How to Start Mac in Safe Mode | Fix Mac Won’t Boot into Safe Mode

Last updated: Sep 26, 2023
Summary: This post introduces how to start Mac in Safe Mode to fix Mac problems like startup issues on your Mac. Some tips for fixing Mac won’t boot in Safe Mode are also provided.

If your Mac encounters some system errors or has some startup issues, you may boot your Mac into Safe Mode to troubleshoot problems on your Mac. Check the detailed guide below.

start Mac in safe mode

About Mac Safe Mode

macOS has a Safe Mode which is a stripped-down version of macOS. You can start Mac in Safe Mode to only load the essential system files and apps that your computer needs to run. Other unnecessary apps, extensions, and system settings won’t run at the startup.

If your Mac computer has problems like system crashes or freezes, startup errors, slow performance, blue screens, etc. you can try to boot your Mac into Safe Mode to force a directory check of the startup volume (similar to running First Aid in Disk Utility on Mac). Still, it also helps automatically clear your system cache and speed up your Mac.

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How to Start Mac in Safe Mode (Sonoma/Ventura)

First, check what type of Mac you have since the process to enter into Mac Safe Mode is a little bit different for Intel or Silicon Macs.

You can click the Apple menu and click About This Mac. In the pop-up window, you can check if you have an Intel chip or Apple chip next to Processor. You can also check your Mac version next to macOS.

For Intel Processor Macs:

Step 1. Shut down your Mac. You can click the Apple menu and click Shut Down. You can also press the Power button for a few seconds to force shut down your Mac.

Step 2. After a few seconds, you can press the Power button to start your Mac, and immediately press and hold the Shift key when you see the Apple logo.

Step 3. Release the Shift key when you see the login screen. Enter the login information to log in to macOS. You should see a Safe Mode sign in the menu bar at the upper-right corner of your Mac screen.

For Apple Silicon (M1/M2) Macs:

Step 1. Shut down your Mac computer.

Step 2. Press the Power button to start your Mac. When you see the startup options, you can select the startup disk that you want your Mac to boot from.

Step 3. Press and hold the Shift key and click Continue in safe mode.

Step 4. When you see the login screen, release the Shift key and enter your login credentials to boot your Mac into Safe Mode.

How to Exit Safe Mode on Mac

To get out of Safe Mode on Mac, you can simply restart your Mac as usual and it will automatically boot into the normal mode. You can click the Apple menu and click Restart.

How to Know If Your Mac Is in Safe Mode or Not

When you are in Mac Safe Mode, you should see a “Safe Mode” word in the menu bar. Alternatively, you can also follow the steps below to check if you are in safe or normal mode.

  1. Click the Apple menu and select System Settings.
  2. Click General in the sidebar and click About on the right.
  3. Scroll down to click the System Report button.
    click System Report
  4. Click Software in the left panel.
  5. In the right window, you can check your Mac's mode next to Boot Mode. If it shows Safe, then you are in Safe Mode. If it shows Normal, then you are in normal mode.

How to Use Mac Safe Mode to Fix System Issues

After you get into Safe Mode on your Mac, you can test and fix various issues on your Mac.

If your computer crashes when running a particular app, you can open that app again to test it. You can also uninstall the problematic app to see if the problem is fixed.

You can also launch Disk Utility to repair your Mac disk if you think your hard drive is corrupted.

You can also run a malware or virus scan in Mac Safe Mode to remove any suspicious programs.

Still, you can also disable some startup items to see if the Mac startup issue can be solved.

If the problems still exist, you may try to update your macOS and update the third-party apps to the latest version. If your Mac still can’t work well, you may back up all needed data and reinstall your macOS.

Fix Mac Won’t Boot into Safe Mode - 6 Tips

If your Mac can’t start in Safe Mode, you may try the tips below to fix the issue.

Tip 1. Follow the instructions above to try again.

Tip 2. Press and hold the Option key and press the Power button on your Mac. Select the startup disk to boot into Safe Mode.

Tip 3. Reset SMC (System Management Controller). Shut down your Mac. Press the Option + Ctrl + Shift keys at the same time for about 10 seconds to reset SMC. Then you can try to start your Mac in Safe Mode again.

Tip 4. Turn off the firmware password. Restart your Mac and press Command + R in the startup process to enter Mac Recovery Mode. Enter the firmware password and select the language. Click Utilities > Startup Security Utility. Tick the “Turn Off Fireware Password” option.

Tip 5. Turn off FileVault. Go to Apple > System Settings > Privacy & Security. Scroll down in the right window to find the FileVault option. If it is turned on, you can click the Turn Off button to turn off it.

turn off FileVault

Tip 6. Contact Apple Support for help.

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This post mainly introduces how to start Mac in Safe Mode to diagnose and fix system issues on your Mac. If you can’t boot into Safe Mode on your Mac, some tips are also included to help you fix the issue. A top Mac cleaner application is also provided to make your Mac run with the best performance. Hope it helps.


Cassie has been writing about technology for her entire career life - over 10 years. She enjoys diving into how Apple products work and then breaking it down in a way that anyone can understand.