My Screen Won't Work on My Mac Laptop

By Kevin Floyd

There are a wide range of problems that could cause the screen on a Mac laptop to not work. Some issues are simple and easy to fix at home, while others will require service by a professional. There are a few things to check when the screen won't work on a Mac laptop before getting too worried about your data and computer.

Things You'll Need

  • Mini-DVA cable
  • Firewire cable
  • External monitor

Step 1

Check the front and back of your laptop screen for visible damage. Cracks in the screen can cause parts or all of the display to show incorrectly. Look for damage along the hinge that connects the screen to the laptop body.

Step 2

Turn the computer on and watch the screen while moving it forward and backward. Intermittent displays can be due to damage to the cables and wires inside the screen hinge. If you see the Mac "power button" icon on your screen and it flashes twice followed by a long pulse, then there is a problem with the backlight.

Step 3

Open the lid of your Mac laptop and press the brightness keys which are located on the top row of the keyboard and have images of the sun on them. Increasing the brightness all the way may allow you to see parts of your laptop screen.

Step 4

Look at the white sleep light on the front of your laptop case on the right-hand side. If the case is open and the sleep light is pulsating, then press the "Power" button one time and see if the computer display appears. Hold down the "Power" button for 5 to 10 seconds to force your computer to turn off and restart if the first press doesn't turn the screen on.

Step 5

Plug a mini-DVA (Digital Visual Interface) cable into your computer and connect the other end to an external monitor. Turn the monitor on and boot your computer. If your computer works with the second monitor, then turn the computer off. Insert the "Mac OS X install CD" and power on the computer while holding down the "C" key. Select the "Disk Utility" application once the computer turns on and run the "Hardware Diagnostic" tool. You can then run the diagnostics while viewing the program on the connected monitor.

Step 6

Use a FireWire cable to connect your Mac laptop to another Mac computer. First, boot the second computer and then turn on your computer while holding down the "T" key. Your computer will boot into target mode even if the screen doesn't work.

Step 7

Look for your computer's hard drive to appear on the desktop of the second computer. Copy all of your important files so that you have a backup of your laptop. Contact Apple support or a computer repair shop to have them run more diagnostic tests on your computer's screen.

Tips & Warnings

  • If your laptop "chimes" while it is booting, then you may have a problem with the operating system. Use target mode to backup your files and then reinstall OS X.
  • You may need a DVI-VTA (Video Graphic Array) cable to connect your Mac laptop to some external monitors.
  • If you can see a faint image on your laptop screen and the brightness keys do not work, then push gently on the back of the screen. If some of the screen is restored, then the inverter cables may be damaged or pinched in the screen hinge.
  • Only use Apple-certified repair centers to fix the screen on your Mac laptop.