5 Warning Signs Your Mac Has Problems And How To Fix It

By | December 31, 2021

Your Mac is not immune to problems. Occasionally, problems arise in macOS or components of your computer. They can gradually get worse over time, or occur suddenly.

Mac Won’t Turn On

You press the power button on your Mac, and nothing happens. No power light, no sound, and a completely black screen. Instead of panicking, try these steps one by one to diagnose the problem:

  • Check the power connections to make sure they are secure on both ends. Next, check the cable for damage and try another charger or cable.
  • Check the video-out cable connection with the external display (if applicable). Also, try increasing the brightness of the monitor to make sure it’s not too low.
  • There may be a problem with your accessory. Unplug all peripherals except your keyboard and mouse, then try booting up. Plug in your peripherals after reboot and see if everything works fine.
  • Do a power cycle. On modern MacBooks, press and hold the power button for ten seconds. If your Mac is running, it will cut the power and force it to restart. On a Mac desktop, unplug the cable and wait ten seconds. Then plug it in and turn it back on.
  • Reset SMC and NVRAM. This is the last step you should try before bringing your Mac in for repair.

Check out our special guide to get your Mac booted up again if you are still having problems.

Mac Stalls During Startup

After you turn on your Mac, a sequence of boot events occurs until the login or desktop screen appears. But if the startup process crashes, no matter how long you wait, you will only see a gray screen or one with a symbol.

Depending on what you see, follow these instructions.

Plain Gray Screen

If you have a simple gray screen when you boot up, here’s what to do:

  • Faulty peripherals are the main cause of the gray screen issue. As such, you’ll need to disconnect all cable accessories, then press and hold the power button to turn off your Mac. Connect one peripheral after each restart to find the culprit.
  • Try booting Safe mode. If your Mac completes the startup process here, restart it again in normal mode and verify that your startup drive is working properly.
  • If Safe mode boot fails or crashes, reset the NVRAM and SMC settings as previously mentioned.
  • RAM with the wrong specifications can also result in a gray screen. Delete all the RAM you just added and start over.
  • Restart your Mac in Recovery mode by holding Cmd + R when you boot. Then, repair your startup drive with a disk repair utility.

Gray Screen No Disk Icon

If the gray screen has a folder with a flashing question mark, then it means your Mac couldn’t find a valid startup volume. But when it shows the “Don’t Sign in” symbol, it means that your macOS installation is corrupted.

To fix it:

  • Sometimes your Mac forgets the startup volume and for a moment shows a flashing question mark. To work around this issue, open the Startup Disk pane in System Preferences and re-select your startup volume.
  • Boot your Mac in Recovery mode. In the Apple menu, check if you can see the startup volume or not. If you can’t, the startup disk most likely has a problem. Run the disk repair utility to fix the problem.
  • Reinstall macOS on your startup disk.

Panic Recurring Kernel

At times, you may find that your Mac restarts spontaneously. When the screen comes back on, you will see a warning message, as shown above. This is known as kernel panic – the kind of low-level, system crash that your macOS can’t recover from. Kinda like the blue screen of death in Windows.

The presence of these warning signs is what distinguishes kernel panics from application-related crashes and restarts. Single kernel panic is usually not a problem. But when it happens often, something more serious may be going on. Because kernel panics tend to occur randomly, they are often difficult to reproduce.

Causes and Solutions for Kernel Panics

  • Your Mac needs enough storage space to perform daily activities. Kernel panic can be a sign that you are running very low disk space. See how to free up space on Mac you to get some back.
  • macOS is picky about RAM quality. If your RAM is not up to specs or even slightly flawed, a kernel panic or crash could occur. Perform Apple Hardware Tests or Diagnostics detailed to check your RAM.
  • Faulty or outdated peripherals can also cause kernel panics. Disconnect all peripherals except the power adapter, then reboot and check if it works fine. One by one, plug your external devices back in after each restart. If you find problematic hardware, check for driver updates or contact the manufacturer.
  • Most of the time, macOS system updates include a firmware update. However, if you have an older Mac, you may be able to manually install the firmware update. check Apple support page for EFI and SMC updates, but be aware that it has been archived by Apple. Also, check for updates for third-party apps. Bugs in the application can cause low-level system crashes.
  • Safe mode can help isolate many issues that cause kernel panics. If your Mac boots in Safe mode, look for third-party libraries and system extensions in the folder Library.

Mac Fan Running Excessive

Your Mac contains several vital sensors that respond to changes in temperature within your system. This turns on your fans and provides the airflow needed to cool critical components. They are important because overheating can cause physical damage.

Sometimes applications need a lot of processing power to complete their tasks. In such a case, your fans will run fast and make noise. This is perfectly normal, and you should not worry. But when your fan runs constantly even though it’s not experiencing heavy usage, that’s a red flag.

Here are a few places to check when your fans are going crazy:

  • Your Mac has vents that allow fans to bring in cold air and expel hot air. Make sure they are not blocked. Avoid using your Mac in places like the couch, pillow, in bed, or on your lap for extended periods of time.
  • Dust can build up on vents, fans and any part of the surface. When dust blocks airflow, the escaping heat has nowhere to go. Periodic cleaning with a cloth or compressed air will help remove this dust.
  • A faulty temperature sensor, or incorrect System Management Controller (SMC) settings, can cause your Mac to run the fan all the time. Reset your SMC using the guide linked earlier to fix the problem.
  • Apps may be consuming too much CPU. open Activity Monitor and visit the CPU tab. Check for updates for apps that are using too much CPU, or report the problem to the developer.

Mac Keeps Shutting Down

You’re working on your Mac, and then it suddenly shuts down for no apparent reason. MacBook may randomly shut down even though it has an internal battery. This unpredictable issue results in the loss of unsaved jobs. Worse, it can damage your hardware and macOS. (How to Fix Mac-Apple Shutting Down Suddenly)

When your Mac randomly shuts down, here’s what to do:

  • Check to make sure that the power cord is securely attached at both ends. Next, inspect the cable for damage. Try a spare cable if you’re in doubt. And if you’re using a UPS, make sure it’s working properly and that you can power the Mac from the battery.
  • Go to settings Energy Saver in System Preferences and click the button Schedule to verify that your Mac is not scheduled to shut down automatically.
  • The SMC chip is responsible for power management and thermal fan control. When it gets tangled, the fan starts running wildly in response to the heat and shuts down your Mac. Thus, this is another problem that can fix SMC on your Mac.
  • If your fan isn’t working, then your Mac could be shutting down due to overheating. To check the health of your Mac’s fan, try an app like Macs Fan Control and TG Pro.
  • Start your Mac in Safe mode and run it for a while to see if the problem occurs there.

Regular Mac Backup Keeps Data Safe From Trouble

Macs can experience problems like any other computer. Faulty components, the age of your Mac, and user-based errors can cause a variety of problems. You will see from the tips here that there is no single clear solution to this problem. As a result, these warning signs require thought and care.

That’s where the importance of backup comes in. When you back up your data regularly, you won’t lose your important information if your Mac suddenly stops working. Check out our guide to backing up your Mac with Time Machine to protect your files.