One of the most frustrating glitches that Mac users may experience is a white screen on booting that doesn’t disappear. Similar to the infamous black screen (of death), this issue occurs rarely and, according to multiple user reports, it happens after updating the operating system to a new version. Some say it’s caused by the update happening while the computer is in sleep mode. The result is a Mac stuck on a completely white screen without any logos or progress bar — nothing.
Since the exact cause of this glitch is not clear, we’ll describe some steps that may help you to recover from it. While the absolutely easiest way to handle it is to take your Mac to the nearest Apple Store and speak with a Genius who will solve the matter for you, tech-savvy users can keep this as their last option and follow the steps below. Not every solution is required, so be sure to check if the glitch is still there after each troubleshooting action.
It’s one of the oldest tricks in the Mac owner’s troubleshooting book, but it’s an important one. Since your computer’s Non-Volatile Random-Access Memory (NVRAM) or Parameter RAM (PRAM) stores the information about its startup disk, any display and video settings, volumes and the like, it makes sense to start by clearing away this data and resetting it to its factory settings. This means you’ll need to readjust the display brightness, volume, mouse trackpad speed, and other settings once this is done.
To reset NVRAM or PRAM, reboot your Mac, then press and hold the Command + Option + P + R keys for roughly 20 seconds. The first chime (if applicable) signals that the Mac has begun rebooting, while the second one signals that the reset has been successful.
The System Management Controller or SMC is a low-level component of the machine that managers things like the Mac’s display and other hardware facets. Since the glitch is screen-related, resetting SMC can usually help address it. However, it must be noted here that the reset process varies by Mac model, so check our guide on how to do that for the model you own. On modern Macs, do the following:
- Shut the computer down.
- After the Mac shuts down, press Shift + Control + Option + Power button at the same time for 10 seconds. On Macs with a Touch Bar, Touch ID is also the Power button.
- Release all keys, then press the Power button again to turn the computer on.
Boot Into Safe Mode
If none of the aforementioned troubleshooting steps have helped, then you must rule out the idea that the glitch is due to faulty third-party software. This is the easy part, however, because all you need to do this is boot into safe mode.
- Shut your Mac down.
- Restart the computer and hold down the Shift key until you see the login window.
You’ll see the words “Safe Boot” displayed in red in the upper right corner of the login screen. If you missed that, click on the Apple logo then select About This Mac > System Report > Software. The “Boot Mode” should list “Safe” instead of “Normal” in this case.
If, after rebooting the machine normally, the startup still results in a white screen, then the issue is likely a login item that’s preventing the Mac from loading properly. You can continue by rebooting into Safe Mode again and removing all login items from Users & Groups.
If all else fails, there is one more thing you can do: reinstall macOS from Recovery Mode. Of course, it goes without saying that a Time Machine backup is highly recommended before performing a complete macOS reinstall.
- Enter Recovery Mode by restarting the Mac and holding down the Command + R keys until you see the Apple logo or a spinning globe.
- At this point, the macOS Utilities window will appear. Select “Reinstall macOS”.
- Let macOS Recovery complete its tasks.
We certainly hope that these troubleshooting steps have helped you to solve the ‘white screen of death’ issue and that you won’t need to get in touch with the Apple Geniuses.
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