Macbook Pro - dead backlight, can't log in - options?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Ph.D., Oct 28, 2018.

  1. Ph.D. macrumors 6502

    Jul 8, 2014

    My late-model Macbook Pro (2016, non-touchbar, no AppleCare) has lost its backlight.

    For a few days the back-light had lost some of its LEDs along the bottom row. Silly me thought I could wait it out until Tuesday's event and move to a new one rather than trying to fix it, etc. Alas, without any further warning, it's now totally black. Reflection alone cannot reveal anything at all.

    I'm positive that it works fine other than the back-light, but I can't log in, etc.

    All I really want to do is get the data off of it. I don't have a USB-C monitor. If I did, I'd have to hope that I can log on solely through the external monitor. I think that's possible, but I'm not sure.

    If I had a new Macbook, I'd have to hope that I could transfer data over without having to log into the old one directly. I'm not sure if this is possible or not (seems to be not possible according to Apple's support).

    Any comments or recommendations?

    Thank you.
  2. kohlson macrumors 68000

    Apr 23, 2010
    Easiest thing is to get an external monitor. That will probably work. You would need an adapter, such as a USB-C to hdmi adapter.

    Apple sells a multifunction adapter that does this, and places such as Best Buy should have one.

    Coincidentally, here's a CBS New Canada mini-documentary that is very relevant (bent pin causes video to go out).
  3. Ph.D. thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 8, 2014
    Yes, I think I'll just buy a new 4k USB-capable monitor. I've been meaning to replace my ancient LED cinema display anyway.

    Thank you.
  4. solouki macrumors member


    Jan 5, 2017
    Rsync to transfer, ssh to login remotely...

    Hi Ph.D., if you wish to just transfer data and you're sure that your MBP is working but you just can't log in because of the display not working, then why not try "rsync" or "ssh"? Assuming that you setup in System Preferences the Remote Login service, then you can ssh into the MBP from another computer (any computer will do, say another Mac, or PC, or Raspberry Pi) using the Terminal command:

    ssh -p22 <username>

    where <username> is obviously your user account name and is the IP address your WiFi router has assigned to the MBP, say something like This give you a Terminal window on your MBP, and from there you can do anything you want, using bash Terminal commands of course.

    Say you wanted to transfer your entire login directory from your old MBP to a new computer, then you could use rsync, say through an ssh tunnel. Open a terminal window on the new computer, create a temporary directory, then use rsync to transfer your login directory from the old MBP to, say, a new Mac:

    cd; mkdir tmp
    rsync --rsh='ssh -p22' -avz <username><username> /Users/<username>/tmp

    where the "cd" command sets your current working directory to your login directory, say /Users/<username>, the "mkdir tmp" command makes a new subdirectory of your login directory named "tmp", and the "rsync" command then uses an ssh tunnel to your old MBP at IP to copy your MBP's login directory and all of its subdirectories to your new Mac into the directory /Users/<username>/tmp. Of course, you can copy any directory tree from your old MBP to your new Mac computer (or any other computer for that matter). In this scenario you do not need to login to the old MBP with its non-working display, all you need is for the old MBP to turn on. [The spaces in these commands are important, by the way.]

    Hope this simplifies matters for you.

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3 October 28, 2018