How to fix globe icon with exclamation mark alert on Mac

Do you see a gray globe icon with an alert mark on your Mac’s Recovery screen? And it comes back even after retrying Internet Recovery. I have faced this several times in the last few years. So let me tell you more about why you see the globe icon with an alert or exclamation symbol on Mac, my experience with this, and how to fix it successfully.

Globe icon with alert mark Mac

Why do you see the globe icon with an alert symbol on Mac?

When your Mac cannot successfully start up from Internet Recovery, it displays a globe icon with an exclamation (!) point inside a triangle on a black background. It looks like the image you see above. Sometimes you may also see numbers below this.

When your Mac has major problems, one solution is to reinstall macOS (which keeps your files safe) or erase and reinstall macOS (which deletes everything). To do this, you have to enter Recovery Mode.

Your Mac has a built-in Recovery Mode that’s stored on a separate partition of the drive (internal SSD or hard disk). When you press Command + R on an Intel-based Mac, you reach the built-in macOS Recovery Mode. From here, you can reinstall macOS, use Disk Utility to repair or erase disks, and more. Note: On Mac with Apple silicon, the steps to enter macOS Recovery are different.

However, if your Mac is unable to successfully start up in built-in Recovery Mode, it will automatically try to start up in Internet Recovery Mode. You can also manually enter macOS Recovery over the Internet by pressing Command + Option + R or Command + Option + Shift + R.

If all goes well, your Mac loads the required recovery resources from Apple’s servers via Wi-Fi or Ethernet. Next, it shows you the options to reinstall macOS, use Disk Utility, and more.

However, if your Mac fails to start up from Internet Recovery, you see this annoying gray globe icon with an alert mark. Internet Recovery can fail due to network (Wi-Fi, Ethernet) problems, faulty internal disk, Apple’s server outage, and more.

My experience with failing Internet Recovery

In the last three years, I have seen the globe icon with an exclamation mark on a 2015 iMac, three MacBook Pros from different years, and a MacBook Air.

I successfully got out of this problem every time and never had to take the computer to an Apple technician. In one instance, it took three days to fix the issue (trying multiple times), and one time it took two days. But in the end, they all worked out.

So, based on Apple Support articles (because I went through several of them when I initially faced this issue) and my experience, here’s how to fix the failing Internet Recovery Mode on Mac. Please note that this tutorial is for Macs with an Intel processor. If you have an Apple silicon Mac, please see this.

1. Use built-in Recovery instead of Internet Recovery

Since your Mac cannot load resources from the Internet, shut it down. Next, press the power button and immediately press and hold Command + R to enter the built-in Recovery Mode.

If you’re successful, that’s great. If not, your Mac may automatically enter Internet Recovery, where you will have to select a Wi-Fi network (if Ethernet isn’t connected) and proceed.

2. Try Internet Recovery several times

This is something you may have to do several times to get out of this problem. Just above, I mentioned that one time, it took me three days to fix this issue. And on all these days, I simply tried Internet Recovery again and again, and it finally worked! Meanwhile, during all these tries, I used the below-mentioned solutions as well.

To try again, press the power button to shut down the Mac. After waiting for a minute or until the computer shuts down, press the power button and immediately press together Command + Option + R or Command + Option + Shift + R to enter Internet Recovery Mode.

3. Try both commands

You have two commands to manually enter macOS Recovery via the Internet:

  • Command + Option + R: Tries to reinstall the latest version of macOS compatible with your Mac. If this fails, it installs the macOS version that originally came with your Mac when purchased. If that version is unavailable, it installs the next available version.
  • Command + Option + Shift + R: Installs the macOS version that originally came with your Mac when purchased. If that version is unavailable, it installs the next closed available version.

When one key combination fails, use the other and vice versa.

4. Ensure stable Wi-Fi

It’s vital to make sure your Mac is connected to a working Wi-Fi network. To check, connect your iPhone or another device to the same Wi-Fi and see if it’s loading or not.

Second, make sure your internet connection is fast. Several times on a slow network, Internet Recovery will fail.

Third, ensure you aren’t using any VPN at the router level.

5. Switch to a different Wi-Fi

When Internet Recovery is unsuccessful via one Wi-Fi network, switch to a different one. I understand if you’re home, you most likely have just one Wi-Fi. In that case, restart the router and try Internet Recovery again.

If it continues to show the globe icon with the alert sign, go to a friend’s house or your office and connect to their Wi-Fi.

Important: You most likely won’t be able to successfully log in and use Wi-Fi in Starbucks, cafes, libraries, airports, etc. This is because the Wi-Fi at these places shows a joining browser screen before you can connect to them (called Captive Wi-Fi networks). And you may not be able to do that while on the recovery screen. Additionally, even if you think the Wi-Fi is connected, it actually may not. So, use personal home or office Wi-Fi.

6. Use Ethernet instead of Wi-Fi

Consider switching from Wi-Fi to wired Ethernet if you keep seeing the globe icon with an exclamation point.

The Ethernet port is built right into the computer on older Macs. On newer models, you’ll have to use a USB-C hub or dongle.

Once your Mac is connected to wired Internet, you won’t see the Wi-Fi selection screen when you initiate Internet Recovery. macOS will automatically start loading recovery resources from the Internet via Ethernet.

I have found great success with this method. Plus, wired Internet is usually faster than Wi-Fi and makes things quicker. Keep the Mac on a table and ensure you don’t accidentally disconnect the wired connection even for a second.

Note: If you were already on Ethernet and it still failed, consider using Wi-Fi.

7. Check Apple’s server status

Head over to this official system status page and make sure things like Mac App Store and macOS Software Update have a green dot. If there is a problem, it will show a different colored dot (yellow or red). In that case, please wait for Apple to fix this issue.

Sometimes, even if everything is working correctly here, consider using Internet Recovery later. Just shut down your Mac and try after a few hours.

8. Start your Mac from a different disk

If you have more than one disk or volume, change the startup disk on your Mac. If you’re successful in doing this, your Mac may recover via the Internet. And you should no longer be annoyed by the globe symbol with an exclamation mark.

9. Start up from a macOS bootable installer off a USB drive

In this, you’ll have to use a different computer to create a bootable installer and proceed with that. Here are two posts from iDB and one from Apple Support to help you.

Globe icon with alert symbol during macOS Recovery gone!

After following the above solutions, you should be able to start your Mac in Internet Recovery Mode successfully.

Usually, switching networks, trying after a while, and trying multiple times have always fixed the issue for me. If not, you can contact Apple Support.

Related: Using Safari in macOS Recovery Mode

Finally, one more thing I (almost) remember is erasing the internal drive using Disk Utility. After that, Internet Recovery was successful, and I could reinstall a fresh copy of macOS (on iMac). After erasing everything on the drive, if you press the start button, it may show a folder icon with a question mark. In this case, your only option is Internet Recovery.

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