white loading screen? This happened to a Dave’s Computer customer this week and we were able to fix it for her with a bit of work.

If it happens to you, here are some things you might like to try before bringing it to our New Jersey computer store.

Booting a Mac when stuck

The symptom of the fault is usually that every time you boot your Mac you hear the chime and see the startup screen but then nothing else happens. It seems stuck there forever.

Here are some things to try.

Remove all peripherals and reboot. Sometimes it’s a hardware conflict with these peripherals that stops the Mac booting. Remove them and retry booting your Mac.

Try to Safe Boot. This will attempt to rebuild your Mac’s Launch Database in order to get it working again. Turn your Mac off and then hold down the Power and Shift key. Hold them down until you see the Apple logo. Once booted restart without doing anything and let the database rebuild. Boot will be slower but it should complete this time.

Run the Disk Utility. If Safe Boot doesn’t work, turn on your Mac and hold down Command and R until you see the Apple logo. Then let them go. Select Disk Utility from the menu that appears and select the MacOS drive. Select to Verify or Repair the disk. Do not select delete disk unless you want to lose everything!

Reset the PRAM. The PRAM, or more correctly, the NVRAM is what holds the hardware settings your Mac needs to boot properly. Resetting this will clear back to factory settings and hopefully have your Mac booting properly again. Shut down your Mac and then turn it on while holding down Command + Option + P + R. Hold them until you hear the second chime and then let go.

If none of those tips works and your Mac still won’t boot properly, it may be a hardware or OS issue. You can choose to reinstall MacOS if you like but you will lose any unsaved data. If you use Time Machine, you can use that to restore your Mac if you have the option.

Otherwise it may be a hard drive replacement or OS rebuild. If you’re confident you can do those yourself as they are quite straightforward. There is a risk of data loss though, so if you have important files you haven’t backed up, you may be better off bringing your Mac to Dave’s Computers.

We can take a copy of your drive and get it working again. Hopefully without losing any of your files!