Starting your Mac in the Safe Mode

Starting your Mac in the Safe Mode

If you have some issues with your Mac, try to start in in the Safe mode. It is a version of MacOS that is designed for troubleshooting. Use it in case your Mac works slower that usually, a certain application has problems, in case of freezes and crashes, or if your Mac doesn't boot at all.

I want to tell you how to start up in this special mode, how can is be useful for you, how to find out if you are already in the Safe mode and what you can do if your machine boots in this mode automatically.

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Why and When Should You Use the Safe Mode?

This feature can help you to deal with problems that stop your Mac from the correct starting up or any other issues regarding the startup disk.

Surely, there are certain myths the Safe mode. Some users say that it is the first and foremost way to solve any problem with Macs. In fact, it can be useful, but not always. and mainly it can help by clearing the caches with entering the Safe mode.

Here are the real reasons to enter this mode:

  • Your Mac is stuck while starting up
  • Some application causes problems
  • Your Mac's work has become too slow (it is the case when clearing the cache in the Safe mode can help)

Note, that the cache clearing may make your Mac run slow during the first several boots, as the purpose of caches is making Mac faster. But don't worry! Just a few boots, and your Mac will work the same fast as it used to!

Some Mac users also enter the Safe mode for uninstalling unnecessary applications. This decision makes sense, as tons of non-important services are not loaded at all, that gives more opportunities to a user.

If the problem that was bothering you doesn't appear in the Safe mode, check the following things:

  • Did you use compatible login items?
  • Find out if the issue repeats after the reboot. If it doesn't, maybe the problem was related to some directory of cache issues. That was likely fixed by entering the Safe mode.


How to Start your Mac in the Safe Mode?

Here are a few easy steps to make your machine running in this mode:

  1. Start the Mac.
  2. Hold 'Shift'.
  3. Wait until the 'Apple' logo appears.
  4. Release 'Shift' when a login window shows up, log in.
  5. You may need to log in twice, if your FileVault is turned on.


What Does the Safe Mode Do and What Doesn't?

Certain checks are performed by the Safe mode and it can prevent software from the automatic loading while you start your Mac. So, when you boot it in the Safe mode...

  • Only necessary kernel are opened (drivers, ketxs, etc.)
  • startup and login applications and services are not loaded.
  • Manually installed fonts are not loaded either.

Font and system caches are cleaned automatically, and the disk is verified, so there are attempts of repairing the directory issues. It is the same to the situation when you click on the 'Repair disk' button in the Disk utility.

What else can you do in the Safe mode? In fact, not very much. Except repairing the disk that I've already mentioned above, it tests your Mac. If you launch it in the Safe mode and the problem doesn't appear, it's likely that the issue is related to some kernel extention or hardware issues. Or, it is possible that the cause for it is a 3rd party application that starts automatically with MacOS.

Pruning the startup applications list:

  1. Go to 'System preferences' and tap on 'Users & Groups'.
  2. Click your username, it can be found on the left.
  3. Tap on the tab called 'Login Items'.
  4. Select the necessary item and tap on the button with a minus on it for removing the app from the startup list.

However, some programs are hidden in system folders of your Mac, and can be turned off by advanced users only. Removing some kernel modules can be done only by experts as well. Anyway, the latest MacOS versions have special preventions that make installing third-party modules nearly impossible. That's why, if you have one of the latest system versions, your modules should be okay.

Note that you shouldn't actually work in the Safe mode, as many applications simply won't launch and the system will be unresponsive and slow. This mode is designed especially for troubleshooting, so use it for that purpose.


How Can You Find Out That You're Already in the Safe Mode?

You may probably know that Windows shows the line indicating that the Safe mode is on. On Mac, the things so in other way. After it starts, there won't be any limits to a lower resolution or something like that. The system may seem a bit slower as usually and animations will seem not to pretty as well.

These are the steps of checking whether the Safe mode is on:

  1. Find the 'Apple' logo at the top left and click it.
  2. Choose 'About this Mac'.
  3. Go to 'System report'.
  4. Choose 'Software' and find out what is your current 'Boot mode'. It will say 'Normal', if the mode is ordinary, and 'Safe', if you booted in the Safe mode.

There are also some alternative ways to check whether you are logged in with the Safe mode:

  • See the screen blink while the login screen shows up while starting up.
  • This way depends on the version of your MacOS. The screen can be gray, the progress bar can be under the logo of Apple while starting up. In new versions, your Mac may ask you to login twice, and the screen will look the same as for the Normal mode.
  • Your Mac will be running slowly.


What Doesn't the Safe Mode Allow To Do?

  • Video capturing in a few apps.
  • Working of audio devices.
  • Some Thunderbolt and USB devices may be not available.
  • WiFi may not work either.
  • You won't be able to share files.
  • The dock may be gray and not transparent, some elements may not appear at all.

mac safe mode image1

What if Mac starts in the Safe mode automatically?

It does so, if it finds some problem that can be fixed by starting up the Safe mode. So, your Mac just wants to fix some bug. If it succeeds, there is no need in turning on the Safe mode again. But if your machine continues restarting in this mode, contact the Apple support team or visit an Apple store of an authorized Apple service provider.

How to get out of the safe boot?

If you need to exit this mode, turn your Mac off and restart it without holding the 'Shift' button.

Be prepared that it may take a longer time to shut down in the Safe mode. Just wait, be patient and don't interfere the process. Don't use the 'Power' button to shut your Mac down, as it can harm the machine.


Possible Issues With the Safe Mode

You may worry, if your Mac boots longer in the Safe mode. But in fact, there are no reasons for being concerned. Mac is performing the disk check before starting up, it always takes some time.

If it shuts down or restarts while you are in the Safe mode, it may have finished all the repairs and fixes. So, wait for the restart patiently and check if the problem is really gone.

Nevertheless, if your Mac restarts repeatedly and starts up in the Safe mode again and again, don't hesitate to contact the support team and ask them for help.

I hope that my article was useful for you, and you've fixed all the problems with this mode. Ask questions, if you have left some! I'll be glad to help you!