Why Does MacBook Air Keep Restarting and How to Fix It

Your MacBook Air was running fine, but now all of a sudden, it keeps restarting on its own. How can this be? Apple’s macOS is known for its stability. Now you are wondering why it would keep restarting like this and how you can fix the problem.

It’s not necessarily that your macOS is unstable, it is actually that it has detected a problem, and it is restarting to try and end or correct whatever software or hardware issue it has found. It cannot do so for whatever reason, and it keeps restarting to try and fix it. 

My name is Eric, and as an engineer, I have experienced and fixed many issues like this through my years of working with different computer systems. Problems like this are not only frustrating but can be very worrisome. Thankfully some basic troubleshooting can often solve them.

Keep reading below if you want to hear some basic troubleshooting tips for a problem like this and get some possible solutions to your problem.

Troubleshooting 101

Solving a problem like your MacBook Air restarting will require basic troubleshooting skills. This may sound scary, but it’s not. It involves asking some basic questions, finding the answers, and doing some tests to see if we can detect the source of the problem.

We will want to gather some information by asking and trying to answer a few questions. The main goal of the questions is to determine what has changed since the restart problem started happening.

Once we know some basic information, we can start doing some basic tests based on that information, and depending on the results of those tests, we may find the source of the problem and then come up with a solution.

Troubleshooting Questions

The following are some basic questions to ask about your system. Hopefully, the answers can point you in the right direction. There may be others you can think of on your own, but the idea is to discover what has changed and possibly caused the issue.

Do you have backups?

Hopefully, the answer is yes, but if you don’t, that’s ok; you can proceed with gathering other information. Having backups, especially frequent ones, can help us roll back to when this problem was not occurring. The more frequent the backups, the better, as it will allow us to narrow down the time when the problem started to happen.

If the issue is software related, it will allow you to restore your system to a point where it works. It will also allow you to perform tests without worrying about losing data due to changes you make during those tests. 

Frequent backups are always recommended, and if you do not have backups, you should do a full backup before you start making changes to your system if you can do so with the reboot problem.

Do you see any specific error messages when the system restarts?

When your system restarts, do you see any specific messages when it shuts down or starts back up? For this, we are looking for a message that indicates an error or issue, not just a message stating that it is restarting. It may have an error code or just a message.

You can use this message to figure out what is causing the problem. Sometimes the error message goes by quickly, and it can take time to read and remember. If possible, take a screenshot using the COMMAND+SHIFT+3 keys.

This saves a picture of the error message to your desktop; you can go back later and look at it.

Does your macOS need an update?

Have you seen any notifications saying that you need to update your macOS? If your macOS is out of date, it’s a possible cause. You can check to see if you need to update it by clicking on the Apple menu and looking for notifications beside System Settings.

Are you using a specific application or performing a specific task when the system restarts?

If you are, this can help identify an application or device that is causing the restart. Try to think and identify if there is anything in common during the restarts. Are you doing a specific task or action? Is there a specific application running or trying to start up?

Have you recently installed any new hardware?

Believe it or not, a restart problem can often be due to hardware or a peripheral device that you have plugged into your system. Try to remember if you have installed or plugged in any new devices recently, such as a mouse, headphones, speakers, external drives, or anything else.

Remember when you added that device and if your problem started shortly after using it.

Have you recently installed any new applications/software?

A new application or an update to an existing application is often a likely cause of an issue like this. Try to remember when you installed recent applications or if you have updated any of them. Try to narrow down any that were right before the problem started. 

Is your system overheating?

Check your system when it restarts. Does it feel hot to the touch? If so, it could be overheating, and your computer is shutting down to prevent further damage. Several things can cause overheating, usually due to poor ventilation. 

Has anything else changed or happened to your system recently?

Have there been any other recent changes to your system around the time the restarts began? These changes can include removing files, running a utility to clean up your system, or anything else that could have modified your file system.

Has anyone else been using your system?

If anyone else uses your MacBook Air or has access to it, they may have installed something or made some changes that could be causing the problem. You should talk to them about the last time they used it and if they saw the same issue.

Tests and Possible Solutions

After gathering some information from questions like the ones listed above, you can begin testing your system based on answers to those questions and possibly take actions to fix the problem. Below are some general scenarios and possible solutions.

The best way to troubleshoot a problem is to start with the most common issues and the simplest solutions. This usually gives you the quickest and best results.

Update to macOS

It’s possible that your macOS needs an update, and this is one of the first things I would check. An out-of-date macOS can cause compatibility issues with other applications and hardware. 

While a specific application or device may be causing the issue, they are not compatible with older versions of macOS, and updating may quickly solve your problem. You can check to see if you need an update by clicking on the Apple menu in the upper left corner of your desktop and opening System Settings.

You might see a message reading Software Update Available in the upper left corner (highlighted in blue below) when opened. If there is an update available, click on the Update Now button.

On the other hand, a macOS update has caused your problem. If you have an older application or hardware running on your system and it is incompatible with the latest macOS update, it could be causing a restart condition like this.

In the next couple of sections, we’ll discuss how devices and applications may not be compatible with the current macOS, and later we will also discuss rolling your system back to a previous state which you can do to revert back to a time before you had the macOS update.

Hardware Problem

Whenever hardware is mentioned, many will panic, thinking something is wrong internally with their computer, and they won’t be able to fix it. The MacBook Air is not easy to open up, and it is very hard to upgrade internal components, so you most likely have not added any internal hardware.

Here I am mostly referring to external hardware or peripherals such as a mouse, keyboard, external drive, thumb drive, printer, etc., that you may have connected via USB, BlueTooth, or any other type of external connection. These are easy to test; if you have added any recently, it should be a top suspect.

If you haven’t added anything recently, a device may have failed. Either way, a bad or incompatible device can often cause restarts. So the easiest way to test this is to start removing those devices. 

If a cord or cable attaches them, unplug them, and if Bluetooth connects them, go into your settings and disconnect them. Restart your system if it does not reboot on its own, and see if the restarting problem has stopped. 

If the problem is gone, you will know that one of your external devices is causing it. If this is the case, plug each device in, one by one, and wait to see if the restart issue returns. 

If it does, you will know that the last device you plugged in is the issue. You should start with any recently added devices first since these will have the highest chance of having an issue.

You can then determine if that device needs to be repaired, replaced, or just left disconnected. It’s possible that your device is not compatible with a new macOS update. If that is the case, you may need to download a new driver for the device or contact the manufacturer to see if they have solutions.

Software Problem

This will be a prime suspect if you have recently installed new software or a new application just before the restart issue began. The application may have a glitch, a bug, or just be incompatible with your system. 

If the restart always happens when you are using the specific application, then this is a sure sign that it is the culprit, and the first thing you should do is uninstall the application. Once uninstalled, you can restart your machine and see if the problem is resolved.

Suppose you cannot tie the restarts to the use of a specific application. In that case, you can try uninstalling any software or applications you installed just before noticing the problem. This sounds like a pain, but you can reinstall them again after you uninstall and test your MacBook.

You can back up any data associated with the application. Uninstall the apps one by one and restart your computer to see if the problem persists. 

Don’t forget that some of your apps may have had updates recently, so even if it was not a new install, it could be an issue from an update to an application. Also, it is possible that a macOS update is not compatible with your application.

If the problem stops after removing an application, you have found the cause. Leave the application uninstalled, and if you need the application on your computer, research to find out if others have had issues with that application.

If needed, you can contact the developers of that application and find out if they have seen the issue and if they have any solutions.

Error Messages

If you see an error message before, during, or after the reboot, you can use it to help fix the problem. There are many error messages and possibilities, too many to cover here, so the best thing to do is use Google.

Try to capture the message with a screenshot, or if you’re lucky enough to select and copy it, just put the message in the Google search window and do a search on it. You’re likely to find some good information as to what is causing the problem and how to solve it.


If you notice your system getting hot to the touch near the time it restarts, you may be experiencing an overheating situation. Ensure your system is well-ventilated by wiping it down with a soft cloth to remove any dust or debris and removing clutter from around it.

You should also have your MacBook sitting on a hard surface. Soft surfaces such as a bed or blanket can smother the system and hold heat in. 

If your system is already clear of debris and clutter and still overhearing, try propping the back of it up slightly so that air can flow underneath it. You can use a pencil or some small object under the back side to prop it up and allow air to circulate around it.

You can also place a small fan on your desk and direct the air to your computer. This should provide enough cooling to alleviate any overheating problems. If your Macbook stops restarting, then you will know this is the problem, and you can take action to keep the unit cool in hot conditions.

Use Time Machine to Roll Back

If you have done regularly scheduled backups and the above tests and possible solutions have not provided any results, it may be time to try rolling your system back to a previous state before the restarts were happening. 

Try to figure out when the restarts first started happening. You can then restore your system from a Time Machine backup that was done before the issue started. Once the system is restored, restart your computer and check to see if the problem is fixed. 

If it works, you are good to go. If not, try going even further back in time and see if that works. 

Factory Reset

If all else fails, you can try to do a factory reset to get your MacBook Air back to the state it was in when you first purchased it. You may only want to use this as a last resort since it will wipe your hard drive clean, and you will lose any personal data you may have on the system.

If you choose to do a factory reset, make sure you first back up any personal data to an external drive or the cloud. Once you have restored your system, you can load your personal data back onto your local drive if needed. 

Failure or Damage

If none of the solutions above have worked, your system may have an internal failure or damage. Periodically, parts fail, but large impacts, liquid, or other things can damage components like memory or a hard drive, which may internally be causing your problem.

In this case, you may need to get help from Apple Support or take a trip to the Genius Bar. If your system is still under warranty or you have Apple Care, it may be covered, and you can get it fixed or replaced depending on your particular situation.


If your MacBook Air is experiencing a restart problem, it can be frustrating and quite concerning. Various issues can cause this problem, and they range from simple to complicated, so solving this problem can require some in-depth troubleshooting.

I hope the information above can help you to track down and fix your problem. As usual, let me know if you have any questions or comments. I would love to hear from you.

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