My mac is on, but the screen stays black. Help

Ok. So when I used my mac this morning, it was working fine. I turned it of, then came back to it after lunch. I turned on the mac, i heard the drive start up, and the click you hear when it turns on. The mac was on but the screen stayed black. I shined a flashlight on the monitor, but there was no faint image, and I can't remove the battery because the bottom is a single panel held in place by 10 screws. I really need help, because I use it for homework.

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Connect to an external monitor. If it's black you have a GPU/VGC or logic board problem (since GPUs on MacBook computers are integral to the logic board the only way to fix it would be a logic board replacement).

If you see a normal image you should be able to complete your homework. And your problem is with the internal video display chain. This could be a cable, controller/inverter (depending on the manufacture year of your laptop), or the display itself.

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There's another possibility for a dark screen, but only for the non-Unibody models with removable main batteries (2006-2008, Models A1150/A1211/A1226/A1260). These generations also have a replaceable PRAM battery, which helps the computer keep track of the time and screen resolution settings while the computer is powered off. When this battery weakens with age (which usually takes several years), the computer may exhibit one or both of these symptoms:

  • on powerup, the computer will make the normal startup sound, but the screen doesn't light up
  • the clock will be way off, resetting to a time like Jan 1, 1970

Since the default Date & Time setting for later generations of OSX is to synchronize time automatically from an Internet-based network time server, it's possible to have a weak PRAM battery for a long time without detecting it. If you have suspicions. you can switch your Date & Time system preference to manual, then shut down the computer and cold-start it, to see if the clock loses the manual setting.

If it's a PRAM problem, the dark-screen problem is a result of the failure of the computer to send a sync signal to the display at startup. Sometimes you can get the display to light up by starting up with the dark display, then doing a force-restart (Command-Control-Power). The computer may retain enough of a charge from the first startup to supply a sync signal for the restart.

If this is the problem, and you have a non-Unibody model that has a replaceable PRAM battery, you can get the parts and the replacement guides here. In Unibody/Retina models, PRAM power is drawn from the main battery, which remains in the computer at all times.

MacBook Pro 15" (Model A1150) PRAM Battery

MacBook Pro 15" (Models A1211, A1226, A1260) PRAM Battery

MacBook Pro Model A1150 PRAM Battery Replacement

MacBook Pro Model A1211 PRAM Battery Replacement

MacBook Pro Model A1226, A1260 PRAM Battery Replacement

Mentioned Items

MacBook Pro 15" (Model A1150) PRAM Battery Image

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Would you be able to get an image on your external monitor if you had a weak pram battery?

by gregwhiteshark

I tested my pram battery as you suggested. It kept the date/time I set manually through restart. I've replaced the entire display and I still don't get an image on my new display. External monitor works fine. Any suggestions?

by gregwhiteshark

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