If you see just a black screen on your MacBook Air, you already know you have some type of problem. While it could be a serious hardware issue, it’s also possible that it is something simple, and you can quickly fix it yourself.
This can be a complicated issue since you may be unable to see your screen and therefore don’t know what is happening with your system. Hopefully, the problem can be solved by something as easy as turning up the screen brightness or disabling some software.
My name is Eric, and as an engineer and computer enthusiast, I have seen my share of problems, like a computer having a black screen. These can often be tricky, but I can give you some tips on what this could be and how you can possibly fix the situation.
Keep reading below if you would like to learn more about troubleshooting a black screen issue with your MacBook Air.
- How Can I Troubleshoot with No Screen?
- 1. Screen Brightness
- 2. Needs a Reboot
- 3. SMC or NVRAM/PRAM
- 4. Application Issue
- 5. Old macOS
- 6. Hardware Failure
How Can I Troubleshoot with No Screen?
Having a black or blank screen can be difficult to troubleshoot since you cannot see your screen and see what is happening with your system. This is especially true if you see a condition where the screen is constantly black whenever your computer is on.
If you have a condition where your system starts up and you can see the screen for a while, and it then goes black, or it intermittently goes in and out, you may have some time to look at settings and other things, but it can still be a difficult task.
Because of these difficulties, you will need to try some fundamental troubleshooting and see if you can determine the cause and fix the problem. Below are some basic issues that may be the cause and some solutions to fix them.
1. Screen Brightness
This may seem like too simple of a problem, but believe me; it does happen. It has happened to me multiple times, and I am unsure how. Somehow the screen brightness had been turned down to 0.
An application may have turned it down, or I mistakenly turned it low myself. It could even be that my cat somehow stepped on the keyboard and did it. In any case, it has a straightforward solution. All you need to do is turn the brightness back up.
Since you can’t see the screen, you must use the keyboard to do this, which is the most common method anyway. Press the Fn key and the F2 key and hold them down. If this is your problem, the display will slowly brighten, and you can release the keys when you are happy with the brightness.
Hopefully, this was your problem because it is so easy to fix, and you can now be on your way back to using your computer normally again.
2. Needs a Reboot
Many times our systems get cluttered with mounds of data and applications running. A glitch can often cause your system to have an issue like this, and it could be that it is actually frozen, but you are not aware since the screen is black.
A quick reboot of your system often solves the problem, especially if you have not rebooted in a while. It’s easy to do and one of the first things to try before looking at more involved issues. Since you can’t see the screen, it can be a bit difficult to reboot in your normal way.
It’s often not recommended, but you may have no choice in this case. You can do a hard reboot by pressing the power button and holding it down until the system shuts down. Once it has shut down, press the power button again to start it back up.
Check to see if your screen is back to normal. If you have been experiencing a problem where the screen goes black after using it for a while, try repeating the steps you normally do before it has gone black. You may be good to go if it does not, which could solve the problem.
3. SMC or NVRAM/PRAM
Your computer keeps configuration and other data types in both SMC and NVRAM/PRAM. These are basically storage areas that can hold data even when your computer is shut down.
After a while, this data can build up and get corrupted, causing issues with numerous things on your system, including your video display. While I won’t get into details about how SMC and NVRAM work, it is possible to clear or reset this data, which can fix many issues.
If you have a newer MacBook Air with Apple silicon, you won’t need to worry about this since they automatically reset whenever you reboot your system. So if you have restarted your system as described above, you have already done this.
You must manually reset the SMC and NVRAM if you have an older MacBook with an Intel-based processor. To reset SMC, shut your computer down, then start it back up while holding the Control, Shift, and Options keys until you hear the chime. Your SMC will then be reset.
To reset NVRAM/PRAM, shut the computer down. When starting it back up, hold down the Command, Option, P, and R keys for at least 20 seconds or until you hear the chime. When the startup completes, your NVRAM/PRAM will now be reset.
Once your MacBook Air starts back up, check to see if your screen is back to normal. If so, then your problem is solved.
4. Application Issue
If the simple solutions above have yet to provide any results, there may be something a little more complicated causing the issue, such as an application. To troubleshoot this, we need first to answer a few questions.
Does this problem take place after starting a specific application?
If the answer is yes, then there is a good chance that the application is causing the issue. You may need to stop using that application for now and research it to determine if it is incompatible with your system or if it has a glitch or bug.
Once you suspect it is a specific application, you can do a Google search for issues involving that application and see if you find any information. Suppose you can definitely determine it is the application. In that case, you can contact the application developer and see if they are aware of any issues and have any solutions.
Does this problem occur soon after your computer starts up?
If this is true, it could be an application that starts up automatically as soon as your system starts up. This can be hard to debug and fix since your screen goes black, and you cannot see what is happening or make any changes. For this, you will need to boot your system in Safe Mode.
Starting your system in Safe mode is a great way to troubleshoot your system because it starts with the bare minimum needed to run. If an application launched at startup is causing your problem, it won’t get started, and hopefully, you will not see the issue in Safe mode.
This will allow you to go into System Settings and remove apps from startup so they won’t launch. If needed, you can remove them one by one and restart in normal mode until you find the app that is causing the problem.
5. Old macOS
Is your macOS up to date? If not, it can cause many issues, including a black screen. It’s always good practice to keep your system up-to-date with the latest macOS available for your MacBook Air.
If you are experiencing the issue immediately at startup, you may need to boot into safe mode as described above. This will allow you to check and see if you need to update your macOS. You can check for them by clicking on the Apple menu and looking for notifications beside System Settings.
Click on System Settings, and you can then perform the update by clicking on Software Update Available and then clicking on Update Now.
Once the update has been completed, restart your system and see if the issue has been resolved.
6. Hardware Failure
If none of the above fixes have worked, your system’s hardware may be failing for one reason or another. If your screen is never able to display anything, even in Safe mode, it is a sign that you have a hardware problem.
When looking for hardware problems, there are a few things to consider. Let’s take a look at them.
If you have had recent damage to your system, there is a good chance this is causing the issue. Have you recently dropped your MacBook Air, knocked it off of the desk, or had any significant impacts?
How about water damage or any other type of liquid? Did you start seeing these problems soon after? If so, there may be damage to the display or the hardware inside your laptop that connects to the screen.
Laptop displays can take a beating. They go through a lot and can eventually fail from long normal usage periods. They have also been known to fail when new, just out of the box. This happened to me with one of my new computers and was very frustrating.
In any case, there is a chance that you are just dealing with a bad display. Using a USB-C connector, you could test this by connecting to an external display. Ensure you have the external display plugged into a power outlet, or you will not see anything on it.
If the external display works, this is a good indicator that your MacBook Air’s built-in display is not working.
Other Hardware Failure
Not only can your display fail, but there are other components within your MacBook Air that are needed for it to function properly. The GPU or graphics processing unit is one important component of your video system and controls the graphics you see on the screen.
If this or any of its supporting components fail, you will have issues with your display, and you may see a black screen.
Fixing Hardware Issues
Hardware issues, especially with the MacBook Air, can be challenging to fix on your own. Unless you are an experienced technician, this is something that you will want to have a professional take a look at.
This type of problem will require a trip to the Genius Bar or contacting Apple support to find out what you will need to do to get your system serviced. If your system is still under warranty or you have AppleCare, you may be in luck since hardware failures may be covered under the plan.
If you see a black screen on your MacBook Air, it can be very frustrating, making it very difficult to troubleshoot and fix the problem since you can see what is happening with your computer.
This problem often requires booting in Safe Mode so that you can determine what is happening with your system, but don’t overlook the simplest solution, which is to make sure that your brightness has not been turned all the way down.
I hope the information above can help you remedy your black screen problem. As usual, let me know if you have any questions or comments. I would love to hear from you!