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How to fix a Mac that won’t shut down

Wondershare Recoverit Authors

Jan 15, 2024 • Filed to: Solve Mac Problems • Proven solutions

Mac is usually known for its usability and strong tech-solutions. Apple's system is optimized to survey a clean, quality, and integrated product, with both hardware and software high-development features, working as one. But, sometimes, even their well-designed device may need repairs and knowledge on how to fix a Mac that won't shut down.

If you're trying to restart or shut down your Mac and the computer keeps getting stuck in the process, then it's time to consider taking a few steps on restoration. First, to discover how to fix a Mac that won't shut down, you need to take back and diagnostic:

Related: What if everything goes missing on the Desktop? Go there and get the fixes to "everything disappeared on Mac".
- 2 minutes to read it.

Also, these complications often occur after an OS, hardware, or software update. So, if you're having similar difficulties, the scenario requires a quick step-guide to reset and clear the system processes to know how to fix a Mac that won't shut down.

Solution 1: Reset the Mac's SMC

The Mac's System Management Controller (SMC) is an integrated circuit (chip) located inside the computer logic's keyboard and responsible for energy inmost physical components. The management unit controls:

As time goes by, the SMC's configurations may be disabled and generate operating anomalies on the computer, like an inability to turn on or off the system, to awake from sleep mode or to charge the battery, for example. To reset the SMC, choose one of the aspects below:

1. How to reset the SMC on Mac notebooks?

First, the solution to how to fix a Mac that won't shut down, according to your Mac model, depends on whether the battery is removable. Then, if the battery of the dead Mac is nonremovable:

    1. Unplug the battery charger from the device;
    2. Using the built-in keyboard, press "Shift + Control + Option" on the left side of the keyboard and compress the power button at the same time;

How to fix a Mac won't shut down-reset SMC

  1. Hold these keys and the power button for 10 seconds;
  2. Let go all keys;
  3. Thrust the power button once again to switch on your Mac.

If the battery of the Mac that can't be turned off is removable:

  1. Take out the battery and unplug the battery charger;
  2. Press and hold the power button for ten seconds;
  3. Reinstall the battery;
  4. Hold down the power button again, but this time to switch on your Mac.

2. How to reset the SMC on Mac desktop computers

Follow these steps to resolve how to fix a Mac that won't shut down for iMac, Mac mini, Mac Pro, and Xserve.

  1. Unplug the power cord;
  2. Wait 15 seconds;
  3. Plug the power cord back in;
  4. Wait 5 seconds and press the power button to turn on your Mac.

Solution 2: Reset NVRAM

NVRAM (nonvolatile random-access memory) is a small amount of special memory that your Mac possesses. The NVRAM is required to store certain settings and access them quickly, some examples are sound volume, display resolution, startup disk selection, time zone, and recent kernel panic information. If you are experiencing issues related to these settings, like how to fix a Mac that won't shut down, resetting NVRAM may also be necessary, as featured below:

Related: What is Kernel Panic and How I can fix Kernel Panic errors on Mac.
- 2 minutes to read it.
    1. Now turn it on and instantly hold down four keys together: Option + Command + P + R.

How to fix a Mac won't shut down-reset NVRAM

  1. Keep holding the keys for almost 20 seconds during which your Mac might appear to restart;
  2. Wait for your Mac to finish starting up.

Note: after doing the procedure, you might want to open System Preferences and adapt any settings that were reset, like sound volume, display resolution, startup disk selection, or time zone.

Solution 3: Try the Safe Boot

This is another method for how to fix a Mac that won't shut down. When you turn on your Mac in Safe Boot mode, it deletes system caches, which may help after an updating process or a crack with software issues. Also, it is the only way to discover if the problem is global or user-guided. Knowing that is worth to have a try and run the Mac in his safe mode, with these steps:

    1. Wait 10 seconds and press the power button again;
    2. Instantly after you hear the startup beep, hold down the "Shift" key
    3. Let go of the Shift key once you can see the Apple logo and a progress indicator on the display.

How to fix a Mac won't shut down-Try a Safe Boot

This guarantees that your Mac starts into safe mode. However, it takes longer than usual to reach the login screen or your desktop, so give it time. If your Mac works alright after turning on in safe mode, try to restart your Mac and see if an unexpected shutdown happens again.

Solution 4: Repair Disk with Terminal

You can even use the terminal to repair the disk. It has an interface that helps control the UNIX-based operating system that runs below Mac OS X and helps out with many such tasks and problems that are not intuitive. In this case, we are putting it to clear out all the cache data and font maintenance, which may help in how to fix a Mac that won't shut down.

  1. Go to your "Finder" icon;
  2. Click "Go" in the top menu bar and then "Utilities";
  3. Scroll down and open the "Terminal" application.

After opening, type all the following commands in the window, one-by-one in execution.

  1. rm -rf ~/Library/Caches/*
  2. rm -rf ~/Library/Saved\ Application\ State/*
  3. sudorm -rf /Library/Caches/*
  4. sudorm -rf /System/Library/Caches/*
  5. atsutil databases -removeUser
  6. sudoatsutil databases -remove
  7. sudoatsutil server -shutdown
  8. sudoatsutil server -ping
  9. sudorm -rf /var/folders/*

After you perform the last line, restart your Mac.


The tutorial offers a four-step guide with multiple solutions for how to fix a Mac that won't shut down. Read them with patience and calm before doing the tread. Each part contains different approaches to the repair service, divided into:

Also, you may need to observe day by day if everything's hardware or software related is working fine. Whatsoever, with all of the actions, you should be able to solve the problem out.

By the way, the Recoverit Mac data recovery tool helps you recover all kinds of files on Mac, even from an unbootable Mac. Go further and get the ways of recovering data from crashed Mac.

Recoverit author

Sue Wayne

staff Editor

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