If you have been using a Mac for a long time, you have faced the gray screen of death error at least once in your life. If you did, you know exactly how annoying and frustrating it can be. When your beloved Apple computer is stuck with a gray screen, you have nowhere to go and no idea what to do. Although people might come across different types of gray screens depending on their situation, it doesn’t change the fact that now they’re stuck and can’t reach the sign-in screen anymore. Thankfully, there are multiple ways to recover your Mac from the gray screen error.
In this article, we will show you five ways to solve the Mac gray screen problem and explain why the gray screen occurs in the first place. Thus, without a moment more, let’s dive in.
Why Does Mac Suffer from the Gray Screen of Death Error?
Mac gray screen of death error can occur for various reasons. Let’s look at some of the most common reasons why Mac computers get the gray screen:
- If you use an external peripheral device that doesn’t have up-to-date firmware, it might cause your Mac to suffer from a gray screen of death error.
- If the peripheral device you’re using with your Mac is faulty or unauthorized, it might stall it at a gray screen.
- A defective startup drive can lead your MacBook or iMac to suffer from a gray screen.
- Did you install a new third-party application on your Mac that isn’t working properly? It might cause a gray screen error.
As you can see, there are multiple causes for this error, and they aren’t necessarily similar. Carefully inspect the situation and use the methods mentioned in the next section to recover your Mac from the gray screen. However, now you know the explanations for why your Mac experienced this problem. Thus, you can try to pinpoint exactly what caused it.
Unplug All External Peripherals to Recover Your Mac from a Gray Screen
The faulty or unauthorized peripherals can make the signaling pins of your Mac’s ports stay stuck in a single state. This can freeze your Mac computer when you try to boot it. To fix this issue, you need to remove the external peripherals one by one using the following steps:
- Press the power button of your Mac for 3-5 seconds to shut it down.
- Once the Mac shuts down, remove all the connected peripherals connected.
- Now, hit the power button again to start your Mac back on.
- If the sign-in screen shows up, reconnect one of the peripherals that you have previously disconnected, and restart your Mac.
- Now, repeat the process for every single peripheral, one at a time. This way, you can find which peripheral was causing the gray screen.
- Once you find the defective peripheral, you can reconnect every peripheral to your Mac except for the faulty one.
Use Disk Utility for Your Mac Computer
If there’s no issue with the peripherals, you should check if your Mac’s SSD or hard disk drive is the reason for the gray screen. To figure that out, you need to use the macOS Disk Utility in recovery mode. Then, you have to launch the First Aid tool to solve the startup drive problems. Here’s how you can do it:
- Hit the power button of your Mac and press it for 5 seconds to shut it down.
- Next, start the Mac and instantly press and hold the “Command + R” keys.
- Once anything appears on your Mac’s screen, release the keys. Your computer will open with the “macOS Recovery Mode.”
- Select the “Disk Utility” option from the “macOS Utilities” window. After that, click on the “Continue” option.
- Select the “Macintosh HD (your startup disk)” located in the left column.
- Next, click on the “First Aid” tab.
- Now, select the “Run” button to identify and resolve the storage device issues.
- Once you’re done with drive repair, restart your Mac. This will completely recover the Mac from the gray screen issue.
Please Note: If you’re unable to fix the drive, you should back up its data and replace it with a new disk drive.
Recover Mac from Gray Screen by Resetting NVRAM and PRAM
You can also try to reset the NVRAM and PRAM to their original settings to solve the gray screen of death error. Here’s what you need to do:
- Once again, shut your Mac down by pressing the power button for 5 seconds.
- Next, switch on the Mac and instantly press and hold the “Option + Command + P + R” keys.
- Your Mac will start up a second time. As soon as you see it do so, release the keys you were holding. NVRAM and PRAM have already been reset to their original settings.
Start Your Mac Using the Safe Boot Mode
When you start Mac in the Safe Boot mode, you’re allowing the macOS to perform a standard diagnosis of your system and fix this problem. However, macOS only allows the essential applications to run on your computer when you boot while being in the Safe Boot mode. This makes it easier for macOS to identify the source of the problem and eliminate it. Do the following to start Mac in the Safe Boot mode:
- Shut down your Mac computer by pressing its power button for 5 seconds.
- Next, hit the power button again to start your computer, and instantly press and hold the “Shift” key until the sign-in screen shows up.
- After a few moments, the desktop option will appear. From there, use the Apple menu to restart your computer. This should solve the gray screen of death error.
Reinstall macOS as a Last Resort
If none of the methods mentioned above works, you need to install macOS from scratch to recover your Mac from the gray screen problem. Unsurprisingly, you should back up the data stored in your Mac before proceeding any further. Once the data backup process is complete, follow the steps mentioned below to fix the gray screen issues:
- Turn your Mac off by pressing its power button for 5 seconds.
- Next, press and hold the “Command + R” keys right after starting your computer to boot into the “macOS Recovery Mode.”
- When the “macOS Utilities” window shows up, click on the “Reinstall macOS” option. After that, click on the “Continue” option.
- Now, follow the simple and intuitive on-screen instructions, and it will start reinstalling the default macOS to your storage media drive.
With this, the Mac gray screen recovery is complete. Now, you just need to restore the backed-up data to your machine.