How long does it take to turn on a dead Mac?

Quick Answer

There are a few factors that determine how long it takes to turn on a dead Mac:

  • Cause of the issue – Hardware failure vs software issue
  • Age and model of the Mac – Newer models with SSD boot faster than older ones with HDD
  • Steps taken to troubleshoot – Basic SMC/PRAM reset vs in-depth troubleshooting and repairs

In simple cases, a basic SMC/PRAM reset and troubleshooting could revive a dead Mac within minutes. But for serious underlying hardware issues, complex troubleshooting, or the need for repair, it could take hours or days to get a dead Mac running again.

What Causes a Mac Not to Turn on

There are several potential causes for a Mac not powering on:

Hardware Failure

Hardware issues like failed power supply, faulty logic board, bad RAM, and failed hard drive can prevent a Mac from turning on. These require hardware troubleshooting, replacements, or professional repair.

Software Corruption

Corrupted OS system files, application conflicts, and software bugs can also lead to booting problems. Reinstalling the system or troubleshooting software is needed.

Loose Connections

Loose or faulty cable connections for power, display, and internal components can stop a Mac from booting up fully. Checking connections and reseating cables may help.

Battery and Power Issues

For laptops, an exhausted battery or faulty power adapter could lead to failure to turn on. Troubleshooting power and charging system is required.

Liquid Spills and Damage

Liquid spilled on a Mac can short circuit components and prevent powering up. Professional cleaning or repair may be necessary.

Troubleshooting Steps to Revive a Dead Mac

Here are some basic troubleshooting steps to attempt reviving a dead Mac:

1. Check Connections and Reset SMC

– Ensure all cables are properly connected.
– Try disconnecting all peripherals and cables and reconnecting them properly.
– On MacBooks, press Control-Shift-Option and power button together to reset SMC.
– On iMacs, detach and reattach the power cable to reset SMC.

2. Try Safe Mode, PRAM and NVRAM Reset

– Boot into Safe Mode by pressing Shift on startup.
– Press Option-Command-P-R keys on startup to reset PRAM.
– Reset NVRAM by pressing Command-Option-P-R during boot.

3. Diagnose and Replace Faulty Components

– Test components like RAM, hard drive, cables using Apple diagnostics.
– If diagnostics detects faults, replace damaged components.

4. Reinstall or Upgrade Software

– Try reinstalling macOS from Recovery mode or external bootable drive.
– Upgrade to latest macOS software to fix bugs.

5. Erase and Reformat the Hard Drive

– Use Disk Utility in Recovery mode to erase the drive.
– Reformat drive and do a clean install of macOS.

6. Seek Professional Mac Repair

– For complex hardware faults, seek professional Mac repair services.
– Hardware issues like faulty logic board often require microsoldering and expertise.

How Long to Revive a Dead Mac – Factors

The time taken to get a dead Mac running again depends on:

Cause of the Issue

Issue Time to Fix
Minor software corruption Minutes to hours
Loose connections, SMC reset Minutes
Reinstalling macOS 1-2 hours
Replacing failed component Varies – hour to days
Liquid spill cleaning Days to week
Logic board repair 3 days +

Software issues are quicker to fix than hardware faults requiring replacement of parts.

Mac Model and Age

Mac Time to Startup
Newer MacBook Pro Under 30 seconds
Older iMac with HDD 1-2 minutes
Vintage Mac G3 5+ minutes

Newer Macs with SSD boot faster than older Macs with HDD. Vintage Macs take longer to startup.

Steps Taken to Troubleshoot

Steps Taken Time Required
SMC/PRAM reset Under 5 minutes
Reinstall macOS 30-120 minutes
Apple diagnostics testing 15-30 minutes
Replacing major component Hours to days
In-depth repairs Days to over a week

More complex steps like repairs take longer than simpler SMC reset or software fixes.

Best Practices to Minimize Mac Downtime

Follow these best practices to avoid a dead Mac and minimize downtime:

Keep the MacOS Updated

Regularly update to the latest MacOS version to fix bugs and security flaws that can cause boot problems. Avoid outdated operating systems.

Use Antivirus and Firewall

Use security tools like antivirus software and firewalls to prevent malware that could corrupt the system.

Backup Data Regularly

Maintain regular backups via Time Machine that allows quick restore if the system needs to be erased or reinstalled.

Handle MacCarefully

Be careful with Mac handling to avoid accidental drops, spills that could damage hardware and prevent booting.

Use Protective Cases

Use padded bags when traveling and cases or covers to minimize damage from drops and accidents.

Avoid Questionable Sites and Software

Refrain from downloading questionable software or visiting suspicious websites that could introduce malware.

Check and Clean the Mac

Periodically open the Mac case to blow away dust. Clean the fans and heatsinks to avoid overheating shutdowns.

Maintain Workspace Safety

Keep drinks away from Mac. Ensure workspaces remain clean, dry, and well-ventilated to prevent hardware issues.

When to Seek Professional Assistance

While basic troubleshooting and repairs can be done self, seek professional help when:

  • You lack technical skill or confidence
  • Repair involves small, intricate components
  • Liquid spill or catastrophic hardware damage
  • Diagnostics detect a failed logic board, RAM slot, etc.
  • A replacement part doesn’t solve the no power issue
  • A software or OS reinstall fails to resolve the problem

Mac service centers have microsoldering expertise for logic board repairs needed for many no power faults. Seek professionals early on to avoid wasted effort or further damage.


Reviving a non-functional Mac can take just minutes if the cause is simple, like an SMC reset or minor software fault. But hardware failures, liquid damage, or the need for replacement parts could have Macs down for hours, days, or over a week. Seek professional assistance promptly if DIY efforts don’t get a dead Mac running again. Consistent maintenance and handling precautions are key to minimizing downtime when problems do occur.