How to Fix Mac not Shutting Down?

The Macbook is a brand of Macintosh laptop computers which are developed by Apple. The machine is known to be a pioneer in hardware-software integration and is known to be the preferred device for businesses as well as high-end development.

Mac not Shutting Down

However, recently, there have been numerous instances of reports coming in where people reported that they were not able to shut down their Mac. This was a very common problem and mostly occurred with users who have been using their Macbooks for a while or have installed new software. In this article, we will go through all the reasons as to why this issue occurs and what the possible workarounds are to fix the problem.

What causes Mac not to Shut Down?         

After doing our research and gathering responses from users, we concluded that the issue occurred due to several different reasons. Some of the reasons as to why your Mac device might not shut down properly are but not limited to:

  • Applications bottle-necking the process: This seems to be the most normal reason why the shutdown is delayed on your Mac. If there is an application which is still running in the background, you will be unable to shut the device down until it closes and saves work.
  • SMC: System Management Controller is a module in Apple devices which controls the functions of the machine. If it is in an errors state, your Mac would be unable to be function properly and might exhibit various issues.
  • NVRAM: NVRAM is a type of volatile memory which your Mac users to supply information to its processors. If your NVRAM is somehow corrupt or not reading/writing data properly, you will experience issues.
  • Corrupt Disk: The hard disk is kind of the core for every computer because this is where it retrieves and stores information. If your disk is corrupt, the processor will not be able to write or read data from it and cause issues.
  • Outdated OS: Even though this shouldn’t be the case, there are instances where because of an outdated operating system, your current operating system doesn’t work properly. This is mostly because of the OS not syncing with the applications installed.
  • Excessive cache data: The cache on your computer stores temporary data regarding information required to execute normal functions. If the cache has excessive or bad date, the computer will exhibit bizarre behavior.
  • Computer in error state: Some users reported that they found their computers in an error state. When the computer is in this stage, it ceases to perform the very basic actions.
  • Peripherals: Some connected peripherals to your computer might also be the root of the problem. These may not look like they would conflict with the system but they do.
  • Corrupt macOS: Even though this is very rare, this can sometimes be very real and cause numerous problems with your computer. If the very installation files of your Mac are corrupt, your Mac causes several issues and might get stuck very randomly. Reinstalling the OS works here.

Before we start with the solutions, make sure that you are logged in as an administrator. Also, you should back up your data just in case. Establish a good connection to the internet as well because we will be performing lots of updates.

Solution 1: Power cycling your Computer

Before we start with any technical solutions, we will first try to power cycle your computer. In numerous instances, there are just corrupt configurations on your computer which are temporary but are causing problems. Power cycling is the act of completely shutting down your computer (whether it be Mac or Windows) and then restarting it. This removes any bad temporary data issues.

  1. Log out of your profile and then shut down the Mac computer (Force shut down the computer if it isn’t shutting down properly).
  2. Now, make sure that you disconnect the power cable and wait for around 4-5 minutes before proceeding. Also, disconnect all peripherals from the computer
    Power cycling MacBook
  3. Press and hold the power button so the computer turns on. Wait patiently and then log into your computer.

After performing all the above actions, try doing some activity. Later on, try to shut down and see if the issue is resolved.

Solution 2: Killing the Process from Activity Monitor

This is probably the most common reason why users experience a computer getting stuck. If your Mac is stuck when shutting down for some reason, there is a chance that there is an application running in the background which is still performing operations. While it is still active, the macOS tries to delay the shutdown process so it can complete and save the work.

However, if the application is stuck, this becomes a loop and causes numerous issues with the computer. Here in this solution, we will navigate to the activity monitor and try to kill the process manually.

  1. Navigate to the following path using your Finder tools. :
Opening Activity Monitor

Or you can navigate to the Spotlight by pressing Command + Spacebar and search for Activity Monitor.

  1. Now, locate the applications which you think are causing issues (start with the third-party first) from the list of options. Click it and End the task/restart the process.
    Ending Problematic Task
  2. After the process has restarted, try shutting down your computer and see if the issue is resolved for good.

If the application which you were think was the issue isn’t causing any issue, you can try troubleshooting again. Eventually, you will see a pattern and determine which one was the culprit.

Solution 3: Disconnecting third-party peripherals

Peripherals not only connect with your system, but they also consume its resources in some cases. We came across some third-party peripherals can cause conflicts with the Mac operating system. They keep the macOS busy in their processing and the computer gets into a loop causing the loss of primary system requirements. We came across numerous users who reported that disconnecting all peripherals before shutting down solved the problem for them.

Disconnecting third-party peripherals

Here, we are referring to anything external plugged into your computer which also includes the mouse and keyboard. Furthermore, you should also make sure that there are no consoles or third-party screens attached to your computer.

Solution: 4: Updating macOS to the Latest Version

macOS releases frequent updates to all their machines time to time either to counter bugs or introduce new features. These updates are also responsible for keeping the system stable for use. Think of it a type of maintenance but where your device gets better. We found cases where users who haven’t updated their macOS to the latest versions experienced several issues including the computer not shutting down. In this solution, we will navigate to your Mac settings and make sure that the OS is updated to the latest build.

  1. Click the Apple menu present at the top-left side of the screen and click on System Preferences.
  2. Now, click on Software update and check if there are any updates available.
    Updating macOS to the Latest Version

After updating, you can try to force restart your computer. Try doing some activity. Later on, try to shut down and see if the issue is resolved.

Solution 5: Repairing your Disks

Disks are main devices responsible for reading and writing to your computer. They contain the instructions, subroutines, and other administrative commands as well. If your very disks are not working properly, you will experience numerous issues with your computer including the case where it lags when performing subroutines like the shutting down. Here, we will navigate to the terminal and repair your disks manually.

  1. Open the Finder and search for Utilities. From there, look for the Terminal
  2. Once in the terminal, perform these commands one by one and wait till each one of them is complete before starting with the next one:
    Repairing mac Disks
rm -rf ~/Library/Caches/*

rm -rf ~/Library/Saved\ Application\ State/*

sudorm -rf /Library/Caches/*

sudorm -rf /System/Library/Caches/*

atsutil databases -removeUser

sudoatsutil databases -remove

sudoatsutil server -shutdown

sudoatsutil server -ping

sudorm -rf /var/folders/*
  1. Restart your MacBook (forcefully if required) and then check if the shutting down is fixed.

Solution 6: Clearing Temporary Preferences

If the above solutions don’t work, it probably means that there are some issues with your temporary preferences stored on your computer. Preferences in your computer store your choice for various options and may also contain other temporary data which the computer stores on its own. If these preferences are corrupt or incomplete, you will experience numerous problems. In this solution, we will reset them and see if this fixes everything.

  1. Navigate to the Terminal as we did earlier on.
  2. Once in the terminal, perform these commands one by one and wait till each one of them is complete before starting with the next one:
sudo rm -f /Library/Preferences/

sudo rm -f /private/var/db/.AppleUpgrade

sudo rm -f /private/var/db/.SoftwareUpdateAtLogout

sudo reboot
  1. Restart your MacBook (forcefully if required) and then check if the shutting down is fixed.

Solution 7: Resetting NVRAM/PRAM

NVRAM is used by macOS to store settings and temporary data which it uses during its running. PRAM does the same thing and the operating system switches between the two when it is running. However, if these memories are not working properly and not performing their roles properly, you will experience issues in the system like it not shutting down properly. In this solution, we will reset both NVRAM and PRAM and check if this solves the problem.

Note: This action will erase your choices (preferences) in some cases.

  1. Shut down your Mac computer. Now when you turn it back on, you need to press the following keys at once together:
option (alt) + command + P + R
Resetting NVRAM/PRAM
  1. Wait for around 20-30 seconds before releasing all the keys. When you are pressing, you will notice that your mac will be starting up. Now there are two scenarios where you have to release the keys:

In some Mac computers, you will hear a startup sound the second time (the first time will come when you just opened your Mac before pressing the keys). After the first one, when you hear the second time, immediately release all keys.

In other Mac computers where there is Apple T2 Security Chip, you can release the keys after the Apple Logo appears and disappears the second time.

  1. After the computer starts up, you can navigate to your settings and see if it was of any good.

Solution 8: Resetting the SMC (for Intel-based machines)

In MacBooks which are running the Intel Processors, there is a System Management Control which controls all the important aspects of your MacBook including the thermal management and keyboard backlighting, etc. It also controls the subroutines used during the operation. If the SMC on your computer is in an error state, it will cause several problems including where your computer causes issues when shutting down.

In this solution, we will iterate over cases where you can reset your SMC. These are for machines which do not have the latest T2 security chip. For solutions for those machines, visit the Apple website.

Resetting SMC on Mac Notebook (non-removable battery)

This solution is targeted towards newer machines in which you cannot remove the battery.

  1. Shut down your machine by Apple menu > Shut down.
  2. After your Mac shuts down, press Shift – Control – Option on the left side of the built-in keyboard. Now, you should also press the power button simultaneously. You have to press all these keys (including the power button) for 10 seconds.
    Resetting SMC on Mac Notebook
  3. Release all the keys after 10 seconds and then press the power button again to turn on your computer again.

Note: If you have a Touch ID, the Touch ID is also the power button.

Resetting SMC on Mac Notebooks (removable battery)

Earlier models of Mac machines had the option to remove the battery while the newer models do not. This is targeted towards older machines. Here, we will simply power cycling the machine.

  1. Shut down your machine and remove the battery.
  2. Once the computer is disconnected from power, press and hold the power button for about 10 seconds.
  3. Now reinstall the battery and power on your computer. Check if the issue is resolved.

Solution 9: Resetting Mac to Factory Settings

If none of the above solutions work and you are still unable to fix the computer getting stuck while shutting down, you can try resetting the computer to factory settings. This will erase all of your data and install the macOS again the way it came packaged. Make sure that you backup all your data to an external drive before proceeding.

Note: Make sure that you do not interrupt the reset process. Let the process complete.

  1. First, you have to restart in Recovery Just restart your Mac and when the computer powers back on, press and hold the command + R keys until the Apple logo is visible.
  2. When the option comes, click on Disk Utility. Now, you have to select the startup disk (the disk where Mac is installed). Click on Erase. Also, choose Mac OS Extended (Journaled) as the format when asked.
    Mac OS Extended (Journaled)
  3. Now, you can exit the Disk utility. Now from the same menu, click on Reinstall macOS. This will start the reinstallation process. Follow the steps below and by the time you are done, the Finder will hopefully be working.

Kevin Arrows

Kevin Arrows is a highly experienced and knowledgeable technology specialist with over a decade of industry experience. He holds a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) certification and has a deep passion for staying up-to-date on the latest tech developments. Kevin has written extensively on a wide range of tech-related topics, showcasing his expertise and knowledge in areas such as software development, cybersecurity, and cloud computing. His contributions to the tech field have been widely recognized and respected by his peers, and he is highly regarded for his ability to explain complex technical concepts in a clear and concise manner.