Knife the Mac
January 1, 2013 4:04 PM   Subscribe

The Apple Store Genius fixed my Macbook's problem while I was in the store, but now that I'm home again I'm back to square one. Help.

My computer battery drained overnight and I couldn't get it to start this morning, even after it was plugged in for an hour. (Tried removing the battery, resetting the SMC, doing ctrl+opt+P+R, nothing worked.) Took it to the Apple Store ~30 minutes away. It was unplugged and not charging for that travel time.

When I got there, Genius plugged the computer in, pushed the power button, and it started right up.

His explanation, which I only partly remember, is that removing the power cord and letting it sit for a while essentially 'reset' the power supply. Or something like that. He did a bunch of other diagnostic stuff -- 45 minutes worth or so -- and sent me home.

Now that I'm back home, I can't get the computer to start.

What did he do that worked, and how can I boot it up again? (Already tried all the same things I listed above.)
posted by mudpuppie to Computers & Internet (22 answers total)
Have you plugged in a lamp to the power outlet you are using to see if it's working? Tried a different outlet?
posted by stephennelson at 4:08 PM on January 1, 2013

The light is on, so yes, it's working. (Phone charger is plugged into the same cord and is charging. Have also tried a different charger -- no difference.)
posted by mudpuppie at 4:10 PM on January 1, 2013

Did they plug it in at the store using your own power cord, or theirs (they usually use theirs)? I've had at least one MacBook cord go funny on me - it would light up fine, but stopped actually charging the computer.
posted by Mchelly at 4:24 PM on January 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

Yeah, it was theirs, not mine. I'm trying the other cord I have here at home, but it's not made a difference. He also told me that the battery wasn't holding a full charge, although it doesn't need to be replaced. With either cord, the charging light is green (as in "I'm charged!") rather than orange (as in "I'm charging!") The cord they used in the store showed a green light as well.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:30 PM on January 1, 2013

Are you sure your power supply isn't bad? Do you have another or a friends you can test?
posted by specialk420 at 4:30 PM on January 1, 2013

Does it start with the battery completely removed?

Is the battery swollen at all or does it lie flat on both sides? I don't really know MB batteries, but I had problems with a bad MBP battery that swelled up and pressed into the mouse button. It was a sign of badness.

If you get it back up, get the system info app running and get the power information off of that.
posted by Mad_Carew at 4:33 PM on January 1, 2013

how old is the battery?
posted by Mad_Carew at 4:34 PM on January 1, 2013

It does not start with the battery removed. (Resetting the SMC involves removing the battery and holding the power button down for 10 seconds, which has not worked.) The battery is not swollen. I don't know how old it is -- several years, as old as the computer, I guess -- but it had no problem holding a charge until it drained overnight. (I somehow turned the keyboard backlight on last night, shut the cover, and went to bed. It was plugged in, but I forgot that it was plugged in to the outlet that turns off when the light switch turns off. I think the keyboard light had something to do with it.)

Anyway, additional datapoint: Both chargers are fine. I have the old, white Macbook charging next to the troubled Macbook Pro. Both chargers show the orange charging light with the old computer, but the green fully-charged light with the computer in question. So, it's not the chargers. Something's up with the computer, which was fine in the Apple Store.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:39 PM on January 1, 2013

Is your computer covered by AppleCare? If it is, pick up the phone and call them and make it their problem that it is not working. They should even have access to the work ticket from your visit to the Genius Bar.

If it's not, try calling the Apple Store where you took the computer and telling them that you thought your visit to the Genius Bar fixed your problem but it actually did not. They may have a follow-up window in which you can get further service without having to pay more.
posted by hippybear at 4:48 PM on January 1, 2013

Are you sure the machine isn't powering up at all? I had a machine that we thought had battery issues because it would boot to a black screen but seemed to work when the battery was out. But it ended up being a stick of RAM that started acting flaky, so the battery/PSU was actually a red herring.
posted by substars at 4:52 PM on January 1, 2013

Are you using the MacBook charger with the MBP? I'm pretty sure that you can use the charger from MBPs for macbooks, but not the other way around.
posted by titanium_geek at 4:54 PM on January 1, 2013

I'm trying to avoid calling the Apple Store if I can -- it was a zoo. Do not have Apple Care.

The machine is not powering on at all -- nothing happens when I hit the power button.

The chargers are interchangeable -- in practice, anyway, if not by design. I used the old MacBook charger with this computer for a while after my partner absconded with the charger that belongs to the MBP.

I just knew someone would have a quick answer. :(
posted by mudpuppie at 4:59 PM on January 1, 2013

Apple menu -> About this mac -> More Info -> System Report -> Hardware -> Power -> Health Information:

What do you see for Cycle Count and Condition?
posted by zippy at 4:59 PM on January 1, 2013

I see nothing -- I can't turn the damn thing on!
posted by mudpuppie at 5:00 PM on January 1, 2013 [3 favorites]

Also: Macbook and MBP chargers have the same connector, but may charge at different rates (they may be rated for different wattages).

A Macbook 60W charger on a MBP that takes an 85W charger may not supply enough juice to charge the battery under all conditions.
posted by zippy at 5:01 PM on January 1, 2013

Ah sorry mudpuppie (about asking you to go to the Apple menu on a dead machine). Since it won't boot at all, even with the battery removed, I suspect a hardware error or electrical issue :( Without being able to boot at all, I'm not sure how to diagnose it further.
posted by zippy at 5:04 PM on January 1, 2013

I'm trying to avoid calling the Apple Store if I can -- it was a zoo. Do not have Apple Care.
You can schedule a new Genius Bar appointment
(which it sounds like you need)
online by going here.
posted by blueberry at 5:14 PM on January 1, 2013

zippy has it. MBP chargers deliver a higher wattage. If you are using the wrong charger, the battery will charge painfully slowly, and the unit will not power on solely from mains power. The very first thing to do is get the right charger. If you have a friend with a MBP, the simplest thing to do is borrow theirs for a few minutes.

Connect the correct charger and allow it to charge for at least 1 minute; then attempt to power the system on. If still nothing, you can try an SMC reset; PRAM is not worth bothering with, it won't affect this issue at all. If you are STILL unable to power on the system, then you need a hardware repair; either of the internal power management board or the motherboard.

[edit] there is a VERY small chance that the power connectors either on your charger or computer are at fault. Inspect them closely for signs of corrosion/foreign substances; if they are dirty or corroded, clean them with a soft cloth dampened with isopropyl alcohol.

- Ex Apple tech support.
posted by fearnothing at 5:30 PM on January 1, 2013

fearnothing -- any idea why the computer booted immediately at the Apple store?
posted by mudpuppie at 5:59 PM on January 1, 2013

Mudpuppie, because they used the correct wattage charger, or because the battery, left alone for the 30 minute trip, recovered some juice, or both.

Subsequent attempts to start the computer may have discharged the battery further to the point where resting isn't enough to allow it to boot. If you discharge it too far, it may become damaged.

Leave the battery in the computer, leave the charger connected, and make an appointment online to see the Genius Bar. While there, see if the computer will boot from a charger with the correct wattage (and also whether yours is the right wattage).

Alternately, look up your computer's specs and borrow the right charger from a friend.
posted by zippy at 6:13 PM on January 1, 2013

The power supply for my Macbook is very temperature sensitive. It won't work if it's been sitting in the car in winter, or sometimes near a cold window, until it heats up to near room temperature. In the winter I remember to keep my laptop bag near the floor heat vents in the car if I'll need power after I get to a plug.

It doesn't sounds like this is your problem, but I thought I'd throw that out as a "Mac power supply weirdness" data point.
posted by Ookseer at 7:32 PM on January 1, 2013

Re: AppleCare ... call anyway. This is a hardware issue. They will (and are required to) grant an exception for hardware issues on out-of-support machines. The logic is that you may need a replacement part and that makes Apple money. Call.
posted by skypieces at 10:14 PM on January 2, 2013

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