Recovery mode (Command + R) does not work on Mac

If Command + R does not get you into recovery mode on your Mac, below are the reasons and other ways to put your Mac in recovery mode.

Recovery mode not working on Mac

The usual way to start a Mac into Recovery mode is to press Command + R, which brings up the option to reinstall macOS, restore Time Machine, use Disk Utility, and other tools.

If your Mac is powered by the Apple M1 chip, you cannot use Command + R to enter Recovery Mode because Apple has completely changed the process of entering Recovery Mode on these computers.

If you have an Intel-based Mac and the recovery mode doesn’t work, the problem could be due to the presence of a T2 security chip on your device, a faulty keyboard, a corrupted or deleted recovery partition, and other reasons.

1. Use the power button to enter recovery mode

If your Mac is powered by an ARM-based Apple M1 processor, you can no longer use the usual one command + R Keyboard shortcut to enter recovery mode.

To enter recovery mode on ARM-based M1 MacBook Pro, MacBook Air and Mac Mini, all you need to do is shut down the computer and follow the steps below.

1. Hold down the power button and keep holding while the Mac boots to the Apple logo.

2. Free that power buttonwhen the message “Loading boot options” appears on your computer screen.

3. Wait for all the startup icons to appear on the screen and click options to access recovery mode options.

M1 Mac recovery mode screen

On the next screen, you will see the options to reinstall macOS, restore Time Machine, Disk Utility, and other options to fix problems on your device.

2. Use Option (Alt) + Command + R keys

If your Intel-based Mac doesn’t go into recovery mode when you press the usual Command + R key combination, it’s probably equipped with the Apple T2 chip.

Click on Apple logo > About this Mac > system information. On the next screen, click controller in the left pane. In the right pane you can see if your Mac has it Apple T2 chip.

Apple T2 chip on Mac

If your Mac has a T2 chip, you should be able to enter recovery mode by using options (old) + command + R Key.

3. Check the keyboard

Sometimes the problem is that the keyboard is buggy (keys mistype or don’t work) or the keyboard temporarily loses the Bluetooth connection with your Mac.

To confirm, open a text file and use the Option (Alt), Command, and R keys to make sure they work.

4. Check the macOS version

If you have an older Mac running Mac OSX Snow Leopard, it doesn’t have a recovery partition and the only way to reinstall the operating system on an older Mac is to use the discs that came with your Mac.

Also, if your Mac is running macOS Sierra, it may not have all of the recovery options available in the latest version of macOS.

You can check the version of macOS running on your device by clicking Apple logo and select About this Mac option in the drop down menu.

About this Mac

The next screen allows you to view the version of macOS installed on your device.

5. Use Internet recovery mode

If the standard recovery mode doesn’t work on your device, the next available option is to use the Internet recovery mode, which provides the same recovery options via Apple servers.

The steps to enter Internet Recovery Mode vary depending on whether your Mac has an Intel processor or an Apple M1 processor.

The steps to enter Internet recovery mode for Intel-based and M1-based Macs are in this guide: How to start Mac in Internet recovery mode.

6. Reset NVRAM or PRAM

Sometimes the recovery partition is inaccessible or temporarily lost and reappears after a reboot or after a PRAM reset.

This can be fixed by performing an NVRAM or PRAM reset by following the steps in this guide: How to reset NVRAM or PRAM on a Mac.

After NVRAM or PRAM reset, you may find the missing recovery partition back on your device.

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