Home > Random > Fixing the Blank Screen on my Macbook Pro – Deleting the sleepimage

Fixing the Blank Screen on my Macbook Pro – Deleting the sleepimage

In the midst of a super-busy week I experiencing a heart-sinking feeling: I opened the lid to my macbook pro and all I got was a blank screen.  Earlier in the day I had closed my computer to take it with me to meeting.  Every other time it simply went to sleep and then “woke up” when I opened the lid.  If I had left it unplugged for a while it would take a bit to start up, but this time I got nothing.  I tried charging it, but then when I tried starting it, I would get the start up sound, but then just a black screen staring at me.  It would accept some start up commands (like zapping the PRAM), but beyond that it was dead.  I thought it might just be the screen went out, but it was obvious no other functions worked (i.e. volume, keyboard brightness, etc.).

Blank Screen on a MacBook Pro (obviously not mine).

Blank Screen on a MacBook Pro (obviously not mine).

After trying everything I could think of, I finally found a message board that suggested it could be a corrupted sleep image.  After deleting the corrupted file, I was able to get things running.  It was such a frustrating and nerve-wracking experience, I figure I could go through the steps I took and hopefully save someone else some grief if encounter a similar problem.  Here is what I did to fix my problem.

  1. Start your macbook (pro) in target disk mode
    • Connect your computer another mac via firewire.
    • Start up the working mac and then press the power button on the mac that is not working
    • While it is starting, hold down the “T” key.
    • Your mac should show up as an external hard drive in the finder of the other mac
  2. Delete the Sleep Image
    • Open Finder in the working computer
    • Press CMD+Shift+G
    • Enter “/volumes/Your Computer/private/var/vm/” where “Your Computer” equals the name of the broken mac as seen in Finder.
    • Delete the “Sleepimage” file
      • I also deleted the “swapfile0″ file which was there, but I am not sure if this is necessary.
    • Empty the Trash
  3. Delete the Extension files
    • Navigate to the /System/Library folder on the broken mac
    • Delete the “Extensions.mkext” file
      • I also deleted the “Extensions.kextcache” file which was there, but I am not sure if this is necessary.
    • Empty the Trash
  4. Eject the broken mac just like you do a regular external hard drive.
  5. Press the power button on your mac if it is still running and remove the firewire cable.

If everything goes like it should, your macbook (pro) should work like normal.  I immediately backed up all my important files and disabled sleep mode via the preferences pane.

Note: The first time I tried this I followed the directions found here, but it did not work.  I tried it again and deleted the additional files noted above and emptied the trash can and everything worked that time around. HT to ariejan.net for getting me in the right direction.

UPDATE: For me, this problem escalated from a one time thing, to a frequent occurrence, until finally I could not shut the computer off without getting the blank screen.  I took it to the IT Department at the University where I work.  They ended up sending it off to Apple who replaced the Nvidia graphics card.  Even though my MBP was out of warranty they replaced everything free of charge because this is a known issue for them.

  1. Mik
    November 3rd, 2009 at 02:40 | #1

    Hello

    I have similar problem with macbook white. I tried a lots of tips how to fix the stucked macbook with black screen of death, but didnt work. Then i found this page. I don’t understand, how can i
    start target disk mode on stucked macbook, when i see only black screen after turn on. In this cause is not possible to turn on the target disk mode, or is it?
    (better describe the problem – after i turn on macbook, i see white light diode, but screen is black forever. target mode is possible to turn on in advanced step with white screen…??).
    If you have some idea, thanks a lot.
    Have a nice day, sincerely Mik

  2. November 3rd, 2009 at 07:59 | #2

    @Mik
    What you are describing is exactly what I had happen. My MBP would sound like it was booting up. I would hear the start up sound and get the light on, but even though it sounded like things were starting up, it would never go through with it (at first I thought I had a problem with the screen). I knew this was not the case because commands like PRAM reset (Command+Option+P+R) would work. However after booting commands would not work (for instance, the volume keys wouldn’t make their sounds).

    So even though it was not booting, it was accepting start up commands. Upon start up, I just held down the “T” key while the computer was hooked up via firewire. The screen remained blank, but the disc registered on my other mac.

    I hope that helps.

  3. Malte
    December 1st, 2009 at 06:37 | #3

    Hello,

    found your page here. I have (almost) the same problem with the same MBP. But mine isn’t doing anything. Not even accepting start up commands. And it won’t target-mode as well.

    Any suggestions? I am totally out of ideas.

    Would be great. Thank you.

  4. December 1st, 2009 at 09:35 | #4

    I don’t know what to tell you. If it is a problem with the video card (as mine was) you might be able to get it fixed for free… at least I was able to. I finally had to give in and take it to Apple. Sounds like you might need to do the same.

  5. EC
    January 9th, 2010 at 02:28 | #5

    Computer is going AI on me. The guide worked the first time I tried it, but now my mbp has started making new sleepimage files for itself on startup. Any ideas?

  6. CGREEN
    January 13th, 2010 at 16:27 | #6

    i almost have the same problem, but my macbook pro starts up and makes the noise that it normally makes but it then stayes white, by this i mean the screen just stays white and flickers what should i do?

  7. Robert
    February 4th, 2010 at 20:56 | #7

    i hope it work same problem if it does thank you now i can do my graphic art work and go back to work again

  8. February 28th, 2010 at 10:27 | #8

    I had the black screen of death last week, and after nothing was found to be wrong with it by a mac engineer. The screen came back to life as soon as he started it, still he tested the graphics and found no problem there either. Yesterday the problem reoccured, and having just tried what you have written above, everything is fine, for now anyway. I’ll go turn off sleep mode I think. Thanks for the help.
    Matt

  9. Alex
    March 3rd, 2010 at 22:22 | #9

    Thank you thank you THANK YOU for posting this advice. My 17″ MBP had this exact same problem today and your steps fixed it. Just a note: I guess on 10.6 Snow Leopard the Extensions.mkext file is located in System>Library>Cache now. I had to do some searching for it but it’s still there.

  10. Bazzie
    August 27th, 2010 at 12:36 | #10

    Thank you freaking much for sharing this!

    Awesome, my MacBook is alive again!

    TAHNK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU

  11. September 19th, 2010 at 18:17 | #11

    I try this but my macbook pro has the black screen of death so my keybord doesnt work, or tgar is what i think, so what i cam do if i csnt press T! Godddd please help

  12. September 23rd, 2010 at 21:48 | #12

    If you are having the same problem I had then your keyboard should work enough to enter target mode. If it doesn’t then you probably have another problem.

  13. JOJO
    August 12th, 2011 at 15:12 | #13

    Hi There;
    So, I tried the steps above, minus number on ebecause I was just barely able to see my screen. Now, It on ly goes as far as the apple on the start-up page and I cannot see anything turning but can hear the fan etc. Any help anyone?

  14. December 25th, 2011 at 23:59 | #14

    I don’t really get it. My sister won’t try either. Does the other laptop that is working need to be also a MacBook Pro? This is important because I did
    Not know how I made the white screen appear. I just Got a little angry because the mouse won’t click and I starting hitting the laptop. I don’t wanna get in trouble by my parents so I really need
    To fix it. But I can’t fix it now. If my parents don’t check on their laptop, than I can ask my sister to help me fix it tomorrow. My sister wasn’t doing it earlier because she was playing Fantastic Age. So this morning it was working perfectly but the mouse
    Won’t click so I started hitting the laptop and shut down than logged back in but there was that white screen. I really need to fix it. And how
    Do you get the mouse to click again? I’ve tried everything I can to fix the mouse and the white screen but I couldn’t so me and my sister went off to find a website that can help us fix the white screen and here! I have found one. I really need your help to fix the white screen and the unclicking mouse. Please help because I really, really, really, really, really, don’t wanna get in trouble by my parents. Thank you if you can comment back and help fix the unclicking mouse and the white screen. Once again, do you need another MacBook Pro that is working to fix the broken MacBook Pro? Because Iraq you do, I don’t have another MacBook Pro. This is my stepdad’s MacBook Pro and I don’t wanna get in trouble by him ever again. He will always yell at me if I do something wrong like breaking his MacBook Pro. So I’ll be glad if you can comment back and help! Thanks! Bye, once more I will return to this website to get your message if you comment back to my message. Bye! :]

  15. Johan Sjodin
    January 7th, 2012 at 22:30 | #15

    i start up my new macbook pro and type in my log in info but after that it goes to a starry pink n purple background n gets frozen… help?

  16. Peter Patilla
    January 11th, 2012 at 13:07 | #16

    Thank you. Tried lots of “solutions” given on a Google search all to no avail. Yours worked. Now have my grandson’s laptop working – no homework excuses!

  17. Alex Maxwell
    May 13th, 2012 at 17:36 | #17

    THANK YOU SO MUCH SO MUCH SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    After trying all of the above steps numerous times (resetting the PRAM, holding down all sorts of different types of keys) I finally got my screen to come back on and my computer works!

    I did what the original poster said but at first I couldnt get my computer to show up. Finally after holding down the power key for 15 seconds and then turning it back on I heard the chime! This hadn’t happened before so I quickly plugged in the firewire cord and held down t. then followed instructions, found all files and deleted them. voila! it works!

  18. Nate
    May 24th, 2012 at 19:01 | #18

    I also have a blank screen yet functioning macbook pro. It came with Tiger and I upgraded to Snow Leopard.
    I was able to access the hard drive vie firewire, however…
    When I tried to delete the sleepimage and swapfiIe0 I get the error

    “The operation can’t be completed because backup items can’t be modified.”

    How do I delete these?
    Thanks

  19. Nate
    May 24th, 2012 at 19:02 | #19

    Also,
    would reformatting my MBP change anything?
    Thanks

  20. Tiffany
    June 7th, 2012 at 19:18 | #20

    Hello, I thought I’d also share my chronicle. This article has solved my issue (so far).

    Here are my details:
    Macbook Pro – circa 2007
    OS 10.6.8
    NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT
    Note: Already had logic board replaced about 2 years ago due to previous black screen issue. Free Apple Store replacement due to the known NVIDIA chip issue. (This coverage is now expired as far as I know).

    Symptoms:
    - First occurrence: Black screen upon waking from sleep, directly after completing an Apple OS update
    - Subsequently, after restart, black screen
    - Volume buttons work (hear chirps)
    - Caps lock and num lock buttons work

    1. Brought it to the Apple store Genius Bar (USA). They test the caps lock, num lock and volume keys and see that they work. They plug it in to another Mac and do some sort of tests that I could not see. They inform me that they are not sure of the exact problem, but they can send it to be repaired (no matter what the issue) for about $300. Even if its the NVIDIA chip again, it’s not covered anymore. I declined until I could be sure, since they could not diagnose it exactly.

    2. I find this article, and since I don’t have one, I purchase a FireWire 800 on Amazon for a total of $6.00. I follow the instructions, except for that on my system, the Extensions.mkext file is located in: System > Library > Caches > com.apple.kext.caches > Startup. I delete the file in that folder. I also do not see Extensions.kextcache, so it is not deleted. I follow the rest of the instructions. The first time, it did not work, still a black screen. I tried again, and I made sure that the bad computer did not fall asleep during the process. No idea if that affected anything, or if it was just random, but the second time, it worked…

    3. I turn on my “bad” computer, the white screen, and then the grey apple screen hang for a little longer than usual, but VIOLA! I get the login screen and everything looks fine! I disabled the sleep mode under System Preferences (Sleep: Never) immediately. I have shut down and started up once since then and it’s still going strong.

    Thanks for the help. I hope this fix is permanent! I will try to post an update if it isn’t. :/

  21. June 8th, 2012 at 01:24 | #21

    Thanks for taking the time to write up your experience. Glad the advise worked.

  22. Mark T
    June 9th, 2012 at 09:39 | #22

    ANOTHER FIX FOR THIS PROBLEM
    I too had the same problem with my MacBook Pro (July 2009) running – lapsing to a non responsive black screen after waking from sleep and then after startup with safe boot/recovery boot/and alternate disk boot all failing to solve the problem.
    What work was purely a software fix by deleting corrupted caches.
    Using the TARGET DISK METHOD but this time after restarting in target disk mode on a second mac I went to the following location
    System/Library/Caches/com.apple.kext.caches/Startup and deleting all the caches that had been active recently which were , , and .
    Ejected MacBook from target disk mode and restarted.

    I suspect there was a kernel panic involved. The MacBook Pro will want to reindex after this process. I would also reset the PRAM and repair disk permissions with Apple’s Disk Utility (already loaded on all Macs).

    MacBook Pro now performing flawlessly.

    Mark T
    Sydney Australia
    10 June 2012

  23. Tiffany
    June 11th, 2012 at 23:52 | #23

    @Ben Kickert

    Sigh.. So, seems that it only lasted for 4 – 5 shutdown and startups for me, now i have the black screen again. I repeated the process and it worked for 2 or 3 more restarts, then back to black. Trying to diagnose with Disk Utility and use the “Verify Disk” feature, and the display shuts off in the process. I can’t get the screen to stay on long enough to try to fix or diagnose now.

    At least this solution let me get in and back up my important files. Looks like it’s back to the Apple Store. Maybe i’ll try a different store and see what they say. Best of luck to everyone else!

  24. nicholas
    September 5th, 2012 at 13:08 | #24

    @Mark T

    Deleting recent caches worked for me … wild. THANK YOU, here’s hoping it lasts …!

  25. torquil
    September 21st, 2012 at 15:04 | #25

    Try restting SMC if you haven’t already, worked for me when all else didn’t.

    http://support.apple.com/kb/HT3964

  26. Colin
    September 29th, 2012 at 03:06 | #26

    Hi,

    I’ve recently bought an (2nd hand) macbook pro 15″ mid 2010 model. I have almost the same problem as u guys do / did, but my computer DOES start up regular, and works fine for awhile, but then randomly the screen goes black and everything totally freezes.
    So if any 1 has or had this, please help me out…

    Colin

  27. Darren
    November 11th, 2012 at 09:46 | #27

    PHEW… Worked for me on 10.6 old 2.4G Model.

    I foolishly closed the lid on my mbp to put it into sleep mode with only a few percent of battery left. When I came back to it the battery was flat and when I plugged in and pressed the power button, voila the black screen of death. I could hear the startup sound and the caps lock/volume keys worked fine but a completely black screen. I followed the above instructions and upon reboot Im back up and running – phew!

    Ok some notes… My working Mac and broken Mac were both called “Macintosh HD” in finder so I had to change the name of my working mac HD so I could browse to the files I had to delete. Another thing, I had no Extensions.mkext or Extensions.kextcache file, dunno why but I never had to delete them. Another thing, no matter what I tried to press in combination with the power button my screen would never display anything, even when I pressed T to slave it up to my good mac,completely 100% blank, not even a backlight.

    Right, where’s my backup drive – good luck everyone!

  28. Regina
    December 4th, 2012 at 13:03 | #28

    Hello Everyone,

    Please Help! Help!! Help!!

    My Macbook pro got wet since 3 days ago, i dried it up and today it started working. But after working for about one hour, the screen went blank and since then, when i restart the system, the startup sound can be heard but that it! It doesnt come up again on the screen.

    The keyboard light is on and when you touch the keypad, you can hear the sound but the screen is still blank.

    What do i do?? There is no known Apple engineer here in my country….

    help pleassssssee!!

  29. Nabil
    March 31st, 2013 at 05:51 | #29

    Greetings,
    I had similar problem, “black screen” on my 17” MacBook Pro (2007). I followed the instructions posted above. After few hard attempts, my Mac worked just fine. I rebooted it by using disk1 & disk2. But when I closed the let after working for few hours, it went again into black screen state. Again, I followed the instruction on this site, and reformatted again. It worked for one week. I never dared to close the led. I just shut down whenever I finished working. I shut it down last night as I have been doing for the last 7 days, again it went into black scree for the third time. What should I do so it will never go into back screen again? I cab I prevented it from going to sleep state?
    N

  30. Nabil
    March 31st, 2013 at 09:37 | #30

    I followed the instructions above, it worked well. But, even after formatting my mac, I get the ‘black scree’ again and again. It happened to me three times. I need help, please. What should I do? How can I prevent it from going to sleep again? see my comment just above!!!!!
    Nabil

  31. May 28th, 2013 at 15:16 | #31

    You made my day, man!!! Big up for sharing this with us… Solved the very same issue you had over here to me. THANK YOU!

  32. Ben
    June 15th, 2013 at 15:37 | #32

    I have a blank screen as well, my FireWire is broken, is there a way to follow the above instructions without FireWire?? Thanks in advance!!

  33. Tyler
    July 10th, 2013 at 21:47 | #33

    My late 2007 MBP just died this past week, took it to the apple store and they said there was nothing they could do. They said my logic board died, so with that being said I took it all apart and reflowed my board using a heat gun. Only took me about an hour or so and it WORKED. It’s weird how it worked out because I just did the same thing to my old PS3. It’s pretty simple to do you are going to need small Phillips screwdriver, t6 torx bit, thermal paste and a heat gun. Only is going to cost you $15 for the paste. Worth it to take apart if you don’t have anything to lose.

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