Mac Recovery Mode Could Be the Answer in Many Unexpected Occasions

Mac Recovery Mode

Interesting notice: Mac OS X startup modes can be rather useful for troubleshooting complicated problems that may need more than just repairing disk permissions. To see the available modes that you can boot into, you just need to reboot MacBook Pro or Air, iMac or Mac mini and hold the specific keys combination (we’ll tell about it a bit later) until you see the screen with macOS and disk utilities window. Often, these tools are the last chance to get rid of many operating system problems that a Mac user may experience.

So, get ready to find out how to enter the Recovery Mode during the startup process and work with the built-in recovery utilities to achieve the excellent working condition for your Mac.

How to Start Mac in Recovery Mode

To begin with, it is important to know that the Recovery Mode loads the operating system’s built-in recovery instruments from the specific disk partition that contains a recovery image together with the macOS installer’s copy. To run a Recovery Mode, take the advised steps:

  • Turn on or restart your Mac;
  • During the reboot, hold down the Command + R keys combination instantly after the startup chime. Do not release the keys until you see Apple’s logo

After that, you will be shown a window with four macOS utilities. This means you have entered the Recovery Mode.

Respectively, now you can:


  • Recover the computer from a Time Machine backup
  • Eliminate, setup, or reinstall factory-preloaded version of the operating system
  • Obtain help via Apple Support website
  • Analyze, fix or wipe the connected drives with Disk Utility
macOS utilities

Mac Recovery Mode Is Not Working: 3 Solutions

Even the best utilities may have their problems from time to time. Mac Recovery Mode is not an exception, and the Command+R combination may fail to launch it. Then, every Mac user should keep in mind at least three other recovery methods:

  • Time Machine
  • Internet recovery
  • Utilizing third-party software

The first method is available via the Time Machine menu on your Mac or from the external disk – if you have previously backed up to the external storage. Connect it to your Apple computer, launch the backup file and follow the instructions.

To utilize the second technique, you first have to download a hefty chunk of data to run Internet Recovery. It may be time-consuming. To get to the Internet recovery mode, hold Option+Command+R during Mac startup process and follow instructions on the screen to complete the restoration.

The third option requires, perhaps, the least effort from the user. Just choose the reliable data recovery third-party app (fortunately, there are plenty of them out there – free and paid), install and set it up on your Mac. Then, you’ll just need to run it in case you wish to restore some particular file or recover the entire system to a specific time point.

Managing the Recovery Partition on Mac

The recovery partition on Apple computers is a tiny invisible section on Mac’s internal hard drive that keeps factory preinstalled macOS image and Disk Utility tool. You cannot actually access or enter it via Finder. The best thing about the Recovery Partition is that it makes possible to fix the hard drive, delete the data on it, and set up a new copy of operating system. It can even recover the device from a Time Machine backup. The presence of Safari allows getting online help in case of any obstacles. Also, the utility may connect to Apple’s servers to download the target OS.

Experienced Mac users sometimes delete the original recovery partition and create the customized one with a newer macOS.

First, let’s see, what do you need to do if you wish to erase the existing recovery partition:

  • Confirm its presence by launching Terminal, typing the command diskutil list and pressing the Enter key. You will see the directory of your Mac's volumes – and the recovery partition among them
  • Return to Terminal and type the following: defaults write DUDebugMenuEnabled. Press Enter again
  • Launch the Disk Utility. Go Debug -> Show every Partition
  • Choose “Recovery HD” and click the Mount icon to activate it
  • Notice that ‘Recovery HD’ is no more greyed-out. Now, the user can erase it. Apply control-click and pick Erase
  • Remove the ‘naked’ 650MB partition to free up space for the major partition on Mac’s internal drive

Creating a new recovery partition will require more effort:

  • In Terminal, type in sudo hdiutil create ~/Desktop/Recovery\ HD.dmg –srcdevice /dev/DiskIdentifier, where DiskIdentifier is the identifier of the Apple_Boot Recovery HD (find it in diskutil list)
  • If requested – type in the admin password and press Enter. The Recovery HD disk image is established, and you will return to the Terminal prompt
  • Use Disk Utility to make a partition on Mac's internal disk where you plan to create a Recovery HD volume
  • Move the Recovery HD image to the new partition by using the Restore command in Disk Utility
  • Then, in Disk Utility toolbar, unmount the recently created Recovery HD volume
  • Now assign Apple_Boot type to the Recovery HD volume: launch Terminal and enter command sudo asr adjust –target /dev/DiskIdentifier -settype Apple_Boot -> press Enter -> type in the admin password -> press Enter again.

You’re done: the new invisible Recovery HD volume is created. The only thing left to discuss is how to get out of Recovery Mode on Mac if you have accidentally launched it. First, close the macOS utilities window. Once you do so, you will have to decide on a Startup Disk – the options will appear on the screen. Pick your startup drive and press the Restart button to escape the Recovery Mode.

If the above-mentioned method does not work, enter Utilities menu being in the Recovery Mode. Select Terminal to type the command sudo bless -folder /Volumes/Macintosh\ HD/System/Library/CoreServices –setOF and press Enter. Then, type in the admin’s password on your Mac, stop Terminal and quit the Recovery Mode to see whether HD is now available as a Startup Disk. This should do the trick. The worst options include reinstalling, migrating, or restoring from a backup.

Use Command + R on Mac to Call Recovery Mode and Solve Problems

Overall, the Recovery mode console can be very useful to fix various issues whenever your MacBook or Mac desktop is not working properly. Dealing with specific tasks requires some time plus special knowledge of particular key combinations and Terminal commands, but the result – correctly working Apple computer – is totally worth the effort.