Using Safari in OS X Recovery Mode

By , Feb 28, 2016


OS X’s built-in Recovery Mode is great for bringing your Mac back to working order. Invoked at boot time, it gives you more access to the system than you get in regular boot up.

The tools at your disposal in Recovery Mode let you repair disk errors with Disk Utility, reinstall OS X, restore your Mac from a Time Machine backup, set a firmware password, choose a startup disk, use Terminal and more.

Recovery Mode also includes a stripped-down version of Safari: use it to go online and search for solutions to your problems if the startup disk is corrupted and you cannot get past OS X’s login screen.

In this tutorial, we’ll teach you how to enter OS X Recovery or Internet Recovery Mode and use Safari to browse the web when your Mac won’t start up properly.

OS X’s Recovery Mode feature includes a version of Safari with preloaded links to resources at Apple’s support website, so you can get additional help right away. You can also browse just about any other website, search the web with Google and more.

How to launch Safari in Recovery Mode

1) In the Apple menu choose Restart, or power on your Mac.

2) As your Mac restarts, hold down the Command (⌘) – R combination immediately upon hearing the startup chime. Hold the keys until the Apple logo appears.

OS X Recovery Mode keystroke image 001

Tip: On Mac notebooks, press the built-in keys as the shortcut might not register via external keyboards.

After a few minutes, the Mac OS X Utilities window will appear.

Recovery Mode OS X Utilities window Mac screenshot 001

If you see a login window or the desktop, you didn’t press the keyboard combination early enough so restart your Mac and try again.

3) Select Get Help Online and click Continue.

You can now use Safari in Recovery Mode. If your Mac isn’t connected online via Ethernet, connect to a wireless network by clicking the Wi-Fi icon in the menu bar.

It’s worth keeping in mind that plugins and extensions cannot be added to the version of Safari included with OS X Recovery. Additionally, you cannot stream video or use a private-browsing mode in Recovery Mode. Other restrictions apply, too.

For instance, your Safari Reading List, history, bookmarks and other Safari settings are unavailable in Recovery Mode. To protect your privacy, browsing history collected while you were using Safari in Recovery Mode is erased instantly when you quit Safari.

Using Safari in Internet Recovery Mode

If the boot sector is missing on the startup disk or the recovery partition is damaged, you won’t be able to enter Recovery Mode. Thankfully, newer Macs with OS X Lion and up automatically enter Internet Recovery if standard Recovery is unavailable. An online version of Recovery Mode, Internet Recovery starts up your Mac from Apple’s servers.

To enter Internet Recovery, restart or power on your Mac and press and hold the Command (⌘) – Option (⌥) – R keys simultaneously after the startup chime plays. Release the keys after an animated globe appears on the screen.

OS X Internet Recovery Mode Mac screenshot 001

You’ll be asked to join a Wi-Fi network if your Mac isn’t already connected to the Internet via Ethernet because Internet Recovery mode needs to go online and download a recovery system image from Apple’s servers.

OS X Internet Recovery Mode Mac screenshot 003

After the recovery image has been successfully downloaded, Internet Recovery will start up your Mac from it and present you with the same options as standard Recovery Mode.

RELATED: Things to know about Internet Recovery Mode

Requirements for using Safari in Recovery Mode

You should be aware of certain network requirements and restrictions imposed by standard and Internet-based Recovery Mode. Your Wi-Fi or Ethernet network must use DHCP. Additionally, you can only use WPA/WPA2 authentication for Wi-Fi networks.

You cannot use Safari or reinstall OS X in Recovery or Internet Recovery if your Mac is connected to a Wi-Fi or Ethernet network which uses these authentication methods:

  • WEP
  • WPA-Enterprise
  • Certificate-based authentication / 802.1x
  • Specific proxy servers that are configured in network preferences
  • Captive Wi-Fi networks where you click an “Agree” button to access the Internet
  • PPPoE if there is no router handling the PPPoE connection

If your Internet connection has unsupported settings, adjust them in your router’s web interface to a supported configuration before entering Recovery or Internet Recovery.

Everything you can do in Recovery Mode

Both Recovery Mode and its online counterpart, Internet Recovery, provide the same recovery tools which let you accomplish the following maintenance tasks:

Related tutorials

Check out these resources that cover a myriad of ways you can start up your Mac:

For even more how-tos, browse our complete archive of Mac tutorials.

Need help? Ask iDB!

Not sure how to do certain things on your Apple device? Let us know at and our future tutorials might cover your specific problem and provide a solution.

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