Mac safe mode - Apple silicon tutorial

Macs powered by Apple silicon feature a different startup process than their Intel-based counterparts. In this quick tutorial, we’re going to show you how to start up your computer in macOS Recovery, which is the built-in recovery feature of your Mac.

About safe mode

macOS safe mode was designed to help customers diagnose and troubleshoot problems with the operating system and their computer. Apple notes that safe mode prevents certain software from loading to help you isolate problems that you may be having with your Mac. For instance, safe mode will prevent startup items from loading. Because safe mode performs a quick check of the startup disk, the computer may start up slower than it normally would.

Things your Mac does in safe mode

Follow our step-by-step tutorial included below to learn about the process of entering macOS safe mode on your Mac, whether it’s an Apple silicon model or an Intel-based one.

How to boot a Mac in safe mode

Regardless of whether you’re using an Apple silicon Mac or an Intel-based model, you’ll need to restart your Mac and use special key combinations and options to enter safe mode.

Apple silicon Mac

Follow these steps to start up your Apple silicon Mac in safe mode:

  1. Click the Apple menu and choose the option labeled with the text “Shut Down”.
  2. After the Mac shuts down, press and hold the power button until you see the Options screen.
  3. Now press and hold the Shift (⇧) key, then choose “Continue in Safe Mode”.

Intel-based Mac

To start up an Intel-based Mac in safe mode, do the following:

  1. Click the Apple menu and choose the option labeled with the text “Shut Down”.
  2. With the Mac off, press the power button then immediately press and hold the Shift (⇧) key.
  3. Release the Shift key when you see the login window.

And that’s how you boot your Mac in safe mode.

How to exit safe mode

To exit safe mode, simply restart your Mac like you normally would: choose the option “Shut Down” from the Apple menu. A word of advice: Be sure not to hold down any keys as your Mac is starting up in normal boot mode. Also, leaving safe mode may take longer than you’re used to so be patient and by no means do not interrupt the whole process.