Find out how to Do an SMC and PRAM/NVRAM Reset on Your Mac

Sometimes your Mac acts strangely for no apparent reason: the lights are not working properly, the volume settings are jumbled, the screen resolution changes, or your Mac may not start at all.

You can solve some problems by closing all of your apps and trying to restart your computer. However, sometimes you need to reset the SMC and PRAM or NVRAM. Let's take a look at how to do each of them.

What is the SMC in a Mac?

The System Management Controller (SMC) is a chip in Intel-based Macs. It is involved in operating many physical parts of the machine, including LED displays, keyboards and other peripherals, fans, and power switches. It also plays a role in the behavior of your hard drive, the behavior of your Mac in sleep mode, and the power supply.

When should you reset the SMC?

The SMC is responsible for so many features in a Mac that if you find that your computer's hardware is working in unexpected ways, it's worth resetting it. Here is a list of the main symptoms that suggest you need to reset the SMC:

  • The battery or status lights are behaving strangely

  • The keyboard backlight does not work properly

  • Your MacBook won't turn on when you open it

  • The power supply light does not reflect what it is doing

  • The fan runs at an unusually high speed, especially under light load

  • The trackpad does not work

  • Your computer won't connect to Wi-Fi

  • The target display mode turns on or off unexpectedly

  • App icons jump over a long period of time when opened

  • Your computer runs slowly even when the CPU usage is low

  • Your computer is shutting down slowly

Resetting the SMC is also one of the recommended solutions if your Mac won't start.

How to reset the SMC on a Mac

There are several ways to reset the SMC depending on what Mac you have. For example, the method of resetting a MacBook Pro is different from that of an iMac.

Before you begin, close any open apps and restart your computer. That can fix many problems on its own.

Reset the SMC on an M1 Mac

You don't need to reset the SMC on a MacBook or Mac Mini with Apple Silicon. In fact, you can't because Apple's chip doesn't have a systems management controller.

If you encounter any of the problems that normally resetting the SMC would solve, some users have suggested that turning off your Mac for 30 seconds will do the trick before restarting your computer.

But for the most part, you don't need to worry about that.

Reset the SMC on an Intel MacBook

Photo credit: Apple

How to reset the SMC to a MacBook with the Apple T2 Security Chip (Models from 2018 or later):

  1. Shut down your Mac.

  2. Press and hold the button Power switch to the 10 seconds, then restart.

  3. If that doesn't solve the problem, turn off your Mac again.

  4. Press and hold the button right shift key, the left selection key, and the left control button to the seven seconds.

  5. Hold down these buttons while holding down the button Power switch to the seven seconds.

  6. Release all buttons and wait a few seconds. Now restart your MacBook.

How to reset the SMC to a MacBook with a non-removable battery (mostly before 2018):

  1. Shut down your Mac.

  2. press and hold shift, control, and possibility on the left side the keyboard. Now hold the button down Power switch (or Touch the ID button) also.

  3. Hold down all keys for 10 seconds.

  4. Release all the buttons and turn on your MacBook.

How to reset the SMC on an older one MacBook with removable battery (mostly before 2015):

  1. Shut down your Mac.

  2. Remove the battery.

  3. Press and hold the button Power switch to the five seconds.

  4. Reconnect the battery and turn on your MacBook.

Reset the SMC on an iMac, Mac Mini, or Mac Pro

Photo credit: Apple

How to reset the SMC to a Desktop Mac with a T2 chip (like an iMac Pro):

  1. Shut down your Mac.

  2. Press and hold the button Power switch to the 10 seconds.

  3. Release the power button, wait a few seconds, and restart the computer.

  4. If the problem isn't resolved, turn off your Mac again.

  5. Pull the plug out of the socket the power cord.
  6. Waiting 15 seconds.

  7. Reconnect the power cord and wait five seconds.

  8. Turn on your Mac.

How to reset the SMC older desktop Macs (mostly before 2018):

  1. Shut down your Mac.

  2. Pull the plug out of the socket the power cord.
  3. Waiting 15 seconds.

  4. Reconnect the power cord and wait five seconds.

  5. Turn on your Mac.

What are PRAM and NVRAM in a Mac?

The PRAM (Parameter Random Access Memory) and the NVRAM (Non Volatile Random Access Memory) contain information for configuring a Mac.

This includes aspects such as date and time as well as desktop, volume, mouse and other control settings. These memory areas are powered by a small battery so that these settings are not lost every time you turn off your computer.

Intel-based Macs have NVRAM, while older PowerPC models have PRAM. People may be referring to PRAM when they actually mean NVRAM. It doesn't matter – they do the same thing and you reset both of them the same way.

When should you reset PRAM or NVRAM?

Problems with PRAM or NVRAM are often software related. Your computer may forget certain settings or encounter connectivity issues due to a problem with this memory. You can try a PRAM reset if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • The volume does not respond properly

  • The startup volume is not set (a question mark appears before your computer starts up).

  • Weird mouse scroll and click speeds

  • Your keyboard is not responding normally

  • The time zone or clock is wrong

  • The resolution of the display changes or will not change

  • AirPort problems

  • Your computer is shutting down slowly

Resetting the PRAM or NVRAM on a Mac

If you have an M1 Mac, there is no need to reset the NVRAM. If necessary, the process will run automatically when you restart your computer.

With older Macs, you don't need to know if your NVRAM or PRAM is there, as the process to reset both Macs is the same:

  1. Shut down your Mac.

  2. Press the Power switch.

  3. Before the gray screen appears, press the key Cmd, possibility, P., and R. Keys at the same time.

  4. Keep holding the buttons until your computer restarts and you Hear the start tone a second time.

    1. On Macs with the T2 security chip, press and hold the keys to The Apple logo appears and disappears for the second time.

  5. Let go of the keys.

After resetting NVRAM or PRAM, you may find that some of your settings are lost, such as: B. time, volume, mouse settings and keyboard settings. If you remember your previous computer settings, you should be back to normal in a few minutes.

More common Mac problems to fix

While you don't have to regularly reset your Mac, it's still good to know what does it do and how to fix any problems you might run into. It's not a panacea, however, and could be a sign of greater concern on the horizon.

So, always watch out for the red flags that your Mac has a problem and learn how to fix them.

Photo credit: Stokkete / Shutterstock

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About the author

Andy Betts
(223 articles published)

Andy is a retired print journalist and magazine editor who has been writing about technology for 15 years. During this time he has contributed to countless publications and written texts for large technology companies. He has also provided expert commentary for the media and hosted panels at industry events.

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By Andy Betts

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