Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Fixing your MacBook screen

Had a bit of a panic this morning when I let my MacBook go to sleep, and upon re-awaking the screen’s backlight would not come on. The screen itself was working, as I could see a small portion of the desktop in the middle where the Apple logo is, but the rest was un-viewable.
It’s working now, but not after trying almost every trick in the book. I’ve listed all of the methods here, mostly for my own reference in case it happens again but also for anyone having a similar problem.


First of all, make sure that the rest of the computer is working. If you have an external display handy, plug that in and use Fn+F7 to activate it (you may not need to hold down the Fn key depending on your Mac’s settings). If you can see your desktop on the external display then the problem is with the display – if not, you computer may have deeper problems. If you have VNC set up, you could try this too.

1. Set your brightness

Sometimes it’s the basic things – your brightness might be set to minimum. Use Fn+F2 to turn up the brightness (you may not need to hold down the Fn key depending on your Mac’s settings).

2. Zap your PRAM

One trick to deal with minor hardware problems is to reset your PRAM and NVRAM. To do this, power down your Mac, then, turn it on and hold down Command+Option+P+R at the same time, until your Mac makes the ‘ding’ noise again. Command is the Apple key, Option may be labelled as ‘alt’ on your computer.

3. Reset your Energy Saver settings

You may need to use an external monitor or VNC for this. While you Mac is booted, open System Preferences and choose Energy Saver. Under ‘Put the displays to sleep’, set the timer to 1 minute, and then wait 1 minute for your machine to go to sleep. Wake it up, and hopefully your screen will spring back to life.

4. Take out the battery

If your Mac is a portable, turn the computer off, unplug the AC power cord, and take the battery out. Next, hold down the power button for 5 seconds, and the re-insert the battery. Then boot up again. In my case, this is what worked.


  1. I have a macbook. The screen recently failed. I can dim button the display all the way and brighten it one and it will stay lit for a few seconds. Is there something I can do to fix the backlight or does the screen need replaced. I already tried new inverter. that didn’t work.

  2. Thanks for the tip.
    I had a bit of a shock with the screen not working this morning. But removing the battery, power cord, and pressing the power button did the job. I also did a reset on the NVRAM.

  3. I also have a macbook. And just recently I’ve been having trouble with it. Each time I open my mac the screen will flash and just go completely black. And it will continue to do this. Sometimes it will go on tho and stay on for me but for the most of the time it will just stay black. Anyone know what I can do? Or do I need to take it in for repairs? ….Thanks!

  4. I have a problem with my screen too, when i awaken my laptop from sleeping the screen will light up to the same dimness as when the screen is on it’s lowest brightness (when it’s pretty much black), and it will only light up to the normal brightness when i put the screen at a 45 degree angle. Very annoying when i’m trying to type cause i need cant see the screen properly. Does anyone else have this problem?

  5. I had a macbook which wsa brought recently only. I am facing this issue of bim screen. When checked with service centre they say that the main login board is having complaint and it will take me around 1600 dollars to repair it. I am very much disappointed with the finding. is there any way to find out what went wrong with this and whether what theya re saying is correct or not

  6. My backlight would not come on all of the way, like it was stuck in energy saver mode. I zapped the PRAM per Neil’s instructions and it solved my problem. Thanks so much for the information. You saved me a lot of headaches.