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How to Boot Your Mac in Safe Mode: A Step-by-Step Guide

Quick and simple steps to boot your Mac in Safe Mode.

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Last updated: December 8, 2023

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To boot your Mac in Safe Mode, follow these steps for your respective model:

  1. For Apple Silicon Macs: Shut down your Mac, hold the Power button until the startup options appear, select a volume, and hold the Shift key while choosing to continue in Safe Mode.
  2. For Intel-based Macs: Restart your Mac and immediately press and hold the Shift key until the login screen appears.

Booting your Mac in Safe Mode might sound too technical, but it’s something you can easily master, too. In this guide, I’ll walk you through the steps to boot your Mac in Safe Mode, whether it’s the latest Apple Silicon model or an Intel-based one.

Before We Begin

It’s not ideal to boot your Mac into Safe Mode for every small issue. Instead, download MacKeeper and use its features to keep your Mac secure and running well. MacKeeper’s Safe Cleanup is great for removing junk files, helping your Mac stay in great shape without needing Safe Mode too often.

How to Boot Your Mac in Safe Mode

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Safe Mode on a Mac loads only essential software, simplifying the diagnosis and repair of issues affecting normal startup. The process to enter Safe Mode varies between Intel and M1 chip-equipped iMacs or MacBook Pros. Below, I’ll walk you through the step-by-step instructions to boot your Mac in Safe Mode on both.

If you’re unsure about your Mac’s processor, you can find out from Apple’s official support page.

Apple Silicon Macs

Here’s how to boot your Mac in Safe Mode on an Apple Silicon chip:

  1. Shut down your Mac by clicking the Apple icon and choosing Shut Down from the drop-down menu.
click the apple icon and select shut down
  1. Wait for your Mac to shut down completely, and press the Power button to turn it on.
macbook pro touch id
  1. Keep holding the Power button until you see the Loading startup options screen.
loading startup options screen on mac
  1. Select a volume from the options.
select a volume
  1. Press and hold the Shift ⇧ key and click Continue in Safe Mode.
macbook air shift key
  1. Your Mac will restart automatically, and you will see Safe Boot in the menu bar when the login screen appears.
safe boot mode on mac

Intel-Based Macs

Here’s how to boot your Intel-based Mac in Safe Mode:

  1. Restart or turn on your Mac and press and hold the Shift ⇧ key immediately.
macbook air shift key
  1. Keep holding the Shift ⇧ key until you see the login screen.
  2. Release the Shift ⇧ key and log in to your Mac.
  3. You may be asked to log in again.
  4. You’ll see Safe Boot in the menu bar on your first or second login window.
safe boot mode on mac

How Do I Know if My Mac Is in Safe Mode?

It’s super easy to tell if your Mac is in Safe Mode. When you start your computer in Safe Mode, your screen will display Safe Boot in red letters in the menu bar.

safe boot mode on mac

You can also tell if you’re in Safe Mode by the way your computer behaves. In Safe Mode, your Mac only loads the essential software and drivers required for operation, so you may notice some changes in how it runs. For example, your display resolution might be lower than usual.

If you’re unsure, you can check it listed in the System Report. Here’s how:

  1. Click the Apple icon and select About This Mac from the drop-down menu.
click apple icon and select about this mac
  1. Click More Info.
click more info
  1. Scroll down to the end in the right-side menu and select System Report.
click system report in general
  1. Click Software in the left sidebar, and you’ll see Safe next to Boot Mode.
boot mode safe

Testing Your Mac in Safe Mode

Testing your Mac in Safe Mode isn’t just a techy procedure, it can tackle many computer issues. Let me show you how Safe Mode turns you into a troubleshooting pro:

  1. 📲 Tackling App and Software Glitches: Got an app acting up? Uninstall it while in Safe Mode. When Slack kept crashing my Mac every time I launched it, I booted into Safe Mode and uninstalled it. After rebooting in normal mode and reinstalling the app, the app worked perfectly.
  2. 🛠️ Fixing Peripheral and Hardware Issues: When my printer just wouldn’t communicate with my Mac, I booted into Safe Mode and disconnected the printer. After restarting, my printer was working fine with my Mac.
  3. 🌐 Troubleshooting Network Connectivity Problems: If you’re having issues with your internet connection, try resetting your network settings on your Mac while in Safe Mode.

Rebooting Your Mac in Regular Mode

Now that you’ve used Safe Mode to solve your Mac’s problems, it’s time to bring it back to regular mode. Rebooting your Mac in regular mode is pretty straightforward.

Here’s how to reboot your Mac in regular mode:

  1. Click the Apple icon and select Restart.
click the apple icon and select restart
  1. Wait for your Mac to restart and boot up in regular mode.

5 Reasons to Use Safe Mode on a Mac

The Safe Mode is the ultimate troubleshooter for your Mac, allowing you to troubleshoot and diagnose any issues with ease. If you’re experiencing one of the following problems, starting up in Safe Mode is a good first step.

Here’s why you might want to use Safe Mode on your Mac:

  1. 🔍 Solving Startup Problems: If your Mac is slow to start or keeps freezing, Safe Mode helps you figure out why. It’s like giving your Mac a clearer path to start up without the usual clutter.
  2. 🗑️ Removing Troublesome Software: When apps cause chaos, Safe Mode helps you clean up. It’s easier to remove stubborn software in this mode, helping your Mac run smoother.
  3. 📶 Fixing Wi-Fi Issues: Struggling with network connections? Booting in Safe Mode can sometimes fix these glitches, like hitting a reset button on your Mac’s network issues.
  4. 💾 Disk Check and Repair: Safe Mode isn’t just about troubleshooting, it also checks and fixes disk problems, ensuring your Mac’s foundation is solid.
  5. 🦠 Dealing with Malware: If you suspect malware, Safe Mode can be your first line of defense, preventing these harmful programs from causing more trouble.

What to Do If Safe Mode Doesn’t Solve the Problem?

If booting your Mac in Safe Mode doesn’t solve the problem, there are other methods to try. You may want to clear your Mac’s Other storage, check for malware on Mac, update your apps and macOS, and defrag your Mac.

Below, I’ve shared some other troubleshooting methods if Safe Mode doesn’t fix your problem.

1. Disable Login Items

Login items may be the culprit if Safe Mode doesn’t fix your Mac’s issues. You can identify if login items are causing issues with your Mac by disabling them individually. By disabling login items one by one, you can identify the app that’s causing trouble and remove it.

Here’s how to remove login items on your Mac:

  1. Click the Apple icon and select System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. Click General and tap Login Items.
click general and select the login items tab
  1. You’ll see a list of items that Open at Login. Here, select the item you want to disable and click the small icon.
select an item and click the minus icon to delete it
  1. Restart your Mac for changes to take effect.

2. Resolve Performance Issues With MacKeeper’s Safe Cleanup

If you’re still facing issues with your Mac’s startup after booting it in Safe Mode, consider MacKeeper’s Safe Cleanup feature. It scans and cleans up your Mac’s storage system, removing unwanted or unnecessary files and optimizing performance. It frees up space on the Mac, boosting its performance.

Here’s how to use the Safe Cleanup feature:

  1. Download and install MacKeeper on your Mac.
  2. Launch the app and open Safe Cleanup from MacKeeper’s Cleaning section.
click safe cleanup under the cleaning section
  1. Click Start Scan.
click start scan in safe cleanup
  1. Select the files you want to remove or click Check All.
select junk files to remove or click check all
  1. Click Clean Junk Files.
tap clean junk files
  1. This will remove the selected junk files from your Mac. You can click Rescan to repeat the process.
click rescan to scan the system again

What Else Can MacKeeper Do?

Besides cleaning junk files from your Mac, MacKeeper can run a virus scan on your Mac, delete duplicate files, and block annoying ads. If you want to learn about its other features, read my detailed MacKeeper review.

Troubleshoot Mac Problems in Safe Mode

Now that your Mac is back in optimized condition, you may want to keep it that way. Here are some of the best ways to optimize your Mac’s performance:

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is Safe Mode on Mac?

    Safe Mode on a Mac is a diagnostic mode designed for troubleshooting. It starts your Mac with only the essential system software, helping identify and resolve issues related to software or startup items. This mode also performs a check of your startup disk, ensuring your Mac runs smoothly.

  2. What is the difference between Safe Mode and Recovery Mode on Mac?

    Safe Mode and recovery mode are different ways to start a Mac in certain situations. Safe Mode is a diagnostic mode that loads only essential components, while recovery mode provides tools for repairing or reinstalling macOS.

  3. Can I still use my Mac normally in Safe Mode?

    You can use your Mac in Safe Mode, but some features and functions may be limited or disabled. Safe Mode is a troubleshooting mode designed to start your Mac with only the necessary software and drivers. While in Safe Mode, your Mac will load only the basic software and drivers needed to run the operating system and disable any nonessential features.

  4. Will booting in Safe Mode delete any of my files?

    No, booting your Mac in Safe Mode will not delete any of your files. Safe Mode only loads the basic software and drivers needed to run the operating system and does not make any changes to your files or data.

  5. How often should I boot my Mac in Safe Mode for maintenance purposes?

    Boot your Mac in Safe Mode only when experiencing issues with your Mac that you’re trying to troubleshoot. Safe Mode is not designed for regular use or maintenance purposes. You can keep your Mac up to date with the latest software updates and security patches and periodically perform routine maintenance tasks such as clearing out caches and temporary files.

  6. Can I use Safe Mode to fix all issues with my Mac?

    Safe Mode can be helpful for many issues, but it won’t fix every problem. If you still have issues after booting in Safe Mode, you may need to try additional troubleshooting steps or seek help from a professional.

Pawan Singh


Pawan is your go-to tech buddy with over 4 years diving deep into the world of Macbooks and cool gadgets. He's written a ton of articles, blending his tech-savvy expertise with a dash of friendly banter. When it comes to the latest in tech, Pawan's got the scoop and isn't shy to share it. Trust him, he's been around the block a few times!



Hi there! I'm Ojash, a tech journalist with over a decade of experience in the industry. I've had the privilege of contributing to some of the world's largest tech publications, making my mark as a respected Mac expert. My passion lies in exploring, using, and writing about MacBooks, and I enjoy sharing my expertise to help others make informed decisions and get the most out of their MacBook experience. Join me as we delve into the fascinating world of MacBooks together!

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