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2012 MacBook Pro - 13 inch & 15 inch

How to Reset Mac NVRAM, SMC, or PRAM

One of the main reasons that people use Macs is that they are reliable. Even while your Mac is sleeping it is actually performing maintenance and keeping your machine in tip-top shape. But sometimes, even Apple’s best machines can run into trouble. Strange behaviors, sluggish performance, and stuck settings can become frustrating in no time flat. We’re going to dive into a few techniques that you can use to get your Mac back up to speed.


PRAM stands for “parameter random-access memory.” This is the portion of the system memory that holds a small number of settings that the system can access quickly. Newer Intel Macs use NVRAM (non-volatile random–access memory) for the same purpose. Apple keeps things like the display resolution, volume, and startup disk location in this portion of your system memory. Resetting the PRAM or NVRAM can sometimes remedy strange bugs. Both PRAM and NVRAM are reset the same way.

How to reset PRAM/NVRAM

To reset PRAM/NVRAM, restart your Mac, and press and hold the following key combo: Option + Command + P + R.

You can check out the technique in this video. You’ll want to listen for the Apple “chime” twice. Then you are all set.

SMC reset

The SMC is the system management controller. Resetting the SMC is a similar operation to resetting the NVRAM.  Apple recommends resetting it to fix issues with power, battery, fans, and other features. The process is slightly different for different types of Mac.

How to reset SMC in a MacBook

  1. Shut down the Mac.
  2. Connect your power adapter to your Mac and to a power source.
  3. With the Mac still powered off, press Shift-Control-Option and press the power button at the same time.
  4. Release all keys and power up your Mac.

How to reset SMC in an iMac, Mac Pro, or Mac mini

  1. Shut down the Mac and unplug the power cord.
  2. Wait 15 seconds with the Mac unplugged.
  3. Plug in the power cord and wait 5 seconds.
  4. Turn on the Mac.

You can check out this technique in this video

M1 Macs

If you have an M1 Mac, you should know that they don’t need to have NVRAM cleared or the SMC rebooted. (SMC doesn’t exist on M1 Macs.) When an M1 Mac reboots, it runs a sequence to make sure the NVRAM is doing what it should do. This is the advantage of Apple making both the hardware and the software.

I hope these tips help you get your Mac up and running without the quirks that sometimes arise. They are great machines, but they are still subject to going haywire sometimes!

Reuben Evans
the authorReuben Evans
Reuben Evans is a director, an award-winning screenwriter, and a member of the Producers Guild of America. Currently, his company, Visuals 1st Films,, is producing a documentary on the 250th anniversary of the writing of the hymn, Amazing Grace. As the former executive producer at Faithlife TV, he produced and directed numerous documentaries and commercials. Reuben’s tools of choice are RED Cameras, Final Cut Pro, and DaVinci Resolve. Reuben resides in Washington state with his wife, four kids, and one crazy Goldendoodle named Baker.
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  • How do I know when to let go of the keys thanks my mac book air is making a loud sound sounds like a fan or something :

  • Thanks, my older MacBook keeps requiring both or either the SMC or PRAM reset in order to graduate from the login screen into my user account. What problem is this indicative of?
    My laptop seems to be holding charge okay. It’s on a slightly older OS too but my gut is it’s a hardware issue. Does the pram or smc run from a coin battery or the main battery?

  • sorry. same person with the desperatly needing help to just kill the touchbad. but i left it out on the last post. its a 2020, 13 inch. Please!

    • Here’s one more suggestion

      From the comments on that article
      “BetterTouchTool option, you can actually get it to blank out completely if you fiddle with the following settings:

      Background Color: black
      Show only icon, no text: enabled
      Width: 1080 (to make the entire bar clickable, could be left smaller to make it a smaller target)”

      • Oh believe me. I have tried it. No chance. I’ve tried every app possible. There has to be someone in the Mac world, hacker person who just knows a terminal code I can copy.

        But I’ll try the other option. Haven’t tried or even seen that as a thought, let alone something new to try

      • I am trying this bettertouchtool option now. looks like its possible. i think alot of the issues are the constant updates. alot of the apps out there for this specifically are old versions (obviously since apple did away with it). but this should be interesting. thank you ! will update

  • how do i completely disable? turn off the horrendous, hideous touch bar, on my macbook pro (1.4 GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5 8 GB 2133 MHz LPDDR3)
    let alone from taking the cover off if i have too, and ripping it out. ive tried most. its amazing that i cant find anyone who can. PLEASE HELP ITS BLINDING ME (it just flickers)

  • Did you forget about MacBook Pros? I’ve never seen them included with MacBooks (different machines) unless they re explicitly listed. I have one in need of SMC reset.

  • Thanks, Reuben! Very good and handy information. I am an old Apple freak from way back. I gave my daughter our first computer, an Apple][ for her 12th birthday in 1980. (She is now 53.) First Mac was in ’84 and many, many since then. Thanks again!

  • It would have been nice if the author explained that you can’t use the technique described for resetting the PRAM/NVRAM on an iMac using the supplied wireless keyboard. You have to plug in a wired keyboard for it to work as described.

    • Turn off Bluetooth, then plug in your lightning cable to your Mac and lightning keyboard, and you will find that you have a wired keyboard just like I’m doing right now. [2020 Intel Mac Mini]

      • Thank you for the workaround! I appreciate it. I previously spoke with Apple Customer Support and they told me it was necessary to find an actual wired keyboard to use. Fortunately, I had one but your solution is much more elegant. However, it does not negate the fact that the instructions given for resetting the PRAM/NVRAM in the article only seem to cover laptops.