Broken MacBook Screen? Here’s How to Recover Your Data Safely

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Written By Michael Gilmer

Michael, a content curator at File Recovery Mac, excels at simplifying complex IT concepts into easily digestible chunks. Michael's expertise lies in IT, data recovery, and all things "techy."

SUMMARY: Recovering data from a broken MacBook screen is explored through various methods like external displays, Time Machine, Migration Assistant, Target Disk Mode, and professional data recovery services. Tips for safe recovery are provided, catering to both DIY enthusiasts and those seeking professional assistance. The goal is to assure users that their data can be restored, offering peace of mind amidst technical challenges.

broken macbook screen

Whether it’s important work documents, cherished photos, or personal files, losing data can be devastating. But with the right approach and tools, you can potentially recover your data from a broken MacBook.

In this article, we will explore the steps you can take to retrieve your files using a Mac, so you can breathe a sigh of relief knowing your data is not lost forever.

What is a broken Macbook Screen?

A broken Macbook screen is a common occurrence that many MacBook users have experienced. A broken screen can range from a minor crack or scratch in the display to a full-on shattered display with no visible image.

If your Macbook appears to be working properly, but you can’t see anything on the display, it’s likely that the LCD panel is damaged and needs to be replaced.

However, you may need to remove the hard drive and connect it to another computer in order to access the data. This is a complicated process, so it’s important to make sure you have the necessary tools before attempting this method.

Tips for Safely Recovering Your Files from a Broken Macbook Screen

When your Macbook screen breaks, it can be disheartening and stressful. Not only do you have to deal with the physical repair of the laptop, but also the thought of all your data potentially being lost. Fortunately, there are some tips and tricks that can help you safely recover your data from a broken Macbook screen.

The first step you should take is to power off your Macbook and make sure to detach any external storage devices. Once you have done this, you can begin the recovery process.

One of the easiest ways to recover data from a broken Macbook screen is to use Migration Assistant. This tool allows you to transfer files and folders from one Mac to another safely and securely. Alternatively, if you have two Macs available, Target Disk Mode is a great option to transfer data from one Mac to another.

Lastly, if you don’t have access to two Macs or you’re unable to use Migration Assistant, you can always hire a professional data recovery service. However, make sure that the service is certified and experienced in recovering data from Macbooks.

Recovering your data after a broken Macbook screen is possible with these tips and tricks. By following these steps, you can restore your files quickly and safely, giving you peace of mind that all your data is secure.

Method 1: Recovering Data Using an External Display

Different Mac models have varying capabilities for connecting external displays. While some Mac computers can link up to five external displays, certain MacBooks are limited to just one.

The initial step is to identify the ports on your Mac and determine which adapter is necessary. Once you have a compatible monitor at hand, you’re all set to establish a connection with a Mac that has a damaged screen.

Begin by watching a video guide on how to connect a Mac to an external monitor and transfer files.

For those preferring written instructions, here is a step-by-step tutorial:

  1. Hold down the power button for ten seconds to power down your Mac.
  2. Utilize the appropriate adapters and cables to connect your external monitor.
  3. Press the power button once more to wake up your Mac.
  4. Your Mac’s display will now appear on your external monitor. If it doesn’t, consider resetting NVRAM or PRAM on your damaged Mac.

Method 2: Recovering Data Screen Using Time Machine

If you regularly perform complete backups of your Mac using Time Machine, either on an external hard drive or your Mac’s internal disk, you can effectively retrieve most of your files from a Mac with a damaged screen.

time machine
  1. Connect an external monitor to your Mac.
  2. Utilize macOS Spotlight to search for and launch Time Machine.
  3. From the Time Machine interface, select a specific backup from the available options.
  4. Click the “Restore” button to swiftly recover these files using your Mac’s Time Machine backup.

Note: In the event that you have a backup stored on an external hard drive and need to replace your broken Mac with a new one, you can simply connect the external hard drive to your new Mac and directly restore the files.

Method 3: Transferring Data from a Mac Using Migration Assistant

mac migration assistant

The macOS Migration Assistant simplifies the process of migrating content between Macs. It allows you to copy and transfer files and folders from a Mac with a broken screen to a new Mac.

  1. Connect an external display to your old Mac.
  2. Launch Migration Assistant using Spotlight on both Macs.
  3. On your new Mac, choose the first option, and on your broken Mac, select the third option.
  4. Use Migration Assistant to initiate the file transfer.
  5. On your new Mac, select the broken Mac, and enter the provided security code on your broken Mac.
  6. Choose the broken Mac on your new Mac.
  7. Select the specific contents you wish to transfer to the other Mac and click “Continue”.
  8. Select the contents for transfer.
  9. Be patient and ensure both Macs remain powered on during the transfer process.

Method 4: Recovering Data Using Target Disk Mode

Utilizing macOS Target Disk Mode can be extremely useful when it comes to transferring, migrating, or recovering data on your Mac. This method requires two Macs and the necessary connection cables to establish a link between them. Once you’re prepared, continue reading and follow this step-by-step guide.

  1. Connect your Mac with a broken screen to your new Mac.
  2. Ensure that your broken Mac is completely powered down. (You can hold the power button for ten seconds to shut down a Mac.)
  3. Power on your Mac and press the T button to access Target Disk Mode.
  4. Locate and click on the disk icon on your new Mac. This will enable you to recover files and folders from your broken Mac to the new one.

Method 5: Recovering Data Using Data Recovery Service

Data recovery services can be a lifesaver for people who have broken their Macbook screens. Depending on the severity of the damage, data stored on the device may be at risk. Fortunately, many companies offer professional data recovery services that can help to restore lost files and information.

When looking for a data recovery service, it is important to consider multiple factors. Customers should check whether the company is certified, experienced in recovering data from Macbooks, and offers a no-risk guarantee.

Furthermore, it’s important to make sure that customer support is available online or over the phone for any urgent queries. Finally, customers should compare prices between different services to find the best deal.

Frequently asked questions

Is it possible to use an external monitor for data recovery on a broken MacBook?

Yes, it is possible. Connecting an external monitor allows you to access and recover data from a MacBook with a broken screen. Ensure you use a compatible USB cable and configure the display preferences using the “Displays” option in the System Preferences menu.

What are the steps to recover data from a MacBook with a damaged display?

To recover data from a MacBook with a damaged display, first, connect an external monitor and use a specialized data recovery tool compatible with Intel-based Macs, like Stellar Data Recovery Professional. Follow the steps outlined in the comprehensive guide for a successful recovery.

Are there any common issues or potential complications when attempting to recover data from a MacBook with a broken screen?

Yes, potential issues may include compatibility with Intel Macs, faulty logic boards, or power management problems. It’s crucial to consult board repair specialists for complex situations or if the logic board is dead.

What are the chances of successful data recovery in complex situations involving a broken MacBook screen?

The chances of successful data recovery in complex situations depend on the extent of damage and the expertise of the board repair specialists. Factors like a dead logic board, power management issues, or irreversible damage may affect the chances of recovery. In such cases, it’s recommended to seek professional data recovery services.


By following these methods, you should be able to get your data back safely and without any damage. Start by booting into recovery mode and backing up all important files. If the screen is completely damaged, try connecting an external monitor to access files.

Finally, you can use professional data recovery services for complex cases. With the right approach, you’ll be able to recover your data and get back up and running in no time at all.

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