The “unrecoverable error” on Mac keyboards is a frustrating issue that prevents users from typing properly. When this error occurs, keyboard input becomes disabled and macOS displays an alert with the message “Unrecoverable error. Restart computer.” Thankfully, there are several potential solutions you can try to resolve this problem. In this guide, we’ll walk through the common causes and fixes for the unrecoverable Mac keyboard error.
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What Causes the Unrecoverable Error on Mac Keyboards?
There are a few potential culprits that could trigger the unrecoverable error on your Mac keyboard:
- Corrupted system files: The macOS system relies on many different files and processes working together seamlessly. If some of these files become damaged or corrupted, it can cause the unrecoverable error.
- Third-party apps/drivers: Problems with third-party kernel extensions, applications, or drivers could be to blame. For example, apps like TeamViewer are known to sometimes cause this error.
- Accessibility settings: Certain accessibility settings like Sticky Keys being enabled improperly can confuse the system and lead to the error.
- Hardware failure: In rarer cases, a hardware failure with your actual keyboard could be the underlying problem behind the error message.
- Failed macOS update: A software update that failed to install properly could result in system file errors that trigger the unrecoverable error.
So in summary, both software and hardware issues could be behind the unrecoverable keyboard error on your Mac. Now let’s look at how to fix it.
Step 1: Disconnect Accessories and Restart
The first step is extremely simple – disconnect any accessories connected to your Mac like external keyboards, trackpads and USB devices. Once disconnected, restart your computer. This will clear any improper accessory connections that could be confusing the system and leading to the error.
If the unrecoverable error still appears after restarting, move on to the next solutions. But in some cases, this quick restart clears up the error right away.
Step 2: Reset NVRAM/PRAM
Resetting the NVRAM and PRAM helps clear out any corrupted settings that could be crashing your keyboard. Here are the steps:
- Shut down your Mac completely.
- Press the power button to turn it back on.
- Immediately press and hold Command + Option + P + R.
- Keep holding down the four keys until you hear the startup chime repeat twice.
- Release the keys.
The NVRAM and PRAM have now been reset back to default settings. Try using the keyboard again to see if the error has been resolved.
Step 3: Boot into Safe Mode
Booting into safe mode loads a minimal version of macOS that only contains essential components. This can isolate whether a third-party app or system extension is causing the unrecoverable error. Follow these steps:
- Restart your Mac and immediately press and hold the Shift key.
- Keep holding Shift until you see the login screen, then release it.
- Log into your account and test the keyboard.
If the keyboard works normally in safe mode, it indicates a third-party component is to blame. You can begin selectively disabling startup items and apps to pinpoint the problematic software.
Step 4: Run Apple Diagnostics
The built-in Apple Diagnostics tool checks your Mac hardware for issues. To use it:
- Fully shut down your Mac.
- Press the power button again.
- Immediately press and hold D.
- Keep holding D until the diagnostics screen appears.
- Follow the on-screen instructions to run diagnostics on your keyboard.
If hardware faults are detected, it indicates a physical keyboard defect could be causing the unrecoverable error. Contact Apple Support for repair options if Apple Diagnostics finds an issue.
Step 5: Boot to Recovery OS to Repair Disk
System file corruption is a common source of the unrecoverable error. Thankfully macOS includes a recovery partition with tools to check for disk issues. Here’s how to access it:
- Restart your Mac and hold Command + R until you see the recovery desktop.
- Select Disk Utility from the utilities window.
- Choose your main system drive volume.
- Click First Aid and Run to scan for errors.
- Restart when completed.
This will automatically repair any directory issues that could be triggering the keyboard failure.
Step 6: Erase and Reinstall macOS
If all else fails, completely erasing and reinstalling macOS is the definitive fix for software-related unrecoverable errors.
- Boot to Recovery OS.
- Open Disk Utility and format/erase the drive.
- Quit Disk Utility.
- Choose Reinstall macOS option to begin clean installation.
This will wipe your system and start fresh with a clean OS, guaranteed to eliminate any system file corruption causing keyboard issues. Just make sure to backup your data first!
Step 7: Contact Apple Support
If you still see the unrecoverable error after trying all troubleshooting, your last resort is contacting Apple Support. They can run diagnostics to pinpoint hardware defects requiring repair or replacement.
Apple Support can also help identify any remaining software issues that might be tied to iCloud, Apple ID or other Apple services that are difficult to resolve yourself.
Preventing the Unrecoverable Error in the Future
While occasional software glitches happen, you can take proactive steps to avoid unrecoverable errors down the road:
- Keep macOS updated with the latest software versions.
- Don’t force quit apps during installation or updates.
- Only install apps and drivers from trusted sources.
- Refrain from customizing advanced system settings.
- Setup a bootable macOS installer drive for recovery access.
Following best practices for system maintenance will keep your Mac stable and less prone to the dreaded unrecoverable error. But if it ever appears again, this guide has you covered on how to get your keyboard working again.
Summary of Fixes for the Unrecoverable Mac Keyboard Error
- Restart after disconnecting accessories
- Reset NVRAM/PRAM
- Boot into Safe Mode
- Run Apple Diagnostics
- Use Recovery disk utility to repair system files
- Erase and reinstall macOS
- Contact Apple Support for hardware diagnosis
With some guided troubleshooting, you should be able to resolve the unrecoverable error stopping you from using your Mac’s keyboard. Just go through these solutions one-by-one until your keyboard is functioning normally again.