MacOS Monterey: how to fix the latest upgrade

Ross Hall

November 15, 2021

Stylised graphic of a MacBook Pro keyboard

A heart stopping moment as the MacOS Monterey upgrade brought my MacBook Pro to a halt. A restart was necessary, and as the screen flickered into life, I knew there was an issue. The menu bar was missing. Everything I did induced the familiar “bong” sound of clicking outside a dialog. Force Restart (the CTRL+ALT+Delete of the Mac world) was unavailable. Several reboots brought me back to the same place, and I feared this machine, with all its touch bar and butterfly keyboard faults, had died.

Through a somewhat elaborate series of measures, I restored the machine to full working order. These are the steps I took.

A hard shut down.

Press and hold the power button until the screen goes black and it no longer reboots. It took several attempts at this as the machine kept rebooting.

Safe reboot

Hold down the SHIFT key and restart. Keep holding it until the login screen appears. This restarts the Mac in a “safe” mode. It won’t work properly, but it will clear some issues and reset a few parameters. For whatever reason, if I skipped either this or the next step, the issue returned. 

Zap the PRAM

Shut the machine down again using the options on the Apple menu top left. Hold down OPTION, COMMAND, P and R keys at the same time, then restart the machine. Keep holding them down until you hear the startup chime for the second time. Then release them.

(Note: on some keyboards OPTION / COMMAND are shown as ALT / CMD )

This clears some parameters used by MacOS, which may have become corrupted.

Check your machine

I gave my MacBook a once-over to make sure everything was working. I lost my desktop background images, the volume was reset to insanely loud, and the brightness was turned up again. Otherwise all looked OK.

Bottom line: sometimes upgrades suck

Upgrading to Windows 11 has been similarly painful, so this is a more general “IT” thing than a specific MacOS failure. Painful though it is, often you can fix upgrade problems with Google and some basic steps. It’s worth jotting them down somewhere in case you get stuck again.

I'm Ross, a digital editorial designer and content creator from the UK now living in Japan. I help growing companies plan, source, produce and promote a range of content. Find out more

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