PRAM stands for Personal Random Access Memory, which is a special type of RAM that is a key component of Mac computers. PRAM stores all sorts of little things that would otherwise be a pain to change every time you booted up your computer.

It enables your Mac to load settings such as your default volume level, display settings, time zone, startup disk and GPU switch configuration.

PRAM can remember all these settings even when the computer is off. It uses a small internal battery that lasts for years.

You might be thinking: Why would I want to mess with my PRAM? Turns out there are a lot of reasons why. If you ever need to reset some settings on your Mac, or if you’re having trouble with some aspect of your computer (like trouble with the speakers or display), resetting the PRAM can help fix it.

Common issues related to PRAM

  • GPU Panics.
  • Startup-disk selection.
  • Freezing display.
  • No chime when booting.
  • Wrong time zone, time and date.
  • Automatic graphic switching causes a black screen.
  • Overheating.
  • Clunky scrolling with the trackpad.
  • Random shutdowns.
  • Poor performance.
  • Keyboard not working.
  • No sound or volume controls not working.

Some of these issues may be hardware-related, but in most cases, resetting the PRAM will fix the problem.

How to reset PRAM

  • Step 1: Shut down Mac
  • Step 2: Turn it on and immediately press ⌘ (Command) + option + P + R
  • Step 3: Count 20 seconds and release keys.
  • Step 4: On Mac computers that play a chime on startup, release the keys after the second startup sound. 
However, if the Mac computer has a T2 security chip, release the keys after the Apple logo appears and disappears for the second time.

To easily determine if your Mac has a T2 chip, check the year it was released. Macs released before 2018 don’t have this chip. To learn more, click this link.

PRAM doesn't fix your problems?

If you’re using a Mac that is not a laptop, such as the Mac Pro or the iMac, you might need to replace the PRAM battery that is located on your computer’s logic board. The battery can last for many years, but it eventually gives in.

In addition, if a PRAM reset doesn’t work, you might want to try a SMC reset. To learn how to do that, click this link.

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Kenyon Ndezi is a recent graduate, writer, creator of kenyonndez.com; and the owner of Neonbuild.com, which is a company focused on building apps for small businesses and individuals. Follow along and get inspired!

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