In the same way that Windows has a secure boot mode, macOS also has this mode to boot the computer safely and thus determine the cause behind possible operating or performance problems. In this article, we explain how to start a Mac in safe mode.
What is safe mode on a Mac?
The safe mode of macOS is one of the Mac boot modes, with which the computer will start with the basic programs and drivers to work and thus be able to help us isolate the possible cause behind a software problem affecting the computer.
Safe mode on a Mac turns off all programs and applications that may have been installed manually, checks the startup disk and can attempt to repair directory problems, removes system caches, and prevents startup and startup items from being installed. Login to open automatically.
What is the use of booting a Mac in safe mode?
As we said, starting the computer in macOS safe mode will help us isolate possible problems that may be affecting the operation of the computer. Since only the basic elements of the Mac work, it will be much easier to determine if the problem is caused by certain software or, on the contrary, it is a hardware problem (as the problem will persist and fail even in this mode).
In other words, if your Mac is giving you problems, such as restarting itself, closing programs or applications unexpectedly, being flooded by pop-ups or ad pages, etc., booting in safe mode is what you should resort to. Try to determine what is causing those problems.
It should be noted that the mere fact of starting the Mac in safe mode will not fix the problems on their own since it is necessary to locate the source of the problems and proceed to solve them, which in most cases will involve uninstalling the program or application that may be causing the problem.
How to start safe mode on Mac step-by-step
Although starting a Mac in safe mode is practically the same for all models, there is a slight difference in the way it is done, depending on the chip that the computer uses, whether it is an Intel chip or an Apple Silicon chip (which are the M1, M1 Pro, and M1 Max). So, if you don’t know what chip your Mac uses, the first step is to find out. To do this, you have to follow these steps:
- Enter the Apple menu (upper left corner of the menu bar).
- Click on “About this Mac”.
- Enter “General Vision,” and here you can see what version of chip your equipment uses.
- Boot into safe Mac mode with an Intel chip
- Shut down or restart your computer.
- Press and hold the “Shift” key during Mac startup or restart.
- Release the key when the login window appears.
- You should now be in safe mode.
Boot into Safe Mac Mode with Apple Silicon Chip
- Shut down or restart the computer.
- During power on or reboot, press and hold the power button until the boot options window appears, listing the available boot disks and options.
- Select a boot disk and press and hold the “Shift” key.
- Click on “Continue in safe mode” and release the key.
You would already be in safe mode. In both versions, the appearance of this mode is the same, quite similar to the normal boot mode.
If your Mac does not finish booting when you start it in safe mode, don’t worry. Normally, it takes a little longer than starting in normal mode since, as we already said, when entering safe mode, the computer checks the boot disk directory, which may take longer.
How do I know if I’m in safe mode on Mac?
Since the desktop’s appearance in safe mode on your Mac is quite similar to normal, it may not be clear whether you have started your computer in this mode. To answer how to know if I am in safe mode on the Mac, you have to look at the upper right corner of the menu bar, where the text “Safe Boot” will appear in red, indicating that you are in safe mode.
You can also check it by following these steps:
- Enter the Apple menu.
- Enter “About this Mac” and go to the “System Report” tab.
- Click on “Software” and look for the “Boot Mode” section, where you can see if it appears as “Safe,” in which case you will have started the Mac in safe mode.
How to get out of Mac safe mode?
To get out of Mac safe mode, restart your computer, and it will boot into normal mode. Shutting down your Mac will also exit Safe Mode.
My Mac restarts itself in safe mode; what’s wrong?
The operating system may detect a problem and automatically fix it by restarting your computer and booting into safe mode to repair the directory structure of the startup disk and fix the problem.
If your Mac keeps rebooting into Safe Mode, there is a good chance it could have a hardware problem. In that case, you should contact Apple support.