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How to Reset USB Ports on Mac Laptops

How to reset USB ports on Mac

Uh oh. So your USB port on your Mac laptop stopped working? We've got a fix, no matter if it's a MacBook Air or a MacBook Pro.

Before we get to fixing the MacBook, keep in mind that things like flash drives, external hard drives, mice, keyboards and other peripherals may have broken and are causing the problem, rather than your MacBook. Be sure to check the USB device with another computer or laptop to make sure that it's not faulty.

Now, on to the troubleshooting.

1 Reboot the MacBook laptop
MacBook restart

Sometimes, just like applications can act unresponsive and buggy, hardware ports can have similar problems. And just like those applications, a reboot or a reset can fix a problem like a USB port. The first step in our USB port troubleshooting is the easiest one: a simple reset of the Mac.

 

  1. Press the icon in top left of screen
  2. Click Restart
  3. Wait for the reboot, and try USB ports again

 


How can this help?
Rebooting the Mac resets certain hardware conditions, which may lead to a solution to USB port issues.

2 Reset the PRAM
Reseeting PRAM

PRAM, or parameter random-access memory, is a part of the Mac that stores certain settings that can impact hardware performance.

 

  1. Press the icon in top left of screen
  2. Click Shutdown
  3. Turn on the Mac while holding down the Command-Option-P-R keys until you hear the second start-up sound.
  4. Release the Command-Option-P-R keys.
Once the Mac is loaded and running check the USB ports and see if they are working properly.

 


How can this help?
The PRAM is a chip that holds certain configuration settings, including things like the date and time, as well as desktop, volume, mouse, and other control settings. It’s powered by a small battery, so these settings don’t get lost every time you turn your computer off.

Resetting may help with getting USB functionality back.

3 Reset the SMC
Resetting SMC

SMC, or the System Management Controller, is a system on a chip within Intel-based Macs that plays a role in controlling several hardware-related operations of Mac computers. It controls many different functions within the laptop, including certain things that affect USB port functionality.

Resetting the SMC should only be attempted after Steps 1 and 2.

For MacBook's with a removable battery (early 2009 and older)

  1. Press the icon in top left of screen
  2. Click Shutdown
  3. Disconnect the MagSafe power adapter from the computer
  4. Remove the battery
  5. Press and hold the power button for 5 seconds
  6. Release the power button
  7. Reconnect the battery and MagSafe power adapter
  8. Press the power button to turn on the computer

For MacBook's with a non-removable battery (mid 2009 and newer)
  1. Press the icon in top left of screen
  2. Click Shutdown
  3. Plug in the MagSafe or USB-C power adapter to a power source and to your computer.
  4. On the built-in keyboard, press the (left side) Shift-Control-Option keys and the power button at the same time.
  5. Release all the keys and the power button at the same time.
  6. Press the power button to turn on the Mac laptop.