Mac computers: About startup tones

Learn about the different sounds your computer makes when it starts up and what they mean.

Mac computers can produce several sounds when starting up. Your Mac should produce the familiar single tone on start up. If you hear another tone it can indicate problems with your computer.

  • 1 tone, repeating every 5 seconds: This indicates no RAM is installed.
  • 3 successive tones, a 5 second pause (repeating): This indicates RAM does not pass a data integrity check.
  • 1 long tone while holding down the power button: Indicates an EFI ROM update is in progress on a computer manufactured before 2012.
  • 3 long tones, 3 short tones, 3 long tones: Indicates EFI ROM corruption is detected and the computer is in EFI ROM recovery mode.

Should you need to restore the EFI ROM on certain Mac computers produced before 2008, you'll need to use a recovery CD to restore the EFI ROM. Newer computers automatically recover from a corrupted ROM; when this occurs a progress bar appears on a grey background. Do not disturb the machine while the ROM recovery is taking place. It will restart back into OS X when it restarts. For more information on EFI ROMs, see EFI and SMC firmware updates for Intel-based Macs.

Learn more

Pressing and holding keys when the startup tone sounds can make your Mac function in different ways. To learn more see Startup key combinations for Intel-based Macs.

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