Safe Mode on Mac: How to Boot and When?

Safe Mode on Mac: How to Boot and When?

Unfortunately, computers can fail, this even applies to Macs. But there are always options to fix the problem, if it has not become critical. So, if your Mac does not start or some problems are detected during the boot process, then you can try to safely boot your computer. This can help you understand and fix the root cause of a startup problem or poor performance. Here’s what you need to do in this situation.

What is Safe Mode on Mac?

In macOS, Apple has enabled a dedicated Safe Mode. It is, in fact, a stripped down version of the operating system. By downloading this option, you can solve many problems that prevent your Mac from starting fully. In safe mode, your computer starts up without launching any other programs. These can be login elements, additional system extensions, third-party fonts. By performing a secure boot, you can understand if the problems are caused by some application or the system as a whole. Starting your Mac in Safe Mode also clears up caches, which can speed up your computer.

But when using Safe Mode, you will run into limited functionality on your computer. For example, you will not be able to use many applications, some peripherals via USB or Lightning may not be available, and Internet access may be limited.

How do I boot my Mac in Safe Mode?

Booting your Mac in Safe Mode is pretty simple and safe. The steps are slightly different for Intel-based Macs and Apple Silicon-based Macs. We describe both options below.

How to Boot Intel Mac in Safe Mode?

Follow these steps to securely boot your Intel Mac:

1. Start your Mac. If it is already enabled, then restart it.

2. While turning on your Mac, press and hold the ⇧Shift.

3. The Apple logo should appear on the screen.

4. When the login window appears, release the key ⇧Shift and log in with your account.

5. You may need to log in twice if you have FileVault encryption enabled (detail).

How do I boot my Mac (with M1 processors) in Safe Mode?

To boot a Mac with an M1 chip in Safe Mode, follow these steps:

1. Press and hold the power button until you see a menu with startup options.

2. Select your boot disk.

3. Press and hold the key ⇧Shift and press “Continue in Safe Mode» (Continue in Safe Mode).

4. Release the key ⇧Shift.

How to make sure you are in Safe Mode on Mac?

If you did everything correctly, you should see the red text that appears automatically. Boot in Safe Mode on the right side of the menu bar on the user password entry screen.

Safe Mode on Mac

However, if you want to make sure your Mac boots in Safe Mode, you can use the “About This Mac”… Here’s what to do:

1. Click on the Apple logo in the upper left corner of the screen.

2. Select “About this Mac».

3. Click on the “System report».

Safe Mode on Mac

4. In the window that opens, on the left pane, select “Software».

5. You should see the word “Safe“In the list next to”Boot Mode».

Safe Mode on Mac

What to do in Safe Mode?

Once you’ve started your Mac in Safe Mode, the first step is to check if your Mac boots correctly. If the Mac did not boot in normal mode before, but was now able to do it in Safe Mode, then this means that there is a problem with some application (most likely, it starts with the system startup).

As we mentioned earlier, in Safe Mode, when you start your Mac, it performs certain checks and prevents certain software from loading or opening. This way, you can usually identify any problems you may encounter at startup. Since only the core components of the kernel (hardware and software drivers) are loaded, problems may be caused by some third-party application.

In addition, system caches are automatically flushed. This action can speed up your Mac if it becomes slow. Safe Mode also forces a directory scan on the boot volume to identify any hard drive issues that interfere with the boot process.

But beyond that, there is little you can do in Safe Mode. As mentioned above, if the problem you are experiencing does not occur when booting in Safe Mode, then it is most likely due to a problematic kernel extension (possibly related to faulty hardware) or an application issue. In this case, you should try editing the list of your Mac’s startup applications.

How to edit startup list on Mac?

Too many programs that start at startup can slow down your Mac and increase your computer’s boot time. You can change the list of launched applications in the “System Preferences”:

1. Open “System settings» на Mac.

2. Click on “Users and groups».

How to edit startup list on Mac?

3. Select your account from the list and click the padlock button to authenticate.

How to edit startup list on Mac?

4. Click on “Entry objects»To view all startup applications.

5. Select the applications you want to remove and click the minus (-) button.

How to edit startup list on Mac?

Restoring a Time Machine Backup in Safe Mode

If you still can’t find or fix the problem, you can try restoring your Mac to a previous version of your backup using Time Machine. Make sure in advance that the version you will be restoring on your Mac is working correctly.

To restore your Mac using a Time Machine backup, connect the external drive (containing the backup) to your Mac and restore using the Time Machine application.

How to Exit Safe Mode on Mac?

When you’re done in Safe Mode and want to get your Mac back to normal, simply restart your Mac, or shut it down and turn it back on normally. Your Mac will boot normally if you have resolved all the boot problems.

What if the problem is still not resolved?

If your Mac won’t boot even in Safe Mode, the Mac startup disk may have a problem with the operating system itself or a hardware failure. You can try reinstalling macOS or restoring your Mac from a Time Machine backup in macOS Recovery Mode, which might help too.

Another tip is to boot your Mac in Verbose Mode. It normally boots your Mac, but logs the entire process. This mode resembles a terminal interface, but it has the advantage of being able to see exactly which process is causing boot problems. To start your Mac in Verbose Mode, just press ⌘Cmd + V when the computer boots up. You will see that messages will appear in the terminal window when loading each subsequent module.

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