Mac Recovery Mode is a built-in fail-safe mechanism that allows you to recover your Mac after a catastrophic software failure. When your Mac is in Recovery Mode, you can use the built-in tools to repair your hard drive, reinstall macOS, and restore your files from a backup. If your operating system doesn’t start up, or if it gets stuck during startup, it can help get it back on track. If you’re having trouble installing or updating macOS or needing to wipe your machine clean and start over from scratch, it can be a lifesaver. Sadly, sometimes Recovery Mode on Mac is not working, and you may need to fix it.
This can happen when your hard drive has been erased or damaged, a situation when Recovery Mode can normally help you get it back up and running. But, you may face lots of problems when it doesn’t appear at the time it should. Before looking for solutions, you need to understand how to access this mode and what its types are to comprehend why it doesn’t work.
Common Ways to Start Recovery Mode and Why It May Not Work
These are the methods to boot into Recovery Mode:
- Use the Recovery HD: Hold down Command (⌘)-R at startup.
- Use Internet Recovery: Press and down Option, Command (⌘), and R at startup.
- Utilize a bootable installer: Connect a USB flash drive or other volumes that contain a bootable installer to your Mac, then hold down Option, Command (⌘), and R at startup. This will require an internet connection.
Now for two reasons your Mac Recovery Mode might not be working.
1. Hard Drive Failure
One cause could be that the hard drive fails and needs to be replaced. If your Mac’s hard drive fails, you will likely see some warning signs before Recovery Mode stops working altogether. These warning signs can include strange noises coming from the hard drive, slow performance, and frequent crashes. If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s essential to back up your data as soon as possible and then replace the hard drive.
2. Corrupted Partition
Another possibility is that the recovery partition on your Mac became corrupted. If this is the case, you can try using Disk Utility to repair the recovery partition. If nothing we mentioned below works, you may need to reinstall macOS from scratch. To use Disk Utility, restart your Mac and hold down the Command+R keys while it boots up. This will take you to the macOS Recovery Utility window. Click on the “Disk Utility” option and follow the prompts to repair your recovery partition.
If you found out you need to reinstall Mac from scratch, restart it and hold down the Command+R keys to reinstall macOS while it boots up. This will take you to the Utility window where you can choose the “Reinstall macOS” option and follow the prompts. This will erase all the data on your machine, so be sure to back up everything first. Once you familiarize yourself with the possible causes, you could take other approaches below to solve the issue:
1. Using a Bootable Installer for Mac
If you are using a computer with Snow Leopard or older, it doesn’t have the Recovery partition. To find a solution to this problem, you’ll be required to reinstall macOS via the disc that came with your Mac computer. If you don’t have the disc, use a bootable installer. Once you get it done, go to the Mac App Store and upgrade your operating system to the latest version.
2. Troubleshoot Your Keyboard and Ensure It’s Properly Connected to Mac
If you find the shortcuts above produce no results, as silly as it sounds, you should check whether you’re using a faulty keyboard. Try reconnecting the keyboard to your computer, checking the keyboard/peripherals drivers, or connecting another one. In case you have a Bluetooth keyboard, make sure it’s connected to your Apple computer properly. If it’s not, the Command-R combination will not work. Now, try to boot your computer into Recovery Mode and check whether it works.
3. Resetting SMC to Fix Mac Recovery Mode Not Working Issue
You may want to try to reset System Management Controller (SMC) as it can also help you solve the problem. If there’s an issue with power, battery, or fans, you can reset it in these ways:
- For Notebook: Shut down your Mac.
- Disconnect the power cable and re-plug it.
- Press and hold Control-Shift-Option, along with the Power button for about 10 seconds.
- Release the keys and the power button.
- Finally, restart your Mac Notebook.
- For Mac Desktop: Unplug the power cord.
- About 15 seconds later, you can re-plug it.
- Five seconds later, press the Power button to start your Mac.
However, if this method doesn’t work for you, you need to boot your Mac into Safe Mode to solve the issue.
4. Using Safe Mode for Apple Computers
Another approach to fix a Mac that won’t boot into Recovery Mode is to use Safe Mode. This mode may be used to inspect and repair any problem on your Mac’s startup disk automatically. Here’s how it works depending on the CPU:
- For Intel-based Mac: Power off your Mac.
- When you see the login screen, let go of the Shift key.
- You must press and hold the Shift key within 10 seconds after pressing the Power button.
- For Mac with Apple Silicon: Turn off your Mac.
- Ten seconds later, press and hold the power button for 10 seconds until the startup disks and Options appear.
- Press and hold the Shift key. Continue into Safe Mode by selecting “Continue.”
If Safe Mode isn’t working, you can try the following procedure. Turn your Apple computer off and then restart it in Recovery Mode to see whether the operation is successful. If not, you may try one of the following methods.
5. Using Mac’s Time Machine Backup Feature to Get Into Recovery Mode
Even if you can’t use this mode, you can restore your Mac from a Time Machine backup if one is available like this:
- Turn off your Mac.
- Connect the Time Machine backup disk to your computer.
- Hold down the Option key and power on your computer until you see a startup manager screen.
- When you see the startup manager screen, release the key.
- Select the backup drive and press Return. The OS X installer will display a window where you can restore from one of the backups if it boots into this window in the first place.
6. Using Internet Recovery to Reinstall Mac and Get the Mode Working
If the Recovery partition is missing or damaged, your Mac cannot enter Recovery Mode through the aforementioned key combinations. We explained this—now comes the solution. You can employ the Mac Internet Recovery to reinstall macOS and reset everything back to normal.
- Shut down your Mac. If the machine doesn’t respond, press and hold the Power button for a couple of seconds to force it off.
- Immediately press and hold Command-Option-R or Command-Alt-R on some Mac keyboards ( if there is an Alt key instead of an Option key).
- The globe will appear to spin and display the message “Starting Internet Recovery.”
- You can then use uncaptured keys. After that, the notification will be updated with a progress bar.
- Wait for the bar to fill up before displaying the macOS utility interface. Reinstall Mac OS X as directed in the on-screen instructions.