How to Start a Mac in Safe Mode

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How to Start a Mac in Safe Mode

Safe Mode is a simplified version of the Mac operating system that can be helpful if you’re trying to troubleshoot issues with your Mac: it might be running slowly, an app might be causing problems, you might be experiencing application crashing or freezing issues. , or worse, your Mac might not boot at all. In this tutorial, we’ll cover how to boot into Safe Mode, why you’d want to use Safe Mode, including what it does and doesn’t do, how you know you’re in Safe Mode, and what to do if your Mac automatically starts in safe mode.

Remark : the way you enter safe mode is different on M1 Macs – the first Macs to use Apple silicon introduced by Apple in November 2020. It’s likely that all future Macs powered by Apple’s chips will adopt the new method . Below we explain how to enter Safe Mode on a Mac M1.

Why Use Safe Mode

Using Safe Mode can help resolve issues that prevent your Mac from starting or any issues with your startup disk.

Within the power user community, there is a certain mythology related to booting into Safe Mode on Mac. Some people recommend it as a first step if your Mac is having absolutely any kind of problem. This is probably effective because caches are cleared by safe mode, and these can get corrupted.

Here are some of the reasons why you might want to use Safe Mode:

  • If your Mac stalled during startup
  • If you think an app is causing problems
  • Also, if your Mac is running very slowly (booting into safe mode will clear cache and might speed things up)

Keep in mind that clearing caches using either method can slow down the Mac on the first few restarts after launching. After all, the purpose of caches is to make your Mac faster.

Some people use safe mode to uninstall apps that otherwise turn out to be “sticky”, i.e. they are impossible to get rid of in normal mode because they are related to a system service which will not end. In safe mode, all non-essential services are not loaded, which overcomes this obstacle.

If the issue does not occur when you boot into Safe Mode, it may indicate one of the following:

  • You may have incompatible login items.
  • If after using safe mode you reboot and the issue does not repeat, then the problem is likely related to a cache or directory issue that was resolved when you ran safe mode.

Don’t try to do any real work in safe mode. Some apps just won’t work and the whole system will be sluggish and unresponsive. However, for troubleshooting, there is no doubt that safe mode has its uses.

How to Start a Mac in Safe Mode

Follow these steps to safely boot your Intel Mac:

  1. Start your Mac.
  2. Press and hold the Shift key.
  3. The Apple logo should appear.
  4. When the login window appears, release the Shift key and login.
  5. You may need to sign in twice if FileVault is enabled.

Follow these steps to safely boot your Mac M1 or newer:

  1. Press and hold the power button until the boot options appear.
  2. Choose your startup disk.
  3. Hold down the Shift key and click Continue in safe mode.
  4. Release the Shift key.

What Safe Mode Does/Doesn’t Do

Safe Mode performs certain checks and prevents certain software from loading or opening automatically when you start your Mac. When you boot into safe mode:

  • Only essential kernel extensions are loaded (aka ketxs, or hardware and software drivers).
  • Startup applications and login applications/services are not loaded.
  • Fonts that you installed manually are not loaded.

Additionally, system and font caches are automatically cleaned, and as part of the startup procedure, the hard drive is checked and attempts are made to fix problems with directories – much like the line app Windows FDISK command, although what happens is identical to what would happen. happen if you click the Repair Disk button located in macOS Disk Utility.

So what can you do in Safe Mode? Not a lot! Apart from the repairs mentioned above, Safe Mode is designed to allow you to test your Mac. If a problem you’re having doesn’t occur when you boot into safe mode, chances are it’s related to a problematic kernel extension (perhaps faulty hardware that the kernel extension is accessing) , or – and this is more likely – it’s linked to a third-party app or service configured to start with macOS.

How to prune your starter app list

  1. Open System Preferences and click the Users & Groups icon.
  2. Select your username on the left.
  3. Click the Login Items tab.
  4. Select an item, then click the minus (-) button below it to remove it.

However, some apps and services hide in system folders and pruning them is for advanced users only. Removing kernel modules is again for experts, although on modern versions of macOS it is quite difficult for developers and hardware vendors to install third-party modules thanks to the requirement that they be signed. digitally, so it’s much less likely to be the cause of any problems.

How do you know you are in safe mode

Once you’re in Safe Mode, you’ll see the words Safe Mode in the menu at the top right of your screen, at least in recent versions of macOS.

Other clues will also indicate that you are in safe mode. For example, the system may seem slow to respond and animations may appear jerky.

To check if you are in safe mode, follow these steps:

  1. Click on the Apple logo in the menu (top left).
  2. Click About This Mac.
  3. Click on System Report.
  4. Click on Software and check what Boot Mode is listed – it will say Safe if you are in Safe Mode, otherwise it will say Normal.

Other ways to know you’re in safe mode:

  • Your screen may flicker when the login screen appears on startup.
  • Depending on the version of the Mac operating system you are using, the screen may be gray and a progress bar may appear below the Apple logo on startup. In newer versions of macOS, startup will appear as normal except having to log in twice.
  • Your Mac will be slow.

While in Safe Mode, you cannot:

  • Capture videos in some video apps.
  • Audio devices may not work.
  • Some USB or Thunderbolt devices may not be available.
  • The Wi-Fi network may not be available.
  • File sharing will be disabled.
  • Some graphical elements will not appear, for example the dock (shown below) may appear gray rather than transparent.

What to do if your Mac automatically boots into Safe Mode

If it detects a problem that could be fixed by Safe Mode, your Mac can automatically boot into Safe Mode and attempt to fix it. Hope this fixes the problem, but if it doesn’t and your Mac keeps restarting in Safe Mode, you should contact Apple Support, an Apple Authorized Service Provider, or visit an Apple Store to acquire help.

Another possibility is that the Shift key is stuck and Safe Mode is implemented when the Mac starts up.

How to Disable Safe Mode on Mac?

To exit Safe Mode, simply shut down your Mac and restart it (this time without pressing Shift).

Shutting down in Safe Mode may take a little longer than it normally would to shutting down. Be patient and don’t interrupt the process or use the power button to shut down your Mac.

In this guide, you learned how to start a Mac in Safe Mode. If you have any questions or suggestions, let us know in the comments. Also check out this guide if you want to learn how to enable Do Not Disturb mode on your Mac.



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