Before we get our hands dirty, here’s a word of warning. If you’re wondering how to reboot a MacBook Pro, bear in mind it’s the last resort when all other methods to unfreeze your Mac had failed. Don’t try it too often as it may harm your system. No question, your Mac can handle rapid power losses and your hardware most likely won’t be hurt. What’s at risk though, is your data because each time you force reboot a Mac it affects the consistency of the file system. Now that you’ve been warned, let’s go.
Symptoms your frozen Mac needs a force restart
There are three common options for performing a soft reboot on a Mac. Click the 'Apple' menu and select 'Restart' from the drop-down menu if you are able to use your mouse to activate menus. Press 'Ctrl-Eject' to activate the shut down options for your computer. Press the 'R' key on your keyboard to restart your computer if you. Hold down the Option (Alt) key while you start up your Mac. Choose the volume you want to boot from by clicking on it when the options appear on screen. If your Mac is having problems with sound volume, display resolution, or time zones, resetting the NVRAM can help.
- Applications are not responding
- Pointer is not responsive
- Loud fan noise
- The screen goes black
- Mac unable to restart
Can you move the cursor? If yes, try this
Before you force restart a Mac, it’s always recommended to first try a software solution.
Go to the Apple menu
Click Restart in the menu that appears
Two ways to force restart a Mac
The simplest method: hold down the Power button till your Mac shuts down. Press the button again to restart it.
If your Mac hangs for good and the pointer is inactive:
Hold down Control + Command while pressing the Power button.
This is an alternative key combination to force restart a Mac. By the way, if you are on an iMac, the Power button is found on the back of your Mac. Voila!
Is Shut Down any different from Restart?
The difference between Shut Down and Restart is quite self-explanatory. When you perform a restart, your Mac will turn on again loading its previously active apps. As for shut down, your Mac won’t start until you press the Power button again. Interestingly, all new Macs have an automatic reboot feature built-in. So even if you sit and do nothing, your frozen Mac would eventually reboot by itself, though it takes a bit of patience.
How to force shut down a frozen Mac
If you need to force shut down a MacBook Pro or MacBook Air, all you need is again to press a Power button on your Mac’s keyboard.
Press and hold Power button for 2 seconds
Choose Restart, Sleep or Shut Down in the menu that appears
If you don’t want to reload the baggage of your previously opened apps, tick off “Reopen windows when logging back in”. We do recommend you to deselect this option when your Mac is slow in order to lighten the weight on your RAM.
If your Mac won’t shut down:
Press and hold Power button for about 6 seconds
Hold the button until the Mac shuts down.
Needless to say that when you force restart a Mac all your unsaved projects may be lost. It’s unfair, we know.
Why does my Mac keep freezing?
The obvious explanation is your Mac lacks memory. Or to put another way, there are too many active processes running on your Mac. First off, go to Activity Monitor to check your memory usage.
Go to Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor
Click the Memory tab
Now, look into how heavily your Memory is loaded. Quit apps that eat up too much memory for no reason. While this may work as a temporary solution, it doesn’t stop your Mac from freezing up again. You can either force reboot your Mac each time or opt for a radical solution. Below are a few more ideas you can try.
More ways to fix a frozen Mac
Restart your Mac in the Diagnostics mode
Shut down your Mac and reboot while pressing D key. Within the menu that appears, launch the Apple Diagnostics tool. This will check your Mac’s drive for errors. From then, follow the prompts to finish the diagnostics.
Clean up your Mac
Remove old unused apps, system junk, and pervasive browser extensions. For this purpose, try running CleanMyMac application on your Mac.
It’s quite effective in removing all junk from your Mac and has a number of helpful utilities, like RAM free up or app uninstaller. Download it for free here .
Reinstall your macOS
This is the most radical of all methods, that’s why it’s so effective.
Check out how to clean install macOS Sierra
Instructions for macOS High Sierra
How to clean install macOS Mojave
How to clean install macOS Catalina
Hope this guide has helped you. Before you force shut down this article, feel free to share it, using the social buttons below. Cheers!
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You set your Mac or Macbook which disk to start up from when more than one startup disk is connected. This works for USB drives including the NinjaStik
For 2018 to 2020 Macs with the Secure Boot T2 Chip, see the 2020 Macbook Pro Boot from USB instructions.
A “startup disk” is a volume or partition of a drive that contains a bootable operating system.
You can set your Mac to automatically use a specific startup volume, or you can temporarily override this choice at startup.
Reboot Options For Mac OsxSet the default startup diskYou can change the startup disk your Mac automatically uses from System Preferences.
- From the Apple menu choose System Preferences.
- Click the Startup Disk icon in System Preferences, or choose View > Startup Disk.
- Select your startup disk from the list of available volumes.
The next time you start up or restart your computer, your Mac starts up using the operating system on the selected volume.
Temporarily change your startup disk with Startup Manager
Startup Manager allows you to pick a volume to start from while the computer is starting up.
Use these steps to choose a startup disk with Startup Manager:
- Turn on or restart your Mac.
- Immediately press and hold the Option key. After a few seconds, the Startup Manager appears. If you don’t see the volume you want to use, wait a few moments for Startup Manager to finish scanning connected drives.
- Use your mouse or trackpad, or left and right arrow keys to select the volume you want to use.
- Double-click or press the Return key to start up your Mac from the volume you selected.
If you have an optical drive connected to your computer, you can insert an installation disc to see it in Startup Manager. You can also attach FireWire or USB external hard drives that contain an operating system to add to the list of startup volumes.
Startup Manager automatically adds bootable volumes as you connect them.
Restart in OS X from Boot Camp
If you have started up your Mac in Windows using Boot Camp, you can use the Boot Camp system tray to switch your startup disk default back to OS X.
- In Windows, click the Boot Camp icon in the system tray.
- From the menu that appears, choose Restart in OS X.
Start from OS X Recovery
You can also start your Mac from OS X Recovery or Internet Recovery if your Mac was manufactured after 2011.
To start your Mac from the Recovery System, use these steps:
- Start up or restart your computer.
- Hold down the Command and R keys on your keyboard until you see the Apple logo appear onscreen.
Reboot Options For Mac Os
If you don’t see a volume listed
If you don’t see the volume you want to start your computer from, check the following:
Reboot Options For Macbook Pro
- If you’re using an external drive, make sure it’s connected and turned on.
- Make sure you’ve installed an operating system, like OS X or Windows on the drive you’re trying to start from. Volumes that don’t contain a valid operating system aren’t listed in Startup Disk or Startup Manager.
- If you’ve installed an operating system on a drive but it isn’t listed, the volume you’re trying to start from might need repair. If the volume contains OS X, start your computer from OS X Recovery and use Disk Utility to repair the volume, or reinstall OS X on the volume using the Recovery System.
- Depending on the Mac you are using and the version of OS X that is installed, the Recovery System volume (Recovery HD) might not show up in Startup Manager. Press Command-R during startup to start your Mac from the Recovery System.
For 2018 / 2019 Macbook Pro with the Secure Boot T2 Chip, see the 2018 Macbook Pro Boot from USB instructions.