How do you restart a MacBook?

9 min read

With more complicated technological advancements, we’ve gotten used to elaborate ways of solving problems with our devices and almost forgotten about the good old “turn it off and on” trick. Still, powering a device off and on again is sometimes the most effective method of getting it back up to speed.

Restart Mac command comes in useful when your device freezes unexpectedly, apps become unresponsive, the cursor turns into a spinning ball, or the Mac starts to overheat. Hitting the force restart MacBook button is generally considered a last resort, but is usually the quickest way of getting things running again.

During a Mac hard restart process, macOS closes all programs and installs any awaiting updates, thus optimizing the system and making it operate smoother than before. So how to restart Mac when frozen and what to do before you start? Read on for practical ways and essential tips of how to reset MacBook Pro and other models.

What to do before restarting your Mac

Regularly restarting your MacBook is good for system maintenance because Mac hard restart reboots the operating system and apps, plus clears out active memory without losing data, and installs all pending software updates.

Choosing to force restart MacBooks that aren’t operating smoothly isn’t the same as factory resetting the devices, which deletes all apps and data you’ve acquired, or simply powering them off, which won’t do much more than stop the active apps from running. Between these methods, a Mac hard restart is somewhere in the middle on the scale of how extreme and effective it is — you don’t lose any data, but the device starts running better.

Here is a checklist of what to do before looking into how to restart MacBooks:

  • Save open files. Since the restart Mac command will make all apps close, and you probably don't want to lose any unsaved progress, save your open files by pressing Command + S. If possible, make a new Time Machine backup before restarting.
  • Eject external storage devices. We all know that ejecting external hard drives unsafely may cause damage to their data. So before you force restart MacBook, drag the external drive to the Trash icon in the Dock or click the eject button next to the drive in Finder.
  • Quit every app. It’s possible that your Mac is not operating smoothly because one or more apps have frozen and refuse to quit. Press Command + Q to quit your current app or right-click the app name in the Dock and select Quit.

To cycle between your open apps and find out which other apps are still running, use Command + Tab keys. Or if you want to speed up the process of closing all active apps on your Mac, try QuitAll.

QuitAll is a handy app helper that will monitor and handle background apps, not letting them tamper with the operating speed of your Mac. Use QuitAll to selectively quit the apps you don’t need right now without having to worry about unsaved work, as apps will remind you to save before quitting. Conveniently switch from Quit to Force Quit modes to forcibly quit any frozen app or even a few in one click.

quit all for mac

How to restart a MacBook Pro from the Apple Menu

This is the easiest way to access the restart Mac command, given your cursor isn’t frozen and responding. This option works the same on every model of the MacBook Pro, running any version of macOS.

Here’s how to restart MacBook from the Apple menu:

  1. Click the Apple menu in the top left corner of the screen
  2. Select Restart
  3. Check the box next to “Reopen windows when logging back in” if you want
  4. Click Restart again or let the timer count down to complete restart

restart a mac from apple menu

If your Mac refuses to boot up again after restart, it might be an indicator of an underlying problem that was causing lags in the first place. Potential root causes range from outdated software to a faulty hard drive.

How to restart a MacBook with a keyboard

Another option for how to restart Macs is by using the keyboard. This might be your first choice if you like keyboard shortcuts in general, or a last resort if your Mac isn’t responding to mouse clicks.

Here’s how to reset MacBook Pro with a keyboard:

  1. Hold down Control + Command + power button/eject button/Touch ID sensor
  2. Wait for the screen to darken and the restart sound to play before releasing the keys

If this doesn’t work, you can force restart MacBook by holding down the power button or Control + Option + Command + power/eject/Touch ID buttons simultaneously, depending on the Mac model.

How to restart Mac using Terminal

If you’re a bit more technical, there’s an option for how to reset MacBook Pro using Terminal. The Mac Terminal is a command line interface for the macOS operating system. Terminal is typically used by network administrators or users who want to initiate an action that isn’t supported by the operating system’s graphical user interface.

For those new to Terminal, you can think of it as the ultimate command shortcut hub that allows you to take control of your operating system in a quick and efficient way.

So how do you restart a MacBook using Terminal? Follow these steps:

  1. Open Terminal by pressing the Command + Space keys simultaneously to open Spotlight Search and finding the app
  2. Enter the following command: sudo shutdown -r
  3. Replace with the specific time you’d like to reboot your Mac: type “now” for immediate reboot, or “+60” if you want to do it in an hour, for example
  4. Press Enter and type your Mac’s password when prompted

restart mac terminal

The Mac hard restart will now be performed at the specified time. If you’re connecting to remote devices and toggling between hosts on a regular basis, Terminal is a good place to start, but to get a more solid experience, try a full-featured SSH client like Core Shell.

Core Shell provides a colorful way to manage hosts using advanced features, and a secure macOS Keychain integration. Organize hosts by tags for convenience, enjoy instant connections to remote shells from anywhere, and use OpenSSH support to benefit from features unavailable in the native terminal — from agent forwarding to proxy jump to post command.

Plus, Core Shell is fully compatible with Terminal, so there’s no steep learning curve, but the experience is way more seamless. 

core shell mac

How to restart your Mac using the “drain the battery” method

This option is based on removing the power supply from your Mac or draining the battery to force restart MacBook by letting it shut down first. Keep in mind that powering off your Mac this way can potentially be damaging if you lose unsaved data or accidentally create corrupt files on your hard drive.

Only remove the power supply from your Mac as a last resort. But if none of the methods above worked for you, here’s how to restart Mac when frozen by draining its battery:

  • MacBook, MacBook Air, or MacBook Pro: unplug the power cable and wait for the battery to die. Once your Mac powers off, charge it back up and turn it on.
  • Older MacBook models: remove the battery from the bottom of the computer for a quicker way to force your Mac to shut down
  • Desktop Mac models: unplug the power cable from the back of the computer and wait a few moments to let your Mac cool down, then reconnect the power cable and power it back on

How to boost your Mac performance after restarting 

As you can see, there are multiple solutions for how to restart MacBooks and one of them is likely to be successful in fixing whatever you need to fix. If you were searching how to reset MacBook Pro due to it being slow or telling you it’s running low on space, use CleanMyMac X to prevent this problem in the future.

CleanMyMac X is a tool created to clean, optimize, and protect your Mac for years of use. Run instant system cleanups, uninstall and update apps in one click, remove malware, detect and erase large files to free up memory, and view a detailed visualization of your Mac’s storage in Space Lens. Use CleanMyMac X’s maintenance tools to help declutter the system and hard drive from unwanted trash and revive your Mac’s true speed.

cmm after restart

If you’re a big multitasker, your Mac might be slowing down because of an abundance of open apps that are drastically increasing CPU usage. In this instance, you require the help of App Tamer.

App Tamer spots idle apps that hog CPU in the background and takes action by slowing them down or stopping them to prevent application memory issues. App Tamer allows you to manually adjust which apps you want to control and how much CPU they can use while in the background. Get your macOS activity professionally managed in one click with battery-minded settings and handy menu-bar control.

app tamer for macs

Another great app to help you manage CPU and keep your activity monitor under control is iStat Menus.

iStat Menus is a system data collector that lives in your menu bar and provides vital information about key performance indicators. Stats about your memory load live behind one blue bar in iStat indicators. Once expanded, it shows the list of apps that take up most memory resources, the general division of memory load, and the pressure that current usage has on the application memory of your Mac.


FAQs about the restart Mac command

In addition to the information above, here are some answers to the most common questions about how to restart Macs.

How do I restart my MacBook Air without the power button?

If the power button on your MacBook Air is not working, you can still restart your device by going to the Apple menu and clicking Restart.

How do I restart my MacBook Air when the screen is black?

To force a manual shutdown of an unresponsive Mac, press and hold the power button for about 10 seconds. The Mac will be shut down and turned off completely. Then press and release the power button and immediately press and hold Command + R until you see an Apple logo or other image.

Is it good to restart your Mac?

It’s a good practice to periodically restart your Mac to help it run faster by clearing out the RAM and allowing macOS to install any pending system updates.

Now you know what to do if your Mac is running slow or failing to load certain apps properly — a restart Mac command is always at your fingertips. To boost your device’s performance after restart, close all idle apps with one click using QuitAll, free up space and protect your Mac with CleanMyMac X, manage SSH with ease through Core Shell, all while easily collecting system data and tracking CPU through App Tamer and iStat Menus.

All these apps — QuitAll, CleanMyMac X, Core Shell, App Tamer, and iStat Menus are available to you for free during a seven day trial of Setapp, the best productivity app suite for your Mac. Try Setapp for immediate access to more than 240 other fantastic macOS and iOS apps and discover your device’s full potential!

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