The best way to Reset PRAM and SMC on a Mac

Is your Mac acting weird or crashing? Are the indicators and lights not working properly? Does it refuse to charge properly? Is the operating system sluggish? The answer to these problems could be a problem with your PRAM or SMC settings.

Sometimes these settings can be confused or knotted for various reasons. In this case, you can often remedy this by performing a factory reset. Below we'll show you exactly how it's done.

Note: Resetting PRAM and SMC is usually safe, but not a guaranteed solution. Make sure to try a simple reboot and other troubleshooting first. Also, back up your data before you begin.

Reset PRAM / NVRAM

PRAM is the abbreviation for Parameter Random Access Memory. It's a type of storage used to store system preferences on Macs, such as: For example, screen resolution, time zone, speaker volume, etc. It is similar to the CMOS used on Windows-based PCs and requires a battery to keep the settings when the Mac is off. PRAM is used in older Macs.

NVRAM is the abbreviation for Non-Volatile Random Access Memory. It has the same function, only that it is based on the flash memory technology. Hence, no battery is required to keep the data intact while the Mac is turned off. NVRAM is used in newer Macs.

If problems arise, both can be reset to fix any potential problems. Note, however, that this doesn't always work right away. You may see a persistent gray screen like your Mac isn't sure what to do while you press the keys. This could be because of a problem with your keyboard and other connected devices.

If so, unplug all other accessories, make sure your keyboard does not need new batteries, and try again.

Note: This will reset any customized settings, so some adjustments may be required after you log back in.

Reset the PRAM keyboard keys

Step 1: Shut down your Mac.

Step 2: Press Option + Command + P + R keys at the same time.

Step 3: Let go of the keys. You'll need to do this at different times depending on whether or not your Mac has a T2 security chip. Most Macs released after 2018 do this.

  • Macs without an Apple T2 Security Chip: After the second start tone.
  • Macs with the Apple T2 Security Chip: After the logo appears a second time and disappears.

Step 4: After logging in, open System Preferences and adjust your settings if they have been reset. This can include the time zone and display resolution.

Check if the problems plaguing your Mac are still there. If they are gone, resetting your PRAM / NVRAM worked.

Reset the SMC

Short for System Management Controller, the SMC handles a different batch of settings related to hardware. The list includes thermal management, power management, battery charging, LED indicators, hibernation, and the behavior of opening and closing the MacBook lid.

If you have hardware issues, the SMC may need to be reset. A faulty SMC can lead to overheating and various power problems. Resetting the SMC to its original factory settings is easy, but the process is different for desktops and Macbooks.

Note: This will reset any customized settings, so some adjustments may be required after you log back in.

Desktops

Step 1: Shut down your Mac and unplug the power cord.

Step 2: Wait 15 seconds and then plug the power cord back in.

Step 3: Wait another five seconds, then press the power button.

Laptops (T2 security chip)

Reset MacBook Pro Keyboard SMC

Step 1: Shut down the MacBook.

Step 2: Press and hold the Ctrl + Option + Right Shift keys at the same time.

Step 3: After seven seconds, hold down the power button while holding down the other three buttons.

Step 4: Hold down all four buttons for an additional seven seconds, then release them.

Step 5: Wait five seconds and then press the power button.

Laptops (no T2 security chip, non-replaceable battery)

The following steps apply to these models:

  • MacBook Pro mid-2009 to 2017
  • MacBook Air 2017 and older
  • All MacBook models except the 13-inch model from mid-2009

MacBook Pro Keyboard Reset SMC Non-removable

Step 1: Shut down the MacBook.

Step 2: Press and hold Left Shift + Ctrl + Option + Power / Key for 10 seconds.

Step 3: Release all four and press the power button.

Laptops (no T2 security chip, replaceable battery)

The following steps apply to these models:

  • All MacBooks and MacBook Pros from early 2009 and older
  • MacBook 13-inch mid-2009

Step 1: Shut down the MacBook.

Step 2: Remove the battery.

Step 3: Press and hold the power button for five seconds.

Step 4: Reinstall the battery.

Step 5: Press the power button.

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