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While many instructions suggest that you hold the Shift key at startup to get to Safe Mode, the system's Bluetooth controllers will only activate after the startup chimes sound, so if the key is held before this, the key press will not be recognized. Instead, if you have a wireless keyboard be sure to press and hold the Shift key after the boot chimes sound. In addition to the timing of the key press, be sure to check your keyboard's battery level and replace the batteries if they are low.

File system errors A final issue that may prevent booting to Safe Mode is if there are problems with the boot drive's file system structure. When you run a file system check with Disk Utility, you will see them listed as the Catalog file, the Extents file, and Extended Attributes file, among others. When the system boots to Safe Mode it will show a gray progress bar that indicates various maintenance tasks are being run at startup.

Unfortunately it is a bit difficult to see if this is the case when the system is only displaying a gray progress bar; however, you can force the system to show you what is going on by having it boot to both Safe and Verbose modes at the same time. To do so, open the Terminal utility and run the following command.

Use the Safe Boot Option to Troubleshoot Mac Issues

In this command I've used "Safe-Verbose" mode, but you can replace the "v" with an "s" to tell it to use "Single User" mode instead they should be equivalent for this purpose:. With this command run, reboot the system and you will see it load into a text environment with the most recent events happening at the bottom and the history of events scrolling upward.

This process should only take a couple of minutes, but if it does not progress after an extended period of time, then it is not able to check the disk for errors and is hung up, which is the cause for the inability to boot to Safe Mode. If this is the case, hold the power button to hard-reset the system, followed by holding the Command-Option-P-R keys at startup immediately after the boot chimes to have the system clear the PRAM so it will load normally instead of in Safe-Verbose mode release these keys after the system automatically resets and sounds the boot chime again.

Now the fix for the issue is a matter of clearing the problem with the filesystem structure. While sometimes third-party tools like DiskWarrior have been known to find and correct errors that Disk Utility cannot fix, an alternative approach is to simply reformat the hard drive. First be sure you have a fully restorable backup of your system, which can be done by using Time Machine or by creating a file-level clone of your drive with a tool like Carbon Copy Cloner.

Select the drive device above the volume names like "Macintosh HD" and choose "1 Partition" from the drop-down menu in the Partition tab that appears. Name the drive and apply the changes to format it, and then exit Disk Utility and proceed with restoring your backup to the drive.

Test Your Hardware with Apple Diagnostics

After the system is back up and running on the freshly formatted drive you should be able to boot to Safe Mode again. Have a fix? Post them below or e-mail us! Mobile World Congress This screen will pop up after a minute or two. Select your user account, then enter your account password to do so. If your Mac has FileVault enabled, you'll first need to log in to unlock your Mac's startup disk.

Troubleshoot program problems.

If you've been having an issue with your Mac's startup sequence or general operation, look to see if the problem persists while in Safe Mode; if it doesn't, one of your Mac's programs is probably at fault. Unfortunately, if the problem is still present, your Mac's base hardware or software is causing the issue. Disable startup programs. While you're in Safe Mode, remove any problematic or resource-heavy programs from your list of startup items. This will help your Mac boot up faster.

How to Use Your Mac's Safe Boot Option

You can also remove problematic applications, such as third-party antivirus suites or stubborn programs, in Safe Mode. Restart your Mac to exit Safe Mode. When you're done using Safe Mode on your Mac, click the Apple menu. I migrated all of my files and apps to a new mac and evidently it sucked everything out of my older mac because now that one doesn't work at all. It's not even starting up in safe mode!

There was nothing wrong with the computer, I just wanted to update to the newer one. If the computer is not starting up, you may need to reinstall the operating system.

Start in Safe Boot mode | Mac OS X

Yes No. Not Helpful 2 Helpful 5. Your keyboard is probably not working.


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Insert an external keyboard, hold the shift key on the external keyboard, and try again. Not Helpful 0 Helpful 0. What do I do if my Mac goes into safe mode on its own when I turn it off, and back on again? Your Mac likely started from something different called macOS recovery. This is used when the necessary boot files are damaged or destroyed. Your Mac may also be starting from internet recovery, which uses a PXN network to download damaged boot files. Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered.

Already answered Not a question Bad question Other. This won't work if you have FileVault enabled on your Mac.