How to Start Macbook in Safe Mode

When your MacBook starts in Safe Mode, your device performs a check of your startup disk, loading only the essential software needed to run.

Safe mode can help resolve issues caused by problematic software or drivers by limiting what loads during startup.

Let’s run through how you can start your Macbook in Safe Mode so you can pinpoint any issues.

What Exactly is Safe Mode?

Safe Mode on a MacBook Pro is a way to start up your Mac so that it performs certain checks and prevents certain software from automatically loading or opening.

When you start your MacBook Pro in Safe Mode, it automatically verifies your startup disk, which can resolve directory issues that might cause a blank screen or other problems.

It also prevents some software from automatically loading or opening, which means that if this software is causing problems, you’ll be able to determine this without it running.

Safe mode also disables some hardware features, which is done for the same reason – it helps with troubleshooting and pinpointing where the error lies.

How to Start a Macbook in Safe Mode

It’s actually pretty easy to start a Macbook in Safe mode, but the method used differs depending on whether you have a Mac chip processor (M1, M2, M3) or an Intel processor.

For those using a newer Macbook with an Apple Mac chip, do this;

  • First, start by shutting your Macbook down.
  • Then, push the power button to start your device, but ensure you hold the power button down. You’ll then eventually see a Loading startup options menu appear.
  • From this, select a Volume that you want to use. Hold down the Shift button, and then click Continue in Safe Mode.

Once done, your Macbook will then reboot on Safe Mode – you should actually be able to see Safe Boot in the menu bar to confirm this.

The process is slightly different if you’re using a Macbook that has an Intel CPU. Follow this if so;

  • First, turn off or restart your Macbook.
  • Log-in to your device.
  • Whilst your Macbook boots up, make sure that you hold down the Shift key to ensure your device starts in Safe Mode.

Again, just like on an Apple Mac chip device, you should be able to see Safe Boot in the Menu bar if you’ve been successful.

Why Use Safe Mode on a Mac?

So, you’re in Safe Mode, there must be a reason for it, right? Well, there are some common reasons why you may choose to use Safe Mode. This includes;

  1. Troubleshooting Software Issues: If you’re experiencing crashes, freezes, or other erratic behavior that you suspect might be caused by software conflicts, Safe Mode can help.
  2. Resolving Startup Problems: If your MacBook is having trouble starting up, or gets stuck on the loading screen, booting in Safe Mode can sometimes resolve these issues.
  3. Improving System Performance: In cases where your MacBook is running unusually slow, Safe Mode can help identify the cause (because it loads fewer processes and applications, it can help you determine if a specific app or process is hogging system resources).
  4. Removing Problematic Cached Data: Sometimes, corrupted cached data can cause system instability. Safe Mode clears certain cache files, which can resolve issues caused by this corruption.
  5. Testing for Hardware Issues: Safe Mode can also be useful for basic hardware diagnostics (though it’s usually use for software problems). If a problem persists even in Safe Mode, it might indicate a hardware issue.
  6. Safe Software Updates and Installations: If you need to update or install software in a more controlled environment to avoid conflicts with other applications, Safe Mode can provide that environment.
  7. Security Scans and Malware Removal: Since Safe Mode loads fewer components, it can prevent certain types of malware from loading, making it easier to remove them.
  8. Resolving Graphics and Display Issues: Safe Mode disables some of the advanced graphics features, which can help isolate the cause of a display or graphics issue.

While Safe Mode is a useful tool for diagnosing and sometimes resolving issues, it is not a cure-all. Some problems may require more in-depth troubleshooting or professional assistance.

What’s the Difference Between Recovery Mode and Safe Mode?

Safe Mode and Recovery Mode are two different startup options on a MacBook, each serving distinct purposes.

Safe Mode is primarily used for troubleshooting issues related to your MacBook.

When you start your Mac in Safe Mode, it performs certain checks, loads only essential software, and disables some hardware components and features.

macOS runs a check of your startup disk, loads only necessary kernel extensions, prevents startup and login items from opening automatically, and disables accelerated graphics, among other things.

This stripped-down environment can help you determine if an issue is caused by software that loads as your Mac starts up.

In comparison, Recovery Mode is a special mode that allows you to repair disks using Disk Utility, reinstall macOS, restore from a Time Machine backup, or set security and privacy settings.

When you start your Mac in Recovery Mode, it boots into a special recovery system image that includes a few essential utilities.

This mode doesn’t load your normal desktop and is designed to fix problems with your Mac or restore data.

You can use Safe Mode when you’re experiencing issues like system crashes, freezing, or software glitches that you suspect are caused by something in your regular startup process.

But it’s better to use Recovery Mode for more serious issues where you might need to reinstall your operating system, repair or erase a disk, or restore from a backup. It’s also used when setting up a new machine from an old backup.

In summary, use Safe Mode for basic troubleshooting and diagnosing software issues, while Recovery Mode is for more serious problems where you may need to repair, restore, or reinstall your operating system.


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