On modern computing devices, the USB-C port has become one of the main ways for data and power to flow in and out of your machine. Many machines will only have one or two of these ports. Because of this, a faulty USB-C port can seriously cripple the computer’s usefulness.
If you suspect that the USB-C port on your Mac has stopped working, follow these steps to diagnose and fix the problem.
1. Find the problem
A faulty USB-C port usually manifests itself in one or two ways. It can’t pass power, it can’t communicate with your computer, or it can’t even. A port that no longer recognizes that you’ve plugged a peripheral in may have a software problem, and a port that won’t pass power is more likely to be a hardware problem.
Communication issues can be caused by a faulty USB-C cable, and a laptop that won’t power through the USB-C port may have a faulty power adapter. If you’ve ruled out these two common problems, you’re most likely dealing with a non-working USB-C port. Therefore, follow the troubleshooting steps below to fix the problem.
2. Inspect the USB-C port
Start with the obvious. Sometimes it’s just a matter of dust or debris getting into your computer. Take a closer look at the suspected port. Can you see any dust or debris? Is there any discoloration? Any charring on a printed circuit board is a possible sign of a burnt port that needs to be professionally replaced. If there is dust, clean the port with a can of compressed air.
The USB-C port is recessed, so it can be difficult to see the contacts clearly. Make sure you are in a well-lit area, and use a magnifying lens if necessary. If you have an iPhone, you can use the Magnifier to get a better look at the port. If the port looks fine, you can move on to the next step.
3. Reboot Your Mac
One of the many joys of the Mac is the ability to reset all internal software parameters with a simple reboot. If a running application has somehow disabled the port, rebooting the machine may reset it.
You can restart your Mac by clicking the Apple menu and choosing Restart from the dropdown. If the port still malfunctions, go to the next step.
4. Run Apple Diagnostics
The built-in Apple Diagnostics tool on your Mac can help you diagnose problems with your USB-C port. However, the steps you need to follow to get it running depend on whether your Mac is powered by Intel or Apple silicon.
If you have an Apple Silicon Mac, press the power button on your Mac and hold it as your Mac boots. When you see Startup Options on your screen, let go of the Power button and press Command+D on your keyboard.
If you have an Intel-based Mac, press the Power button and immediately press and hold the D key as soon as your Mac boots up. You can release the D key when you see the progress bar. Some Macs may go online during this process. In that case, release the D key when you are prompted to choose a language.
If Apple Diagnostics finds a problem or returns an error code, write down the information or take a screenshot. This will be useful information if you decide to take your Mac to Apple for hardware repair.
5. Reset SMC and NVRAM
If you have an Intel-based Mac, it has a System Management Controller (SMC) chip that, among other functions, manages your peripherals through the computer’s USB ports. If the SMC becomes corrupt, you may lose one or all of your ports.
On the other hand, if the problem is caused by a software issue, then resetting the NVRAM may solve the problem. The process for these two resets will differ depending on the model of your Mac. Luckily, you can read our dedicated guide on resetting the SMC and PRAM/NVRAM to learn the process regardless of model.
Take Your Mac to Apple
If the above troubleshooting steps didn’t help fix the problem, it’s likely that the components in the USB port will need to be replaced, and it’s time to take your Mac to a professional.
So, set up an appointment with Apple, and be sure to inform the technician about all the steps you’ve gone through yourself so they have a clear history of what’s been done so far.