How to start Mac in Recovery Mode in macOS Sonoma⏱️ 3 min read

How to start Mac in Recovery Mode

Although Macs are renowned for their user-friendly interface and reliable performance, they occasionally encounter problems. The Recovery Mode is a built-in mechanism that enables users to troubleshoot and fix problems, which comes into play in this situation. In this guide, I will walk you through how to start your Mac in Recovery Mode in macOS Sonoma.

What is Recovery Mode on Mac?

The Recovery Mode is a specialized feature in macOS that provides a range of tools to aid in the troubleshooting and repair of your Mac. Recovery Mode is designed to be utilized when your Mac encounters boot-up issues, fails to start up usually, or when reinstalling macOS on your device.

With the Recovery Mode enabled on your Mac, you can access various tasks such as repairing your startup disk, reinstalling macOS, restoring your Mac from a Time Machine backup, and accessing the Terminal for advanced troubleshooting.

It is an indispensable tool for Mac users who need to diagnose and fix issues with their system. However, before delving into why you should initiate Recovery Mode on your Mac, it’s crucial to recognize its significance as a vital instrument for users encountering system problems.

Reasons to use macOS in Recovery Mode

There are several reasons why you may need to use Recovery Mode, including the following:

  1. To diagnose and fix common issues preventing your Mac from starting up or running correctly.
  2. Reinstall macOS when your Mac is experiencing significant problems.
  3. Can manage and repair your Mac’s hard drive.
  4. Roll back to the old macOS.
  5. If you have FileVault activated, you can use Recovery Mode to unlock and decrypt your hard drive.

How to start Recovery Mode on a Mac

Starting your Mac’s Recovery Mode is simple, but the procedures vary depending on whether you have an Apple Silicon or an Intel chipset-based Mac. You can refer to the instructions listed below to make sure everything is clear.

Start Recovery Mode on Intel Mac

  1. Click on the Apple logo in the Menu Bar → Choose Shut Down.
  2. Press the Power button to turn on your Mac while holding the Command (⌘) + R keys on your keyboard.
  3. Release the keys once you can see the Apple logo.
  4. Wait for the macOS Utilities window to display.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully accessed the Recovery Mode on your Mac, running on an Intel-based chip.

Start Recovery Mode on an M1/M2 Mac

  1. Choose the Apple logo in the top left corner of the screen → Select Shut Down.
  2. Press and hold the Power button for 5-7 seconds.
  3. Release the button once you see the Loading startup disk beneath the Apple logo.
  4. Pick Options → click Continue.
  5. Select the Admin account → Proceed by clicking Next.
  6. Enter your Mac’s password → Select Continue.

Finally, you’ll be redirected to the Recovery screen on your T2, M1, or M2 chip-based Mac.

Things that can be done in Recovery Mode on Mac

The Recovery Mode on your Mac possesses many capabilities, some of which are listed below.

Restore from a Time Machine backup

One of the primary functions of Mac’s Recovery Mode is to restore your device to a previously functioning state. By accessing a backup of your device through Time Machine, you can revert your device to its previous state, including the apps and settings used at that time.

This feature will remove any additional apps you added after the backup, and it’s the most important thing to remember. This mode serves as a time capsule for your device, allowing you to return it to a specific point in time.

Manage disk drives with Disk Utility and Reinstall macOS

You can do a factory reset of your device and can’t reinstall the macOS straight from Recovery Mode. Using the Recovery Mode on your Mac, you can erase your Mac to its default by removing all of the data, including documents, music, videos, programs, and other items, from your device. Also, this method eliminates the need for an external installation disc to accomplish the reinstallation process of the Operating System.

Get help through Safari

By starting the Recovery Mode on your Mac, you can also access the default Safari browser, which can be advantageous in seeking resolutions to any Mac-related issues on the Apple Support website. Keep in mind that while using Safari in this mode, you cannot utilize any plugins or extensions. This limitation is actually beneficial since these add-ons may cause problems and impede Safari’s performance.

Other things you can do in Recovery Mode

Although Mac’s Recovery Mode primarily aims to troubleshoot and resolve device issues, it offers additional functionalities such as the below-mentioned.

  • Access the Internet: The internet on the Recovery Mode is provided as specific macOS versions require internet connectivity to download recovery files and reinstall the operating system. An Ethernet cable connection does not require any additional action. However, you can also access Wi-Fi networks in the same way as usual.
  • Use the Terminal command line: Terminal is one of the most potent Mac apps that allows users to access advanced functionality and carry out tasks that may not be possible via more traditional methods. If you encounter server Mac troubles that cannot be fixed with a factory reset, using a Terminal in Recovery Mode could be helpful. You can also use it to change your Mac’s login password.
  • Set security policies for your Mac: You can use the Startup Security Utility in Recovery Mode to change your security policies. It is advisable to leave Full Security, the default security level for macOS, alone unless there is a specific reason to change it. You can access this tool by going to Utilities and choosing the Startup Security Utility option.
  • Share a disk drive: Sharing a disk drive with Recovery Mode is easy; you can simply navigate to Utilities Share Disk and then establish a connection between your Mac and another Mac by using a USB or Thunderbolt cable. Usually, you’ll find yourself doing this when you plan to move critical files from your Mac to another device.
  • Change the startup disk: You can also use the Recovery Mode to boot your Mac from an alternative internal or external hard drive if you have one connected to your computer. Your Mac system uses the internal hard disk or SSD that came with it by default to boot the computer. Simply click on the Apple icon in the menu bar → choose Startup Disk to change the startup disk on your Mac while it is in Recovery Mode.

What to do if my Mac won’t boot into Recovery Mode?

Below are some suggestions for restarting your Mac in Recovery Mode if it fails to boot due to various reasons:

  • If the keyboard of your Mac is damaged, try connecting an external keyboard to it. If you already use an external keyboard, ensure it’s properly connected and paired with your Mac.
  • If your Mac has suffered from system damage, resetting your device is the easiest way to resolve this issue. Alternatively, the Time Machine feature can revert your Mac to the previous working state.
  • If the operating system of your Mac is corrupted and the Recovery partition is damaged or absent, consider creating a bootable installer. This will enable you to reinstall macOS on your device.

How to Quit Recovery Mode on Mac?

Starting your Mac in Recovery Mode was easy, right? Well, exiting Recovery Mode is even simpler. You need to click on the Apple logo at the top left corner of your screen and select the Shut Down option. When you start up your Mac again, it will restart as it would have done previously. If you continue to face issues with Recovery Mode, you can do a factory reset and can set up your Mac as new. Please leave your feedback in the section below if you face any issues while performing the steps above.


Q. Is it safe to use Recovery Mode?

Recovery Mode on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac is entirely secure. The feature’s tools and settings assist you in fixing common computer issues while ensuring they do not impact your files and data.

Q. Can I use Recovery Mode to recover deleted files?

Unfortunately, you can’t restore the deleted file using the Recovery Mode on your Mac. However, retrieving them on your Mac using Time Machine backup or data recovery software is available.

Nutan Sharma
Content Writer at The Writing Paradigm | + posts

Nutan is a computer science graduate and a fervent enthusiast who likes to explore and talk about tech, business, finance, and startups.

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