When you start seeing the pinwheel spinning in place, it might be time to see how you can unfreeze your MacBook.

Does anyone remember the “Hello, I’m a Mac” commercials starring Dodgeball star Justin Long? Long would portray “A Mac,” and a more chubby, nerdy guy would be “A PC” in every commercial. “A Mac” would talk about how much more efficient Apple’s devices are than Windows PCs.

Why bring up an ad campaign from more than a few years ago? Because MacBooks are not super different from other computers. Sure, there are some major defining characteristics of Macs, but there are some glaring similarities.

One of these common issues between all these devices is how both Macs and PC  will freeze up. MacBooks will seemingly jam up due to a multitude of causes. These include too many apps running at the same time or too many junk files and programs stuck on the hard drive.

While a frozen MacBook is going to be a minor irritation for a little bit. There are several different ways to unfreeze the device, through several easy-to-follow solutions.

Does it seem like everything is jammed and nothing is moving? Here is how to unfreeze your MacBook.

Force Quit

Those who have used the Ctrl + Alt + Delete shortcut on a Windows computer and used the Task Manager will be familiar to the user.

  1. Press and hold down the Command, Escape, and Option keys to bring up the Force Quit window.
  2. When the window pops up, there will be a list of currently running apps. Click on the name of the app that is now frozen.
  3. In the lower right-hand corner, click on the Force Quit button to quit out of the unresponsive app.

Resetting the SMC

Resetting the SMC is one of the best catch-all solutions to the majority of problems on your MacBook. And it is actually very easy to do.

  1. Turn off the MacBook.
  2. Hold down the power button for at least 10 seconds and then release it.
  3. Please wait at least 5 seconds and then press the power button to turn it back on again.

However, if your device is still habitually freezing, here is an additional method on how to reset the SMC:

  1. Power down the device.
  2. Press and hold the Control, Option, and Shift keys for at least 7 seconds. While holding those three keys, start pressing down on the power button.
  3. Continue holding down all four keys for an additional 7 seconds and then release.
  4. Wait another five seconds to turn the device back on again.

Resetting the PRAM/NVRAM

  1. Shut down your MacBook.
  2. Hold down the Option, Command, P, and R keys and turn the device back on.
  3. Keep pressing on the keys for about 20 seconds, until the startup chime sounds off or once the Apple logo appears and disappears a second time.

In a final step, go into the System Preferences menu and restore any changes after resetting the PRAM or NVRAM, such as customized time or sound settings.

Using Safe Mode

Putting your MacBook in safe mode will deactivate any malfunctioning apps. It will also disable the ones that are causing the MacBook to freeze up.

  1. Power up or restart your MacBook and then quickly start holding down the Shift key.
  2. Remove your finger from the Shift key when the login window appears.
  3. Type in your login information, and if you are asked again, type in your credentials again.
  4. There should be an option for “Safe Boot” on the upper right-hand corner of either login window. Click on that to start the safe mode boot up.

With the introduction of the Apple Silicon line of MacBooks, there is a different way to put the device into safe mode:

  1. Turn off your machine entirely.
  2. After the device has powered off, hold down the power button for at least 10 seconds.
  3. Once the startup options window appears, release your finger from the power button.
  4. Now, at the startup options window, select your preferred startup disk, hold down the Shift key, click the Continue in Safe Mode option, and finally release the Shift key.
  5. In the last step, log into your device.

Hard Restart

Find the power button on your MacBook’s keyboard and hold it down until the screen goes black. Giving the device a hard restart like this one may not be beneficial for those unsaved documents. But, it is also a quick and easy solution that gets the job done.

Free Up Some Space

A MacBook with too much on its hard drive is as effective as a person walking to-and-from the grocery store with two full bags of food and produce…with only their two arms to carry it all. So, with a device full of documents, apps, photos, videos, etc., it won’t be working up-to-speed. Then there are chances that freezing may occur more often on the device.

Do whatever you can to get rid of some clutter; empty the trash bin, uninstall unused apps, delete large files, etc. Hopefully, that will eliminate the root cause of the freezing issue.

Start using Apple Diagnostics to get to the bottom of the problem.

If your MacBook was becoming frozen seemingly every day for no apparent reason, and you have exhausted all of your options, maybe it is time to use Apple Diagnostics. This built-in test will detect any internal issues the device may have. When you shut off your device, turn it back on again and hold down on the D key. The Diagnostics test will begin, which may take more than a few minutes.


When your MacBook freezes up in the middle of a project or browsing on Safari, it isn’t enjoyable. But, when it is a constant problem every day, then it becomes more than irritating. After all, only Windows do that, not Macs. Well, it turns out, similar to many other processes to fix problems, it is effortless for a user to unfreeze their MacBook. By following one of the many solutions above, a frozen MacBook can be a thing of your past.

At MicroReplay, we know a thing or two about MacBooks and how to repair these devices. With over twenty plus years of experience, our company specializes in repairing liquid damaged MacBooks and other high-end laptops.

In need of a liquid spill or cracked screen repair? Book a repair with us today!

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