MagSafe Won’t Charge a MacBook? It’s Probably a Simple Fix

Feb 4, 2014 - 44 Comments


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.

Magsafe with debris blocking connection

(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:

  1. Shut down the MacBook by going to  Apple menu > Shut Down
  2. Connect the MagSafe power adapter
  3. Simultaneously hold down Shift+Control+Option+Power for about 4 seconds, then release all together
  4. Press the Power button to boot the MacBook with a reset SMC
  5. 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:

    Reset the SMC controller on a MacBook Air and MacBook Pro Retina with these key presses

    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.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting


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  1. Onur says:

    I had also experienced sometimes that the adapter enters some sort of protection mode if there is a problem in the outlet regulation. In that case changing the outlet won’t help as the adapter is still in off-mode and keeping in the outlet preserves this state. Waiting long enough without unconnected to any outlet (appx. 2-3 minutes) enables the adapter get back to operational state and it starts working even on the same outlet. I am not a power management expert but I observed this behavior numerous times with different magsafe adapters.

  2. I’ve found that the central pin of the MagSafe Adapter can often become stuck, which prevents the Laptop from charging.

    A pair of tweezers to pull the pin out often rectified the issue.

  3. Bryan Pietrzak says:

    Also make sure all firmware and SMC updates have been applied. For some of the older MacBooks, there was an SMC update to enable MagSafe support.

  4. Vega says:

    Remove the staple from the mag safe port. They fit perfectly and hide along the inner edge. Also, if not the SMC or power adapter its usually the mag safe board inside the computer which is way cheaper than the MLB.

  5. albert root says:

    So thankful to the local Apple Store where I found out the charger was not at fault, but rather the Magsafe board connection inside. The part was $10.23 along with the labor of $39.00 came to 49.23 plus tax and I have my macbook back. They were so helpful at the apple store and overall a wonderful stress free experience. I also admitted that I had left my macbook in my car overnight and condensation had most likely formed inside causing the connection to rust out a bit. They appreciated that information.

  6. Peter Charters says:

    I bought a refurbished MacBook a few years back that came with a new MagSafe adapter. The adapter failed after only a few hours. I called Apple. Tech said it couldn’t fail; it is new. I said that I bet he knew as well as I did that if electronics are going to fail it is usually soon after being put into operation. He sent a new one.
    Now I have an MBA and a second MagSafe. The old one was 60W, the new is 45W. So I can use either on the MBA but only the old one on the MacBook.

  7. Ram Shengale says:

    This worked for me. Thanks a ton.

  8. Mark Powell says:

    Read the article- followed the instructions- fixed the problem.

    Paul Horowitz you are a legend

  9. Beth Devonport says:

    Cheers! This worked for me! You are a life saver! :)

  10. michele p. says:

    I appreciate you showing the keys on the image. Despite being a Mac user for over 10 years I still have trouble identifying the “Option” or “command” key. I wish they would say alt and control like every other normal computer

  11. Lordnikon says:

    I wasted liquid on the 2007/2008 MacBook that is not able to charge at the moment. After drying it; it powerd up for a few minutes and turned off. I notice the MagSafe was not fully illuminated green. When I unplugged the MagSafe, the light was still on but not bright for 5sec. I tried another AC outlet with the same results. Would this be the mag board.

    • I had this exact same thing, spilled a drink and then found that my machine would not charge from my adapter, although I found that a cheap Chinese copy charger would charge my machine fine. I changed the magsafe connector board but still no luck.

      I got a new machine, as I was worried that at some point my old one might just die, and so my old one sat and ran out of batteries. For some reason a few days later I decided to try the Apple charger again and it was working…

      Weird, but perhaps with a completely dead battery it did an SMC reset by itself.. There’s also the PRAM, and you can do a SMC bypass by holding the power button for 10 seconds with no charger attached, then keeping it pressed connect the charger, hold for another 10 secs then let go of both..

  12. JB says:

    Did and it worked .. thanks

  13. yahkmed says:

    What you’ve told people to do when resetting the older models is hard when you’re out of charge and can’t charge it!

  14. Pam says:

    Same question…how do you reset the SMC on a Macbook Air if the laptop has already run out of battery and won’t charge???

  15. Lo says:

    I have the adapter’s light is working and give a green light for long time but still my Mac Air (A1369) is not working. What should I do?

  16. Amphibo says:

    Resetting the SMC worked like a charm. THX!

  17. CGENGO says:

    Thanks for this tip. My computer was showing all symptoms and then died. Even with a dead battery I was able to do this restart and it worked. Thank you!

  18. Sabrina says:

    Thank you for the help! Number 2 worked perfectly for me-all i had to do was blow in to the MagSafe port and it charged instantly. Thank you again!

  19. Angelo says:

    Just needed to say my fix, the instructions were good but even after trying to reset my smc my charger wasnt charging my mac.. Two of the tiny pins on the L tip were shortened due to heat, after prodding and poking, i finally got it working by using a safety pin to prod out the shortened pins.. 😄

  20. Will Smead says:

    A really weird solution that worked for me was to heat the “brick” part of the MagSafe up. I read the solution online, but dismissed it as a stupid solution, but after trying EVERYTHING else, thought that i might as well try it. My MagSafe had been in storage at 70 degrees, and had been at the house for a few hours, so it was at room temp. Held the brick in front of a space heater (some have used hair dryers) for a few min, and like a miracle…it worked. Apparently even a little cold (or pretty much none at all) can cause the metal to shrink ever so slightly inside the adaptor, and cause it to malfunction. Again…mine wasn’t even cold, but heating it worked. Somehow. Def try it and tell me if it worked for you…I’m still in a little shock and disbelief.

  21. Kit Miles says:

    Very useful info on both the SMC and brick temperature. I find that after SMC reset the charging often stops again after a few minutes when laptop is in use and the battery is low. I find it better to leave the lid closed and do something else / sleep until fully charged. Then it is mire stable.

    Please note that the illustration of the “keys to press” shows the Eject key top right. Should that rather be the power button (not a black key) as is mentioned in the Apple support notice?

  22. Sally G says:

    Not sure which of the first 3 steps above worked but charger is working again thanks! Think perhaps unplugging and leaving it idle. Love the internet and your help.

  23. jefdeg says:

    I have a dead battery and I try everything I read but no one is working ? I even bought a new mag safe charger.. But nothing works

  24. Genevieve says:

    Step 2 saved my life! As simple as it is, it worked like a charm and saved me a whole lot of money. I thought my charger had been playing up for months, and realising all I needed to do was give the MagSafe port a little clean was a huge relief. Thank you!!!

  25. richard says:

    my battey charged witht the mag cgarger took about 3 days now full charge but soon as i unplug the mains power the battery even full charge doesn’t sem to work cos i can’t switch my mabbook air on. It’s a nightmare PLESE HELP!!!!!

  26. Dan says:

    Nice summary and, yes, debris in the plug is a killer.

    Yeah, that’s not the power button you’ve marked with the red rectangle in the figure that goes with “3: Reset the SMC”. So the figure is wrong. Indeed, you want to press the power button, not the “eject disk” button.

  27. Patrick says:

    Looks like the Power button to me! Has the universal symbol for Power on it.

  28. Jason says:

    You have just made me a believer. Reset the SMC and now a computer that has been dead for 3 days is charging again. You rock, Paul.

  29. reza says:

    yes it’s working thanks a lot you’re awesome

  30. ivy says:

    Onur, thank you! That totally worked for me. I was transferring from one outlet to another, adjusting here and there. Then, i read your post. So i waited for 2-3 minutes. Plugged it back and perfect! It’s charging. Thank you so much!

  31. Annemarie says:

    Fantastic, thought I cleaned the magnetic connection, but after reading this I really scraped it clean with a tooth pic and it fixed the problem – there were minuscule bits of metal shards – say from my Bobbie pins.

  32. Ron says:

    Hi, I found this site because my magsafe stopped working. No light and no charge. After reading solutions, I remembered putting a harddrive in the freezer before to make it work, so, I put my magsafe in the freezer for approximately 10 mins. and presto, light came on and it started charging.
    Hope this will help some of you too.

  33. Michelle says:

    Thank you so much was panicking with my computer charged at 10% such great advice very relieved 😊

  34. Jeffrey says:

    Thank you, after spending $80 on a new cord and it still not working Step 3 saved me! Thank you!!!

  35. Nataliya says:

    Thanks so much for the very helpful and informative guide. I noticed there was a piece of metal in the magnet area so the chord would not fully stick to the magnet. I got the metal piece out and sure enough the light came on in the charging chord. Honestly, THANK YOU for the instructions that allowed me to figure out what the issue was!

  36. Matt O. says:

    For me it was the small, copper colored, prongs in the magnetic attachment on the adapter. I took some tweezers and pushed them each down/in a couple of times. After reconnecting the light showed again and it began charging. Strange issue.

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