The Ultimate Guide to Booting into Mac Safe Mode

Mac Safe Mode
Mac Safe Mode

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Intro to Booting into Mac Safe Mode

Safe Mode, a simplified Mac OS version, proves invaluable for troubleshooting. It reduces the tasks and programs initiated during your Mac’s startup, helping pinpoint issues caused by software loading during startup. In Safe Mode, it performs specific checks, preventing the automatic loading of some software (applications). This mode exclusively loads crucial kernel extensions, effectively addressing startup-related problems or those linked to your startup disk.

When Do You Need Mac Safe Mode?

You might find Mac Safe Mode necessary when facing Mac-related issues, like sluggish performance, application freezes, crashes or a failure to boot up. In this mode, only essential files and apps required to operate your Mac are loaded, facilitating identification of whether the startup issue is software-related or stems from your overall Mac system. Furthermore, Safe Mode offers the added benefit of automatic system cache clearance, enhancing your Mac’s performance. Nonetheless, it’s advisable not to rely on Safe Mode daily or for minor issues. When you encounter certain problems, initiating Safe Mode can be a valuable step to diagnose and rectify the issue.

How to Boot into Safe Mode

The process to enter this mode varies depending on whether you have an Intel processor-based Mac or one with the newer M series processor. Apple manufactured Intel processor Macs from the early 2000s until 2020, while Macs released from 2020 onward incorporate the M series processor. To correctly identify your Mac, look for the serial number printed on the Mac casing; you can find more information here.

Intel Processor Macs

Shut Down Mac

To turn off your Mac, follow these steps: Firstly, shut down your Mac using the standard procedure. If, for some reason, you can’t perform a proper shutdown, press and hold the power button for 15 seconds. This action should result in the display, keyboard backlight and any fans powering off completely.

Keyboard with Shift key highlighted

After the Mac has completely shut down, press the power button and immediately press and hold the Shift Key.

Mac Loading Screen

You should see the familiar Apple logo and a progress bar, much like the regular boot process. During this phase, there’s a brief flash where the Apple logo momentarily changes colour, possibly to red which is normal.

Mac Safe Mode

The standard macOS login screen will show up, but you should spot ‘Safe Boot’ in the upper right corner. If FileVault is active, you might need to log in twice. Initially, it’s to unlock your disk, while the second login is for your user account and this is where you’ll see the ‘Safe Boot’ text.

M Processor Macs

Mac Loading Startup Options . Mac Safe Mode

Hold down the Power button on your Mac until the screen displays the message “Loading startup options.”

Options for Mac Processor Series . Mac Safe Mode

After Startup Options loads, you’ll find a list of valid startup disks connected to your Mac along with the Options menu. To enter Safe Mode, simply choose the disk you want to boot from. While doing this, press and hold the Shift key and you’ll notice the “Continue” button under your selected startup drive transform into “Continue in Safe Mode.” Click on it to initiate Safe Boot.

How to Exit Mac Safe Mode

Exiting Safe Mode on a Mac is straightforward; all you need to do is perform a regular restart. Click on the Apple menu situated in the top-left corner of your screen and then select “Restart.” Alternatively, you can force your Mac to restart by simultaneously pressing the Control + Command + Power buttons. Once this is done, your Mac will reboot in its normal mode.

Conclusion to Booting into Mac Safe Mode

If you continue to encounter problems with your Mac after leaving Safe Mode, you may need to explore further troubleshooting with a Mac specialist.

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