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The How To Reset PRAM/NVRAM in MacBook
Is your Mac taking action? Are you having trouble starting, booting or memory? You will probably need to reset PRAM or NVRAM on your Mac. As intimidating as it may sound, you don’t have to worry, there is nothing wrong with your computer.
It’s usually just a glitch in random access memory (PRAM) or non-volatile RAM (NVRAM), as the new terminology is dubbed. Whichever way you refer to it, PRAM or NVRAM basically has the same function on your Mac. In this article, we’ll go through the steps required to reset PRAM, but first let’s see what PRAM is.
PRAM vs. NVRAM
As noted, PRAM and NVRAM represent the parameter and non-volatile RAM. But what does this actually mean to you?
Normal RAM is a group of chips that store active processes and applications. When you load an app, it uses RAM for its operation. When you close the app, it frees up RAM for other apps and processes. In addition to this, RAM has the capacity to store certain system parameters.
In other words, this is how your Mac remembers your preferred volume settings, brightness and display resolution, Bluetooth and wireless settings, etc. This is what you call PRAM or whatever information is not reset when you turn off the Mac.
As non-volatile memory, NVRAM also shows all parameters that are not reset or changed automatically. Without going into all the technical details, PRAM and NVRAM are one and the same when it comes to troubleshooting some Mac issues.
When to reset PRAM on a Mac?
Resetting the PRAM is effective for a specific set of issues that you might encounter.
First, start the reset if your Mac does not start as expected. The same is true if you cannot see external devices, hard drives, or monitors. Additionally, an incorrect time and faulty Bluetooth are also good indicators that the PRAM reset has failed.
You should be aware that some devices may not be macOS compatible, so it is best to check compatibility before purchase / installation. A PRAM reset affects boot disks and peripherals such as MIDI controllers, graphics tablets, etc. That’s why you need to reinstall the devices and recalibrate their settings after the reset.
There are two methods to reset PRAM / NVRAM, use keyboard shortcuts when you power on or run a specific Terminal command. Either way, the result is the same, and the whole process is surprisingly straightforward.
Keyboard shortcut method
Shut down your Mac and turn it back on while simultaneously pressing the Option, Command, P, and R keys. Continue to hold for about 20 seconds, then release when your Mac appears to be entering restart mode.
Shortly after releasing the keys, the computer starts up and you can launch System Preferences to adjust the settings. These include startup disk, time zones, volume, display resolution, etc. As simple as it may be, there are a few things to consider.
If your Mac plays startup sounds, release the keys when you hear the second sound. Some Macs are equipped with the Apple T2 Security Chip. In this case, release the keys the second time the Apple logo disappears.
The key combination either does nothing or boots from macOS recovery, if there is a firmware password. In order for the reset to work, you must first disable the password.
Point: It is best to use a wired keyboard because hotkeys may not work on a wireless keyboard.
Stop all other applications and launch Terminal (cmd + space, type terand press Enter). Type sudo nvram -c and press the Enter or Return keys. You will be prompted to enter the administrator password, press Enter again after typing the password (this is the same you use to unlock the Mac).
With administrator privileges enabled, enter sudo shutdown -r now and press Enter again. Your computer will restart and you will have successfully reset NVRAM / PRAM.
Point: To check the status of NVRAM, run the sudo nvram -c command in the terminal.
Troubleshooting tips and tricks
There is a small battery on the motherboard of desktop Macs which helps NVRAM remember all settings. If your desktop Mac (iMac, Mac Mini, or Mac Pro) resets the time zone or volume every time you shut down, you might need a new battery. It’s not something you can do on your own, so it’s best to take the computer to an official repair shop or Apple Store.
Power-related issues such as sleep, wake, or charging issues may require resetting the System Management Controller. We are not going to go into this subject in depth since the subject deserves a separate article.
Become a Mac Doctor
As you can see, resetting PRAM on your Mac is not that difficult and you don’t need to be particularly tech savvy. The important thing is to check for telltale symptoms like Bluetooth, display, volume, drive, or time issues. If your Mac is running slowly, a quick restart can help, and you can still perform quick maintenance and delete unnecessary files.
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