Internet Recovery

All the ways you can start up your Mac

We've talked quite a lot about Recovery OS, an underestimated feature of OS X that makes it easier to troubleshoot your Mac even if it refuses to start up properly.

But as you'll see for yourself in this post, Recovery OS is but one of the more than dozen different ways to start up your computer, aside from OS X's regular startup mode. In this tutorial, we'll list all the ways you can start up your Mac and detail each one.

19 useful Mac startup keyboard shortcuts you should know

For those of you who have wondered about the many ways you can start up your Mac, here's a list of the Mac startup keyboard shortcuts you can invoke to access handy macOS features which are only available at boot time.

Most of the time, your Mac just works—until it refuses to start up properly due to an unforeseen system error, a misbehaving app, a broken system component and what not. Beyond system errors, different people have different needs when it comes to starting up their computer.

For example, you could be a pro user who dual boots between macOS and Windows on a daily basis. Others might be wondering about booting a Mac from a disk other than their designated startup disk. Or perhaps you're looking to isolate the cause of a software issue in the macOS Safe Mode or boot straight into Recovery OS as the last option?

Installing or reinstalling macOS in Recovery Mode

Before selling your Mac, it's always a good idea to wipe its startup disk clean and then erase your computer and reinstall macOS. And should your computer exhibit issues preventing it from starting up properly, reinstalling macOS will bring it to perfect working order.

Reinstalling macOS is a piece of cake provided you have created a USB install disk for El Capitan to begin with. As you may have guessed, not many people take that extra step.

In helping take the pain out of reinstalling macOS, Apple has included so-called Recovery Mode in macOS. Invoked at boot time, Recovery Mode helps you check your connected disks for errors, get help online and reinstall macOS.

This tutorial covers entering Recovery Mode and taking advantage of it to erase, install or reinstall the latest version of macOS that was previously found on your Mac.

How to repair Mac disk errors in macOS Recovery Mode

macOS on your Mac includes a disk-repairing app, called Disk Utility, which you can use to scan your connected drives for errors, erase a disk, repair disk permissions, check the disk's structure for physical errors and more.

But what can you do, if anything, should your Mac experience issues preventing it from starting up properly? Not to worry, our friends, because macOS lets you launch a standalone version of Disk Utility from your Mac's built in recovery partition.

In other words, macOS' Recovery Mode gives you a chance to repair a malfunctioning startup disk that prevents your Mac from booting properly.

How to start up your Mac in Internet Recovery Mode

In addition to the startup volume which holds a bootable copy of the operating system along with your applications and data, your Mac's disk contains a hidden recovery partition that you can boot from in order to reinstall macOS, perform a quick check of connected disks and more.

But what if the recovery partition gets damaged, for instance? Enter Internet Recovery Mode, an Internet-based version of Recovery Mode found on newer Macs, which loads recovery tools from Apple's servers.

With Internet Recovery Mode, you can reinstall macOS and troubleshoot issues in the unfortunate scenario of your Mac's startup disk having become corrupted or completely unreadable. In this tutorial, you'll learn everything there is about Internet Recovery Mode and how to use it to your advantage if your disk encounters an issue or the startup drive has been replaced or erased.

How to start up your Mac in Recovery Mode

Starting your Mac in Recovery Mode provides the tools you need to solve various problems, and is typically your last chance to repair the startup disk, reinstall macOS or restore from a backup after a fatal failure that prevents your Mac from starting up properly. In this tutorial, you'll learn how to enter Recovery Mode at boot time and use the built-in recovery tools to bring your Mac in perfect working condition.