How to Reset NVRAM On Your Mac

While restarting your Mac may help solve some problems, restarting while holding down specific keys will also clear out NVRAM, sometimes called PRAM, which can also help clear out some issues. Give this a try if you can't seem to fix a problem with just a regular restart.

Video Transcript
Last week I talked about how restarting your Mac can help to fix some problems. But there's something even more that you can do. In addition to restarting your Mac you can also clear out a little portion of memory that persists between restarts. It actually saves some settings and it's not cleared out when you restart. It's called NVRAM.

NVRAM stands for non volatile ram. Ram is memory. In the old days it used to be called P RAM or parameter ram. It is basically the same thing. But the keyboard shortcut for doing this still uses the key P and R in addition to Option and Command to clear this out.

So what you need to do is you need to restart your Mac. As soon as you restart hold down Option, Command, P, R. Then it will go through the restart once. As soon as it finishes that and goes through it again then you can lift your fingers up off the keyboard and let it start normally.

This clears out this little bit of memory that holds various things. According to the Apple document here it can hold various bits of information about like start at this selection time zone, things like that. Clearing it out can sometimes just get rid of certain issues. It really depends on what the issue you had was. What went wrong, like an app crashed or something like that. What extensions and different things you have installed on your Mac. But it is something worth trying if you have a problem that persists.

For instance, for me, I recently had a problem on my new 13 inch MacBook Pro with the touch bar where it stopped asking me for the touch ID to login. I had to type my password instead of using touch ID. It turned out that the only thing that fixed it was clearing out NVRAM by holding those keys down during a restart. Then it went back to normal. So that's an example of a problem that you might fix.

If you're not having any problems there's no reason to ever do this. So it's the kind of thing you may go through the entire life of your Mac and never do it once. But if you're using beta software or development software, things like that, it may be the kind of thing where you need to do it quite often.

Comments: 7 Responses to “How to Reset NVRAM On Your Mac”

    Jean-Marc
    5/11/17 @ 9:53 am

    Hi Gary, just watched NVRAM video. I have a constant problem with my mid-2012 MB Air. I get the rolling ball in Safari, sometimes for a few seconds sometimes longer and it even freezes. Would clearing up th NVRAM be of any help. Thks for your time.

    5/11/17 @ 9:55 am

    Jean-Marc: It is worth a try. But most likely you’ll need to take to an expert for a first-hand look to see what is causing this. Try the Genius Bar if you can.

    Bob
    5/11/17 @ 11:49 am

    I’d do these steps:
    back up with time machine
    reset NVRAM
    open disk utility and choose ‘repair’
    use recovery boot and re-install software

    Peter
    5/11/17 @ 12:05 pm

    Most people have trouble using the key combination of three on the left & one on the right side of the keyboard. Instead I recommend using Command & R on the left side plus Option & P on the right side of the keyboard. It’s easier you haven’t used the process before.

    Juan
    5/11/17 @ 2:50 pm

    Should this be done even though there aren’t any issues ?

    5/11/17 @ 2:56 pm

    Juan: No. There’s no reason to restart nor clear your NVRAM unless you are trying to fix a problem.

    Nfiertel
    5/11/17 @ 2:59 pm

    I do not think this has anything to do with NAVRAM but rather the loss of Internet link which might only be brief but during a call out.This exact phenom happens to me and is due to the data loss on sending out or reception of it so Safari hangs. My solution: close the Internet connection, re-open, quit Safari, restart it to the same process. clear history and delete cookies. It has nothing to do with the OS nor NAVRAM. Corrupt cookies can do this Safari fail.

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