Out of the blue today, my Macbook Pro 2015 15", running macOS Catalina 10.15.2, shut down while I was using it.

Since then, for the past half hour or so, I haven't been able to keep it on for longer than a minute or so. It either spontaneously shuts down, requiring me to manually turn it back on, or it spontaneously restarts. Now (a day later) it only spontaneously shuts down. It doesn't restart itself.

This happens when it is plugged into the charger and when it is simply running on battery. This also happens while only headphones are connected to the MacBook, or while no peripherals are connected.

Apple Diagnostics shows "No issues found."

I have tried resetting SMC and NVRAM.

Additionally, when starting up I notice weird graphical glitches, for example a white bar sometimes appears on the left side of the screen, or the apple logo repeatedly resizes itself, or a regular pattern of white rectangles appears across the whole screen.

I got a picture of that:

enter image description here

This flashes onto the screen after the first apple logo appears.

The Macbook does not spontaneously shut down or restart when I boot it into Recovery Mode or Safe Mode.

However, there are also graphical glitches in both of these modes; look at the terminal tabs in Recovery Mode:

enter image description here enter image description here

Moving the mouse cursor over the tabs causes them to scintillate randomly, rectangular monochrome patterns. and glitches.

Exactly the same graphical glitch happens to Finder tabs in Safe Mode.

Why does my Macbook restart like that after I've booted it normally? How do I resolve this problem?

  • I assume you have run your MBP on Safe Mode too? Do you still get the same issue after rebooting back from Safe Mode?
    – Udhy
    Commented Dec 30, 2019 at 15:44
  • Great :). I will post the answer relevant to it so other people can get the solution if they faced a similar issue. Now, once you are back in your normal mode, if it doesn't reboot then we are in good shape but if it appears, then let me know.
    – Udhy
    Commented Dec 30, 2019 at 16:08
  • But you cannot stay in safe mode forever, shouldn't you find out the third party kernel that causes the issue? apple.stackexchange.com/a/310758/313842
    – anki
    Commented Dec 30, 2019 at 16:10
  • 1
    Are the fans working? How hot is the MBP getting. A spontaneous full shutdown can be hardware related, and in light of the fact there are no reports, I'd be looking in that direction. Commented Dec 30, 2019 at 17:35
  • 2
    I've seen similar behavior, spontaneous shutdown/reboots and graphic glitches on a MBP with a bad battery. If you take the edge of a ruler to especially the bottom of the case and it doesn't make flat contact from edge to edge and in between, or it can rock back and forth then the battery is most definitely swelling and putting undue pressure where is shouldn't have pressure being applied. This can cause all sorts of issues. Have a look at support.apple.com/15-inch-macbook-pro-battery-recall to see if you qualify, if the battery is indeed swelling. Commented Dec 30, 2019 at 19:44

1 Answer 1


Your symptoms are either a bad driver / os for the video subsystem or a hardware failure.

In case of hardware, safe mode will often run since it doesn’t ask as much of the video system which runs in a fail safe / basic mode. Also, it can slow down the rendering so you can easily see the failure modes or grab a screen shot.

Before paying for a repair, consider charting how often this happens and back up / erase install to be sure this is the hardware / vram failing.

As to the shutdown, unless there’s a severe failure, you should get. A kernel panic, but if the logs show no events and no panics, then that’s another reason to suspect hardware failure.

Since your mac won’t run more than 5 minutes in normal mode, why not back it up in safe mode and try an erase install. If your Mac can’t reinstall itself, then you know it’s repair time. If it can, you’ll be back in business

  • There are no relevant files in /Library/Logs/DiagnosticReports. Is there another log location I should have checked?
    – minseong
    Commented Dec 31, 2019 at 16:47
  • I look at the whole console - /var/log/system.log will help you pinpoint the boot time as will last reboot @theonlygusti
    – bmike
    Commented Dec 31, 2019 at 16:56
  • I find it hard to read the /var/log/system.log file, I don't know what everything means and don't know what to look for. At a glance however, I don't see anything that stands out to me as an error. I read the lines near the timestamps returned by last reboot
    – minseong
    Commented Dec 31, 2019 at 17:13
  • How are you reading the file if it shuts down in a minute?
    – bmike
    Commented Dec 31, 2019 at 17:36
  • I am just using Safe Boot mode. Everything (that I have tried so far, except audio output) works fine in Safe Boot mode.
    – minseong
    Commented Dec 31, 2019 at 17:36

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