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Repair Gray Screen on MacBook, iMac, or Mac Pro

Vishal  | Updated on February 16, 2021 | Mac data recovery   | 14 Comments   | 4 min read

Summary: Grey screen of death giving nightmares? This post shares some easy ways to repair gray screens on iMac, MacBook, or Mac Pro. Download the free-to-try Mac data recovery tool to create a recovery drive and recover data.


Repair Gray Screen on MacBook, iMac, or Mac Pro
Table of Content

1. Disconnect All External Peripheral Devices
2. Use Disk Utility to Repair the Storage Drive
3. Start Up Mac by Using Safe Boot Mode
4. Reset NVRAM and PRAM to Fix the Issue
5. Use Recovery Drive to Salvage Mac Data
6. Reinstall macOS

It can be quite frustrating when your iMac, Mac mini, MacBook Air, or their Pro model stalls on a plain gray screen. Sometimes, your Mac doesn’t even show an error message stating the real cause behind the gray screen. But you may find the Apple logo, a spinning globe, a folder with a question mark, or a prohibitory sign along with the gray screen. In any case, your Mac gets stuck, and you can’t skip the screen to move forward to the login screen.

So, what do you do? First off, you should try to find out all the possible causes behind a gray screen on Mac. Let’s start from there.

Reasons behind the Mac Gray Screen of Death Error

  • A defective or unauthorized peripheral device causes your Mac to stall at the gray screen while waiting for the device to respond to the command.
  • Peripheral devices that don’t have an updated firmware can lead to Mac gray screen with circle slash.
  • A faulty startup drive might cause the Mac gray screen with no logo. Read More: Repair your macOS startup drive
  • If you’ve installed any new program on your Mac and it’s not functioning correctly, it’ll cause Mac gray screen error.

If you’re facing the Mac gray screen after login or at startup, there are multiple ways to try and fix the issue. Take a look at some in the next sections.

1. Disconnect All External Peripheral Devices

A defective peripheral or cable causes the signaling pins on Mac’s ports to get stuck in a single condition (low, high, or neutral). This signaling issue freezes your Mac during the boot process. You need to remove all the peripherals one by one by using the method mentioned next.

  1. Shut down the Mac by pressing the Power button for 3 to 5 seconds.
  2. Remove audio cables, headphones, Ethernet cables, and other peripherals from Mac.
  3. Press the power button to switch on the Mac.
  4. When the Mac login screen opens, reconnect a peripheral, then restart the Mac.
  5. Do this for all peripherals, one at a time, to find the bad peripheral. 
  6. Connect all the peripherals except the defective and restart your Mac.

2. Use Disk Utility to Repair the Storage Drive

Check whether your hard drive or SSD is causing the gray screen of death issue on your Mac. To confirm, launch Disk Utility in macOS Recovery mode. Run First Aid to verify and fix any startup drive issues. Steps are as follows:

  1. Shut down your Mac by pressing the Power button for 3 to 5 seconds.
  2. Start your Mac, then immediately press and hold the Command + R keys. 
  3. Release the keys when something appears. Mac boots into the macOS recovery mode.
  4. From the “macOS Utilities” window, choose “Disk Utility,” then click Continue.
  5. Choose Macintosh HD (the startup disk) from the left column of Disk Utility.
  6. Click the First Aid tab, then click Run to verify and fix any storage drive issues.
  7. Once the drive repair is successful, restart your Mac normally. 
  8. When the drive can’t be fixed, back it up, and replace it with a new one.

3. Start Up Mac By Using Safe Boot Mode

By starting your Mac using Safe Boot mode, you allow macOS to run standard diagnostics and can eliminate the gray screen of death problem. Safe Boot mode runs only the essential system applications to start up your Mac. Steps to start your Mac in Safe Boot mode are as follows:

  1. Shut down your Mac by pressing the Power button for 3 to 5 seconds.
  2. Start the Mac, then press-hold the Shift key. Release it when the login screen appears.
  3. Once the desktop appears, restart your Mac from the Apple menu.

4. Reset NVRAM and PRAM to Fix the Issue

To fix gray screen problem on your Mac, try resetting your NVRAM and PRAM to their default settings. Steps are as follows:

  1. Shut down your Mac by pressing the Power button for 3 to 5 seconds.
  2. Start your Mac then press and hold the Option + Command + P + R keys immediately.
  3. Release the keys when your Mac starts up for the second time.
  4. When your Mac finishes starting up, it resets NVRAM and PRAM to their default settings.

5. Use Recovery Drive to Salvage Mac Data

When the above fixes don’t work, try a bootable Mac data recovery software to scan and recover data from the troubled Mac storage drive. Follow the steps mentioned next.

Step 1. Download and install the *trial version of Stellar Data Recovery Professional on a working Mac. Launch the software and create a recovery drive.

Stellar Data Recovery Professional for Mac

Read More: How to Create Recovery Drive

Step 2. Connect the USB recovery drive on your non-working Mac. Start your Mac and press-hold the Option key. Now, select the recovery drive. Next, choose Stellar Data Recovery, and click Continue

Step 3. Use the tool to select the type of data and drive location. Toggle on Deep Scan, then click Scan. Select all the required files, then click Recover. Save it to an external hard drive.

*Trial version of Stellar Data Recovery Professional for Mac allows free scanning and free file preview. But to perform the recovery, you will have to activate the full software. The software comes with 30 days money-back policy, just in case.

6. Reinstall macOS

Once you’ve recovered your Mac storage drive with Stellar Data Recovery Professional for Mac, follow the steps mentioned next to reinstall macOS and fix the gray screen problem completely.

  1. Force shut down your Mac by pressing the Power button for 3 to 5 seconds.
  2. Start the machine by holding the Command + R keys to boot into macOS recovery mode.
  3. From the macOS Utilities window, click “Reinstall macOS,” then click Continue
  4. Perform the on-screen instructions to reinstall the default macOS to the storage drive.
  5. Restore the recovered data to the storage drive once your Mac starts up.

Conclusion

Getting the Mac gray screen of death is troublesome, but there are methods to fix it on Mac. Try out the troubleshooting techniques presented in the post to resolve the Mac gray screen issue in no time. 

Comments(14)
  1. Bhavin Bulsara November 20, 2020
    • Vishal November 25, 2020
  2. Zee March 10, 2020
    • Vishal March 11, 2020
  3. Terry Steptoe December 30, 2019
    • Vishal December 31, 2019
  4. Eloisa September 24, 2019
    • Vishal September 25, 2019
  5. Tyson Taylor August 23, 2019
    • Vishal August 27, 2019
  6. Helen T. Randolph June 25, 2019
    • Vishal June 26, 2019
  7. Susan K. McGill May 22, 2019
    • Vishal May 22, 2019

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