MagSafe Won’t Charge a MacBook? It’s Probably a Simple Fix
The MagSafe power adapter is brilliant, using magnets to secure a connection between a MacBook and the AC power charger, it not only breaks away quickly to help prevent mishaps, but it also quickly snaps on to provide power to the Mac. It usually works flawlessly, but on some rare occasions, the MagSafe adapter is seemingly connected just fine but no charge is being passed through to the computer. Fortunately these issues are usually easy to resolve, so proceed through steps 1 through 3 outlined below to get your MagSafe charging the Mac battery again.
And yes, these steps are the same for any MacBook Air or MacBook Pro with a built-in battery and a magnetic MagSafe charging adapter.
1: Verify the MagSafe is Plugged In & Try a Different Outlet
Yes, that means check to be sure the adapter is plugged into a wall outlet, and that the MagSafe AC adapter or wall adapter is properly connected and secured. Trying a different wall outlet is also critical because it rules out the outlet being the issue (and who hasn’t had the experience of plugging something into a non-working outlet before?).
Also, check for any flaws or frays in the adapter. If the MagSafe cable is torn, fraying, damaged, or the inner-workings of the charger are exposed in any way, do not use the MagSafe. Replace it immediately.
2: Check the MagSafe Ports for Debris
Now check the MagSafe ports for any objects or debris. Look closely at both the adapter cord itself, and on the port at the side of the MacBook Pro / Air. Foreign objects interfering in the physical connection between the charger and the computer is one of the more common reasons that MagSafe adapters seemingly won’t pass a charge. The image below demonstrates how a tiny piece of something blocking a connection can be hard to see, so check closely.
(Note the tiny metallic particle that is snuggly tucked into the corner of the port. Yes, this is a real photo example taken while troubleshooting a MacBook Air that wouldn’t charge.)
If you do see something stuck in the MagSafe adapter or Mac port, unplug the MagSafe from the wall and disconnect the Mac from any power source, and then use a wooden object like a toothpick to remove it from the port. Do not ever use anything metal for this purpose.
This may sound silly or unlikely, but it happens more often than you’d think. Because laptops and MagSafe adapters are often carried in backpacks, purses, and bags, they can accumulate lint and other particles that may prevent a proper connection. Additionally, that same magnetic connection which makes the MagSafe adapter so wonderful can also attract other pieces of minuscule stuff that is just large enough to prevent a charge while also being very hard to visually identify.
3: Reset the SMC
If you have verified the MagSafe adapter is all plugged in properly and the port is free of obstructions, your next choice should be to reset the System Management Controller (SMC). This can resolve many power related issues with Macs, from strange fan behavior, to batteries not charging, the MagSafe adapter not being identified as connected or passing a charge, to the battery missing message, refusal to sleep or wake properly, amongst a variety of other problems.
Resetting the SMC on a MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Retina MacBook with a non-removal battery is easy and done as follows:
- Shut down the MacBook by going to Apple menu > Shut Down
- Connect the MagSafe power adapter
- Simultaneously hold down Shift+Control+Option+Power for about 4 seconds, then release all together
- Press the Power button to boot the MacBook with a reset SMC
To clarify, these are the exact keys to press when the Mac is shut down with the adapter connected in order to reset the SMC:
If you have an older model MacBook with a removal battery the steps are slightly different, you can follow our instructions or Apple’s official instructions to perform the same SMC reset on those computers.
Resetting the SMC clears out all power settings on the Mac, so if you have customized settings within Energy Saver or elsewhere you’ll need to set those again, as all power options get returned to the OS X defaults.
The MacBook battery should now be charging from the MagSafe as usual
Once the Mac is booted it should be charging fine, as signified by the MagSafe light being orange or green.
If you’re still having problems and the Mac won’t charge, the MagSafe adapter itself could be failing (a fairly rare occurrence) or the MacBook logic board could be failing (another rare occurrence). If you can, try another MagSafe adapter to see if it works with the Mac.
If you’ve done the above steps and the battery is continuing to not charge and the MagSafe adapter is not working, your next bet is to schedule an appointment or phone call with Apple official support channels to get the MacBook, battery, and MagSafe adapter looked at. Sometimes it can be a hardware fault, although that is pretty rare.