Restarting your Mac in recovery mode is a useful troubleshooting step when your Mac is having issues or won’t start up properly. The recovery mode contains tools to repair disks, restore from a backup, reinstall macOS, and more. Here’s how to restart a Mac into recovery mode on macOS Monterey.
What is Recovery Mode on Mac?
The recovery mode on a Mac provides access to special utilities outside of the standard macOS environment. It includes options for:
- Restoring from a Time Machine backup
- Reinstalling or upgrading macOS
- Repairing the startup disk using Disk Utility
- Wiping/reformatting the startup disk and reinstalling macOS
- Accessing Terminal for command line tools
- Network utilities for reconnecting to a Wi-Fi network
- Resetting passwords with Apple ID
The recovery mode runs from a special recovery partition on your startup disk created by macOS, so it does not affect the normal macOS operating system on your drive. The utilities available make it a useful environment to troubleshoot and repair issues with your Mac.
How to Restart Mac into Recovery Mode
Here are the steps to restart a Mac into recovery mode on macOS Monterey:
- Fully shut down your Mac
- Restart your Mac and immediately press and hold Command (⌘) + R
- Keep holding Command + R until you see the Apple logo or a spinning globe. This may take 10-15 seconds.
- Once you see the utilities window, you can release Command + R
- If FileVault encryption is enabled, you may need to enter your password to continue
- The recovery mode utilities will load. This may take a few minutes.
Once the utilities are available, you can choose which options you need to use for troubleshooting. The most common are Restore from Time Machine Backup, Reinstall macOS, and Disk Utility.
Other Ways to Get to Recovery Mode
Besides Command + R, there are a few other keyboard shortcuts that can be used during reboot to access recovery mode or other startup options:
- Command + Option + R: Upgrades to the latest macOS compatible with your Mac
- Shift + Option + Command + R: Installs the macOS that came with your Mac, or the closest version still available
- Option + Command + R: Goes to startup disk selection screen
- Command + S: Boot in single user mode
- Command + V: Verbose mode, shows textual startup info
- Command + X: Boots from external startup disk
So in summary, Command + R is the normal shortcut for recovery mode, while the other shortcuts provide variants like installing older macOS versions or booting from another disk.
What Can I Do in Recovery Mode?
The main options available in the macOS Recovery environment include:
Restore From Time Machine Backup
If you have a Time Machine backup available, you can restore your entire Mac from a backup. This will completely wipe your existing startup disk and restore your files, apps, and settings from the selected Time Machine snapshot.
The Reinstall macOS option completely erases your startup disk and installs a fresh copy of the macOS that came pre-installed with your Mac. Your files and settings will be deleted, so you’ll want to have backups available.
Disk Utility in recovery mode allows you to repair, format, partition, erase, and manage disks and volumes. This is useful for repairing disk errors that may be preventing your Mac from starting up properly.
Get Help Online
This opens Safari in recovery mode to allow you to browse the web for help with troubleshooting. You can access Apple’s support site or search for solutions to any issues you’re having.
Terminal provides command line access for more advanced troubleshooting and repair utilities.
Allows you to completely erase your startup disk and reinstall the macOS operating system from scratch, if you are unable to repair existing issues.
Using Recovery Mode to Fix Startup Issues
If your Mac is having problems starting up properly, using recovery mode can help identify and resolve the issue so your Mac starts up again. Here are some tips:
- If your Mac gets stuck during startup, recovery mode ensures boot files and disk are OK
- Use Disk Utility to check for and repair disk errors like permissions and bad sectors
- You can reinstall macOS if system files are damaged and preventing startup
- Wipe your disk and do a fresh install of macOS if other options don’t resolve startup problems
- Restore from Time Machine backup if startup issues are caused by software corruption or problematic updates rather than hardware issues
Recovery mode gives you access to powerful repair tools that can fix many different causes of startup problems. It should be your first step in troubleshooting when your Mac won’t startup correctly.
Recovery Mode Limitations
While recovery mode is designed to troubleshoot and repair issues, there are some limitations:
- You cannot access your normal user data and apps, only utilities
- Performance may be reduced as it runs from a recovery partition
- You are limited to the macOS version in the recovery partition, unless you have Internet for latest macOS
- Hardware issues cannot be repaired, only software related problems
- FileVault encryption may need to be disabled to fully troubleshoot startup disk
So recovery mode is focused on repairing software issues that are preventing proper startup and boot. Hardware problems like failed drives, bad RAM, or other components cannot be fixed from within recovery mode.
How to Exit Recovery Mode
Once you are finished using the recovery mode utilities, you can exit recovery mode and restart back to your standard macOS desktop environment:
- Click the Apple menu in the upper left corner
- Select Restart or Shut Down
- Your Mac will reboot back to the normal startup disk
If you reinstalled macOS or restored from a Time Machine backup, the Mac will reboot into the Setup Assistant to configure your Mac.
Recovery Mode Keeps Your Data Safe
It’s important to understand that the recovery mode environment is separate from your normal startup disk. Actions performed in recovery mode like reinstalling macOS or erasing disks affect only the startup drive, not your data drives.
Your user data on other disks is not touched when using recovery mode. Only the system software on the startup drive is affected. So don’t be afraid to use recovery mode for repairs, your personal data remains untouched.
Recovery mode is an invaluable troubleshooting tool on Mac to resolve problems that prevent your Mac from starting up properly. By restarting into recovery mode with Command + R, you get access to utilities that can reinstall macOS, repair disk errors, restore from backup, and repair a non-functional startup disk so your Mac works again.
While recovery mode itself is limited in terms of performance and available tools, it provides what you need to get your Mac up and running again in many cases. So whenever your Mac is having startup or boot problems, recovery mode should be your first stop for troubleshooting and repairs.