I recently purchased my first Mac. It's a mid-2010 MBP (bought it off craigslist). At first, I absolutely loved the simplicity of the OS. When I decided to upgrade to Lion, I began to loathe the system. More times than not, the machine won't wake up from sleep. The keyboard lights up, the HDD spins up, but the screen is dark.

I've Googled for weeks. It seems that many people are experiencing the same issue, and no one seems to have a fix. It also appears that Apple is completely ignoring this issue (I can say confidently that this will be my last Mac).

Any idea(s) what I can do to solve this issue?

Note: Reverting to Snow Leopard is not an option - I did not receive the OS disks when I purchased the machine.

4 Answers 4


If you can get your MacBook back on make sure it's completely up to date, so that there are no more updates in Software Update.

Specifically make sure your Firmware is up to date, Software Update should catch this. If Software Update doesn't show a Firmware Update, then you can try downloading this Firmware Update directly from the Apple website: http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1098 If it's already installed or doesn't apply to your system it will tell you this and prevent you from installing it.

If that fails you can try reinstalling Lion. This is not as big of a job as it sounds. Turn off the Macbook and turn it back on, as it starts hold (before you get to the white screen) the alt key, and choose to boot into the Recovery Partition.
When you reinstall Lion it will download the latest copy of Lion (this can take a while depending on your Internet Connection*), and install it without deleting your files (the equivelant of Repairing Windows), though to be on the safest side you might want to backup at least your most important files, however I have reinstalled Lion in this way quite a few times without any loss of data. The actual instalation will take about 1/2 hour.

*If your connection is too slow, then go to an Apple shop, connect to their WiFi and do the reinstall there. They have local copies of the latest Lion OSX, so the download should be very fast.

Otherwise, the best thing you can do is to take it to an Apple shop, you can just go there with the MacBook and tell them and show them whats wrong (don't worry if it suddenly starts working as you walk in the shop, they will still believe you). They will do their best to help you.

You will receive the best service if you don't go in accusing them and hassling. Also try to avoid the busiest times of day if you can.

Even if you're out of warranty, they will help you, although you may have to pay for repairs if it's extensive and not a problem with the model, but sometimes you can get them to do it for free.

  • Thanks for the detailed answer. I've already tried everything but reinstalling Lion. I'll try that this afternoon.
    – James Hill
    Commented Mar 31, 2012 at 15:55
  • Well, re-install didn't help. The nearest apple store is 2 hours away. Any other suggestions?
    – James Hill
    Commented Apr 1, 2012 at 13:20
  • @JamesHill, have you tried a clean install (as suggested by Hippo)?
    – Jonathan.
    Commented Apr 1, 2012 at 15:09
  • No, I haven't. Since I just installed it a couple months ago, I wasn't eager to do it again. In addition, I'm dual booting windows 8 CP and I didn't want to get rid of it (FYI - I had the problem before the dual boot). I guess I can give it a shot. Man, this is frustrating.
    – James Hill
    Commented Apr 1, 2012 at 15:56

I've experienced this problem when I had bad RAM. You should run a hardware diagnostic to test all the hardware and make sure it runs.


In addition to Jonathan's excellent suggestions, another option you'd want to try is installing Lion on a clean, formatted disk. This usually solves problems with other OSes, so I wouldn't be surprised if it works for OS X too.

Also, consider this issue to be an exception. I had been an Apple hater too, but over the years I've come to appreciate the engineering excellence built into their products.


I am having the same problem, apparently Time Machine is trying to do something behind the scene. The problem is gone after I disable Time Machine.

I believe there's a lot of causes to the not-waking-up problem, mine might not be the same as yours, but it's worth a try.

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