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.

Emma Jones
7 months 11 days ago

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

Jens-Petter Berget
7 months 11 days ago

I remember what it was like for me too. It was a terrible feeling. I hope everything works out ok for you Emma.

Emma Jones
7 months 11 days ago

All good now so far touch wood as we say in the uk! Once again many thanks very much appreciated! Thought had lost everything x

Jens-Petter Berget
7 months 11 days ago

That’s awesome!

1 year 14 days ago

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!

1 year 11 days ago

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.

1 year 30 days ago

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

1 year 7 days ago

That’s awesome. Thank you so much for the feedback.

1 year 2 months ago

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.

1 year 3 months ago

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.

1 year 3 months ago

I’m sorry to hear that Francis. It’s great that I was able to help you.

– Jens