How to Start Your Mac in Safe Mode

This minHour teaches you how to restart your Mac into Safe Mode. Safe Mode is a diagnostic tool that disables non-essential programs and services on your Mac, thus allowing you to remove troublesome programs or change persistent settings.


Prompt your Mac to restart.

If your Mac is currently on, you’ll need to begin restarting it before you can access Safe Mode. Click the Apple menu, click , and click when prompted.

  • If your Mac is already off, press the “Power” key or button to begin starting up your Mac.

Press and hold the ⇧ Shift key.

As soon as your Mac begins restarting, hold down the ⇧ Shift key and don’t let go.

  • If you’re using a Bluetooth keyboard, make sure you press after the boot-up sound (or directly after the Apple logo appears).

Wait for the login screen to appear.

This screen will pop up after a minute or two.

Release the ⇧ Shift key.

Once the login screen appears, your Mac should be in Safe Mode, meaning you can release the ⇧ Shift key.

Log into your Mac.

Select your user account, then enter your account password to do so.

  • If your Mac has FileVault enabled, you’ll first need to log in to unlock your Mac’s startup disk.

Troubleshoot program problems.

If you’ve been having an issue with your Mac’s startup sequence or general operation, look to see if the problem persists while in Safe Mode; if it doesn’t, one of your Mac’s programs is probably at fault.

  • Unfortunately, if the problem is still present, your Mac’s base hardware or software is causing the issue.

Disable startup programs

While you’re in Safe Mode, remove any problematic or resource-heavy programs from your list of startup items. This will help your Mac boot up faster.

  • You can also remove problematic applications, such as third-party antivirus suites or stubborn programs, in Safe Mode.

Restart your Mac to exit Safe Mode.

When you’re done using Safe Mode on your Mac, click the and click , then follow any on-screen prompts. Your Mac will restart into its regular mode.


  • In some cases, you can also activate Safe Mode by typing sudo nvram boot-args=”-x” into Terminal and pressing ⏎ Return. You can then disable Safe Mode by typing in sudo nvram boot-args=”-x -v” and pressing ⏎ Return. This won’t work if you have FileVault enabled on your Mac.


  • You won’t be able to use some programs and features while in Safe Mode.

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