How I Fixed The White Screen on my iMac

I’ve owned and used a Mac for about 6 years, and yesterday was the first time something really unexpected happened. There have been no failure of any kind, no windows like problems at all. It’s been like living in computer heaven, well, until yesterday.

When I hit the power button, I just received a white screen. Nothing happened, OSX didn’t boot at all. I tried several times, nothing happened, except for the white screen.

Since I was sort of in a hurry, I just had to do a quick search on Google, and found out that what I experienced had an interesting and sort of disturbing name: White Screen of Death. I also discovered that it could be fairly serious damages to my iMac.

It could be everything from just hitting a few keys while booting, to having to change the harddrive, the Ram and so on. I was actually sort of petrified just by the thought of what I had to go through when I got home.

A few minutes later I was walking to visit a few of my friends, and since I just couldn’t get this white screen out of my head, I thought I’d send out a tweet. Just a few minutes later I received a possible and fairly easy solution (thanks Jeremiah Smith). He told me I should reset my memory by doing the following.

Resetting PRAM and NVRAM

1. Shut down the computer (by holding the power button).

2. Turn on the computer. Wait until I hear the boot sound.

3. Press and hold the Command-Option-P-R keys (simultenously).

4. Hold the keys down until the computer restarts and you hear the startup sound for the second time.

5. Release the keys.

I did this, and it looked like it worked. Maybe it was because the computer actually restarted and I didn’t see a white screen at first. But then, seconds later, I was back to the white screen.

Now, I was more than frustrated. I started believing that I had to do some major upgrading on my iMac, and that it would not only be expensive, but take a lot of time (time I didn’t have). Luckily, I have several computers and Google. I did another search, and found another easy solution to the problem.

I read that I should try to reset the System Management Controller (SMC). I still don’t know what the SMC is, but I didn’t care. What I did was the following.

Reset the System Management Controller

1. Shut down the computer (well, it was already off)

2. Unplugged all cables from the computer, including the power cord and any display cables.

3. Waited at least fifteen seconds. I waited several minutes.

4. Plugged the power cord back in, making sure the power button was not being pressed at the time.

5. Reconnected my keyboard and mouse to the computer.

6. Pressed the power button to start up your computer.

… and then, guess what happened next?

Everything was back to normal. It was like I never had a problem in the first place. I’m not sure if resetting the memory had any impact or not, or if I could just have unplugged all the cables and removed the power cord?

My frustration is finally over. I’m back on track, and hopefully it’s the last time I’ve seen the White Screen of Death.


  1. angie says

    Thank you! I had this same problem… who would have thought that by unplugging and re-plugging everything back in it would work! :) I'm super happy.

  2. Kpardhasrinivas says

    When Press and hold the Command-Option-P-R keys (simultenously). Beep sound is coming but screen is still blank. I reastarted again even though same blank screen is coming and screen is flickering.

    Please tell me the steps to resume it.

  3. Fungskt says

    Thank you sooo much!!! what does unplugging do that's so magical?? REally appreciate your posting this solution. Worked for me!

  4. Dave says

    Thanks. Third day with a brand new iMac 27 inch and i got the WHite Screen of death. As I live on the island of Crete (Greece) I had to get someone to drive 2000 Kilometres to deliver the iMac and it would not have been easy to return it to the nearest Apple store in Munich Germany. Your tip worked. Lets hope the problem was a one-off.

    You saved me a lot of hassle, feel good about yourself!


  5. says

    Hey Dave,

    Thanks a lot for sharing this. I certainly know how it feels like when you got the white screen of death.

    By the way, the island of Crete is amazing, I've been there a few times and will continue to visit.

    Have a great summer.

  6. David W says

    I had the same issue with my iMac (20 inch) purchased summer 2008. I took out my MBP and did a search and came across this website. I did as instructed and it worked!! You wouldn’t believe how happy I was. I thought I was going to have to take a trip to see a genius at the Apple store. THANKS!!!!!!

  7. Hcunha says

    Had the same problem. I panicked when my iMac got the white screen. Your instructions worked. Thanks for the help!

  8. RMaramonte3 says

    Thank you. I read and followed all you did and I got my iMac (27inch) back up and running. I was scared there for a minute. Does anyone know WHY that happens?? Thanks again. Ramona

  9. Jorle_wiesen says

    haha i heard i got the same answer when i googled about my fan being unusually loud. Took the plug out wait a few minutes and what do you know
    ….white screen of death! FML!

  10. Jorle_wiesen says

    haha i heard i got the same answer when i googled about my fan being unusually loud. Took the plug out wait a few minutes and what do you know
    ….white screen of death! FML!

  11. Zack-MT says

    I had a similar problem on my 24″ iMac however my white screen appeared half way through whilst working on a word document rather than when starting up. I unplugged everything as you advised, however I still won’t know if it worked or not unless the white screen reappears. The other time the same thing happened however it was not a white screen but a black and white striped one. I really hope nothing is wrong with my RAM or video card ! Cheers for you advise though, hope it worked !

    • Jennyeinman says

      This exact same thing has been happening for several months on my iMac. Have you gotten any resolution or dud this unplugging work for you?

  12. Adgreener says

    Thanks! My iMac is only three months old and had this issue this morning. I reset the memory and everything seems ok. The main reason I switched to a Mac is because I was tired of dealing with issues like this with Windows. I’m going to scan with OnyX to verify. Thanks again!

  13. James says

    Wow! It worked! You just saved me a lot of stress and heartache.

    Just before attempting, I researched System Management Controller, and – from the Apple site itself – they add to hold the power button for 5 seconds AFTER you unplug the power cord. And then, plug the power cord back in and start it up. Worked like a charm. Thanks so much for the valuable tip!

  14. Makb says

    THANK YOU SOOO MUCH!!!! The unplugging of everything did not work for me, but the command + option + P + R worked perfectly!! thank you so much!!

  15. Brian says

    I have tried all of that (and more) and it still will not Boot!
    I can see my HD via firewire on a freinds Mac mini and did the repair disk said it was OK still will not boot!
    what mine does is this
    power on white screen spinning gear does this for about 2minutes then goes to black screen and or restarts and or shuts down not sure??? then starts again and round and round! oh yeah has start up sound every time!
    need help please!!

  16. Eric A says

    This tip rocks! I had this problem and thought I had lost all of my music and video editing data but your tip fixed it! Props!

  17. Gary Rohman says

    Thank You! – Unplugging the cords to “Reset the System Management Controller” worked perfectly! Thank you for the post and the detailed instructions.

  18. Brian says

    ok people I am happy to report that my iMac did come back to like but non of this helped a friend helped me what it was is somehow the info on the HD system was wiped out and didn’t know what to do next so it would never start! I can not remember what he told me to do but it works thanks friend!

  19. Bec says

    Happened to me now.
    Pressing command option p and r together, restarts for the 2nd sound, but nothing.
    Also have a problem, there is a cd in my drive ?

  20. matt says

    Sweet balls of glory! My wife, a wedding photographer, had this happen to her 27imac and was freaking out. I did a google search, and went here first. BOOM! Back to working, Thanks!

  21. Jason says

    Had this problem after a weekend trip out of town and had unplugged my iMac while gone. Did the smc reset and I’m back up and running! Thanks so much for this, saved my life and job!

    • says

      Hi Jason.

      Thanks a lot for your feedback. I’m really glad that it worked. I still remember what it felt like when it happened to me :)


  22. Han says

    I tried this but am still getting the screen of death…is there anything else I can do..or do I have to get a mac specialist to check it out???

    • says

      Hi Han,

      I don’t know. All I did was what I described, and it worked. But, if this doesn’t work, I’m sorry but I don’t think that I can help you. I would have either looked for some technical Mac people (maybe in a discussion forum) or get a mac specialist to check it out.

      Sorry about that.


  23. Erika says

    I can’t believe it but it worked for me too! I wasn’t completely freaking out because I have Time Machine, but I knew this was going to be expensive. Thank you so much!!

  24. brad says

    thanks man, also had the white screen of death imac was only 4mths old unplugged the power cord and voila its all good.

    thanks heaps brad

  25. superbad says

    hi there i have imac 27 and i try every unplugging for quite few minutes and also tried option+common+ p+ r but still it was fail try dont know what i m doing wrong any help would be appreciated

    • says

      I only know about this one method, and it worked for me. Sorry about that. I’m on vacation and I just have limited access to the Internet.

      Please let me know if you find a way to fix it. And, if you still have the problem when I get home from vacation on 1 August, I’ll do my best to help you.

      Sorry about that.


  26. Dave says


    I did what you said, and now I have the apple logo with the wheel turning and a progress bar. i hope this means I am on my way to happiness. Thanks for your input I am better than i was before.

    • says

      Hi Dave,

      I hope everything worked out for you. I remember how frustrated I was when I experienced this.


  27. Mike says

    I just had this happen to me today. I remember this trick from when I had a Mac Pro but didn’t know if it would work for the iMac. Tried the trick and it worked of course. I guess it beats a “Blue screen of death” anytime.

  28. Kruster says

    I got the same problem that you did … When I did the second option at fist, nothing happened at all, altough,The first one was a lot helpfull, thaks bro

  29. kim says

    hi i had to get another keyboard and wa told tat logitech nk300 was compatiable but have no idea were comand key is now..plz help//ty

  30. sammy says

    i was downloading max os 10.7 and i went on my xbox to kill the time , then when i went bakc to my imac it was switched off , i turned it back on and a grey curcle with a line going through it popped upp , and it wont work , ive tried options , command r+p and that didnt work and it seemed to wokr until it went back to that screen and now i dont know what to do ? any tips ?

  31. Mac says

    I got the white screen of Death this morning on my Imac. The instructions worked like a charm. Thank you very much.

  32. Roberta Koepfer says

    Dear Jens,
    Thanks so much! Solution 2 – Resetting the SMC – worked the first time I tried it. Whew!!

  33. Lance says

    Your method is not really exactly correct for resetting the SMC, although with accidental delays, you could have gotten it done by your details. For your elucidation, read from Apple how to really reset the SMC for an Intel iMac:
    1. Shut down the computer.
    2. Unplug the computer’s power cord.
    3. Wait fifteen seconds.
    4. Attach the computer’s power cord.
    5. Wait five seconds, then press the power button to turn on the computer.
    Disconnecting the keyboard and mouse are not part of the needed steps, but they did cause you to accidentally wait the required five seconds after plugging in power.

    • Brian Smith says

      Hi Lance,
      I have an iMac, 4.5 years old with new HD (about 6 months ago). In the last week I’ve had screen gone Black or screen gone White whilst I’ve been working. No sure of reason – someone suggested wireless mouse could be the reason.
      Any ideas?


  34. Martin says

    The next thing I would have done is to buy a new one :)) Which makes me think: isn’t it a superficial decision? Every time something wrecks, I go and buy myself a new one – especially if it’s older than 3 years. Should I try to fix things, like you did?

  35. Jazzy D says

    We are on vacation, currently in Mexico. My daughter’s MacBook pro got this “white screen of death”. Used first option, worked just great. Thanks for just awesome tip.

  36. Jenifer says

    JUST bought a new Mac and did a software upgrade and I got a white screen. Having been a PC user forever… I kinda started freaking out. Thank you SO much!!

  37. pc user says

    Tried both steps for an imac with the question-mark folder. Neither worked. Also tried to use another mac via firewire, still get nothing to pop up, although when a disk was inserted was able to read that from the 2nd mac. Going to the mac store to hopefully pull the files off which weren’t backed up.. (not my computer btw I have 1TB external on my pc)

    meh. For what was paid for the computer not worth it at all. Could have just swapped out the HD if it were a pc, instead I forsee a timestaking difficult and expensive process.

    • says

      That’s not good. I’m sorry that my description didn’t work. The fix I described work for me. And I was so happy when it did.

      I hope the store will fix it for you, or at least pull the files.

  38. Just another guy who you helped says

    I’m sitting here right now amazed my mac looks like it’s starting back up and i’m so happy that this worked cause i saved my self the trouble of going all the way to a mac store, thanks alot

  39. Tara says

    I tried the second step first & it didn’t work. So I did it exactly
    Like you did and it worked! Thank you!!!

  40. G Tranter says

    My iMac just white screen’ed it was odd, I have had apps not responding before but nothing that could be considered equal to the BSOD on a windows pc. I was just browsing the web and bang white screen.

    Being an ex windows user there was no panic, just a WTF moment then after trying all possible key combinations, I just flicked the wall switches off and then on again and all seemed to work….

    Why did this happen and is it likely to happen again?

  41. Mike Clark says

    I got the white screen of death yesterday. I turned it off and on several times and didn’t help. But when I unplugged the power cord and replugged it, it started up just fine. BUT, to play it safe, I backed up all my files off my computer.

  42. hannah says

    Oh my lord! Thank you so much for sharing. Thought my iMac was a goner till I came across this post. I found restarting the Ram was all it needed. Many thanks!


  43. Alberto says

    Thanks for your help!. I tried everything last night and did not work. Reseting the SMC solved everything and our imac is running smoothly!

  44. Mercedes M says

    Will i lose my files if i do this “Resetting PRAM and NVRAM” thingy?
    I am a graphic designer and cannot lose my work.

    • says

      As far as I know you won’t lose any files. But, it’s a long time since I did this on my iMac. It worked great, but again I can’t say that it works for everyone and this is just based upon my experience.

      Good luck.

  45. says

    Happy to hear that you got it fixed. I am very familiar with the blue screen of death, on the PC, but never heard of the white screen before. Just realized that this post is years old, sorry ‘-(. I do not have much experience with a mac, but have always thought that they were very very stable. Since installing Windows 7 Ultimate, I have had no issues at all with my PC.

    • says

      You don’t have to be sorry. I remember the day like it happened five minutes ago. I was certain that my (brand new) iMac was beyond fixing, and it was a terrible feeling. That’s the only time I’ve experienced it, and I hope I’ll never experience it again :)

  46. Rob says

    I have a 5 year old Imac with the white screen of death!! I had a new hard drive and extra ram installed not 5 months ago. All of a sudden my mouse freezes, then upon rebooting, the white screen of death! Ive tried all types of shut down procedures with no results, unplugged all night, unplugged for 1 minute, when I plug in then press on button the chime sounds but goes right to white screen. Help!!!

    • says

      Hi Rob,

      I am sorry to hear about your problems. I am not sure what to do, other than using the methods I tried to fix my iMac. Maybe someone else here can help you? You could contact support at a forum for Apple, have you done that?

      I remember how frustrating it was to get the white screen, I was certain that I had to buy a new iMac. Let me know if there’s anything else I can do to help you.

  47. Pete pastor says

    I did the first step and second but and I also re install the cd and it got my computere working thank you, because I already call apple and I was advice to take to one of their repair shopts

  48. Iain says

    Delighted to find this post. While installing a new driver we had a power cut. Later, pressing the power switch had no effect. Completely dead. Thought I’d change the power cord. Tried the power button again and heard the with some relief the boot sound – but then nothing more than a white screen. So after I got over the feeling that life’s not worth living, I searched for solutions and found your post.
    Thanks for your advice. Life’s worth living again. You’re a star!

  49. says

    Delighted to find this post. While installing a new website we had a power cut. Later, pressing the power switch had no effect. Completely dead. Thought I’d change the power cord. Tried the power button again and heard the with some relief the boot sound. So after I got over the feeling that life’s not worth living, I searched for solutions and found your post.
    Thanks for your advice. Life’s worth living again.

  50. says

    Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou

  51. Mister Mister says

    I hope someone is still reading this post… I have the new MacBook Pro only 3 months old and I’ve tried both solutions to no avail… I’ve had problems booting up since day one–really–since day one. I do believe I have a lemon! Anyways, do anyone know of a third possible solution?

    When trying the first solution, I do not get a second chime; it opens a window allowing me to restore from my time machine, startup disk, and two other options. I’m this close to restoring it but my time machine was in the process of backing up when it crapped out. It actually didn’t crap out, it locked up for the longest time so I turned it off–when I turned it back on, White Screen.

    Thank you in advance…

  52. Laura says

    I had problems with my iMac too, I was so anxious to sell it. It’s annoying to pay lots of money for something and then realize it has bugs.

  53. Eve says

    THANKS SO MUCH! This happened earlier, just kept getting white screen, I googled and read your post and did the 2nd option and voila it worked. Can’t thank u enough!

  54. Goutham Ravi says

    The screen is fine for me when i turn on my imac, but after a few minutes it goes off crazy… The first time the problem started, screen turned pink having a few lines in it! For the second time, it turned orange with few lines! Third time, it turned ‘white’ without any lines! But, its fine when it starts.. It all happens only after a few minutes. Now, im scared to turn it on, cuz im afraid something might happen to it! I’m searching for solutions! Will the steps mentioned help in my case?

  55. tom says

    Tried the second option (because it whited out on me while I was reading and I couldn’t remember the keys), then restarted and it whited out nearly immediately again. Then I tried the first option and so far no white screen.


  56. Raymond Keys says

    Fantastic tip. Worked on my iMac 27″. Man I did not fancy carrying that thing back to the shop again!
    Thank you ever so much.

  57. Lisa says

    Thank you for this!! I almost cried when I heard the term “white screen of death”

    Appreciate your help.

  58. Wally says

    Thanks for the tip. I tried your second option and it worked. You must unplug everything. I tried just the power cord, but that did not work. So I unplugged all of my drives and now it works. Thanks again

  59. Francis says

    Hi – was going through a similar meltdown to that experienced by the Mac when my ill-considered Mavericks upgrade first wiped all my documents including photos and music, and then turned the screen white. Tried your first suggestion and was absolutely amazed when the old desktop appeared, complete with everything I thought I’d lost. The white screen was giving me a serious flashback to a couple of months back when my iPad died after upgrading to iOS 7. Many, many thanks – still can’t quite believe it. Time to buy another external hard drive and back it all up.

  60. Colin says

    Thank you kind sir! The second option worked on my 2010 iMac. At first it still displayed the white screen but then 15 seconds later my Mac came alive. That was scary. My computer too never showed any problems up until the white screen. Whew.

  61. Jaymi says

    Thank you!!!!!!!!! Been struggling with this problem for over a week now! Your advice is the only thing that worked!

  62. Liz says

    So I was literally staring at my MacBook Pro and crying until I finally got to your post. The first option fixed the white screen of death and I can finally get back to work! My computer has been rebelling all week and I wanted to thank you for helping me fix it!

    • says

      Hi Liz,

      Thank you so much for your feedback. I’m glad that I could help you out. I remember all too well how it felt like, staring at my Mac, thinking that I had to buy a new one.

  63. Emma Jones says

    Still having line problems but is improving on 3rd try keep persevering with method 2 big help many thanks totally freaked! Big time!! Will teach me back my stuff up!! V grateful Emma – uk user of iMac g6 x