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How to Start Mac in Internet Recovery Mode

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Last updated: September 6, 2023

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As a Mac user, you may have encountered situations where your system is not functioning properly, and you need to perform a fresh installation of macOS. In such cases, starting up your Mac in Internet Recovery Mode can be a lifesaver.

Internet Recovery Mode lets you reinstall macOS via an internet connection without a physical installation disk or a pre-existing recovery partition on your hard drive. In this article, I’ll provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to start Mac in Internet Recovery Mode.

What Is Internet Recovery Mode?

Internet Recovery Mode is a special boot mode on Mac computers that allows you to recover your operating system and other important files from Apple servers over the internet.

This mode can be helpful when your Mac’s recovery partition is missing or damaged, as it allows you to access recovery features even without a local recovery partition. By accessing the internet, your Mac can download the necessary files to reinstall macOS and restore your computer to a working state.

Many users confuse Recovery Mode with Internet Recovery Mode, but they are different. Here’s a comparison table between recovery mode and internet recovery mode. 

Recovery ModeInternet Recovery Mode
Requires Internet ConnectionNoYes
Location of Recovery PartitionOn the Mac’s Hard driveIn Apple’s servers
Size of Recovery Partition600 MB to 1.5 GBN/A
Reinstallation of macOSRequires a local copy of macOSDownloads the latest compatible version of macOS
Access to Disk UtilityYesYes
Access to SafariNoYes
Access to Apple DiagnosticsYesYes

How to Start Mac in Internet Recovery Mode

Starting up your Mac in Internet Recovery Mode can be a powerful tool for troubleshooting and fixing issues with your Mac’s software. Still, it’s important to note that it should only be used if necessary and after trying other troubleshooting methods.

The process for entering Internet Recovery Mode on a Mac differs depending on whether it has an Apple M1 processor or an Intel-based processor. So, you must identify your Mac model before starting.

To determine your Mac’s processor type, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Apple menu and select About This Mac.
click apple icon and select about this mac
  1. In the new window, you should see the Processor/Chip information.
in the overview tab you should see the processor information
  1. If the processor or chip is listed as Apple M1, your Mac has an Apple Silicon processor.
  2. If the processor is listed as Intel, your Mac is Intel-based.

Now, that you have identified your Mac’s processor type, you can move on to starting it in Internet Recovery Mode by following the correct steps from the respective sections below.

How to Start Mac in Internet Recovery Mode: Apple M1 Mac

If you encounter issues with your Apple M1 Mac and need to access advanced recovery options, starting your Mac in Internet Recovery Mode is incredibly helpful. Internet Recovery Mode provides a range of features and tools, such as reinstalling macOS, running hardware diagnostics, and accessing Disk Utility.

Below, I’ll walk you through the steps to initiate Internet Recovery Mode on your Apple M1 Mac to troubleshoot and resolve various software and hardware issues.

  1. Turn off your M1 Mac by clicking the Apple menu and selecting Shut Down.
nevigate to shutdown
  1. Press and hold the Power button on your Mac until you see the startup options window appear.
macbook air touch id
  1. Click the Options icon in the startup options window.
click options on startup options page
  1. Select Continue to boot your Mac into Recovery Mode.
  2. In the Recovery window, click the Apple menu and select Restart.
click the apple icon and select restart
  1. Hold down the Power button until you see the startup options window again.
macbook air touch id
  1. Click the Options icon in the startup options window.
click options on startup options page
  1. Select Internet Recovery to start your Mac in Internet Recovery Mode.

How to Start Mac in Internet Recovery Mode: Intel-Based Mac

If you’re using an Intel-based Mac and find yourself in a situation where you need to access advanced recovery options, starting your Mac in Internet Recovery Mode can be a lifesaver.

Whether you need to perform a clean macOS installation or diagnose hardware problems, Internet Recovery Mode is an indispensable resource to help you get your Mac back on track.

To enter Internet Recovery Mode on an Intel-based Mac, follow these steps:

  1. Shut down your Mac.
  2. Press and hold the Command + Option  + R keys with the Power button to turn on your Mac.
macbook air command option r keys
  1. Hold the keys until you see the Apple logo or a spinning globe on the screen.
  2. Release the keys and wait for the Internet Recovery Mode to load.

What Can You Do in Internet Recovery Mode?

In Internet Recovery mode on a Mac, you have access to additional features and options compared to regular Recovery mode.

Here’s what you can do in Internet Recovery mode:

  1. 💻 Reinstall macOS: Like in regular Recovery mode, you can reinstall the macOS operating system in Internet Recovery mode. This option allows you to download and install the latest macOS version directly from Apple’s servers.
  2. 💿 Use Disk Utility: Like regular Recovery mode, Internet Recovery mode provides access to Disk Utility. This tool can manage, format, partition, verify, and repair your Mac’s storage devices.
  3. 🌐 Access Safari: Internet Recovery mode includes a limited version of Safari. You can use it to access the internet and find online resources for troubleshooting or seeking assistance.
  4. 🔒 Use Firmware Password Utility: If you need to set or remove a firmware password, Internet Recovery mode offers the Firmware Password Utility option. This utility enables you to add or remove a password for added security during the startup process.
  5. 🛠️ Run Hardware Diagnostics: Internet Recovery mode provides access to Apple’s hardware diagnostics tool. This feature can check your Mac’s hardware components for any potential issues or errors.

Internet Recovery mode requires a stable internet connection since it relies on downloading macOS and other necessary components from Apple’s servers.

Possible Internet Recovery Mode Errors and Solutions

When using Internet Recovery Mode on your Mac, it’s essential to be aware of potential errors that may arise during the process. While Internet Recovery Mode is designed to provide a seamless recovery experience, unforeseen complications can occur.

In this section, I’ve shared some common Internet Recovery Mode errors that you may encounter and offered practical solutions to overcome them.

1. Slow Internet Connection

If you have a slow internet connection or your Mac is not connecting to Wi-Fi, starting up your Mac in Internet Recovery Mode may take longer than expected or fail altogether.

Solution

To troubleshoot your Wi-Fi connection, try resetting your Wi-Fi router, moving your Mac closer to the router, or switching to a different Wi-Fi network.

Consider connecting your Mac to a wired network to improve connection speed or troubleshooting your Wi-Fi connection if you experience any issues.

If these solutions do not work, consider resetting your network settings or contacting your internet service provider or a technical support professional.

2. Incompatible Firmware

Some older Mac models may not be compatible with Internet Recovery Mode or require an update to the firmware before you can use the feature.

Solution

If you encounter compatibility issues, check Apple’s official support documentation to verify if your Mac model supports Internet Recovery Mode.

If your Mac is eligible for a firmware update, follow the instructions provided by Apple to ensure your firmware is up to date. By updating the firmware, you can potentially overcome the incompatibility and gain access to Internet Recovery Mode for troubleshooting and recovery purposes.

3. Disk Errors

Disk errors can prevent you from starting your Mac in Internet Recovery Mode. Various factors, including file system corruption, bad sectors on the hard drive, physical damage, or firmware issues, can cause these errors.

When your Mac’s hard drive or SSD has errors or is damaged, it can cause the Internet Recovery Mode process can fail or result in unexpected errors during the recovery process.

Solution

To resolve disk errors, you can try booting into Recovery Mode instead and running Disk Utility to diagnose and repair any disk issues. Recovery Mode allows you to access various troubleshooting and recovery tools, including Disk Utility, which you can use to repair disk errors, recover lost data, and reinstall macOS. 

Here are the steps to resolve disk errors by booting into Recovery Mode:

  1. Press the Power button to turn off your Mac, then press it again to turn it back on.
macbook air touch id
  1. Immediately after pressing the Power button, hold down the Command ⌘ + R keys on your keyboard until you see the Apple logo or a spinning globe appear.
macbook air command r keys
  1. Your Mac will boot into Recovery Mode, which may take a few minutes to load depending on your Mac’s speed and internet connection speed.
  2. Once in Recovery Mode, select Disk Utility from the menu and click Continue.
select disk utility from macos recovery screen
  1. Select your hard drive or SSD from the list in Disk Utility and click First Aid. Follow the prompts to diagnose and repair any disk errors.
select startup disk and click first aid
  1. Once the repair process is complete, click Done and select Restart from the Apple menu to exit Recovery Mode and boot back into macOS.
click run on the first aid prompt

4. Other Error Messages

  1. 🌐 Error message “-2002F”: This error occurs when a problem occurs while connecting to Apple’s servers during the recovery process. Check your internet connection and make sure it is working properly.
  2. 🔍 Error message “-4403F” or “Could not find installation information for this machine”: This error indicates your Mac’s recovery partition is missing or corrupted. In this case, you may need to create a bootable USB installer of macOS using another Mac or seek assistance from Apple Support.
  3. ⚠️ Error message “-1007F” or “An internal error occurred”: This error may occur due to Mac’s firmware or hardware issues. Try resetting the NVRAM (non-volatile random-access memory) by restarting your Mac and holding down the Option ⌥ + Command ⌘ + P + R keys until you hear the startup chime twice.
  4. ⚙️ Error message “Apple.com/support -2002M”: This error typically suggests a problem with the network configuration on your Mac. Try resetting the network settings by going to System Settings > Network > Advanced > TCP/IP > Renew DHCP Lease.
  5. 💿 Error message “-6003F” or “An error occurred while preparing the installation”: This error might occur if there are issues with the disk or file system on your Mac. Run Disk Utility from Recovery Mode and perform a First Aid scan on your startup disk to repair any disk-related errors.

Final Words

Starting up your Mac in Internet Recovery Mode is a useful tool that can help you troubleshoot and solve various issues with your Mac.

Check out these tips for future Mac maintenance:

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can Internet Recovery Mode recover data from a failed hard drive? 

    No, Internet Recovery Mode cannot recover data from a failed hard drive. It is designed to reinstall macOS on a new or erased hard drive, not to recover data from a failed one. Consider using a data recovery tool or service instead.

  2. How long does it take to complete the Internet Recovery Mode process? 

    The time it takes to complete the Internet Recovery Mode process depends on your internet speed, the size of the macOS installation file, and your Mac’s hardware. It may take several hours to complete the entire process, so ensure you have enough time and a stable internet connection before starting.

  3. How can I check if my Mac supports Internet Recovery Mode?

    To check if your Mac supports Internet Recovery Mode, power on your Mac and immediately press and hold the Command ⌘ + Option ⌥ + R keys. If your Mac enters Internet Recovery Mode, you will see a spinning globe or an indication on the screen.

Hashir Ibrahim

Author

I'm Hashir, a tech journalist with a decade of experience. My work has been featured in some of the top tech publications like MakeUseOf and MakeTechEasier. I have a bachelor's degree in IT, a master's in cybersecurity, and extensive knowledge of Apple hardware, specifically MacBooks. As the senior writer at MacBook Journal, I write in depth guides that help you solve any issues you have with your mac and unbiased reviews that help you make the right buying decisions.

Ojash

Reviewer

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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