MacBook Air Troubleshooting
- MacBook Air won't turn on
- Laptop shuts off when I unplug it
- Flashing question mark on startup
- My machine boots, but the display remains dark
- Bluetooth or AirPort problems
- Other problems
The MacBook Air is Apple's thinnest and most minimalistic notebook to date. Troubleshooting is fairly straightforward, due to the few number of parts.
MacBook Air won't turn on
Your computer will not boot.
If your computer beeps three times, there is a RAM issue. Unfortunately, the RAM is soldered onto the logic board. Therefore, the logic board must be replaced.
Bad power adapter
If your power adapter is bad, the computer will run off a battery, but it won't charge. The MacBook Air uses a special adapter with an angled connector. If your battery's charge is too low, it will be difficult to diagnose a bad power adapter. The easiest way to test this is to borrow either a battery or power adapter to test in your machine. If you have the same problem with a fully charged battery, you most likely need a new logic board.
Thermal Sensor Issues
If the fans run at high RPMs, but the computer does not boot, there is probably an issue with the thermal sensors.
MacBook Airs house the thermal sensors on the logic board. Therefore, in this instance, the logic board may need to be replaced.
Bad logic board
Also, 9 beeps on startup indicates a logic board problem. Try contacting your nearest Apple representative to determine if they will fix this problem (be sure to back up your data first!). If not, you must replace the logic board yourself.
Laptop shuts off when I unplug it
As soon as you unplug the computer from a power source, it shuts off
If your battery is dead, the computer will run fine off the power adapter, but will turn off when unplugged. A dead battery can manifest itself in many forms: It may not accept a charge (this particular symptom may also indicate a problem with the logic board), the computer may not recognize the battery, or the battery may be recognized as charged but fail to power your computer when the AC adapter is unplugged. Although Apple claims the battery is non user-replaceable, we show you how!
Flashing question mark on startup
The computer displays the flashing question mark when it can't find a bootable operating system. This could be because your OS is corrupt, the computer doesn't have enough RAM, or your hard drive is failing.
Bad operating system
Try booting off an OS CD. Run Apple's Disk Utility and try to repair the disk. If this fails, reinstall your operating system. If you can, erase the hard drive prior to reinstalling the OS.
Not enough RAM
This is quite rare. If you have insufficient RAM for your computer to boot the operating system, you may get the flashing question mark. Installing more RAM or downgrading to an older operating system will fix this. OS X 10.5 requires 512 MB RAM, and OS X 10.6 requires 1 GB RAM.
Bad hard drive
The hard drive may have been erased, corrupted, or damaged. If the hard drive has been erased, format it as HFS+ and reinstall your operating system back onto it. If it is corrupted or damaged, you need to replace it. Failing hard drives can display intermittent data corruption prior to failing completely. They often gradually get louder and start to click. If your hard drive is making abnormal clicking noises but still works, back up your data immediately and replace the hard drive. The Original version of MacBook Air has a different hard drive connector than the Late 2008 and Mid 2009, so be sure to select the right drive for your machine.
My machine boots, but the display remains dark
Symptoms of this are a dark screen, but everything else seems to be running.
Bluetooth or AirPort problems
Your Bluetooth or AirPort has disappeared
Loose connector cable
There are a variety of symptoms:
- The Bluetooth menu bar icon is grayed out or has an X through it
- The AirPort menu bar icon is grayed out and has an X through it
- The AirPort menu says "Not available"
- AirPort no longer shows up under System Profile
- There's an initial message in system.log that indicates trouble with AirPort
- The diagnostic utility reports no problems
- Running System Profile from the installer disc still shows a missing AirPort
If you're lucky, the fix could be very easy: sometimes the connector cable to the wireless board comes loose.
- Take off the lower case.
- Look at the connector where the cable connects to the logic board. If you're not sure whether it looks loose, it probably is loose. (When it's connected, it's clearly connected.)
- If the connector is loose, press down on it until it clicks tight. You don't need to remove the metal clasp holding it (roughly) in place.
- If that one's not loose, check the other end of the connector cable, on the wireless board. This is less likely to be the problem, since there isn't as much flexing at that point.
- Put the bottom cover back on.
If you lose USB or audio port functionality, these ports are fortunately a separate part from the logic board. First, replace the port hatch assembly (Original or Late 2008/Mid 2009). If you lose the use of another component of your computer, such as the display, battery, or even power, and replacing the apparently non-working part didn't fix the problem, it is possible that the logic board may need to be replaced (see above).