Solution to MacBook Pro that won’t wake from sleep

We have found so many forums with owners of MacBook Pros ( MBP ) suffering from the following issue:

1. The MacBook Pro goes to sleep either by closing the lid or just by virtue of time.

2. Upon trying to wake the MacBook Pro, you get a black screen with or without the spinning beach ball of death.

3. Nothing brings it back to life, so you have to do a hard restart (holding down the power button to turn off).

These forums suggested everything from repairing permissions, to a clean install of the Operating System, to PRAM (Parameter RAM) & SMC (System Management Controller) resets, logic board failures, graphics cards failing that need to be replaced, etc.. We tried turning off Sleep Mode and Safe Sleep, an SMC reset, and when those didn’t help, we figured it was a software issue instead of a hardware one.

One forum suggested that USB devices attached to the MacBook Pro could interfere with the normal sleep mode and affect waking fom sleep.  We disconnected our external USB hard drive that we use for Time Machine backups, and the problem went away. Thinking that the drive being connected couldn’t be the real issue, here’s the solution that worked for us:

1. Turn off Time Machine.

2. Throw away all Time Machine backups from the USB external drive, including the sparsebundle file.

3. Re-activate Time Machine.

Problem solved: no black screens with the spinning beach ball due to the machine going to sleep and not being to wake up.

14 Comments on “Solution to MacBook Pro that won’t wake from sleep”

  1. didn’t work for me since I’ve never used time machine on my macbook pro. any other ideas?

  2. Try resetting the PRAM using the key combo of: command/option/p/r during startup.

  3. I cannot get a chime when I force the computer off and restart it, so I cannot reset the PRAM. Any other ideas??


  4. Sounds like the Mac cannot find a valid OS from which to boot. Try to startup with the OS CD (hold down the C key with the Operating System CD in the machine). Run Disk Utility first to check the disk.

  5. Tried all here and still nothing. No time machine on this computer either. I tried running on OS CD, it wouldn’t take the cd, now it won’t kick it out. The CD spins for a bit, then nothing. In addition to what is here I tried a safe start, nothing.

  6. What worked for me on my macbook pro running Lion was this:

    Shut down the computer. With the power adapter plugged in, hold down these keys together for 4 seconds: Shift, Control, Option, and Power. You will not see anything happen- the screen will still be black. Now power up. Go into System Preferences, Energy Saver, and put the Computer Sleep and Display Sleep settings on 1 min. Wait a minute and let it fall asleep. Try waking it up to see if it is ok now. If it’s all good, set it factory default or whatever you want and hopefully all continues to be well. Good luck!

  7. please i have that problem but it doesn’t boot up
    i can’t do anything how can i solve the problem.
    for example should i delete the RAM.
    or i don’t know please help me !!!

  8. all i see when i push the POWER buttom is the light blinking once and that’s it.
    When i still pushing the POWER buttom it feels like starting and in the same time it shut down
    stuf like that. please in need help !!!

  9. I tried the cntl/shift/option/pwr solution and my MBP booted up. Don’t know what the deal is, but I am completely frustrated with the hard starts. Can’t be good for the computer. I have resorted to shutting it down after each use if I’m going to be away for more than 5 minutes…Good luck with finding a solution.

  10. Same problem with an older MBP. Close lid, light stays on, doesn’t sleep. Open lid screen remains black, light remains on and fans running. Purchased and installed Snow Leopard hoping may be software issue. Still same issue, except when computer boots, all looks normal, mouse will move with track pad, however nothing functions. Dock doesn’t unhide for at least a full 10 minutes. Can someone please offer assistance. Thank you!

    Model Name: MacBook Pro
    Model Identifier: MacBookPro3,1
    Processor Name: Intel Core 2 Duo
    Processor Speed: 2.2 GHz
    Number Of Processors: 1
    Total Number Of Cores: 2
    L2 Cache: 4 MB
    Memory: 2 GB

  11. I have the same problem with my MBP. It goes to sleep when I shut the lid or by time and when I try to wake it up the screen flashes and then nothing. Even when I do a hard restart holding the power button down nothing happens unless I plug it into a power source. I’ve taken it to the Genius bar 5 times and it never happens for them so they can’t identify it. I have a co-worker who’s an IT guy with the same issue on his Macbook Air. I’ve also read enough discussions about this that I know were not all making this up. Apple needs to address this issue in their OS.

  12. I had a similar issue on my MBP with two physical disks, both bootable. When I start up and eject the disk that is not in use I have no problems.

    My friend with exactly the same set-up doesn’t get this problem, but his secondary hdd is not bootable.

    Might help someone.

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