I have a late-2010 MacBook Air on which I am running OS X Mountain Lion v10.8.2 with FileVault 2 enabled.

When I try to wake it from safe sleep:

  • the panel is backlit but nothing is displayed;

  • the light on the ⇪ Caps Lock key is responsive; and

  • left alone, the machine eventually powers down (but it resumes in the same state when power is restored).

The only way that I have been able to use the machine again is to hard-reset it (which I never like doing); but upon rebooting, shortly after authenticating there is a kernel panic. The machine then starts normally after the consequent soft-reboot.

Grateful for thoughts on how to identify the cause and/or resolve the problem.

Update 1

Having continuted to search around, I discovered a post in which a similar problem was resolved by:

  • disabling safe sleep;
  • rebooting;
  • removing the hibernatefile;
  • rebooting;
  • re-enabling safe sleep.

I performed these steps, apparently to no avail. However, it now appears that if I enter my password whilst the screen is backlit and nothing is displayed, my wallpaper is (slowly) revealed together with the normal wake-from-sleep login box. I can't be certain whether this was also true prior to performing the above steps, as I'm not sure that I ever tried entering my password at the blank screen.

Sadly, that's as good as it gets: neither a mouse pointer nor keyboard cursor are visible on the screen; and the keyboard is unresponsive. The clock, battery status and WiFi icons in the top-right of the screen all remain in their pre-sleep states and do not update; if the computer is left for long enough, there is eventually a kernel panic (apparently related to the graphics drivers?).

Update 2

Following @danielAzuelos's suggestion, I ran Apple Hardware Test (from the Software Reinstall Drive) in extended mode, but no faults were identified.

Neither USB port is in use.

I discovered that the problem does not manifest when DestroyFVKeyOnStandby=0, so there is almost certainly something wrong with how my hibernating MacBook configures EFI to wake.

I have discovered that, if the machine goes into safe sleep when attached to an external display, everything works exactly as it should (even if the external display is no longer attached on wake).

  • Does it still happen if you keep hibernatemode as 0 permanently? What were the kernel panics caused by?
    – Lri
    Commented Dec 29, 2012 at 11:22
  • Could you remote login (ssh) on this MBA and try the following sequence of actions: sudo; ps ax | grep 'login[w]'; kill the loginwindow process. I suspect this process to wrongly behave with power and screen managment.
    – dan
    Commented Jan 3, 2013 at 8:23
  • Could you run the hardware tests (video)?
    – dan
    Commented Jan 3, 2013 at 8:29
  • What is connected on your USB port?
    – dan
    Commented Jan 3, 2013 at 8:32
  • Could you bring your MBA to an Apple official and request them to run a test of your battery? I suspect a misbehaviour of the NVRAM saved screen resolution which may cause the graphical kext to leak on the neighbour (Kernel or kext).
    – dan
    Commented Jan 3, 2013 at 8:40

4 Answers 4


I'm delighted to report that, after installing the OS X Mountain Lion v10.8.3 Update, this problem has gone away:

About the update

This update is recommended for all OS X Mountain Lion users and includes features and fixes that improve the stability, compatibility, and security of your Mac, including:

[ deletia ]

  • A fix for an issue that may cause the screen to display incorrectly after waking from sleep

FileVault 2 still has many issues. Your best bet is to file a bug report with Apple at https://bugreport.apple.com/ so that they can investigate.

Turn on SSH and use another machine to run sudo sysdiagnose (or sudo spindump if that doesn't finish) while your computer is in this state. Send them the output file.

Background: I filed a bug report with Apple about a similar issue (same behavior, but waking up from sleep with a monitor and the power plugged in) and that is what they said to do. They may be trying to collect more data.

  • Thank you for your thoughts! Sadly, I can't SSH in whilst the machine is in its frozen state as it is, well, frozen: it doesn't respond to the network at all (have tried both wifi and ethernet over USB). I agree that this issue is FileVault-linked, but I'm increasingly of the view that the fault actually lies in some part of the I/O Kit registry that's saved to NVRAM in order to effect waking from safe sleep. I intend to file a bug report once I have more precise details to file.
    – eggyal
    Commented Jan 7, 2013 at 9:10

Sadly, I would recommend freshly re-installing Mountain Lion.

Here are two questions I asked few months ago:

rMBP Doesn't Wake Up From Sleep After Upgrading to ML

How To Fresh Install ML

In short, I bought a new Retina Macbook which came with Lion and after I had updated to Mountain Lion I couldn't wake from sleep(the only solution was hard-boot).

I tried many different things to fix the problem, but the only thing that helped was to format the parition and install ML from scratch.

After formatting and installing ML, the wake-from-sleep was fixed.

Yes, I understand that freshly installing is a pain - but if you have everything backed-up it's not that bad.

Good luck and hopefully you get this thing fixed!

  • Thanks for the suggestion - but whatever it is that a reinstall does to fix the problem (if indeed it will do so in my case), it must be possible to effect the same change without resorting to such drastic measures! Indeed, I would really like to understand what is going on here.
    – eggyal
    Commented Jan 7, 2013 at 12:49
  • Unfortunately, I think that it would be extremely difficult to track. Let me ask you this: when did you encounter this wake-from-sleep problem, and did it occur prior to upgrading to ML?
    – Anonymous
    Commented Jan 7, 2013 at 12:52
  • I used to use hibernatemode=3 (so only entered safe sleep after a long period of "light" sleep), and consequently only occasionally encountered the problem. I can't be certain when it first began, but now that I use hibernatemode=25 (always use safe sleep), it has obviously become a more pressing problem.
    – eggyal
    Commented Jan 7, 2013 at 12:56
  • Let me link you also to the following discussion which I participated when I had this problem, watch how some people there try to understand what went wrong: discussions.apple.com/thread/4151186?start=0&tstart=0
    – Anonymous
    Commented Jan 7, 2013 at 12:59

I had the same issue on the same Mac model and it finally turned out to be a hardware issue with the GPU (even though no diagnostic program showed anything).

  • How did you figure out that it was the GPU if diagnostic software didn't catch it?
    – nohillside
    Commented Jan 31, 2013 at 5:28
  • i knew there was something wrong, so i went in to a apple repair shop, they have way better programs than the old cmd+D, my point is, the best way to determine that its not HDD is to install OSX on a usb or external device if its still not fixed, then the issue isn't SW or HDD
    – Macmaniman
    Commented Jan 31, 2013 at 16:33

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