How To Boot Your Mac Into Safe Mode

Uzair Ghani
Posted Apr 29, 2016
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Here’s a complete guide on how you can boot your Mac into safe mode and troubleshoot a bunch of different issues you might be facing.

Boot Into Safe Mode To Troubleshoot A Bunch Of Problems On Your Mac

Although many are led to believe that a Mac is absolutely bulletproof in terms of performance and day to day usage, but that’s strictly not the case. After all, it’s a computer running front facing lines of code which we call an operating system, just like a Windows PC, and there are chances something might go wrong if we perform an unwanted routine. That routine might cause your Mac to randomly freeze or even prevent it from booting up completely. If you’ve hit that aforementioned roadblock, then you might want to boot your Mac into safe mode and fix all the errors you might be encountering. And in today’s guide, we’ll show you how to do just that in a few simple steps.

What Is Safe Mode As Per Apple Itself

Apple has the best explanation to what safe mode is, and it’s quoted down below:

Safe mode (sometimes called safe boot) is a way to start up your Mac so that it performs certain checks, and prevents some software from automatically loading or opening. Starting your Mac in safe mode does the following:

  • Verifies your startup disk, and attempts to repair directory issues if needed
  • Loads only required kernel extensions
  • Prevents Startup Items and Login Items from opening automatically
  • Disables user-installed fonts
  • Deletes font caches, Kernel cache and other system cache files

Together, these changes can help resolve or isolate issues related to your startup disk.

Steps To Boot Your Mac Into Safe Mode

1. Boot up or restart your Mac.

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2. As soon as you see the Apple logo on the display hold down the left Shift key on your Mac’s keyboard.

3. Keep on holding the key till your Mac boots into OS X. Also keep in mind that booting into safe mode will take a while as your Mac goes through a certain amount of checks in the background before things can get moving again.

Important Note: If you have FileVault enabled on your Mac, then you have to hold down the left Shift key as soon as you press the power button on your Mac. Let go of your Shift key as soon as you see the first login screen.

Remotely Boot Into Safe Mode On Your Mac

If you don’t have a keyboard attached to your Mac, or for some reason it’s inaccessible, then you can remotely boot your Mac into safe mode.

1. SSH into your Mac remotely and launch Terminal.

2. Type in the following command:

sudo nvram boot-args=”-x”

Confirm If Your Mac Is In Safe Mode

If you want to confirm whether or not your Mac has booted up into safe mode or not, then simply follow the below outlined steps:

1. Click on the Apple logo button in the Mac menu bar.

2. Now click on About This Mac.

3. Click System Report.

4. Click on Software in the left hand side view.

5. If Boot Mode reads Safe then you’re currently in safe mode. It will read Normal if otherwise.

While safe mode can be a blessing for a lot of users, it’s worth keeping in mind that a lot of things might not work in this state. And Apple has outlined a bunch of things on its very own website:

You can’t play movies in DVD Player.

You can’t capture video in iMovie and some other video apps.

Some audio input or output devices might not work.

Some USB, FireWire and Thunderbolt devices might not be available.

Wi-Fi networking might be limited or unavailable depending on the Mac and OS X version you’re using.

Safe mode in OS X v10.5 or later also disables accelerated graphics. This makes the OS X menu bar appear solid even if “Translucent Menu Bar” is selected in System Preferences. Your screen might also “blink” or “tear” during login when your Mac is started in safe mode.

Safe mode in OS X v10.6 or later also disables File Sharing.

Found today’s guide useful? Then be sure to comment about it in the section below.

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