At Apple's own community support forums, people gain a lot of reputation by copy-pasting a "reset your NVRAM or PRAM" advice to seemingly random questions (there are no downvotes there, only a "Helpful" button). Sure, you never know if it helps, but sometimes you can see it's irrelevant, especially if there's a better, more focused answer.

I see some of it here too, just because this is one of the first guesses that people make in case of mysterious problems.

When it becomes clear it's irrelevant, what can we do with such answers? Is it OK to downvote them even if the author made an honest effort to help?

Should anything else be done?

  • let's keep all votes in sync :p
    – anki
    Commented Mar 3, 2020 at 18:52

2 Answers 2


What to do with “reset your NVRAM” answers?

As a general rule, I don't cast a down vote unless the answer is really egregious:

  • the question/answer is just a word salad of bad or misleading information
  • gives bad or harmful advice
  • After spending an inordinate amount of time writing an answer only for the OP to tell you that the question you answered isn't what the OP meant (these are quite rare)

What Grinds My Gears

As for "Reset Your SMC" or "Reset your NVRAM" I will usually post a question regarding the reset in comments:

  • SMC - Can you please expand on what resetting the Power Control Module has to do with foo-bar topic?
  • NVRAM - What setting in NVRAM is applicable to this issue? Values in NVRAM set the pre-boot environment like startup partition. What in this environment is related to Microsoft Word (or other application that's not working)

I will also add some facts (in no particular order):

  • It's NVRAM, not PRAM. PRAM was for PowerPC Macs and NVRAM is for Intel
  • The SMC is the equivalent to the PMU in every other laptop. How many times do you hear Dell or HP users saying "Reset the PMU!"?
  • Resetting the SMC and or NVRAM to solve your problems is Internet Folklore that somehow caught on because it's a simple procedure.
  • Continuing Mr Griffin's grinding: "X doesn't work" so I read as answer: "reset to factory defaults;re-install OS; or buy a new one". In fact, that might be practical, but often it is not really helpful, and very seldom it provides any insight into the problem to solve.The balance between throwaway pragmatism and learning experience leading to resolution is quite skewed. In an unfavourable way. And as a matter of principle, considering past practice here: why not close all those as duplicates then? Commented Mar 3, 2020 at 19:17
  • @LangLangC What exactly would be the duplicate here? Most of the questions with a NVRAM/SMC answer are different :-)
    – nohillside Mod
    Commented Mar 4, 2020 at 6:25
  • Some things are easy to do and cause no harm. Might as well give them a try. I was real surprise when these commands were suggested to me and solved a problem where I was occasionally getting two letters on the screen when I typed one on my keyboard. Commented Mar 8, 2020 at 22:31
  • The under laying dynamics of these forums don't work well with nebulous problems like my computer don't boot. Commented Mar 8, 2020 at 22:32
  • If your car won’t start, there’s no harm in rotating your tires....What you’re not realizing @historystamp, is that most likely it wasn’t the reset of the SMC/NVRAM, but the inherent reboot because of them.
    – Allan
    Commented Mar 8, 2020 at 23:12
  • 1
    Anecdotally - only yesterday I spent the entire afternoon wondering why my new PCIe SSD card made my boot up take 17 minutes. I was sure I'd already reset the SMC before 1st boot after setting it up. Turns out I hadn't & that was all it needed, one more [more careful] attempt at resetting. Tadahh, boot time back to normal. (This is in no way meant to indicate I disagree with the existing QA & comments, it just amused me [kind of, after a lot of swearing] to have not considered it sooner ;)
    – Tetsujin
    Commented May 31, 2020 at 14:00
  • Thank you very much @Allan helped me a lot too!
    – BabyBoy
    Commented Jun 15, 2021 at 17:01
  • You can also include some other "reasons". See apple.meta.stackexchange.com/a/4174/489896 :)
    – Thinkr
    Commented Apr 27, 2023 at 6:54
  • What does that Q/A have to do with the topic of this post, @Thinkr?
    – Allan
    Commented Apr 27, 2023 at 13:49
  • Well it's just some proposition for "reasons" for which you can get downvoted to add.
    – Thinkr
    Commented Apr 27, 2023 at 21:38
  • What do you belive this topic here is about @Thinkr?
    – Allan
    Commented Apr 27, 2023 at 21:46
  • Hey, I was just making a friendly proposition for something to add
    – Thinkr
    Commented Apr 27, 2023 at 21:59

Might be easiest to just deal with it as with any answer: If you disagree with it

  • leave a comment asking for clarification/explanation of how the answer applies to the problem
  • provide a better answer yourself
  • upvote other answers (assuming they indeed are better-suited)
  • downvote if necessary

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