How to Reset NVRAM (PRAM) and SMC on Mac

  • The NVRAM, PRAM, and SMC control vital hardware and system functions on your Mac, and resetting them can resolve specific malfunctions or erratic behaviors.
  • The process for resetting these components varies based on your Mac’s model, with distinct steps for Intel-based Macs and Apple Silicon models.
  • Persistent issues after reset might indicate deeper hardware or software challenges and warrant a visit to Apple Support.
Simple steps to reset SMC, NVRAM, and Pram on Mac

Chances are you’ve come across a troubleshooting guide that asks you to reset the NVRAM(PRAM) or the SMC on your Mac. The NVRAM and SMC are chips that control hardware components on your Mac.

So when your Mac hardware starts to act up without any apparent reason, resetting your NVRAM or SMC may resolve the issue. Continue reading to find out why, when to reset, and how to reset the NVRAM(PRAM) on your Mac.

Why and When Do I Need To Reset the SMC on My Mac

The SMC( System Management Controller) controls hardware functions on your Mac, like the power, system performance status lights, and the cooling fans. So, if you notice any of the following, resetting your SMC may resolve the issue:

  • Your Mac won’t power up, or it shuts down out of the blue.
  • Things feel sluggish, or apps keep freezing on you.
  • Your Mac’s fan is so loud even though you’re not doing much.
  • Keyboard backlighting or screen brightness seems to have a mind of its own.
  • External screens aren’t playing nice with your Mac.
  • Battery lights malfunctioning.
  • It takes a while for your Mac to shut down.

How To Reset the SMC on a Mac

Before we get into the details of resetting your SMC, you should know that the process for resetting the SMC depends on your Mac model. For instance, traditional Intel Macs have a different procedure than the newer Apple Silicon (like the M1 or M2 Macs). I have compiled all the steps for resetting your SMC on different Mac models. So, here’s how to reset your Mac’s SMC. 

Intel-based Macs

Before you reset the SMC for MacBooks with the Apple T2 Security Chip, do this:

  1. Power Off your Mac normally if you can.
  2. If not, long press the power button for 10 seconds, then release it. 
  3. Wait for some seconds, then press the power button again to turn on your Mac. 

If the problem persists, here’s how to reset the SMC on Intel-based Macs. 

  1. Power Off your Mac. 
  2. Press and hold the Control and Option keys on the left side of your built-in keyboard and the Shift key on the right side for seven seconds.
keyboard combination to reset SMC on 2020 Mac
  1. Without releasing the keys, press the power-on button and hold all the keys for seven more seconds.
  2. Release, and after a few seconds, power on your Mac

.For older Macs with non-removable batteries:

  1. Turn your Mac off.
  2. Hold shift (left side), control, option, and the power button simultaneously for 10 seconds.
keyboard shortcut to reset smc on 20116 Mac
  1. Release all keys, then turn your Mac back on.

For older Macs with removable batteries:

  1. Turn off your Mac and take out the battery. 
  2. Long press the power button for five seconds. 
  3. Insert your battery and turn on your Mac.

M1 & M2 Macs

Interestingly, with the introduction of Apple’s own M1 and M2 chips, the traditional concept of the SMC doesn’t quite apply. These new architectures automatically manage system functions without user intervention. So, these Mac models with Apple Silicon have no manual SMC reset procedure. Nevertheless, to reset the SMC on Apple silicon, restart or shut down your Mac, wait 30 seconds, and turn it back on.

iMac, Mac Pro, Mac Mini

Follow these steps to reset the SMC on desktop Macs:

  1. Power off your Mac and disconnect the power cord. 
  2. Wait for 15 seconds, then plug in the power cord. 
  3. Wait another 5 seconds, then press the power button to turn your Mac back on.

Why and When Do I Need To Reset My NVRAM(PRAM)?

NVRAM (Non-Volatile Random Access Memory) and its predecessor, PRAM (Parameter Random Access Memory), refers to small amounts of memory that your Mac uses to store certain settings in a location it can access quickly. These settings include things like display resolution, time zone settings, speaker volume, startup disk selection, and recent kernel panic information. Resetting them can resolve certain issues related to these functions.

Here’s why and when you might need to reset your NVRAM (or PRAM on older Macs):

  • Incorrect color display or screen resolution settings.
  • The system cannot locate the designated startup disk.
  • Unexpected volume changes or alert sounds.
  • Incorrect system date and time display.
  • Difficulties pairing or Bluetooth connectivity issues.
  • Frequent and unexpected system shutdowns or restarts.

How To Reset the NVRAM(PRAM) on a Mac

If you’ve experienced any of the above instances, you can reset the NVRAM on your Mac or run a PRAM reset for older Macs to troubleshoot these issues. For Apple Silicon(M1 and M2 Macs), this process happens automatically when you restart your Mac, so you can simply reboot your Mac.

  1. Shut down your Mac by going into the menu bar, clicking the Apple icon (), then Shut Down.
  2. Turn it back on and immediately press Option + Command (⌘) + P + R.
  3. Release the keys after 20 seconds, and your Mac will restart.
  4. If your Mac plays a startup sound, release the keys after you hear the second startup sound.
  5. On an iMac Pro or MacBook that doesn’t play a startup sound, release the keys after the Apple logo appears and disappears for the second time.

Conclusion

As we’ve mentioned earlier, resetting your NVRAM, PRAM, or SMC can resolve hardware issues that may pop-up while you’re using your Mac. While a reset may work, if the problem persists, it’s a sign that you should contact Apple Support or visit the nearest Apple-authorized service center for a professional to take a look at it.

4 thoughts on “How to Reset NVRAM (PRAM) and SMC on Mac

  • I did this a couple of days ago for my 2010 15″ MBP. It was working properly until I updated to High Sierra. When it went through the process, it failed. So, I asked @applesupport for assistance. To make a long story short, I did the SMC first. It did not work. Then I did NVRAM. Somewhat worked. I had to do a First Aid on my MBP per @applesupport. It turned out that my disk is shot.

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