How to Start a Mac in Safe Mode

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How to Start a Mac in Safe Mode
How to Start a Mac in Safe Mode

Troubleshooting a Mac may assist you in resolving a variety of difficulties. If your Mac is having trouble starting up or if you’re having boot troubles, you should try starting it in Safe mode to discover and repair the problems.

Here’s all you need to know about entering Safe Mode on your Mac.

What Is macOS Safe mode?

In macOS, Apple has a Safe mode, which is effectively a stripped-down version of the operating system that may address numerous difficulties that prevent your Mac from booting up.

Safe mode starts your Mac without launching any other applications. Login items, unnecessary system extensions, and third-party typefaces are examples of this. As a consequence, you’ll know if the problem is with single app or with your whole system. Safe mode also cleans the caches, which might help your Mac perform quicker.

While in Safe mode, you will have restricted functionality—you may not be able to use many programs, certain USB or Thunderbolt accessories may not be accessible, and your internet connectivity may be limited.

Related: How to Isolate Software or Hardware Issues on Mac

How to Boot Your Mac in Safe Mode

Booting your Mac in Safe mode is simple and secure. The procedures change somewhat for Intel Macs and Apple silicon Macs. Both procedures are detailed here.

Booting Intel Macs in Safe Mode

Follow these steps to Safe boot your Intel Mac:

  1. Launch your Mac. If it is already turned on, restart it.
  2. While your Mac boots up, hold down the Shift key. The Apple logo should now show. When the login window displays, let go of the Shift key and log in. If you have FileVault enabled, you may be needed to log in twice.
  3. Hold down the Power button until the starting choices show.
  4. Hold down the Shift key and choose Continue in Safe Mode.
  5. In the top-left corner of your screen, click the Apple logo. Select Software from the left-hand pane in the window that appears.
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Booting Apple Silicon Macs in Safe Mode

To boot up your M1 Mac in Safe mode, follow the steps below:

  1. The word Safe should appear next to Boot Mode.
  2. Choose your startup disk.
  3. Go to your Mac’s System Preferences.
  4. Release the Shift key.

How to Confirm You’re in Safe Mode

In Safe mode, you should notice “Safe boot” in red at the top-right of your screen. However, you may utilize the About this Mac tool to validate that your Mac has truly started in Safe mode. To do this:

  1. To authenticate yourself, choose your account from the list and click the Lock button.
  2. Select About this Mac.
  3. Click on System Report.
  4. Click Login Items to get a list of all your starting applications.
  5. Select the applications to be removed and press the minus (-) button.

What to Do in Safe Mode?

The first step after starting your Mac in Safe mode is to check to verify whether it boots up properly. If your Mac didn’t boot up properly previously, but it did in Safe mode, it suggests there’s a problem with a software or an app (most probably a startup app).

As previously stated, Safe mode runs certain checks and blocks some apps from loading or starting when you restart your Mac. As a result, you can typically discover any starting problems. Because only required kernel extensions (hardware and software drivers) are loaded, a third-party program might be causing your problems.

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Additionally, system caches are cleared automatically. This clears the caches and might help your Mac run faster if it’s sluggish. Safe mode also demands a directory scan of the starting drive, allowing any hard disk faults that are interfering with the boot process to be discovered.

Apart from that, there isn’t much you can do in Safe mode. As previously said, if a problem does not arise when you start in Safe mode, it is most likely caused by a defective kernel extension (perhaps caused by malfunctioning hardware) or an app issue. In this case, you should try clearing out the starting app list on your Mac.

How to Edit Your Startup List

Too many starting apps might slow down your Mac and increase boot time. You may modify your starting programs in System Preferences:

  1. Open up System Preferences on your Mac.
  2. Click on Users & Groups.
  3. Select your account in the list, and click on the Lock button to authenticate yourself.
  4. Click on Login Items to view all your startup apps.
  5. Select the apps you want to remove, and click the minus (-) button.

Related: How to Add, Remove, and Delay Startup Apps on a Mac

Restoring a Time Machine Backup in Safe Mode

If you are still unable to discover or resolve the problem, you may restore your Mac to a prior backup version using Time Machine. Check that the version to which you are restoring your Mac is functional.

To restore your Mac from a Time Machine backup, connect the external drive holding the backup to your Mac and use the Time Machine program to restore it.

How to Exit Safe Mode on a Mac

When you’re through using Safe mode and wish to restore your Mac to its regular condition, just restart it and power it on as usual. If you’ve resolved any boot difficulties, your Mac will boot properly.

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If the Issue Still Isn’t Resolved

If your Mac does not boot into Safe Mode, it is conceivable that your Mac starting disk has a macOS or hardware problem. You may try reinstalling macOS or restoring your Mac from a Time Machine backup using macOS Recovery mode.

Another suggestion is to start your Mac in Verbose mode. Verbose mode loads everything on your Mac while also explaining what it’s doing. It has a similar appearance to the Terminal interface, but the advantage is that you can identify which process is causing your boot troubles. Simply press Cmd + V when your Mac boots to enter Verbose mode. The Terminal messages will occur throughout the starting procedure.

Related: MacOS Boot Modes and Startup Key Combinations in a Nutshell

Taking Your Mac in for a Checkup

If an issue emerges that you are uncertain about, resolving it may be too sophisticated for the common user. In this scenario, we recommend bringing your Mac to an Apple Store or an Apple Authorized Service Provider for a diagnostic. The professionals there should be able to assist you identify the issue and, hopefully, solve it.

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