My 15" Macbook Pro (Early 2011) has always had a problem where when I open the lid to wake it from sleeping the backlight doesn't turn on. I can easily turn it on by changing the brightness, which leads me to believe it is a software problem.

It isn't a huge problem, just a minor annoyance, but I'm paranoid about backlights ever since I had to replace my old MacBook due to a faulty inverter cable which caused the backlight to not turn on.

Update 1: I noticed that immediately after I open it, the screen is still on and it displays the unlock screen, and only then turns off. This was after being closed for only about 2 minutes.

  • That's not normal. If it came that way, take it back. – Harv Mar 15 '12 at 23:04
  • Do you have AppleCare? How early in 2011 did you get it? – Daniel Mar 16 '12 at 13:49
  • @DanielL I got it refurbished after the late 2011 model came out, but refurbished products distributed by apple have a full warranty equal to a new one, and it lasts for 1 year after you buy it (as opposed to when it was originally bought). I do not have AppleCare, but it is still well under warranty, if it is a problem that it cam with then it should be covered. I'm not sure that it's something that it came with, because I restored it from a time machine backup from my old macbook with the broken backlight. It's possible that it had some files on it that got messed up by the screen problem. – adrusi Mar 18 '12 at 0:21
  • Did you ever sort this out? An edit or tick of the accepted answer or perhaps answering this yourself might help others to know what happened with this issue. – bmike Jul 7 '13 at 18:28
  • I have the same problem with my early 2011 mbp. Is this an intermittent problem? (mine is) Do you sometimes use an external display? (I do, and think the problem is related to that) – user87553 Aug 12 '14 at 15:46

I would try two things to start with:

Reset the SMC

  1. Shut down your MacBook Pro

  2. Plug in the MagSafe adapter and make sure it is charging

  3. Simultaneously press the shift + alt + control + Power buttons and hold them for about 10 seconds. Let go after that.

  4. Restart your Mac (and move on to the following suggestion):

Reset the PRAM

  1. Press the power button to start up your MacBook Pro

  2. Hold down the following keys: + alt + P + R until you hear the start up chime sound twice.

  3. Let go and boot normally.

Test that out and tell us what happens.

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