Whenever I try to shut down my iMac (3.2 GHz Intel Core i3, running 10.7.3), it closes out all programs, goes to the gray screen with the spinning ball and just hangs there. This occurs in restart or shut down mode. Any thoughts?

  • 1
    Can you start up in verbose mode (support.apple.com/kb/HT1492) and take a photo of what it hangs on when you shut it down? – Matt Love Feb 10 '12 at 19:13
  • Happens to me on both my macbooks (not every time, though). – Sergio Tulentsev Apr 11 '12 at 17:16
  • Create a small partition in the extra space on your drive, and load a fresh copy of OS X onto it. If the problem also occurs there, it's likely hardware related. If the problem doesn't occur there, something is wonky with your main installation. – Adam Davis Apr 12 '12 at 4:42
  • In case anyone comes across this old issue, this solution seems to work for most (including me just now). apple.stackexchange.com/a/245194/1195 – Mint Jan 14 '19 at 21:55

Zap the PRAM and reset the CMS

A small amount of your computer’s memory, called “parameter random-access memory” or PRAM, stores certain settings in a location that OS X can access quickly. The particular settings that are stored depend on your type of Mac and the types of devices connected to it. The settings include your designated startup disk, display resolution, speaker volume, and other information.

  1. Shut down the computer.
  2. Locate the following keys on the keyboard: Command ⌘, option, P, and R. You will need to hold these keys down simultaneously in step 4. Turn on the computer.
  3. Immediately press and hold Command+option+P+R. You must press this key combination before the gray screen appears. Continue holding the keys down until the computer restarts, and you hear the startup sound for the second time.
  4. Release the keys.

Resetting PRAM may change some system settings and preferences. Use System Preferences to restore your settings.

How to Reset Your Mac's SMC

The method for resetting your Mac's SMC depends on the type of Mac you have. All SMC reset instructions require shutting down your Mac first. If your Mac fails to shut down, try pressing and holding the power button until the Mac shuts down, which usually takes 10 seconds or so.

Mac portables with user-removable batteries (MacBook and most MacBook Pros):

  1. Shut down your Mac.
  2. Disconnect your Mac portable from its MagSafe connector.
  3. Remove the battery.
  4. Press and hold the power button for at least 5 seconds.
  5. Release the power button.
  6. Re-install the battery.
  7. Reconnect the MagSafe connector.
  8. Turn your Mac on.

Mac portables with non-user-removable batteries (MacBook Air and some late 2009 MacBook Pro models):

  1. Shut down your Mac.
  2. Connect the MagSafe power adapter to your Mac and to a power outlet.
  3. On the built-in keyboard (this will not work from an external keyboard), simultaneously press and hold the shift+control+option+power button. Release all keys at the same time.
  4. Press the power button to start your Mac.
  5. Mac desktops (Mac Pro, iMac, Mac mini):
  6. Shut down your Mac.
  7. Unplug your Mac's power cord.
  8. Press and hold the Mac's power button for 15 seconds. 9 .Release the power button.
  9. Reconnect your Mac's power cord.
  10. Wait five seconds.
  11. Start your Mac by pressing the power button.

Alternative SMC reset for Mac Pro: If you have a Mac Pro that isn't responding to the normal SMC reset as described above, you can force a manual SMC reset by using the SMC reset button located on the Mac Pro's motherboard.

  1. Shut down your Mac.
  2. Unplug the Mac's power cord.
  3. Open the Mac Pro's side access panel.
  4. Just below the Drive 4 sled and adjacent to the top PCI-e slot is a small button labeled SMC. Press and hold this button for 10 seconds.
  5. Close the Mac Pro's side door.
  6. Reconnect your Mac's power cord.
  7. Wait five seconds.
  8. Start your Mac by pressing the power button.
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Try booting into Safe Mode and see if the shutdown issue exist.

You can also open Activity Monitor in the Utilities folder. Select All Processes from the Processes dropdown menu. Click twice on the % CPU column header to display items in descending order. If you find a process using a large amount of CPU time, then select the process and click on the Quit icon in the toolbar. Click on the Force Quit button to kill the process.

Causes could be:

  1. One or more processes or applications that are corrupted and not able to shutdown.

  2. Problematic Login Items under the Accounts preferences Login Items tab.

  3. Incompatible third-party extensions and/or preferences.

Hope that helps.

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If you have any attached external TB, FW or USB devices other than keyboard & mouse, dismount them first, (if mass-storage devices,) then shutdown & see if it completes.

I have a client (my Mom) whose Mac Mini had the same symptoms and found that she'd kept a USB thumb drive physically attached & had forgotten about it. It had been there for some months, but at some point something happened to the drive (out of space? corrupted directory?) and when it was removed for troubleshooting, the Mac shut down normally. She'd gotten into the habit of forcing the power-off, too. Ouch.

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