Why does it reboot in fullscreen?
December 11, 2011 3:50 PM   Subscribe

Why does my Macbook "reboot" sometimes when I watch full screen video?

I'm using a Macbook Pro with OS X 10.6.8, and all of my software is up to date. After a fresh reboot, occasionally when I open a video (VLC, Youtube, Netflix, etc.) and go into full screen the video will stop and my computer will "reboot" - that is, the screen goes blue with the circling reboot icon, then immediately goes back to the OS X screen, but all of my applications have been closed. If I then reopen the video and go into full screen, it plays fine, and indeed any full screen videos after that play fine until I reboot again. This only happens when a video is put into full screen; all other videos play fine.

At the moment it's more of a minor inconvenience, but I'm really curious what might be causing this. I just upgraded from an older Macbook Pro (also with 10.6.8) to a refurbished one of the same model, and the problem happens on both. Has anyone else experienced this?
posted by Yiggs to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
Is the internal fan working. Sounds like a heat-related issue.

My Macbook fan spins up something fierce when I full screen a Flash video. If your fans aren't working properly, the machine will shut down as a safety precaution after the temperature goes over a certain level.

Take it to the Genius Bar at your local Apple Store and get it checked out. Also, if you're not running any mission critical legacy applications, you may want to upgrade to Lion - various speed improvements, UI enhancements, possibly bug fixes that may address this issue, etc.
posted by plasticbugs at 4:24 PM on December 11, 2011

There also appears to be a couple of issues with the video config & drivers on the dual-video-chip Nvidia machines. Allegedly the first can be solved by resetting the PRAM; the second by installing / reinstalling the Nvidia portions of the SL Graphics Update 1.0.

But yeah, if that doesn't work I'd be hassling Apple about it.
posted by Pinback at 4:44 PM on December 11, 2011

Which MacBook Pro?

I have a first rev 2006 model what always ran hot when the fans were working. When one fan failed it would cause the computer to shut down pretty quickly when I'd do video intensive stuff. It is very out of warranty and so I've retired it.

I also have a spring 2008 MacBook Pro which out of the blue one day wouldn't start. Turns out the NVIDIA video card failed. This happened in October of this year after the Mac has been out of warranty for a few years. I took it to the Apple store because it was insured as part of my personal effects policy and State Farm wanted an estimate to get it repaired. The genius looked at it and said it was the graphics card and it was covered by a replacement program so they replaced the logic board since that's where the graphics card is and it was good as new. Because it was part of a special program, it was free. (which in a way sucked because if it was going to cost >$900 to fix, State Farm would have would given me a brand new MacBook Pro). Anyway, I relate this story is because there is a bad batch of video cards on 2008 MacBooks that Apple will fix event his far out of warranty.

If you have a new MacBook Pro it could be what Pinback suggests. But whatever it is, it seems to be related to the graphics card. It either has a fault or it is overheating. There's an dashboard widget called iStat Pro that you can install and it will tell you how hot the GPU and CPU are getting and if the fans are running.

If you live in a city with an Apple store, make an appointment to see a genius. They can troubleshoot and let you know if it can be fixed and if it is under a special repair program like mine was, or an estimate what it will cost to fix (you're not obligated to have them fix it, you can take your Mac with you and shop around alternate repair places). If it is a GPU/logic board problem it will be about $600 to fix out of warranty.
posted by birdherder at 4:59 PM on December 11, 2011

I also have a macbook pro with OS x 10.6.8.
It doesn't reboot when I full-screen netflix, it kind of flashes and reverts to little screen. After a bit of googling, I found a suggestion to turn off "Automatic Graphics Switching" (found under "Energy Saver" in system preferences). I turned off the automatic switching and now fullscreen works fine. I know your problem is more severe, but it could have a similar cause.
posted by beau jackson at 5:15 PM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

My best guess would be what Beau Jackson recommends. Initially I would have thought heat, but then it would likely have not let you play through the rest of the video without it happening again.
If disabling "automatic graphics switching" doesn't solve the problem, I'd head to the Apple store. (Though that unprompted rebooting seems like it really shouldn't happen, regardless of checked boxes, so you may want to go to the store anyway).
posted by TangoCharlie at 8:51 PM on December 11, 2011

Response by poster: My refurbished Macbook was built in April 2008. My older one was built in (I believe) early 2007. I had this problem on both machines.

I'm pretty sure it isn't a heat issue - the fan works fine, and it only reboots the one time. If I try to play a fullscreen video two minutes later (probably not enough time to cool significantly) it plays fine, and then I can play a fullscreen video for an hour or two with no problems. I can also open new videos and put them in full screen after the first reboot and they will play with no problems.

Oddly enough, I don't see an option for "Automatic Graphics Switching" under Energy Saver preferences. I'm up to date on my software updates... I'm not sure why this would be the case. Any ideas why this might be?

I will try resetting the PRAM and installing the SL Graphics Update. I'm not sure if it's worth the hassle to take it in to Apple; I lived with the problem for over a year on my old Macbook and it was never more than a small annoyance. More than anything, I'm curious what could be causing it, especially since both computers had the same issue.
posted by Yiggs at 10:07 PM on December 11, 2011

I think I have the same model MacBook Pro as me and I'd advise you to take it in and ask about a getting a new logic board, even just to protect the resale value of your machine. I've read that the warranty has been extended from 3 to 4 years from the purchase date.

You won't find automatic graphics switching because your model doesn't have two separate video cards.
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:25 PM on December 11, 2011

Oddly enough, I don't see an option for "Automatic Graphics Switching" under Energy Saver preferences. I'm up to date on my software updates... I'm not sure why this would be the case. Any ideas why this might be?

The automatic graphics switching was introduced after 2008 (it was 2010 I believe), so this doesn't appear to be helpful...
posted by beau jackson at 5:31 AM on December 12, 2011

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