In our experience, Apple MacBooks are some of the most reliable computers you can buy. Aside from the weird shoddy design decisions you can see explained by the brilliant Louis Rossman, most people find that their MacBooks continue to ride in trucks. This is one of the reasons that a serious device failure can be a shock. One minute your MacBook works fine, the next it won’t charge!
There are several reasons why your MacBook may not charge. Some can be repaired on their own, others require Apple or a certified third-party repair company to take care of it. Let’s go through the common causes and solutions for when your MacBook doesn’t want to charge.
The two types of “not charging” MacBooks
There are some things that “MacBook won’t charge” can mean. The most common is that you plug in the charging cable and your MacBook won’t turn on or the battery continues to drain even if you have the power connected.
The second reason someone might want to look for this problem is a message under the battery status that says “not charging”. However, the computer works normally and the battery level does not drop, decrease more slowly, or even increase slowly over time.
This second situation occurs when the MacBook has to draw more power than is supplied through the cable. This is usually because you are using a power supply with insufficient power. We’ll get to this issue shortly, but first, let’s take a look at what you can do if your MacBook is completely dead and won’t charge.
1. My MacBook is broken
If your MacBook won’t turn on or charge even when you plug it in, you may have a dead MacBook on your hands. Before taking it to an Apple Genius, however, here are a few things to try:
- Hold down the button of power for 10 seconds, which will force the MacBook to fade. Then try to turn it on as usual.
- After doing this and there is still no response, you can attempt a System Management Controller (SMC) reset. Keep pressing Ctrl-Shift-Option on the left side of the keyboard along with the power button for 10 seconds. Then release the keys and try to turn on the MacBook normally.
If that doesn’t work, you should pack your notebook and take it to the nearest service center for evaluation. With this more serious issue verified, we can now look at the most common (and most solvable!) Charging problems MacBook owners face.
2. Start at the source: Check the charger
There are two parts to the puzzle if your MacBook isn’t charging. One is the laptop itself and the other is the charger. The latter piece of hardware is the easiest to control, so it makes sense to start there.
Make sure the charger, its cables, and connectors have no obvious visible damage. You should also check to make sure the outlet is working by trying another appliance.
If the charger is a USB model, try connecting it to another USB device. If the charger works with other devices but not your MacBook, it probably isn’t the cause of the problem.
3. Use genuine Apple accessories
Modern MacBooks are particularly versatile because they use a standard USB-C port for charging. This means you can use pretty much any smartphone or tablet charger to charge your laptop. Even a power bank can extend the time you can stay away from power before the lights go out.
Unfortunately, the world is full of low-quality charging devices or those that don’t properly adhere to the power supply standards that the MacBook needs. It could also be that the charger simply doesn’t have the power it needs to provide the MacBook with enough power.
MacBook chargers range from 29W to around 96W, so check which one your MacBook requires and use something at the same level or higher. You can charge a MacBook with an 18W smartphone charger, but the computer will need to be turned off or asleep. Even then it will take much longer to fully charge.
The best way to eliminate this as the cause of the problem is to use the original Apple charger and cable that came with the notebook. If these also give you a “not charging” error, it’s time to have your things checked by an Apple repair center.
4.Do you have dirty doors?
Please don’t take it personally, many people have dirty charging ports. There is nothing to be ashamed of! The important thing is to check if the accumulation of dust and lint in the MacBook’s charging port could be responsible for a bad electrical connection.
This isn’t really an issue for MacBooks older than Thunderbolt 3, but if you have one of the newer models, they can suffer from the same issues as Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C ports in general. Do some light in the door to see if there is dirt in there. If so, you can ask a technician to clean it for you or, if you’re the brave type, gently remove the dirt from the connector with a plastic or wooden toothpick. As always, do it at your own risk.
5. The battery may actually be discharged
Lithium batteries wear out a little each time they go through a charge cycle. After completing the expected number of cycles, the battery begins to lose capacity, a process that may start slowly and then speed up. At some point, the battery does not charge or holds such a small charge that it runs out within minutes. If you click on the battery icon in MacOS and see a “service battery” message, it means the battery needs to be checked by a professional and most likely replaced.
There are three possibilities here when it comes to taking out the battery. Older MacBook models have user-replaceable batteries. Just take out the old battery and insert a new one. After these MacBooks came a generation of laptops where the battery could be removed, but that involved opening the laptop. If you have one of these models, go to the iFixit guide to see what you need to do to get to the battery.
The latest MacBook models are sealed drives and even if you have opened it, the battery is glued and needs to be removed with solvent. This forces you to go to an Apple technician unless you have the right technical skills.