How do I find my Macbook Pro recovery key?

What is a Recovery Key?

A recovery key is a 28-character code that provides an additional way to regain access to your Mac if you ever forget your password. It serves as a backup unlocking method in case you cannot remember your normal login credentials. Apple refers to recovery keys as firmware passwords or EFI passwords.

The main purpose of the recovery key is to help you reset and recover access to your Mac if needed. For example, if you forget your account password, you can enter the recovery key to reset it and create a new password. This allows you to regain access to your Mac without losing data or files stored on it.

Recovery keys are randomly generated codes consisting of letters and numbers. When setting up a new Mac, you have the option to create a recovery key that gets stored remotely by Apple. If you ever get locked out of your Mac, you can retrieve this key to bypass the login screen and reset your password. Recovery keys provide an important backup mechanism for Apple device security.

For more details on recovery keys, see this Apple support article:

When You Might Need Your Recovery Key

There are a few key situations where you may need to use your Mac recovery key to regain access to your device or Apple ID account:

Forgotten Password – If you forget your account password, you can use your recovery key to reset it. This allows you to set a new password without losing access to your account.

Corrupted System Files – A corrupted operating system may prevent you from logging in normally. Your recovery key allows you to reinstall macOS and regain access to your Mac.

macOS Reinstallation – When erasing your Mac and reinstalling macOS, you’ll need your recovery key to regain access to your user account and settings.

According to Apple Support, your recovery key provides a backup way to reset your password when you can’t log in normally. It’s an important failsafe that can get you back into a Mac that experiences system issues or forgotten login credentials.

Finding Your Recovery Key

If you’ve forgotten or lost your 28-character Apple ID recovery key, there are a few options to try to find it:

Check your Apple ID account settings. Go to and sign in to your account. Under the Security section, see if your recovery key is shown. If you had previously set it up, it may still be there.

Use your Mac’s serial number. If you enabled Find My Mac, your recovery key may have been automatically linked to your device’s serial number. Go to and enter your Mac’s serial number to see if your recovery key is displayed.

Contact Apple support. As a last resort, you can call Apple or speak to support online. They may be able to look up your recovery key if you can verify your identity. However, this is not guaranteed. Be prepared to answer questions to confirm your account ownership.


Recovery Key Storage Options

There are a few main ways to store your Mac recovery key securely:

Save key in a password manager: Store the recovery key in a trusted password manager app like 1Password or LastPass. This allows you to access the key from any device with the password manager installed while still keeping it encrypted and secure.

Write down and store securely: When you first create the recovery key, you have the option to write it down. Be sure to store the written copy in a very secure place where no one else can access it, like a safe, safe deposit box, or locked file. Do not store it on your computer or in an easy-to-find physical location.

Add key to Apple ID account: You can choose to store the recovery key with your Apple ID account. This allows you to retrieve it from if you forget or lose access to it. However, it means Apple has a copy of your key, so evaluate if you’re comfortable with that tradeoff.

The most secure options are to write the key down or use a password manager rather than relying on Apple to store it. Evaluate your personal security needs to choose the recovery key storage method that’s right for you.

Resetting Your Recovery Key

If you’ve lost or forgotten your recovery key, you can generate a new one in Recovery Mode on your Mac. Here are the steps:

  1. Restart your Mac and hold down the Command + R keys to boot into Recovery Mode.
  2. When prompted, select to reset your password. This will generate a new recovery key.
  3. Make note of the new recovery key and store it in a safe place like a password manager or printed out and stored securely.
  4. Go to and sign into your Apple ID account. In account settings, remove the old recovery key.
  5. Add the newly generated recovery key to your Apple ID account so it is now associated.

Now your Apple ID has been updated with the new recovery key you generated. Be sure to keep the new key safe and accessible in case you ever need to recover your account. Do not store it only on your Mac, but rather in a secondary location. (Apple Support recommends printing it out and storing it somewhere secure.)

Entering Your Recovery Key

If you need to access utilities like Disk Utility or Terminal when your Mac is locked, you will need to enter your recovery key. Here’s how:

  1. Restart your Mac and hold down the Command + R keys to boot into Recovery Mode.
  2. A window will appear prompting you to enter your recovery key. Type in the 28-character recovery key.
  3. After entering the correct recovery key, you will be given access to the recovery utilities.

With the recovery key, you can access tools like Disk Utility and Terminal when your Mac is otherwise inaccessible. However, it does not give you access to your actual data and accounts. The recovery key simply unlocks macOS utilities and features 1.

What Recovery Key Provides Access To

The Mac recovery key provides access to several important features related to resetting and reinstalling your Mac’s operating system and firmware:

It allows you to reinstall macOS if needed. For example, if your Mac is having issues or crashes and you need to erase the disk and do a clean install of macOS, you will need your recovery key. On Macs with Apple silicon, the recovery key is required to reinstall macOS from macOS Recovery.1

The recovery key can be used to erase and reformat the startup disk. This allows you to wipe your MacBook Pro and restore it to factory settings.

You can also use the recovery key to reset your Mac’s firmware password. The firmware password prevents unauthorized access to the startup manager and is set separately from your account password. If enabled, you will need the recovery key to change or disable it.2

In summary, having access to the recovery key gives you important abilities like reinstalling the operating system, erasing the disk, and resetting firmware security on your MacBook Pro.

Recovery Key vs. Apple ID Password

The recovery key and Apple ID password serve different purposes when it comes to accessing your MacBook Pro. The recovery key is specifically used to gain access to the Mac computer itself and allow you to recover data or reset it in case of issues. The Apple ID password, on the other hand, provides access to iCloud services and content associated with your Apple account.

If you forget your Mac password or encounter system issues that require recovery mode, the recovery key lets you get back into the computer. Without the key, you may not be able restore or reset the Mac if you get locked out. The Apple ID password instead allows you to sign in to iCloud and Apple services, but does not provide system-level access.

So in summary: the recovery key is for unlocking your MacBook itself, while the Apple ID password is for accessing cloud services and content. The recovery key acts as an important safeguard to protect your system access even if you forget your usual login password.

Recovery Key Security Best Practices

It is crucial to keep your recovery key secure and private to protect access to your Mac. Here are some best practices when handling your recovery key:

Store your recovery key in a safe place off of your computer. Do not save it in plain text on your Mac. Consider writing it down and keeping it somewhere secure like a safe, or saving to an encrypted password manager (Apple Support).

Never share your recovery key publicly online or with anyone you do not completely trust. Your key provides full access to reset and decrypt your Mac. Treat it with the same care as your login password (Apple Discussions).

Set a firmware password for your Mac in addition to FileVault encryption. The firmware password provides a layer of security if someone tries to boot your Mac into recovery mode and reset your password (ZDNet).

Your recovery key is the master key to your Mac. Keep it protected in a secure place in case you ever need it.

What to Do If You Lose Your Recovery Key

If you lose your Mac recovery key and do not have it written down or stored anywhere, you will need to contact Apple support for assistance. Apple may be able to help you regain access to your device, but proof of purchase is often required.

One option that Apple support can provide is resetting your recovery key. This will invalidate your old lost key and generate a new one that you can use instead. According to discussions on the Apple forums, you can reset your recovery key by going to System Preferences > Apple ID > Account Details. In the Security section, click Edit > Replace Lost Key. This will replace your lost recovery key with a newly generated one. Be sure to store this new key in a safe place.

Resetting your recovery key through Apple support is typically the best option if you have irrevocably lost your original key. Just be prepared to provide proof of purchase for your device. Apple wants to ensure your access to the device is legitimate before resetting the key and potentially granting access to someone else’s data.