Home Mac Mac Safe Mode: Step-By-Step Guide To Use It

Mac Safe Mode: Step-By-Step Guide To Use It

Mac safe mode is important because it allows users to boot into a situation where their slow or hanging systems are back to a sort of factory settings mode.

Then they can diagnose and solve whatever problems that are stopping the system from being efficient.

In this article, I will be explaining how to boot into safe mode, how to leave safe mode, how to use safe mode to fix issues with your Mac, and other important details you need to know about the safe mode in Mac.

Why Boot Into Safe Mode?

Safe Mode is a maintenance check for your system. Apart from users being able to carry out checks, it also automatically clears caches that might be causing systems to become slow.

System’s startup disks also get checked when you boot your system into safe mode. 

Both of the functions above are vital in making sure your Mac runs efficiently, although it is not needed often because Apple has ensured their systems crashes are few and far between.

How To Boot Your Mac Into Safe Mode

Normally start up your system and listen for the chime that shows it’s on. 

When you hear that chime, immediately click and hold the Shift key. 

You will have to hold the key until an Apple logo and a bar appears on your screen.

Immediately you see the logo and bar appearing, you can let go of the key. 

Mac Safe Mode

Wait and your system should boot into safe mode in a few minutes or more.

What Happens In Mac Safe Mode

Why booting into safe mode takes a little bit of time is because your system is going through these processes outlined below. 

  • Checking out the startup hard-drive and startup volume
  • Removing or deleting files (cache) that might be slowing down your Mac and dynamic loader
  • Making sure that kernel extensions essential to system startup loads
  • Making sure that third-party fonts termed as unessential software aren’t loaded
  • Blocking unessential kernel extensions from starting up

What you get after all these processes above is your MacOS in a basic system setting without intrusion from third-party apps or drives. 

How To Use Mac Safe Mode To Solve Issues

This is important to folks who have issues with their system, issues like hanging, crashing, or slow systems. 

Issues like “your system crashing every time you open an app” can be solved in safe mode as long as you have already backed up your data on external drives. 

To solve this issue, you’ll have to use the Time Machine backup option.

Using The Time Machine Backup Option

Connect that drive where the data is stored to your Mac in safe mode.

Navigate to Finder and you’ll see the drive.

Search for the file you want to restore and open the window when you find it.

Find the app’s timeline by going to the Time Machine for the window you’re in.

When checking the timeline of the app, what you should be looking out for is a timestamp that correlates with when the app was working normally.

Mac Safe Mode: Step-By-Step Guide To Use It

Choose that timestamp and then click on Restore to get back to that point where it worked well.

Folks that didn’t backup will have to use factory reset to help solve the issue which may lead to loss of present data if not properly backed up.

Using The Disk Permissions Repair Option

If you’re having issues trying to install an app or your Mac is having issues with the booting process, then this option could help solve the issues.

Boot your Mac into safe mode and follow the steps below to help resolve the issues above.

Apple ensured that all files are secured by disk permissions. This helps reduce the chances of your files being tampered with or spied on. 

This is a very good security function but it also has a little drawback. 

Malware, continuous installing, and uninstalling can cause the disk permissions function to develop issues and it usually stops users from installing other apps by crashing or hanging when they try.

How To Use The Option 

To solve this issue, Mac’s safe mode must be enabled. This allows you the time to fix the disk permissions without interference.

Navigate to Applications > Utility > Disk Utility.

Mac Safe Mode: Step-By-Step Guide To Use It

Go to the left-hand side of your screen and click on your HD.

Find and click on the First Aid option. It is close to the top of the menu. Run the option.

Mac Safe Mode: Step-By-Step Guide To Use It

Then select Verify Disk.

If there are issues, you’ll have to select Repair Disk to fix the issues. 

When this is done, the former issues blocking the installation of new apps are usually solved and your Mac should be back working efficiently as usual.

Rebooting Your Mac While In Safe Mode

Mac safe mode enables repairs, these repairs might need you to reboot the system.

To reboot your system while you’re in safe mode, all you have to do is turn your system off normally and then turn it back on.

This time, don’t press anything after that chime. Your Mac will be booted back up normally and you will have rebooted from safe mode to normal working conditions. 

This also helps in getting your system out of safe mode.

How To Find Out If A Mac Is In Safe Mode

This info below could come in handy when you come across a running system and you’re not sure whether it is already in safe mode or not.

There are some subtle differences that you can pick out if you know what you’re looking for.

  • DVD player won’t play movies, other video apps won’t work
  • Connecting to WiFi networks is next to impossible
  • Mouse and mics not working
  • Your Mac’s speed not as fast as usual
  • Sometimes the display might not be as smooth as usual

There is a much more straightforward way to check if a Mac is in safe mode though. 

Follow the navigation below to find out if the Mac is in safe mode.

Apple Menu > About This Mac > Overview > System Report

Mac Safe Mode

In the System Report, find and open the Software option and you’ll see whether the boot mode is safe or normal.

Mac Safe Mode: Step-By-Step Guide To Use It

You can also find out by going back to your login menu. 

On the screen where you enter your login details, if your Mac is in safe mode, you’ll see the words Safe Boot written on the top right-hand side of your screen.

What To Do If Your System Keeps Booting Into Mac Safe Mode Every Time Without You Trying To Enable Safe Mode

This issue is basically you not trying to boot into safe mode but your system still booting. It could be due to a few reasons. 

You can solve this issue by applying the following fixes.

1. Dislodging Dirt From Your Stuck Shift Key

If your Shift key is stuck, every time you boot your system, it’ll automatically think you want to boot into safe mode. 

You can solve this by blowing decompressed air to clear dirt that might have made the Shift key stuck.

You probably won’t notice if the Shift key is stuck just by looking at it. Only when it affects your normal booting process. 

2. Using Terminal To Get Rid Of Automatic Safe Mode Boot

First, remove any external USB devices and reboot your computer. 

If the system still doesn’t reboot normally, then open Terminal in the safe mode it booted in.

To open Terminal, click on the Launchpad icon found in the Dock. 

When a search space appears, input Terminal. 

Select Terminal in the search results and the Terminal window should appear.

Mac Safe Mode

Input this command below.

sudo nvram boot-args = ” ” 

Click on the Return key and input your password if you are asked. 

Reboot your system and it should boot normally.

3. Fixing Problems With File Systems

This issue is quite different because there are two options and it is used when you’re actively trying to boot into safe mode but it always gets stuck.

You can solve it by using a recovery mode or by using the nuclear option of formatting your hard-drive.

Remember when I talked about safe mode checking system files and deleting caches? 

If there are issues with your file system, this is where your system will get stuck.

4. Using Recovery Mode

To solve this issue, restart your Mac, press and hold these keys Command + R until a progress bar appears. 

This should take you into recovery mode. You can repeat the process until your Mac is in recovery mode if it doesn’t work at first.

You’ll find the Disk Utility (remember how we used it above) shortcut in the OS X Recovery menu. 

Open the Disk Utility menu, choose the drive to be fixed and then select the First Aid option. 

This should help repair your file system issues. 

If it does not solve your issues, formatting your hard drive (after creating a backup) might be your next bet for fixing the file system issue.

Mac Safe Mode: What Is It And When To Use It


Mac safe mode is quite important in helping users fix a lot of issues that would be nigh impossible to fix in the normal mode.

Whenever you notice your Mac is hanging, crashing, or slowing down, you might want to boot into safe mode to help fix the issue. 

If you have any problems with the processes above, tell me about it in the comments section. I’ll reply with fixes that should help you solve the problem.