How to Troubleshoot a MacBook

By Gwen Wark

MacBooks are sleek computers designed to be easy to use, with a reputation for their simple functionality and reliable performance. Once in a while, however, a MacBook may malfunction, making it necessary to perform some basic troubleshooting. Simple MacBook troubleshooting can be performed at home; if these troubleshooting steps don't work, you'll need to take or send your MacBook to Apple for further diagnostics.

Step 1

Check the power supply connected to the unit. It should have a green or orange light when plugged in; if this light is missing, try a different power outlet or new power supply. A failed power supply causes the unit to run off of battery power; when this power has been drained, the unit will no longer power on.

Step 2

Make sure that the A/C adapter connection is clean and free of debris. Unplug the A/C adapter from the wall and the computer, then reconnect the adapter. Make sure that the light on the A/C adapter's connection to the MacBook light is green or orange.

Step 3

Remove any peripheral devices such as speakers, monitors, keyboards, printers and other external devices. These can draw power from the MacBook or cause conflicts with the unit.

Step 4

Check the battery power by pressing the battery "Test" button located on the left-hand side of the unit. When battery power is available, a row of green lights will appear. The more lights that appear, the better the battery's charge has held. If these lights fail to light up, try a new battery or power supply.

Step 5

Reset the computer by pressing and holding the "Control," "Command" and "Power" buttons simultaneously for three seconds, then releasing. This will force a reboot of the system.

Step 6

Reset the Parameter Random Access Memory (PRAM) by pressing the "Power" button, then pressing and holding the "Command," "Option," "P" and "R" keys simultaneously until the MacBook chimes twice.

Step 7

Reset the system management controller by removing the A/C power and the battery, then pressing the "Power" button for five seconds, then releasing.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you've recently upgraded your MacBook by installing RAM, try reseating the memory or powering on the MacBook using your old RAM. One or more faulty pieces of RAM or incorrectly seated RAM will cause operational problems with your MacBook.
  • Opening the case of your MacBook may void the warranty.