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My Mac Says I Need to Restart and Has Stopped Working

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1 Introduction: Mac: Kernel Panics

Most crashes on a Mac computer only affect one application. However, there is a type of system-wide crash that can prevent you from being able to use your Mac altogether: a kernel panic. When this occurs, there’s usually no warning and no way to save your work or do anything else with your machine. A message simply appears that tells you that "You need to restart your computer." Because kernel panics can have many different causes, diagnosing the problem and preventing its recurrence can be difficult.

In this guide, we'll help you reboot your machine and attempt some things that may resolve your issue with kernel panic errors. If your kernel panic errors continuously re-occur or do not go away, your machine will require service.
Mac restart screen. Screenshot

2 Mac: Force Restart

This works nearly the same on any modern Mac, with the difference being whether the Mac has a physical power button on the back of the machine or if it’s a MacBook, where the power button is a part of or slightly above the keyboard.

  1. Hold down the Power button on the Mac until it shuts down completely, this may take 5-10 seconds or so.
    iMac rear-facing power button.
  2. Wait a few seconds then press the Power button again to boot the Mac.
    MacBook power button on the keyboard.

? Were you able to reboot without getting another kernel panic error?

  1. Yes
  2. No

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Most crashes on a Mac computer only affect one application. However, there is a type of system-wide crash that can prevent you from being able to use your Mac altogether: a kernel panic. When this occurs, there’s usually no warning and no way to save your work or do anything else with your machine. A message simply appears that tells you that "You need to restart your computer." Because kernel panics can have many different causes, diagnosing the problem and preventing its recurrence can be difficult.

In this guide, we'll help you reboot your machine and attempt some things that may resolve your issue with kernel panic errors. If your kernel panic errors continuously re-occur or do not go away, your machine will require service.
Mac restart screen. Screenshot

This works nearly the same on any modern Mac, with the difference being whether the Mac has a physical power button on the back of the machine or if it’s a MacBook, where the power button is a part of or slightly above the keyboard.

  1. Hold down the Power button on the Mac until it shuts down completely, this may take 5-10 seconds or so.
    iMac rear-facing power button.
  2. Wait a few seconds then press the Power button again to boot the Mac.
    MacBook power button on the keyboard.
  1. Click the Apple menu, then click onApp Store.
    Apple menu with App Store highlighted.
  2. Select Updates on the bar at the top.
    App store menu bar with Updates highlighted.
  3. Any pending updates for your Mac will be listed here. Select Update All to apply these updates.

MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air must have the power adapter plugged in to automatically download updates.

  1. Click on the Apple Menu, then click System Preferences.
    Apple menu icon highlighted with menu beneath highlighting the system preferences option.
  2. Choose Users & Groups.
    macOS system preferences window with users and groups icon highlighted.
  3. Choose Login Items at the top. Then, choose your username on the left. Then, click the Lock icon at the bottom. You may need to type in your Mac password to unlock this screen.
    macOS users and groups window highlighting the login items tab, and the admin account selected.
  4. Look through the list on the right. If you see an item you don't recognize, or an item you don't use frequently, highlight it by clicking its name, then click the Remove – button below to remove it.
    macOS users and groups window highlighting the minus button.
  1. From the menu bar across the top of the screen, select the Apple menu (1), then select Restart... (2).
    Apple menu with Restart option selected. Screenshot.

Any unsaved work will be lost.