MacBook Pro Black Screen After Clamshell

For as long as I have had my 2013 15” MacBook Pro Retina I have had one particularly frustrating issue.

At work I use two external monitors with my laptop in clamshell mode (Lid closed). Unfortunately my work is not going to pay the ridiculous $2000 price tag for two new Apple Cinema Displays (and I don’t blame them), so I am stuck with the two Dell monitors I had before I started using my personal Mac for work. Because I want to be connected to the faster, more reliable Ethernet in the office one of my thunderbolt ports is used by an Ethernet adapter. This leaves me with one thunderbolt port and one HDMI port. So I have a DVI adapter plugged into the remaining thunderbolt port and an HDMI to DVI cable plugged into the HDMI port. This setup work just fine for the work I am doing.

The issue is that every once in awhile I will unplug my computer from all of the numerous cables to either bring it home or to another room and when I open it back up I get a blank screen. I can’t seem to recreate the issue regularly. When I say blank screen what I actually mean is that the built in display on the laptop is off. There is no back-light or anything. The computer itself however is on. I know this because the the keyboard is lit up and there is sound coming out of the speakers. No matter what I try there is no way to get the screen to turn back on except to cycle the power.

I have attempted to find information about this issue online to no avail. I spoke with a “genius” at the Apple store who told me the issue is a unknown issue that seem to occur when the computer goes to sleep while connected to external displays and is then woken up after the displays have been disconnected. “The computer doesn’t know that things changed and so the display stays off.” When he said this I was a little skeptical because I am pretty certain that the issue has occurred on occasions when I disconnected the displays while my computer was still awake. However, since his is the only explanation I have been able to find at all it is the one I am going to stick with.

The good news is that Apple seems to have addressed the issue with OS X 10.10 Yosemite. Since updating to the latest OS version I have not encountered this issue. I will write a new post in the event I am proven wrong.