Is your Mac beeping three times at startup? That can indicate several problems. Our guide will help you learn what MacBook 3 beeps mean, why they occur, and how to fix the issue.

Moreover, we'll show you how to recover data if your MacBook beeps three times and won't turn on. Whether you are using MacBook Pro or MacBook Air, this guide will solve your problem.

Table of Content
    1. Change or Clean Your RAM
    2. Check if You Have an Incompatible RAM
    3. Reset the SMC
    4. Reset NVRAM or PRAM
    5. Do a Hardware Test
    6. Contact a Local Apple Store

What Does It Mean When My MacBook Beeps 3 Times

MacBook Pro and Air have different numbers of beeps to signal specific problems. Moreover, the pause between the beeps can also indicate various problems. So, when it comes to MacBook three beeps, we have two patterns:

  • Three beeps, a five-second pause, and three more beeps - This beeping pattern signals that your MacBook's RAM is damaged or not working correctly. If you hear three beeps when turning on your MacBook, your RAM hasn't passed the integrity check. That means your RAM couldn't load correctly. On the other hand, if you've recently replaced your RAM, you might have installed it incorrectly. That explains why your MacBook won't turn on.
  • Three long beeps, three short beeps, three long beeps - This pattern signals that you're having problems with your MacBook's firmware, and your Mac is fixing it for you. In this situation, it is generally recommended to wait and allow the system to resolve the issue on its own.

The following fixes are applicable for the first type of three-beep pattern, as the second pattern represents a self-repair process carried out by the MacBook.

Before Trying to Fix the MacBook 3 Beeps Issue

When your MacBook beeps 3 times and won't turn on, we recommend accessing and backing up your files to avoid permanent data loss. You can retrieve data from a MacBook that won't turn on using Recoverit data recovery for Mac. This software features a Crashed Computer Recovery option, which allows you to create a bootable USB drive to start your computer and transfer data from it to external storage media.

Free Download
Free Download

Here's the video tutorial to recover your data.

Free Download
Free Download

You can also follow these steps to recover files from your unbootable MacBook:

  1. Find a working MacBook and Install Wondershare Recoverit on it.
  2. Go to the System Crashed Computer section and click Start.
    start system crashed computer recovery
  3. Get a blank USB drive to make it bootable, connect it to your computer, select it, and click Start.
    select a blank usb drive
  4. Click Format to start formatting your USB.
  5. After formatting, Wondershare Recoverit will start creating the bootable media drive.
    create a bootable usb drive
  6. Once the USB drive is bootable, follow the instructions on the screen.
    follow the instructions on the screen
  7. After finishing the steps above, you can boot your crashed MacBook. Connect an external hard drive to your MacBook.
  8. Set that hard drive as a destination and click Start Copy to move all your data from your crashed MacBook.
Free Download
Free Download

How To Stop a Macbook From Beeping 3 Times

Once you've recovered your files from your MacBook, you can start fixing the 3 beeps problem. We've prepared six methods to help you repair your MacBook beeping 3 times.

Method 1. Change or Clean Your RAM

If your MacBook beeps 3 times, it signals that it has problems with RAM. Thus, replacing your RAM can fix this issue.

Besides that, you can fix the problem by cleaning your RAM. Carefully remove it from the motherboard and use a soft cloth to clean it gently.

Method 2. Check if You Have an Incompatible RAM

incompatible macbook ram

You may be experiencing the MacBook 3 beeps on startup if your RAM is incompatible with your MacBook Pro or Air. Your RAM must have the correct type and speed for your MacBook model to work correctly. If not, you won't be able to boot your MacBook, and it'll beep three times when starting up.

Method 3. Reset the SMC

The SMC, or System Management Controller, is a chip that manages MacBook's physical components. Thus, resetting the SMC can solve the Mac beeping 3 times problem. However, note that you can't reset the SMC on a Mac with Apple silicon since it has the M1 processor.

The process of resetting the SMC differs depending on the type of chip your MacBook has.

Follow these steps to reset the SMC on a Mac with a T2 chip:

  1. Turn off your MacBook.
  2. Hold the Power button for ten seconds and release it.
  3. Wait a few seconds, then press the Power button again to turn on your MacBook.

Follow these steps to reset the SMC on a Mac without a T2 chip:

  1. Turn off your MacBook.
  2. Unplug the power cable.
  3. Press and hold the Shift, Options, Control, and Power keys.
    hold four keys to reset the smc
  4. Hold the four keys for ten seconds, then release them.
  5. Plug the power cord again and turn on your MacBook.

Method 4. Reset NVRAM or PRAM

PRAM and NVRAM are small amounts of memory to store specific settings on your MacBook. If they have some corrupted files, they can malfunction and cause the three beeps on your MacBook. Thus, resetting NVRAM or PRAM can solve the problem.

The steps for resetting NVRAM and PRAM are identical, so follow these steps:

  1. Turn off your MacBook.
  2. Press the Power button.
  3. Press and hold Command + Option + P + R.
    reset pram or nvram
  4. Hold the keys until your MacBook restarts again and resets your NVRAM and PRAM.

Method 5. Do a Hardware Test

Apple has a built-in feature that lets you do a hardware test. This Apple hardware test scans your MacBook and identifies and fixes issues. Thus, the hardware test can help you solve the "MacBook beeping 3 times" problem.

Follow these steps to do the hardware test on a M1 Mac:

  1. Turn off your MacBook and wait a few seconds.
  2. Hold the Power button until you see the startup options.
  3. Click Test to start the diagnostics test.
    run a hardware test on an m1 mac
  4. Let it scan your MacBook for problems and fix them.
    monitor the testing process

Follow these steps to do the hardware test on an Intel-based Mac:

  1. Turn your MacBook off and on.
  2. Press and hold the D key while your MacBook is turning on.
  3. Release the D key once you see a progress bar. That is the Apple hardware test running on your MacBook.
    hardware test in progress
  4. Once it finishes, it will show you the results, so be patient.
    hardware test on an intel-based mac

Method 6. Contact a Local Apple Store

If none of the methods above work, the safest step is to contact a local Apple Store. Find the nearest one to fix your RAM or motherboard. If it's beyond repair, they'll replace it for you.


If your MacBook Pro or Air beeps 3 times at startup, you're probably having problems with your RAM. Your RAM could be damaged or incompatible with your MacBook. Fortunately, you can fix the three-beep problem by cleaning or changing your RAM, checking if it's compatible with your MacBook, resetting the SMC, PRAM, and NVRAM, or doing a hardware test.

If these methods don't work, contact a local Apple Store to repair your MacBook. However, before fixing your MacBook, recover your files using Wondershare Recoverit.

David Darlington
David Darlington Jul 17, 24
Share article: