Your Mac Keeps Shutting Down Randomly? Here’s What You Can Do

Brent Dirks Updated 03-12-2018

You’re working on an assignment, surfing the web, or doing some other important task. Suddenly, your Mac shuts down randomly—and apparently, for no reason. Usually, this is just a one-time occurrence and never happens again.


But if you’re dealing with a computer that habitually shuts down with no warning, you may have bigger issues. Here are some troubleshooting tips and tools to help fix your Mac.

What to Do When Your Mac Keeps Shutting Down

When you experience a random Mac shutdown, the first and most important step is to boot it back up, then immediately restart it again. Doing this is necessary because programs don’t always close correctly during a hard shutdown.

To restart again, select Restart from the Apple menu in the top-left corner. Unfortunately, just rebooting your Mac might not solve the problem. In this case, Apple recommends resetting the computer’s System Management Controller (SMC).

The SMC is a subsystem of Macs with an Intel processor. It controls components like the battery charging, video mode switching, sleep and wake, LED indicators, and more.

Before resetting the SMC, Apple recommends taking the following steps, in the order they are listed:

  1. If the Mac isn’t responding, press and hold the power button until it shuts down. Then press the power button again to turn on your Mac.
  2. Press Cmd + Option + Esc to force-quit any app that’s not responding.
  3. Put your Mac to sleep by choosing Sleep from the Apple menu. Wake the computer after goes to sleep.
  4. Restart your Mac by choosing Restart from the Apple menu.
  5. Shut down your Mac by choosing Shut Down from the Apple menu.

How to Reset the SMC

Once you’ve exhausted these steps, it’s time to reset your Mac’s SMC How to Do an SMC and PRAM/NVRAM Reset on Your Mac A reset of the SMC and PRAM/NVRAM can help any Mac, including MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, run smoothly again. Read More . The steps involved vary, depending on whether your system has a removable battery. MacBooks that have a non-removable battery include any MacBook Pro from 2009 and later, every MacBook Air, MacBook (Late 2009), and the 12-inch MacBook from 2015 and later.

There’s also a separate set of steps for any MacBook with an Apple T2 security chip. These are typically computers from 2018 and later.

If the battery is non-removable:

  1. Shut down the Mac.
  2. Plug in the MagSafe or USB-C power adapter to a power source and to your Mac.
  3. Using the built-in keyboard, press Shift + Control + Option on the left side of the keyboard, then press the power button at the same time.
  4. Release all keys, then press the power button again to turn on your Mac.

If the battery is removable, do the following:

  1. Shut down the Mac.
  2. Disconnect the MagSafe power adapter.
  3. Remove the battery.
  4. Press and hold the power button for five seconds.
  5. Reconnect the battery and MagSafe power adapter.
  6. Press the power button to turn on the Mac.

On an iMac, Mac mini, or Mac Pro:

  1. Shut down the Mac.
  2. Unplug the power cord.
  3. Wait 15 seconds.
  4. Plug the power cord back in.
  5. Wait five seconds, then press the power button to turn on the Mac.

For any Mac notebook with the T2 chip:

  1. Choose Shut Down from the Apple menu.
  2. After the Mac shuts down, press and hold the right Shift key, the left Option key, and the left Control key for seven seconds. Then keep holding those keys while you press and hold the power button for another seven seconds.
  3. Release all three keys and the power button, then wait a few seconds.
  4. Press the power button again to turn on the Mac.

Maintaining a Healthy Mac

Macs last for a long time, but they can develop problems with age. Thankfully, you can take some steps to make sure your Mac continues to run smoothly. At the least, you can know before trouble hits.

Monitor Your Battery

Mac Battery Check Cycles


Rechargeable batteries don’t last forever. Usage of your MacBook battery accrues in the form of charge cycles. Each battery is only good for a limited number of charge cycles. At that point, the battery is consumed and you’ll need to replace it.

You can view a Mac’s current battery cycle count by heading to the Apple menu and selecting About This Mac. Select System Report and then navigate to the Power subsection under Hardware. Under Battery Information, you’ll see the current Cycle Count.

The maximum cycle count varies by model. Some early MacBooks only offered 300 cycle counts, while newer models usually last for up to 1,000 cycle counts. A charge cycle means using all the battery’s power, not necessarily a single charge. For example, discharging from 100 to 50 percent battery, then charging back to 100 percent before discharging to 50 percent again, counts as one cycle.

When your battery has reached its maximum cycle count, it’s time for a replacement.


Third-Party Tools Do Even More

When your Mac is experiencing issues, there are many free third-party tools for Mac The 8 Best Free Mac Tools to Detect and Fix Common macOS Problems Every Mac user should keep these 8 tools around to fix any problems that may arise, like malware, hardware issues, and more. Read More that help guide you in the right direction.

A great choice when you’re looking to find out more about a Mac’s battery is Battery Health. The app goes beyond cycle counts and explains information in less technical terms so you can track battery temperature, status, design capacity, and more. The app also shows how much longer your battery will last on its current charge for various activities.

Checking your battery’s temperature is also important. A battery that frequently overheats suggests bigger issues.

Reading the Logs

Mac apps using significant energy

The less you need to charge your battery, the longer the battery should last and the healthier your computer will remain. Thus, apps that are consistent battery hogs can cause long-term damage to your investment.

The easiest way to see what apps are using the most battery life on your MacBook is to select the battery icon in the menu bar on the upper-right corner of the screen. Here you can see apps Using Significant Energy.

You should also use your Mac’s Activity Monitor What Is Activity Monitor? The Mac Equivalent of Task Manager Learn all about Activity Monitor on your Mac and how to use it to check detailed information about your system. Read More , which shows you the apps and services that are using up the most CPU power. Go to Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor to open it. Pay careful attention to the items located under the CPU and Energy tabs, as large numbers here could be troublesome.

Save Your Energy

You should also check your computer’s Energy Saver settings, which are located in the System Preferences menu. For most users, the default settings are appropriate. Click Restore Defaults for those settings.

Calibrating Your MacBook Battery

You should calibrate the battery on an older Mac Calibrate & Maintain Your MacBook Battery For Best Performance If you correctly calibrate and maintain your MacBook battery, it's possible to improve performance and put off replacing it for as long as possible. Read More once a month. According to Apple, any MacBook model released after mid-2009 is pre-calibrated and doesn’t require calibration.

Keeping your MacBook battery properly calibrated is the best way to keep an eye on how much power your machine has left before shutting down. If a battery isn’t properly calibrated, a laptop could shut down or go to sleep without warning. When calibration is complete, you’ll get a more accurate picture of how much battery power actually remains.

To help lengthen the life of your laptop, check out these tips to improve MacBook battery life How to Improve Your MacBook’s Battery Life While the current MacBooks are quite powerful, they have the same battery life as their predecessors. So what can you do? Quite a bit, it turns out. Read More .

What If Your Mac Keeps Shutting Down Randomly?

If your Mac keeps shutting down randomly even after using the troubleshooting tools mentioned above, it’s time to visit an Apple retail store, or an approved service center. You can also contact the company through Apple Support.

For any Mac not currently under warranty, another option to consider is a third-party repair center. These can often fix the issue for much less than going directly through Apple.

If the cause of your random shutdowns is the battery, make sure to take a look at your options to replace a MacBook battery 4 MacBook Battery Replacement Options: From the Safest to the Least Do you need a MacBook battery replacement? Here's how to check MacBook battery status and options to replace a MacBook battery. Read More .

Related topics: Battery Life, Hardware Tips, MacBook, MacBook Air, Troubleshooting.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. reality
    June 26, 2020 at 4:47 pm

    You forgot another option. Stop wasting your money and switch to Windows or Linux. MacOS has been a disaster since 10.13 and 10.15 is pure awful. Just wait until they switch processors and nothing works but 1st party apps. Going to be soooooo awwweesoooome.

  2. LMc
    June 25, 2020 at 8:43 am

    I downloaded iStat Menus to monitor my Mac Pro system. Nothing popped out as a major problem, but it would still shut itself down randomly and sometimes would not restart. As a last resort and 4 weeks off trying different things, cleaning, connecting / disconnecting items. Using Contact cleaner etc. I increased the speed of the fans by 200 rpm and created a User-Fan setting called 'Keep me Cooler' and set this to the default in iStat Menus. This seems to have solved the issue. I hope this helps. LMc

  3. Tim
    April 8, 2020 at 7:40 pm

    I have an issue where my iMac won't stay asleep. It keeps waking up, even though I have wake for network access turned off in the Preferences.
    Any ideas?

  4. max hoffman
    July 31, 2019 at 4:38 pm

    I have the same problem and learned that the problem was with the power supply. I thought that maybe it is just overheating, perhaps needs better air circulation. So started by lowering the brightness and right away the problem is gone. In the future I will open the Imac and clean the vents, If this doesn't work, I will settle for low brightness all the time, which isn't that bad. I hope this help.

  5. Chad Bierman
    June 18, 2019 at 6:49 pm

    I did this twice, the first time I thought it worked but after about 5 minutes my mac mini shut down again. The second time I did it the mac mini restarted itself immediately after logging in. Any advice? Thank you and God bless!

  6. Steve
    December 20, 2018 at 3:40 pm

    Wouldn't someone with a degree in journalism know better than to presume everyone else was in the same situation as he? Focusing so much on battery issues didn't do much for this user of an iMac and two Mac minis.

  7. John
    March 16, 2018 at 2:51 pm

    And none of those solutions address the AppleThunderboltNHI bug.

    Rename /System/Library/Extensions/AppleThunderboltNHI.kext to /System/Library/Extensions/AppleThunderboltNHI.kext.BAK and the problem will go away.

    Restart in Recovery mode (hold ?+r at Startup). Enter Terminal and type:

    csrutil disable

    to turn off System Integrity Protection (you cannot rename the file otherwise).


    Enter Terminal and type:

    sudo mv /System/Library/Extensions/AppleThunderboltNHI.kext /System/Library/Extensions/AppleThunderboltNHI.kext.BAK

    Crashing is now solved.

    Now turn System Integrity Protection back on by restarting in Recovery mode (hold ?+r at Startup). Enter Terminal and type:

    csrutil enable

    Restart and enjoy your Mac as normal.

  8. Chris
    February 5, 2018 at 10:31 pm

    Please my Amperage (mA): is -480 can it be the cause of unpredictable shut down?

  9. Natalie Donaldson
    August 14, 2017 at 1:35 pm

    excellent article. super helpful. thank you.

  10. Hush
    May 3, 2016 at 9:23 am

    ....never happened to me :S
    very often instead it won't shut down, what about that?