How To Boot Into Safe Mode on a Mac

Here is a guide on how to boot your Apple computer into safe mode.

When you experience software and hardware issues with your Mac, there are a few steps that can be taken to try to troubleshoot the problem. One of the quickest is Safe Mode.


Safe Mode or Safe Boot starts the Mac up with select drivers, startup and login items disabled to help you troubleshoot. It also runs some disk diagnosis and attempts to resolve any issues itself that it can.

How to Boot Into Safe Mode on Mac

Here is a guide on how to start your Mac up in Safe Mode.


Watch the above video for instructions on Safe Booting your Mac.


Starting up in Safe Mode

In order to start your Mac up in Safe Mode you will need to start with the machine powered off.

After the machine is off for a few seconds, click the power button so you hear the chime sound. Immediately after your hear the chime, press and hold the Shift button.


Holding the Shift button informs the Mac that you would like to Safe Boot the machine and it begins to perform its disk and directory checks, deleting font caches, Kernel cache and other system cache files and disabling some drivers.


Keep holding the shift key until the OS X login screen appears. You will know you have successfully performed this task if you see the words Safe Boot in red font on older OS or by checking the System Profiler for the word Boot in Software.


In order to leave Safe Mode, restarting the computer without holding any keys will resume the standard boot process. This is a great way to immediately see if your Safe Boot resolved any issues you may have been experiencing with booting.

What You Can Do in Safe Mode for Mac

There are a couple of instances which immediately come to mind that would benefit from trying Safe Boot as a troubleshooting step. The first is the aforementioned startup failure. If you are not able to make it past the apple loading screen and never reach your desktop, Safe Mode may be able to correct that.

Another example is if you recently installed a new application and have noticed strange behavior such as sluggishness or frequent crashes. Safe Mode would be beneficial to try to isolate that application as the culprit.


The last common fix with Safe Mode is in relation to disk maintenance. The Disk Utility app is a great tool for isolating directory issues yet we aren’t always able to run that depending on the circumstances. Using Safe Boot to start up the machine forces a background disk check and directory repair which can resolve issues related to startup and overall disk performance. Often times signs of a failing hard drive like slow response and constant pinwheeling are actually issues with directories and how the disk reads data.

Safe Mode is a very useful and simple tool for trying to resolve some common issues with your Mac. If you have ever experienced any of the previously mentioned problems it would be a great idea to try Safe Mode first before having to dig deeper and employ more time consuming fixes.