How to start a Mac in safe mode and when to use it


If you are having problems with your Mac, you can easily fix it by restarting it. I know it sounds weird, but sometimes it helps. However, if that doesn’t fix the problem, there are usual ways to fix the problem. One of the ways you can fix them is to start your Mac in Safe Mode. Not only does it help you check where the problem is, it is also one of the most common maintenance methods you can use with your computer. We will explain what Safe Mode is, how you can start your Mac in this state, and when you need to use it.

What is Safe Mode

Safe Mode or Safe Boot is a macOS diagnostic mode designed to fix several problems in your Mac.

Enabling Safe Mode fixes any problems that prevent the operating system from functioning normally. It helps you understand the problem based on how the computer reacts to the environment in safe mode.

In this mode, the Mac starts up without loading additional third-party programs. Then you can check if it is the whole system or a particular program that is causing problems.

This means that only a minimal number of preferences, system extensions, and fonts will boot with your computer so that you can isolate the causes and troubleshoot accordingly.

Safe mode can get your computer back up and running whenever you run into problems caused by corrupted data or apps, corrupted fonts and preference files, or software installation problems.

You can use it to fix any issues that prevent your Mac from starting up or startup disk issues, including apps that won’t start or those that cause your computer to crash, freeze, or shut down.


What happens when your MAC is in safe mode

A lot of things happen when you start your Mac in Safe Mode. Specifically, it does the following:

  • Your Mac loads the kernel extensions required to run macOS.
  • Check the boot drive by running a directory check and try to fix any problems.
  • Prevents the login and startup items from starting automatically at startup.
  • Disable user-installed (third-party) fonts in addition to those in System / Library / Apple-supplied fonts.
  • It deletes all font caches and moves them to the trash, including the kernel cache and other system cache files.
  • It also clears the dynamic loader cache known to cause the blue screen to hang during startup.
  • Disable or limit features such as DVD player, iMovie (does not capture video), internal and / or external modems, AirPort cards (depending on the version and macOS version you are using), Quartz Extreme, and network file sharing.

How to start your MAC in safe mode

To boot into safe mode, do the following:

Step 1: Start or restart your Mac.

Step 2 : Press and hold the Shift key immediately when you hear the beep. You will see the Apple logo appear on the screen.

Step 3 : Release the Shift key when the login window appears. If your Mac’s startup disk is encrypted with FileVault, you’ll log in twice: the first sign in unlocks the startup disk, and the second logs you into the Finder.

NOTE : Once the problem is established, you can exit Safe Mode by restarting your Mac without pressing any keys at startup.

How to know if your MAC is in safe mode

You can know if your Mac is in Safe Mode by using the System Information app. The System Information app (also known as System Profiler in some versions of OS X) shows a summary of information about your Mac’s software, hardware, network, and other information.

To access the System Information app, click the Apple menu> About This Mac to open an overview of your Mac computer, including the model, memory, processor, serial number, and version of macOS.

You can view more information by clicking the System Report button.

In the Software section in System Information, you will see the text “Safe” instead of “Normal” next to the boot mode.

The login window will also show the Safe Boot label at the top right of the Safe Mode screen.

What to do when your MAC won’t turn on or boot in safe mode

Here are some things to check for when your Mac won’t turn on or turn on but doesn’t complete the boot process:

  • Check for power related issues such as fan or hard drive sounds among other startup sounds. Also check out lights like the sleep indicator, the Caps Lock key, or the backlit keyboard if you have one.
  • You can also verify that it is receiving power by making sure that the power cord is not damaged and firmly plugged into a working power outlet.
  • Make sure you are using the correct power cord and adapter, and if you are using an external display, turn it on and make sure it has no other display problems. Increase the display brightness from the built-in keyboard.
  • Check for other startup problems if it won’t boot, such as a recently installed hard drive / SSD or memory and make sure it is compatible and installed correctly. You can also remove and test with the original disk or memory.

If you still need further assistance, contact Apple Support or visit an Apple Store or Authorized Service Provider.

If you don’t have a keyboard or can’t use the Shift key on your keyboard to boot in Safe Mode, you can configure your Mac to boot in Safe Mode if you have remote access to your Mac. To do this:

Step 1: Open Terminal remotely to access the command line or log in to your Mac using SSH. Use this Terminal command: sudo nvram boot-args = “- x”

Alternatively, boot into verbose mode using the command: sudo nvram boot-args = “- x –v”

Step 2: After you have finished using safe mode, return to normal boot using this Terminal command: sudo nvram boot-args = “”

If you are having trouble with your Mac, you now know how to start it in Safe Mode and get things back to normal.

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