The Backlight Won't Stay on in My MacBook

Written by maxwell payne
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The Backlight Won't Stay on in My MacBook
Laptop screens are backlit for visibility. (laptop computer image by patrimonio designs from

Like many laptops, the Apple Macbook has a backlight that makes viewing the screen content easier in a range of viewing conditions. Occasionally the backlight may malfunction resulting in screen flickering, dimness, brightness adjustment problems, or complete backlight failure. You can troubleshoot and attempt to correct this problem yourself by using a number of techniques.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Small coin (optional)
  • Small Philips head screwdriver (optional)

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  1. 1

    Locate the "screen brightness" keys towards the top of the keyboard. These are also labelled as the "F5" and "F6" keys respectively. Press each one to see if the screen brightness increases or decreases. Repeat this step while holding down the "fn" key until the desired brightness is reached. If this does not work, proceed to Step 2.

  2. 2

    Click the "Apple" logo on the top left of the screen and select "Force Quit" to stop all applications. Select "Sleep" from the same "Apple" menu and allow the computer to sleep. Press any key to wake the computer. If the backlight is not back on fully, proceed to Step 3.

  3. 3

    Click the "Apple" logo and select "Shut down." Turn the computer back on after the computer has fully shut down. If the problem still persists, proceed to Step 4 to begin a System Management Controller Reset (SMC).

  4. 4

    Shut down the computer and unplug the power supply connector. Remove the battery. On the polycarbonate body MacBooks, use a coin to turn the "battery latch" to the open position and lift the battery out. On the aluminium unibody Macbook, remove the back panel screws (note the location of each screw for replacement) and lift the panel off. Lift the battery out of the case.

  5. 5

    Press the "power button" and hold it down for 5 seconds. You may hear a tone or beep. Release the power button.

  6. 6

    Replace the battery and the back panel with screws if you removed those. Reconnect the power supply cable and turn the computer back on. Use the "brightness" control keys (F5 and F6) to reach the desired brightness.

Tips and warnings

  • If the backlight still shuts off or brightness changes randomly even after these steps you may need to contact AppleCare for a repair or replacement.

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